Monday, February 26, 2007

Eh-hum # 136

Unfortunately, I don't have cable TV in my room, hence, I missed the Oscars. But I must confess, I only watch it to see who (or what film) will in major categories, such as Best Actor/Actress, Best Director and Best Picture. Anyways, congratulations to all the winners, especially to Martin Scorsese, who has been nominated a zillion times and now has finally won for his directorial effort in the film The Departed, which by the way also won Best Picture. He deserved the award, thanks to his other works such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull (both films featured another great, Robert De Niro), and I am sure the Departed is a great film. But let me point out that this movie is based on the critically acclaimed Chinese/Hong Kong crime thriller, Internal Affairs, which brings me to another point.

At present, Hollywood should be really thanking the Asian movie industry for its talented directors (i.e. Ang Lee) and material. I read an online article entitled "The Asia Factor in Global Hollywood" by Christina Klein. Though the article in general speaks of how Asian movies and actors are infiltrating what used to be a known as a purely an American concept: Hollywood (she said it is through globalization and market liberalization). Actually, what I am more interested in, as what I have said earlier, is the trend where Hollywood turns to the East for "inspiration".

In using the South Korea's booming movie industry as an example, Klein stated that (and I quote) "...Impressed by these [South Korean] films, US-based studio executives have been snapping up the rights to remake them. In effect, they are buying the labor of South Korean screenwriters, which is much cheaper than that of American writers." Of course, this is not to say that the US-based studios are weaking South Korea's local industry as they are provided with an alternative source of revenue (agreeing with her). However, this gives us the idea that Hollywood, in recent years, has been adopting an Asian cinematic style for the production of some of its well-received films, like The Departed. Other remakes include popular Japanese horror flicks, such as The Ring and The Grudge.

Aside from doing remakes, Hollywood, or the US movie industry in general, have earned by distributing foreign titles in local cinemas within the country. An example of this was when Disney acquired the rights to distribute Studio Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki films in the US. In the past half decade, Disney created classic animated features as Snow White, Fantasia, Little Mermaid and The Lion King. However, recently the studio has been plagued by critical flops and financial failures, such as Treasure Planet and Brother Bear. Since anime is gradually finding its way onto more and more American television stations as well as the success of Mononoke Hime in US theaters, Disney pursued a deal to distribute eleven full length animated films by Studio Ghibli, directed either by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Again, this is not to say they are hurting Studio Ghibli's productivity; anime is an important aspect of Japan’s “gross national cool” (term I got from Newsweek...or, will check...).

This trend is not entirely new, since US filmakers have been adopting some excellent storylines in Asian films way back in the 50's and 60's (i.e. Western classic The Magnificent Seven and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai). The difference now is that moviegoers are also interested with the original version (or at least are familiar with it). While this is a good way for Asian works to gain some exposure, but the fact remains that American remakes with a recognizable cast will earn more (Leonardo Di Caprio VS Tony Leung...your choice). Also, remakes are rarely up to the standards of the originals. A good example was Shall We Dance? starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and JLo (ugh!). I could guess that the American version didn't have the same striking cultural component as seen in the original version (Japanese salary man doing the that's conflict).

I could go on and on with this one, but I doubt it will change. Let us just hope that with the "hollywoodization" of Asian films, there will be only winners and no losers. Just give credit where credit is due. Eh-hum.

Posters of Internal Affairs and The Departed (both from Wikipedia)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eh-hum # 135

Eh-hum, this is my third post of the day (a first, actually). Which pretty much says I have a lot of spare time now. Heheheheh.

I would normally cry foul when people do a parody of Lord of the Rings, but this video I got from YouTube is very funny (favorite part: OMFG!). Enjoy!

Eh-hum # 134

Wala lang, some random pics. Hehehehe.

Picture of a Shrine (near JR Kobe Station) I went to after New Year's Day. Though a Christian, still offered prayers for good health and prosperity this 2007.

Me and few friends visited a Tasaki Shinju, a pearl and jewelry company, museum and this is one of their many elaborate and expensive pieces. The symbol of the company, the swan is sitting on ripples of white pearls while its wings, neck and breast part are encrusted with diamonds. Nice.

Taken early February while I was on my way home. Sign that spring will come earlier this year.

First shot taken using my cellphone; Sannomiya at night.

While taking a break at Starbucks, saw this hip father watching his uber-cute baby boy examine his cellphone. Bonding sila.

Eh-hum # 133

I have been quite serious the past fiew days, so I've decided to write something short about Japanese pop culture, particularly its drama series. Nowadays, I think the most popular is Hana Yori Dango, which is based on a manga/anime series with the same name. I was able to catch a few episodes myself and well, I can only understand it based on how the characters interact with each other. But since I am familiar with the story, its no problem really.

