Monday, April 28, 2008

My new favorite Brown alum: Jon Moritsugu

Wow...what the fuck did I just watch? JJ Chinois is gonna have to wait, because “Terminal USA” was one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen in my life. It seemed like a mix between a twisted Asian American Sitcom and a cheesy zombie movie with all of the fake blood. I would love to meet Jon Moritsugu’s family when he was younger or to read his family’s reaction to this film. Moritsugu is certainly one of Brunonia’s gems.

The characters of the film made it so interesting and twisted. Moritsugu did an excellent job of developing such strange and unique characters that viewer attempts to follow throughout the film. As I took notes during the film, I found myself creating profiles for all of the different characters in an attempt to follow everything that was happening. Underneath the characters, there was some very interesting social commentary. Using the classic nuclear family American sitcom for the film, it offered a scathing satire of model family structures and interactions. In that sense the film reminded me a lot of the popular film “American Beauty” (1999), which also critiqued the model nuclear family.

There were some interesting race relations in the film. In one of the first scenes the father comes home from work complaining about death threats towards him because of his race (“I am not a chink, I’m a Jap”), which can be read as response to the killing of Vincent Chin and animosity towards Asian Americans in the workplace. The two skin heads in the film are also racist towards Kazumi. This film came out following the Rodney King riots when Asian/Asian American race relations were tense. It wasn’t a coincidence that an Asian male in the film shot one the white skin heads out of self-defense.

It was comical to watch the father in “Terminal USA” struggle to “spend time with his kids” only to be increasingly shocked that none of his kids were meeting his expectations. Kazumi is a drugged out teenager (“a real blooming freak”), who lets himself bleed to death in film. Marvin is a sexually-suppressed homosexual (“the pervert in the backroom”), who spends all his time in front of his computer. And Holly, a sex crazed cheerleader, who runs off with a pedophilic lawyer/producer of childhood pornography. The characters were hard to wrap my head around. After consulting IMDb, apparently both Marvin and Kazumi were played by Moritsugu (perhaps, the characters he most identified with at Brown).

P.S. Did anyone notice that the character “Fag-Toast” was wearing a Catholic priest’s outfit? The father made lots of references to the Apocalypse and Judgment Day throughout as well...

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