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

A flower shop in Daikayama, close to Shibuya about 10 minutes cycle from home. Fans of Luc Besson’s Leon have got to be smitten with this shop, watashi hajimete mita toki mo bikkuri. :]

Jan 7th 2005
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It will no doubt take several more repeat viewings to even barely grasp and appreciate the full masterly range of Krzysztof Kieslowski trilogy Trois Couleurs ( Three Colours : Blue, White and Red ), but Rouge ( Red ) immediately springs up as my favourite of the three. Maybe because it was the easiest to comprehend and relate to, but simply put Red is so richly imbued in a mix of fantastic visual and narrative symbolism, utilizing austere but stunning photography to enhance the intensity of every scene the experience of viewing leaves one breathless; I can only imagine the impact it would have had viewed in a theatre. Sadly the depth and meaning of the trilogy is way beyond what my inept writing can express, but you’ve been so informed.

( Note however, this trilogy’s narrative treatment is everything an archetypal Hollywood outing is not, so some may find it completely senseless and boring. )

Jan 5th 2005
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Although I would had very much preferred a sloshed out, frenetic PVD treatment to celebrate the new year things turned out fairly different as we ended up in Meiji Jingu ( a famous Shrine in Harajuku where the Emperor chills out ) for a more traditional proceeding. Packed to the brim on New Year’s Eve every year everyone thronged to toss coins before the altar wishing for happiness and long life.

Jan 3rd 2005

SNOW@DOMIRU-MEGURO.

Dec 29th 2004
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Having hogged my brother’s Notionwerks website for years now I’ve finally gotten my bones together to set up my own domain. After much deliberation I’ve finally settled on www.playwithlight.com. ( tying into the cinematography, chiaroscuro thing ) One has to realize that with the word “light” within the name its only too easy to end up sacrosant sounding ie “stepintolight.com”, nor did I wanted something too corporate, not running a business here. Right now its all but an empty shell, but go to www.playwithlight.com for a peek.

Dec 28th 2004
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Isao Yukisada’s tearjerker Sekai no Chushin de, Ai wo Sakebu ( Crying out love at the centre of the world ), though employing an egregiously cliched, age old melodramatic narrative that is sure to have teenage girls swooning for the lead actor’s undying love in the film, is redeemably executed with accomplished skill and beauty ( no small part due to Shinoda’s photography ). As unabashedly sentimental as the film is, the superbly timed use of Ken Hirai’s moving ballad can really get one reaching for their hankies.

Regrettably, this marked the final film shot by DP Noboru Shinoda, a long time collaborator with Iwai Shunji, whose cinematography work included Love Letter, Swallowtail Butterfly and April Story.

Dec 24th 2004

Tokyo Tower, in all its night glory. Merry Christmas folks. :]

Dec 23rd 2004