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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Little Miss Sunshine

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I FINALLY got round to watching this! ūüôā
Could be the whole…holidays are here, and i am going back home… but yea….
I liked the film a lot (as mention mucch earlier i think i  tend to gravitate toward family issues in movies..)

Official site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/littlemisssunshine2/ 

Family bkgrd of the HOOVERS…
Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) is an overworked mother of two.
Her brother Frank (Steve Carell) is a Proust scholar, temporarily living at home with the family after having attempted suicide in the wake of a failed gay relationship.
Sheryl’s husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a Type A personality striving to help support the family as a motivational speaker and life coach.
Dwayne (Paul Dano), Sheryl’s son from a previous marriage, is a Nietzsche-reading teenager who has taken a vow of silence until he can accomplish his dreams of becoming a test pilot.
Richard’s father, Edwin (Alan Arkin), recently evicted from a retirement home for snorting heroin, lives with the family; he is close to his seven-year-old granddaughter Olive (Abigail Breslin).

Yea need i say more? Watch it:)

The trailer…

More importantly…it was reported that it was produced by Big Beach Films on a budget of $8 million and its distribution rights were bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures for $10 million. One of the biggest deals ever made in the history of the Sundance Film Festival.

Now if Fox Searchlight Pictures had not bought it…would it still have been widely distributed? Hmmm…

There was this other movie i watched somewhere in between the semseter, also a sundance film (2005) that i am not sure was as widely distributed…

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It tells the semi-autobiographical story of two boys in Brooklyn dealing with their parents’ divorce in the 1980s,¬† shot on Super 16mm, mostly using a handheld camera.¬† What i found interesting that both parents were writers and when watching Little Miss Sunshine and thinking of this…hey, what if a film was made about parents who were film-makers and the effects on their children… Like say…the Coppola Family? hehe

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Nang Nak is a romantic tragedy and horror film directed by Nonzee Nimibutr in 1999 through Buddy Film and Video Production Co. in Thailand. It features the life of a devoted ghost wife and the unsuspecting husband.

I must say as much as it was touching it was def eerie…

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The film is set in 1996, when the real volleyball team competed and won the national championships in Thailand. The two main characters, Mon and Jung, play two gay transvestites, who had been constantly overlooked by volleyball coaches because of their appearance. However, when a local team changes coaches, the new coach holds tryouts for a new team. When Mon and Jung are selected, most of the old players resign, leaving the new coach, Coach Bee, in a sticky predicament.

It is really a very very touching story, humor and all aside… if there is any film that offers a glimpse about sexality/trans it has to be this ! Some people hated it and called claimed that it was over exaggerated but having been to Thailand i would say it was not all THAT exaggerated…besides it really brought the point home…

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Fan Chan (English: My Girl) is a 2003 Thai romantic comedy film offering a nostalgic look back at the childhood friendship of a boy and girl growing up in a small town in Thailand in the 1980s. It was the debut film by six young screenwriter-directors, Vitcha Gojiew, Songyos Sugmakanan, Nithiwat Tharathorn, Witthaya Thongyooyong, Anusorn Trisirikasem and Komgrit Triwimol. With a soundtrack that featured Thai pop music of the era, Fan Chan was the top domestic film at the Thailand box office in 2003.

It has a hilarious kungfu/sword play scene between the kids when they are playing make believe! A must watch! (maybe i liked this film because it had certain similarities to Korean Film MY SASSY GIRL) :p

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Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior a 2003 Thai action film. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, featured stunt choreography by Panna Rittikrai and starred Tony Jaa.
Ong-Bak proved to be Jaa’s breakout film, with the actor hailed internationally as the next major martial-arts. More importantly the¬†film introduced international audiences to a traditional form of muay Thai a kick boxing style known for its violent strikes with fist feet shins elbows knees.

While i was watching it… i was thinking…¬†Jean Claude Van Damme

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Now Shutter, a 2004 horror film from Thailand starred Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, and Achita Sikamana. It focused on mysterious images seen in developed pictures. It was directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom.

