Thursday, April 25, 2013
Friday, April 19, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
This 2007 Korean film is a strange bird. It is a action-Drama-black comedy and probably it’s strongest selling point is this is a movie that would NEVER be made in Hollywood. Written and Directed by Hyo-jin Kang who acted in the Korean action comedy My wife is Gangster is also rare because it is directed by a woman. I watch a lot of Korean cinema and I don’t remember seeing a movie directed by woman before.
It is the story of a Woman who is a victim of brutal domestic violence by her moron husband who is a professional kickboxer. Shortly after she and their daughter leave the abuse, the husband ‘accidently’ kills another fighter whom the wife had a relationship in the past. In front of a live audience she challenges her husband to a fight in the ring. She has three months to train.
The comedy is found mostly in the training and the build up to the fight. There are some really funny moments. The ending which you expect to have a typical sports/ competition movie ending subverts that a little. In the end the movie explores the idea of what would happen if domestic violence was dragged out into the light. Worth seeing if you’re a fan of Korean cinema
City of Glass by Paul Auster Volume one of the New York trilogyPenguin 203 pages
This book came to my attention when Jonas the vocalist of one of my favorite bands Katatonia referred to this book as one of his biggest lyrical influences. As a huge Katatonia fans my partner Cari and I were both interested in this novel. I found out after I started reading it that many of my friends whose opinions I trust were huge fans of this bizarro detective tale.
The most common explanations of this involve the Hollywood habit of saying it combines Kafka style surreal story telling with a classic Detective novel vibe. I almost said structure but this novel doesn’t really follow a standard three act structure.
It is the tale of an author of detective stories named Quinn who receives a late night phone call asking him to investigate a case. The caller calls him by the author’s name and the mystery becomes not only the case but how the story unfolds and the power of language to do so. There are moments of humor and the world depicted is always many shades of weird.
Much of the mystery is told through a lens of un-reality. This is one of the strongest elements f the novel and the exploration of words and there use could have easily derailed a novel in the hands of a less skilled author that could roadblock a narrative. Here it fits in perfectly to the mystery and the feeling of the novel as whole.
I hate to judge a novel against a zealous publisher’s description but I didn’t agree with the description of the novel having “Hitchcock like-suspense.” If Auster’s debut novel had one weakness to me I didn’t feel a hint of Suspense when I read about Quinn navigating the case. It is hard to build emotional connection and suspense in a un-real world, but it is possible and been done before.
Over all I think this is a powerful and well written nothing that transcends genre. Check it out.Katatonia song influenced by City of Glass...
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The Lost Bladesman Starring Donnie Yen
My novel Hunting The Moon Tribe has several characters straight out of Chinese mythology. One of those characters is considered to be a god of warfare Guan Yu. That character was based on a real life general from the Han and Dynasty era, infact he played a role in that downfall. That is why he is one of the most important characters in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
ROT3K is an amazing novel that has a place in Chinese culture that makes it sorta like a War and Peace and Lord of The Rings at the same time. Probably two hundred Wuxia Kung Fu movies are based on this novel, single chapters or spun off characters. Some of the better of the most recent ones includes Peter Chan’s The Warlords(starring Jet Li), Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms and John Woo’s Red Cliff. Now Screenwriter Felix Chong (Known for Infernal Affairs the basis for The departed) writes and directs this powerful epic Starring Donnie Yen. To me there are two kinds of Wuxia movies. Campy and high class I like both but I would put this one in the high class camp. Gritty war epics have been in favor in Hong Kong since CGI made staging massive ware easier.
Well written and directed the story is not sacrificed for the action. Donnie Yen directs the action as well as starring in front of the camera. His fight scenes continue to get better.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Chinese Ghost Story (2011) Quick Wuxia film review
One of my all time favorite movies and a huge influence on my first novel Hunting the Moon Tribe was the 1986 classic Hong Kong movie A Chinese Ghost Story. Produced by Tsui Hark and directed by my favorite kung fu director Ching Siu Tung the 1986 movie can mostly be compared in tone to Evil Dead 2 with its blend of horror, humor and fantasy. It is like no other movie, when you consider it has 1,000 year tree demons, sword fights in hell and a rapping Taoist monk. The two sequels are good, but nothing compared to the first film which I have probably watched 20 times and never get sick of.
So I had mixed feelings on the idea of a remake. On one hand it was to be directed by Wilson Yip who has made a few cool movies with Donnie Yen (Ip Man 1 &2,Flashpoint), and as great as the first one was, it lacked modern special effects. So I kinda liked the idea of updated effects.
So last night I finally watched the remake. So What did I think? Well if you have never seen either film I would say go back to the 1986 film first. It is better. There were plenty of things that the filmmakers did right. For one they used the same theme song, that gave me a big smile and made me feel like I was watching Chinese Ghost Story, if I was in a theater I would have clapped. Other cool scenes included a demon hunter John Woo style fighting with crossbows, and a weird scene where the demon hunter is floating on an ocean of leaves.
As good as the first film? Not close, but better than most Hollywood remakes.
Dhalgren by Samuel Delany
801 pages Vinatge Trade paperback
This classic of Science Fiction won pretty much every major award in the field the year I was born. While I knew a lot about this author, I had not yet read anything by him. I decided to give Delany a shot with this novel in part because two people whom opinions I respect ,Shaun Lawton editor of the freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Robert Garfat former owner of Dark Horse books in Victoria BC both said it was one of their favorite novels. It is also an apocalypse novel, which is my favorite subgenre.
After having read the novel I think of it as less of an apocalypse novel, less of a science fiction novel, but more of a surrealist novel. I didn’t really bat my eyes at a 800 page end of the world novel Swan Song and The Stand two of the best in the genre are epic in length and tone. One odd thing about this novel is it is epic in length but the story itself is not grand, in fact it is very personal and tracks one group of characters in a city named Bellona.Judging from what I know of the author and the time in which it was written, it is
clear Delany is commenting on issues of race, gender and sexuality as he experienced it in New York in the late 60’s and early seventies. The end of the world is strangely little more than a Maguffin in this novel. So I admit I was a bit disappointed that the first real description of the events that brought Civilization crashing down came on page 419.
It is the story of a character that goes by the name Kid who happens into a city named Bellona. Early in the book we are not sure what happened, but we know that Kid arrived from a devastated America and this is the first living city he has found. Survival is hard, some band together in communes, and others in gangs. Kid has to manage both worlds. In between his ideas of race, gender and sexuality do not have the same meaning anymore.
This novel is beautifully composed; the prose is poetic and rich. The characters are strong and some of the most important elements of the novel. Is it as great as everyone told me it was? Sure; it is a powerful novel worth reading but my problems came partly from my own expectations. I believe also there is a reason that surreal novels tend to be short. It is hard to sustain an experimental piece over 800 pages and keep a reader interested. I really enjoyed this novel but found myself craving a little more straight forward story telling.