Departures

I saw a very good movie, an academy award winning Japanese film (2009 Best Foreign Language Film of the Year), Departures, or Okuribito as it is called in Japan. It is very good, I highly recommend it.

First, it would be amiss to not mention the main character’s name is Daigo. I used to tell people Daigo is not very common name, and I told that to my wife when first I met her, then, the first Japanese person she saw on the TV (I think it was one of Olympic event) was another Daigo. Anyway, it was very good movie, but why can’t Japanese men tell their wives the truths? The main character, Daigo, did not tell his wife that he purchased $180,000 cello, and he wouldn’t tell her what his job was. I had the same reaction when I saw 1996 Japanese film Shall We Dance, (BTW, don’t bother with American remake with J-Lo and Richard Gere) when the main character wouldn’t tell his wife that he is taking dance lesson. That was driving me crazy. Perhaps the same reason Daisuke wouldn’t tell his team about his injury….


Pat Morita, and Only the Brave

I didn’t grow up watching Happy Days like my wife, and barely remember Karate Kid, but of course I know who Matsuo ‘Arnold’ Takahashi is and who could forget who Mr. Kesuke Miyagi is… Noriyuki “Pat” Morita just passed away on thanksgiving day. played a role in more than 100 films, and was one of the first Asian Americans to do stand-up comedy (…he called himself “the Hip Nip,” and he once told a group of Pearl Harbor survivors in a Waikiki nightclub that he was sorry about messing up their harbor… from NY Times), the first to have his own TV series – called Mr. T and Tina, only 5 episode was aired before canceled – and first Asian actor to be nominated for Oscar (Best Supporting Actor for Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi, 1984). But less known thing about him is that he had tuberculosis at age two and lived much of his pre-teen years in the hospital, then was a detainee at the Gila River Internment Camp in Arizona during WWII.

According to the fore mentioned NYtimes editorial by Lawence Downes, Morita has a role in an unreleased movie called “Only the Brave,” (imdb, review) about Japanese-American soldiers of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team by Lane Nishikawa. He plays a Buddhist priest who is imprisoned in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor and Downes say “Morita’s legacy may soon take a posthumous turn for the better” for his role in the movie. Sounds like the movie is in “Post Production” and will be released in 2006, but I have to see this movie. In the mean time, I’ve added Karate Kid in my netflix queue. Rest in peace, Pat Morita.


I’m not watchin’ highlight, just livin’ my life

Oh my, I haven’t posted here for over two weeks! I have been busy updating JapaneseBallPlayers.com, (that is, when I am not shoveling) and am finally happy with how it is working now. I did a major backend upgrade and most everything is database-driven. Pretty cool. I am just learning so much about php/mysql stuff.

Test driving drupal and liking it, so far. I’ve installed it on Boston Japanese Red Sox fan club website. Taking a little time tring to figure out how the “theme” works. I want to create a theme for Boston Japanese Linux/Unix Users Group‘s website (bjlug.org) and move it to a Drupal-based site, so that everyone can edit the contents. BJLUG is having its (late-)New Year Dim Sum meeting this Saturday if anyone is interested. Come one, came all!

Recently-Watched-Movies List (with one line review): Eternal Sunshaine of Spotless Mind (Awesome! Loved it. I didn’t like Adaptation but it was more like John Malkovich), Saddest Music in the World (Strange, interesting, screenwriter is Japanese, Kazuo Ishiguro, really wanted to like it much more but was missing something… style is so original though), Enter The Dragon (I forgot why Bruce Lee is so friggin’ kick a**. I think he is THE coolest Asian American. Jacky Chen is in it as an extra too. He is the one who grabs Lee’s sister and get punched in the face…), Hero (was OK, needed bit more beefy story. Great fight scenes.), City Of God (Pretty good, sort of went on for a long time. Interesting story that is based on a true story.) Happiness (Not happy at all but very interesting) Around the world in 90 days (Actually it has pretty good traditional style fight scene by Jacky Chen in it, was not bad), Garden State (Liked it, good) Before Sunrise (pretty good), Harold and Maude (Wacky, interesting), The Pianist (Great) Napoleon Dynamite (Geez! Awesome! What’d you think!), The Blind Swordman: Zatoichi (You know, I actually really liked it. Yes it had the Motal-Combat-like-computer-animated-Blood, and “Stomp” at the end, but so what, it was refreshing in the very traditional samurai Chan-bara movie . I need to own kimono like Asano‘s… There aren’t enough men wearing kimono in this world.), De-Lovely (Great movie, I love music of Cole Porter anyway. Time when he lived are the best era… people dressed really nice back then.) The Fog of War (Holy cow. It was shockingly great)

Did I forget any? BTW, did I mention I miss baseball?? (The Title of blog is a song of lyrics from my band, like ten years ago, called Shu, written by Matt Sakakini)


Movies that get you down

I saw Dogville last night. It was… well, good. Actually great movie: the scenes, set concept (theater stage like setting) and lighting and photography was wonderful. Acting was great. But story was… depressing. People being sad, mean, unfair, taking advantage and passively accepting injustis. Benefiting from other poeple’s misfortune, to quote from the film. Like Anton Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” but with surprising ending. One of the most surprising, shocking ending I’ve seen, up there with Usual Suspect or Fight Club but better. The goose bumps ending. It really got me down. To think that Mystic River and Better Luck Tomorrow got me down for days, this one is going to get me for weeks… hopefully not.