For some reason at this point of time i had a friend who was very into Lomo graphy
and after that she actually went to get a Polaroid Camera and started to insist that we take photos at night (shudder)

Randomness: there is this old guy who walks around Lygon Street at night with his huge polariod camera, i took one with my friend a few months back…he is pretty funny guy (makes a lot of weird/funny noises) the next time you are around give it a try…

It is just different from our camera phones or digital cameras!

Now…er…yea…i should end here…i am pretty OFF the whole thai and genre…haha:)

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Hmm, it could be the flu…or my brain¬†in a state of mush¬†that affected my viewing today… i did see the need to create a connecting chart for the rest of the films (like¬†Ten or for 4) but i did for this…haha…

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It could be the fact that it was drastically different from any thai film i have ever seen…or the¬†loss of subtitles when Min was talking (i presume) in Burmese to the guards, or his “drawings” appearing while the acting was going on in the back or the various sound effects that distracted me…

I have a few questions…

1) What was the name of the guy who hit on Min while he was waiting for Orn, and helped Orn with the weird cream mixture and then rode after them on a bike AND finally was having sex with her in the forest…

2) Why did Orn feed her husband the cream? Why did he have a silly grin on his face?

3) WHY oh WHY are they concocting weird cream with veg and stuff? To keep Min? To have a reason to touch him?

4) The ending scene when Roong was “playing” with Min’s organ…now…was it just me or was there werid sounds in the background admist the sound of nature and flowing water… was it Orn crying?

I did feel like it was a bit like Ten in the way the camera was sometimes showing the back of the road while the car was travelling and then moving to show the front of the road…I guess it was like a roadtrip and the seemingly peaceful slow lazy town… (only till it was mentioned in the lecture that it was suppose to be a town situated near the border of Burma did i go “OH!” haha)

It was mentioned in the lecture that the Sun was the “main” cast and that it represented the source of energy which answered the question in my mind, of why was it all in the day and no night scenes… I think what amazed me was how the “DAY” seem to stretch on and on maybe it was meant to reflect the gradual progression and mundane actions but still… slightly too snail like a pace for me…

Now…i must say i am not that big a fan of nature and the sounds¬†from¬†rustling of leaves, insects making insect noises..¬†did make me feel a bit tingly all over *even though we were in a lecture theatere…but as for the¬†ANTS…I mean ASIDE from the obvious that they were outdoors…

Could it be that no matter where they run to (be it the top of the forest where the scenery was breathtaking or to the side of the stream…the ants followed)…

I saw the ANTS, a representational of the law…or the crack down on Burmese and that even if they retreat or escape into a so called isolated secluded area like the Forest, they are never able to fully get away?

MMM this to be has been the hardest to film to digest…maybe its just the foreigness of it…or the squirming in my seat as some scenes were really pretty hard to stomach…

Ah as beautifully written in:
http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/06/38/blissfully_yours.html
“Though little may happen in conventional narrative terms, at the level of sensual affect, the impact is all but overwhelming with the viewer drawn steadily and inexorably into the film‚Äôs swirling emotional eddies and the characters‚Äô desperate attempts to find happiness in the interstices of everyday life and its alienating discontents.”

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So, i was suppose to be doing some readings but i got distracted by Kim Ki Duk’s film on SBS last night…

This time, sitting on the sofa, alone, watching it, i somehow got something different out of it, maybe because my memory of it was already hazy, or the buddhist elements some how did not seem to strike me as much as it did the last time…

When the film came to and end… i was thinking about excess baggage…

If you watch this film, having no knowledge of korea, buddhism etc
I am pretty sure somethings that will strike you would be

The saying : Do not to others what you would not want others to do to you
Learning from one’s mistake – repentance – paying the price or facing the music
And most most importantly letting go…not carrying and heaving that excess baggage (not phyiscal) but emotional and mental around…

I think that the reason this film can be watched over and over again is its like Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen (not that the movie is as lengthy and thick and hard to grasp like the book) but that when you revisit it, you get something new out of it each time…

Also the chanting, calligraphy, carving and statues… I am not sure what it all meant but yea i intend to investigate then when i get back with some friends ūüôā

OOO yea… i¬†just wanna say…or rather i am wondering…what is with the¬†fascination with Heroes, Bionic Woman etc…

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¬†…is it a ‘Superhuman phenomena’ to cope with increasing threats in the world like terrorism or something?

