Thursday, September 28, 2006

MONSTER HOUSE made me regain some hope in 3D animated films

Monster House


I have no idea how I grew to dislike 3D animated films more and more in the past two years, to the point where I would become entirely indifferent to the majority of the 3D animated releases in the cinemas regardless of their box-office performance or critical reception. Pixar films remain a must-watch event for me, yet I would view anything else with scepticism.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NACHO LIBRE by NAPOLEON DYNAMITE director Jared Hess

Jack Black and Hector Jimenez in Nacho Libre

I watched Napoleon Dynamite earlier late last year on DVD and enjoyed it, but it didn't exactly blow me away. I guess I didn't really 'get' the film. (Justin said that being an American would've maximized my enjoyment of the film, I probably agree). That film reminded me of Wes Anderson's films, but... not as good.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Morning Musume: Tool of Nationalism?

Morning Musume


So I was catching up on my 1930's Japanese history the other day and something struck me: 'Morning Daughters' sounds suspiciously like one of the wartime Patriotic Women's groups that sent their sons and young husbands off to the front for the glory of the Yamato race.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Meeting Jasper Fforde

Last Friday, while I was at Perth city, I saw a sign in Dymocks bookshop telling me that Jasper Fforde's coming for a book signing session on the 22nd of September. Excited, I took a photo of the sign with my mobile phone, as a reminder.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Koda Kumi

Koda Kumi


Justin: Koda Kumi's gimmick is that she's a slut.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Donald Barthelme - '60 Stories'

Book cover of Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme


Donald Barthelme is not afraid to be stupid. If you're expecting to open this book, read it from start to finish, and for there to be recognizeable characters and epiphanies and 'human dilemmas' and other sorts of things you've come to expect from 'literary fiction', then you're going in with the wrong mindset. No, serious. It's not just nonlinearity. Sometimes Barthelme's writing is retarded. You can see it trying to be funny and failing, or just plain showing off, dropping names. But then, just as you're about to put the book aside, Barthelme will toss off some random, memorable line or image.

Let me give you an example, from the story "The Party" :

Monday, September 18, 2006

DOA: Dead Or Alive is the best video game adaptation since Mortal Kombat

I have long given up hope on video game adaptations. There was a time when I looked forward to every single one of them like any naive video gamer would, begging my long-suffering dad to bring me to the cinemas for such classics like, ah, Super Mario Brothers (we were in Washington then, 1993), Street Fighter (1994, even though I was only 10 then, the film embarrassed the crap out of me, my dad was traumatized) and Double Dragon: The Movie (1994, I got a FREE ACTION FIGURE of Billy Lee from the cinemas! It was the highlight of the entire night, I think it was my dad's too, til this very day, I have it displayed proudly in my room, a badge of honour that I survived the film).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Orange Range

Orange Range


On paper, Orange Range sound like a shit sundae. To demonstrate why this is so, let's gather up the following list of unappetizing musical ingredients

1) Plodding bass-driven alt-metal riffage
2) Rapping
3) Sentimentality
4) A tendency to steal from influences in a way that screams less mashup than 'come on, get some taste.'

and then stir them into a glutinous mixture of Pro Tools-produced sludge. A real unit-shifter, no? Although J-music isn't exactly known for its restraint and ironic detachment, a Japanese Linkin Park is no one's idea of a good time. WTF are you talking about, Justin? you ask. Why not just end the review now?

It gets worse.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

CLERKS 2 and some quick thoughts on Kevin Smith's previous films

Clerks 2 poster


Get this: My name, yes, MY NAME, is in the credits of Clerks 2. Just sit through the normal credits, wait for the tens and thousands of names listed as 'Mooby's (MYSPACE) Friends' to appear, the names are arranged in alphabetical order (based on the last names), so it does take quite a while until my name (EDMUND YEO, if you're the type who surfs at sites without looking at sidebars) pops up. I didn't really expect that to happen when I saw this with Justin two week ago, in fact, I have already forgotten about this 'Clerks 2 Get In The Credits Contest' on Myspace, so it was a pleasant surprise, just like the movie itself.

Friday, September 15, 2006

SPEED

[On behalf of my little sister, I would like to thank Mossie (the guy has lotsa good anime and film reviews :D), DMJewelle (she makes the anime cosplaying community seem more entertaining than it really is with her incisively-written entries!), Plastic (one of the very first SPEED fans I got to know over the Internet years ago), Cousin Jun Qi (you're my cousin, which means you're cool!), Eeleen The Angel (the beautiful layout of her site is, well, beautiful!), Alynna (one of the rare bloggers I speak regularly to on the MSN :D), Dawnie-poo (er, she's Dawn Yang, do I need to say more?), Athena (a long-time net friend I got to know during my fanfic-writing days), Wingz (for intense Malaysian humour, go to his site), Jayelle (a really nice girl with a soul beautiful like the majestic snowy mountains), Jee (he has lots of things to ponder about), Craig (heh, lots of stuff about underaged Jpop artistes), Bryan (The Undead Dragon!) and Arashi-chan for their warm birthday wishes on the night of her birthday. You guys made my sister's 17th birthday a very memorable one.]