Come to think of it, almost all Filipinos are familiar with the plot of this drama, not because of Hana Yori Dango, but because of Meteor Garden, a Taiwanese drama based on the same manga/anime series and dubbed in Filipino. The latter became very popular in the Philippines and it started the trend of broadcasting Chinese/Korean dramas to local viewers. But I think Meteor Garden still remain the most popular among the Filipinos massess since it was the first. I am not really a fan of these series, but after watching several episodes, I find it amusing. Sometimes, the scenes/situations are so exaggerated that its actually entertaining (for instance, how ridiculously rich the F4 are).

But of course, the two series have their differences from the original manga and from each other. But I think, the Taiwanese version has made the most significant changes in the storyline. For instance, Hana Yori Dango is set in high school (actually, most Japanese manga/anime series are set in high school, hmmm...) which is also the same with the live version. Meanwhile, Meteor Garden shows us that the lead characters are in college (this point I like better, its more believable especially when the lead boy is being groomed to be the head of his family's company and has a fiance). I also think if it was set in college, the characters are faced with more realistic issues and have a certain depth. But that's just me.

In terms of acting, I think both are the same, I couldn't tell the difference actually, hehehehehe. But in terms of casting, the girl in the Jdrama (Inoue Mao) is, I think, prettier, and has a more expressive face. Though Barbie is cute as well, there are times that it is quite obvious that she is older than members of the F4 (before Meteor Garden, she is already a popular singer in Taiwan).

As for the F4 boys, well, I think Meteor Garden has a better-looking ensemble, because they really look like (college) students. Two of the boys in Hana Yori Dango (who do not play Domiyugi or Rui) don't look like high school students. Also, I don't find the guy playing Rui (or Lei in Meteor) cute at all, but if the Japanese girls think so, who am I to say otherwise? Hehehe. But anyways, you be the judge:


F4, Meteor Garden


F4, Hana Yori Dango (Sorry, this is the only pic of the boys together online)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Eh-hum # 132

Oh, did I mention that my classes finished last week?

Yes, bakasyon na po ako (this is why I have been sleeping around 3:30 AM for the past three days; todo Internet na ito!) and am trying to think how I should spend two months away from school. But knowing me, I might just go to the library (or libraries) to do research, review my Nihongo so I won't forget, visit some museums (yak, nerd talaga) and plan a trip to Tokyo. Also, if all things go according to plan, my sister will visit me this March. Asteeg


Oo nga pala, today's Valentine's Day! Happy Hearts day to all (single people included, hehehe). Here in the land of the rising sun, Valentines' Day is celebrated earnestly, with malls and supermarkets selling a wide variety of chocolates meant for a variety of individuals: boyfriend (and perhaps girlfriend), your boss or simply a friend. Giving chocolates does not reflect romance, as represented by the last two; but in Valentines' Day, guys would definitely received some sweets from their girlfriends (or girlfriend to be, especially if the chocolate is homemade or expensive). Yep, guys are NOT obligated to give chocolates, among other things, on this day. Hehehehe, olats, Japanese girls are spoiling their guys rotten. I suppose, this wouldn't work in the Philippines. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned...unless her boyfriend remembered to give her some tulips today or shower her some affection. Ahhhh, love. For more info on Japan's Valentines' Day, read this article from Time.


I am afraid to read the Philippines local dailies. Why? Well, its the election season again (May 2007), and we won't have much good news on this topic, especially of the kind of people bent on getting a seat in the Senate, etc. For instance, I learned from my mother that Richard Gomez (the actor) will be running. This is really BAD news. I doubt he has any knowledge on the Constitution and law making (he'll be spending most of his pork barrel in hiring people who will think for him). Foulmouthed, he speaks without thinking and arrogantly believes that he has a point when in fact he does not. In short, the guy is a freaking ass****. Great, just what we need, another clown in the Senate. Why, why, why do people like him who obviously have no political will/knowledge would want to be in politics (don't answer that)? If he really wants to help the masa, why not be part of an NGO ( I also raised this back when Jamby Madrigal ran for the Senate in 2004) or set up their own foundation. If these people really want to help the masses, they should spend their own money, not taxpayers' blood, sweat and tears. Anyway, if you want to know the who's who this coming elections (Senate), please read this.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eh-hum # 131


Wala lang,
noticed that I have been posting videos lately. One, I finally learned how; and two, I recently upgraded my web browsers (IE and Mozilla) so I am now able to view them. The ones I have posted were, of course, my favorites. Ahhhh, welcome to the wonderful world of YouTube, Yahoo! Video (Philippines) and iFilm, where ordinary people get to produce witty/silly/crazy/ videos of themselves (and their friends) and then become celebrities overnight. Amazing how technology makes it easier for us to connect with the rest of the world by just a click of the mouse.