It seems to me that it is similar to that of “asian” martial arts and the underlying “chinese” concept or as i feel…the need for the¬†entire universe and all of humanity to¬†stop¬†thinking of what they can get out of it but¬†to extending a helping hand…small or big ūüôā

Now…sadly i am off to the last screening and lecture for this semester:(

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Chinese martial arts is a very broad termininology, and it includes a enormous variety of martial arts styles originating from China.

Kung fu and wushu are popular terms that have become synonymous with Chinese martial arts. 

The¬†terms kung fu (Chinese: ŚäüŚ§ę pinyin: gŇćngfŇę) and wushu (traditional Chinese: ś≠¶Ť°ď; simplified Chinese: ś≠¶śúĮ) have very distinct connotations. Each term can describe different martial arts traditions and can also be used in a context without referencing martial arts.

Colloquially, kung fu (or gong fu) alludes to any individual accomplishment or cultivated skill. In contrast, wushu is a more precise term that refers to general martial activities.

The term wushu has also become the name for a modern sport similar to gymnastics involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms (t√†ol√Ļ Ś•óŤ∑Į) judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points.

Sword (JIAN)- http://www.chinesesword.net/Swordplay/Swordplay1E.htm
It is not just for fighting but to cultivate one’s mind and body, when comparing Chinese sword with say the western or japanese, they all have something in common which is the need to cultivate oneself, put in a lot of¬†hard work and many years of training in order to master it.

What is has become today: http://en.olympic.cn/china_oly/wushu_art/2003-11-27/19285.html

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And on to the wu xia pian…
http://www.kungfucinema.com/categories/wuxiapien.htm

All throughout Chinese film history there exists two major categories of martial arts film, the wuxia pian and kung fu. Where kung fu, which is grounded in reality and has its roots in Hong Kong’s Cantonese serials based upon the legends of famous martial arts masters like Wong Fei-hung, the wuxia pian has existed as a popular storytelling genre in written form since the 9th century.

Wuxia Pian as a storytelling genre draws from Chinese mythology and the more esoteric aspects of martial arts. It usually chronicles the exploits of heroic knights who fight to uphold justice in a mythical realm where powerful clans of heroes and villains dominate society and vie for control of the “martial world.” Common elements to these stories include swordplay, flying, magic, weapons infused with special properties, and elaborate lairs or traps.

In the mid-’60s a new brand of wuxia film emerged, one increasingly influenced by Japanese samurai action found in jidai geki (period dramas). Japanese cinema had become far more sophisticated in production standards and popular samurai films like The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) were taking on a realistic and increasingly bloody style of swordplay. In response, Hong Kong filmmakers moved swordplay in wuxia a little closer to reality by depicting heroes as having developed supreme skills through years of training rather than through magic. These skills featured little or no magical elements, only exaggerated proficiency.

Temple of the Red Lotus (1965) and The Jade Bow (1966) are key transitional films from this period and illustrate the changing face of wuxia as they contain elements from both vintage and modern wuxia. It was King Hu’s Come Drink With Me, with its eye-catching art direction and sophisticated action choreography that more fully defined the modern wuxia film.

Leading the charge were two of the studio’s top directors, Chang Cheh and Chor Yuen. Chang brought excessive bloodletting and the male hero to the forefront with classics such as One-Armed Swordsman (1967) and Have Swordsman, Will Travel (1969). As the kung fu movie boom set in with the rise of Bruce Lee in the early 1970s, Chang adapted his own brand of wuxia to modern day and period kung fu movies. In contrast, Chor Yuen remained faithful to the wuxia tradition and became synonymous with cinematic adaptations of popular wuxia novels of the era written by the likes of Gu Long. These stories were usually complex and featured large casts of unusual characters wielding equally unusual weapons. Following the release of an eclectic mix of films, Chor found his wuxia stride by 1976 with the release The Magic Blade.

Tsui Hark’s A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) is generally credited with kicking off Hong Kong’s wire-enhanced return to martial arts filmmaking following the ’80s dominance of modern action films and comedies.

