i get more well wishes on jesus's birthday than on my own. that's bullshit.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
So a friend and I got on the bus downtown. As we're sitting and watching the other people get on as well, I noticed three guys get on the bus together, one of which was really, really hot. To my luck, he stood right in front of where I was sitting, and I thought to myself, "Oh how nice, I'll get to look at his ass all the way home." I text "hot" on my phone and show it to my friend to notify him of the guy, in case he hadn't seen him. He agreed. Unfortunately, at the next stop, the hot ass moved a little to the back because of more people getting on the bus, and it was no longer in my face. Oh well.
On the ride back I'm chatting with my friend about something, when we're approached by one of the guys who was not the hot one (this one was not bad, but the other one was really hot). He asked us with his New Zealand accent, "We're new in town. What sorts of bars or clubs are good around here?" I looked at my friend and gave him the eye that meant, "Do you think he's asking what I think he's asking?" Not quite sure I was getting the subtext right, I prompted the guy for clarification: "Well, it depends on what kinds of bars you're looking for." He then clarified it for me by replying, "Probably the kinds of bars that you go to." Ah! Yes, you are asking me where the gays go. You found the right person! I give him a short rundown of the places I go and the places that exist but that I don't frequent.
After this, I'm thinking in my head, "OMGZ, is the hot guy into guys too? He must be! Right? RIGHT?" And my friend and I converse with the one that approached us for the length of the bus ride, while the other guys say a few things here and there. They're from New Zealand, they're on a road trip, their car broke down so they'll be in Seattle for a few days... When we got to our stop, we had to cut the conversation short. "This is our stop. It was nice talking you," I said. "Have fun in Seattle." My friend and I got off the bus, and that was that.
Now, did you notice anything missing from that narrative? Yes, that's right. I let the opportunity pass without asking for digits or any sort of contact info so that I could perhaps "show them around." This is the problem with me. I have trouble, A, showing interest, and therefore B, asking people for their numbers. As a result, I'm sitting here writing this, instead of, at the very least, checking out the hot guy's ass again. I can't let this shit happen anymore! I need to think of this regretfully missed opportunity every time this sort of situation comes up, and remember how stupid I felt afterwards, in the hopes that it will spur me into not being such a chickenshit dumbass. No more fear, no more regrets! Or at least less of them... Baby steps...
By the way, Flight of the Conchords is hilarious, though I will acknowledge it isn't for everyone. Search them on YouTube and give them a try to find out if they are for you. Bret is definitely for me.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
So while we're talking about high school, I was eating dinner at a restaurant with my family when in walks someone who looked familiar. Oh my god! It was the guy I had a crush on through much of high school. I haven't seen him since we all graduated, seven fucking years ago, but he looks great. Still. My immediate reaction (the same that I have when I see anyone I know, friend or foe) is to run away to avoid the inevitable stop-and-chat. Except I'm eating and I can't. So I spend the whole meal wondering how I can avoid an awkward situation when we have to leave. Though what's really stupid and a little weird is that I can't help but fall back into the mindset I had when I was in high school. I have to say "hi" at least, right? How can I do it so I don't look like an idiot? Do I look good right now? I wonder if he'll remember me, it's been so long... I am sitting, eating dinner and I'm getting butterflies in my stomach, as if I was 16 again. This is fucking ridiculous! Anyways, when we left, I said "hi" really quick and left before any awkward conversation could be had, but afterwards I couldn't help but want to talk to him more to see what he was up to now. But I think it was better that I didn't, because at least this way I didn't trip up and make him hate me... Yeah, when it comes down to it, high school never left me. It's just hiding in my head waiting for the moment to reemerge and make me feel like a kid once more.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Previously on... Stories from the Closet.
Welcome to another installment of our favorite 12-year-long series of awkward, telling exchanges between a mother and her closeted gay son. This time my mother will be played by Suri Cruise (Adorable!), and I will be played by Evandro Soldati (Hot!). Let's set the scene for what may in fact be our series finale:
It is Pride weekend. Friday night, I left the house at 10pm, and didn't get back until 8am. Then, I was gone for most of Saturday (after a quick nap), and didn't get back until 6am. I slept for 3 hours, and then headed out at 10am on Sunday. After leaving a message on my phone telling me not to stay out too late a few hours earlier, I receive a phone call from my mother at 10pm that night:
Mom, angry: "Where have you been?"
Me, annoyed: "Out with friends."
Mom, still angry: "You're always out with friends. I don't even know who these friends are. You've been gone all weekend."
Me, still annoyed: "I don't understand why you have to know who all my friends are. It's not like you will remember any of them."
Mom, angry, but also a little distressed: "And I never know what you're doing anymore! You came home at 4 or 5 last night."
Me: "Why do you have to know that either?"
Mom: "Don't you know I worry about you?"
Me: "Why do you have to worry?"
Mom: "Because you're out all the time, and you never think about the future. I don't even know what you're going to do with your life. I hardly even know who you are anymore."
