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Chinese-ness

This is totally based on my own opinions…

Be it kungfu, wu xia pian, myths, folklore, religious deities… chinese cinema (china, hongkong) has always been gendered biased…

To begin with ,traditional chinese values, the men are suppose to be the stronger, thinking beings, the protector so to speak and the ones who bring the money home and the MAN OF THE HOUSE…while the women are the supportive ones who stay home, be there to provide for the men in terms of sexual needs, meals, child bearing etc…

Women are depicted as frail, weak, soft, fainting, incapable of greater things or rather never ever equal to men, concerned with their own petty gains, seeking attention, gaining the foothold only in the household, submissive at all times… if they are NOT marriage material THEN, they are EVIL, seductress, temptresses, the cause of all problems…

If you look at the history of China, APPARENTLY…all the Kings who fell from grace, the ruins of empires are attributed to a woman or women folk who stirred up trouble by constantly playing on the King’s emotions and through physical pleasures getting him to give out imperial edicts or change the laws for their own gains… (it is NEVER stated that Kings are stupid and ruled their empire with their male organ) (it is always the bad bad female…) *pls i need to roll my eyes here

Moving on… so far Storyline/plots of chinese-ness movies:

Aesthetics: It HAS to involve elements of nature, from wind, cloud, water, sand, forest, caves, mountains, animals be it to consume or as pets, a lot of flappy garments, long hair, odd shaped scary looking weapons, gleaming swords, the mastering of ‘chi’, horses, donkeys, big vast landscapes, or absolute solidtary, self exile, eye for detail, the choice of cups, seats, the temples, religious statues like the laughing buddha or warrior god…Food and clothing is usually a way of differentiating the classes, the rich usually have pig/duck/chicken meat as dishes while dressed in silk clothing

An example of over the top detail would be the recent : Curse of the Golden Flower
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if you manage to look beyond the ridiculous cleavages,the sets are pretty elborate..not surprisingly, Gong Li the Empresses (FEMALE) who fufils her own sexual desire, engaging with incestual relations with her step son…plots the downfall of the Emperor and even implicates her own son in the process…

Names: Chinese names of characters always end up sounding weird when translated to english  eg:”Flying Snow”, “Broken Sword” but it is usually representational of the elements of wood, earth, fire, water or seasons winter autumn spring summer and it has to do with human traits like courageous and weakness etc.

Men: growing up, from boy to manhood, learning the value of hard work, moral upright behaviour, upholding justice, brotherhood and loyalty, protection of family, carrying on the family line, taking on the rich and powerful who dominate and manipulate the politics and law, learning to do the right thing (like choosing to go for battle / duel and leaving their “nu ren”-woman to go into child birth by themselves) coming back and being a proud father (note only a proud father if it is a SON)-why? son’s bear the family name!

Alright, major gender biasness aside, movies do have positive elements of teaching (which i think some chinese guys need to RE-learn) and take out of traditional films…

-How to be a gentlemen (not being touchy-feely) without being a total male chauvinistic pig
-Women are not meant to be treated like thrash, they are meant to be taken care of, listened to (they are wise)!
-Its not all about me myself and i, there is a greater meaning to life, count your blessings and try to make a difference, even if it is just for one friend…
-Importance of family ties, “ying shui si yuan”-going back to the source and repaying the ones who have been kind to you

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Being Female…

This is going to be completly my own rambling, my personal stand point… free from Freud, Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze, Kant etc

Initially, in the beginning of Romance (1999) by Catherine Breillat it was screaming in my mind, just LEAVE PAUL! Stop torturing yourself!! You don’t need shit from that male model!

It was in a way, kind of painful to watch because, as blantant as the truth may be, it is also sadly very realistic. So many of my friends have whined abot how they never get enough attention and commitment from their boyfriends…toturing themselves to no end…

When she starts getting involved with that stranger at the bar i thought…great! go ahead! i mean she has needs, that guy is on some power play, witholding sex from her…

BUT as the movie progresses, and she gets involved with him, and when she says she does not like to see the face of the person who is “stuffing” her…i thought uh oh, something is wrong…

It somehow becomes a bit clearer when she gets involved with the headmaster…her sexual encounters sort of liberate her to a certain extent while to the males, they are controlling her… 

The bit where the guy offers to pay her to “eat her” and then procceds to rape her was really intense…and for that moment her body seems to become like a universal female body, abused and treated like “meat”…

There were bits that were rather laughable but overall i felt that in no way was it pornographic. The exposure of the male and female bodies, the sex scenes were necessary to get the point across and explain what is going or rather attempt to make sense of what is going on in her head…  The final scene with the birth bit was a bit FULL ON though…

Well…that is that… i have been struggling with the whole female/feminist thing for quite some time… had discussion with friends and read up on it… my conclusion and my very own personal opinion is that in now way can there ever be true equality because of how we are physically built and emotionally wired…

(side track)
This book: Female Chauvinistic Pig by Ariel Levy is a fun read 🙂

books_female-chauvinist-pig.gif

I did encounter briefly the whole 1st – 3rd wave feminisim somewhere else before…(courtesy of week 7, contemporary cultural studies powerpoint lecture)

The first wave had its origins from the modern Western feminism… Tied to the ideals of the Enlightenment, Emancipation and the Late-eighteenth century public sphere described by Habermas…Involving Women’s journals, Movements for women’s education.

 

The second wave was a personal yet politically aimed…tended to emphasize the commonalities of women’s oppression, in order to establish that male domination was systematic and affected all women’s lives…and the  neglect of differences between women, such as race and ethnic identity, class, nationality, sexuality. It was politically because it  rose out of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements in the late1960s…and they organized and campaigned on issues such as equal pay, abortion, health care and domestic violence.

 

The third wave range of feminist positions that emerged in the 1980s, partly in response to perceived limitations of second wave feminism. Challenging “essentialist” definitions of women, employs post-structuralist definitions of gender, queer and post-colonial theory.  In popular culture, third wave feminism manifests itself in celebrations of ‘girl power’, sexual independence, new forms of pleasure and resistance.

(the above is just a VERY majorly summarized version)

Yes, now to talk about the human body… as females, we have the breasts and vagina, and we produce oestrogen, males have their scrotums and male penis organ and produce testosterone. Fundamentally to begin with physical changes are already there (not unless you go for a sex change operation, even then, its not the same… cause it is not real…)

 Not to mention Language , ever noticed how WOMAN has MAN in it…

Till this very day, in today’s society like it or not IF a male has had multiple sex partners he is “a stud” “a player” “the master” or what not BUT IF it is a female, she is loose, cheap and slutty … my friends input on this bit is that: as females, the dick ENTERS the vagina, the dick is external so we as females are letting something INTO us and unlike the dick that can be washed, the vagina cannot be “flushed”… (apologies for all the references to the anat of the body)

Physically a guy can be tall short fat thin etc but a woman just has a “mould” “frame work” to fit into, no unwanted hair except for some places that matter, well preened, color coordinated, well accessorized, smell good, be willing to understand because we are the softer more emotional ones…Like animals in the wild, if you want a mate, you have to suit up, emit the right signals and use your body to “speak”…

Then there is the business of child bearing and period cycles, emotionally sorry to say this but females are not structured to be hard hearted, cold, “wham bam good bye”, they may convince themselves they can do so, but eventually that facade will break down and they will regret it, ending up feeling cheap…

We as females have more to loose as well such as the chances of unwanted pregnancy… No matter how succesful you are, high up on the power ladder, how fat is your bank account, IF you are not married, there is something wrong, if you are not a mother you life is not complete. For a guy its alright, he is just work driven, maybe he has commitment issues…(geez)

Ok honestly not that i am condeming the male population becasue they to, have their own issues, ultimately, when every pro and con is broken down, women, have to accept and embrace…

See, we are able if we choose to, to doll ourselves up with make-up and cover up flaws, we can get what we want because, lets face it guys are sometimes easier to deal with then girls, we may be bitchy but we stand together (most of the time), guys can’t openly powder their noses or preen (though it is something that is slowly changing), guys cannot afford to be too emo infront of their mates or they are seen as sissy, they cant be too accomodating because they will be called henpeck etc etc

Being male or female, we just have to learn to use what we have to our advantage:) aint it all about survival of the fittess? Lets not whine about this and that… As females, we have come a long way from the struggling, suffering females of the past and we have those who fought for our rights to thank…

As for film, poems, novels, magazines which seem to objectify woman, making use of the female body, in this day and age, SEX sells, instead of seeing it as being ‘gazed’ why not see it as being admired, appreciated, glorified, i mean heck, isnt it amazing how the female body can evoke such emotions and debate?

In all honesty, girls, when you see a guy with a cute butt, hot abs, drop dead gorgeous eyes, hair or whatever, just glancing or even “oggling” at him just because he is like a piece ‘eye candy’ is not a sin…It is an equal playing field out there, we objectivy men as well. Haven’t we all watched movie’s just because say Hugh Grant is in it or something…

Its tough just being HUMAN, there are worst stuff going on in the world like religions gone wrong, bigger ozone holes, gender becomes an issue in say abuse, age old traditions that favor males over females etc i guess…

(on a happier note, KOREAN! HONG KONG! THAILAND! films next 3 weeks woohoo)

if only we could have done films from taiwan and japan too! i know pretty little about their political films, the genres (movie wise) that i have watched are usually romance, action, horror …

frankly, i started with japanese, taiwanese, korean and hongkong drama serials
these 4 countries *in sequence, each had this “wave” in singapore, television stations, cinemas, music shops and memorabila shops had their share of the pie when it was in “fashion” yea…

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Jack NeoJack Neo is one Singapore’s Directors and like Abbas Kiarostami he tackles issues of the country we live in and children!

Like, TEN which explores Iranian mother and son relationships and provides and insight to the lives of the people in Iran through a series of conversations held in the taxi, with various other characters,

Jack Neo (to me) is a director who has his own unique way of tackling issues back home, straight to the point and hits the nail on the head like Kiarostami. Of course there is Eric Khoo who directed Mee Pok Man  and Royston Tan who directed 15 both of who have become “famous in their own way” but to me not as “successful”.

I NOT STUPID by Jack Neo questioned the educational system which we as students (in singapore) are put into and though that may be a local issue, it covers universal problems  that parents face with teenagers, education, marriage, divorce, smoking and so on…

I not stupid the movie 

and his other film The Best Bet

The best bet the movie which tackles the stress of work life (in singapore) for adults, some who choose to shun away from society and indulge in gambling and how it affects their life, marriage and so fourth.

As mentioned in the lecture “Kiarostami’s film forces you to consider your theoretical, epistemic position, ie, what sets of institutional knowledges aesthetic positions, and concepts do you bring to bear when watching, engaging with, and analysing a film that falls under the rubric of “third world cinema?”

I feel that Jack Neo’s films which many have critcised as too local, not international enough and lacking in that X factor. It is all because people who watch it (even singaporeans themselves), watch it with the same rubric of “LOCAL cinema”.

To me it is a pity that his films were not given enough exposure and publicity. If someone wants a insight to life in Singapore, (some Singaporeans may disagree) but i think Jack Neo, like Abbas Kiarostami manages to hit the nail on the spot for the people of their country.

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Film

It was only in melbourne uni (last sem) that i had my first encounter with cinema-film theory studies, in Love Stories Film and Narrative Theory. Stuck in my mind till now is Hiroshima Mon Amour. The amazing way that the film was directed, black and white yet it was million times better then some hollywood blockbuster.

The horror of the Hiroshima bombing and the female lead Riva’s own personal love lost back in Nevers, the potrayal of a melancholic and how she got out of depression or supposedly so. I think it was pure genius how two seperate locations two seperate incidents were merged to tell the story. Boiling down to the sufferings of War, the tragedies and how it can never make sense no matter how many angles are explored.

Back home, in Singapore, it was the television station http://www.artscentral.sg/ that first exposed me or rather gave me a glimpse of film :)I guess it was/is still a cultural shock when i came to melboure (be it, on SBS or the film festivals selections or even dvd selections in stores).

Back home in the “sunny island/garden city” Singapore *note our film board of censors are STRICT! http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/index_flash.aspx they are TRYING to be more liberal i guess…so…yea…before this, the usual countries film that were made avaliable were, america, britain, italy, france, germany, china, hongkong, taiwan, thailand, korea, japan, singapore…

It is only in flim studies that i realize how categorized the film industry is…main stream, alternative, independent, and so on and not to mention the genres of movies. Cinema goers (including me) would seldom ponder over the whole invisible quilt that makes up the film. I mean back home, in the past, the only things people would talk about were Hollywood Block Busters and cute actors (not that we don’t do so now). No one would really bother to consider, the location of filming, funding, director of choice, casting and so on. Very seldom is the political implication of the film taken into consideration. The storyline and plot def, yes.

