Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beautifully Curious, Curiously Beautiful

This blog may seem to be falling into neglect. But worry not, it's the result of systematic laziness of the blogger. Well, not laziness alone, but that coupled with a few other matters that take up all available brain cells and leaving none for the pleasure of blogging.

Anyway, I'd planned to write something on John Carpenter's The Thing, which I recently revisited, and also because a remake is coming (which means it will be a remake of a remake, great). But as time went on, the desire to write about it fizzled out. But fear not, it will come back some time.

So what's left to talk about is that over the weekend I saw a really crap movie and a very brilliant film. The crap was the horror movie House. I knew the moment a character, approaching the house, uttered "No cars. Weird!" that the movie was in big trouble. I thought it peculiar that there's a character with awesome cleavage but who never takes it off, and a male character who hints at having the hots for her but barely even touches her. And no one says "Fuck." Not once.

Unusual for a horror/slasher movie, I thought.

Until I read that it's supposed to be a "Christian horror movie." I'm not really sure what the heck that is, but then it does make perfect sense why the movie is so anti-septic.

The brilliant was The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. I was so enthralled by the film that I spent a good part of my sleep that night dreaming and thinking about it. Why does a film about death and growing old mean so much to me? Perhaps it's because I recently looked mortality in the eye. It's beautiful, fascinating, engaging, moving, and in showing us a man who ages backwards, it forces us to examine our own mortality and what it means to be youthful.

I've been promoting this film to anyone and everyone who would listen. The funny thing is that I found most of those who dislike the film or found it boring were of the younger set. It got me thinking that perhaps it's a film that will become more relevant and meaningful to us as we grow older.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Death By Daily

If you've noticed, The Storyboard Daily, that other blog of Asian film news that I started recently, has been pretty dead. (Not that many would have noticed anyway, sigh.) Well, I've decided to shut it down.

The reason is, unfortunately, not as "glamorous" as Variety Asia's. I just simply discovered, over the course of time, that maintaining a daily news aggregate just isn't a one-man job.

So, if I could put together a team, then maybe I would try and run another blog like the Daily. For now, au revoir, zai jian, sayonara, adios, goodbye.

Meanwhile, The Storyboard continues as usual.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bigger Is Better?

Transformers was Michael Bay's ultimate boys' toys fantasy movie - cars, robots, weapons, and yes, a hot chick. Everything in the movie is a collectible that begs to be bought at the merchandise store, even whatshername.

So the Superbowl spot for Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen is out (even the title is a vomit of male bravado and a pseudo-mythical proclamation). As expected, it shows the sequel to be bigger, badder, louder, brasher, etc. Bay piles on the explosions, clashes, explosions, destruction, explosions, flying debris, explosions. The robots are bigger and more varied, the military has a bigger presence, there are battleships, tanks, helicopters, you name it. In short, a movie with even more collectibles.

While the first movie should have been a fun adaptation of a fun 80s cartoon series, it was, instead, a showcase for the Most Annoying One-Note Actor Of Today, and suffered from a serious lack of action and fun. When the action does come, it's the usual shaky, disorienting, incomprehensible rubbish.

It cemented Michael Bay's reputation as a pasar malam director who shamelessly panders to the demands of the lowest common denominator.

Here's the thing: why should bigger be better? Must sequels top the originals with bigger action sequences, bigger explosions, bigger everything?

The lesson should have been learnt last year. Bay should take a leaf from Christopher Nolan's book - all that The Dark Knight had was a bigger, more complex story. And the story comes first before anything else.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Troublesome Night

Talking about discrimination, here's another controversy currently blowing up online, and I thought I'd better get on it too.

Everyone, from Asians to non-Asians, are up in arms against the all-white casting of M. Night Shyamalan's live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's indeed frustrating and demeaning that a series known for being completely immersed in, and inspired by, Asian and Inuit cultures will be adapted into a movie populated by a main cast of Caucasians.

I'm not an avid follower of the series, but I've seen a few episodes of it on some lazy weekend mornings. It's impressive indeed, to say the least, not only because it's a rare moment where an American animated series (and one for kids) is wholly based on ethnic minority cultures, but also because from what I've seen, it's not one of those shows built from a white obsession with Asian exotica. At no time did I feel I was being Hong Kong Phooey-ed.

And then this happens.

Of course, this kind of discriminatory, racist practice isn't new. It's been around for ages. From the old "black-and-white minstrel shows" to Sir Alec Guinness putting on tan make-up to play an Indian man in A Passage To India. There are lots more examples of this kind of thing, from racist stereotypes to discrimination against Asian actors. But this time, Paramount, whose behind the Avatar movie, is dealing with a huge existing fanbase, and that's what's getting them into hot water, I guess. Plus, of course, this is the age of the Internet. Nothing gets by without close scrutiny by the online community.

This is not just something that can be construed as a subconscious decision by the studio, because it's blatant even to the extent of interviews given by the chosen actors. As one of them said to MTV:

"I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan," he said of the transformation he'll go through to look more like Sokka. "It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."

It's a real WTF moment. In this day and age. But I don't think I would want to put any part of the blame on Shyamalan. He's always had Asian actors in his movies, including himself, even though the leads are always non-Asian. But seeing as how his recent track record has been dismal, he probably doesn't have much say or choice in all this. (Although some might want to use his alleged rant against Brazilian crew members as proof of otherwise.)

I won't say more, but I'll just point you to some websites and blogs that have written about the controversies. There are online petitions and letter-writing campaigns in which you can take part. Otherwise, write about the issue and publicise it on your blog or website. Spread it far and wide.

Check out:

Good Riddance

I'd love to say it's been a long time coming; unfortunately the reason for the demise of Kaiju Shakedown isn't what I wish it were.

It's confirmed - Variety Asia is no more, due to the rough economic times. I will miss Variety Asia because it delivers fine news on Asian films. But what I definitely won't miss is the rubbish blog called Kaiju Shakedown.

Here and here are the reasons why.

I got so tired of the discriminatory crap and hypocritical garbage that I stopped reading that blog completely and even removed it from my sidebar.

I, for one, am glad to see it go. No tears shed here.

COPYRIGHT POLICY: It's simple: Steal my stuff and I'll kick you in the nuts