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Trip to KL so far has been okay. People can't make up their minds if they want to move, visit different states, or what they want to do with themselves on a daily basis. Merc retro wasn't it? I now have a terrible headache to defy all other terrible headaches, like coming here was a terrible, terrible idea. And then of course, now of all times there's an influx of extremely cool rarities I can't get my grubby bandwidth on due to the lack of bandwidth while I'm off my actual computer, and I can't watch the legal rarities I ordered back in November which probably already started landing in Perth yesterday. Reading my Japanese manuals. I can finally count to icchou, which has so many zeros I probably never will use it. Brownie points to any friends with CocoSoft's StreamDown, bandwidth, and a penchant for doing favors. I'm more than willing to trade vids with and for. Msg kudasai!

This home I'm coming home to is a crippling trade for excellent food. I'm told I have a job waiting for me when I head back to Perth. I don't know what it is, beyond that it's "a database job". I don't mind either the work or the money, but I'm a bit leery of who's offering it and the time frame I may be stuck with.

On the drive up from Singapore, my half-awake ears heard the immortal lines about "Lot 666...chandelier...the Phantom of the Opera." No, I did not know they were making a movie about it. The first ALW musical I ever heard, which I loved for a very long time as a child, hey, I've never seen it on stage ever, but I want to see the movie. At least once, I want to see the chandelier.

It pleases me to say I finally watched Moon Child. It was good. I'd read a ton of reviews before watching this, and was expecting a Twins Effect or maybe even a kind of Fudoh: New Generation, but it really was just quite outside of anything I expected, I can't stop saying this, it's good. This is a gangster movie at heart, with a very nice meditation on friendships and being alone. It's not deep (you'll want to go check out Jiang Hu or Hero for something recent about the subject instead), but it's not fluff either. The vampire-SF element came off as slightly broken, but tended to work for the most part, and really worked for the ending. Action scenes were way too fast, like really way too fast, with much usage of Hong Kong Physics, and I think sometimes a nod or two at Jackie Chan. You'll probably have to watch Gackt at work to see what I mean about the latter. Guns do not have that many rounds in them. Guns also do not always miss the heroes all the time. Dude, I love Hong Kong Physics.

Yes, it is an engine of star maker proportions to show off three cute boys who also happen to be famous rock-pop-pop-rock-rock stars in their own right as well. There are moments in the film where it's fairly obvious you were meant to watch Shiny Pretty Hyde (tm) bounce his very pretty ass across a room, for example, if I do say so myself. The boys (that would be Gackt, Hyde and Wang Lee Hom) do a pretty good job of playing out their parts. They're not perfect, but I've seen worse, and this is better than okay. I find that Wang Lee Hom is the most believable of the three, but Gackt gets a lot of points for the range of stuff he does. To borrow a phrase off mokie, he's not afraid to look silly on screen, and it works. Hyde is mostly playing Hyde here, nothing to really say about this. Playful vampire boy with dark ruminations about death and dying isn't new. Hyde's good at what he does, a bit forced sometimes, the role suits him.

I have a lot to say about the multilingual dialogues that form the core of Moon Child's script. First, that it's probably one of the best cross-Asia marketing strategies I've seen in years. Usually, when a movie is released in a foreign country where the language spoken in the film is not spoken in the audience, you get about a half a screen of subtitles in whatever languages the audience is thought to understand. In Asia, this is not a joking matter, not when your cinema experiences have half a screen of translations in Han Dze, English, Malay and sometimes Tamil to grapple with. DVDs have given us a chance to not only have cruel and unecessary dubs in languages we're thought to understand, but also single language subs that don't also block everything else on screen. Moon Child takes this concept a bit further. The dialogue is about 50% Japanese, and 40% Mandarin with 10% Cantonese thrown in for good measure (there is also 0.5% English in this, mostly lines like, "I wanna be a ninja!") I watched the film with no subtitles (apart from the Japanese ones), and I was still able to get a pretty coherent idea of what was going on (my Japanese is terrible, thanks). So's my Mandarin for that matter, but we're getting on the subject right now. I have to appreciate a film that thinks far enough ahead to market itself in the two most commonly spoken dialects in the Chinese diaspora-markets.

Thing the second, I was told Gackt spoke good Mandarin (on and off the movie). He speaks good Mandarin. I said before my Mandarin's terrible, so it kind of shames me to think that here's a guy who had to start from scratch, and I can't speak to make my mother understand me. His Mandarin does have a slight accent, (think Takeshi Kanehiro or Richie Ren speaking Cantonese), but it's very clear he didn't just pick this up for the sake of the movie. As a kind of minor contrast, you also have Hyde's Mandarin, which has a slight yawp to the pronunciation that does make it a bit difficult. Actually, Hyde's Mandarin sounds like mine, where the pronunciation tends to be a bit harder than what's required, and thus, the yawp. None of the guys attempted Cantonese, though Wang Lee Hom has a lovely acoustic ballad (in English) that forms a theme in the background, and Gackt has the answering line, "That's the name of a fucking ninja in Japan." There is approximately one ninja in the entire movie, if you had to know.

It's funny, it's toothachingly macho, it's...a gangster film with vampires, SF and enough chewy thinking taffy bits. By all means, do pick it up. And yes, they released it in the States, with English subs. Kudos to mokie for pimping it my way, and for converting herself to Gacktism in the process.

And then I had to go watch Pistol Opera. I have watched exactly two things this year that completely messed up my brain while trying to watch them. The first was End of Evangelion, messed up but thoroughly good. The second is Pistol Opera. I've wanted to watch Pistol for a while now, ever since I caught the trailer off the end of Versus. It has Esumi Makiko in it, usually a good sign, and it has assassins. In kimono. You do not need to tell me twice to watch movies with assassins, kimono and Esumi-san in it. But that's exactly where this film ceases to be normal.

To put it lightly, Pistol Opera wants to be a surreal art film. It wants to, and manages to sometimes, but does get lost in the process. First and foremost, Pistol Opera is an assassin movie. Nora Neko, 3rd ranking assassin in the World Assassin's Guild, is given mysterious orders from a mysterious veiled lady to go out and kill the other assassins below her rank, who have begun a sort of coup d'etat for the top. The first half hour of the movie goes into Neko hunting down said underlings, who are all very unique assassins in and of themselves, like the level bosses from the Jyuupongatana of Rurouni Kenshin. The action is pretty sparse, involving sudden shots and equally dramatic movements reminiscent of theatre more than it does film. It certainly isn't the sort of thing action junkies will or should attempt, but there is a richness in the sheer minimalism of everything that's quite a treat to appreciate. It does make a bit of practical sense this way. They are assassins, in the age of guns, not wire fu terrorists, so it's not like people really do dire kung fu at each other if they really wanted a fast kill. You know you've hit the modern age when assassin guilds have disabled friendly wings.

I'm going to start stressing the sheer minimalism of this film, because it's omnipresent, and at times annoying. A lot of what's said comes through facial expressions and the very odd idea after a while that you're actually watching a theatrical production put to film, where even the outdoor sets are little more than just another backdrop than a three-dimensional environment in which the actors will work. No one quite cares whether the story is being linear, but it's clear a lot of care went into the telling of it. Characters sway and tease each other in conversation like dancers. Sometimes, they truly appear to dance. Bold, striking colors replace blood, a sedan on a porch beyond a gate becomes a makeshift secret meeting place, a jetty in sepia turns to purgatory incarnate. The props are everything and anything, and even have a way of being unrelated to the scenes at hand. This is, by the way, just the first, good, half hour.

In comes Sayaka, a little girl companion who saves and later follows Neko around to emulate and idolize. Sayaka acts as a sort of mirror to Neko, by her emulations satirizing exactly the life Neko takes far too seriously. There is also the issue of Hundred Eyes, (lit. called Dark Horse in English), the No. 2 assassin, who's outing everyone under him as well. One of the best scenes in the movie is the unwelcome Hundred Eyes meeting Neko at home, making himself a tea ceremony out of thin air because he is, really, unwelcome. Neko and Hundred Eyes develop a sort of (minimalist) sexual tension, which culminates in their dramatic, and beautiful, fight scene in the woods. Laser tracers, yellow smoke and sad pianos in the dead leaves makes even the single love scene bitter.

End first, good, half hour. The point of the show, that I can tell, is how Neko's actions eventually only serve to make her less secure, increasingly alone, for the ranking system is security, it keeps everyone it their places. Without it, when there is only One, the risk of losing it all gets ridiculously high. Esumi-san does an incredible job of playing Neko, a strong and slightly crazy woman with a slightly crazy career choice. Her character may really be the most stable one in the entire film, since nearly all the other characters prove to be schizophrenic or outright mad. This again might well be deliberate. Neko's sanity in the chaos is part of her undoing. She cannot keep doing what she does without realizing how alone she actually becomes.

