Friday, February 29, 2008

Eat your heart out, Los Angeles!

This dinky little hole of a town that I call home made movie news today. Looks like they are shooting a few miles from my house.

Otakus in Love

I need to get back to my earlier habit of posting about obscure but wonderful contemporary Asian films. In said tradition, I recommend the odd little 2004 romantic comedy Koi No Mon, also known as Otakus in Love. For those not familiar with the term "otaku", the word is a Japanese name for people who are obsessively geeky about something, generally a pastime or hobby. More often than not, the term is used to describe anime and manga nerds, and that's what this film focuses on. Directed by Suzuki Matsuo, Koi No Mon tells the tale of the down-and-out manga artist Mon Aoki (Ryuhei Matsuda) who is an outsider even by otaku standards. Rather than drawing manga (Japanese comics), he creates them out of rocks. They are like sculptures rather than drawings. Mon is desperately poor, and while searching for a job he meets the beautiful Koino (Wakana Sakai). Koino has achieved some popularity as a freelance manga artist, but she also obsesses about cosplay, or the hobby of creating costumes like manga and anime characters and playing dress-up. Much wackiness and hilarity ensues as Mon and Koino awkwardly pursue a relationship. Mon is often too strange for Koino (she screams aloud when she first sees the rock manga) and Koino is too cutesy for Mon (he pukes when he sees her photobook of her favorite singer).

It's a silly but delightful movie. Filled with colorful characters and some odd cameos (even subversive director Takashi Miike shows up), Koi No Mon is certainly unlike any Hollywood romantic comedy you will ever see. When I purchased my region free DVD player, this was the first Japanese DVD that I ordered. I chose this based solely on some still photos and a review on Midnight Eye. Thankfully I was not disappointed by the movie. Suzuki Matsuo's candy-colored world sweetly depicts the otaku subculture with the right mix of comedy, silliness, weirdness and love.

bad/good news

The bad (but not surprising) news is that the latest Drago film, Revamped is awful. Just pathetic and awful. Drago has only about 3 scenes and he doesn't even appear until about 50 minutes into the 1hr 25 min long movie. Blech! It's a waste of time and a waste of Drago's talents. It started out being one of those "so bad it's good" movies, but really it's just painful and dreadful and bad.
The good news is that The King of Kong plays just as well upon repeat viewings. It's so great, I encourage everyone again to see it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fever for the flavor

Last night I finally watched the latest Wes Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited. I never got around to going to the theatre for it, and I could kick myself for being so lazy. It's a gorgeous film that looked impressive on our big 50" tv, but it would have really been a spectacle in a theatre. Wes Anderson's last film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, was a bit of a disappointment (bloated and over-reaching, but interesting nonetheless). The Darjeeling Limited is a return to form, a silly and sad tale of three brothers trying to reconnect while on a "spiritual" journey through India. Wes Anderson's careful attention to detail and subtle sense of humor are on full display even though this is not as much of a comedy as Rushmore. Anderson has a polarizing effect on people, fans revere him and detractors revile him for his pretentiousness and snobbery. I'm afraid that The Darjeeling Limited may not win Anderson new fans, but it will be a delight for those who have enjoyed his previous work.

The sets and scenery of the film are rich and sumptuous. The scenes in the dining car of the train will leave your mouth watering for the taste of Indian cuisine. In fact, I'm headed to the only Indian restaurant in my area tonight so that I can close my eyes and pretend. Yum!

Oh, and make sure to watch the short film Hotel Chevalier if you get the DVD. It's fantastic in its own right.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Victory Regina

I think I need to quit going to so many live concerts. I'm too damn old for this.

Regina Spektor was lovely, but the Norva was a terrible venue for her talents. Regina had no backing band, just a Steinway. For a woman and a piano, a venue with seats would be preferable to help assure that the audience gives the artist the proper attention. Not so much at the Norva! I think some of my fellow attendees were a bit confused and thought perhaps they were at a Def Leppard concert or something similar. People talked and shouted at one another throughout while drunkenly text messaging on their cell phones. The audience was appreciative of her talents to a degree, but too many people treated it like a regular rock show.

Still, despite the distractions and irritations caused by inconsiderate human beings, Regina Spektor can sure tickle the ivorys and belt out a tune.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm not creative. I'm stealing my friend Sam's blog feature. From henceforth you will see a sidebar that lists my current favorite albums.
Tonight I go see Regina Spektor. Though I don't really think of myself as a big fan, a friend hooked me up with tickets. I have been waffling between being very enthusiastic and very indifferent to attending this concert. I guess I had better start getting excited, cause it's only a few hours away now. I honestly would be content to sit at home at watch The King of Kong again, but it looks like that isn't an option.
Tomorrow 30 Days of Night is released on DVD. It's much better than I imagined it would be. In fact, it's a pretty badass little vampire flick. Danny Huston is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors, especially after The Proposition. Also out tomorrow is The Darjeeling Limited. I haven't seen that one yet but am anxious to do so.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Finally, Part 2

Another movie that doesn’t star Billy Drago was released on DVD this week. After a very limited theatrical release in 2006, the documentary Screamers finally hit the streets this week. I saw the film last year when I scored a copy off of Ebay that turned out to be a crummy screener copy that I ended up sending back and getting a refund (after watching it, of course!). Directed by Carla Garapedian, Screamers is a thought-provoking documentary that looks at the Armenian genocide that took place between about 1914-1918 which set the tone for the impending Holocaust. The Turkish people slaughtered the Armenians, then denied that a genocide had occurred. Subsequently, the United States government refused to acknowledge the genocide as such until very, very recently. The film documents the efforts of the Armenian-American band System of a Down to spread the message of the US government’s denial of the genocide across the world. The film contains a variety of enlightening, sometimes harrowing interviews with the activists of System of a Down as well as various historians, journalists (including the Turkish-Armenian Hrant Dink who was murdered early last year) and some of the last living survivors of the genocide.
I do not believe that one must be a fan of System of a Down to enjoy this film, though the heavy sounds of System may be off-putting to some. The music of the band and the politically charged stance they take is only one facet of the movie and its message (albeit a major facet). The film took forever to appear on DVD, but it looks like there are quite a few extras including more System music as well as a tribute to Hrant Dink. Screamers is a fascinating look at a culture affected by war and how our government just loves to forget about, or tries to erase entirely, the past in the most convenient ways possible.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Awww yeah!

New Drago! New Drago!

A new movie co-starring Billy Drago hit DVD this past Tuesday. As with most Drago pictures, it skipped theatres entirely for a straight-to-DVD release (his movie tend to be horrible crap that would be unwatchable if it weren't for Drago's wildman performances). This one just so happens to be a vampire movie! It's titled Revamped and it appears to be about the usual vampire stuff. Man gets bit by vampire hottie and subsequently becomes a vampire, too. Then he gets chased by vampire hunters. It's probably a horrible piece of crud, but I can't wait to see it. It's number 1 on the Netflix queue, you betcha!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The release date for Portishead's new album, Third, is set for April 29th.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Serj Tankian was amazing. However, I hate, hate, hate people. Matt and I were up at the front to begin with. However, when Serj took the stage I was overtaken by a mass crowd of people who were evidently trying to crush each others bodies to a fine pulp. I thought I was going to die. I tried to get in the spirit, but I have no moshing spirit. Instead, I lasted two songs before my gallant husband had literally drag me out backwards like a rag doll. It was so surreal and frightening.
People sure aren't big on personal hygiene as a rule. In addition to being stinky, they are rude. It makes me so sad that decorum, consideration and manners have almost entirely disappeared from our society.
Still, the music was incredible. No love for Serj lost, just a lot of confusion about the fanbase.

Friday, February 15, 2008

New trailer

This week has been horrible. Awful, awful, terrible and gross. Work is a nasty pain that never ends. I have very little faith in humanity, or in myself anymore.
Still, I guess not everything sucks.
Matt gave me a delightful and beautiful gift set from the Velvet Moon Bathery for Valentine's Day. It was so cute! All sorts of super sweet smelling treats along with some cute little skulls thrown in for good measure.
Next up, MAC Cosmetics has a new line featuring French graffiti artist Fafi. I love her work, it's sort of like French anime.
Then today the trailer for the lovely Fairuza Balk's new film, Humboldt County, was posted. Check it out on the official site here. Fairuza sings. The directors of Humboldt County have a blog and did an extensive post about Fairuza. You can read all about how wonderful she is here.
I should be getting all excited about the Serj Tankian show, but instead I'm just exhausted, trying to make it through this endless day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sleep a little better at night.

This is so wonderful. They even have an internation conference. This whole article is so great that I could write post after post about it.


Oh, and beware of yoga and the internet. I almost missed that reading it the first time.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I miss everything good!

So here I am at work, trying to mind my own business. The group performing tonight is Peru Negro, a touring group that performs traditional Peruvian folk music accompanied by dance. The group arrived around 2pm and its been utter chaos. A constant parade of people have been in and out all day from the bus to the stage. The bus is right outside and its loud. Louder still is the group whose soundcheck has been horrendous. Then the good stuff happened and I missed it.
Some of the dancers had some sort of issue. A circle formed and then two guys started beating the living hell out of one another. Our house manager bolted up here to call an ambulance. She tells me that a dancer was hurt, so I assumed he fell or twisted an ankle or something. Turns out it was a musician and it looked like he was hit by a brick! He was bleeding from the head!
Now the ambulance is here and the police have showed up, too.
I hate cops. Anyone who knows me understand my strange history with the police. I'm not a fan. One of them just approached me a minute ago, saying "Hey! Y'all still got Saturday matinees? I think I might like to see a matinee!". Stupid.
Anyway, I missed this whole beat down. I'm bummed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Documentary smorgasbord

I have seen three noteworthy documentary films in the past two weeks that I feel compelled to comment on and share with everyone. The three are so vastly different from one another that I really dare not compare them with one another. Instead, here's a brief run-down of each:
The first is about a punk band living in squalor in Beijing, China. Appropriately titled Wasted Orient, the film documents the band Joyside and its four disillusioned members as they embark upon a mini tour of a number of cities in Communist China. These boys are living in hovels and have given up hope of being the kind of people that their society deems acceptable. Thusly they spend their time drinking lots and lots and lots and lots of beer and playing crude British and American-inspired punk music to audiences that average about 20-30 people. The film is interesting in that it appears to take a very objective view of the situation, simply training the camera on the drunken, impoverished boys instead of commenting on how the political environment affects the boys and their music. However, this gets a bit dull after about the second or third city as we witness the boys abuse themselves day after day in city after city. There is a great scene towards the beginning of the film as we are introduced to each boy in which the guitarist visits a street vendor and proceeds to eat a variety of insects on camera. He holds aloft each critter and proclaims, "This is bug. What's this? It's bug".

