Press F9 to Pay Respects

Please, Virus, I just want to watch my silly little vroom vroom skrrt skrrt movies in peace.

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This Ramadhan, I’ve been trying to exercise some restraint. Do you know who didn’t exercise any restraint? Justin Lin, when he and this gang of merry blockbuster studio executives released the trailer for F9: The Fast Saga, a film that has unironically become my most anticipated of the year.

If you follow me anywhere online, you know that I have a very special place in my heart for the Fast and Furious franchise. These movies are fun. They’re dumb. They’re everything to me. Someday, I’d like to be in one. I know they’re saying the 10th film will be the final film, but I’m holding out hope for the Hollywood Machine to finally pick the correct intellectual property to milk. I check all the boxes: I’m hot, Asian, and am in possession of a driver’s license. Justin Lin, I would like to be in your vroom vroom skrrt skrrt movies.

To simply refer to these movies as vroom vroom skrrt skrrt movies is reductive of my love for them, even though that’s exactly what those films are. I think this franchise doesn’t get enough credit for being self-aware. It’s not trying too hard to be universally likable, nor is it trying too hard to be edgy and dark; it’s just trying to drive fast with family. I can’t say the same for the franchises F&F has to compete against. That competition is why the little-street-racing-film-that-could went from Point Break with Cars to international super spies stopping tanks, airplanes, and submarines. Something Roman (Tyrese Gibson) actually brings up in the trailer!

The trailer confirmed three things that I’m most excited for:

1) Han is Back - Han (Sung Kang)’s resurrection is a big deal, although I worry that it nullifies all the revenge drama La Familia had to go through in Furious 7—a film whose whole point is to exact revenge on Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) for killing Han in retaliation for the team putting his brother Owen (Luke Evans) in a coma.

Han has always been one of my favourite characters. I wrote a piece on Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow for (whose release date I’ll let you know in the future), a film that’s been considered Han’s unofficial origin story prior to Tokyo Drift, as Kang plays a similarly suave and cool oppa also called Han. Better Luck Tomorrow is Justin Lin’s directorial feature debut following the lives of overachieving Asian American teens who decide to use their big brains for petty crimes instead of SAT prep. That little logline was diminishing, but it really is such a beautiful coming-of-age film about so much more. I cannot recommend it enough.

2) John Cena’s Time Is Now - I am a major proponent of making John Cena jokes at any and every opportunity. In this film, though you can’t really see him, Cena might be this franchise’s most menacing villain yet. In F9, he plays Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)’s estranged brother Jakob. Why have they fallen out? Why did Dom turn his back on him, despite being a man most known for “never turning his back on family”? Is it because he spells his name with a K?

Jakob Toretto is some kind of spy/assassin/Winter Soldier-esque fella that’s working together with Charlize Theron’s super-hacker-sans-dreadlocks, Cipher. I’m not really sure what his endgame is with regards to his vendetta against Toretto and Co. but suffice it to say that it’ll be thrilling to watch Vin Diesel take on another former WWE star. Diesel himself has said that the spirit of Paul Walker came to him whilst he was meditating at his Dominic Toretto Shrine, the same day Cena came to visit him about being cast in the film. Should I get a Dominic Toretto shrine? I think it’d be more appropriate for me to get a Han one, no?

3) They’re Going To Space - or at least, they might be leaving the atmosphere for just a bit. For a good 15 to 20 seconds in the trailer, Ludacris’ Tej Parker and Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce are sitting in a car wearing hybrid scuba diver-astronaut suits, duct-taping edges of their ensembles so they won’t explode when they arrive at their destination. There’s a button in the car labelled “BLAST OFF”, and it's later revealed that there are rockets of some kind strapped to the car.

Rumours of the franchise’s ascent into outer space started floating around in early 2019. Where else can this series go after parachuting cars out of an airplane or jumping another car out of three skyscrapers? The natural progression is outer space. They’re also using powerful magnets in their supercharged cars like this is Despicable Me! What if Vin Diesel reverses the Earth’s polarity trying to flip a truck over? What will the consequences be then?

Maybe if NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab considered using NOS, they wouldn’t have to compete with Grimes’ husband and Tom Cruise for space travel bragging rights.

There’s this one tweet I think about a lot where the next F&F films, if they were making anymore past 10, encapsulates everything I could ever want from this franchise and more. I personally would love to see it:

Tyrese will be the first Baby Boy cast member to go to space. Ludacris will be the first former Justin Bieber collaborator to experience zero gravity. We have come a long way, and we are about to witness something historic. Eat your heart out, Grimes’ baby daddy.

There’s a noticeable lack of Dwyane Johnson, Scott Eastwood, and Jason Statham in this trailer. But fret not, reader, Helen Mirren reprises her role as Magdalene Shaw, mother to Deckard, Owen and Hattie (Vanessa Kirby). I love being excited about this silly little car franchise. It brings me so much unbridled joy.

