What SCA Is Watching

Kevin Yin '24

Kevin Yin '24

Media Arts + Practice

Hello all, this is Kevin Yin - I’m a rising senior in the Media Arts + Practice division at SCA. I’m currently finishing up an experimental animated short film I made within the school’s Expanded Animated graduate courses. Catch me on the airwaves at KXSC, USC’s student-run radio station, or researching in MA+P’s Mobile & Environmental Media Lab on campus. 

  1. Serial Experiments Lain (1998) – A little niche, but I had been meaning to watch this series for a very long time. Fans of the cyberpunk genre might be familiar with Serial Experiments Lain, and for good reason. It’s hard to describe the show so concisely without spoilers, but anyone willing to give it a shot will find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into a dreamy yet sinister retrofuturist thriller. The visuals are striking, and the sound design is superb. Mulholland Drive inside a Y2K Matrix is the best way I can describe it…
  2. Better Call Saul (2015 - 2022) – I spent my first half of the Summer speeding through Breaking Bad, encouraged to restart it by the recent renaissance of memes from the show spreading around the web. It felt like I was speed running a trauma dump. At Season 3, Better Call Saul has been a great breather from the human trainwreck that is Mistah White. As usual, I’m a little late to the party, but both shows are fantastic studies in writing escalation, and are very well shot. Saul remains the only TV show that can get me giddy with a wide shot of a freeway underpass.
  3. Hausu (1977) – A very fascinating horror movie. It’s a real flow of consciousness - dreamy matte paintings, teeth pianos, severed heads and chroma keys. Purposely amateurish special effects mixed with intricate stage sets gives this film a unique sense of scale, like a child’s worst nightmare. It’s a trippy, fascinating nightmare, with some real scares and, at times, downright incomprehensible visuals. I love it.
  4. Daughter of God/Exposed (2016) – I recently saw John Wick 4 (awesome, brilliant, fantastic) and Blade Runner 2049 (it’s no John Wick), and was surprised to come across Exposed, a film with both Keanu Reeves and Ana de Armas that I had never heard of before. That’s probably because it’s…not very good. It’s a little confusing, strangely edited, and worst of all, just boring. Any statement attempted to be made about state authority and unanswered violence falls flat. If anything, Exposed feels like a movie chopped and strangled from a completely different work. Because that’s exactly what it is – a bi-lingual surrealist drama called Daughter of God that was recut by the studio into a cop thriller. I hear the workprint of the never-released original is floating around online somewhere for viewing…not that I would partake in such an activity…but if I had, I’m sure that Daughter of God would have been a much more interesting watch, filled with risks and clear artistic intent, and one of Ana de Armas’ most interesting performances to date.
  5. Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse (2023) – My latest theater experience. Definitely one of my most anticipated films this year, and it did not disappoint. Sequels, being inherently derivative to their source material, can be difficult to judge on their own – and Across the Spider-verse is transparently the narrative middle child in a planned trilogy. Where the first film’s contained plot allowed it deeper emotional beats, the sequel takes its time to set up a (hopefully) greater payoff in the next. If anything, I find that this works to the film’s advantage – watching Across the Spider-verse is all about loving the journey over the destination. The animation is dazzling and dynamic, making effortless technological leaps above its landmark predecessor. Every scene is bursting with love and care from animators and engineers, and each character’s personality bursts through in both their design and movement. The technological advancements in 3D animation at play here is what really allows Across the Spider-verse to stand on its own, and even trying to list them all would require its own paper.