Speaking of viral videos and achieving celebrity status overnight, while surfing yesterday afternoon, I came across with a funny and unusual video on Yahoo!. This is old news, as I found out later on; I am talking about the video created and starred in by two Chinese boys who became famous (and now have fans) for lip-synching Back Street Boys' and other Pop songs. There are widely referred to as the Back Dormitory (or Dorm) Boys (BDB). "Dormitory" because they recorded most of their performances in their dorm room using a webcamera. But eventhough the videos are not exactly HD, most viewers found them hilarious. There is actually a third boy in the group, but in the videos, he rarely shows his face and can be seen playing Counter Strike. For me, this is the funny part; the third boy minds his own business, as if totally oblivious to the "performance" of the main "stars" of the videos. Since "releasing" their first viral video, the boys became instant celebrities and their act have also spawned some imitations. More importantly, the BDB phenomenon has further contributed to the popularity of the Internet and podcasting in China and the rest of the world. I am amazed how two lip-synching Chinese boys are getting this much attention; perhaps putting a twist on a not so new concept and the timing to join the online video craze helped them achieve web notoriety. Also, I think the main message of their mock videos is that its alright not to take yourself too seriously, you may end up getting endorsement deals from companies like Motorola. If you have been sleeping under a rock (like me, until I log on the Internet) and are not familiar with the boys, below is one of their many videos, which is an ad they did for Motorola. I admit, the song has a catchy tune. Enjoy!


Free time also allowed me to do some blog surfing, and I ended up visiting the blog of Filipino designer and fashion guru. One of her entries was about the big bag. From gradeschool until the present, I almost always carry a big bag, which may be any of the following: shoulder and body bags, gym bag, and back pack. I have never used what she referred to as a kili-kili bag (bags that are small enough to be considered a purse). I often get teased for using, for instance, a back pack, because I looked as if I brought my room or closet with me. But I see the convenience of bringing such a bag, especially when commuting. Moreover, the comment I found in her blog made me appreciate it more:

Don't friend girls with small bags, said Jessica Zafra. Particularly the kili-kili bag. A small bag is an indication of a blah girl.

A big bag tells me the girl could be interesting, fashionable, caring, high-maintenance, motherly, a traveler/explorer, obsessive-compulsive, rich, broke, generous, or all of the above—but never boring.

"Never Boring"...Yeba! Hehehehe.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Eh-hum # 130

While I am thinking of something interesting to share, please watch this video, which is actually a commercial for the Playstation. Love the dialogue (and the accents of the actors); who whould've thought that gaming can be so poetic.


Also, para sa mga ka-edad ko, naalala nyo pa ito:

haaayyy, trip down memory lane...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Eh-hum # 129

Wow, can't believe its February already, which means I have been living in Japan for a litte over four months now. Asteeeg...time flies when you're having fun, how true is that? Hehehehe.

When I am not busy studying (which may also mean that I am too lazy to do so), I watch some Japanese television. As I have observed, there three major components present in almost all Japanese talk shows I've seen: first, the hosts usually consists of a guy, or two guys, and a girl; second, the show would feature a lot of celebrities (artists, sports heroes, etc) and have them discuss a series of topics; and third, the crazy, colorful set designs. Aside from talk shows, they would also have these programs which I refer to as Japanese style reality television. These shows are not as sensationalized or far fetched as the ones in the US. These shows would usually involve a celebrity or two and a task (or set of tasks) for them to accomplish. In the process of completing their tasks, they meet and interact with the locals or even encounter star-struck fans. One program I saw involved Japan's number one actor, singer, hearthrob Kimura Takuya. Kimura was accompanied by a male host and a female comedian (Pinku, I think that's what they call her) and the task for the three of them was to promote Kimura's new tv drama. My favortie part of the whole episiode was when they visited (unannounced, most likely) an all-female University in Tokyo. Imagine the reaction of a hundred or more girls after realizing that Kimura is in their campus. And the girls who had the opportunity to see him up close (or even touch him) went into giggling/screaming fits. Its so hysterical that it was actually amusing. Heheheheh.

Since we are already on this subject, my reading and composition sensei said that Kimura is perhaps the only Japanese actor who did not lose his edge after he got married (also a Japanese singer, I think). Initially, I did not find him that goodlooking, until I found out that he also co-starred in the critically acclaimed Chinese film 2046 (see pic below; Kimura with Chinese singer/actress Faye Wong). Asteeg.


Something for you Dragon Ball Z/martial arts fans out there. Cool video, eventhough it was done indepedently: