Monthly Archives: March 2008

Library

Finally updated my library, and here it is if you are interested: Download. Total now exceeds 800 titles. If only I can start my own movie channel…. Maybe I can start a “pirate” movie channel via IPTv and DVD renting joint plus a “private” cinema that brings you the latest non-Hollywood movies – award-winning, critically acclaimed, box office hits in their respective territories etc. so that KL-lites will have more A grade movie choices In fact, I have a whole business model in my head, only need investors. Anyone interested? Expect a 10-15% return on your investment. hehe.

Let me know if you want to watch any movies in the library and we can start an exchange programme.

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Earliest Weiqi Game

This is a diagram from the earliest recorded game of weiqi (from 196 AD):

How the game have evolved from there but still some fundamentals are still the same, such as securing the corner, then side then center. Of course, in the early weiqi games, the four corners are already occupied, so the game starts with an approach move towards the corner stone. It is also noticed that most of the moves are very low, i.e. from the 3rd line, and as such, it is a rather defensive game with the aim of securing as much territory as possible. It looks like its going to be quite a long drawn game. How weiqi theory have since been changed by the great Go Seigen (aka Wu Qingyuan whose story was partly told by Tian Zhuang Zhuang in THE GO MASTER). It is a Copernican revolution for weiqi.

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Movie Education.. huh??!

I got a question just a couple of days ago from a guy who decided that he is interested in movies. He asked if I could recommend a movie watching course so that he can be well versed in movies. It is immediately an odd question when I think about it now. Firstly, I am not really good enough with movies and still consider myself a relative neophyte. Secondly, I wonder if there is such thing as a “movie education”. The question that I have is that can a person decide to be a movie buff by forcing himself to watch all the supposedly great movies in the movie canon? It must be a damn painful experience, as far as I can imagine. My believe is that a person is a movie buff because he loves movies deep down to his last bone. He watches movies because he enjoys the process and the aftertaste, not to cover a certain movie canon. And because he craves for movies, he watches so many of them and one day, he finds himself having covered the “canon”, if a “canon” does exist – which I think does not and any canons must necessary for convenience’s sake and cannot be authoritative.

Then another friend said that she would like to check out the new Chinese cinema. Now this is probably a right way to start. She is a Korean movie and drama fan and now wants to explore new Chinese cinema. She has the passion to start with and I think she will make some headway into this subject. After she left, I think to myself. New Chinese cinema is what? The 7th generation (if that exists)? Off my head, I can recommend some that I have seen but that is really a mix and I avoided having to say 5th generation, 6th generation, 7th generation, underground etc. It is just simply this, dive into the movies directly and don’t care about the “names” and “labels”. What is important is the movie, not whether they are 6th generation or 7th generation.

So, maybe I can share here some of the nice Chinese movies and directors which will find in my list if anyone asks me what movies I like from the “new Chinese cinema”:

To start with, from the previous post:

Li Yang for BLIND MOUNTAIN; BLIND SHAFT.

Zhang Yang for SHOWER; SUNFLOWER; GETTING HOME

Jiang Wen for DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP; THE SUN ALSO RISES

Jia Zhangke for STILL LIFE; THE WORLD; UNKNOWN PLEASURES; PLATFORM; XIAO WU (he is one of my favourite directors)

Wang Xiaoshuai for SHANGHAI DREAMS; BEIJING BICYCLE; SO CLOSE TO PARADISE

Lou Ye for SUZHOU RIVER; PURPLE BUTTERFLY (available on Astro Kirana now); SUMMER PALACE

Zhang Yuan for BEIJING BASTARDS; SEVENTEEN YEARS; EAST PALACE, WEST PALACE

Well, so much to start with first, 7 filmmakers 21 movies. If you could not find them in video stores in Malaysia (very high probability), you can go to YesAsia.com to order. If you still could not find or if you are a student running short on funds, you can write to me and I can loan you a copy. I don’t have all of these in my library but I have most of them (19/21).

Well, have fun!

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Hongkong Filmart

Am now back from the Hong Kong Film Market. I was looking forward to it for months and now it is over. And the Hong Kong International Film Festival is still happening…. Sigh… How I wish I am still there watching movies and mingling with people who genuinely love movies.

The biggest talk of town in the market is of course the censorship issues with China following the issue with LUST, CAUTION and LOST IN BEIJING. I have watched both of these movies of course, and I don’t see what the problem is, despite Tony Leung exposing his nuts for all to see and the very real sex scenes while Fan Bing Bing bares her top and got herself involved in a few sex scenes. But these are really nothing (compared to, say, 9 SONGS or LIES or BATTLE IN HEAVEN etc.) Well, as we always say, when in Rome….

