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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


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.

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.


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:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SNAKES ON A PLANE is not as fun as the internet memes it spawned

Josh is a friend of mine who appeared in my two last short films, Forced Labour (look out for the guy who played rock, paper and scissors with Justin at the beginning of the film) and Vertical Distance (still unavailable to the public, alas) . He tends to go... overexcited at the movies.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Help Me Rename My Short Film!

Girl Disconnected is just the working title of my upcoming short film. Of course, originally, I was thinking of sticking with the title, but Yun Chin, my producer/ assistant director, felt that it doesn't seem appealing, or particularly memorable.

Location Hunting for GIRL DISCONNECTED

Was doing some location hunting for Brian The Cinematographer three days ago for my short film, Girl Disconnected. Went to University of Western Australia (first three photos are taken there), and then somewhere near the city beach (second three photos). Here are some photos for you all to ogle at. Once again, I used my usual blurry, dreamy effect from Photoshop, with varying degrees of success. They're all taken by Brian.