Japanese pop girl group SPEED


Well, after Justin had written so much about Japanese artistes in the past few weeks, I think it's definitely my turn to do so. This time, I shall educate you all, my dear Swiftyholics, about the nearly-forgotten greatness of SPEED, arguably the most influential and successful Japanese girl pop group of their generation (1996-2000).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's My Little Sister's Birthday. Her Existence Is Important To ALL OF YOU!

On the 13th of September, 1989, seventeen years ago, when I was 5, I remembered being pick up from the kindergarten early by my dad and being rushed to the hospital so that we can wait for the birth of my little sister. My grandmother was there too.

My memories of that day are hazy, I could only remember the nurses carrying my little sister out after a few hours of waiting, and, well, being a tiny little baby, she looked more like a guy than a girl. (And I am proud to say that over the years, my sister had filled in the void of a little brother too, which is absolutely cool.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Malice Mizer

Malice Mizer


I have to give Malice Mizer* credit: they pulled off something that, while derivative in certain respects, still manages to be a singularity in J-music. Even given the existence of visual-kei like Dir en grey, Pierrot, and the rest, Malice Mizer still feel significant, untouchable. At their best, there's not much like them musically, and their sense of style is unmatched. Given that most J-artists can be at least given Western touchstones if not outright counterparts (ex. Kim Wilde for Nanase Aikawa, Madonna for Ayu, any R&B ever for Amuro), Malice Mizer actually come off better than anything in their genre in the West; better at embodying, ironically enough, traditionally Western Romantic elements.

Now, this might seem like a contentious statement. A bunch of dragged-up doom kids in monk's robes, dresses, and powdered wigs? An androgynous vocalist and mute guitarist? French song titles? 'Classical' instrumentation? Videos shot in churches, filled with crosses, naked women, and comedy blood and gore? On paper, it sounds a few amps short of a Spinal Tap joke. This is, after all, the kind of band who namecheck the Illuminati and dress their bassist in lederhosen.

But a closer look - especially at the music - reveals greater complexity. Sure, they're gothic. But in what manner? Are they like Joy Division? The Cure? Cradle of Filth? Bauhaus? Cabaret Voltaire? X-Japan? (God help us) AFI? The answer is both none and all of the above, because Malice Mizer managed that rare thing: they pulled off a successful synthesis while simultaneously not quite resembling anything that had gone before, in either East or West.

The Rail Transport Museum In Bassendean

I went to Bassendean (a few train stations away from Perth city) to pay The Rail Transport Museum a visit last Sunday, hoping to gain permission for shooting my short film (working title: Girl Disconnected) there (remember it's a story of a girl who took a train to the moon? I need a train, and since I was almost arrested a year ago for trying to shoot in those Transperth trains, I decided to go for those old, non-operating trains of the Victorian era instead).

Opened only on Sundays, the Rail Transport Museum is operated by the volunteers of The Rail Heritage WA (Western Australia), and according to the flyers I got, it has the largest single collection of items pertaining to WA's rail heritage. From large steam locomotives to carriages and old photos. So yeah, the following photos are from the exhibition building.

(I forgot to bring my own camera that day, so I could only take them with my mobile phone. Click photos for larger versions.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

GIRL DISCONNECTED Shoot Begins

Sorry for the lack of updates in the past few days, been really busy doing prep work for my film (work title: Girl Disconnected... AAARGH! STILL WAITING FOR YOU PEOPLE TO SUGGEST ME SOME NEW TITLES!)

Balancing both the producer and director work can be pretty exhausting, especially when you have to deal with repeated disappointments of people promising much more than they can actually deliver, and then also the difficulties of trying to find an art director/production designer to replace the ones I've lost previously.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Morning Musume and Hello! Project

Morning Musume


Okay, been leading up to this one for some time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Live-action adaptation of anime classic TETSUJIN 28

Acquiring this film via shady means which I don't intend to divulge here, I would say that I originally wanted to watch Tetsujin 28 to demean myself. I was feeling rather miserable for reasons I can't remember, and in order to embrace my perpetual emo-boy angst, I had to elevate my angst by watching a Japanese kiddie film.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Conversation on Ai Otsuka, her songs and her music videos

Ai Otsuka in a kimono


Justin: I suspect Ai Otsuka suffers from manic depression, if only because I don't have any other way to explain the striking dichotomy of her songs: they are either hyper-upbeat, almost gleefully demented power-pop, or vulnerable, ingenuous ballads whose productions are detailed with patches of lovely instrumental color.

Singles like 'Sakuranbo' initially made me hate her: her 'upbeat' voice is a hyperspeed nasal squeal that quickly grates upon repeated listening. And I'm the sort of person who gets a kick out of Kana (click link to check out previous entry about her) and Ai Kago's voices, so you know this is some serious shit. (I also lived next to a Japanese girl who would play 'Sakuranbo' constantly, so my patience was tested beyond endurance). Other songs like "SMILY" and "Pon Pon" continued the trend. To get an idea of whether you'd actually enjoy listening to this, please inhale helium and scream the following four lines as fast as you can, with a simplistic (okay, moronic) 'da-da-da de duh de da-da-da' melody.

PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON
PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON
PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON
PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON PON

Friday, September 01, 2006

World Guide to Japanese Literature

Maybe I'm asking too much of Salon.com, but I hoped for something more in their literary guide to Japan. I shouldn't have been surprised, really, to find the entire article consisting of cliches: