Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nice wind at night

Haven't updated this blog for a while... Too many things have been going on at once. Films, mostly watched on DVD these days, are not quite the same as your old theater experience. I need to go out into the darkness of the movie theater more often.

I have been close-reading Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry and I find it to be one of the most powerful novels of my life. Will soon write a substantial review of its new Japanese translation (that appeared last year for the centennial of Lowry's birth).

A typhoon seems to be approaching... we are having a breezy night. Very comfortable and cooling. Good night then.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

In Taipei

Films this year:

17. Seiji Hisamatsu, Chino hate ni ikiru mono (He Who Lives at the Edge of the World, 1960).

18. Stéphane Brizé, Mademoiselle Chambon (2009)

17 features Japan's great comedian the late Hisaya Morishige and is a story of an old man who spends winters alone in a hut by the northern sea. Shiretoko is full of spell-binding charm. Rather predictable in many ways, but a surprisingly beautiful scene comes as that of the hero's imagining his son's love.

18 I saw in Taipei, at Hou Shao Shen's theatre midtown. The film narrates an incredibly boring story with incredibly good acting by three principal characters. Carefully treated cinematography is a success and everything about the film is skillful. I didn't know much about these actors, but then found out to my surprise about their fascinating real-life relationship. Vincent Lindon in the film has a heartbreaking affair with Sandrine Kiberlain (his real-life ex) and his in-the-film wife Aure Atika, who senses the affair but doesn't say anything about it, is his real-life wife.

Actors are emotional monsters.

Monday, April 05, 2010

To that kind of London

Have been very slow these days; too busy at work. Apart from re-watching some familiar (to me) titles, not many new films. Still.

13. Peter Jackson, The Lovely Bones (2009)
14. David Mackenzie, Young Adam (2003)
15. David Cronenberg, Spider (2002)
16. Guy Ritchie, Sherlock Holmes (2009)

13 is great. Just watching it and you feel that Kiwi kind of aesthetics! Superb beauty rendered skillfully. The girl what's-her-Irish-name (from Atonement) is destined to become a great actress.

14 is a story of water, beautiful cinematography, and a disgusting story staged by good actors. Sex-obsessed Adam doesn't begin a lineage. But that life on a boat is quite attractive.

15 is a confusing story in which you will never know how much and what has really happened in the man's life. It might all have been in the boy's imagination. He thinks that his father killed her own mother, but it could have been him killing the mother or his father's adultery could have been his mother's. Such emotional ambivalence and factual ambiguity are everywhere; what you see is what the boy imagines his reality to be, interwoven with inescapably realist depiction of the film language. There is literally no distinction between fantasy and reality.

16 is so entertaining! I haven't watched Rocknrolla; in fact I haven't watched anything anything by Guy Ritchie since his masterpiece LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS. This atmosphere of nineteenth-century London is so attractive and it's the place I least want to live in.

Monday, March 01, 2010

From New Orleans to Nowhere

Films this year:

10. Kaneto Shindo, Onibaba (1964)
11. Werner Herzog, The Bad Lieutenant (2009)
12. Yoji Yamada, Ototo (The Younger Brother, 2010)

10 is memorable for its scenes with the tall silver grass. The story itself is not all that great. 11 is a SUPERB comedy! What is he, my dear master Herzog, thinking? Whenever animals appear, it's mind-blowing. A snake, a fish, alligators, two iguanas, a dog, and the corrida on TV. Nice imagination. And the old man Mississippi, the old great snake, appears, too.

12 is a hommage to Kon Ichikawa. Nice film, but it needs more punch.

Monday, February 01, 2010

In Korea, in Seattle

Films this year:

4. Kim Ki-duk, Samaritan Girl (2004)
5. Kim Ki-duk, Address Unknown (2001)
6. Spike Jonze, Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
7. Drew Barrymore, Whip It (2009)
8. Scott Hicks, The Boys Are Back (2009)
9. Brandon Camp, Love Happens (2009)

I rewatched 4 with some friends; still an engima. 5 is another masterpiece that deals with Korea-US relationship in a striking way. 6 is good, but it may cause a nightmare (to me).

7 is fabulous! Drew growing into such a fine director... that's the girl! Ellen Page's childish-look is very funny. 8 is very good for its nice opening, especially. 9 makes me miss Seattle! Jennifer Aniston is as lovely as ever. All of these were in-flight movies. I'll watch them again at a theatre!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This year, to me, will be that of Walt Whitman. All his lines touch my heart and kick my butt... with his simple and immense truth! See the following, for example:

After me, vista!
O I see life is not short, but immeasurably long,
I henceforth tread the world chaste, temperate, an early riser, a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries, and still of centuries.

I must follow up these continual lessons of the air, water, earth,
I perceive I have no time to lose.

(Leaves of Grass, 193)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

World Cinema Continues

Films in 2009:
83. Wei Te-Sheng, Cape No.7 (2008)

A charming and well-conceived film that calls for a subtle socio-politico-ethnic reading of it. Historical complexity of Taiwan is stunning. Now is the time to pay attention to Wu's Pariah Manifest.

Films this year:
1. Toshifumi Matsushita, El regalo de la Pachamama (2009)
2. Chung-Ryoul Lee, Wonangsori (Old Partner, 2009)
3. F.W.Murnau, Sunrise (1927)

1 is a very ambitious staged documentary that deals with the Quechua life today. I liked it immensely.

2 is fascinating, riveting. This documentary was a blockbuster in Korea; you will cry when you watch it.

3 is Murnau's masterpiece that changes its atmosphere totally according to which of two sound tracks you choose.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

He never repeated himself (?)

Here is what Stephen Spender says on T.S. Eliot:

"What is immediately striking about the poetry of T.S. Eliot is the difference between the work of the early, middle, and late periods. It is not just that Eliot never repeated himself and that he wrote a new poem only when he had something new to say and a new way of saying it, but that, at successive stages of his development, the poetry seems to proceed from a different consciousness." (T.S. Eliot, 3)

This itself is striking. Is it ever possible that one never repeat oneself? How does he know before he actually writes that he has found something new to say?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

My new year's resolution

This year I will reorganize my life around... READING. This will be, once again, the focus of my life. See the great quote from my old mentor (in my heart) Gaston Bachelard:

"J'étudie! Je ne suis que le sujet du verbe étudier."

Philosophers pretend they THINK rather than STUDY, but what you need to do seriously is STUDY, namely, READ. Writers tend to think they WRITE rather than READ, but writing in essence is a series of RE-READING in which one's own writing is in constant struggle with one's predecessors'.

Happy reading to us all.