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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kimmy Kiew is Zoey, a Dawson's Creek character with ice powers

Memories of the Legendary Chicken Rice
Kimmy Kiew in Chicken Rice Mystery

You know that the main actress of your short film had turned into a star when, aside from scooping up the Best Acting honours from BMW Shorties, she was chosen as the 'face' of the film by the Dubai Film Fest in their film catalogue. (I sent them two photos: a above photo of Kimmy, and a photo of the kid, Ming Wei, they ended up choosing Kimmy's photo... sorry Ming Wei)

Monday, December 29, 2008

I DO have a clearer photo of Brigitte Lin from Dubai Film Fest!

Looking for photos to use in an email interview, I sifted through some remaining photos of the Dubai Film Fest closing ceremony that I haven't uploaded in my earlier post.

And I found a photo with Taiwanese filmmaker Chang Rong-Ji, who made the short film '天黑 The End Of The Tunnel', also in the same category as I was. His film is a mixture of fact and documentary, focusing on a real-life blind pianist and his (fictional) relationship with a pretty schoolmate who is healing a broken heart. The short film was his first attempt at narrative fiction as his previous works were all documentaries (one won the Golden Horse two years ago)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thomas Alfredson's 'Låt den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In) is hauntingly sweet


Not that many people I know (non-film buffs who don't keep track on foreign film news) have heard of this beautiful Swedish film directed by Thomas Alfredson, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. When I was asked to explain the premise of the film, I was a little hard-pressed, the best I could come up with was...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Shimaka Sato's K-20: Legend of the Mask K-20 怪人二十面相・伝 starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Takako Matsu

I didn't even know that this film is already playing in the cinemas until I saw the trailer on TV yesterday (or rather, early this morning, 4am), and I immediately decided to see it because, aside from the film festivals I attended, I haven't been to the cinemas in Tokyo for a long time.

K-20: LEGEND OF THE MASK (also known as K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES) is, in my opinion, Japan's attempt at the superhero genre, or to be more precise, the HOLLYWOOD superhero genre, because when I was seeing this film, I can't help but noticed many similarities between the film and the many superhero films that came out in Hollywood this year, especially with its admirably high production values.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Senso-ji (Asakusa Temple) does not celebrate Christmas

I don't celebrate Christmas, but I decided to do something for the day. The plan was simple. Meet up with my friend Sen-san (she's from China, her surname's Sen, and somehow 'Sen-san' is more catchy than her actual Chinese name, so that's what I always call her), have sushi at Ueno, and then go to cool places with Christmas decorations where I can snap some photos, and she can test her Nikon D70.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The many faces of Dubai

[Warning: this post has crapload of photos that might take some time to load]

More photos that I took from Dubai. By now, you might have some misconception that Dubai is this really huge extravagant city with new construction projects everyday, one colossal skyscraper threatening to outdo the other. I was curious about the place, I wanted to explore more. What is the real Dubai? Or rather, is there a different Dubai aside from the luxurious hotels, beautiful private beaches, huge malls I've seen during the first few days of the film festival?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seeing Tsui Hark and Brigitte Lin during my last day at the Dubai International Film Fest 2008!

Heya, I've already returned to Tokyo for two nights, but still, I think, a little jet laggy. Even so, that didn't stop me from immediately conducting audition sessions for my new film yesterday morning, and later today! (I'm such a workaholic!)

I'll post the photos from my last day at the Dubai Film Fest. But I'll still be posting many Dubai-related stuff in the next few days, like the numerous films I've seen etc.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY screenings at the Dubai International Film Fest

The screening for CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY was on the 13th and 14th. Evening on the first day, early afternoon on the second day. It's in competition under the AsiaAfrica Short Films category, and it was screened with 4 other short films of the same category.

Chicken Rice Mystery in the Dubai Film Fest catalogue

Aside from CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY, the other short films screened in the same programme were:

1) Ambulance, by Richard Legaspi of Philippines
2) Young Blood, by Haolun Shu of China
3) Everything Is Okay, by Akjoltoy Bekbolotov of Kyrgyzstan
4) Bakhytzhamal, by Adilkhan Yerzhanov of Kazakhstan

All directors were there to introduce the films, and then come back for the Q and A session after screening. Unfortunately, I only have photos of the first screening, and not the second. The following photos are from the Q and A session. Far left is Philip Cheah, programming consultant and moderator of the sessions. The first on the right was Haolun Shu, and then there's Richard standing beside me.

Q and A session

Question and Answer session 2

Speaking during the Q and A session

A photo of us having dinner after the screening. My dad was there too, of course. Dressed in red is Adilkhan Yerzhanov of Kazakhstan, in black is Akjoltoy Bekbolotov of Kyrgyzstan. Adilkhan is a major film buff who likes Johnnie To, Alexander Payne and Paul Thomas Anderson too. We have similar film tastes :D

Dinner after the screening

I had more questions to answer during my second day, where I was there to describe the creative process of the film, and also explain about the Malaysian Censorship in general to an audience member. I cheerily brought up the censorship issues faced by Flower In The Pocket, which I believe had been very helpful in encouraging the creativity of local filmmakers (in finding methods to avoid censors).

Overall, I have to say that this had been a fun experience. It's the first time I've ever seen my own directed film being screened in a multiplex, the sense of pride is a little different from, say, when I represented Ming Jin to present ELEPHANT AND THE SEA at its screening and Q and A session as producer during last year's Santiago Film Fest.

A few days later, dad and I had a conversation about Perth. It's only been two years since I've left the place, yet it felt so much longer. But then, maybe two years is a long time, it's just that two is such a small number, I should've just used '730 days' instead of '2 years' because it sounds longer. More than 730 days ago, my dad was also present during the screening of my student short film GIRL DISCONNECTED in my university. And now, more than 730 days later, I was given the privilege of having my short film screened at this Dubai Film Fest. It's almost as if we've gone full circle!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Photos from my first day at the Dubai International Film Festival 2008

Heya folks, been in Dubai since the 11th. Haven't had the time to go online until now. Saw lots of films, went through both screenings of CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY. So let me post some photos, I'll write more about my thoughts later.

Anyway, my dad came to Dubai too, and we're now staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which is one hell of a hotel.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Curious Incident Of The Vanishing Sunglasses

It's not that I'm imitating Wong Kar Wai or Takashi Miike, but I REALLY like to wear my sunglasses. I only choose not to wear it when I can't wear it, like during classes, or when the sky's too dark, or when I need women to see my soulful eyes... but that's it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The golden leaves of Yoyogi Park

For four consecutive days, my intended trip to Yoyogi Park (decided to go there after snapping photos of Ueno Park) was canceled by some unexpected event. Like stumbling into a role as an extra during a film shoot on Wednesday, and yesterday, I was suddenly issuing orders to kick start the pre-production of my new short film project.

When I woke up today, I saw lots of red leaves flying past my window, and the ground outside was covered completely with leaves. Winter had started five days ago, and I assumed that the red leaves of autumn will not last long on the trees. I was unaware of the transition until then. The sky was pale and gray, a gloominess that reflected my own melancholy. Melancholy? Or was it just the lingering effects of the flu pills I've taken?

The weather forecast on my Firefox said that it would rain later in the afternoon. Circumstances were forcing me into another race against time. Grabbing hold of my camera and my tripod, I decided to make my way to Yoyogi Park. I've been there a few times, mostly when I was walking to the NHK station at night for the Refugee Film Festival earlier this year, and once during a Thai carnival where many food stalls and tents were erected, so I never had a good look of the park.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I stumbled into a role as an extra in a new film with Love Exposure's Mitsushima Hikari

More incidents of stunning coincidence. More insane synchronicity.

On Monday, during a lab meeting (held every two weeks between film students in uni), my professor announced that two events will be happening in Waseda University on Wednesday (today):

Monday, December 01, 2008


I was on my way to the Takadanobaba station when I saw a large flock of birds flying around. So I took out my camera and snapped some photos.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

[TOKYO FILMeX] Love Exposure 愛のむきだし

Mitsushima Hikari as Yoko in Sono Sion's Love Exposure
Mitsushima Hikari as Yoko in Sono Sion's Love Exposure

(As I was finishing this post, I found out that this film had won the AGNES B. award at the Tokyo Filmex, congrats!)

After taking photos of Ueno Park yesterday, I rushed off to catch Sono Sion's LOVE EXPOSURE at Tokyo Filmex. Frankly, the main reason I wanted to catch the film was for the experience. It's not everyday that you see a 4-hour Japanese film around! There weren't anything else I knew about the film.

Having not seen any of Sono Sion's films prior to this, and having just read a Bela Tarr interview a day before, I had assumed that this would be a slow and languid arthouse flick that requires tons of endurance and patience. So I packed myself some Black Thunder (awesome chocolate biscuits that you can only get in Japan) and most importantly, a can of coffee. During the (Tokyo Filmex Grand Prize-winning!) WALTZ WITH BASHIR screening at the same film fest a few days earlier, I was dozing off at some parts (not because it was boring, but because I myself was tired), so I didn't want the same to happen again.

When Sono Sion and his cast came to introduce the film, he assured everyone that the film would be 'over in a flash'. I was reluctant to believe him.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Autumn at Ueno Park

I decided to go to Ueno Park today to see whether there were any autumn leaves left. I've never been to the park before and I thought a stroll there would bring me peace of mind. Bringing my trusty but crappy camera with me, here are some photos I snapped in the afternoon. It's a beautiful place, but I wish I had a good enough camera that can do the scenery justice.

I started out by snapping photos of the trees in the park. Not many golden leaves were left, but still a nice sight nonetheless.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Conversations With Other Women. The split screen technique.

More update on the Japanese short film I've been writing lately (read about my seriously comical research on Akihabara maids in preparation for my writing). Being a melancholic tale of an old man and a young girl wandering aimlessly through the empty streets at the span of a night, chit-chatting, and haunted by memories of lost love, missed opportunities etc.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



Just got back from STRIZH at the TOKYO FILMeX. The 2nd film I saw at the festival. I was watching this film in a perpetual state of annoyance and anger. It had nothing to do with the film itself but what happened to me during the screening.

Films I want to catch at the Dubai International Film Festival

The list of films for the Dubai International Film Festival had came out yesterday on their site. And I was absolutely blown away by their line-up.

Now, aside from presenting my own short film, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY, during its two screenings (I'm also facing some stiff competition under the Muhr AsiaAfrica Short category, and Naomi Kawase's chairing the jury committee for this, wow), I think I'll have plenty of time to catch as many films as possible during my eight days in Dubai.

So I will now make a quick list for the films I intend to watch for now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

[TOKYO FILMeX] Linha de Passe

Linha de Passe poster

I've only seen two Walter Salles films, 1998's CENTRAL STATION and 2004's THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, (I'm discounting the short films he did for PARIS JE'TAIME and CHACUN SON CINEMA, but I like his segment for the latter) I enjoyed the former, but I preferred the latter. Walter Salles also had a hand in producing one of my all-time favourite films, Fernando Mereilles' CITY OF GOD.

This film, LINHA DE PASSE, the opening film of TOKYO FILMeX, is a collaboration between Salles and long-time collaborator Daniela Thomas (she was co-director for most of Salles' pre-CENTRAL STATIOn films). She was there to present the film and also for the Q and A session.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shocked to see old high school friend in a short film!

A few nights ago, I had a really bizarre dream.

Megumi Yokata photo exhibition, TOKYO FILMeX Opening Ceremony + Tony Leung Ka Fai's 5 greatest roles

Originally, I've intended to write about both the TOKYO FILMeX opening ceremony, and then my thoughts on the opening film co-directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, LINHA DE PASSE (really good film). But I'll write my review in my next post.

I headed to Yurakucho rather early today because it's the opening of the TOKYO FILMeX and I wanted to make sure I can get tickets for LINHA DE PASSE. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there would be an opening ceremony before the screening of the film. Being one of the first to buy tickets at the door, I managed to secure two nice seats for myself and my friend, Mahmoud the Tunisian director. (Four rows from the screen)

Then as I waited for Mahmoud to come, I saw that there was a photo exhibition being at the next hall, so I went and had a look. It was a photo exhibition of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea in 1977.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Final thoughts on Rome trip and BMW Shorties

I suggest you read the following posts (or skim through the photos I painstakingly took) before you read this:

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 1) - Grand hotels, real Italian pizza and Via Veneto!

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 2) - the EASY VIRTUE premiere with Jessica Biel, the bittersweet fun at the International Rome Film Fest

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 1) - Unforgettable sights during the half-day city tour

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 2) - PRIDE AND GLORY premiere, Colin Farrell hides from me as I walk down the red carpet

Zahir Omar, me, Maha and Ide Nerina outside Grand Hotel Parco dei Principi before departure
Zahir Omar, me, Maha and Ida Nerina outside Grand Hotel Parco dei Principi before departure

It is now the 21st of November, Friday as I'm typing this. 2 weeks had passed since I came back to Tokyo. 3 weeks had passed since I returned to Malaysia from Rome, 4 weeks had passed since I returned to Malaysia from Tokyo to fly to Rome. 6 months had passed since CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY won the two awards at BMW Shorties, and gave me the trip to Rome.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[Tokyo International Film Festival] The Clone Returns To Homeland クローンは故郷をめざす

The Clone Returns To Homeland poster

I only managed to catch two films at the Tokyo International Film Festival last month before I got too busy preparing for the meetings at the Tokyo Project Gathering. The first one was the omnibus film headed by Mamoru Oshii, KILL. Which left me very underwhelmed, and immediately after that film, I went off to see THE CLONE RETURNS TO THE HOMELAND, because I was intrigued by its trailer and its title.

Kanji Nakajima's THE CLONE RETURNS TO THE HOMELAND is a rare live-action Japanese science fiction film, and even rarer, an arthouse sci-fi film more in the vein of SOLARIS (I haven't seen either Tarkovsky nor Soderbergh's version, but that's what this film's been commonly compared with in other reviews) than STAR WARS. And being modestly budgeted, the film's aesthetics reminds me of the much-underrated GATTACA. It's more about the ideas and philosophy behind the science, it is the cinematic equivalent of a 'hard sci-fi' novel (that all my life, I could never seem to finish), but instead of being too technical and dry, the deliberately-paced film won me over because it was so visually poetic and marvellously acted.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ICHI 市 starring Haruka Ayase

poster of Ichi starring Haruka Ayase

I first saw the teaser of ICHI back in June, it was shown before the other Haruka Ayase vehicle, CYBORG, SHE. And I was mildly intrigued by the idea of doing a gender switch on the classic Zatoichi character, of course, by the time CYBORG, SHE ended, I immediately took a liking to Haruka Ayase and made a mental note to watch this film.

