yellow rose film

Yellow Rose Is A Story Of The Filipino Immigrant Experience In America That Deserves To Be Told

Yellow Rose shows why proper representation matters.

In a time when Asian stories deserve to be heard and protected, Yellow Rose offers a glimpse of one of those voices.

Related: We Asked 4 Filipinos Who Grew Up Abroad What’s The Worst Thing A Non-Asian Has Ever Said To Them

Being Asian in America has always been a tricky and touchy subject. Coming from a vast array of countries and cultures, Asians have long been challenged with some of the worst stereotypes. One of the worst though has got to be perpetuating the model minority myth, which takes away so much context from how Asian immigrants in America go about their struggles and their lives.

Asian immigrants have often been misunderstood, but things took a turn for the worse after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and much more at the start of 2021. An increase in violent attacks and hate crimes against Asians across America has led to a surge of people calling to protect Asians and #StopAsianHate. Stereotypical portrayals of Asians across all forms of media are now being scrutinized, and more accurate and authentic experiences are being demanded. Yellow Rose, a film written and directed by Diane Paragas, is one such film that genuinely portrays one of the many experiences of Asian immigrants living in America.

Mother-Daughter Love

The Story — Yellow Rose

Yellow Rose, based on a short film of the same name in 2017, follows Rose Garcia (Eva Noblezada), a 17-year-old undocumented Filipina living in a small town in Texas with her mom Priscilla (Princess Punzalan). Rose has dreams of becoming a big country music star as she is more interested in playing guitar and writing music instead of studying. But one day, her mom is taken away during a raid by ICE while she was gone, and now Rose is on her own trying to make a living while avoiding deportation.

At the heart of the movie is the mother-daughter bond between Rose and her Priscilla. Very much central to the Asian identity, more so to the Filipinos, they have a strong bond with one another that makes the main problem of the story hard for them to overcome. For most of the film, there is almost like a tug-of-war between the two characters. Priscilla wants Rose to come back with her to Manila after she got caught by ICE, but Rose wants to stay in America. Rose has a freer and more open lifestyle, but her mom, who is somewhat strict and conservative, has other plans for them. Both want what they think is best for Rose, and the viewer gets to see that push and pull throughout the movie.

Honest Living

Yellow Rose,' starring Eva Noblezada wins in LA film fest – 2019 Los  Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Immigrants, especially undocumented ones, are usually stereotyped as people who come to America, do absolutely nothing, and just take whatever they can. Not only is this far from the truth, but it also leads to the harmful narrative that all immigrants are bad people. Yellow Rose dispels that notion since Rose and her mom, are genuinely good people who want what’s best for the family. Rose wants to live her life and follow her dreams of becoming a country music singer. After her mom gets caught by ICE, Rose spends most of the movie moving to different places and taking any job she can get just to make a living.

This is where the viewer gets to see another contrast. On one hand, Rose is helped by a lot of (white) people who give her shelter. But on the other hand, she is constantly reminded that she is an outcast either through the constant hounding of ICE or being told by other people that she is a burden and does not belong. Even the film’s title of Yellow Rose is an allusion to Rose’s background as it was a name given to her by her classmates after she sang in a school competition. Rose wants the “American dream,” and she can achieve it, but she is also an illegal immigrant that poses her own set of unique challenges to her.

Filipina Country Singer

New Film Yellow Rose, Starring Hadestown's Eva Noblezada, Released October  9; Soundtrack Now Available | Playbill

The thing that makes this movie stand out the most though is what Rose wants to achieve. Yellow Rose could have been just about Rose trying to get by after her mom gets arrested, but the story takes it a step further since Rose wants to be a country singer, something that is seemingly at odds with her background. Country music is arguably one of the whitest music genres in America. It is a genre not known for its inclusivity and, at times, has a reputation of being closed off to more diverse voices. Yet this is what Rose wants. She loves country music and can’t see herself doing any other genre. As the movie goes on, the viewer gets to see Rose move closer to her dream as she records songs where she poured her heart, soul, and feelings in, and performs on stage singing her country music.

Representation Matters

It’s no secret that Asians in America are sometimes stereotyped to be carbon copies of one another, put their head down, and just focus on themselves among other harmful stereotypes. However, Asians aren’t just one race, but rather are a diverse group of people with their own stories to tell. They may look different, but that does not mean you have to treat or see them as the “other.” Representation matters and Yellow Rose is just one of many films and TV shows out there that show a more nuanced portrayal of Asian immigrant life in America. More importantly, the movie is a step in the right direction in portraying the many stories of Asian immigrants, and in the film’s case, an Asian immigrant who wants to become a country music star.

