Monday, April 28, 2008

thoughts on Terminal USA

I found Terminal USA to be one of the most disturbing (yet fascinating and thought-provoking) films I have ever seen. I didn’t find any of it funny and I thought it was visually (and auditorily) frightening. Like Keiko, I also found it slightly offensive that these bizarre portrayals were projected onto an Asian American family. I thought that the film was making a number of critiques on racism, suburbia, Asian American stereotypes, nuclear family, etc. but throughout watching, I felt like I was undergoing a similar feeling of the typical horror movie experience.

The two characters I thought were found particularly interesting were the parents. Over the course of the film, the father went more-and-more insane over protecting the “purity” of his family, especially the sexual purity of his daughter, Holly, and son, Marvin, and found himself disappointed/shamed by their "impurity" (Holly having sex with the lawyer and Marvin masturbating to gay pornography). At the end of the movie, the father had completely lost it. His attempt to kill his already dying father-in-law and the klan members and rhetoric about an apocalypse showed his progression of "losing it". Was this supposed to be a critique of the unspoken, insanity of patriarchal, nuclear suburbia?
The mother, on the other hand, was a drug addict yet, still trying to take care of her father, husband and children and sex and sexuality came a lot with her (the scene with the pizza man and her comment to her father with not being satisfied with her husband sexually).
I liked that this film was one of the only ones that we have watched (besides Flower Drum Song) that centered around the parents as well as the children.

There were a number of motifs I noticed in the film like the cowboy theme(Holy in cowgirl costume, the father and the scene with the gun), eyeballs, and telephones. I also thought the camera angles and strategic use of music were two techniques that particularly stood out to me.

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