Me: "I am not out all the time. It's only been a couple days just this weekend. There's no point in worrying."
Mom: "How can I not worry? I'm your mother!"
Me: "I don't know what you want me to tell you."
There is a long pause. Neither of us says anything
Mom, her voice beginning to break up: "Do you know the nightmare I've been having all weekend? I keep having this nightmare that you're going to come home one day and tell me you're gay!"
My mom begins to sob, but I have nothing to say to this. What am I supposed to say? I can't say the one thing she wants to hear, though she can't honestly expect to hear it.
Mom, through tears: "I'm sorry."
Me: "For what?"
There are a few heaving breaths and then she hangs up.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I don't know much about Melvil Poupaud, except that he started acting when he was still a kid. I saw him in last year's SIFF playing a young gay photographer in François Ozon's Time to Leave. His character finds out he has a terminal illness that will kill him in a matter of months and after coming to terms with it, sets about making things right in his life before he dies. It was a good movie. This year, he played a hot and very charming French man in Zoe Cassavetes's Broken English.
Beware, one of the movies below was so bad I walked out after half an hour! Guess which one.
Broken English. Rating: 5. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Parker Posey plays a single woman in her mid-30s who's stuck in her life. She doesn't really like her job, and she can't seem to find the right guy. Then one night, she meets a hot French guy, and all her problems are solved! No, not really, but you should just watch the movie to find out what happens with her. I felt like the movie was a good reflection on how life doesn't always go the way you want, without being heavy at all. I love Parker Posey and she did an exceptional job, and Melvil Poupaud made me want a French man to come into my life and sweep me off my feet. Zoe Cassavetes also did a really good job with writing and directing her debut feature. Oh, and the soundtrack by Scratch Massive was spectacular too.
A Parting Shot (Pas douce). Rating: 4. A nurse, angry at life, tries to shoot herself, but ends up shooting and injuring a teenage boy instead. The boy is then unwittingly put into her care. The film follows her as she is transformed by her guilt and her interactions with the boy (who is also angry at life) into a better person. There were no surprises in this movie (aside from the moment she shoots the boy), but I quite liked it, because the study of her character was done very convincingly. It was short (at just under an hour and a half) and to-the-point, and it gave me a good sense of satisfaction after watching it.
Surveillance. Rating: 1. If I could give it a 0, I would. This was a terrible movie, probably the worst SIFF movie I've seen in all my years of SIFF participation. A teacher meets a tabloid photographer with a dangerous secret at a club and sleeps with him. When he leaves the photographer's flat, the teacher accidentally takes the photographer's phone with him (they have the same model phone). Pretty soon he finds he is being tailed by agents who may or may not be from the government, and they want that phone. I would tell you more, but I don't really have to. The plot was so familiar that the filmmakers needed to do something to it to make it interesting. Unfortunately, they failed. The basic premise the movie was built on was that there are hundreds of cameras everywhere, and at any point in time, you are being watched by at least a dozen of them. Thus, to illustrate this point, every scene is shot from several awkward angles, above, below, from here, from there, through different lenses, and then edited together to create a distracting mess. As if this wasn't bad enough, the narrative was cut up and arranged seemingly at random. I know what they were trying to go for, because the technique (rearranging the timeline) is used in lots of movies where you want to reveal information slowly, but the way they did it was completely unsuccessful, and by the third or fourth time I'd seen the same thing, I wanted to tear my eyes out and throw them at the editor. But all of this was so unnecessary because it was already obvious after 10 minutes what was going on that it seemed stupid that it still thought we were still in the dark and it was inching towards some great reveal. The writing was horrible, and the direction wasn't great either, so I don't know who to fault that the actors didn't do a terribly good job. Actually, it was probably a combination of all three, which is too bad because Tom Harper and Sean Brosnan (son of Pierce) are kinda hot. Of course, I suppose you shouldn't really take my word for it, since after 30 minutes, I could stand it no longer and walked out of the theater. Maybe the rest of it was great and I missed out, but I really doubt it. I really, really, really doubt it.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Joe Odagiri has been a near-constant presence in my recent SIFF experience. In 2004, I saw him in Kitamura Ryuuhei's Azumi and Kurosawa Kiyoshi's Bright Future (with that other Japanese indie darling Asano Tadanobu). In 2006, I saw him in Shinobi, and though I opted to skip it, he was also in that year's Princess Raccoon. This year, he was in three of the movies from Japan: Otomo Katsuhiro's Mushishi, the aforementioned Kurosawa's Retribution, both of which I went to see, and Sway, which I decided not to. That's seven SIFF movies in four years. Not bad for someone who got their start in a TV series of the Power Rangers genre. Anyhow, he's 31, from the lovely city of Tsuyama, and one of the more versatile actors working today. He's hot, he's cool, he's talented. I can't wait to see what he'll be in for next year's festival.