Monday, November 17, 2008

17th of November. Mom's Birthday. A Video Retrospective

Today's my mom's birthday. Unlike last year, where I was able to celebrate the day with a whole gang of relatives like my grandma, uncle, aunt and cousins, I'm here in Tokyo. So for this event, I shall re-post some of the older videos of my mom so that you people will know her more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A serious research on Akihabara maids

Uploaded by kalandrakas

As I've mentioned before, during the past week, I've been doing some research for my new short film, like watching Hong Sang-Soo films.

Despite the improvisational nature of my film shoots, I tend to make sure I have an actual script first. And I managed to turn in the first draft of the script last night. There was something lacking. The early feedback I've gotten were somewhat lukewarm, those who liked it liked it for its premise and atmosphere (two lonely souls wandering through empty streets at night, talking, haunted by memories of lost love and missed opportunities, unspoken words etc.) than the actual content.

Ming Jin pointed out that the story needs to be fleshed out more, and it's something I need to draw my own experiences from. Also, more research has to be done as well. The former is hard because I'm (relatively?) young, and I normally rely more on my creativity and imagination for stories.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 2) - PRIDE AND GLORY premiere, Colin Farrell hides from me as I walk down the red carpet

If you're interested, read the following posts (even if you don't want to read, there are tons of beautiful photos) before you read this:

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 1) - Grand hotels, real Italian pizza and Via Veneto!

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 2) - the EASY VIRTUE premiere with Jessica Biel, the bittersweet fun at the International Rome Film Fest

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 1) - Unforgettable sights during the half-day city tour

I think this will be the second last post of my Rome trip. (I'll wrap it up with some final thoughts of the trip and my own experience with BMW Shorties)

I would like to divulge a little secret that not a single soul at the Rome Film Festival knew during the night of the PRIDE AND GLORY (new film starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell) premiere.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Watching Hong Sang-Soo films, discovering Miwa Nishikawa. Researching for new short film.

My posting here had been erratic because I've spent the past few days trying to do some research for my writing. I intend to do another short film, and this isn't the ambitious one-taker that I've been talking about last month (I'm planning to do that in Malaysia instead). The ideas for this new film came during my time at the TIFFCOM, and I continued playing around with it in my mind when I was in Rome, and then Malaysia.

During conversations with coursemates, I've half-jokingly said that I would adapt SNOW COUNTRY by Yasunari Kawabata, but instead of having a man and a geisha, I'll update it so that it'll be about a middle-aged salaryman and an Akihabara maid (or a waitress in a maid cafe). I just had images of two lonely figures traversing down the empty streets of Akihabara (which, unlike Shinjuku and Shibuya, seems really empty and isolated at night) The reason why I thought of using an Akihabara maid is because they are often figures of ridicule by the non-Otaku crowd, and the sight of Akihabara maids trying to give out tissues and leaflets to disinterested people at the streets always feel a little poignant to me. So why not try to examine a person behind the cute costume? After all, the 'subservient maid' is just a role they play at their workplace.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rome Day 2 (Pt. 1) - Unforgettable sights during the half-day city tour

If you're interested, read the following posts before you read this:

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 1) - Grand hotels, real Italian pizza and Via Veneto!

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 2) - the EASY VIRTUE premiere with Jessica Biel, the bittersweet fun at the International Rome Film Fest

(This post is much delayed because I had to look through Wikipedia first to make sure I knew which places I actually visited during my half-day city tour in Rome.)

Our time in Rome was short, only two nights, so it was absolutely necessary for us to see the famous sights, otherwise we would return home in embarrassment. Thus Vijay hired a van for us to bring us around for a half-day city tour. Note that being a half-day city tour, we didn't have the time to enter any of the places, the queues were too long, so we had to make do with snapping photos and continue running to the next destination.

I can't say that I'm a hardcore fan of Roman history, because I didn't really memorize everything about it. But I remember spending hours once two years ago reading about its history on Wikipedia. Did you know that Nero, the CD burning software, is named after an ancient Roman emperor who burned his own city? See? This blog is absolutely enlightening, no?

We passed by the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II) and I was AWED because the architecture was so awe-inducing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace poster

I just got back to Tokyo, but I managed to catch a preview of QUANTUM OF SOLACE on Wednesday night, before I flew off.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Witnessing history before returning to Tokyo again.

I'm flying back to Tokyo in eight hours. It's now an hour past midnight.

Jason, my Hong Kong friend in Tokyo, had once asked me why I follow the U.S. news so much. Why do I watch the Daily Show? Why do I watch Letterman? Why not follow just as regularly the news of any other countries? Why not, say, my own?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 2) - the EASY VIRTUE premiere with Jessica Biel and Ben Barnes at the Rome International Film Festival


When flying to Rome, I was in a mild state of panic because, while we were all told to bring along DVDs of our BMW Shorties-winning films (just in case we had screen it when attending the Young Directors Project Shorties Presentation at the Rome Film Fest later that night), I brought LOVE SUICIDES (my latest short film) instead of CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY by accident.

I was resourceful (when you're a disorganized and forgetful person, you'll end up learning how to clean your own crap), and came up with all kinds of methods to remedy this problem ever since we stopped briefly at Dubai for transit. I swiftly asked my sister to upload the ISO file onto Yousendit so I could download from there and burn a copy. Unfortunately, my resourcefulness was defeated by the ever unreliable Streamyx, and it was impossible for her to upload a 1GB file online without facing non-stop disconnections. I guess I've been pampered by the insane Internet speed in Tokyo, where it would take only ten minutes (or less) to upload a 1GB file.

In the end, knowing that I didn't have CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY with me, I was somewhat distraught, but told myself that LOVE SUICIDES was probably more suited for European sensibilities etc. anyway. It would be impactful to see a short film with devastatingly heartbreaking scenes of a mother force feeding her cute little daughter:

Rome Day 1 (Pt. 1) - Grand hotels, real Italian pizza and Via Veneto!

(Continued from this post)

After a brief stop over at Dubai, we continued our flight to Rome.

This trip to the Rome International Film Festival was part of the prize I won from the BMW SHORTIES for Chicken Rice Mystery back in May. I'm traveling with fellow winner Mahaletchumi Tavamany ('Sing in the Rain'), and two judges Zahir (last year's BMW Shorties winner, director of K-HOLE and TEDDY AND I) and famed actress Ida Nerina.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Malaysian Actress Lai Ming, Golden Horse Best Supporting Actress nominee

I came back from Rome two nights ago (photos and blow-by-blow account will come in the next post), and was pleasantly surprised by the recent newspaper coverage of Malaysian veteran actress, Lai Ming, who had recently received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at this year's Golden Horse Awards for her work in Jack Neo's MONEY NO ENOUGH 2.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Waiting at the Dubai International Airport

I've reached Dubai.

Currently waiting at the gate. People are boarding onto the plane now.

The Dubai International Airport's pretty awesome.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Hello, Justin here.

If you've been reading this blog for a long time, you're probably familiar with me.

Anyway, I'm here to do a bit of self-promotion.

First off:

Quentin S. Crisp kindly whores out my writing.

Next up, be sure to buy Postscripts #17, which contains my story "The Plot."

Or better yet, buy the hardcover version, which is signed by me.

Okay, that's all.

Wait, I forgot. Keep reading Chomu.

Thank you.

Creating Gems on Screen - Interview with The Star

Just a few hours from flying to Rome. Taking the midnight flight. Will stop by at Dubai. Going for dinner after posting this.

I was interviewed by Nicole last week while I was in Tokyo, and her column, CREATING GEMS ON SCREEN, came out on the Metro section of The Star yesterday. Unfortunately, she didn't have enough space to squeeze in my answer to her last question, so I'll put it here instead.

Friday, October 24, 2008

HOPELANDER at the Tokyo Project Gathering 2008

I've just returned from Tokyo a few hours ago. Haven't been able to update the blog during the past few days because I've been busy with the Tokyo Project Gathering, a co-production market held in conjunction with the Tokyo International Film Fest and TIFFCOM.

Monday, October 20, 2008

[Tokyo International Film Festival] Kill 斬, an omnibus film by Takanori Tsujimoto, Kenta Fukasaku, Minoru Tahara and Mamoru Oshii

[Tokyo International Film Festival] Poster of the Mamoru Oshii-supervised KILL
poster of KILL

I saw two films at the TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL today, the much-anticipated KILL (official site), and THE CLONE RETURNS TO THE HOMELAND, both Japanese films having their world premieres, I couldn't resist. Normally, I have a personal rule NOT to review films from film festivals I'm invited to (that's why I didn't review a single thing I saw at the SANTIAGO or HONG KONG film fests). I don't want to diss films that my own production is competing against because it'll make me look classless.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Ali (Arshad Zamir) giving Miss Carol (Carmen Soo) a ride on his bicycle

KURUS, or DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY, continues its festival run. Here are two recent reviews of the film from our Southeast Asian neighbours.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Girl With A Melancholic Face

Maybe it was the booth girls, or the cosplayers.

But when I went back to bed after breakfast this morning, I dreamed of a girl with a melancholic face.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Babes of Tokyo Game Show 2008

[WARNING: Lots of photos in this entry, may take some time to load.]

I went to the Tokyo Game Show 2008 today.

Me and two elf girls at the Tokyo Game Show 2008

Although I don't mention it much in this blog, but I'm an avid gamer ever since I was a child. While film will always be my one and greatest love, video games and literature might tie for second. In fact, when I'm in Malaysia, during down periods (no film shoots), I actually spend more time playing the PS2 (I'm always in some RPG marathon, I've completed all the Final Fantasy games except the first 3) than reading a book.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Trying to resurrect a short film project

It's already the second week of classes. This semester is shaping up to be much less stressful compared to the previous one. There's no hardcore 13-session intensive Japanese courses where I have to wake up at 8 in the morning to attend. Just four sessions of what I think is important to me (one oral class, one listening class, two grammar classes)

It's not stress that I cannot handle, but the repetition. By being so wrapped up with my Japanese classes then, I was in a slight lull. I felt that the world had been passing me by in Malaysia while I was sitting in a classroom learning Japanese. Hence my desperation in trying to do something, well, anything. Anything just to connect myself with filmmaking again.

That's why I tried to develop a short film back in May (tentatively titled YUKI). A Japanese-language film based loosely on a Yasunari Kawabata short story I read (like my latest, LOVE SUICIDES). Unfortunately, things hadn't progressed much since then.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paco and the Magic Book パコと魔法の絵本 and its 'maximalistic' filmmaking)

Paco and the magic book

I was first exposed to Tetsuya Nakashima's filmmaking not through the internationally-acclaimed MEMORIES OF MATSUKO (which I was absolutely in awe of), but through a brilliant short film by him done quite a few years ago (could be 2004 or 2005, not sure), ROLLING BOMBER SPECIAL, which starred SMAP's Katori Shingo and totally makes fun of the Super Sentai (Power Rangers, Masked Riders etc.) genre.

This short film is a MUST-WATCH.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY selected for competition at Dubai International Film Fest 2008

Shooting a flashback scene

I actually received the email a few nights ago and chose to keep it mum until it's a certainty. So yes, it's confirmed, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY had been selected for competition at the Dubai International Film Fest 2008 this December. It will be featured in the short section of the Muhr Awards for Excellence in AsiaAfrica Cinema programme. A tremendous honour, and I'm truly elated about this.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I like Satomi Ishihara, but I don't really get Flying Rabbits フライングラビッツ

Flying Rabbits Poster

As I watch Satomi Ishihara on TV right now, interviewing the singer and voice actress Aoi Teshima (known for voicing Therru in Ghibli's TALES FROM EARTHSEA, she has a fantastic fantastic singing voice!), repressed memories of two weeks ago came back to me and filled my heart with sorrow.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Impromptu Paul Newman tribute. Thoughts on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

Paul Newman

Frankly, up until he recently passed away, my impression of Paul Newman had always been vague. I remember more of the old Paul Newman than the young Paul Newman who was at the height of his fame. I remember him best in the awesome ROAD TO PERDITION. (And also for the Newman's Own food products I used to see at Perth supermarkets).

Monday, September 29, 2008

DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY (KURUS) wins award at Bangkok International Film Festival

Miss Carol (Carmen Soo) tries to pick up books from the pond

Just got an email from Ming Jin early this morning (around 3am). Our film, DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY (known to Malaysian audiences as KURUS) had won the Special Jury Prize at the Bangkok International Film Festival's Golden Kinnaree Awards last night, under the South-East Asian Competition.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Burn after reading... Salman Rushdie's MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

I got myself this book two years ago in Perth. Not through purchase, but by forcing Justin to swap his MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN with my THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN (by John Fowles). It was a fair trade. He didn't like magical realism, while I do, and he ended up enjoying the latter immensely anyway.

But this isn't exactly a book review, just a quick note on how I felt after finishing Salman Rushdie's MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN yesterday afternoon. It didn't really take me that long to finish the book, really. I picked it up during my two weeks in Malaysia earlier this month, read through chunks of it on certain days in the LRT, then more as I flew back to Tokyo. Because the in-flight entertainment was down throughout half of my journey and I couldn't watch any films on the plane except THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, I spent most of the time reading instead.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mom force-feeds little girl (a scene from Love Suicides)

Kimmy forcefeeds Li Hui

Heya folks, as I've promised, I'm posting up the following scene to give everyone a sneak peek of my new short film LOVE SUICIDES.

Shout-out to the cast and crew of my film LOVE SUICIDES

Heya all, in case you don't know, I've gotten back to Tokyo last Friday night. Sorry for my lack of updates recently, been busy finishing up the editing of my new film, LOVE SUICIDES.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Film shoot at Kuala Selangor 3

The following photos are taken during the same day as my previous post, but this time, with Mei Fen's camera.

I'm going back to Tokyo tomorrow and will do the finishing touches for my new short film when I'm back there. However, I've already completed a rough cut of the film yesterday. Didn't really take such a long time, actually. I started yesterday 4ish in the morning, slept a little, then got most of it done by afternoon. And then worked on it a little more when Ming Jin, Han and the rest came over at night for some feedback.

Now I understand why most indie filmmakers here like doing minimalistic films with long quiet takes. My new film is like this, and it's just so much easier to edit compared to my previous ones like CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and FLEETING IMAGES! There are some long lingering shots to help establish rhythm and atmosphere, but I seriously don't think it's as slow-paced as a Tsai Ming Liang film. Going for long takes and having minimal dialogue (Kimmy only has two lines in the film, the little girl Erica never talks) really doesn't mean that the film has to be slow, things do constantly happen onscreen (look at Wall-E).

P.S. Erica is a Malaysian Dakota Fanning.

Anyway, here are the photos:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Film shoot at Kuala Selangor 2

Went back to Kuala Selangor to finish up my new (but still untitled) short film yesterday. Kimmy's scenes were done on Saturday (photos here), so I only needed to do the little girl, Erica/ Li Hui's scenes.

The shoot was much more relaxing because we only had to leave in the afternoon. We were about to return to the Malay house, but went the wrong way and found some really beautiful paddy fields instead. We decided that the place is so beautiful that we have to shoot a scene there. I wanted to pull off a Terence Malick DAYS OF HEAVEN-type shots.

(note: All these photos are taken by Miharu with her cellphone)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Film shoot at Kuala Selangor

The shoot yesterday at Kuala Selangor for my new (yet untitled) short film was a success. Started out a few hours later than anticipated (... seriously need a production manager in the future), but managed to finish way ahead of schedule.

Shoot was really smooth, but towards the end, poor Li Hui, our 7-year-old main actress started crying. Film shoots can be quite boring and stressful for a child, even if working with a director who barely raises his voice like me. Will have to prepare a DS for her tomorrow, perhaps. Or comics.

All the photos were taken by Han.

Happy (Belated) Birthday to my little sister!

Yesterday (Sept 13) was my little sister's birthday, unfortunately, I had was shooting my new short film and was unable to celebrate with her.

So happy belated birthday, little sister.

Here is a photo of her being attacked by the Pedobunny at Puroland because, even though she's really 19 this year, she still looks underage.

(She doesn't look that different from 13 years ago)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Location scouting at Kuala Selangor

Ming Jin and I went location scouting yesterday at Kuala Selangor for my new short film (the untitled part 2 of my 'BAD MOMMA TRILOGY' that started with CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY).

It was my first time at Kuala Selangor, and I got to see some of the locations where THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA was shot. But I myself managed to find a couple of really interesting places for tomorrow's shoot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why I always have casting nightmares during productions

I've trying to find a child actress for my new short film during the past few days. In addition to that, I've also been recovering from a mild case of food poisoning (I've been visiting the toilet pretty frequently)

I've managed to find myself a child actress this morning, which was really an act of desperation. Before that, I've been gathering the contacts of professional child actresses, I tried to avoid those who were represented by agents because... I can't really afford them.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dance of the Dragon 龙之舞 is... er, special

Fann Wong and Jang Hyuk in DANCE OF THE DRAGON

My dad suggested yesterday that I should try to go to the cinema and catch DANCE OF THE DRAGON, a film I've never heard of starring Fann Wong and Korean actor Jang Hyuk ('Volcano High' and 'Windstruck'). He said that he heard the film had won numerous awards at some film festival lately, which made me a little curious, so I tried to check its info on the newspapers, and on its tiny poster, it listed out the glorious awards it won at the inaugural WEST HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (WHIFF), including BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR (Jang Hyuk) and BEST ACTRESS (Fann Wong).

So I went online to find reviews about the film, and managed to stumble upon somewhat positive reviews of the film here and here, and was... convinced. I was also intrigued by its cast and crew (seemingly all white, including co-directors and writers John Radel and Max Mannix, the latter an Australian). A Singaporean film with an international cast and crew? Might be interesting.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The view from my plane

Finally reached Malaysia last night.

My plane was 10am, but if you follow my Twitter, you'll know that I decided to go to Narita Airport the night before and slept there. I didn't want to face the risk of missing an early train to the airport and miss the flight since the check-in time was supposed to be 7:30am.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

20th Century Boys 20世紀少年'

Poster of 20th Century Boys 20世紀少年

Aside from PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA, this film is THE Japanese film event of the year. The first installment of an ambitious, sprawling trilogy with a reported total budget of 6 billion yen (that's 60 million USD, posters claim that it's an all-time high) starring Japan's most popular actors and comedians (it's the most star-studded Japanese film I've seen since Mitani's THE MAGIC HOUR) and based on a 24-volume award-winning manga series by Naoki Urasawa (same guy who did MONSTER).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Things to do when I return to Malaysia on the 3rd of September

I'm going back to Malaysia next Wednesday, but I'm only going to be back for 16 days. I haven't been updating the blog much this week because I've been doing some preparations for my return, along with some last-minute shopping as well.

I intend to shoot a short film (tentatively titled 'POSTCARD AND BALLOONS') when I come back, that's why I've been spending most of the past week sitting in cafes, writing my script. Initially, I was doing my writing at the Starbucks in either Shibuya or Shinjuku, but realized that going to either of these two places take away too much of my time, especially since it's been raining everyday, so I've shifted to the uni cafe instead. It's been great, I actually finished the first draft of my new script yesterday, and I'm hoping to get Kimmy to act again since our collaboration in CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY had been so successful. :D

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM the Jackie Chan / Jet Li pairing I've been waiting for?

Pardon the lack of updates, been busy writing a 400-word short story, having a MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA marathon, pondering the ending of my new script, and, well, some other stuff. So, here you go, a review of THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM I watched this morning.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Liveblogging the Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremony

Just like what I did with the opening ceremony, I'm going to try to liveblog the closing ceremony as well. But instead of flooding my Twitter like before, I going to try something new. Hence the window below.

TOKYO! omnibus film by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon Ho

I was in a cafe at Shibuya two days ago, struggling to write the script for a new short film. It went well except for the fact that I just couldn't figure out the damn ending.

After sitting there for three hours, I thought I needed a break, and most probably inspiration. So I headed off to see TOKYO! An omnibus film featuring segments done by French filmmakers Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho. The only connection between the three half-hour segment is that they're all set in Tokyo.

THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA in cinemas now!

I know some of you folks don't follow my postings at THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA blog, so I'll announce here:

Yup, THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA had opened at Cathay Cineleisure since Thursday and will be around for two weeks! So please check it out! Then you can check out my very first (and probably only) attempt at composing. (aside from serving as co-producer, I did the additional editing and music for the film's theatrical release)

Here are three reviews of the film that have popped out recently.

You can read The Visitor's interview with director Ming Jin as well.

Thanks for the reviews, guys.

Once again, here's the trailer.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh wow, SPEED is getting back together!



Got this from Tokyograph.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

'The Sky Crawlers スカイ・クロラ' by Mamoru Oshii


I went to see THE SKY CRAWLERS, the latest film by Mamoru Oshii yesterday.

I've completed my novel

Back in February, I said something about dusting off my Nanowrimo 2005 novel. Just to summarise what I posted then: I participated in the National Novel Writing Month back in 2005, I reached 50 000 words but never completed the story. I wanted to finish it one and for all.

