A new start calls for a fresh look, here in Japan as the seasons finally come full circle the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms symbolizes new beginnings, as with the commencement of my film school. Today folks from the various Borderless Tokyo houses got together for a Hanami party in Koganei Park, a cosmopolitan mix from Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, France, Germany, Korea, Australia, China and Sweden, and despite the dusty gails in the park sweeping in every now and then peppering our food with cherry blossom petals spirits were high as everyone got acquainted quickly, certainly the photo speaks just as much. These crazy blokes !

Apr 10th 2005

I’m absolutely getting spoilt by my new Japanese friends. Check out the Takoyaki !

Anyway, here’s the hilarious introduction written on me at the Borderless Tokyo website by Yoshi-san, our fantastic manager :

Mar. 23 Welcome! Yonghow! (Tanashi-house)

The star of Singapore Yonghow is moving in Tanashi-house!
He’s been to Japan for 1 year. so his Japanese is quite good!
He loves Shunji Iwai’s film and is learning this kind of thing in Japan.
Your website is really cool, Yonghow!!
Be friendly with him, everybody!!

Apr 3rd 2005
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The “Jerry Bruckheimer films” indent screened before the commencement of the film National Treasure served as the best caveat of what laid ahead ( read : explosions, car chases, more explosions; basically your usual taosiao capers ). Extraordinarily we registered only one single explosion in the early part of the film, but this Davinci Code + Indiana Jones mishmash of plot still fails to take off as it lumbered on languorously, bogged down by some stiff acting and even stiffer lines. ( another example of great actors’ performances suffering at the expense of lousy writing. ) Trevor Rabin’s music is woefully misused, incessant perhaps in an attempt to mask the film’s other shortcomings. To add to the insult the filmmakers usual undermining of the audiences’ intelligence quoto by means of a clown sidekick that tries desperately to insert trite humour makes all but see red. Why can’t for even once the supporting partner of the protaganist be given a little more intellectual credence ?

Mar 31st 2005
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On my way home yesterday evening after a short bicycle recky around the new neighbourhood 2 uniformed high school girls, also on bikes pedalled past me, engaged in mundane school talk. As I trailed behind them the setting sun right in front of us spilled a dazzling golden halo around the 2 girls, the light catching every strand of their billowing hair, illuminating it like stokes of white flame. Had that moment been caught on film it would have made a very fitting, Iwai-ish number.

Anyway, the folks at Tanashi treated me to a sumptous Nabe welcome dinner, Kimchi style. L to R here we have Masako, Maiko, Youngjae and Ryoko. After dinner we embarked on the arduous task of clearing up the fridge ( we have 2 here ), for one of the setbacks of communal fridge usage is that you often find food stashed since the last century, forgotten realms hidden in the dark corners, severed and half decomposed fingers, etc. Thank goodness there were none today other than a mini mushroom farmbed in a tub of yogurt, dating back to Byzantine period.

Below : A shot of my room. Moody eh ?

Mar 27th 2005
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House moving is slated for the 23rd, a rainy day has been forecasted. I hope the powers that be cut me a break because I’ve never fancied sleeping on a waterbed. Anyway, a glimpse of my home at Borderless Tokyo for the next 2 years, Kokusaikouryuukyoukai, or International Exchange Society. ( above : a view from my room, Below : Banner at main entrance ) Think a Japanese version of the Spanish Apartment, but with alot less sex. I think. Well they did say they’re going to party every month…

Mar 17th 2005
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I knew the first day when I moved into Domire-Meguro as an avid fan of Iwai Shunji’s films that I have found some very special, kindred souls. ( see comparison picture below ). Any self respecting Iwai Shunji fan will no doubt remember the hallmark library window/curtain scene in Love Letter, and Takeshi+Kojima did so much as to install that exact mise en scene in our very own kitchen. What a bunch of Romantics !! :]

As I prepare to move on to my new home come next week at Borderless Tokyo, I shall however remember my memorable and unforgettable days in Domire-Meguro, so lucid they were it seemed just like yesterday.

Mar 15th 2005
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Believe me when I say that its a once in a lifetime fortuity to have been able to catch the Mucha Exhibition on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, quite simply because 1) 100 pieces from the exhibition have never been allowed abroad till now, 2) its Mucha, champion of the Art Nouveau movement and 3)I’m his absolute, complete acolyte, right up there with Waterhouse. His advant garde illustration style was light years ahead during his era and even in recent times as countless artists feverishly copied, imitated, duplicated none ever reproduced anything as stunning as did Mucha himself. Even if anyone came close, Mucha would have beaten them a full hundred years ahead. At the end of my visit that day as I was hurried out by the curators my eyes were painfully strained having pored over every single piece of his amazing works.

PS Why are so many friends from Netherlands checking out this post ? Is there an event going on ? Please let do leave a comment and let me know why.

Mar 6th 2005

My first home vacation since I left for Japan 10 months ago to pursue my film studies has just ended with 20 days and 11 films. That meant one film watched every other day but cramped in between catching up with good friends and equally good food I wished I could have squeezed in time for a couple more. Hitherto Mike Nichols superbly crafted Closer wraps up the trip and as much as I would say the highlight of the film was seeing Natalie Portman dressed ( hardly I mean ) in a sexy thong much appeal is also attributed to the exceptional screenplay by Patrick Marber ( who also wrote the original play that this film was based on ) Indeed the 10 month hiatus has left my already subpar english language even more diminished so I was neither intellectually nor linguistically capable of appreciating the nuances in the delivered lines as much as I wished I could, so owning the dvd would be a plus. ( nonono, its not about Natalie Portman and her thong, mostly no. )

With that, till next year and see you guys back in Tokyo.

Feb 19th 2005
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Movie/comic comparisons aside, Francis Lawrence’s directorial debut Constantine is a tastily shot film topped with superlative visual and creature effects, crisp, moody photography and a host of radical, interesting characters. In this fashion-savvy universe Gabriel the Archangel dresses like a spokesmodel for Versace while Lucifer does Armani endorsements in bleached white designer suits. Such a stark contrast in the portrayal of the ultimate evil is a clear departure from past films where Satan is often depicted as a savage demon king bent on inflicting human suffering whereas here he’s a well dorned CEO with an eterprise to manage, however hellish it is. In this sense inhabiting such a world where the supernatural forces heed attention to “the balance” of good and evil seems almost desirable. Evil never once looked so good.

Feb 8th 2005
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Takeshi+Kojima

Bound for a year long travel trip to Montreal come next week, Kojima+Takeshi had only moved out a couple of days ago, but the absence of my 2 extremely likeable japanese friends are immediately palpable; gone are the familiar Bossanova tracks playing off Takeshi’s amps in the evenings; ( remembering vividly his incredulous disbelief when I first admitted I had never come across the term Bossanova music ), Kojima’s plants lined outside the house, including a durian seedling I swore would never grow due to Japan’s cold weather but did, now all gone, a barren slab of concrete floor; amongst other memorable incidents we shared.

Both accomplished photographers themselves, Takeshi+kojima also travelled widely and shared a true sense of spirit that embodied the love for new experiences rather than material pursuits; indeed, they had very little posessions beyond what was necessary for a decent and comfortable living. They were also great cooks; most of my culinary procurement since I came to Japan ( of which I had zilch before ) I had stole from them in between their dinner preparations. It takes little to surmise I’ll be missing their company significantly, and see you guys next year, Takeshi+Kojima. ( and hello to my new roommate, Hirobe-san. :] )

Jan 24th 2005
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Denizens of Domiru Meguro : ( L to R ) Takeshi, Shige, Bernie, Kojima. Yappari minna mechamecha yopparakunatta.

Jan 16th 2005
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I can’t recall exactly as to why I missed Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream when it hit theatres back in 2000, but I’m more than glad that I finally watched it after putting it off everytime I hit the rental stores, having remembered lucidly my friends’ caveats that it’s extremely detrimental to one’s healthy mental state. Nontheless, watching Requiem is an excellent exercise in filmmaking, ( the film had 2000 plus cuts, as compared to a regular movie’s 600/700 ), and the sophorific visuals are so compelling its like been hypnotised.

Jan 15th 2005
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