Today's reviews, spotlight: Japan.
Sakuran. Rating: 4. While the basic story is unremarkable (it's been done and done and done and done), this movie pulls it off with such attitude and style that it's hard not to like it (perhaps a result of its being based on a manga series). A girl is sold to a brothel in Yoshiwara, the pleasure quarters of Edo. She grows up and becomes a top oiran, while learning along the way that the courtesan life is incompatible with true love. Not to spoil it for you or anything, but guess what she finds at the end of the movie? The visuals were lush, the camerawork was beautiful, and Anna Tsuchiya's lead performance was a ton of fun. Also, the soundtrack was made up mostly of modern music and added a lot to the character of the film. If you are looking for a good Japanese courtesan movie, skip the bloated and plodding Memoirs of a Geisha (though god knows I love Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li), and watch this one.
Mushishi. Rating: 3. I was expecting so much more out of Otomo Katsuhiro, the director of Akira and Steamboy. Also based on a manga series, this episodic movie follows the travels of a Mushishi (Bug Master), as he goes from place to place, solving problems caused by supernatural "Bugs." Besides the fact that the movie was really slow (a quality I don't usually associate with Otomo), I had a problem with the whole "bug" thing. Because it's a fantasy setting, everything worked on a set of rules that was unfamiliar. What bothered me was that I never really managed to get a handle on any of it, and thus none of the solutions were very satisfactory for me. Everything was done with a "well, that's just the way it is" feeling, and so nothing was very smart or clever. Anyone can solve made-up problems with made-up solutions. Why did she have to pull his eye out? Because. Why does pairing Ahs and Uns make the girl's horns fall off? Because. Why did she start glowing all of a sudden? Because. Perhaps this is all very much more interesting in manga format, but if that's the case, it didn't translate to live-action so well. And to top it off, the ending was abrupt and nonsensical. Why did it end that way? Because.
Retribution (Sakebi). Rating: 4. I'm still trying to process this movie in my head, and that's mostly because of one scene that just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the movie. Sort of like it was from another movie, but director Kurosawa Kiyoshi just decided to plop it into this one to throw his audience for a loop. Other than that though, I think those who liked Kurosawa's other works will like this one too. We witness a murder occurring in the very first scene: a woman is drowned in a puddle of saltwater. But we don't see the face of the murderer. When the police come to investigate the scene, one detective (played by the seemingly ubiquitous Yakusho Kouji) finds evidence that seems to lead right back to him. Did he do it? Or is he being framed? The movie starts off immediately with a psychological tension that holds for pretty much the rest of the movie. The film examines the nature of guilt and regret all the while providing effective atmospheric chills. Kurosawa's films are also a perennial participant in the festival (I saw both Bright Future and Doppelganger at SIFF 2004), and I'll be excited to see what he'll come up with next.
Friday, June 08, 2007
I wrote briefly about the Taiwanese gay indie Eternal Summer previously when I was fawning over the hotness of Bryant Chang just before the festival began, but Bryant wasn't the only hottie in that movie. As you can see above, Joseph Chang is also really hot. According to this website, he was born on the 28th day of December, 1983, has an older sister, and enjoys swimming, skateboarding, movies and drawing. He went to Fu Hsin Art School in Taipei, and began his career in entertainment as a print model. Fascinating! He's appeared previously in various Taiwanese TV dramas that I've never seen, including Crystal Boys, based on the seminal gay Taiwanese novel of the same name written by Pai Hsien-yung. Joseph can next be seen in the soon-to-be-released indie Keeping Watch. From what I can tell from the trailer, Joseph plays a weirdo stalker who sometimes thinks he is his (deceased?) best friend from middle school. Glasses on, he is Clark Kent; glasses off, Superman! Other than that I don't know what the story is about, and it actually doesn't look that interesting to me (I guess the guy who cut the trailer wasn't very good), but you can judge that for yourself.
Two Chinese-language films reviewed.
Eternal Summer (Shengxia Guangnian). Rating: 5. I loved this movie. It's about two guys who have been best friends since they were kids and the girl who complicates their relationship. It wasn't a perfect movie, and there was definitely room for improvement in places, but it captured so well the feelings of longing as a result of unrequited love, the fear and apprehension that comes when you realize that childhood is ending and things aren't going to stay the same, and the sorrow that naturally follows both of these. Something very similar to what happens in the movie happened to me, so it also hit close to home. I totally almost cried several times throughout the movie, especially at the end, because I identified so much with the character that Bryant Chang played (Jonathan). The direction was very very good, and I'm feeling totally inadequate because the director is my age. There were some overused clichés in the movie, like the done-to-death hit-by-a-car sequence (see usage in The Cloud and Doghead in this festival alone), but it didn't really take too much away from the experience since I still enjoyed the film immensely. If I actually ever bought DVDs anymore, this would be one that I would definitely get. Watch it!
