Aftermath: Elián is an Engaging Doc and Vampire Cleanup Department is Supernatural, TV Fun

Quick question: is it possible to rent out like, a couple of seats in a movie theater monthly? You know, to like sleep on, clip my nails on, and eat tv dinners on? What I’m asking is, is it possible to live inside the State Theatre in Traverse City? I would prefer a balcony space, but I suppose I could manage living amongst the popcorn roaches and sticky Diet Coke remnants of the main theater floor. As long as the roaches aren’t f*cking me over when it comes to p-corn clean up, wrapper hoarding, or soda straw repurposing, there should be NO problems. Look, if I’m going to build a shelf made of straws I need as many as I can get, and I do not have time for greedy roaches.

Even if I don’t end up living in the State Theater, I would like to watch EVERY movie there from now on. Only containing one theater room, it’s big enough to hold at least the entirety of a traveling circus, and the screen and sound are so impressive. The screen even has these cool theatrical curtains that dramatically rise up as the screen itself widens and the projector gets to work lighting it up. Not to mention, there’s these super ethereal LED-lights installed into the ceiling, making it all just feel MAGICAL. It reminds me of when I watch TV during the holidays with two lil’ twinkling Xmas trees on both sides aka the best way to watch TV. Anyway, I’m no critic of theater construction or atmospherics, but it was just a genuinely cool place to see some great movies and I cannot wait to go back and bring everyone I know that loves movies.

So on Thursday, we ended up seeing two movies at around the same time we did the day before (9 pm and MIDNIGHT, because we are YOUNG and FREE and we don’t abide by bedtimes!!). This means that we had a lot of time to uhm, eat and drink all day? Okay, so I know I’m about to talk about the movies we saw and what I thought about them, but I wasn’t that drunky. If anything I was buzzed, promise! Plus literally the second the documentary Elian started (after a giggle fit about the never ending list of sponsors..SO MANY, so many transitions to the next page of sponsors, and the next one, and the next one, NEVER ENDING) we were in for a sobering experience. So yeah, Elian, which revisited the media blitz surrounding the Cuban boy that was found in the ocean on his way to Miami, was amazing and honestly, very relevant and utterly mind-boggling to think about when it comes to government factions and their petty agendas. The midnight movie we saw, Vampire Cleanup Department, which is an amazing title for any movie to have, was hilarious and surprisingly complex, although the characters (especially the female ones) could’ve used a little more fleshing out! So let’s. get. into it.

I’m not exactly a documentary stan, but damn if Elian didn’t make me want to watch every “important” documentary ever made. The editing, the interviews, and depiction of events surrounding this ownership battle over a 5 year old boy was immersing from the second it started. Plus, the doc is coated in moral shades of grey: when a movie has you weirdly sympathizing with people associated with Fidel Castro, you know it’s done a good job of blurring the lines between good and bad.

I think I was too busy playing with my Barney dolls and Batman toys to comprehend any of this when it was ACTUALLY going down in 1999 and 2000, but wow, watching the actual news coverage made me straight up hate the media. Like c’mon, you had to know having cameras on this little boy at all times when he was living with his uncle and cousins in Miami would have lasting psychological effects on him in some way. There are a lot of moments where Elian is shown meeting important political figures and going to events in his name and he looks lost, nervous, and disconnected to everything happening around him. Truly, America is not even the good guy in this one (shocking I know!), with our country using Elian as a puppet in the name of capitalism just as much as Cuba did in the name of communism.

Again, shades of grey basically everywhere here. One minute you’re looking at members of Elian’s family in Miami like they aren’t genuine, utilizing the media almost too perfectly, and the next you’re crying because all they truly want is to remain in the presence of this amazing boy, and I’ll get to Elian in a bit. Your heart also hurts for Elian’s father and abuelas who all live in Cuba, and are parading themselves throughout the media, pledging loyalty to Fidel Castro, when again they more than likely just want Elian back. One depiction of a phone call they have with Elian ending in a complete breakdown in emotion is enough to see what’s really at stake here: spending more valuable time with their loved one. Unfortunately, both sides of the family are forced to choose sides in an ideological war amongst political factions.