Next up was a truly bizarre and unique slice of life called The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief. This odd little movie visits the Japanese city of Osaka you can visit "Host clubs", establishments where love is on the menu for a hefty price. Here we meet Issei, a 22-year-old man who, according to the film, is the city's top host. He and other young men offer their companionship to women at their club for an exorbitant price. This is appears to be a form of prostitution, but they are not selling sex to the women (generally young, attractive women). Instead they are selling a dream of sorts, selling a weird version of an actual relationship. Here's how it goes down: ladies visit the club and are given a menu with pictures and descriptions of the available hosts. The ladies may choose their host from the menu and are then charged an hourly rate. The host in turn visits them, spends time with them, talks and jokes with them, flatters them, etc. They basically treat the girls as though they were their girlfriends. The ladies compete with each other for affections of each host, spending more and more money as they buy the host's time and attention. This is indeed a cultural phenomenon, but stranger still is the fact that the documentary reveals that most of the women who frequent the clubs are actually prostitutes themselves. They are not at all interested in buying sex but instead buy a relationship from men who won't judge them for their profession. Of course, no one is having a real relationship and everyone is left lonely at the end of the day (or night, for that matter). At a 75 minute running time, I encourage everyone to visit this very strange and unique world of The Great Happiness Space.
The biggest surprise was the incredible film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Everyone keeps looking at me like I have two heads when I begin to describe this film. No one can imagine that this is a good movie, let alone a great one. It's better than great, even. It's wonderful. The King of Kong follows two men, one a gaming legend who carries the highest scores ever on several classic arcade games, one a down-and-out everyman who discovers that his mathematical mind and O.C.D. sensibilities give him the qualities it takes to be the greatest Donkey Kong player of all time. Thus ensues a (sometimes imaginary) battle between two men and their quest to be the best at Donkey Kong. Billy Mitchell is the gamer who peaked in the '80s with his "perfect Pac-Man" game. He still sports his '80s look and he's still riding the wave of notoriety that his high scores brought him in the gaming community. Steve Weibe is the guy who got laid off from his job on the day he and his wife closed on their suburban home. As a way of distracting himself from his failures and disappointments, he spends his free time in his garage playing Donkey Kong. After many, many hundreds of hours, he videotapes himself beating Billy Mitchell's score. The gaming community and the head honchos at Twin Galaxies (scorekeepers extraordinaire) doubt Weibe's score and abilities. Thus Weibe goes on a quest to prove himself and his mad Donkey Kong skillz to the world. This sounds dorky, and it is. But as Weibe himself states in the film, after a while it really isn't about Donkey Kong at all. It's a version of "Rocky" for nerds, and it's all real. At approximately an hour and 20 min, it's one of the only films I've seen that I actually wish was longer. It's a fantastic portrait of two men who lose themselves in a game. It's good vs. evil, it's a true story, and it's the best movie I've seen in a long time.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Velvet Moon Bathery

Okay, okay. I admit it. I've got a penchant for gothic stuff. I wear a lot of black clothing, like dark makeup and have dyed my hair black for over a decade now. I love old skool goth bands like The Cure and Siouxsie and whatnot. I am a slave to Aubrey Beardsley's asthetic. I try to see every vampire movie that comes out, even the really horrible direct-to-video junk. Most tellingly, I have a subscription to Gothic Beauty magazine (it came with a pretty necklace gift). I am not ashamed. What can I say? I like what I like and, as Popeye said, "I am what I am".
So one day I was browsing online and came across Velvet Moon Bathery. This site is operated by a artist in Virginia who creates her own scents and produces handmade soaps, lotions and a variety of potions. My husband ordered a set for me and I fell in love. She creates these little handmade boxes (some shaped like little coffins!) and fills them up with scented delights. Each of her 20+ scents has a gothic themed name like Midnight Carnival, Raven Moon, Victorian Vampire, etc. So cute!
When I e-mailed the proprietor to ask a question, I found her to be not only responsive but delightful and friendly. Her name is Nina and she's a fellow Virginian! Working out of Roanoke, VA, she hocks her wares on her site as well as on Etsy and Ebay.
I am impressed by Nina's lovely offerings. It's a great pleasure to support artists and their handmade goods. Velvet Moon Bathery sells quality products with a creative touch, and I couldn't be happier to endorse her. Please visit Velvet Moon Bathery's stores online and see what she's got!
Official site: http://velvetmoonbathery.com/
Ebay listings: http://myworld.ebay.com/velvetmoonbathery/
Etsy listings:http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5279326
Blog: http://velvetmoonbathery.blogspot.com/