The fantasy/scifi novel was based on ideas, concepts and characters I was working on since my secondary school years, one of those rare periods of my life where the childhood dream of filmmaking was put aside for something else. I wanted to write an epic fantasy story so epic that it would probably take 4-5 books to complete. Through those years, I was collaborating with a friend on it. What filmmaking is to me now was what the story was to me then. Almost everything.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chacun son cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema)

Chacun son cinéma

I was originally planning to see SKY CRAWLERS or anything offered at the Shinjuku cinemas after meeting up with Maiko the producer regarding the status of our short film, YUKI (she's going to Kyoto end of this month for a 2-month internship at Toei, so had to see what to do next). But then she mentioned about her watching 'Chacun son cinéma' sometime ago at Shibuya. 'Chacun son cinéma' is an omnibus film commissioned last year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is FINAS really helping to develop the Malaysian film industry?

This was forwarded to the Malaysian Cinema mailing list yesterday. It's from a filmmaker named Ahmad Yazid:

Hiking in Nasu

This happened more than 3 weeks ago, when I was at the ESC (English Summer Camp) in Nasu.

The ESC is held throughout the end of July to early August. Each round lasts for 3 days 2 nights, I think there were a total of 6 to 7 rounds. I went to the first round, and we had Japanese kids in the first year of junior high (13 year olds). They have just started learning English this year, I was there, along with numerous international students, as 'team captains' to help interact with them in English.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the camp, to me, was the hiking. It was horrifying to see how quick the kids were as they just sped through the hiking trails in the forest while we, the team captains, were trying to keep up with them. I doubt the 13-year-old me would have survived the hiking, being the fat nerdy kid I was.

I'll be posting up some photos from the summer camp in the next few days. But here
are the hiking ones. I can't really remember the name of the place though. :(

Photos of us beginning our journey:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

'The Incredible Hulk' isn't better than Ang Lee 'The Hulk'

THE INCREDIBLE HULK poster directed by Louis Leterrier, starring Edward Norton

Just saw it today.

When I first heard the news of this 'reboot' of the HULK franchise, I had mixed feelings. Firstly, the HULK, being such a well-known Marvel character, might have the potential to become a franchise, so I understood the need to do a more commercial and action-packed HULK film for the masses so they can erase the bad taste from Ang Lee's 2003 film.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Organizing THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA press premiere

The press conference of THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA
(From left to right) Ming Jin the director, Berg Lee, Ng Meng Hui and Chung Kok Keong

THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA finally had its press premiere yesterday morning. I was so excited that I called Ming Jin just before it started to check out on things, and to remind him who were to attend it. But now that I've already read Ming Jin's post about the premiere, I felt only relief. The past week of putting this together had been hectic. Especially when Ming Jin had to head off to the Brisbane International Film Festival for the screening of KURUS (aka DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY) and I was left to handle things.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The Dark Knight poster

THE DARK KNIGHT premiered in Tokyo yesterday. I finally got to see it. The wait was excruciating! The hype of the film had been colossal, it's been breaking one box-office record after another and judging by its momentum, it is most likely going to be the second top-grossing movie of all-time in the US (behind Titanic, before adjustment to inflation).

After seeing the film, I'm a little baffled by the crazy amount of money it's making. It's quite a dark and intense film, not as cheery as the Spidey films, not as family-friendly as Shrek 2 or Pirates of the Caribbean 2), yet in just 3 weeks, it made more money than the likes of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Spider-man 1 etc.

I think it's probably due to a few factors, like this being Heath Ledger's last complete role, the goodwill from the previous film Batman Begins (read my review here), the insane hype generated from fan anticipation, marketing campaign etc. And this film's proving to have legs because of the extensive media coverage it had gotten with each of the box-office record it had broken, sparking curiosity from people who weren't initially interested in superhero films, and even those who didn't see the first film.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Liveblogging the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

The ceremony was spectacular. But I wasn't very coherent.

(Start from the bottom)

Liveblogging the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony 2
Liveblogging the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

(Some really awesome photos of the Opening Ceremony at Boston.com. Too bad they don't have the one where Li Ning lit up the Olympic Torch. That one gave me the goosebumps)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Watching Kahimi Karie (and Rei Harakami) live at Liquidroom

[Unrelated note: I found out that KURUS was on TV again yesterday. Ming Jin is currently in Australia for the Brisbane International Film Festival, where KURUS ('Days of the Turquoise Sky' to the foreigners) is screening. Interested to know what the Aussies think about the film.]

Kahimi Karie
Kahimi Karie

I went to the Liquidroom at Ebisu for one of their 4th year anniversary events on Wednesday night, a live performance by Kahimi Karie and the electronic musician Rei Harakami. I first read about this from Japan Times two weeks ago, and immediately decided to go even though ticket price is a little steep.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Chicken Rice For The Win - Interview with The Malay Mail

Last week, I did an email interview with Gabey Goh of The Malay Mail. The article, Chicken Rice For The Win, came out on the newspapers yesterday, but it's online now! I talk about filmmaking and blogging.


Or you can just scroll down and read the interview below:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008




Guess it's time for me to make this announcement too.

All righty folks, we (that's Greenlight Pictures) have officially begun pre-selling tickets for the award-winning film THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA!

I was involved in the film as associate producer, also did some additional editing and composing for its Malaysian version (the music you hear in the trailer is mine).

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea 崖の上のポニョ is beautiful

A confession. When I was watching Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea at the cinema yesterday, I was a little choked up during one scene. And yes, damn it, I teared up too. I was so awed by the exuberance and beauty of a scene that I couldn't help but find a single tear trickling down my face. I won't spoil that scene, but it involves the storm, and a girl running frantically ON the crashing waves.

Yes, I went 'Wow' and teared up.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Final Fantasy 6 FANDUB!!!

My love affair with Final Fantasy games started 14 years ago, the first game that got me into it was Final Fantasy VI (known to me as Final Fantasy 3 then). I first borrowed the Japanese version of the game from a schoolmate, loved it, and then I received the English version from dad as my birthday gift, I was totally giddy with joy. Before the days of Playstation, where pirated games can be bought for 5 ringgit each, each game then was precious to me. I ended up only having around 10 games for my Super Nintendo because each game was so insanely expensive, and most of these 10 games I had were the classics: Mario Kart, Secret of Mana, Super Metroid, Twinbee, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6 etc.

Yet Final Fantasy 6 was special to me. I lived and breathed it. Its soundtrack (still the best, in my opinion) was constantly playing on my CD player. I named characters after people I know to immerse myself even more into the world. It's the only Final Fantasy game to date (yes, I've played and completed all FF games that came out since then except the MMORPG FF11) that I play through more than once.

So when I stumbled upon this gem on Youtube late last night, I could barely contain my giggly giddying glee. Immediately, I sent the link to Justin, asking him to watch it. On my MSN list, aside from my little sister, he was the only one who had played the game, the only one who, like me, grew up with FF6.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Photos of Ginza, Yurakucho and Otemachi

3 years ago, I participated in the Nanowrimo, and attempted to write a fantasy/sci-fi novel. I succeeded in hitting 50 000 words then, but never really finished the story. And once my childhood dreams of filmmaking became a reality, my focus turned elsewhere. Nonetheless, I've been a little more than bothered that I left the novel unfinished, and being a non-fan of loose ends, I decided to attempt the impossible and actually pick up where I left of in 2005.

So I've actually been spending the last few days writing. I doubt the novel will ever get published (I said THAT novel will never get published, I didn't say that I would never try to get a novel published in the future), but I needed closure.

But staying in my room all the time isn't exactly that healthy, so as usual, I needed a walk. When my friend Jason asked whether I wanted to go to Ginza with him (he had some business to attend to), I immediately said yes. I haven't been to Ginza since I came to Tokyo in April.

However, the hotel I stayed in during my earliest visits in Tokyo (1991, 1992) was in Ginza, and it was during my later visits that my parents switched to Shinjuku. I'm definitely more familiar with Shinjuku, but coming to Ginza, I felt as if I were in a different place. If Shinjuku were Bukit Bintang, then Ginza is Starhill, just like how Jason, who came from Hong Kong, described that Ginza is the Causeway Bay to Shinjuku's Mongkok.

Shinjuku is more chaotic, with more people, more shops and the like. While Ginza's a classier affair. I saw more old-fashioned cafes than fastfood restaurants, plenty of boutiques and shops selling traditional Japanese items (paper fans, yukata, kimono, decorations etc.) than electronic shops. But I was a little surprised to see a huge poster of Maggie Cheung on one of the buildings.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The 31st Sumida River Fireworks Festival

I just came back from the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. This is the biggest and most spectacular fireworks display in Tokyo. Happens annually, with nearly 900,000 spectators (it definitely felt like that when I went there just now). 20 000 rockets were fired from two bases along the Sumida River in a visual feast that lasted over an hour.

Apparently, the display includes a competition between rival firework companies. I think it's definitely the most awesome fireworks display I've ever seen in my life, unfortunately, I have a crappy camera, so I cannot really do justice to what I saw, but I'll upload the video I shot there sometime soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008


[UPDATED: 26TH OF JULY, 2008] Jason Gray has posted about the PIA Film Festival 2008 Winners.

I just came back from the PIA Film Fest in Shibuya again (read about my thoughts on SEMIGAO and TENGU LEAF, two films I saw at the fest on Saturday). I couldn't catch the rest of the films in competition, but managed to see SEISMIC GIRL by Tatenai Kenta and GOODBYE, GEORGE ADAMSKI by Kodama Kazuto, the two films from the NEW DIRECTIONS IN JAPANESE CINEMA project. They are films produced under the Agency for Cultural Affairs' 35mm short film production support projects. Basically, the project is to allow filmmakers (previous finalists of the film fest) to experience true 35mm filmmaking (all films in competition at the festival, being self-produced, are of course shot digitally).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gone for 3 nights and the world had changed... Tony Leung and Carina Lau got married??

I finally got back from Nasu after being gone for three nights. I can't believe that while I was hiking at Nasu, teaching (or rather, TRYING TO TEACH) 13-year-old Japanese kids English (pics and posts about that later), the whole world had changed.

My mom greeted me on MSN immediately after she saw me online and gave me a video link (it's in Chinese).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

[30th PIA Film Festival] SEMIGAO and TENGU LEAF

I first heard about the PIA Film Festival (English site here) from my friend Maiko (who is supposed to produce my next Japanese-language short film). It's an important film festival that launched many careers of young Japanese filmmakers, normally when winning an award at the Tokyo PFF, their films end up touring around the nation, and some, of course, get invited to important foreign film fests. There were some winners at the Berlin Film Festival too. Naomi Kawase was a Pia winner, I heard Kiyoshi Kurosawa was one too.

Today was the opening of the 30th Pia Film Festival, so I decided to go there and check out two of the films in competition. It's only 1200 yen (300 yen cheaper than a normal film), and I get to watch 2 films, so it's a good deal.

The festival is held in a cinema at Shibuya Crosstower, the place was filled with young people, probably university students too. Unsurprising, since the filmmakers are those around my age as well. The cinema was packed, and I started wondering if a similar event was held in Malaysia, whether it would be just as successful. It's not a bad start though. A film festival for student films held in a cinema, of course, the tickets have to be cheaper as well.

In the little-seen (and UNDERRATED) Antonio Banderas film, THE 13TH WARRIOR, his character managed to learn Norse miraculously in a night by sitting with the crowd of vikings he was traveling with, and listening closely to their conversations. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm doing the same when i go to the cinema to watch a Japanese film without subtitles. Often I don't understand most of the dialogue, but I find myself 'understanding' the plot.

Both films I saw, SEMIGAO 蝉顔 and TENGU LEAF 天狗の葉 seem to revolve around the same themes. The disaffected young people in contemporary Japan, whose relationships with their family members are friendly but somewhat distant, and they are those who are left behind by the rapidly moving society. However, both use vastly different methods to tell their stories.

Saturday Epic Anime Scene - Final Shootout in Cowboy Bebop (aka Chow Yun Fat was cool!)

It's getting harder to find an epic anime scene on Youtube. It doesn't help that every single search result I get is some rubbish AMV (anime music video) that ALWAYS use Linkin Park's songs. I was once fascinated by AMV years ago, some are bloody awesome, especially those that are capable of splicing characters from different animes into the same video. It was slightly before I started learning my own video editing, and I think in some ways, watching AMV could've been an influence.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Solitary late night walk to FamilyMart

During my Perth days, I always liked the idea of taking a late night walk to, say, a convenience store nearby. Either to buy a drink, or some snacks (often a chocolate bar).

But back then, I was usually going to the petrol station opposite Murdoch University. I remember going there almost every night whenever I had to sleep over at the editing rooms.

I like walking at night when certain places and the route I take are only partially illuminated by the streetlights, or the lights of the school buildings. There's something magical about those once-familiar places at night.

When walking alone, away from the editing rooms, I'm alone with my thoughts, I can take a breather, thinking over on what to do next, mentally reassessing previous scenes to see what I've done wrong, or I can just think nothing, and hear only the sound of my own footsteps, and the distant sound of cars passing by.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I normally don't cut trailers for short films. I think it's way too hard to do it, and I feel that I'm doing it at the risk of 1) giving away too much of the story or 2) making my films look worse than they really are.

Normally, Hollywood trailers are 2 and a half minutes. 2 and a half minutes for a 90-100 minute long film is reasonable, but if a 10 minute short film has such a long trailer, I'm already showing a quarter of the film. That's as bad as doing a 25-minute long trailer.

However, a certain film festival (name withheld so that I can save myself the embarrassment of not being selected) I've submitted both short films to have stated that trailers for submissions are optional. I felt a little conflicted, then I thought, 'why not?'. Might as well try it out. So I ended up editing a trailer for each of my film, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and my latest one, FLEETING IMAGES.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Live-action version of The Last Love Song on This Little Planet 最終兵器彼女 is rather lacking

Shortly after first watching Shunji Iwai's Love Letter ten years ago, I developed a little teenage crush on Sakai Miki, who played the young Itsuki in the film. It's impossible not to, there was this innocent beauty in her, coupled by the gracefulness of the scenes she was in. Especially the one where she skates by herself in the midst of a pure white snowy plains...

... and then finding a frozen dragonfly, understanding her dad's passing, it was a very elegant scene.