The Banquet (Yeyan). Rating: 3. Yawn. This tenth-century Chinese take on Hamlet was really boring, which is weird considering it's a fucking martial arts movie choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping. Director Feng Xiaogang usually makes soulless, showy movies which are entertaining if nothing else. His attempt at injecting this movie with real meaning was misguided, because I don't think Feng really knows how to (it takes a little more than lingering shots and slower dialogue, my friend), and as a result, most of the movie was tiresome to watch. This is one of those films where it could easily have been 40 to 50 minutes shorter without losing anything of substance. But I suppose it wasn't a complete bust, which is why I didn't rate it lower. The story was decent, the sets and costumes were beautifully made, and the fighting was very well done (even if it was really bloody). If Feng had just stuck to what he was good at, then perhaps this movie would have been better. I hope he doesn't try to stretch too far in his next project. Oh yeah, Daniel Wu is in this movie.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Today's men are from the bizarro highschool comedy Dasepo Naughty Girls. The movie made no sense, but that's okay, because there was more than enough eye candy. On the left, Lee Yong-joo. He only had a small part in which he pretended to be a teenage girl to get dirty pics of another teenage girl over the internet only to find out that... Well, I don't want to give it away, but it's pretty obvious from the beginning. Yong-joo is 25 and that's all I know about him. In the center is Yoo Geon (sometimes spelled U Gun for fun), my favorite among the three. Yoo Geon is 24 and hails from the colorful city of hope, Daegu. In his teen years, presumably before he attended Konkuk University, he was a part of the late-90s boy band OPPA under the name Kuk Chul. In the movie, he was friends with the lead male character, who was played by the man on the right, Park Jin-woo. Jin-woo is 23, almost 24. And that's all that I know about Jin-woo too, except that his blood type is AB.
Just one review today.
Dasepo Naughty Girls (Dasepo Sonyeo). Rating: 3. Sure, it was funny in parts, but it was just so out of nowhere all the time that by the end I just about gave up on it making any sense. It was based on a web comic about the goings-on at a weird alternative high school, so I guess that's a little understandable, but still. It had nice visuals, and it was a lot of fun at times, but I just felt like it could have been better.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
This is surly hottie Quim Gutiérrez. He plays a surly young janitor in DarkBlueAlmostBlack. He is 26 and from Barcelona. That is all I know about him.
Another couple of great movies.
For the Bible Tells Me So. Rating: 5. It is important that you see this movie, and you get everyone you know to see it too. It's a documentary about homosexuality, religion, and how the bible has been used in relatively recent years to legitimize homophobia. It profiles several families that had to overcome their religiously-based intolerance to accept a member of the family that was gay, including New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson, former Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt's daughter Chrissy, and Soulforce's Jake Reitan. No matter who you are, you will recognize a lot of what's going on in this movie in yourself and in the people you know. This has got to be one of the best documentaries I've seen that deals with homosexuality since The Times of Harvey Milk, and all the issues covered are very now, and what we have to triumph over today. After seeing it, I wanted to get out there and tell everyone to see it. Director Daniel Karslake said to expect it to hit theaters later this year, probably sometime this fall, so look out for it.
DarkBlueAlmostBlack (AzulOscuroCasiNegro). Rating: 4. A young man gets a college degree while working as a janitor for the building in which he lives in order to support himself and his father, disabled by a stroke at the beginning of the movie. Meanwhile, his brother (Antonio de la Torre from Volver) is in prison and has fallen in love with a woman who wants to get pregnant so she'll get to live in the maternity area in the prison. There are a couple childhood friends thrown in too. I went into this film not expecting it to be the kind of movie it was. I thought it was going to be a meditative and plodding movie in which nothing much happens, which I like sometimes, which is why I decided to see this movie (oh yeah, and Quim Gutiérrez). But it turned out to be a slightly quirky and touching story about a guy finding himself stuck in a life he didn't choose, looking for a way out. This movie was put together very well, and I liked the ending.
Monday, June 04, 2007
These three guys are from the British movie, Cashback, the feature-length version of the Oscar-nominated short of the same name by Sean Ellis. You might recognize the first, Sean Biggerstaff, from the first couple Harry Potter movies where he played Gryffindor quidditch captain Oliver Wood, and the second, Shaun Evans, was in Being Julia with Annette Bening. The third, Michael Dixon, I have personally seen nowhere else. Don't they have nice headshots?
I liked the following movies.
The Ten. Rating: 5. This comedy from the guys that made Wet Hot American Summer was just as funny as I thought it would be. Each of the ten vignettes take one of the Ten Commandments as their theme, and it goes from there. It was hilarious and sure to be referenced repeatedly. There's nothing quite like watching Winona Ryder making out with a ventriloquist dummy, or hot Justin Theroux playing a Mexican Jesus. I'll definitely go and see this again when it comes out in regular release (and not just for Paul Rudd, Adam Brody, Jason Sudeikis, and Bobby Cannavale).
Cashback. Rating: 4. A guy is dumped by his girlfriend and develops insomnia, so he decides to use the time in which he would usually be sleeping by working at a grocery store on the night shift. His insomnia may or may not also give him the ability to stop time. This was another formula movie that I liked. Because it was a formula movie, the film was laid out in such a way that after 20 or 30 minutes, the rest of the movie fell right into your expectations for what was going to happen. But it was fun to watch. One thing I would change though, would be less female nudity and more male nudity. I don't think I've spent as much time in my entire life looking at naked women than in the hour and a half that I spent watching this movie. The camera slowly sweeps up, down, across, and lingers all over various women's bodies, and yes, it bored me a little. But the rest of the movie wasn't as boring.
Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne). Rating: 4. Based on a novel by Harlan Coben, this thriller is about a guy who gets a mysterious email from his supposedly murdered wife after eight years, plunging him into a dangerous world of low level thugs and high level cover-ups! Was that description exciting enough? This was a really well done movie, directed by studly Guillaume Canet (the hot Frenchman who swam to The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio), with the right amount of tension, mystery, and a little bit of humor. The reveal at the end wasn't terribly surprising, but who says that it has to be?
Nanking. Rating: 4. This is an American-produced documentary about the Nanjing Massacre, where after taking the city of Nanjing during the Second World War, the soldiers in the Japanese army proceeded to pillage and raze the city, and rape and murder the civilian population, men, women, elderly and children alike, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Chinese over the course of several months. This is one of those war atrocities that a lot of people in the US seem not to know about for whatever reason, and I encourage everyone to go see this movie and learn something. And then pick up the book The Rape of Nanking by the late Iris Chang (she suffered a nervous breakdown and shot herself in 2004), and learn even more. It's extremely important that we acknowledge what happened (regardless what some Japanese nationalists might want us to believe), so that these sorts of things don't happen ever, ever again. The accounts by survivors were absolutely heartbreaking, as was the archival footage from hospitals of Chinese children mutilated and disfigured by Japanese soldiers. However, for the documentary, several actors were hired to read the writings of real-life figures who had experienced the Massacre as it was going on while they were in the city of Nanjing, and I have to say it was a little distracting, but it didn't lessen the impact of the movie. That was my only qualm. I hope to see this movie in the collections of school libraries in the coming years.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Two evenings ago, I went to eat at one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in the International District (formerly known as Chinatown), the great Takohachi, for the last time ever. It closed yesterday as the owners decided it was time for them to retire. Takohachi was one of those small restaurants where you'd go periodically for the inexpensive, delicious food and the friendly atmosphere. I almost always got the same thing here, their o-bento box, which included a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of rice (steamed, fried, or curry), and edamame, lotus root, squash, carrot, sweet omelette, salmon, shrimp, and their famous chicken karaage (always cooked perfectly). It was exactly the right portion, for when I finished, I never felt too full or not full enough, and it provided me with a lot of comfort. It will take me a while before I get over this loss.
This was the second of such been-there-forever, hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurants to close in so many years. Not too long ago, the best ramen (or saba, if you pleased) in Seattle was taken away from us when Koraku closed up shop after decades of dedicated ramenship. All I'm left with now is Maneki, and I don't know what I'll do with myself if Maneki were ever to go away...
Saturday, June 02, 2007
This is the adorable hottie Lee Young-hoon from the rent boy-rich boy love story, No Regret. I can't seem to find out much else about him except for the fact that he's 25. He did a wonderful job in the movie, and I hope to see more of him. A friend tells me he's going to be in Kong Su-chang's (the director of R-Point) next horror flick, GP 506. I hope he doesn't die too terribly in it...
A couple of reviews.
The Cloud (Die Wolke). Rating: 2. I didn't like this movie, and my main problem with it was that none of the characters seemed to be very well-drawn. Their emotions were never very true to them and seemed to turn in whichever direction the plot required of them. You two, start kissing! You, you're now stubborn! You, run into the radioactive rain in despair! Why? Because then the plot can move along. What was the plot? Two teenagers who had only talked to each other once previously inexplicably fall in love just as a nearby nuclear power plant melts down. They must escape before the radioactive raincloud reaches them and changes their lives forever! While most of the emotions were counterfeit, the acting ability of the main characters was not. Both the leads Paula Kalenberg and Franz Dinda did a terrific job with what they were given, and it was probably their performances that allowed me to sit through the entire movie. Again, a car hitting something it shouldn't be hitting is used as a plot device in this movie. Surely, there is nothing more horrible than someone being hit by a car! (See previous usage in Doghead.)