Even moviegoers unfamiliar with wuxia films have likely seen one, namely Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Taiwanese director Ang Lee did what no other Chinese filmmaker had done before. He made a wuxia film hip and accessible for mainstream Western audiences with a sophisticated story and character development.

With this film’s release, the wuxia pian had come full circle for Ang Lee’s influences were clear, having drawn from King Hu’s A Touch of Zen (1971) among other wuxia films the director recalled as a child. No longer the black and white serials with simple good versus evil plots, the genre had reached a new pinnacle of technical and artistic excellence.

Although slow in coming, this has led top mainland Chinese directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige to see the artistic potential of wuxia films. Zhang’s Hero (2002) continues the trend set by Ang Lee where high production values, stunning art direction, a thoughtful story, and brilliant wirework are driving the wuxia film into uncharted and exciting territory.

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Seven swords: has every element necessary for a succesful wuxia pian, seven different characters from all different backgrounds all over china, they are on a mission to protect and along the way romance blossoms and loyalties are tested, and like every wuxia pian it has flying/sword fighting/martial arts and really strang weapons. A visual and sensory experience!

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Seven Swords – Cast

 The Cast

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also known as Liu Chia-Liang who plays the role of Fu Qingzhu is a famous Hong Kong Chinese martial arts film director, choreographer and actor. His experience probably contributed to the very well choreographed martial art scenes in the movie espicially the swordplay between Donnie Yen who acts as Chu Zhaonan and the main evil guy (mr baldy) where they are emeshed between two walls.

Donnie Yen… ūüôā
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The son of martial arts master Bow Sim Mark, Yen was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. He is a well known film and television actor in Hong Kong and, more recently, in the West, having been featured in many movies with prominent, internationally known actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.

From a young age, Yen was interested in martial arts of all kind, experimenting with various styles, from Taekwondo to Wushu. After dropping out of school, Yen decided to stick with Wushu, moved to Beijing to train further with the Beijing Wushu Team. During his training in China, his instructor Mr. Lee demanded Donnie cut his hippie-style mullet as it was inappropriate. When he wanted to return to the United States, he made a side trip to Hong Kong and it was there that he met Yuen Woo-ping, a famous Hong Kong fight choreographer. Yen’s first film role was at age 21 in 1984 in the film Xiao Tai Ji. The film revolved around drunken Tai Chi, and although not a critical success, the film helped Yen to achieve further notability.

However, Yen gained his breakthrough role in 1992 as General Lan in Once Upon a Time in China II. His final fight against Wong Fei-Hung (Jet Li) remains one of the most celebrated fights in martial arts films to this day. This fight scene could be considered one of the very best in martial arts films.

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I must say:

Charlie Yeung –¬†Wu Yuanying
Lu Yi – Han Zhibang
Duncan Chow РMu Lang
Kim So Yeon –¬†Green Pearl

To me, it was amazing, they were so different! Charlie Yeung, Duncan Chow, Lu Yi, from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China (respectively) compared to their usual sterotypical romantic roles, (they have each tried singing careers that did not really take off)¬†it was a different take. Esp, to see Kim So Yeon, as this helpless, dramatic slave, as compared to the roles she takes on in drama serials…WOW! Sadly it has been said in Korea that she has a face that is typical of¬†the scheming type of woman, and it seems to have happened in this film too…

However i must say 2 actors that i just wanted to L.O.L
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Leon Lai –¬†Yang Yuncong
Michael Wong – The Duke

Leon Lai cannot act , this film still shows he cannot act, how he got cast i will never understand, there are thousand of china (hongkong) actors who are MUCH MUCH more suitable…

When Michael Wong appeared as the Duke i had to stop myself from laughing… sorry but i think it has to do with his VERY UN CHINESE looking face (even with all that facial hair)…

So far, i have been trying to look up information on Han Zhi Bang’s love interest, the girl who falls for Donnie Yen’s character but not much luck…Also the 2 actors who made up the 7 swords… I suspect it is because the 3 of them are from China and they may be popular back home but information is majorly lacking!!

Same thing goes for the¬†evil character and his cronies…
i will continue to try but yea… thats all for now on the cast…

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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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