On the year I discovered SPEED by accident at Tokyo, I was actually looking for Sakai Miki's album, LIKE A BEST FRIEND (which I did).

But since then, I never knew what happened to her. I thought she may have retired from acting, living the blissful life of a housewife.

So I was surprised when I saw her in a supporting role at THE LAST LOVE SONG ON THIS LITTLE PLANET, which is more popularly known as SAIKANO, or also SHE, THE ULTIMATE WEAPON, which is based on a manga and anime.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happily Ever After 自虐の詩 starring Hiroshi Abe and Miki Nakatani

Jigyaku no uta

The literal translation of HAPPILY EVER AFTER's Japanese title, Jigyaku no uta 自虐の詩, is 'the poem of self-torture/ self-inflicted pain'. I watched it last night not knowing what to expect. I was initially interested in it solely because of the two leads, Hiroshi Abe and Miki Nakatani.

When Kaiji Shakedown covered the film last August, it was almost dismissive of the film's visuals, pointing out its flat television look that makes it look like TV movie of the week compared to the eye candy that was Memories of Matsuko'.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Epic Anime Scene - Lynn Minmay's DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE?

Since posting the awesomely epic Dragon Ball Z scenes of Super Saiyajin transformations last Saturday (Goku's 5-minute transformation is a stuff of anime lore), I will now decide to make this a weekly thing... for the time being.

This week, I'll go for MACROSS, another anime series I remember fondly from my childhood. Back then, like most non-Japanese, I know MACROSS as ROBOTECH, and was drawn to it every week. When I first heard that Tobey Maguire bought the rights to do a live-action adaptation few weeks ago, I was more than a little intrigued. Is Maguire going to be Rick Hunter? I can see that (even though he is a little too old for the role, but hey, if he can be a young college year Spidey, Rick Hunter's not a problem). But who can be the iconic Lynn Minmay? A contemporary teeny bopper pop singer? Hannah Montana as Minmay? Please excuse me as I go and slam my head against the wall.

Interview with 'Thoughts On Films'

Earlier this week, I sat down (in front of computer) for an (email) interview with Fikri of 'Thoughts On Films'. Things I spoke about include: filmmaking, videoblogging, my role in Greenlight Pictures and the company's previous productions, the theatrical distribution of local independent films in Malaysia.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Most epic anime scenes ever.

One of the most important anime series of my childhood.

Nothing to me then, can be more badass than a Super Saiyajin transformation in Dragon Ball Z.

The first one, Gohan's transformation to SSJ2 is both poetic and insane. Like there's this dove of light flying across, revelation striking him, and he flips out and turns SSJ2. Awesome emotional buildup. Wham! The lingering last shot of Gohan as he stared at the camera with tears in his eyes, it's like a coming-of-age tale for him, finally losing his innocence, his future unsure. It's evocative. It's something similar to the ending in Truffaut's 400 Blows.

Friday, July 04, 2008



This entry was originally written last Sunday. But as you know, I ended up being buried by the production of my new short film, FLEETING IMAGES. (screenshots), so I'm posting this up now instead.

I first heard about the TOKYO REFUGEE FILM FESTIVAL because of Refusenik (also check out the official production blog). It all happened 2-3 weeks ago when I was seeking, via Facebook, other filmmakers who reside in Tokyo, and I found Megumi Nishikura. After corresponding briefly on Facebook, she told me about the screening of Refusenik, a documentary she was involved in as assistant editor during her stay in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Screenshots of my new short film, FLEETING IMAGES

The lack of blogging recently had a lot to do with me trying to finish up my new short film, FLEETING IMAGES before the deadline of a certain Japanese short film competition.

When you're sleeping only 2 hours, and spending most time of the day editing and shooting, writing a new blog entry is the last thing you have in mind.

The idea for FLEETING IMAGES came to my around two weeks ago. My Japanese short film was temporarily put on hold, so I was a little bummed out that I couldn't submit anything for the aforementioned short film competition*. I'm a person who needs deadlines to motivate myself into finishing something, does that mean that since YUKI's (title of that short film) is in limbo, I'll have to just sit on my arse and wait? Not an appealing idea.

So I started wondering what kind of short films can I conjure within two weeks. When I have a lack of cast and crew? Ideas started swimming around my head, and one was clearer and more doable than the others. After watching the first ten minutes of Chris Marker's Sans Soleil last year at Ming Jin's place, an interesting film that's part travelogue and part documentary (in the end, I guess the more accurate label for it would be a 'film essay'), I've once remarked: "DAMN, I could've used my holiday videos and try make something similar!"

Friday, June 27, 2008

Catching the sunset in Odaiba, and seeing Japan's Statue of Liberty

It's difficult to see the sunset in Tokyo, so I decided to go to Odaiba (an artificial island in Tokyo Bay) today to do that instead after a few recommendations from friends.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure

Poster of Standard Operating Procedure by Errol Morris

Managed to catch another film at the Refugee Film Fest last night, this one's a documentary about the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse called STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, by Errol Morris, director of the seminal documentary THE THIN BLUE LINE. I watched the latter two years ago when I sneaked into the lecture sessions of the documentary class while studying in Perth.

Being the only other film by Morris I've watched, I still notice that he retained his style for STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, which is driven entirely by the interviews of his subjects and some reenacted scenes. With a budget of 5 million USD, and a score by Danny Elfman, this is a documentary that features 'production values' of what you normally see in its Hollywood fictional counterparts, shots of playing cards showing Saddam and his sons faces falling slow-mo onto the ground etc. Along with some really beautiful filmmaking flourishes that you don't see often in a documentary, like the scene which shows the assembling of a forensic timeline using hundreds of Abu Ghraib photos taken by three different cameras.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


the Pagodas of Burma

Right, so I said I was going to take a brief hiatus to force myself to write for my new short film. I might have underestimated my own writing skills since it took me only one night to finish what I need to write.

I went to the 3rd Annual Refugee Film Festival in the past two days (Friday and Saturday) and attended the screenings held at NHK Fureai Hall. The Tokyo Refugee Film Festival is organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and it screens films that draws attention to the human side of refugees (theme of the World Refugee Day's this year)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brief Hiatus

Taking a break from blogging.

Anyway, production of my upcoming Japanese short film, Yuki, will be temporarily postponed.

Negotiations with my lead actress Kazue Fukiishi had gotten a little complicated. (kidding)

Kazue Fukiishi

There's supposed to be a June 30th deadline for me to beat, so I intend to whip together another short film instead. I won't say much about it, but it'll be something along the vein of Chris Marker's Sans Soleil. A video essay, an attempt on visual poetry, using unused video footages I've shot in the past, including my India travel videos.

Need to shut myself out to concentrate in writing. Normally a blog entry takes away so much from me that once I've updated it, I'm too drained to actually write something else. When it comes to creative endeavours, I'm no multi-tasker*. :(

* I mean, I'm normally a multi-hyphenate (director - writer - producer - editor), I don't mind juggling multiple tasks for one project, but to juggle a few projects at once lessens my focus.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and KURUS screening at KLue Urbanscapes 2008 (28th of June)!

I first received a phone call from a lady from KLue sometime in late February (just a few days before I started shooting CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY). She told me that it was filmmaker and friend Tony Pietra who had given her my number, and the conversation was like that: