Category Archives: film

Oh, Hole!

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I’ve been busy with a lot of writing in the past few days that I found it difficult to do much writing on my spare time. This is the gift of Twitter. It scratches my writing itch without sitting down and investing too much thought in it. Not that my diatribes in this Website take so much time and thought, but it’s just not very efficient writing stuff out in this format.

I just finished watching “Hit So Hard, The Life & Near Death Story of Patty Schemel.” I’ve occasionally enjoyed Courtney Love, but I always liked her band’s sound, and I’m guessing a lot of that comes from Patty Schemel’s drums. It’s a decent documentary which touches up on the history of the band, spends a bit of time on Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, goes into Kristen Pfaff, homosexuality, the whole getting kicked out of Hole, and never really gets too deep or preachy when it comes to Schemel’s struggles with drugs. Quite frankly, I think the documentary loses direction and forgets what it’s trying to say. I don’t really know who to recommend it to unless you’re really into Hole, Nirvana, Patty Schemel or curious about the whole drug thing.

Not grunge, but the death of Scott Weiland still bums me out. Chris Cornell, another person who was not quite grunge at the time, especially when they opened for Guns N’Roses, was found dead in what appears to have been suicide. He may now have had issues with drugs, not the type of drugs that killed Weiland or Pfaff, but Ativan, something that was prescribed to him to treat anxiety disorders and depression. Now I don’t mind drugs, prescription or otherwise. But I don’t like demonizing certain drugs while pushing others. Don’t use that; take these instead. Don’t take heroin; get a prescription for Oxycodone instead. I think if we just step back, stop demonizing drugs and drug users, and look at what we’re all doing in terms of what’s legal highs and what’s not, we can all be a safer, more responsible society. It may not have prevent all drug overdoses, be it legal drugs or otherwise, but I’m sure it would cut down sad stories.

 

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No Asian Characters For You!

Phonograph

Ghost in the Shell is close to my heart. I’ve been watching anime since I was a child, but nothing really captured my imagination than Masamune Shirow’s vision and his infectious enthusiasm over his subjects, often evident in notes either throughout the manga’s pages or in long essays at the end of his books. After stumbling upon the fifth issue of Ghost in the Shell (this was before the trade paperbacks), I followed most of his works in film and even video games.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything come out Shirow outside of the erotic material which he’s recently devoted most of his time to, so it’s a bit disappointing that the latest film based on his work is not only whitewashed, but it seems to have been concocted more by film investors than by people actually familiar with the work.

I realize that one of the main reasons why Scarlett Johansson was hired to play the Japanese Motoko Kusanagi is that without her, the film probably wouldn’t have been made. The film needs to attach itself to a big name in Hollywood to guarantee a certain amount of audiences in theaters. Unfortunately, it’s this same type of mentality that keeps minorities from getting roles and populates many Hollywood movies with the same small group of people over and over again. Now granted, the film will also star Takeshi Kitano as one of the Japanese characters, but this reeks of casting for the sake of the actor’s name. Kitano isn’t really the best English speaker, and I suspect it will come off as awkward and as badly as his flat performance in 2001’s Brother. I remember reading that Kitano would regularly get involved in projects that he doesn’t fully enjoy (gangster films) in between artsier and unfortunately less profitable projects. If this was the case, it makes me think that this Ghost in the Shell movie is the former, but a certain amount of people will see the film just for the Takeshi Kitano name alone. It’s pretty cynical. Instead of relying on Hollywood star power, the filmmakers should just focus on the strength of the writing. Great movies will sometimes have breakout stars, and they become breakout stars because filmmakers took a risk on them and believed in the story they are telling.

As Jon Tsuei wrote in a Twitter rant, the story of Ghost in the Shell is a unique product of the Japanese experience. Even the book sees and talks about everything from a Japanese standpoint. Many people have pointed out that the character Motoko Kusanagi looks and IS white, but this is a critique of the anime and manga as a medium (most characters are drawn “white”), it is not valid point when it comes to the specific story and the character which are both Asian. To remove it from its roots creates a product that might as well call itself a different name. They already did a western adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. It’s called The Matrix Trilogy. Can we not just leave it at that?

And going back to the defense that anime and manga characters physically look white. This is the laziest close-minded defense. They don’t look white. They rarely physically look Asian either. I don’t see too many races where people have giant eyes with orange and purple hair. If anything, the way they’re often dressed makes them look Asian. Their character and mannerism makes them look Asian. It’s the reason why there’s something a bit odd when foreigners dress, talk, and take on the mannerisms of Asian people. It’s not just the language. Just see the western adaptation of My Sassy Girl where Elisha Cuthbert takes on the character and mannerism of a Korean girl. It doesn’t work.