With most of the other assassins gone, the film is taken over by nothing more than time. I love a story that takes its time to tell itself, but this is a film to make me re-ponder that liking a great deal. For a film with nearly no action, and in spite of a very large amount of dialogue, not too many conversations directly pointed towards the main plot, this makes the watch incredibly difficult. One feels quite tempted to say about half an hour of the pondering, wandering, back-and-forth exchanges at the end could've been omitted with little effect on anything, at least. That said, the crazy freeform storytelling is still a delight to chew on, take or give the occasional bug. Throw out normal pretensions at dialogue. What is usually the obligatory dramatic bluster before an honorable melee can turn into a travelogue on a yellow cab, being alone can be the same as seeking comfort in a grandmother's arms. A child's imagination takes a turn on its head and becomes a frighteningly beautiful monologue of our assassin's self.

Is it beautiful? Yes, and very. Is it a film for everyone? No, no, not even by the most extreme standards of that idea. You could either love or hate this offering, precisely because of the speed at which it moves. This is an assassin film. It raises the bar, for better or worse, on what an assassin's tale could be. If you like them swanky, and if you don't mind a lack of actual fighting all that much, this could be your pot of tea. I'm going to have to pimp that at so many friends now.

Other movies I watched in this little while: Little White Dragon, the return of the Hong Kong kungfu parody comedy, I think. I don't know what's happened in this one. For a parody, it's actually quite sad, even touching and sweet. In fact, if they got rid of the funny bits, it could well be a nice little kungfu flick that's sad, touching and sweet. Scratch that. It needed the funny bits to be everything else.

Stuff I'm planning to watch, if possible: Phantom of the Opera, because it's my dedicated fangirl obligation to. I love that musical, and I'm not even kidding about how much. Maybe Kung Fu (Hustle), but I was never a huge fan of Stephen Chow, even if the family is. There's that new Japanese film showing hereabouts, Umizan-something-, about navy rescue divers, it was? Gotta look that up. I've had it up to here with Japanese horror films, so it's about time they showed something different.

Currently listening to Yoshii Lovinson's solo stuff, outside of Yemon. Some of the samples I got sound like Yellow Monkey without the Yellow Monkey, but one song in particular, Tali I really love. The others are growing on me as well. Once I get past trying to compare it to Yemon's music, the more personal sound Yoshii puts into his solo work does work for me. It's all a little darker than what we're used to hearing out of Yemon, directly more personal -- Yoshii seems to be speaking his mind here. Whereas Yemon lyrics were often preoccupied with girls, highways and romances (Yoshii was the main composer and lyricist for Yemon songs), the lyrics off Yoshii's own work seem to be ruminations and memories out of his own life. A trip to New York "under the yellow tape", or in the case of Tali, a look at daily life with a loved one. I'm still trying to hunt down At the Black Hole, his first solo album, which shops in KL just don't seem to have. He's recently released new singles, will have to look that up as well. I found out the R&R Newsmaker article on Yellow Monkey I was hoping to find wasn't an article at all, but an ad for an "all color 200 page artist book" published by R&R's publisher (Pia, was it?). I was kind of wondering why R&R's December issue screamed Gackt, L'Arc and Buck-Tick with no mention of Yemon... I'm told they might still be in there though, and I've already seen the BT article too (don't know what they're saying about L'Arc or Gackt). Now ruminating the price of an R&R issue vs. more pressing long-term satisfaction of owning a proper Japanese-English dictionary and kanji manual. It may be a while yet before I can actually read R&R, so this is really, really short-term. I also want to get that cheap copy of L'Arc's Ray I saw on my last trip -- shop still hasn't sold it yet, if I have the spare change. Can't really hear Zangai these days without seeing the BT vid for it. There's a reason why Atsushi fans call him "teh sex", and he can keep bloody doing what he does into his 40s. Miracle of J-rocker antiaging properties. I will find a way to pimp his evil, evil grin one day, so help me. Imai's guitar in that vid is so pretty. And then Miyavi's acoustic guitaring keeps backgrounding my peaceful space.

Props to mokie, who completely stoled "oorukara 200 peiji ateisto bukku". There will soon be a day when I will Gacktify her beyond human help. I can do this. Even from this far away, my pimping powers are mighty. Just gimme a chance to learn enough kanji...