If you have yet to bask in the glory of the F9: The Fast Saga trailer, please see below:

I want nothing more than to see the latest installment of this franchise in a packed theatre, but alas, it is not time yet. Unlike John Cena, my time is not now. Not for a long while, at least in Indonesia. If you’ll get to see it this summer, then more power to you. I, on the other hand, will be publicly envious.

So Text, Bestie #2

Our recurring texts-from-friends column has returned! This edition of So Text, Bestie illustrates my favourite thing in the world: when people find things that remind them of you.

My friend, favourite art director, and up-and-coming TikTok sensation Chenai sent me this:

Personally obsessed with how Harry and Louis are standing next to each other in the right mug. It’s close to triggering something in me I have long buried.

The Midnight Memories mug is what she found at the charity shop, the Up All Night-era mug was already in her flat. I adore this. I love that there are probably thousands of obscure One Direction merchandise littered across charity shops all over London, all over the UK, even. What I love more is what Chen sent me afterwards:

I’ve been missing London a lot lately. I think it’s because I miss doing comedy, and that the weather is looking up over there and there’s nothing I want more than to be doing Hot Girl Shit with my friends. I miss my friends the most. I also miss the independence and freedom that comes with doing Hot Girl Shit. I’ve recently finished reading Leslie Kern’s Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World, an examination of the social inequities found in urban life through the author’s extensive research and personal anecdotes. I miss living in a city, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I used to move through a city.

I got really, really lucky. Like, I’m incredibly clumsy and I always have headphones on, not exactly the pinnacle of awareness. I made Wolverine claws with my keys often, but I’ve stumbled and bumbled around the city so much that safety was only a thought reserved for my midnight journeys home from work.

There are a couple of close calls I think about a lot; like getting a male co-worker to walk me to Leicester Square Station out of fear the drunk customer that had been harassing me would follow me out after my shift ended, or a group of guys boxing me in on the bus when there were plenty of available seats behind us four stops away from my flat after a comedy show. But I was really lucky to have moved around London alone, be it at 3am or 3pm, with relative ease. From the cushy safety of my parents’ house now, it’s been bizarre to think about how dangerous is the default for marginalized communities in cities, especially now with cities like London and Jakarta under either increased public surveillance or police presence. It’s the default because city planners only have cis, white, able-bodied, heterosexual men in mind as their Average Citizen.

I don’t know what the world will look like once we can all go outside again. I don’t think any of us do. I think a lot of people share the same concerns as I do, that the world might return to its state of late capitalist, white supremacist complacency instead of being spurred on to make radical changes. I don’t want to be driven to cynicism, but things are looking bleak right now. But little things, like Chen sharing with me a perfect charity shop find, makes things a little less bleak for me in my own life. I hope you can find something like that too.

Someday soon, I hope, I’ll return to do Hot Girl Shit with my loved ones once more. In the meantime, I hope One Direction mugs everywhere are being kept warm.

Dianna, Let Me Be The One To Light A Fire Inside Those Eyes

In my Glee rewatch, I’ve fallen back in love with Dianna Agron. How could I not? It’s impossible to not fall in love with her. I feel the spirit of Taylor Swift taking over my body, and maybe I should use that energy to also write songs that are allegedly about Dianna Agron as well. I had forgotten that among Agron’s Hollywood suitors was one Sebastian Stan, whom she dated after allegedly dating Chris Evans a few months prior. This makes Sebastian Stan technically one degree of separation away from Taylor Swift. Currently thinking thoughts.

I am very excited to see Shiva Baby.

Is That My Bestie In a ‘Lettsie?

I’ve run out of ways to be clever, as evidenced by that subheading. I think I’m enduring early Ramadhan burnout where my sleep isn’t adjusting to the its schedule.

However, I am delighted to share with you one of my favourite reads of the week: a little newsletter called Grown-Ish. One of my best friends in the whole entire universe started this new writing endeavor to explore her passion for social sciences and academia through the lens of unpacking the ideas of childhood and adolescence. It’s very good. The first issue breaks down childhood by definition into the most prominent fields in its study. As someone on an endless quest to re-examine their youth, I cannot recommend this newsletter enough.

Pod Save the NOS

Speaking of Fast and Furious, Jonathan and I had a lot of fun script-doctoring The Fate of the Furious for The Pod Charles Cinecast’s Patreon.

Twitter avatar for @ThePCCPodcastThe Pod Charles Cinecast @ThePCCPodcast
NEW BONUS EPISODE on The #FastAndFurious series rolls on w/ #F8oftheFurious! Join @TALL4ALL & @arianeanindita as they act as script doctors to this flawed film. What happened? Was it the lack of Brian, all the beef or a franchise that has run its course? Image

I’m also on the podcast’s main timeline this week, talking about Clueless with my former Tuesday shift sharer and co-Tommy Wiseau impersonator, Fil. Listen below:

That’s all for this week! I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves.