On location in Minami-Sunamachi. Principle photography has wrapped and editing is in the works for a short film about 2 ladies who start a cat fight over a cheesecake. As the cameraman for the shoot I also got a humble cameo ( actually almost everyone else in the team did a cameo )as an english teacher ( in a TV advertisement within the film )who tries unsuccesfully to instruct proper pronounciation for the word Cheesecake ( read as chee-su-ke-ki in Japanese ). Now that was great fun.

Jan 19th 2006
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Ok, the person in the bottom photo’s not me, but its going to be one day, I promise you that. (You just wait Jason. Ha. *green with envy*) Still not getting the picture ? Watch Iwai Shunji’s Love Letter.

Jan 10th 2006
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I wonder if the collective filmmakers ( I would like to think at least half of them had to be sane when the film was shot ) who took part in Chen Kaige’s latest film The Promise knew how *beep* ridiculous the notion of a man capable of running faster than the speed of light is. ( trivia; not even our fastest, most advanced fighter plane today can reach even a mere 1% of light speed, which if possible, would already be at an astonishing 30000km/sec. Yes, that’s just 1 measly percent. )Sure, you say, its a movie, but this is way more than pushing the audience’s ability to suspend their disbelief; its downright insulting. Contestant No.1 for this year’s worst film watched. AVOID AVOID AVOID.

Jan 8th 2006
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So beautiful and realistic is Weta’s rendition of King Kong ( with the chompy chirpy Rexes coming in a close 2nd, though I still feel the Rexes from Jurassic Park are the most realistic ever ) that barely five minutes past his first appearance in the film I have lost the ability to visualize him as a CG character generated from mere pixels and texture maps but instead saw him more as a real performer with an emormous, overwhelming presence. King Kong is an oversized silverback with a soft spot for beautiful blondes such as Naomi Watts, and I wonder how Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey would feel if they ever sat through this film, admiration or distaste. There can be no ambivalence however, that King Kong is going to be one of the best effects films released this year.

Jan 5th 2006
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Films Retrospect 2005

Total tally for films watched in 2005 stands at 28 in theatres and 150 on dvds, making that 178 in all ( Click here to see the entire list ), averaging out to about 1 film every 2 days for the entire year. Here are my top 10 favourite films viewed in 2005, in no particular merit.

1)The Machinist (Brad Anderson)
2)Not One Less (Zhang Yimou)
3)Tony Takitani (Ichikawa Jun)
4)Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan)
5)Cha No Aji (Ishii Katsuhito)
6)Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass)
7)Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)
8)Life Of Mammals (Documentary, David Attenborough)
9)Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders)
X)Majo No Takkyubin (Miyazaki Hayao)

Certainly it was tough trying to sift just 10 films out of 178, there were many other entertaining capers like Constantine and Starwars EP3, as well as films that had very outstanding visuals ie Lemony Snicket’s, also others worth mentioning like Hotel Rwanda and Daremoshiranai. Due to the exorbitant price of tickets here in Tokyo, exacerbated by its cretaceous release dates the abililty to view the latest films plunged dramatically, but the silver lining was that rental stores here stock many old titles that I was able to catch up on.

With that, here’s to another bountiful year ahead for movie viewing ! :]

Jan 3rd 2006
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Having tried out the great Meiji Jingu Jam ( Check out this entry; )in Harajuku during last year’s New Year’s Eve I figured I’ll go see something else this year; the great Ameyoko Jam, a very popular shopping street in Ueno, think a Japanese version of Chinatown on Lunar New Year’s Eve. Mingling into the crowd I was literally carried around involuntarily by the human traffic and I soon decided to just go with the flow, snapping whatever interesting that came into view. After that it was a laidback, quiet New Year’s dinner with some friends ( most others had gone back to their hometowns to celebrate New Year ); and yes, still secretly yearning for that intoxicated, sloshed out PVD party.

Jan 1st 2006
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Today, the 29th of December, 2005 will go down in my personal history as the day where I, an infinitesimal and paltry existence on this planet, meets Miyazaki Hayao, world renowned animator and master of the Ghibli Universe. No, I didn’t see him at a premiere for a new animation film; nor was it at a press conference or anything of this loud, official nature; I met him while he was on his way to work ( at Ghibli Studios in Musashi Koganei, not far from where I live ), driving pass my bicycle as I stopped at a junction, with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a cigarette, the smoke trailing from his vintage car as he drove away. I stood flabbergasted for a long time, anticipating Totoros to trod along too, but they did, in a way I guess, in the spirit of their brilliant creator.

Dec 29th 2005

Tokyo’s metropolitan landscape stretches as far as the eye can see from Ebisu’s Garden Place, as breathtaking as it is dizzying. Taking the elevator up to the top viewing levels I almost felt like a character playing in Otomo Katsuhiro’s Akira as I gazed upon this colossal, hulking entity, the hectic home to 12 million denizens.

Dec 25th 2005
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Winter holidays are here and I’ve taken this opportune moment while taking a short breather from school to indulge in a little creative pleasure; taking s**tloads of photographs with my newly acquired, long overdue and hitherto much desire(d) Nikon digital SLR D70s. I’m loving every second of it; the handling and feel of the camera, the expanded creative options I have ( check it : ISOs from 200 to 1500 at the flick of a switch ), and I’ve barely even started. Now before any film purist lambast me as been unfaithful to the medium, no, I’m not a digital convert; I still love my good old Nikon FE10 and the romantic look of film; but the wise auteur utilizes all tools available to him so as to advance his level of work; not that I’m claiming to be one.

Here’s to many more happy and rewarding shooting days. :]


Dusk near home in Tanashi, West Tokyo.

Dec 22nd 2005
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Its a memorable day at this year’s Toho Video Festival (TVF), a film festival with works from all the different faculties of my film school. Chosen from a hundred pieces of film submission by a panel of judges, notably Yukisada Isao ( director of Shouting Out Love, ), my short film Robot Dreams ( a renaissance piece built from a culmination of unfinished work including Memento Mori, Do Robots Dream and recently shot video footage. ) managed to enter the grand finals, one of the top 10 films screened today at the festival vying for the grand prize of a Apple G5 FCP editing suite worth about 5K. Regrettably, I eventually lost out to my classmate from Shanghai ( we were the only two year one students in the top ten; the rest were graduation students ), whose impressive CG piece created to the likeness of Chinese watercolour paintings awed the judges, and deservedly won the best film award. Well, better luck next year with my graduation work ! :]

Dec 8th 2005
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The initial impression upon watching Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Millenium Mambo, ( especially the first scene where we have Hsu Chi strolling down this bridge as the camera follows behind her, shot perhaps on a 48 or 60 framer ), was how much it reminded me of the splendid Korean film Take Care of My Cat. 2 things : 1) The dreamy and carefree, immediately memorable music ( I liken it to the pleasurable feeling of intoxication, without any of the nasty side effects )that give both films their characteristic mood, and 2) each fall into that risky category of cinema where there is no clearly established plotline; nothing important seem to be happening most of the time onscreen; there is no apparent premise or conclusion, and in the case of Mambo the potential bore factor skyrockets because the photographer is Lee Pingbin, who loves to lock down his camera and shoot empty compositions where the actors are completely out of frame. 3 other directors who have an affinity for this form of narrative comes to mind : Hu Jinho, Tsai Mingliang, and Robert Altman.

I cannot better explain their style of storytelling by this saying : The journey is the destination. Next stop, Hou Hsiao Hsien’s latest film Zhu Hao De Shi Guang ( Three Times ).

Dec 4th 2005
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Fright nights twice in a row with viewings of Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and then Scott’s Hannibal, I think I’ve been served enough cinematic blood and gore for a long time to come. Meanwhile, Yukisada Isao ( director of Shouting Out Love, ) makes a surprise visit to school, popping into our art direction class today to give us a few words on filmmaking. I just had to disagree with his views on the deficits of recent Korea cinema; evidently, if you have been catching up on the cream of the crop, it has never been stronger.

Nov 25th 2005
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