On the first day of the Filmart, there was a conference on Co-Production models in Asia and one of the panelist said that they have no problems with China’s censors. His argument is that they can make commercial movies and make money and entertains people and they do not need to challenge the authorities to make movies. In fact, he said, the people demand entertaining movies and not movies that challenges the establishment/status quo etc. Needless to say, this guy is from Hollywood. He has no idea that movies is not just a medium to entertain, it is also a powerful medium where people can be challenged intellectually and emotionally, and as such make themselves a better human being, a more enlightened person who is aware of the world he/she lives in, within and without. Of course, he is entitled to his position and is entitled to keep on making money and running to the bank, buying big cars and big bungalows and private jets etc.

Met so many stars and directors, I became numb to them. Of course meeting Yoji Yamada was great but nothing really beats seeing Shu Qi. She is just absolutely gorgeous! Much more so in real life! (Plus I don’t think she is a bad actress as many would immediately say ;-)) Also met Gigi Leung whom I have wanted to meet for a long time but meeting her real life is sort of disappointing. She is so fake and looked so worn down.

Some of the movies that I have watched over the few days:

KABEI

A tad over-drawn and a tad over-dramatic at the end but still is a damn good movie. There have been so many World War II movies that I have seen but this one is well told, is humorous and at the same time sad and the director’s grip is so firm, frame by frame. It is like watching TWENTY FOUR EYES but this time zoomed into the micro life of a family living through the war. My rating for this movie is 8.5/10

MONGOL

I have known the story of Genghis Khan and watching this movie, the story is not of prime importance to me as I find myself anticipating when that particular event happens in the movie. I was looking for how well the movie is made production wise, acting wise. How well the story is told and put together. And it didn’t disappoint. Despite quite a few continuity flaws, the movie is well made in general and the battle scenes looked believable although the final battle scene is quite an anti-climax. In this recent days, we are so spoilt with good battle scenes, nothing could really surprise us (say WARLORDS and ASSEMBLY, for example). My rating for this movie is 8/10.

PARIS

This “little” film is part of the film market screening which I didn’t plan to watch at first but the distributor (Studio Canal) insisted that I should go and watch it after we talked about movies and the smart-ass me began to talk about French movies (you see, most buyers do not really know movies and do not really love movies. They are in it primarily as business people, not movie lovers). I looked at the cast line-up and is pretty impressive, so what the hell, I sped up some meetings and pushed some backwards and made time for the screening. And I didn’t regret it. It is about the life of several people, each with their own set of issues to deal with. Sounds like nothing, which is true but it is all in the execution and the acting. Just very much heart warming. I rate this movie 7/10.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN COREA

A Korean commercial film about the Japanese’s exploit in Korea during World War II where they look for a huge diamond which is very valuable etc. Quite well made throughout and entertaining. Mass market stuff. I will rate this 5/10.

THE MAN WHO WAS SUPERMAN

Another Korean commercial movie about a man who thought he is superman. So he went around helping people, talked about global warming and all the social ills stuff. Of course, he is not superman and the movie took a dramatic turn at the end which tried to make the audience cry. All in all, a long drawn and quite a waste of film stock. I will rate this movie 3.5/10.

AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS

Was looking forward VERY much to watch this movie. Afterall, it was helmed by Ching Siu Tung who also made movies like SWORDSMAN II and A CHINESE GHOST STORY etc. But alas! How bad is that movie! Pure waste of film with bad actors who are not really acting, feeble plot and bad, bad music video. Ouch!! The battle scenes are the only thing that has something to talk about but then again, as I have said in MONGOL above, it is really nothing much. Kelly Chen actually wanted to look authoritative is really horrible. Brigette Lin just need to look at you and you will be scared to the knees. And when Kelly tried to be cute and adorable, she also sucks. Again, compare this to Brigette Lin in her romantic mood, the world melts….. sigh….. I will rate this movie 4.5/10.

BLIND MOUNTAIN

This Cannes Un Certain Regard movie is truly a gem. Movies should be like this. This is director Li Yang’s second movie after the equally moving BLIND SHAFT. BLIND MOUNTAIN is about sold-off bride which is quite a rampant practice in China. It tells the story of a girl who was cheated and sold off to a remote village far into the mountain and her struggles to stay alive and plans her escape. Bad luck befalls her again and again and you will have to watch the movie to see the ending. A truly magnificent movie. I will rate this movie 9/10.

SIVAJI

I didn’t know what the fuss was all about when this movie was released in the theaters and delayed watching it again and again. So I have finally watched it and my opinion of this movie is that I really liked it! You have your typical Indian movie with drama, romance, action and song and dance throughout but this movie is a well made blend of all those plus a critic of the Indian society of corruption. Having lived in India for a while, I can help but nod my head at how bad the corruption in India is. I will rate this movie 7.5/10.

Well. that’s about it this time. Maybe more later.

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The Origins of Totalitarianism

“The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade.”

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

Above quotes from the author of the book titled in the subject above

What we have witnessed in the past few days is simply amazing. The power of the people but what fascinates me more is that the Malaysia as a nation is not as fragmented as we are made to believe.

To me, the true road forward is a Malaysia where politics based on race is no longer relevant. Protection and help is not only extended to a certain race only but to all citizens that need them. Race-based politics and economics is doomed and even if it is practiced with sheer force and power, there will be huge inefficiencies within the system and the country as a whole will be made irrelevant in the world. We will be left more and more behind. In short, race-based economics and politics is a “dominated strategy” in game theory speak.

For me, the Barisan Nasional’s failure is Prime Minister Badawi’s failure. It is his failure to be firm. Badawi’s inability to be firm costs BN the worst defeat in a general election ever. He is not firm in disciplining his members. He is not firm in controlling the arrogance of his members. He is not firm in putting corruption to an end by punishing those caught and up-rooting it no matter who is in the line. He is too afraid to act.

Badawi, to me still, is a good person but he needs to act and be firm. He didn’t and the people did the job for him. He has to follow up and clean his party thoroughly. If not, I will easily see that the next Prime Minister of Malaysia may well be Anwar Ibrahim.

The government has come to such a sorry state where people who has for all past elections voted for Barisan Nasional has this time voted for the opposition and those that hated PAS felt that this time, as a dutiful citizen and for their next generation, voted for PAS instead.

On the main reasons why many people I know voted for the opposition:

1. The arrogance of UMNO members and talking rubbish and offended other ethnic groups and the inability of especially MCA and MIC to fight for the ethnic groups that they so-called championed. Even among the normal Malays, this arrogance cannot be tolerated.

2. The horribly corrupt system that benefited only the few at the expense of other citizens and Badawi’s inability to root them up despite promising the sky when he came to power (the “Zakariah” brand).

3. Perceived uncontrolled increase in prices (toll, electricity, etc.) led by the increase in oil price. The normal citizens truly felt the pinch under harsher living conditions.

4. Rising crime rate (which is also linked to the massive influx of illegal immigrants) and the perceived inability to control them plus the perceived collapse of the judiciary system (after the Lingam case).

5. Lost of pride – falling further and further behind other nations which we once dominated – in all aspects from the economy, to education, to sports.

Main theme: Marginalisation of all ethnic groups (Malays, Chinese, Indians), UMNO political hegemony and Badawi’s inability to be firm in regards to corruption, discipline, crime rate, prices, etc. (and I sometimes wonder, what is he really doing?).

On a personal note, it was such a pleasure to see a certain person in the Information Ministry fall. He is, of all people, I would like to see fall. Even more than Samy Vellu.

In the words of Kayveas, leader of PPP, a Barisan Nasional component party, “It’s not that I don’t like you but I don’t like the badge you are wearing.” Same is true of MCA, for me. It is not that I don’t like MCA, in fact I thought they did a pretty good job, it is just that I don’t like the badge the MCA belongs to.

But to quote again, “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

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Hongkie Donkie

As noted in my previous post, the nominees for the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards have been announced and I have commented on the nominees. However, the ever great http://www.lovehkfilm.com guys have put together a list of their own and this year, they actually got together a panel of juries which includes my geeky friend YTSL. I find this list makes much more sense compared to the Hong Kong Film Awards list and based on this list, I find it much harder to choose the winner. Just a quick look at their nominees for Best Picture:

Best Picture
Nominees:
– Exodus
– Hooked on You
– Lust, Caution
– Mad Detective
– The Sun Also Rises

Compare this to the Hong Kong Film Awards:

Best Picture
Nominees:
– Eye in the Sky
– Mad Detective
– The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
– Protégé
– The Warlords

The first list tells you that it is compiled by people who are true Hong Kong movie fans and the second list tells you that these people are more of the political type rather than the movie fan type.

On the first list, I have a huge problem in deciding whether I would like HOOKED ON YOU to win or for MAD DETECTIVE to win. EXODUS is another one that I also wanted to win. All three movies are superb Hong Kong movies. While LUST, CAUTION and THE SUN ALSO RISES are very good movies and is no less than the three movies above, I felt it is less “Hong Kong”. At gun point, I will choose HOOKED ON YOU as the winner.

The second list? As noted in my earlier comment, MAD DETECTIVE is the winner and this is a no brainer.

Meanwhile, the discerning you will also notice that they are again organising the Asian Film Awards this year. The awards was a huge disappointment last year. Horribly done despite the stars and the movies. This year, the movie selection is much worse. Also, they may as well call it the East Asian Film Award.

But the great excitement now is really the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival. Woo hoo!! Just look at the programming and you will drool and drool non stop. These guys really know what they are doing. I will be in Hong Kong for the Film Market but alas! will return after just one week and although I can catch the first week of the Film Festival, my meeting schedule will be so packed I won’t have time to run off for a movie and there are many movies that I would like to watch!! Say Yoji Yamada’s KABEI and Bodrov Sergei’s MONGOL for example, both of which will be screened while I am there. Also, it is a huge pain that the Edward Yang and Ingmar Bergman specials will only be held in April. Arghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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