Many fans fear that the western adaptation would result in an inferior experience, and they can’t be blamed for feeling that way because Hollywood doesn’t really have a great history with adapting Asian IPs. Godzilla was a bust. Oldboy was far inferior to the original. Dragon Ball was a disaster. And on a personal note, I just don’t buy Scarlett Johansson as an action star. I find the Marvel movies quite tedious, and I don’t find her physical scenes in the movie believable (yes, I realize it’s a comic book movie). Despite the success of the movie Lucy, I think it’s a very poor action film both in its execution and writing (SPOILER: She ultimately “evolves” into a USB thumb drive!).

In the end, I think this just adds to a long list of whitewashed characters in Hollywood. I realize many of the whitewashed characters are fictional and are thus open to reinterpretation. Not many actors are trying to pull off black faces; the characters are just turned white. But it’s exactly this reinterpretation that keeps media mostly white and minorities with very little representation. Call it the reality of moviemaking, but it’s also a very racist thing to do, denying people their characters and stories. It’s rare for minorities to have their own stories… their stories often have to whitewashed in order to be told.

What boggles my mind is that there’s a completely watchable Ghost in the Shell animated film that people can still watch. Not only that, there’s a couple of seasons of the animated series as well. I don’t really see a need for a live-action western adaptation. This is like when OldBoy was adapted by Spike Lee, when the 2003 Chan-wook Park original is not only superior, the visuals still stand out to this day. Go pick up one of Shirow’s books (not the art books) or watch the anime. Forget this movie.

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Random Rant

I woke up early Saturday morning with an urge to get crafty. I keep seeing these cardboard mounted deer heads in restaurants and stores. They sell pre-cut cardboard deer heads in stores and online anywhere from $20-$60. I decided to make one myself and save some money. I created a fake deer head out of plastic before. It’s mounted right above my living television. So I knew I can make an animal head in a weekend morning. This way, I don’t feel like I wasted my weekend just lounging around, watching movies, and playing video games.

deer heads

Boom. Made three. It took longer than I expected to cut them all out. I didn’t want to make huge mounted heads, so instead of cardboard I just had them printed on really thick watercolor paper.

colored deer heads

Painted them with acrylic to add some strength. It’s not much, but it should keep them from drooping. Today, I’m gonna get cheap frames to mount them on. Not bad for a Saturday morning project.

Speaking of movies, I decided to watch Full Metal Jacket again. I realize that the documentary Room 237 is all simply about theories regarding Stanley Kubrick’s motivations for The Shining, but theory or not, his imagery is truly rife for deeper interpretation. He really does seem like a “bored genius” who is a few steps ahead- and in in those few steps, manages to put so much meaning into his film, leaving viewers to sift through clues and red herrings. Of course, the message in Full Metal Jacket is quite clear, but it doesn’t make him any less of a genius.

I also watched Welcome to the Rileys which feature James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart. I miss James Gandolfini. There’s something incredibly human to the characters he plays. Kristen Stewart is not bad as well. I keep seeing her in many independent films these days. I guess she’s trying to wash away Twilight with a bit of indie cred.

Canada has a few teams at the NHL playoffs this year. The Winnipeg Jets barely got in, but I’m glad they’re in nonetheless.

Been playing a lot of Bloodborne lately. Just like the other Souls game, it is punishing but is quite addictive. Hidetaka Miyazaki is a genius. I’m a grown man and should really stop playing video games, but games like Bloodborne will keep me distracting myself in front of the TV until I’m old and gray.

Here’s an advice to married men out there. If you’re wife clearly doesn’t appreciate your sense of humor, STOP TRYING. Stop making commentaries and observations. Stop trying to make her laugh or smile. Who are you trying to impress anyway? It’s not gonna get you laid more. You’re making jokes and commentaries for your own benefit and not for her. She doesn’t want to hear from you. She wants her humor from the strangers on television. Just stick with banal observations. “The sky is cloudy today. I should bring an umbrella.” Stick with that. Save your wit and humor for your friends. That way, no one gets annoyed or offended.

Update: Framed and done.

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Them Snakes

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I remember seeing the character “Zuma” on the silver screen when I was a small kid. I don’t remember the movie exactly, what the title villain’s motivations were, or why I was even in the theater watching it (Who would take me?!). But I do remember the character vaguely; green skin, shaved head, loin cloth, and two snake heads, which at a young age I wondered, “where are their tails? How do they poo?”

zuma

I gotta say though, the whole things does reek a lot of Freudian imagery: the hyper penises, the ultra-macho character, the allusion to rape, the deflowering imagery, and the preying on white, blonde women.  It even says so right there, the victims are “young, virgin girls.”

I consider myself a feminist, although I’m not one of those hyper-feminists who devote so much effort trying to find patriarchy where there really is none. It is interesting however to see a character that is quite overtly inspired by male aggrandizement and sexual violence. I guess that was part of the appeal. I guess that’s also why it’s still in my memory.

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