No Regret (Huhoi haji Anha). Rating: 4. A rent boy (Lee Young-hoon, seen above) leaves his orphanage and tries to make it in big city Seoul. Finding it hard to make ends meet after he is laid off from a factory job, he turns to working as a rent boy in a host bar, one that the rich boy businessman son (Lee Han, a hottie in his own right) of a business executive happens to frequent. A slightly bizarre love story emerges from there. I liked Leesong Hee-il's movie, but I'm kind of wondering why I liked it as much as I did, because I had a big problem with the interactions between the two main characters. Their motivations felt authentic, but the way in which they talked to and acted with each other was so stilted and weird. And it's not that the director can't pull of interactions between people, because I liked everything that was going on between everyone else: between Su-min (the rent boy) and his fellow prostitutes and his pimp; between Jae-min (the rich boy) and his fiancée and his mother. But somehow whenever Su-min and Jae-min were dealing with each other, it just didn't feel realistic. Other than that point (which I guess is kind of major...), I quite liked the story and both the actors did a great job in their roles. It might be that I just need to watch it again, but we'll see.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
The second installment of SIFF Hotties! The first featured Gaspard Ulliel, Elias McConnell, et un trio des garçons. Today...
...the spotlight hottie is none other than Juan José Ballesta from the uneven Spanish film, Doghead. I don't know much about him, except that he's 19, from Madrid, and really really hot. Oh, and I think I read somewhere he's gonna be a dad soon? Anyways, he did a decent job in the movie, even if his role consisted mostly of looking mopey and slightly confused. If you have anything to add about Señor Ballesta, please do.
On to the films!
My Best Friend (Mon meilleur ami). Rating: 4. So, at it's heart it was a formula movie. The build-up goes here, the climax goes there, etc. but it was really well done. A man is forced by his co-workers to come up with a "best friend," he realizes he has no friends, only business contacts, and so goes in search of a friend. It was funny and sad and gripping in all the right places, even if the conclusion was completely predictable. Best use of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" in any movie I've seen. Well-written, well-directed, well-acted, go see it.
Fido. Rating: 3. Okay, it was funny, but except for a few parts, it wasn't terribly intelligent humor. I guess I knew that going into it, but still expected a little bit more out of it. In an alternate universe 1950s Canada, after a victorious war against zombies, people now keep zombies as pets/servants. I felt like the premise could have offered such great satire, but a lot of it just fell flat. That isn't to say when Carrie Anne-Moss shot her kid's friends-turned-zombies in the head, I didn't laugh, but you know... there should have been... more. But overall it was a good time.
Doghead (Cabeza de Perro). Rating: 3. Like I said above, this uneven film was mediocre at best. A kid with some sort of mental condition in which he blacks out and does crazy things when under stress tries to break out of a sheltered life. A lot of the visual quirks didn't seem to work so well, or weren't employed in the best way. Most of them just felt misplaced in that they were in the wrong places in the movie, or they didn't belong in the movie at all. We sort of see that the main character makes progress within the movie, but I feel like I only see that because he was supposed to, and not because the filmmaker showed us in any meaningful way. The movie seemed like a bunch of free-floating interesting ideas that weren't tied together very well. But Juan José Ballesta was hot. I'd also like to note that a car accident served as a plot device in this film, a movie moment sure to reappear at the very least a few more times in this festival.
Exiled (Fangzhu). Rating: 4. This was a fun Johnny To movie. Well, as fun as a Hong Kong gangster movie with a high body count can be. A gangster exiled for trying to kill the boss makes his way back to Macau to try to live a normal life with his wife and child. Yeah, that never ends well. The action was well-choreographed and well-shot, and all the characters were slick and cool, especially the security escort played by Richie Ren. I liked how the movie seemed to start right after all the exposition that usually occurs in other movies. It saved us 30 minutes of boredom by dropping us right when the action begins, and it worked well. Now that I think about it, I guess a lot of Hong Kong movies do that. I can't think of much else to say about it, except that if you like Hong Kong action, and you like Johnny To movies, then you should probably go see this movie.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Today, I helped a man in one of those motorized wheelchairs up a hill to a bus stop. He was stranded at the bottom of the hill because his wheelchair had stopped responding to his controls. Let me tell you, those motherfuckers (motorized wheelchair + handicapped man) are really fucking heavy, and it took me way too long, while expending way too much energy (I'm a delicate flower), to accomplish the task. He may have had some kind of palsy, because I couldn't understand what he was saying beyond, "I need to get to the bus stop." I don't know if he really wanted to be pushed up the hill, or if the bus stop I left him at was the right one, or even if his wheelchair had really malfunctioned. All I know is that this is my one good deed of the year. I am now free of any obligation whatsoever to perform any other good deeds for the rest of 2007. So, friends and family, if you need help moving? Please look elsewhere.
Monday, May 28, 2007
I almost never have time during the festival to review the movies I've watched (I always have at least one or two movies a day), and when the festival is over, I'm too lazy to go back and do it. Not this year! As an additional incentive for myself, I'll be reviewing not just the movies, but my favorite hotties from said movies, and we all know I like talking about hot guys.
From left to right, Gaspard Ulliel and Elias McConnell from Gus Van Sant's Paris je t'aime short Le Marais.
I don't know the name of the guy on the left (if you do, please let me know), but the one in the center is Thomas Dumerchez and on the right is Cyril Descours, from Gurinder Chadha's short Quais de Seine.
Gaspard was most recently in the title role of the shitty American movie, Hannibal Rising, but before that, I saw him in a good French film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement with Audrey Tautou (who was recently in a shitty American movie herself called The Da Vinci Code). Elias was last in Van Sant's Elephant, where he played a gay teen photographer who is shot in the face during a school shooting. I am less familiar with the French actors from the other short. I only recognize Thomas from a movie I thought about seeing two years ago at SIFF 2005 called, Three Dancing Slaves, but I didn't. I don't know Cyril from anything else. Hopefully, if I watch more French cinema, I will encounter them again.
Okay, now on to the reviews and honorable mention hotties. Everyone who goes to see a movie is given an opportunity to vote via ballot for that movie on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great). All the ratings are tallied at the end of the festival, and the Golden Space Needle awards are given out to the winners (which are usually undeserving middle-of-the-road crap, but I still feel the need to participate). Anyhow, that's what the ratings that follow the title of the film are.
Paprika (Papurika). Rating: 5. Really, director Kon Satoshi can do no wrong. I have loved every movie he's done since I watched Perfect Blue my freshman year of college (and immediately downloaded the CHAM! single Ai no Tenshi). The story isn't particularly revolutionary (A device that lets you enter the dream world is stolen and abused. Who's doing it? Why!? It can only lead to a catastrophic merging of dreams and reality if our heroes don't save the day!), but it examines the topic of reality, dreams, and fiction in a really interesting way. The visuals are mind-blowing, and the music by Hirasawa Susumu is amazing. I had an impulse to watch the movie again right after walking out of the theater. Unfortunately, there were no hot guys in this movie, animated or otherwise.
After This Our Exile (Fu zi). Rating: 3. This is the story of a deadbeat dad and the son who stays frustratingly loyal to him despite all the horrible things his dad puts him through (the literal translation of the Chinese title is Father and Son). At almost three hours, this movie was too long. I'm not opposed to long movies, but the point had been made after an hour and a half, so the rest of the movie just felt like a little like sadism. This sometimes happens when someone writes, directs and edits their own movie. The director doesn't throw out any of the unnecessary stuff the writer put in, and the editor doesn't cut out any of the unnecessary scenes the director's shot, because it's all the same guy. I love Patrick Tam and everything, but dear god, man, have some self-control. Malaysia never looked better than it does in this film, and really that might be the only thing that kept my attention for the entire length of the movie. It was also too bad that hottie Aaron Kwok was such an asshole in this movie (but I guess that means he did some good acting).
Vanaja. Rating: 4. This movie was enjoyable, even if the pacing was a little off. It's about an Indian girl (named Vanaja, surprise!) who wants to learn to dance, but encounters hardships flung at her by the society and culture in which lives. The main character was excruciatingly likable and being able to watch her dance in this movie is worth the price of admission alone. It was extraordinary. There was a hottie in this movie, model Karan Singh (find him on the movie's cast page) who had a really great body, but he played a rapist, and that's not very hot.
Paris je t'aime. Rating: 5. I loved this. I know a lot of people don't like shorts or whatever, but I loved the little sketches we got from so many different directors. It made me feel so much in such a small period of time, and it was lovely to see all the different directorial styles up against one another. I think I liked Alexander Payne's (14e arrondissement, with Margo Martindale's perfectly accented American French) or Isabel Coixet's (Bastille, with my favorite use of Le Tourbillon since Jules et Jim) the best. Gurinder Chadha's (Quais de Seine) and Gus Van Sant's (Le Marais) were really cute. The Coen Brothers' (Tuileries, with Steve Buscemi) was funny. And... well, okay I liked most of the rest too. A lot of them were screaming to be made into a full-length. The one that was just too weird for me was Christopher Doyle's (Porte de Choisy). I'm sorry, guy, I love your cinematographic work, but your directorial stuff? Not so much.
A Battle of Wits (Mo gong). Rating: 2. What a bad movie! I only didn't give it a 1 because it wasn't a complete technical failure. A peace-loving Mohist in China's Warring States period attempts to save the state of Liang from being overtaken by the state of Zhao. This is ultimately a losing battle, because Qin eventually conquered all the states in 221 BCE and united China. But that's beside the point. The writing was really, really bad. The dialogue was made up mostly of those predictable brave-men-in-war clichés ("We must fight for honor and glory!" "I will do anything to save your live!") shouted at each other, and it was so god-awful that for the last 30 or 40 minutes, I couldn't help zoning out. Really, I stopped listening, but I know I didn't miss out on anything. The subtitles also read like they were written by a complete idiot. For one, they kept misspelling the name of the states. And then they referred to "Mohists" as "Mozis," which is wrong. Mozi is the philosopher; his followers are called "Mohists." It would be like referring to Marxists as "Marxes." There are not a bunch of Karl Marxes running around. There is one Karl Marx, and a group of Marxists. Similarly, one Mozi, many Mohists. The movie stretched believability pretty far, but to top off the what-the-fuck factor, there was a black guy in the movie. And he played a slave. I'm not sure there were any Africans in China during the Warring States period, let alone any mixed African-Caucasian guys (the dude's skin was pretty light). And then why was he a slave? I guess I just don't get it. But then again, this movie was so bad, I don't think I care. Okay, so the action sequences were not bad, but that's about all the good I can say about it. I almost forgot to mention hotties Andy Lau and Choi Si-won. And Nicky Wu if you're into that sort of thing.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
It's the end of May, so you know what's coming: the Seattle International Film Festival. I'm so excited!
This year, there are a lot of films from directors whose previous work I have liked: Kon Satoshi (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers), Patrick Tam (director of Final Victory and editor on Wong Kar-wai's Days of Being Wild and Ashes of Time), Johnny To (Turn Left, Turn Right, Breaking News, Election), David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer), Lee Jae-yong (Untold Scandal), Feng Xiaogang (A World without Thieves), Otomo Katsuhiro (Akira, Steamboy), Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Cure, Pulse, Bright Future, Doppelganger), Andrew Lau (Young and Dangerous, Storm Riders, Infernal Affairs, Initial D) and Shin Dong-il (Host & Guest). Yes, can you tell I'm a total Asian cinema junkie? I tend to avoid all but a few of the American films in the festival, because they're all going to be released in theaters later this year. Unless something has a lot of good buzz (like Half Nelson last year), I will probably skip it.
Breaking it down by location of origin, that's 6 Chinese films (3 from Hong Kong, 1 from Taiwan, and 2 from the Mainland), 2 French films, 1 Swiss film, 4 Japanese films, 1 Indian film, 2 Canadian films (1 Québécois, 1 not), 2 Spanish films, 1 German film, 3 British films, 3 Korean films, and 5 American films. A grand total of 30 movies. Let's hope I survive to the end!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I'm going to get my hair cut tomorrow, so I was flipping through all my magazines looking for a good hairstyle. I found a lot of stuff I'd love to rock, except for the fact that I'm too lazy to make it look nice every single day. Plus, we'll see how this new stylist works out.
But while I was flipping away, I found that the cover model for April's Men's Uno Taiwan was none other than Bryant Chang, one of the guys in Eternal Summer, which is the gay Taiwanese movie I'm gonna go see in a couple weeks! I like how his hair looks, but I will never wear it. Hair in front of my eyes bothers me so much. Anyhow, he looks hot, as does the other guy in the movie, which makes me really excited to see it. Also, let it be known that Bryant won the Golden Horse award for Best New Performer. And another picture of Bryant, profile text translated below:
Zhang Rui-jia / Bryant
Birthday / March 31st, 1985
Zodiac Sign / Aries
Height / 182 cm Weight / 68 kg
School Background / Taipei Physical Education College
Movies / Eternal Summer
TV Series / Tokyo Juliet, Express Boy, Love Contract, Seventh Grade
You know, I realize now you didn't really need a translation for that...
Do you remember? Our relationship started with a rule.
We can never return to that summer again.
No one should be alone.
Do you still believe that?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Previously on... Stories from the Closet.
The following is a short exchange I had with my mother today. My mother will be played by Victoria Beckham (I still love you, Posh, even if you're fucking my husband), and I will be played by Gisele Bundchen (I'm so hot):
Mom, inquisitively: "Why don't you have a girlfriend yet?"
Me, indifferently: "Like I said... They are too much trouble."
Mom, starting to get annoyed: "Well, are you ever going to have a girlfriend?"
Me, also starting to get annoyed: "I dunno. We'll see."
Mom, now annoyed: "Am I ever going to carry a grandchild in my arms?"
Me, also now annoyed: "What about my sister?"
Mom, being a total bitch: "Her child won't have our surname."
Me, tired of being asked these questions: "Then I guess you're shit out of luck."
A pregnant pause... wait for it...
Mom: "Are you even into girls?"
Needless to say, being the coward that I am, I ran away.
Monday, May 21, 2007
There is truly no finer way to prepare an egg than to poach it... softly. I think soft poached eggs are my favorite way to eat eggs. Of course it's not appropriate everywhere, but I love runny yolk like I love my right arm, and in the soft poached egg, the yolk is perfectly runny. I like them on toast, on salads, in noodles, in soup... If there is a place I can put a poached egg, I will try my best to put a poached egg there.
One of the best poached eggs I've had at a restaurant was at Momofuku in Manhattan's East Village. The entire white of the egg is soft and gelatinous, while the yolk is suitably creamy. I imagine they use room temperature eggs and cook the egg at a consistently low heat for an extended amount of time, but I've not yet tried to achieve such a feat. It'll definitely be something to attempt.
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