It is also unfair that those depressing, disturbing movie sticks with you but nice and happy films that I’ve seen recently fades from my memory quicker. Recent movies that I’ve seen from Netflix: Eat Drink Man Woman, Together, Good Bye, Lenin!, Monsieur Ibrahim, Frida, In America…. The first two on the list, both Chinese films, are especially great.


Nagasaki

I just saw a movie Rhapsody in August by Akira Kurosawa (IMDB, AllMovie). The movie has very interesting topic and pretty strong message. It is about WWII and Atom Bomb on Nagasaki, and how the surviver of the war (grandma) cope with loss and change of time. The whole Atomic Bomb thing is a topic that Japanese rarely talks about and for that, Kurosawa is making his point by making this film. Interesting movie to see, when the election talks all touch on “WMD”. Watching this movie gave me more of human dimension to that talk. (Barefoot Gen (imdb, allmovie) is a very strong film of this kind, even though it is an animation.)
Japanese people’s racism (well, that is a strong word but that is what it is… ) towards non-Japanese is pretty realisticaly captured in the movie, too. It’s not hatred, but more of ignorance coming from being isolated and homogeneous country. Richard Gere is in the movie, speaking Japanese (he is a half Japanese in the movie). And really, (sadly) he was the best part of the movie. Topic is so strong and interesting, it is really too bad that it was kind of slow and characters are not so interesting. I liked it overall, but could be better if any of the Japanese character (besides grandma) are more likable or had stronger personality. If anything the movie really made me want to visit Nagasaki (Yahoo Travel Japan Guide), it also has long and sad history of Christianity.


Fahrenheit 9/11

Was able to watch Fahrenheit 9/11, thanks to Netflix. Michael Moore is no doubt good at what he does. In the movie he somehow makes the point without being too in your face (unlike when he is on Bill Maher’s show etc.) The whole part about the Bush family’s connection with Bin Laden family and Saudi’s part was .. I don’t know what to think of it. It’s scary. Halliburton with its contract with Saudi’s oil line and Iraq rebuilding contract (and its connection to VP Cheney) I’ve often heard, but this was first time I’ve heard of Carlyle Group and its United Defense and its connection with Bush family.

Who is scarier? Bush’s connection to Saudi’s or Kerry’s connection to French?

Now Michigan Republican Party is accusing Michael Moore of bribery. Funny.


First batch of Netflix flicks

Got my first three movies. Better Luck Tomorrow, Casablanca, and In America. In America was great. It is a hard movie to swallow for poeple like me who just became dad. I guess it makes you realize how good you have it and make you appreciate your everyday. Very good, it made me cry. Though, I didn’t really like the main guy. I have never seen Casablanca but there is a bar in Harvard Sq. that we like that is called Casablanca. I now see why it is a classic. Worth seeing it. I liked Kiss to build a dream on anyway but from now on, I can’t hear the song without being reminded of the movie. Better Luch Tomorrow was very … disturbing. It was good, but not sure if I liked it. Yes, Go Asian Americans, I have support you 100% but man, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it for a day or two .. in a bad way… it haunted me. I really hated the charactor Virgil and unfortunatly kind of liked Steve, who, well, I won’t give away the story…


Brilliant movie

I just saw a most brilliant movie, its Tampopo (All Movie, imdb, nytimes) by Juzo Itami. Damn, it was good. Very Monty Python like, “…and now something completely different…” and has awesome food scenes. Ramen, of course, French, Italian (how to eat spaghetti), DIm Sum on the train (?), Moo Shoo Duck, Zaru Soba, Korean Barbecue, Fried Rice (the last meal that mom cook…), Omelet with rice, every food is in there… and singing homeless gourmet group. Wow, it has to rank among the best top five movie for me. Main story is really straight forward, the sub plot, little side stories are really over the top. I especially love the way “the Master” eats the ramen noodle… He moves the pork to “upper left corner” of the bowl and apologize to pork by saying ‘I’ll see you soon’. Mmmm I want to eat good Ramen Noodle now…

Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2004 at 12:21 am | Filed under: Movie and Theater | Comments Off