Monday, June 28, 2004

Coming unbelievablely close to crying to happy tears, today's visit to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo had me see the entire creative smorgasbord of Miyazaki's background works, so overwhelmingly powerful in its unique beauty and expressiveness I was in absolute awe time and time again. While many of the exhibits were clearly designed with children in mind ( in another sense Miyazaki's works tend to bring out the hidden child in our psyche ), the mockup animation studio, plastered all over with ORIGINAL MIYAZAKI coloured concept sketches, storyboards, stole most of my time as I pored over each drawing, in particular those of Mononoke Hime, as if the close physical proximity in the presence of such grandeur would transfer some of its creative potency to me. Alas, nothing.

By a mere stroke of luck, Pixar Animation Studios was also hosting an exhibition of its concept works under the auspices of Miyazaki. On its own this would have generated an enormous amount of excitement ( all the concept works are also originals, the pastels on the Finding Nemo coloured storyboards still flaky ), but when pitched against Ghibli's wonderful work I couldn't bring myself to appreciate it fully. Certainly the animators from Pixar attest to the influence of Miyazaki's works ( see picture above ), where they've painted a much iconic Totoro poster complete with Mike and Sullivan, surrounded by signatures and praises from many of their animators, the main caption reading "To Hayao Miyazaki : Your work is an inspiration to us."

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I read with a mixture of disdain, grate and insufferance on the part of the rearers the Straits Times ( online ) article : "Luohan no longer a prized catch now", how the iniquited, ostensibly luck-bringing, great fengshui inducing fish is been abandoned in the truckloads by their capricious owners. To quote, "Oversupply killed their value and appeal. 'After a while, they became so cheap, they had no value. So there was no point,' ". How convienient for you buggers, but unfortunately the Flowerhorn's fate was sealed the day some anonymous idiot thought it smart to meddle the fates with yet annother innocuous fish, as yet more other idiots bought it hook line and sinker.

Don't tell me because people appreciate the Luohan for its intrinsic beauty; I know rearing fishes have some therapeutic merit but this fish justs looks...unsightly compared to his other aquatic brethren. This deplorable fad is just like the bubble tea boom a few years ago, only this time the precipitate is a living object and can't be poured down your sink, but rather inundating the island's freshwater bodies with new, befuddled inhabitants. You can imagine my incredulity when I last saw a whole school of them swimming along the bays of the Singapore River, no joke.

Let's just hope no one decides next that some poor animal is really excellent for ushering in good fengshui, or woe, woe to their species.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Tian Zhuangzhuang's Springtime in a Small Town is a quaint little piece of cinema set in China during the post 2nd world war period, a brief, uneasy intermission between the end of the Japanese invasion and the Communist Takeover. In a small, derelict war torn town in Southern China, a doctor ( Zhang Zhichen ) from Shanghai pays an unexpected visit to his old school friend Dai Liyan, whose wife ( Yuwen ) he now recognizes as the woman he had a brief but passionate affair ten years ago. No longer in close proximity with his husband because of his poor health and temper, while still bearing feelings for her former beau, the arrival of the guest sets off an uneasy tension amidst the small household, complicated more by Liyan's younger sister who also takes a liking for doctor.

Springtime is one of those films I've come to recognized ( together with a few others like the Korean Take Care of my Cat and One Fine Spring Day ) where seemingly nothing important seems to happen and the narrative justs drags on ceaselessly, certain anathema to Hollywooders and many other moviegoers, but whose real value lies in a small conscious effort on the viewer's part to invest alittle patience or even better, a second viewing, where they'd be greatly rewarded.

Beautifully shot in slow, deliberate takes through the shadowy corridors of the old house, it evokes the same aesthetics last felt in Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love, no stranger because of DP Li Pingbin, who worked together with Doyle.

Highly recommended, but Hollywooders *yawns heard*, you've been so caveated.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Now sitting in front of a whole class of university girls doing a self-introduction (????)was not something I anticipated coming anytime soon, but today while visiting a Sensei ( to discuss a summer trip to Korea ) at Musashino Joshi Gakuen (??????) I was caught right in the middle of her class and had to yield helplessly. Giggles, curious stares like I was some wierd zoo animal, I was feeling dizzy immediately with all the blood from my brain drained to swell my then completely reddened face.

That position however, had a heck of a paramount view below, haven't seen such a spectacular vista for a while. Now there was Yumiko...Mai...Ayumi...what's your name again ? *laughs*

Thursday, June 03, 2004

It was way back during my secondary school days when I first studied about the pioneer artists of Singapore in my arts theory class, a small group of talented individuals banded together by their collective passion for the visual arts. Some names that are still fresh in my mind were the late Chen Wen hsi, Chen Chong Swee, Georgette Chen, the calligrapher Pan Shou, as well as Liu Kang ( His son Liu Thai Ger is presently the chairman of NAC, the body overlooking my scholarship ) who has just passed away 2 days ago, the last of the pioneer artists.

During a Chen Wen hsi Retrospective exhibition that was held at the Singapore National Museum about 10 years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting with Mr Liu Kang personally. I remember vividly how me and my classmates caught him sipping ice-cream with his wife at the YMCA Macdonalds, where after we followed him and asked for his autograph at the exhibition. Dispite the huge age gap he was most hospitable and approachable, exhorting us in our pursuit of the arts as young individuals, just like he had done so. Although pursuing a different course in the arts now, the experience I had with him them was certainly one of the highlights of my younger school days.