A Week of Reviews, A Week in Review

Mark the date and time, everyone, because this is the one and only place a similarity can and will be made between myself and Ed Sheeran.

Don’t get too excited. This feat is really only possible because I’m completely disregarding the fact that anything I will be comparing between us aren’t actually any defining personal features. Frankly, the only thing he and I share are a common liking for Harry Styles as a potential best friend, but let’s not get into that.

In between waiting for the 49A and B buses and busying myself at my internships this week, I’ve also managed to do a lot of fun things as well — watch a movie, watch a concert, watch myself stop making lists… It really is amazing how much you can get done when you wake up early in the morning.

But without further ado, here are three reviews for my week in review:

1. Everything Before Us, film by Wong Fu Productions

From left to right: Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, Philip Wang | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions
From left to right: Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, Philip Wang | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions

I’ve followed and been a fan of the Asian American YouTube group, Wong Fu Productions, since my middle school years, and to see them finally film, produce, direct, and release their own movie definitely evokes a sense of pride despite the fact that all three of its members are significantly older than me.

Everything Before Us is set in a future where each and every person’s Emotional Integrity (EI) is tracked and documented by a government organization, the DEI (Department of Emotional Integrity) that looks rather amusingly similar to your local DMV.

At 18, each person is assigned an EI score out of 100. Being in a relationship that is made “official” – similar to the way that we make relationships Facebook official – through the DEI can boost your EI score. However, relationship terminations negatively affect your score, particularly depending on how much of the “fault” gets assigned to you and your partner at the termination. All of these numbers and calculations are done by the DEI.

The EI score isn’t a number that can simply lose significance with time, like an SAT score or your high school GPA. Job interviewers, universities, and even bars all can and do use the EI score as a benchmark for their respective “entrance” qualifications.

Everything Before Us | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions
Everything Before Us | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions

The 1-hour-and-30-minute film tracks the development, renewal, and denouement of two different relationships: 18-year-old high school graduates Sean and Haley, and mid-30s-unemployed-adults Ben and Sara. As in typical Wong Fu fashion, the storyline presents a very thoughtful perspective on interpersonal relationships and allows for a lot of personal introspection afterward.

While I’m usually a fan of the ways Wong Fu dissects and analyzes relationships, I found something lacking in this film. All of the relationships had realistic qualities and flaws, but when the credits began to roll, there were elements still left unaddressed. I could understand if and why they intended for the ending to be ambiguous, but this was different. It wasn’t that there was a key question left unanswered. There seemed to be development missing for each of the four protagonists.

Rating: 3.5/5

I had very high hopes for this film, and unfortunately, everything seemed to fall just a bit short. The quality of Wong Fu’s shorts easily surpass this film, but I hope with more opportunities, they can continue to create films of the same caliber as some of my favorite short films.

2. Ed Sheeran at The Greek Theatre

I’ve been a fan of Ed Sheeran since late 2011, before his name had even properly made its way across the Pond, back when you needed an iTunes or Amazon account registered in the UK to even purchase his music in some form.

Photo Courtesy of Atlantic Records
Photo Courtesy of Atlantic Records

This statement is not meant to be a sort of brag or an assertion of my being a “better fan.” This is simply to establish just how long I have been waiting for the opportunity to see him on this side of the North American continent.

(Don’t remind me of the fact that he was in Oakland at the Paramount in 2012, playing as the opener of some band I now no longer remember. It was a school night in high school. In other words, no concerts, particularly with the schedule I was keeping. #stillbitter)

The otherwise magnificent view. | Photo by Courtney Cheng
The otherwise magnificent view. | Photo by Courtney Cheng

Before I amp this up too much — no, I couldn’t manage to buy a proper ticket from Ticketmaster or any other person who might have been lucky enough to buy one before they all sold out in five minutes. I did, however, check an item off my Berkeley bucket list by listening to him and peering through a fence at him on top of Tightwad Hill, aka Cheapskate Hill – the hill where poor or unfortunate Berkeley students without tickets attend concerts at the Greek.

It’s always exciting to see the artists at live music concerts, but truly, even though I could only occasionally glimpse a spec of ginger hair way out in the distance, Ed’s concert was truly phenomenal. Not only does he sound exactly as he does on his records, but he also adds impromptu ornamentations, complex introductions, and sly medleys in his live shows. The man truly sounds like he’s enjoying himself there onstage, and the thousands of thousands of people standing before him just happen to be extremely fortunate listeners.

Sitting in the cold outside wasn’t as enjoyable, but I would definitely do it all – the smell of beer and cigarettes; the disturbance of people who kept walking past us; and the endearingly genuine apology of four Irish lads included – over again for Ed.

Rating: 4.8/5

Of course, I’d also just pay the $65 for his ticket in the future, but I’m not sure I’d fancy standing in a line that’s almost half a mile long to wait for a spot in a general admission theatre, so there’s that.

3. Meditation Workshop

In the past couple weeks, I’ve attended a few meditation workshops that UC Berkeley is hosting for all of its students. The facilitators lead us through a couple short meditation sessions in each meeting and provide guidance for anything and everything related to the practice of meditation.

The practice of meditation isn’t simply sitting in some cross-legged position and placing your hands in your lap with your eyes closed. It’s about being in the present moment; it’s about being aware of all the sensations you experience at every moment in time.

An appreciation of the normalcy of the everyday. | Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock
An appreciation of the normalcy of the everyday. | Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock

As a two-week-long practitioner, I’m not doing this practice any justice with my descriptions, but trust me – it’s actually been incredibly calming every time I’ve gone. Not only do I feel a lot more relaxed and stress-free during and afterward, but I’ve also found that I’ve managed to keep myself from making lists for every tiny detail in my life this week.

For those of you who aren’t aware, I make lists for everything I do. There is literally not a single step of my day that hasn’t been written down somewhere in my agenda, phone, or head. The fact that I’ve gone a few days this week without having everything planned down to the precise minute until about half an hour beforehand is not a small feat.

Do I like this?

Rating: 4/5

I have to be honest – it is a bit odd to not know what I’ll be doing the next day until, well, the day comes, but it’s definitely not a bad odd. It’s an odd that I can and would like to get used to. And if this oddity allows me to be reviewed alongside Ed Sheeran on a blog post, then you can bet I’ll be making sure that this continues.

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