so i got around to watching 'runaway', a short film just made by kanye west et al.

though it's often described as a short film, i feel that it's just better to call it a long music video. it's a fantastic piece of work, but i find that there is little in terms of coherence or plot.

of course, the plot is very simple, a phoenix crashes down to earth (ebanks) and is soon discovered by griffin (west). they have a romantic relationship, but shit happens when phoenix has trouble coping with the oddness of earth, griffin is troubled when he finds that he can't stay with her.

i had a few grievances with the video, for one, west and ebanks are rather lousy when it comes to delivering dramatic dialogue. otherwise, their film presence is fine. i have also been a tad puzzled by a popular interpretation i've seen in various forums, apparently the key to understanding the video is at the beginning when west awkwardly says "first rule of this world baby, is don't pay attention to anything you see on the news" which is mean't to refer to how irritated west is at the way the media portrays him. this may be true, but you need much more than that to support this interpretation.

on that note, it's pretty clear that the whole message is that society doesn't accept things that are different. this is supported by the various reactions to phoenix, the dinner scene and several lines of dialogue. i have noticed some other potential metaphors, but that's not what i'm here to discuss.

the visuals are fantastic, there's nothing particularly innovative (though it may seem so to west's mainstream audience). the opening bit was sort of messy in my opinion, on my screen it was really dark and somewhat hard to see. the rest of the video is colourful and has some very good cinematography.

this is a music video, so the music better be damn good (it is). this supplements the 'runaway' part of the video extremely well, it exaggerates hypnotic aspect of the ballet dance even further.

overall, this is a fine project by west, and where it screws up in dialogue and story it makes up for with visuals and music. just try not to see it as something amazing and revolutionary. it really is just a long, but great music video.



this is the first movie i saw at the viff (now long over), and unfortunately for me, it was a lousy way to start of the festival.

the movie is about the hapless shamoto (the only character - other than the 2 cops - that realizes how fucked everything is), who runs a niche fish selling business. his daughter is a delinquent, his relationship with his new wife has dried up and he generally experiences existential dread. one day he meets murata, who also runs a fish business, though far more successful. he's very charming, funny and welcoming, and he also has a hot wife and drives a ferarri. conflict ensues when shamoto is dragged into murata's questionable methods of doing business (murdering the fuck out of anyone who might fuck with him).

it's without a doubt, one of the stupidest movies i've seen for a while. however, there were some things i like about it. i was happy with the camera work, the music, and definitely (most) of the acting. there were also certain scenes where i wanted to shout some variation of "FUCK YES" (such as when shamoto goes from pushover to BADASS MOTHERFUCKER in an instant). i was also pleased with the film's "you gotta be ruthless to get what you want" message.

the problem is without a doubt in the believability of the characters and the nonsense story, plus some other bits. i will spoil key story elements but it's a rather stupid movie anyway.

for one, sono shion pulls out every cheap japanese horror/psychological cliche in the book. the amount of fake blood used in this movie is disproportionate, tarantino used a shitload of blood in kill bill, but the crazy 88's fight scene had 88 dudes get sliced up, of course it's going to be bloody. cold fish uses the same amount of fake blood for maybe 4 deaths. there's also the classic "japanese flipout" which you'll be used to after seeing higurashi (i haven't seen it, but i've seen screenshots), evangelion, ichi the killer, etc. there's also this "smiling/laughing while murdering someone" bullshit i've seen a million times, it's not scary anymore, it clearly adds nothing to the substance of the movie and serves only as cheap shock value.

one of my biggest gripes with the movie is it's stupid ending. if the last 5 or 10 minutes of the movie were cut out, then i might have considered this movie mediocre. sadly, shions chosen ending make the film stupid. it's only positive was making it clear that passive shamoto had BECOME a more serious murata after he killed him. i was happy when shamoto kicked his ass, disciplined his hooligan daughter and addressed his wife with a stern, quiet "i know you fucked murata" (his next words were 'im going to rape you now').

but after this, he brings murata's corpse to the mountain to dispose of it, forcing his now-widowed wife to take care of it (all of a sudden she becomes stupid and complacent, it's as if her iq dropped 30 points, what the fuck?). then for some reason, shamoto decides to kill her (after feeling her up). his wife and daughter eventually come to the mountain after the police do, shamoto then murder's his wife, and then kills himself in front of his daughter, who then jumps up and down, happy that both her parents are dead. all of this nonsense seems to happen for no reason other than shock value and being different for difference's sake.

i will confess that the movie was somewhat entertaining, but profoundly stupid. all of the horror elements were only added to give the movie something to make it stand out, it doesn't provide any substance. only watch this movie if you consider yourself a japanese horror veteran.



i was watching cnn a moment ago, and as it turns out, sarah palin told christine o'donnel to avoid all interviews and critical questions, unless they're from fox news. holy shit.

US politics is fucked.

the problem is, even though some of these republicans - tea party supported - are gleefully ignorant; o'donnel is ignorant of the US constitution, she believes that schools should be allowed to teach creationism as a science via 1st amendment, which would be overcome by the 'freedom of/from religion' thing. sarah palin also proved several times over that she's easily one of the least qualified persons to do - anything. she allows herself and her family to become gossip magnets, quits her job as governor (she somehow made it seem that keeping her job would be "quitting"[1]) and makes speeches that make no sense (it sounds like she makes it up as she goes along).

US politics is fucked.

what's depressing, is that most of these idiots will get elected anyway, just by the very virtue that they're not democrats. according to gallup polls, most americans blame the republicans for causing the massive recession, and most of them thought that republican dominated congress was crap. oddly enough, many of them are going to vote republican in these coming elections. i think it's psychology, many american voters think that since the economy hasn't changed much, it must be the current party in power (reasonable logic). the thing is, they believe that action is better than inaction (also reasonable logic). however, it took the republicans 8 years to fuck up the economy, it's going to take a damn long time to fix it again, and that shit takes a lot of time. if the republicans get in again, everything will be really fucked, because obama will be a democratic president with a republican congress, how the fuck will anything get done? politics will be in constant check mate.

US politics is fucked!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i take solace in realizing that nothing in that country will ever change. ever. remember how obama was going to change everything overnight? well, he actually did do a lot of good, but fundamentally, US politics is totally fucked.



so i saw this movie the other day at the viff. since it's a documentary, the question is whether or not it was done tastefully/well or how well it showed both sides of the story.

well, of course it was done tastefully. the movie is narrated by kate winslet, and takes place in iceland for a bit, but is predominantly shot in the united states. the primary subjects of the documentary are margret, and her son keli, who undoubtedly has hardcore, low functioning autism. margret is on the search for a highly effective treatment method.

her son keli, is severely autistic, non-verbal, very often he flails his arms about and he often tries to offset his sensory overload by finding flowers or tree branches and waving them in his face. as with many autistic parents, margret and her husband are clueless as to what he's thinking or feeling.

along the way, margret talks to many people and encounters a lot of autistic kids. among the people interviewed are temple grandin, vernon smith and soma mukhopadhyay , as well as several parents, therapists and PhD holding neurologists and psychologists.

man, some of these kids are surreal. one of these kids is 11 years old, non-verbal, and to everyone's surprise, he "likes stocks" have you ever heard of an 11 year old kid who is interested in stocks to the point where he can make 23% in a week-long contest?

this film was extremely well done, camera work was great, music was from bjork and sigur ros, and the film covers autism as well as it possibly can be covered in 90 minutes. the movie was as fair as it needed to be both sides (the idea that vaccines cause autism is discarded as bullshit, and rightfully so).
if you've ever been around autism before (as i did in grade 6/7, many kids at my school had some form of autism) then you must see this movie.



so today i went to see 'the red chapel' at the viff. it most certainly made up for the nonsense of the movie i saw last night ('cold fish' but more on that later). i have almost nothing bad to say about this movie, so ill just go on about all the stuff i liked.

the red chapel is about 3 danish comedians, 2 of whom are danish-korean, and 1 of whom has cerebral palsy (calls himself a 'spastic'). this movie - in short - reinforces yet again how severely fucked up north korea is.

the sense of humour fits pyongyang perfectly. mads' (director/narator) musings on north korean culture is cynical and rather deadpan, giving us what is likely the only north korea travel documentary from a humorous perspective. mads' is also quick to note that the koreans must be using this as a prime propaganda opportunity, jacob and simon go to the korean peninsula for the first time since they were born (in south korea) and pick the north. the movie is funny in a rather depressing way (but not like 'the office', that show just makes me depressed as hell), these guys go all the way to the dprk with a whole routine already prepared, taking caution to leave out ideology or politics. this is almost all for naught, as the guide - mrs. pak - and the directors find a ton of ways to ruin everything they prepared.

it's rather clear that the movie tends to focus on jacob, whom has cerebral palsy. he's really just a regular guy, he just sits in his wheelchair most of the time, and talks kinda funny (he also takes full advantage of the fact that no one in north korea understands danish, not hesitating to dismiss a monument as 'shit'). he also can't put up with all the nonsense that their culture is composed of, and he's a spectacle in many ways, as many in pyongyang have never seen a handicapped person (the government probably kills them off, or sends them to death camps). he also feels creeped out by mrs. paks surreal touchy-feelyness ('he is like a son to me, i'd like him to be my son' this was after she knew him for 5 hours).

the film also shows us all the things that foreigners to pyongyang always get treated to; the kim jong-il school of arts (and brainwashing), the various monuments, the museum of gifts to the dear leader and the dmz. they also happen to be around during the anniversary of the beginning of the korean war, where we learn that the dprk's 'big lie' is that the americans invaded the north, when in actuality, the north koreans invaded the south once kim il-sung got the OK from the u.s.s.r.

in short; see this movie if you can, i believe it ought to play twice more at the viff!!