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
morrie_sama
Dec. 12th, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC)
Lovinson more personal than iemon's lyrics?! Dont be daft!!! >.< Iemon is not personal because you dont see it or understand it or know it. Further more...how can you say that...do you even know anniething about his life to know WHEN he writes about it? Yoshii's lyrics are never what they seem to be. And further more Lovinson stuff is really miserable and obviously he is awfully unhappy with his current state of life when he is with his beloved you can see it (Sicks and 8 are much like Lovinson stuff and full of very sad lyrics about how he cant be with the one he loves). Whatever comes to girls there arent so many songs about women that Yoshii writes (I can think like few)...there are plenty of songs talking about forbidden and homosexual love.
And you are being stupid if you think that the lyrics he wrote for iemon are not about his own life!
please read some interviews that are said about the meanings of songs before making up things please. >.<
And I wont say much about the meaning of Lovinson's lyrics... they seem much like something none of us are really supposed to understand at all.
vampyrichamster
Dec. 12th, 2004 07:05 pm (UTC)
Ah, you're from the Yemon LJ? Hi. I would've posted a hello over there, except I wasn't sure if that was alright to do. I'm afraid I still have a lot of discography to plow through to get the full idea of where YM's music was going, case in point, the albums I have are largely Punch Drunkard and beyond (but still very patchy, since I do have a lot of albums missing I haven't been able to get yet; I haven't been able to get "Sicks" yet, etc.). I'm certainly curious to go through the stuff where you mentioned he mentions gay love. Because I'm still learning the ropes of reading/listening to Japanese, I may have well heard these songs before and didn't quite realize their full extent. I won't try to argue that I know more than someone who's seen the whole lot. :)

That said, I would like to read or watch Yemon interviews, if I could. I've been running into some trouble trying to find them, plus, I'm still learning to read/speak Japanese, so my comprehension's still dependent on a lot of translators + dictionaries. Do you happen to know where I might find some of these interviews? (I just realized your LJ icon is a really sweet example of something I'd like to see).
morrie_sama
Dec. 13th, 2004 02:47 am (UTC)
Oh you seem actually like a person with brains. XD Not thinking you know everything after listening few albums...or not caring. X( I hate those people who dont care what it is all about!
And yeah I am the owner of the community. ^^;;
And Punch drunkard is the most gay album XD and the tour is...perverse to say the least... in fan service wice except iemon doesn't do fan service. ^^;; Cos it's not for fans it's just Yoshii and Emma's personal fun. (Well no need to get into that in detail now!)
Weeell depends...there are japanese pages with intervies and there is whole page on the subject of what Lovin and Emma feel for each other. But there is some more general page http://w2232.nsk.ne.jp/~emma/monkeynomenu.htm
There is radio interviews at least. But you cant get far in iemon world if you never seen Keiko's page and it's gone now... everything translated ever was there and lot of explanation to very Japanese things Yoshii likes and western dont understand. :/

I'd like to see my LJ icon too!! >.< Rare stuff like that is hard to get especially when I dont even know if annieone actually has it encoded. :/
Have you got msn messenger or something like that? ^_^ I am always dying to chat with iemon fans who show some interest!
vampyrichamster
Dec. 13th, 2004 09:10 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link!

I actually love lyrics as much as I love the sound of a song. Unfortunately, I am, as I may have mentioned, very dependent on translations at the moment, since I'm still learning the language to understand the stuff I like to listen to. I would, for example, really like to know what the songs in 8 are saying, since that is my favorite album. I'd read before that Yoshii's lyrics progressed from the early days of Yemon as being rather light to increasingly dark/serious, so I'm curious to know what happened, what he was trying to convey. A handful of really good song translations exist online, nearly all from Mognet.com, where I believe one of the translators really likes Yemon as well. Those are translations of what I'd consider key popular songs though, Kyuukon, Asian Boy, Brilliant World (another one of my real faves), etc, though. It's a very incomplete discography.

I'm still curious to know what Yoshii is saying/doing in his solo work too. I'm aware this might be different from where you're coming from about his solo stuff, and apologize in advance for bringing this up again, but I found that I like some of his songs, and the mood works for me (I'm told I do tend to like very miserable music) though the majority of the samples I have been able to find still do sound a lot to me like Yellow Monkey without the Yellow Monkey. Haven't been able to find a copy of "At the Black Hole" yet, and can't afford anything more for December (just a horrible month to buy).

...

Dude, I need someone to talk to about Yemon too. I could jibber like this for daaaaays. My MSN Messenger ID is vampyrichamster. Pester away!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )