Previous Posts: December 2001

Movie Reviews: The Hunted

Make no mistake, The Hunted is a terrible movie, but I'll be darned if I don't have a certain affection for it.  It has four things that I find irresistible: 1) a very photogenic-looking Japan; 2) swordplay; 3) Christopher...



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Make no mistake, The Hunted is a terrible movie, but I'll be darned if I don't have a certain affection for it.  It has four things that I find irresistible: 1) a very photogenic-looking Japan; 2) swordplay; 3) Christopher Lambehr; 4) Yoko Shimada.

If the name Yoko Shimada rings no bells or presses no buzzers, think back a bit. She was the one who played Lady Mariko in Shogun — probably the only English-speaking member of the entire Japanese cast — and had been a veteran of many Japanese movies before then. (One of the best, Vessel of Sand, was based on a best-selling mystery novel which I need to get around to reviewing one of these days.)  She's been tapped only occasionally for American movies, which is a shame — the only other productions I've seen her in are Christophe Gans's Crying Freeman (based on the manga of the same name) and a rather dismal 1985 movie called My Champion, about a Japanese-American long-distance runner. Her presence alone makes this movie bearable.

Too bad most of them film is about Lambert as a computer salesman named Racine, currently in Japan for a conference.  At his hotel, he meets an enigmatic woman (Joan Chen, also very easy on the eyes) whom he winds up spending a very steamy evening with. Turns out it's her last night on earth as she's been marked for death by Kinjo (John Lone), a ninja clan leader bent on taking over Japan (or at least having the Rolling Stones play there again, or something). Racine is a witness to the woman's murder, the ninja chase him, and he escapes only because they have a police detective character come in and scoff at how silly the whole ninja-in-this-day-and-age thing is.

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Tags: Japan movies review Yoko Shimada Yoshio Harada


Music: John Cage: Indeterminacy

The one thing John Cage is remembered for more than anything else is sitting silently at a piano for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and calling that a composition. He titled it 4’33”, of course, and I have seen it...



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The one thing John Cage is remembered for more than anything else is sitting silently at a piano for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and calling that a composition. He titled it 4’33”, of course, and I have seen it reproduced as sheet music (“…rest…rest…rest…”), heard it “covered” by various artists who did everything from generate pure binary zero files on a CD to simply put a mike in an empty room, and so on. I even had the pleasure of watching Professor Bullough of my 20th Century Music class perform it live. Sort of.

Cage was the most placidly iconoclastic of modern composers. He didn’t deliberately put wrecking balls through buildings, so to speak; the buildings were just in his way. He did what he had to, and if that meant ditching music as we knew it in pretty much every form, then fine. He embraced randomness as a methodology and applied it rigorously in music-making, if only to show that randomness was not something in us, but a property of the world that we could disregard if we just listened closely enough. One of his favorite Zen aphorisms contains the distillation of his approach to music: “If in Zen something is boring, do it for two minutes. If it is still boring, do it for four minutes. If it is still boring, do it for eight minutes, sixteen, thirty-two. Eventually you’ll find it’s not boring at all but very interesting.” He bored more than his fair share of people. Read more


Tags: John Cage


Movie Reviews: Kikujiro

There's little chance of Takeshi Kitano ever making a truly bad movie, but Kikujiro shows he is capable of making a confused one. After Violent Cop, Sonatine, Fireworks and many other superior Kitano movies, Kikujiro comes off as aimless....



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There's little chance of Takeshi Kitano ever making a truly bad movie, but Kikujiro shows he is capable of making a confused one. After Violent Cop, Sonatine, Fireworks and many other superior Kitano movies, Kikujiro comes off as aimless. And while Kitano's never been strong on plot, a movie that's a little aimless from him means it's a great deal more aimless than most others, especially considering his predilection for long moments of stasis and quietus. The end result is not boring, but stranded, which is equally problematic.

The movie, I think, want to subvert or overturn a whole subgenre of sentimental movies in which a kid tries to reunite with one or more of his parents. The boy in question lives with his grandmother, who works the day through and leaves him meals. With school out, his friends gone and soccer practice suspended, there's nothing for him to do. One day he learns his long-lost mother is alive and well somewhere else in Japan, and hatches a plan to visit her. But he'll need a guardian, and he finds one in Kikujiro (played by Kitano himself). Read more


Tags: Japan movies review Takeshi Kitano



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This page is an archive of entries from December 2001 listed from newest to oldest.

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