Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Year in Review

2008 was one crazy year. I started to really blog in June of this year. I haven't had as much time these last few weeks and for good reason. I recently welcomed another addition to my family. Sleepless nights do not translate to more blog entries.

This was the year of the Olympics. The build up to it was quite something.

In May, China was the focus due to the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

I also got into America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC) on MTV. Kaba Modern was my favorite crew.

During the summer, a much anticipated Wuxia drama, Legend of the Condor Heroes was released.

The summer also brought the 命中註定我愛你. Which became the highest rated Taiwanese drama to date.

The best selling Taiwanese movie was also released this summer to much fanfare, 海角七號 - (Cape No. 7).

The summer movie season was kick started with my movie of the year, Iron Man.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

海角七號 - Cape No. 7

I picked up 海角七號 (Cape No. 7) at a local entertainment store with English Subs recently. The majority of 海角七號 is in Taiwanese, so I knew I had to have a version with English subtitles. I've had the China version for a few weeks now, but couldn't understand it as the movie starts in Japanese and runs mostly in Taiwanese. Only about 25% of the movie is in Mandarin, of which is the only other language I know besides English. Even though the main female protagonist speaks in Mandarin and Japanese and does not understand Taiwanese.

The movie is about the formation of a band to open up for an Japanese artist. A local hotel has a beach stage set up for this special event. Local tough guy 洪國榮 and crew are unhappy with the hotel. Specifically how the hotel came to 恆春鎮 (Hengchun) and the townspeople are not benefitting. They find out about the concert and want an opening band to be made up of locals to represent. The search starts and a makeshift group of unique personalities eventually is chosen to form the band. Tomoko is tasked with making this locals' band is presentable. In the backdrop of all this is the story of a address from 60 years past, 海角七號. Which was an address in the 40s, but in modern day Taiwan, it has lost its place.

I've been anticipating this film since the summer and when it was No. 1 in the Taipei films charts for over a month, it added to the hype. I really wanted to catch it at the LA Taiwan Film Festival a couple of weeks back, because of its English Subs.

Did it ever live up to expectations. It was slow to start, but finishes strong. The character development was pretty good and each was developed to move the story along. In the end, I was highly satisfied and proud of that this film is representing the Taiwan film industry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Up the Yangtze - 沿江而上

I caught Up the Yangtze a few weeks back via Netflix. Maybe I should have waited a little bit to watch a documentary right after Planet B-boy.  Up the Yangtze was just ok.  Maybe I was expecting this to be a documentary like Planet B-boy.  It was not.  It wasn't your typical story with point A, B, and C.  There was a message that you had to figure out.  I may not have been in the mode to tax my brain at the time of the watching.

Up the Yangtze follows the people affected by the building of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River.  In particular, they follow 2 youths, Cindy and Jerry whom both get jobs on a cruise ship that travels the Yangtze River.  The movie moves from Cindy, Cindy's family, Cindy's boss, co-workers and Jerry's life quite sporadically.

In the end, I was confused and a felt quite disconnected with the people affected.  I didn't have an emotional attachment to them and nor did I feel the movie told a "story".  It was just a bunch of shorts that are related all thrown together.

Like I said before, I had just watch Planet B-boy the very night before and was just blown away.  Maybe I wasn't ready for this.  Maybe I needed to put my thinking cap on.  I don't know.  I can't really recommend this even with all the accolades it's gotten around the world.  Unless you're really ready to think and think and think.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Planet B-Boy

I caught Planet B-Boy recently via Netflix.  I had been waiting and waiting and waiting for this to be released on DVD for a long time.  I've been reading about this film since 2007 and I was sick and tired of waiting.  When it screened here in Los Angeles earlier in the year, I couldn't make it.  I make it to the cinematheque like once or twice a year now.  Seeing any indie film in a theatre isn't going to happen.

I've seen so many youtube clips, I felt like I had seen enough of the movie already.

Boy was I wrong, the movie was amazing.  Amazing!  Blew me away.

The movie follows 2 crews from Korea, 1 crew from Japan, 1 crew from France, and 1 crew from the USA as they get ready for the 2005 Battle of the Year (BOTY).  It details their wins in the prelims and what breaking and being b-boy is to the individual dancers.  Not all members are featured and some members are featured more promently.  The battles are not completely shown and the pacing is excellent.

At the end, I was not tired nor did I want more.  It was excellent.

I've always been intrigued about breaking since the 80s.  It was a fad that many of the asians kids around here embraced.  That embrace didn't go away and I always looked at it from afar.  Much like my passion for martial arts.  Just like watching it.

I also wrote a blog about Formasa at 2008 BOTY.

If you haven't checked it out, you better check yourself and get a hold of it.