Category Archives: entertainment

Exploring East Asian Culture through Film

By Gina Samec

“Ugh, I hate subtitles!”

Each time I encounter someone with this attitude, I’m disappointed because the scope of great film extends far beyond what is churned out of Hollywood. While the disliking of subtitles is understandable, I encourage anyone who has this sentiment to go outside their comfort zone and watch some foreign films. Watching a movie is an easy way to explore another culture. This is not to say that movies are representative of real life, but they are often a reflection of society. These movies are not for everyone but here are some recommendations of East Asian films I have enjoyed watching!

Memories of Murder

This Korean film from 2003 starts out as a murder mystery but the plot unfolds in an unconventional way. Apart from the main conflict of finding a loose serial killer, a side conflict between the protagonist, Park, and a volunteer detective, Seo, keeps the story interesting. However, one of the best aspects of this film is the cinematography. The thoughtfulness of how the movie was shot adds another layer of depth to it. So any fans of the crime genre or anyone who has an appreciation for brilliant cinematography should give this film a shot.

Secret Sunshine

This 2007 Korean film centers around a widow, Shin-ae, who moves back to the town where her husband lived. While this already sounds like a rough start, Shine-ae’s life dives into a downward spiral from there. What makes this film different from anything I’ve seen, is the exploration of religion. Most movies are too afraid to do so because it is a touchy subject but Secret Sunshine takes this risk. This film depicts the journey of a woman who is not religious in the slightest, encountering Christianity for the first time. I should put a disclaimer that there is some critique of religion so it is not for everyone. However, it is quite refreshing to see a female-led film showing someone trying to overcome a low point in their life without pretending to have all the answers.

Sweet Bean

This Japanese film from 2015 is much more sentimental and family friendly than the previous two. This film is about a symbolic family: the bond that is formed between three generations centered around a dorayaki pancake shop. These three people, an old woman, a middle aged man, and a young teenage girl are all somewhat outcasts from society. Together, they find purpose through their shared love of dorayaki. The film has breathtaking cinematography and brings out the beauty in the simple things. If you enjoy heartfelt movies then this is a good go-to.

A Touch of Sin

This Chinese film from 2013 follows four different characters each in a different storyline. On the surface, this film seems to be mostly about violence but there is much more going on than there appears to be. Each character is being oppressed by society in different forms and protest against it through different methods. What makes this film stand apart is the complexity of the characters. Usually protagonists are righteous and principled. However, these characters are a mixture of good and bad and often their actions are questionable. This film is full of symbolism so for me, it was fun to watch with friends because we all had different interpretations of certain scenes. If you enjoy action-packed movies and don’t mind violence, this is a riveting film that is surprisingly meaningful.

Featured image from Pxfuel

Gina is a sophomore studying Communication at the USC School of Annenberg.  She attended five schools but mostly grew up in Piedmont, California. Although she only attended a French bilingual school for two years, she has continued to pursue fluency in the language. She loves playing volleyball, watching movies, and thrift shopping. Never having left the country has fueled her love for learning about other cultures and meeting people from different backgrounds.

LA Fitness on a Budget

By Alicia Roman

Everyone knows that living in LA can cost a small fortune. However, staying active in LA doesn’t have to be expensive. With 365 days of sunshine, there are endless opportunities to stay active without spending more than a few dollars. Many people believe you have to be confined to the crowded campus gym, but with the following options just a short train/car ride away you’ll be looking at your workout regime with new energy and enthusiasm!

Hiking is a great way to explore a new area while also getting in some exercise. There are several hiking trails within a 20-minute drive from the USC campus. Take a trip to the Hollywood Hills at sunset and hike the 3.5 miles up to Wisdom Tree. This hike offers beautiful views of the Hollywood Reservoir and Downtown LA. Another option is to take a train to Los Feliz and visit the stunning Griffith Observatory. Most people will drive up to the Observatory, but an even better option is to hike to the top. It’s a quick and easy 40-minute hike from Fern Dell Dr. to the Griffith Observatory. Once at the top, you are rewarded with one of LA’s best views.

Photo by daveynin on Flickr

If you aren’t a big fan of hiking but enjoy the water, take advantage of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl has countless options and it’s free of busy and overcrowded streets. Take a jog around the Rose Bowl, known to locals as the “Rose Bowl Loop”. You can stop by the Aquatics Center and take a $2.00 swim in their olympic size pool. If you’re not looking to swim or run, you can enjoy a nice bike ride around the complex. The Rose Bowl is a great option for those who need variety but aren’t looking to spend a lot on a gym membership.

Most people love going to the beach to relax and enjoy the weather. The beach can also be a great place to get in a weekend workout. Santa Monica Beach is only a short train ride from the USC campus. The beach can also be a nice place to workout when the weather’s too hot to be indoors. Santa Monica has several options for fitness and fun. Take a long walk along the beach or bring along a workout video from your phone and try it out on the sand. It will definitely add an element of difficulty to your regular workout. If you’re feel really adventurous you can visit the outdoor gym which is literally right on the sand! The best part of a beach workout is when you’re finished, you can take a refreshing dip in the ocean water!

With so many options around USC, you never have to feel like the gym is your only option. Sometimes, doing something different can remind you why you love exercising. Grab your suit and head to the beach or slip on your tennis shoes and go for a hike! You’ll be able to check out your new LA neighborhood with all the added health benefits.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons

Alicia has a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Clark University. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Educational Counseling within Rossier School of Education. She has spent several years working in the field of Education. She spent three years living and teaching ESL in Taipei, Taiwan. She also coaches a special needs swim team at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena. When she is not working, she loves reading, traveling, watching movies, and exercising.

Entertainment for Education

By Emiko  Akama-Garren

Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment industry. The media that is produced here largely affects and creates the trends in American pop culture. Television and film are a universal social activity that brings people together. TV is such a mainstream form of entertainment that there is a show available for everyone’s liking.

Some people learn languages and accents just from watching English shows. The conversations on the shows can help explain social norms and give a better understanding of behavior. Constantly hearing the language not only can help with grammar and overall proficiency, but also pronunciation. It is an easy way to hear and help form more of an American accent.

American TV not only helps improve language development but also showcases American culture and current pop culture trends. Each show’s plot will include different scenarios and show how or what the typical way of reacting in those situations are. They can also portray the general standards and behaviors in America. For example, it is very common for shows to have an annual holiday special that show typical customs and common traditions. Shows will also include slang and common phrases that are not taught when learning traditional grammar.

Sitcoms, aka situational comedies, are some of the best shows to watch when working on everyday conversational language practice. They are usually light hearted, easy to follow, and include relevant topics to the time. They follow a group of people episode to episode, so you’re able to become familiar with each character and their personalities. The repetition and easy to follow plot helps advance your familiarity with English by giving lots of context and multiple different scenarios for everyday vocabulary.

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