I have always  and still often find myself in awe when i read journalistic reviews or movie reviewers piece of work in international magazines or newspapers. How they were well read, “watched”. But there have been times when the reviews and how i felt personally after watching the film did not tally. I guess it all boils to one’s own individual likes and dislikes (as talked about in tutorial) and aesthetics.

My friends or movie going buddies back home were very much into alternative films or as one of my guy friends evily terms “arty farty” films. The last film i watched while i was back home was ONE LAST DANCE (CHA WU).

http://www.stanford.edu/group/sfs/2006/01/one-last-dance-screening.html

On the surface, One Last Dance is a scintillating Singaporean crime film, but pay attention. What’s bubbling beneath is a puzzle whose pieces consist of images and dialogue that, when put together, lift the viewing experience from the enjoyable to the sublime. In a country of four million, it isn’t easy to hide, but in the darkest corner lurks an anonymous hit man known only as “T.” He is summoned from the shadows when a red envelope, carrying the name of a man who has betrayed the gangster code, is dropped into an unmarked mailbox on a side street close to hell. After a life filled with killing, T — a man with neither vices nor family — decides it’s time to retire after this job, to leave Singapore while there is still room to move. But in a world of darkness, shadows can play tricks on you. Things aren’t always what they seem to be, and getting out may cost a heavy price. Writer/director Max Makowski returns to Sundance (The Pigeon Egg Strategy) with another cinematic riddle that’s as fun to figure out as it is to watch. Featuring a fantastic ensemble collection of actors, creative cinematography, and brisk dialogue, One Last Dance merges Eastern and Western sensibilities into one dynamic film.

Honestly one of my  friend actually fell asleep watching it!!  But, i think it was great because they manage to transform everyday singapore sites to give it such a completely different ambience. The cinematography was a bit too “whizzy” for my friend but i think it was great because the switched from scene to scene without dragging on and on. However if you pop your head down to look for your mobile phone or take a look at how much popcorn is left, you may miss out and get lost. It was very fast pace and i think the way they made use of the recollection storytelling, switching from present to past was very titillating and the mystery was great (not that the ending was very believable).

Taking up this course was a challenge because i don’t really know much about film theory, cinematic skills, technical apparatus knowledge etc . That being said and done i guess i hope that i will be able in this blog to put together coherently in words and tie in with theories / philosophy / cinema studies (if possible) flim analysis and at the same time explore my own fav and biasness:)  (and secretly fulfil my hidden wish to be a reviewer of films haha!)

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Honestly…

Circles of lost thought bubbles

I wont dare to speak for others, but sometimes i find myself numb/immune to the ongoings. Being bombarded from the television, in the papers, reports, breaking news, headlines, rumors, fear, uncertain future…(mixed with environmental, global issues) it all seems like so much to handle.  It is mind boggling and does not make any sense.

Does that mean i do not empathize? No! I guess in general…helplessness…is the word…

KUDOS! to the people who go on strikes, fight for a cause…i root for them but i can’t help but think at times that, at the end of it all, will it really make any difference? Seems like there is this invisible cloak of oppression, corrupt government bodies… this big strong un banish-able power…

War war war…criticism on “BUSH” of America, politics of South Korea, chaos in indonesia…”third world” poverty, children dying, explosions killing troops…

It is almost impossible to get a fair/neutral picture much less to fully understand how the people of the countries at war are suffering…its impossible to be “in their shoes” unless you are them. Of course if you are a journalist/novelist/film maker from the countries and trying through whatever means to let the voices of the people be heard to create the nec awareness…

I guess various forms of art, from music, poetry, cinema, are def ways of  trying to get people to understand or simply presenting things in a way that others hopefully can understand…

When everything is said and done, what is going on, can never be JUSTIFIED, the dirty politics and senseless wars that are on going…humanity is  unfortunately, in  a sad state of affairs…

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