Continue Reading: Lingua Franca Shows The Importance Of Having Marginalized Voices In Media

godzilla vs. kong

Godzilla vs Kong Is The Epic Showdown 58 Years In The Making

An epic battle between two epic monsters

Godzilla vs Kong manages to deliver in terms of the action and set-pieces, as long as you don’t take the human aspect too seriously.

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Godzilla and King Kong are considered two of the most iconic movie monsters in film history. Even if you have not seen any Godzilla or King Kong movie, you probably have heard of these monsters or seen them in other pop culture media. Their last fight was in the early 60s and ever since the start of the modern MonsterVerse with 2014’s Godzilla, the succeeding movies in the series have been building up to the inevitable showdown of two of cinema’s iconic monsters. Godzilla vs Kong, for the most part, succeeds at what it does best, mind-blowing action that is best seen on the biggest screen possible. Yet it also has the same problem that has plagued the other MonsterVerse movies, the human characters feel one-note and are not that fleshed out.

Godzilla Vs Kong Rages To $285M+ Worldwide; Sets Covid Records – Deadline

An Underwhelming Story From Two Angles

The filmmakers manage to give a credible excuse as to why these two would fight one another. This is because Godzilla vs Kong splits itself into two different narratives, one concerning King Kong, and the other concerning Godzilla. Though both aren’t particularly exciting.

Godzilla Slaps Back In New Japanese Godzilla Vs. Kong Trailer - CINEMABLEND

For King Kong, the main players are Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), and her adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle). The two scientists are not particularly memorable as they mainly serve to give backstory and exposition to what is happening. The least interesting character is Skarsgård’s Lind since he is a new character for the movie, and the audience is given little to no motivation to care for him. Hottle’s Jia stands out out the most though as her character manages to humanize Kong’s character. She is the only one in the movie who can communicate effectively with Kong and they form a bond with one another which brings out “humanity” in Kong. King Kong has a pretty active narrative arch here since he does quite a bit in this movie and even grows as a character—figuratively and literally.

Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), former Apex employee Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), and Madison’s friend, Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison) follow Godzilla’s story. The three of them are trying to find out why Godzilla is acting the way he is in the movie and for the most part, they are the more enjoyable team to follow. This is largely in part Brian Tyree Henry’s fun performance as the off-beat conspiracy theorist Hayes. He is quite a dynamic character that delivers a few laughs and serves as a counterweight to the more stoic characters.

Crowd-Pleasing Action

Godzilla vs Kong Early Buzz: What the Critics Are Saying – /Film

But the story is not why people watch these movies, it’s the monster fighting, and Godzilla vs Kong delivers that in spades.

At just under two hours longs, it does not take long for Kong and Godzilla to duke it out and their first fight is impressive. The two of them are not pushovers, but the fight scene greatly demonstrates Godzilla’s destructive powers. Each punch and kick hit with force as if you could feel the impact. Their second fight is even more impressive thanks to a change of setting and a few upgrades. The smash and mash of their fights make for some exhilarating action scenes that will make you want more. They are also not just randomly fighting each other. Their fights have an organized chaos to them. The fight scenes tell a story thanks to well-choreographed action.

Excellent CGI and VFX aid their fights as it makes the set pieces feel real and stand out. You can see the individual strands of hair on Kong’s body while you can notice the scales all over Godzilla’s body. Godzilla using his atomic breath in the middle of the night is a sight to behold while Kong’s facial features and movement look believable and convincing. Add to that an exhilarating score from composer Tom Holkenborg (more commonly known as Junkie XL), Godzilla vs Kong offers some of the best battles in the MonsterVerse franchise.

Epic Entertainment

godzilla vs. kong

When the filmmakers of Godzilla vs Kong sat down to plan this movie, they knew exactly what the audience wanted and gave it. This is not a think-piece movie that you will think about long after the credits roll. This movie is a textbook example of a big-budget blockbuster and there is nothing wrong with that. The human characters are not that interesting, but the film makes up for that with some excellent fight scenes between the two monsters and the rush that they give. Godzilla vs Kong is the first movie of 2021 that offers fun escapism to be enjoyed with a side of popcorn and soda. Sit back and enjoy the monster-fighting action.

Continue Reading: Lights, Camera, Action! 10 Best Hollywood Movies Of 2020

Lingua Franca Shows The Importance Of Having Marginalized Voices In Media

The movie offers a different viewpoint on an often overlooked or misrepresented part of society.

The movie is a subtle yet emotional tale of a transgender Filipino immigrant trying to get by in New York City. It also serves as a reminder of why movies and the media, in general, should be more open towards welcoming marginalized and diverse voices.

RELATED: This Pioneering Transwoman Is Speaking Up Against Transphobia And The Delay Of SOGIE Bill

Over the past few years, much has been said about increasing diversity in movies and the media in general. Events such as #OscarsSoWhite and the BLM movement have highlighted the lack of diverse talents and voices in various entertainment fields. There has been this push to elevate creators of various backgrounds and identities to be able to let them tell their own stories. Lingua Franca, which recently became available to stream in the Philippines through TBA Studios’ streaming site, is definitely one of those movies that should be highlighted, not only for its quality but for steps it takes to elevate local transgender stories in cinema even further.

Lingua Franca is a strong yet understated story of someone who wants to be loved and accepted in a time of hate and division. The movie follows Olivia (Isabel Sandoval), a transgender Filipino woman from Cebu working as a caregiver for an elderly woman in New York City. By the first scene, it is made clear that Olivia isn’t living a life of her own. One of the first dialogue spoken is her mother reminding her to send money back home. Her work revolves around the care of an old lady. She lives in constant fear of being deported by ICE. Her staying in the US depends on her getting married to an American citizen. She is trying to live her own life in the US, but is constantly reminded that her life is based and dependent on other people; her mom, the old woman, and a man who doesn’t know that she is transgender.

The movie was directed, written, produced, and starred in by Isabel Sandoval, which is no small feat considering that this is just her third feature film. In the movie, her gender is a topic of discussion in the plot but not in the way that it’s the central theme. The film portrays her gender as something that is part of her, not something that makes her stand out. She is transgender, but the movie does not make it so much of an in-your-face deal and instead, portrays her as a human being going through struggles unique to her situation.

Films sometimes have a tendency to overstate the uniqueness of a certain character, which can make them feel too preachy, but in Lingua Franca, it’s just part of everyday life. Olivia is just as human as any person walking on the street. She just wants to be loved and accepted—both literally and figuratively. As stated in an interview by Lingua Franca’s producer, Jhett Tolentino, “I hope that when Pinoys watch it in the Philippines, that they could somehow put on a blindfold on gender, because we are trying to highlight a different kind of love. Love is love however you put it. But here it’s portrayed by a transwoman and a very homophobic Russian immigrant.”

With that being said though, the movie does highlight certain issues facing the transgender community in the Philippines as the country does not legally recognize trans people and can only have their birth names on their passports. The film shows that these issues have real repercussions for transgender Filipinos living in the US who want a life of their own.

One of the main issues that the movie does tackle is immigration and the unique experiences a transgender Filipino would have living in America under the Trump administration. Multiple times throughout the movie are scenes where the characters hear stories of illegal immigrants being detained by ICE. Olivia is fearful of being deported and talks about how she wants to get married so as to receive a green card and avoid deportation. The love story of Olivia is intertwined with her background as an immigrant and is an integral part of the story.

Movies like Lingua Franca are special because it tells a story of a minority through the lens of a minority. One of the best ways to tell stories of the marginalized in cinema is through creators who come from those marginalized communities. Spaces that were once dominated by a handful of narratives are now slowly opening up to different viewpoints. Media and the arts shine best when it’s open to creators and voices from all walks of life and movies are a big example. Diversity is not a distraction, but a benefit. Movies have long been accused (and rightly so) of portraying certain people and backgrounds in a racist or insensitive manner so it’s important to have different voices be amplified and recognized. We get
more movies that more people can relate to or get educated by.

Isabel Sandoval is the first openly trans woman of color to compete at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival Venice Days program and Lingua Franca has received positive reviews, which shows that there is an appetite for these truths. The movie’s success shows that there is so much potential for marginalized storytellers and creators. That level of understanding is what guides the film’s emotional core, that Olivia wants to be loved and accepted. You don’t have to look far if you want to experience narratives about marginalized communities from people with diverse backgrounds. Philippine cinema has its fair share of movies that highlight
underrepresented voices. From the groundbreaking Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005) which is about a young gay boy falling in love with a policeman, to the more recent Mamu: And a Mother Too (2018), which is about a transgender sex worker who has to take care of her niece.

In the end, Lingua Franca is not here to scream and shout that its star is transgender but to tell a story of a woman who wants to live a good life. It’s great to see movies like Lingua Franca that offer a different viewpoint on an often overlooked or misrepresented part of society. The movie is just the latest example of why diversity matters, especially in the field of media and entertainment.