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Archive for the ‘POLITICS- World Screen’ Category

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Its been a long time since i actually went and had a good look at maps… 
Never quite realize how close burma, laos, cambodia, vietnam and thailand really were…Anyways…This is a good website to get reliable links to the history of thailand:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/international/asian/thailand/resources/thailand-history.html
(includes photos and stuff:))

Thai Cinema (good old wiki)
Post-war years

A poster for the 1970 film, Insee tong, in which Mitr Chaibancha died while filming the helicopter stunt. His co-star in the film, and scores of others, was leading lady Petchara Chaowarat.

A poster for the 1970 film, Insee tong, in which Mitr Chaibancha died while filming the helicopter stunt. His co-star in the film, and scores of others, was leading lady Petchara Chaowarat.

After the end of the Second World War, filmmaking got under way again in Thailand using surplus 16 mm black-and-white stock from wartime newsreel production.

The 1970s and ’80s
Thailand saw an explosion of locally produced films during the 1970s after the Thai government imposed a heavy tax on imported films in 1977, which led to a boycott of Thailand by Hollywood studios. To pick up the slack, 150 Thai films were made in 1978 alone. Many of these films were low-grade action films and were derided by critics and scholars as “nam nao” or “stinking water”.

The Thai New Wave
By 1981, Hollywood studios were once again sending films to Thailand. Also, television (see also Media in Thailand) was a growing part of Thai culture. This was a low period for the Thai film industry, and by the mid-1990s, studio output was averaging about 10 films per year.

Thai avant garde
With the New Wave directors achieving commercial and artistic success, a new crop of filmmakers has grown up outside the traditional and often restrictive Thai studio system to create experimental short films and features.

The leader of this indie movement is Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose 2002 feature Blissfully Yours won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Thai Film a Turning Point by Joe Cummings
http://www.tatnews.org/emagazine/1728.asp
I think it was mentioned in the lecture about the year 2000 and the change to Thai Film

Apichatpong Weerasesotkul:“His prize in Cannes helped Thai Film reach an international audience and served to encourage young filmmakers (especially Indie Film makers)in Thailand.”
http://www.thaicinema.org/news&scoops49_1.asp (quite bad english translation but interesting stuff)

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Now if there was any country that had every aspect of their lives closely related to religion it has to be thailand… 95% of the people are buddhist…

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Thailand used to be a very peaceful country but come 20th-21st century, due to various reasons… globalization? opening up of trade / tourism … influences… it has been in the news quite a lot and there was a period of religious clashing and bombing…death and casualties…

For some strange reason thailand in 2006, when i was back in singapore…the news was constantly updating the latest in thailand… it kind of reminded me of the calm before a storm…my aunt  (who is thai) was there just before the 2006 Thai coup d’état and she said that you could cut the air (filled with tension) with a knife!

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I rem my history teacher (in secondary school) commenting “A peaceful country, a self sufficient country in terms of natural resources and people…full of warm simple folk… lives disrupted…” I guess…it is never what it seems and…Ah well…politics… no wonder why some people call it a “dirty” word. Politics- money – fame – it makes people do crazy things…

Alrighty…my brain…is being clogged with the flu… this is all for now…

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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 🙂

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 🙂

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

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Extracts from reader
Knocking off Nationalism in HongKong Cinema: Woman and the Chinese “Thing” in Tsui Hark’s Flims by Kwai Cheung Lo

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“For many years, the West has regarded Hong Kong as a counterfeit captial…critics often claim that they are stunned by the quality and sheer variety of knockoffs.”

Now i do not know if it is just me, being chinese (asian) but it is not just Hong Kong that has been a target of criticism but if you look really closely (only in the recent years did i notice this myself)…

From music, to art, to drama serials to movies, even novels, countries (america, japan, korea, hongkong, taiwan, thailand, singapore…etc) are i would not say copying each other but influencing each other. I mean America HollyWood, they sure have  done some pretty cheesy rip offs too just that they call it parody but REALLY?! I think its more of the influence of travel, sight seeing, globalization (next entry) And this issue about authentic “Chineseness” (more in the next entry too …tradition, morality etc)

Now lets talk about Tsui Hark

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“In comparison to John Woo and Jackie Chan, Tsui is not very successful in the West” “Tsui shares with all his new wave colleagues a concern for China” (refer to previous entry on History Of HonG KonG) Personally i think the reason is that he did not “sell out”, he remains pretty much true to the esscence of Chinese Cinema, maybe in a way, if you are not Chinese, certain parts are harder to grasp…Like during the screening of Seven Swords people were laughing at some pretty well not so funny parts… i guess its intepretation and connection…

This website, is worth checking out: http://www.lovehkfilm.com
and they have some decent links: http://www.lovehkfilm.com/links.htm
two of the better links:
http://www.kungfucinema.com/
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/cinema/index.shtml

“What Tsui says about Hong Kong film makers is to a large extent also true of his own style, of producing movies. Seeking ideas and techonologies from Hollywood, he mixes them with Chinese folklore, myth, manga (japanese comic books)  and even science fiction to generate strange hybrids of sociopolitical satire, cross dressing, gender bending and chaotic dazzle.”

Looking at Once Upon a Time in China I and II, Wong Fei Hung
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“Tsui’s Wong Fei Hung is more inclined to embrace Hong Kong values, as proven when he strongly denounces the fundamentalist nationalism of the White Lotus cult and welcomes multi national and multicultural integration such as the combination of Western medicine and Chinese acupuncture to treat the injured in the besieged British consulate”

Whilst also perhaps to him “There seems to be nothing to connect people to one another in such a society, this may be why the majority of characters in his film aimlessly follow the drift of the vrowd or the mob. Society is no longer a totality for its people, collective responsibility or the sense of organic absorption into a unit is impossible”

Considering how HongKong was once under the British colonial rule, then had their independence and then went “back” to China in 1997, it is a complex small little nation/country and identity is really hard to pin down, i mean yes essential CHINESE but the influences are hard to ignore and i guess like written : “Without a doubt, Tsu’s cinematic represetation of nationalism springs form a masculinised memory and hope” and a greater cry for humanity, people are so disconnected from one another and selfish that everything they do seems to be for their own self gain, and gone are the good old days of “the greater good”!

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After days of peaceful protests (involving the monks) the situation in Myanmar took a sudden violent turn. Security forces begun firing warning shots at the thousands who continue to defy the military junta by staging protest marches in the capital of Yangon.

A few deaths have been reported along with several arrests. The reported arrests are from among the crowd of mainly young people and students as well as high profile individuals such as resistance leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Around the world there has been pressure from pro-Democracy supporters who’ve been staging rallies. There’s also been criticism from governments and world bodies on the turn of events in Myanmar.

Myanmar continues crackdown on protesters
Posted: 14 October 2007 0836 hrs
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/305557/1/.html

Myanmar government eases Yangon curfew
Posted: 14 October 2007 1224 hrs
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/305580/1/.html

UN envoy heads to Asia as Myanmar rounds up activists
Posted: 14 October 2007 2104 hrs
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/305628/1/.html
A look at Myanmar’s insular military leadership
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/09/30/myanmar.junta.ap/index.html

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Yes i promise this is the last reference to massumi (i cant help it, i just think the article is WOW)

“Dispossessed people like the Palestinians or the people in Irian Jaya just can’t argue their cases effectively through the mass media, which is why they’re driven to violent guerilla tactics or terrorism, out of desperation. And they’re basically theatrical or spectacular actions, they’re performative, because they don’t do much in themselves except to get people’s attention — and cause a lot of suffering in the process, which is why they spectacularly backfire as often as not. They also work by amplifying fear and converting it into group pride or resolve. The resolve is for an in-group and the fear is for everybody else. It’s as divisive as the oppression it’s responding to, and it feeds right into the dominant state mechanisms.”

“The September 11 terrorists made Bush president, they created President Bush, they fed the massive military and surveillance machine he’s now able to build. Before Bin Laden and Al-Qaïda, Bush wasn’t a president, he was an embarrassment. Bin Laden and Bush are affective partners, like Bush Senior and Saddam Hussein, or Reagan and the Soviet leaders. In a way, they’re in collusion or in symbiosis. They’re like evil twins who feed off of each other’s affective energies. It’s a kind of vampiric politics.”

The ending of No Man’s Land (side track, these 2 are links to interviews with the director)
(http://www.iofilm.co.uk/feats/interviews/d/danis_tanovic.shtml)
(http://www.indiewire.com/people/int_Tanovic_Danis_011205.html)

*ending, was particularly heartbreaking as the man with the bomb under him was left alone, i was silently cursing. The unfairness of such situations where a human life is sacrificed and the pompus a*ses like the UN director in the film. Its frustrating to think of how things can escalate and render us helpless or really.. ARE WE?

i would like to think (when i am not busy being negative and cynical) that we can in our own way start with trying to be aware and spreading the awareness, and HOPE that some how the people with the power, money, to do something to make a difference will hear and make the necessary changes…

cliche as it may be , i still think it is true that in whatever way, big or small, every contribution, every piece of drawing, writing, expression may just create a miracle…

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Also from the Massumi Interview…

“No one emotional state can encompass all the depth and breadth of our experiencing of experiencing — all the ways our experience redoubles itself. That vague sense of potential, we call it our ‘freedom’, and defend it fiercely. No body can escape gravity. Laws are part of what we are, they’re intrinsic to our identities. No human can simply escape gender, for example. The cultural ‘laws’ of gender are part of what makes us who we are, they’re part of the process that produced us as individuals.”

A rather cynical view that i sometimes feel ones the feeling of euphoria fades is that, as much as we struggle to admit, we are all under rules regulations and governed by bodies, policies…

And then, there is Aesthetics, as written in “Free Particles” by Terry Eagleton,

Aesthetics is born as a discourse of the body, its all about perception and sensation.
(which kind of reminds me of the question, is the glass half full or half empty)

“Aesthetics is born of the recognition that the world of perception and experience cannot simply be derived from abstract universal laws, but demands its own appropriate discourse and display its own inner, if inferior logic.”

“At the root of social realtion lies the aesthetic, source of all human bonding”

To me, be it humans, ants, wombats, snakes even plants, we can never be free, we belong, to a certain classification, submitting to a higher order/power. Somehow we just have to find a way to stop hurting one another (not to mention the environment!)

Sadly when you have “boy and their toys” you get nuclear weapons, germ warfare, bombs, terrorism…

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Brianhttp://www.21cmagazine.com/issue2/massumi.html

This article was brought to my attention in another course, a tat bit long but i felt it was really very insightful.

 I extracted bits and pieces from it…:

“the way that a concept like hope can be made useful is when it is not connected to an expected success — when it starts to be something different from optimism — because when you start trying to think ahead into the future from the present point, rationally there really isn’t much room for hope. Globally it’s a very pessimistic affair, with economic inequalities increasing year by year, with health and sanitation levels steadily decreasing in many regions, with the global effects of environmental deterioration already being felt, with conflicts among nations and peoples apparently only getting more intractable, leading to mass displacements of workers and refugees … It seems such a mess that I think it can be paralysing. If hope is the opposite of pessimism, then there’s precious little to be had. On the other hand, if hope is separated from concepts of optimism and pessimism, from a wishful projection of success or even some kind of a rational calculation of outcomes, then I think it starts to be interesting — because it places it in the present.”

Like in pans labyrinth, the magic of the film to me, was not about questioning whether the world Ofelia  was experiencing was real or make believe but HOPE,

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the various quests or mini adventures that she goes on, every little victory she has just makes her stronger and give her strength. (not to mention pissing the hell out of CAPTAIN Vidal):)

While watching Pan’s Labyrinth i found myself thinking of Roberto Benigni: Life is Beautiful 1997.

Personally, being incline to family relation/ties film esp those during the war, those damn tear jerking, heart string pulling films, you walk out with not just a fuzzy feeling but HOPE that things can be better and that we should always be grateful for our family.

Also, not to try to take on the world, but begin with oneself, and work our way outwards to perhaps one day being able to make the world a better place.

Other extracts from the Brian Massumi Interview
“When you affect something, you are at the same time opening yourself up to being affected in turn, and in a slightly different way than you might have been the moment before. You have made a transition, however slight. You have stepped over a threshold. Affect is this passing of a threshold, seen from the point of view of the change in capacity. It’s crucial to remember that Spinoza uses this to talk about the body. What a body is, he says, is what it can do as it goes along. This is a totally pragmatic definition. A body is defined by what capacities it carries from step to step. What these are exactly is changing constantly. A body’s ability to affect or be affected — its charge of affect — isn’t something fixed.”

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