• OK, did Michael kill Fredo in pt. II? Are we supposed to know it, by the time pt. III starts? I don’t remember. I’m all confused now. Annotated family tree, anyone? please?
  • If there ever was a Godfather, pt. IV, taking place in the 90’s, Anthony would definitely make his gay coming out in it. Of course, I realize announcing to your dad you won’t be a lawyer and will embark on a fruitless artistic career is sorta the 80’s equivalent of a gay coming out.
  • I too want a wise sicilian uncle I can turn to, when I need answers to intricate questions about life and work. Preferably one who knows about PHP and mySQL.
  • Gee, is the acting bad in this episode.
  • Good thing hot cousin sex will save practically anything.
  • It probably won’t save Christmas (good point Andy). Especially if taking place under the family Christmas tree.

Agreeably low-key, the first half of my week-end was filled with so much interesting stuff and encounters with cool people, that I went starting this entry convinced we had to be Sunday night already…

Today’s earthquake was easily the strongest I have ever felt in my life. All in all, I don’t think it was much bigger than previous ones, but its epicenter being very close made a difference. Seems it registered an upper 5 (on the Japanese scale) in some areas near Tokyo.

Being on the first floor of my small two-stories apartment building, all books and loose objects safely tucked into their shelves (I learned my lessons from previous times), I didn’t have a lot to feed my imagination on and wasn’t overly worried, past the initial surprise (feeling the earth move when you haven’t even had your first Gin Tonic of the day, will always get you at first). Seeing the importance of train disruptions and reading other blogs afterward, made me realize it didn’t just feel strong: it was strong.

In other news, Friday screening party of Bondi Tsunami at Superdeluxe was a blast!

The movie is very much worth seeing. An interesting mix of edgy MTV-style editing (well, the good sort of MTV-style editing) with typical tongue-in-cheek multi-culti humour, mixed in with long bouts of pure surf psychedelia. Only serious reproach: could have been made a tad shorter. Shooting for a feature-length was, imho, a bit ambitious, as some of the latter scenes tended to lack the tight editing that made the beginning a truly good indy movie.

But overall: good-humoured story-telling, cool music, casual vibe in the club during and after the screening all contributed to an awesome evening.

Hako wrote a really cool entry about Friday night in her Mixi diary, copied here with her permission, for the benefit of non-mixi users. Can’t really be arsed to translate it at the mo, but heartily recommend you put in the reading effort if you have some basic kanji skills: it’s quite funny and an interesting read.

Actually glad we didn’t elect to follow the group to Odaiba for an all-night rave party, despite the promise of cool music and a comfy tent if we needed a rest, I’m quite happy being back in my bed for a long night sleep now. With hoping that I don’t end up flattened by the second floor crashing on me during the night.




♪ー 葉子 ー♪

A few cool things coming up:

Wednesday (07/20)Japanbloggers Meetup – Zest, Harajuku

A group of people from all horizons and many countries, brought together by a common love of blogging, tech gizmos and cheap somewhat reasonably priced beer.
Newcomers always warmly welcomed.

Thursday (07/28)Laurent GarnierYokohama Museum of Art [Note: I got the date wrong initially. This is taking place next week, not this week. Thanks to Martine for pointing that out!]

Reels of silent early-century B&W movies, with live instrumentation by worldwide famous, veteran techno DJ and producer: Laurent Garnier.
Sounds very experimental, but the man is insanely talented, should be interesting.

Update (also playing on 08/06):

Friday (07/22) – screening of Bondi TsunamiSuper Deluxe, near Roppongi Hills

An indy surf-movie about a bunch of crazy Japanese and their adventures in Ozland…
Miss Tracey blogged about it a few weeks ago. Turned out last week-end that my friend, the awesome Stacia, is going steady with the lead actor… It’s a small, tiny, star-studded, world, after all.


水曜日 (07/20)Japanbloggers Meetup – 原宿のZest


木曜日 (07/28)ロラン・ガルニエ 横浜美術館 [注意:さっきに日付は間違えた!来週ですよ。]

有名なフランスのDJ/producer、Laurent Garnierは古いな映画間中ライヴ曲を作る。彼は80年のMandchesterで始めた。可笑しくて面白いでしょう。

金曜日 (07/22)Bondi Tsunami (ボンダイ津波) – Super Deluxe Club, 六本木ヒルズの近く

オストラリアでサーフィンが好きの日本人は車で旅行する。本当に楽しみ。友達は映画の役者と一緒にです。先月にTracey見に行った ブログで 書いた

About Laurent Garnier:

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I think it was during an hopeless attempt to explain some utterly untranslatable nerdy joke to Eriko, that she admitted she had never seen Star Wars (talking about the original trilogy here, not that poor excuse for a pop-corn commercial they made recently). I thought about it, and realized I probably hadn’t seen all three episodes ever since I was a kid. Hence, tonight was Star Wars night, the first two episodes (kept Return of the Jedi for next time).

Watching it again and having to help Eriko with the story (we only had English subtitles) made me notice many funny details; some of these were quite obvious to me as a grown-up, and the rest is certainly widely known among fanboys circles. But anyway:

  • The whole Japanese theme is definitely all over the place: Jedi only seem another name for Samurai, Darth Vader’s helmet is straight from the Shogun’s era and all their fights are conducted using some sort of space-katanas.
  • The mystics/metaphysics angle, however, seems more inspired from Taoism than Bushido. In fact, if you take some of Yoda’s quotes and replace “the Force” by “the Tao”, I’m pretty sure you’ll find them verbatim in the Tao Te Ching
  • There’s a blatant Shakespearean moment, in Empire Strikes Back, when the big hairy dude is left to lament with the lifeless parts of one of the droids (C3PO or R2D2, can never tell which is which). When he sits down and takes the droid’s head in his hands, you would probably hear him call out for Yorick if you could understand his growling…
  • That one is actually a very widely known bit of trivia to anybody who’s lived in the Bay Area: these weird four-legged machines attacking the rebel base in Empire are exact replica of the cargo cranes you can see when you drive to Oakland from the Bay Bridge (they do look quite ominous too if you catch them at sundown).

I’m sure there are tons of other trivia to catch, but these really popped out when watching tonight…

As part of our ongoing series (yea, I know, there are so many series going on around here, it’s starting to look like NBC) on Artsy French Movies, let me present the movie of the night. I mean, not exactly the only movie of the night, but I don’t think Candy Bottoms: Nuns in Heat III really deserves a review of its own (my roommate gives it two thumbs up. well at least one, right this moment).

The movie is Band of OutsidersBande à part in French, notable in that it also happens to be Tarentino’s production company’s name: what a freaking nerd.
I know, it’s quite surprising I had never seen that movie given that 1) I spent a small but crucial share of my formative years studying in Paris and 2) I have seen most French classics of that time. especially Nouvelle Vague ones (and no, it was not to try and impress some cute bookish girl with an infatuation for old movies. actually, maybe it was. never mind).

There is a reasonable explanation for that: I really cannot stand Jean-Luc Godard. Not the work, the man. See: I was apparently born a couple decades too late. I would have probably liked him ok back then. What makes me dislike him is not even the way he very efficiently shot his own career in the foot, back in the sixties, by abandoning art production in favor of political involvement with a few fringe ideologies. Granted, he did not make the best choice in his fringe ideology affiliations (Mao anyone?), but still, that’s the kind of thing I could actually like him for. No: the problem is that he has now become an insufferable old snob, more full of himself than ever. Whining, staring at his navel, fustigating the youth of today and overall assuming his position as compulsory authority of modern cinema. Always that same old pattern: people overturned by their ambition into the very people they were setting themselves against, rebellious kids turning bourgeois, punk joining the establishment, burning man selling t-shirts on the web etc.

Plus, the man is an awful bore, dribbling inane vacuous aphorisms on life and himself whenever he manages to grab a camera.

So, while I absolutely love François Truffaut, and even though they worked together a lot, I had always ignored a few “seminal” French snobby movies, on the sole ground that they wore his signature. Bande à part was one.

Was I missing out?

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Hey people…

Check out that movie: Les Rêveurs (or ‘the Dreamers’ depending on what side of the pond you rent that movie on)

It’s just perfect… it’s got everything: there’s that Nouvelle Vague feel (“Herald Tribune, Herald Tribune”…), the “Paris feel” (no really, it does feel like Paris: if you’ve ever lived there, you know what I mean) and of course: the ambiguous French softcore stuff (I mean: it’s a French movie, right)…
All in all, it was much more enjoyable than what most of the reviews I had read had led me to think…
The website is completely awesome too (I got the link a week ago and fell in love with the site, but wanted to make sure the movie was up to par before I gave any recommendation for either one): http://www.the-dreamers.com/ (update 2010: oops, it’s been replaced by a spam website).

If French pseudo-intellectual movies are not your cup of tea, my roommate also downloaded purchased: “Hotel Fickmichgut III”, which, I am told is a quality movie, albeit in a slightly different genre.

Ah, Joys of Studying…

Giving myself the night off.

Actual partying being out of the question, we ran to Tsutaya to rent a DVD…

Probably one of my favorite of all times as it stands (and to all the ladies out there: if you think Brad Pitt can hold a candle to Marcello Mastroianni, you’ve got no taste).

Qualche volta, la notte, quest’oscurità, questo silenzio, mi pesano.
Sometimes at night the darkness and silence weighs upon me…

E’ la pace che mi fa paura. Temo la pace più di ogni altra cosa:
Peace frightens me; perhaps I fear it most of all.

mi sembra che sia soltanto un’apparenza , e nasconda l’inferno.
I feel it is only a façade hiding the face of hell.

Pensa a cosa vedranno i miei figli domani…
I think, ‘What is in store for my children tomorrow?’

Il mondo sarà meraviglioso, dicono. Ma da che punto di vista, se basta uno squillo di telefono ad annunciare la fine di tutto?
‘The world will be wonderful’, they say. But from whose viewpoint? if one phone call could announce the end of everything?

Bisogna di vivere fuore dalle passione e altri sentimenti nell’armonia che c’è nell’opera d’arte reuscita, in quell’ordino incantato.
We need to live in a state of suspended animation like a work of art, in a state of enchantment.

Vodremmo reuscire al amarci tanto, da vivere fuore del tempo, distacati…
We have to succeed in loving so greatly that we live outside of time, detached…


Steiner to Marcello in La Dolve Vita

Bashing crappy movies, while providing a delightfully entertainming substitute at the same time, is an art that the Filthy Critic has mastered to a point rarely seen before:

That The Day After Tomorrow even has a plot is an obligatory nod to what director/writer Roland Emmerich must feel is a quaint old tradition of story-telling in movies.


The movie also wants us to despise Dick Cheney. I hate Dick Cheney; I bet his wife and his dog hate him but stick around because he’s got a fucking awesome bomb shelter. But a true and worthwhile hatred has to be rooted in facts and reality. That’s how I establish my hatred for almost everything. If you have to lie to make people hate the same things you do, you’re either an asshole or too fucking lazy to collect the facts you need. This movie’s too lazy.

In order to keep up with this world’s latest trends, and think global while acting local and eating very local (gyosa with natto and pasta at lunch, to be exact), I regularly go on an extensive browsing and skimming of that mythical “blogosphere” I’ve been reading about in hip media (the same that used to tell me how balls.com was gonna “revolutionize the way I was buying balls online” etc). From my entirely unscientific study sample, it seems one of the latest question on every bloger’s mind is whether Sofia Coppola’s last movie is very racist, kind of racist or not so racist. Even our dear froggy blogers seem to take a keen interest in this burning issue.

The movie, according to its detractors, greatly harms the US Asian population by perpetuating negative stereotypes about Japanese people…

Indeed, as most pointed out, and from what I remember, it does feature:

  1. Overly polite Japanese business people who bow every 30 seconds
  2. Wacky TV show hosts that go out of their way looking utterly ridiculous, shooting for the lowest common denominator’s type of humor, while more or less humiliating their guests all along.
  3. Japanese people unable to tell apart L’s and R’s for the life of them, making way for all kind of crazy misunderstanding and wacky situations.
  4. Fading american actors paid a hefty sum to advertise the merits of Suntory Whisky to the japanese masses…
  5. Horny young chaps who like to get “private dance lessons” from pretty long-legged ladies…
  6. Same young chaps, always ready to massacre a drunk rendition of old american classics at 3am in one of the countless karaoke bars cluttering the city…

And probably countless other examples…

Now, are there any truth in these stereotypical scenes and descriptions?

Hell yea!

I seriously suspect that some of the people throwing rather bold accusations of racism (explicit or “submerged”, as some contend) against Sofia Coppola do not have a fraction of her knowledge of Japan. Actually, it is pretty safe to assume they have close to no first-hand knowledge of contemporary Japanese culture. Otherwise, they might have realized how, in a lot of aspects, the “stereotypes” they loudly decry in the movie are, in fact, very much actual – watered-down – traits of Japanese culture…

Let’s take a quick look at the aforementioned points, shall we:

1) Overzealous politeness and incessant bowing is not a myth: ask anybody who’s ever had a business relationship with a typical Japanese company. Not that this is actually something the movie or I would think about criticizing. It is simply a part of Japanese life and common business practice as much as shaking hands is in a western country.

2) Preposterous TV shows featuring excruciatingly annoying hosts: I mean, come on, have you watched any Japanese TV lately??? In comparison, the slightly doppy host in LiT is a model of professionalism.
Update: Actually, my bad. The show host featured in LiT is a real Japanese TV show host (can you tell I never watch TV). I saw a few bits of his show, and can tell you he really toned it down for the movie.

3) One word: Engrish

4) Foreign celebrities and “japandering“: would you be surprised to learn that Bill Murray’s commercial for some local whisky brand is for real – only with a different actor…

5) Regarding “Private Dance Lessons”: if my stint as a bartender/waiter in one of Tokyo’s “most refined gentleman’s club” is any indicator, Japanese youths are indeed very keen on taking the ladies to the champagne room… Yes, Japanese men sometimes are total hornballs who go to sleazy places and pay to see naked girls (or guys). just as much as every other men from about every country on that freaking planet: get over it!

6) Karaoke: Did I mention that before working in a strip club, I did work in a small neighbourhood bar near azabu-juban? did I mention that said bar was equipped with the latest in terms of Karaoke technology for the enjoyment of drunk salarymen and tipsy O.L.?
I will merely point you to my current state of mental imbalance and overall borderline psychopathic behaviour, as well as my irresistible urge to stump repeatedly on any microphone-shaped object whenever I hear the word “my” and “way” in the same sentence nowadays… Let’s just say it was a deeply psychologically scarring experience.

So a vast majority of these so-called “stereotypes” about Japanese are irremediably and undeniably true
Does that make the movie an objective, unbiased look at Japanese culture? Of course not! It is not a freakin’ documentary, it is a movie aimed precisely at showing how people have difficulties understanding foreign cultures and can feel somehow alienated by these differences…

The movie does not claim Bob and Charlotte’s attitude toward their Japanese counterparts to be exemplary behaviour, but since when do movie heroes have to be flawless embodiment of humanistic qualities?

The movie does not imply that the quirky and strange facets of Japanese civilization do not exist elsewhere, otherwise why would Bill Murray’s character feel so alienated by his own all-american Martha Stewartish wife as well?
All of the above points can be successfully matched with equal quirkiness or sheer imbecility by about any culture on Earth: Japanese TV only seem really stupid until your remember Jerry Springer and what passes for TV in the US. I’ll take twenty japanese polite bows any day over your average American sales consultant’s colgate smile and pushy demeanour. And need I say that the occasional melting of English consonants by Japanese locals speaking an otherwise decent English is nowhere near as hilarious as what you get when hapless gaijins take a shot at speaking basic Japanese (and that is, assuming we overlook the fact that most americans have trouble mastering their own language, let alone bothering to learn any foreign language)…

Of course Lost of Translation is packed with clichés a dozen, but if this is a punishable offense, I think it’s time to fold the whole Hollywood industry and call it a day, ’cause the competition is rather fierce in this domain…

I will finish by saying I might give more credits to some of the valid arguments fueling that controversy, if not for the fact that the official boycott site:

  1. complains in the name of “Asian Americans and the stereotypes it is conveying about them“. If this is not racism, then I don’t know what is. Implying that a movie that talks about people living in a certain country (Japan) could be applied to people living in another country (US), not even because they are of Japanese descent, but because they are somewhat of the same skin color! Tell me who’s using racial stereotypes here?
    I don’t see how cultural traits of people living in Tokyo are supposed to reflect poorly on American citizen, who just happen to have parents born somewhere in Asia…

  2. gives the grossly inaccurate, ridiculously one-sided, historically incompetent Last Samurai as an example of “positive, unbiased” take on Japanese culture. no comment

Frankly, I’m the first one to be appalled at Hollywood’s “lack of cultural sensitivity” (major understatement) and its overall cultural imperialism. But picking on Lost in Translation on that ground is seriously looking in the wrong direction, when it’s so obvious Sofia Coppola has a lot of affection for Japan and Japanese people, and shows it in her movie.
This kind of PCness bigotry only serves to weaken an otherwise very respectable cause.

In our pre-apocalyptic days of fear and anarchy, where every pimply teenager equipped with $300 of CompUSA hardware and a broadband connection can contribute to sap the very foundations of our cherished capitalistic society, different people have different ways of fighting “intellectual property theft”.

For the RIAA, which is obviously not reticent about jailing half the 12-29 population in the US and abroad, it has meant hiring a lot of lawyers and turning to court settlement fines instead of record sales, as a source for profit. So much so that they are now being sued under the RICO Act (originally tailored to fight more traditional forms of organized crime and racketeering, but still seems pretty fitting in this case).

The MPAA is slowly coming up to speed in terms of random scare tactics and other useless gesticulations, but in the meantime, they have settled on whining and moaning the usual corporate way, with a touching chorus on their huge profit loss. At this rate, they might even *gasp* have to stop shelling out millions of bucks to semi-articulate actors so they can show their familiar face, bleached teeth, cancerous tan, silicon implants and overall incapacity to convey the slightest human emotion with an ounce of conviction. Come to think of it, they might consider diverting an extra amount of that cash toward hiring real screenwriters to replace the brain hemorrhaging hollywood hacks who come up with such mind-blowing ideas as “Glitter, Maria Carey: the real Story” or “Bring it on: a no holds barred immersion into the fierce world of professional baton-twirling competition”… yea maybe they will (hope is cheaper than most food and you can live on it for a while)…

All in all, the way these people dealt with the unavoidable evolution of technology mostly revolved around raiding kids bedroom and showering Capitol Hill with lobbying money in order to get inept, unconstitutional, protectionist texts voted into laws.

And then, there’s French director Jan Kounen and actor Vincent Cassel, who, in order to thwart the intense trafficking likely to arise around their soon-to-open new movie, decided to release it themselves on P2P networks.

Well, not the real thing, of course: just a very convincing fake file. The actual movie titles would start rolling for a few minutes and suddenly cut into a recording of the two men, explaining with a good-natured smile to the pirate-that-be, how their movie would be much more enjoyable with the nice crispy photography and surround sound of a theater, instead of the usual crappy quality you get with internet telesync rips. The rest of the file cleverly consisting of looped promotional materials (“behind the scenes” footage etc).

How not to be seduced by this smart and funny way to fight for your bread and butter: rather than sue everything in sight, try to appeal to people’s intelligence and expose your case with rational arguments.

Well, this approach does postulate that your intended audience is not essentially composed of gregarious dim-witted simpletons, something that might be hard to establish with regards to your average Hollywood movie…