The documentary stays pretty impartial for the most part, but you can kind of tell that Castro is more than likely using Elian and his family for his own gain. Seeing Castro alone when he is meeting Elian for the first time since he arrived back to Cuba is chilling. That man was truly imposing and the fact that he was able to charm so many people despite his dictatorial agenda and human rights violations just makes him that much more scary. I would say it reminds me of someone currently in power in the United States now, but that guy is the exact opposite of charming. Either way, it’s hard to feel happy for Elian and his father because of their blind loyalty to Castro. It’s mostly just sad, and representative of good/smart people supporting problematic figures. Again, the relevancy, guys. See this doc. Some guy we talked to at The Little Fleet said this one will probably be on Netflix soon, and even though he said it in a snouty way like we were stupid for seeing something that we would have access to soon, I’m happy to utilize his b*tchy comment for good: It’s going to be on Netflix soon! Look out for it!

Moving on to our FINAL midnight movie: Vampire Cleanup Department. I literally thought this was a Chinese movie from the ’80s from both reading and looking at the screengrab they used for its preview in the pamphlet, but it turned out to be a new, original movie that was pretty charming! I would say that this one was going for a horror-comedy vibe, but it actually was more like a superhero origin story mixed with a lot of supernatural/horror elements. IN FACT, it reminded me of a little, amazing show on MTV called Teen Wolf which is now in it’s final season and available in it’s entirety on Amazon Prime. The oddly complicated mythology, the sitcom-like humor, and the focus on familial relationships is all of what this movie has going for it (AND TEEN WOLF!).

Some of the best and quirkiest material stems from the lead actor Babyjohn Choi who plays Tim Cheung. He’s an underdog orphan who lives with his outrageous grandmother (who is also maybe the best part of the movie? The fact that she was confidently rocking out-of-date Kanye West blinder glasses alone). After a run-in with a vampire that looks and acts more like a zombie but who cares, Tim is welcomed into the Vampire Cleanup Department, a secret government funded organization that rids Hong Kong of vampires and has the ability to reincarnate them as humans through some type of magic. I think? Again, it was honestly kind of complex! All the good stuff basically happens when the whole crew is together though; In a twist that anyone who hasn’t seen any type of superhero movie where the hero is an orphan would not see coming, we come to find out that Tim’s parents were a part of the Vampire Cleanup Department, and the remaining members are mostly relatives of his! Cue a badass training montage where, after being forced to sweep the department and scrub the floors, Tim is able to practice hand-to-hand combat based on the same body movements he used cleaning up. LOL. I really did like this movie’s cute, quirky sense of humor.

The only thing that WAS NOT cute about the movie though was it’s horribly written female characters. Tim’s love interest, a vampire from the 19th century who is reincarnated, is a typical example of the Born Sexy Yesterday trope, popular in many supernatural and sci-fi features. The trope basically involves an attractive looking female, reborn or incarnated through magical or scientific means, who is oblivious to the societal and behavioral expectations of the modern world, so the male lead has to teach her everything about the new world, all while flirting with her and admiring her beauty. It’s a weird, pretty sexist trope that I was sad to see a new movie revisit, but at least Lin-Men Chen, who plays the vampire love interest, now has some good physical comedy on her resume! Right? Sigh. But yeah, the other female character is apart of the Department and she organizes things or something. She spoke twice I think.

Beyond the movie’s faults though, the wackiness of the characters that DO get to speak is fun to watch, and the final battle with the main vampire baddie is pretty inventive and entertaining. Also, they have a car that they drive around a la Ghostbusters, but it’s not in the movie enough! I did like this movie and I’d watch it again. Probably the main take away is that it was like a very special episode of your fave supernatural TV show, extended by 30 minutes. Have you started watching Teen Wolf yet?

So, thank you for following me on this life-changing journey *record-scratch* just kidding my life is exactly the same, I just got to ESCAPE it and have the best time with one of my best friends for 3 days. So yeah, this is over now you’ll never have to read anything I write ever again *record scratch* JUST KIDDING AGAIN! I’M GONNA DO THIS ALL OF THE TIME NOW. MUAHAHAHA. It’s so fun and I love it so whenever I feel like writing about movies, tv, or stupid pop culture-y stuff it’s going DOWN right here! Let me know if I should recap that small, wildflower of a show, Game of Thrones that I heard just can’t seem to pull in the viewers. K, gonna go put a deposit down on those main floor seats with the roaches as neighbors, BYE!




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