Saturday, April 29, 2006

Haruki Murakami - The Wind-up Bird Chronicle


Tifa Cosplayer

Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle was bought along with his two other books, Norwegian Wood and Elephant Vanishes last year, when, after hearing so many good things about him, I made a decision to hop onto his bandwagon as well, to witness for myself what Murakami's all about.

The result?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Failure To Launch

I can never understand why I belong to the 1% of the entire male population in the world actually partial to romantic comedies and chick flicks. I'm a hopeless romantic, that's long established. After all, I AM a Piscean. But anyway, yes, I don't know what is it about romantic comedies that appeal to me. Fulfilling my fantasies? Hm. Perhaps it's caused by my years-long singledom. But anyway, what do I have to say about this sleeper hit starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Scary Movie 4 is LOL-inducing sometimes

I have waited more than a week to review Scary Movie 4, because I felt that it's, er, pretty damned challenging to review a film like this. Seriously, when I look at the reviews in Rottentomatoes (39% in the Tomatometer thus far), I have to scoff at the negative reviews, were critics really expecting THIS to be a masterpiece? This isn't a film where you can give negative or positive reviews, the usual methods used to evaluate the merits of a film are useless with films like Scary Movie 4. Is it acted well? Is it well-scripted? Is it well-directed? How's the script like? Oh please, are you even looking for all these?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My very first attempts at video editing + Kahimi Karie

Back in July-August 2004, before I made my very first short film called A Boring Story. The first video I've ever put together was what is now known as a mashup video featuring snippets from the Japanese film, Casshern, and the Jude Law film, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and also music videos of Hiro, lead vocalist of the long-disbanded Japanese girl group, SPEED, object of my obsession for many of my teenage years. (whose latest video, as I've mentioned here, unfortunately sucked)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cultural Uniqueness or Stereotypical Caricature?

"But as I think of the many myths, there is one that is very harmful, and that is the myth of countries. I mean, why should I think of myself as being an Argentine, and not a Chilean, and not an Uruguayan. I don't know really. All of those myths that we impose on ourselves - and they make for hatred, for war, for enmity - are very harmful. Well, I suppose in the long run, governments and countries will die out and we'll be just, well, cosmopolitans." - Jorge Luis Borges, 1980
Whilst attending a seminar organized by the Sin Chew Jit Poh Newspaper last year, where two acclaimed Malaysian filmmakers, James Lee and Tan Chui Mui, were featured as guests, one thing that left the deepest impression for me was when they started speaking about how some people, both the authorities and the filmmakers, have been trying too hard to produce a film with a 'distinct Malaysian feel', thus limiting the boundaries of creativity. After all, must all Malaysian films feature people speaking Manglish? (to proclaim proudly to people of other countries our sheer ineptitude with the English language?) Must all Malaysian films feature mamak stalls and coconut trees? Why, because Malaysia is all about mamak stalls and coconut trees? And that without these, Malaysian isn't Malaysia anymore?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Is height an issue in relationships?

Well, haven't been able to go online due to the fact that I can't reload my Internet quota (it's one of the biggest annoyances about staying on-campus, the lack of unlimited Internet connection). It's Easter weekend, and I assume everyone's probably celebrating by slaughtering bunnies for fun. Hah.

Anyway, I'm currently developing two screenplays for two short films that will be done by this all-Malaysian girls screen production group I've volunteered to help (oh, and Kenny Sia's cousin happened to be one of them, small world huh?). I've already written one called 'A Mother's Love', which deals with a man who is still dealing with the grief of losing his wife, and also trying to bond with his son, who seems oblivious to the death of his mother. And then, the man's asthmatic attackes are also growing increasingly violent. Since this IS written by me, the entire short film takes a pretty cruel twist towards the end which will leave people shaking their heads in disgust after losing their meals. Of course, it's a matter of whether it will be translated well onscreen.

I am now starting work on a second screenplay for the group called 'Vertical Distance', which I have to examine how important a role heights can play in a relationship. As in, will guys go out with gals taller than them? Will gals go out with guys shorter than them? If yes, why? If no, why?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Koda Kumi's 4-part music video miniseries: YOU, FEEL, LIES, SOMEDAY

While speaking about using music videos to inspire myself when planning the visual looks of a film, I posted Koda Kumi's 倖田來未 beautifully shot 'You' music video because I was amazed by it. But most of all, I was really intrigued by the fact that it unfolded like a short film (I'm pretty into plot-driven music videos, actually), and when I realized that there are continuations to the 'You' music video. I went off to look for them, and I finally did, and arranged them into sequence so that you peeps can the music videos, and get the whole damned thing.

L'Enfant (The Child) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

L'Enfant, or the Child, directed by the Dardenne Brothers

L'Enfant (The Child), A French film directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, is Cannes Film Festival 2005's Palm D'or Winner.

Tsotsi by Gavin Hood

Tsotsi, winner of 2005 Oscar's Best Foreign Film award

Tsotsi, a South African film directed by Gavin Hood, is this year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign film.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Minds Blown Apart By Sigur Ros' Perth Concert

Swifty: Sigur Ros' concert in Perth wasn't something I was looking forward to. After all, the price was rather steep (70 bucks!), and while I appreciated their two albums that I have, () and Takk for their unique-ness and weirdness (it adds to my indie cred), I just never bothered listening to them over and over again. Their stuff are spaced out, indescribable, the main vocalist sings in a language invented by himself, which makes things even more outlandish and crazier to get into.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Finding inspiration in J-pop music videos

Music videos tend to be one of the most overlooked sources of inspiration for aspiring filmmakers. While I tend to avoid those from Hong Kong (too uninspired, bad production values, very generic) and Taiwan (they occasionally have some hot babes, but still too bland for my liking).

I am expected to hand in a visual style report (which illustrates the stylistic approach, setting, design, lighting, wardrobe design and editing) for my upcoming allegorical (hopefully) sci-fi romantic (hopefully) short film, Girl Disconnected, within two weeks, thus I have spent the past two days poring over some films, like the aforementioned Eraserhead, Alphaville and Fellini's 8 And The Half (three vastly different films that use black and white to enhance their surrealism). Yet as my tale emphasizes more on the romance (like I said before, it's pretty much a love story with science fiction elements, because both sci-fi and romance aren't explored by anyone else in my screenwriting class... not surprisingly, considering that Crash's unjust Oscar victory had everyone shifting their attention to developing sociodramas with preachy messages), I need something more emotional for reference, something so lush and romantic that can make me melt whilst silently making mental notes that can aid me in my visual style report.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Haruki Murakami - The Elephant Vanishes

Swifty: In one of my numerous attempts to increase my street cred last year, I went off to buy Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood because I knew that the book's been very much talked-about and is sort of regarded as a classic. And although I didn't get to read that book, I was so confident that Murakami would be an interesting and good writer that I went off to buy two other books written by him, The Wind-up Bird Chronicles and Elephant Vanishes.

I started reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicles earlier this year and was mildly intrigued with its outlandish setup. But as I continued wading through the book, from when I was still in Malaysia, to after I've returned to Perth, I grew increasingly annoyed with its sheer pointlessness and well, randomness. Murakami started throwing one detour after another upon my face, with most of them have nothing to do with the main plot development, a tale about a man searching his disappeared wife would've been an intriguing tale, until telepathic sisters, tormented World War 2 tales, guitar-wielding thugs, duck people, superficially wistful letters from teenage girls, mute hunks and their mysterious moms jumped into the fray, I shook my head, and within my soul sprung forth an intense feeling of negativity directed towards Murakami.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

V For Vendetta

Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman in V For VendettaI walked into the cinema with heightened expectations for V For Vendetta, after all, it is the most-talked about Hollywood film in Singapore and Malaysia during the past few weeks. People I know told me it's a cool film, I see people on my MSN list quoting its lines, ranting and raving about Hugo Weaving's coolness, and the reviews I read are generally positive in Rottentomatoes (it scored 75% on the Tomatometer). Until Guestblogger Justin, who saw it few days ago, told me that he was rather disappointed with it, but he was willing to see it one more time with me.

Since it's written by the Wachowski brothers, I thought, even if it might not be the classic Matrix was, it might at least have some fun action scenes of the sequels (bad they may be, the action sequences, to me, ARE entertaining), with some rather thought-provoking questions thrown in for me to ponder. But as I sat through the movie, I realized that, yes, there are some similarities to the Matrix sequels, but unfortunately, not the action scenes, it's the over-the-top, overwrought, sheer pretentiousness, like the Zion rave scene, or the LENGTHY Architect scene, where you wish the film would just move on instead of lingering on something you barely care about. Based on Alan Moore's graphic novel, it was disowned by him as he thought the screenplay was 'rubbish', but then, this guy doesn't really want to have anything to do with every single film adaptation of his works after the disappointments of From Hell and the hellishly bad League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inspired by awesome Perth artist Shaun Tan

Jean-Luc Godard's AlphavilleIt's been more than two weeks since I've spoken about my upcoming sci-fi short film. But then, come to think of it, I have actually ceased updating this site on a daily basis. Yes, I have been THAT busy. Working on a documentary, battling security forces of the university who are preventing me from shooting my short film in the toilet, and toiling non-stop with my screenplay for the sci-fi short film.

I don't think I have announced it here before, the title of the short film is Girl Disconnected.

If you are new, or you have forgotten about the basic concept of the sci-fi film, well, here's the entry to jog your memory. It was originally meant to be based loosely on this short tale I wrote about the Internet collapsing entirely (or to be more precise, stolen by this evil massive conglomerate called YahooGleSoft) and the heroine, Maya, had to begin a quest to restore the internet to the world. This project managed to evolve much throughout the past 6-7 weeks since its inception. From a mockumentary, it turned into a drama that had elements of romance and satire in it, my musings during the evolution can be read here, and then, in the end, I examined the themes I was playing around with for the Girl Disconnected, which should be the very last entry I wrote about it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Kenny Sia Appearing In Upcoming Erotic Thriller. Urgh, my eyes.

Disgruntled with Singaporean blogebrity Xiaxue's popularity, Malaysia's very own blogebrity, Kenny Sia (picture below) has promised to appear in my upcoming short film, 'Coconut-breaking Dykes' an erotic thriller which is a combination of the masterpieces, Basic Instinct and Showgirls.

Dawn Yang's Boyfriend. EXPOSED!!!

Dawn Yang is going out with The Great Swifty?


After months of speculation about her romantic entanglements, it is finally revealed that the famed Dawn Yeo (or Dawn Yang) is secretly going out...


Someone's 2004 April Fool Prank.

This is a (less funnier) April Fool prank I posted on Jpopmusic.com, a popular Japanese music news and gossip page, back in 2004.

Someone's 2003 April Fool Prank.

This is an April Fool prank I posted on famous Jpop news and gossip site, Jmusic.com back in 2003. It was pretty big, got thousand plus hits on that day. Putting it here for archiving reasons.

Spike Lee's Inside Man

Denzel Washington and Clive Owen in Spike Lee's Inside ManPrior to writing this review, my friend Sebastian told me that he had just read about (or heard) an interesting commentary about Inside Man, and that's about every single Spike Lee film sharing a common theme: Power. (My initial guess was racism, or 'white people are bad’, or 'white vs. black'… but then, I was affected by the Talkback section in Ain't It Cool News's film review).

Unfortunately for me, I haven’t actually seen that many Spike Lee films, in fact, He Got Game is the only one I’ve seen (my credibility is immediately destroyed in the eyes of my visitors with this confession), which has Denzel Washington and NBA star Ray Allen in it. But I’ve always been given the impression that Spike Lee films are generally edgy modest-budget productions with one or two big-name cast member attached and take place usually in New York (but then, that's because I haven't seen that many Spike Lee films). I didn’t know a single thing about Inside Man until I saw its poster (and then, the trailer)