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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.