Archive for May, 2006

Insect & Verite: RIP Shohei Imamura

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
  • Insect Woman 1insectwoman

    Director Shohei Imamura has said that he first began to go to university libraries when he was 30. He first started reading sociology, then switched to anthropology. His study of anthropology helped him make THE INSECT WOMAN.

    During and after college, Imamura worked as a black marketer, illegally selling liquor and cigarettes. “In my black market days, I was basically looked after by prostitutes and bar hostesses and came to depend on them heavily. I also came to know everything that was good and bad about them, and realized how honest and instinctual they were–especially in comparison with my former classmates at school. I found myself feeling more and more at ease with them, and losing any sense of superiority.”–Imamura, quoted in Cinematheque Ontario’s book SHOHEI IMAMURA. (Insect Woman-Rottentomatoes)

  • 1imamuraPigsbattleship
    (Pigs and Battleship)
    There is a blog named after Imamura’s film, pigsandbattleship. His pick of top 5 Imamura films are listed.

  • Two Imamura films Shohei Imamura films

    He then made My Second Brother (1959) (see image on top) , which deals with the plight of four orphans in a poor Japanese mining town, and followed this in the 1960s with six brilliant films: Pigs and Battleships (1961), about teenagers attempting to survive by selling pigs fed on food wastes left by US occupying forces; The Insect Woman (1963), a tragicomedy tracing the life of a country girl forced into war production factories during the war and then, after Japan’s defeat, into prostitution; Unholy Desire (1964), about rape and oppression; The Pornographers—An Introduction to Anthropology, (1965), a black comedy about a man involved in the blue movie industry who becomes obsessed with his lover’s daughter; Man Vanishes (1967) (see the second image from the film image above) and The Profound Desire of the Gods (1968).
    (A good interview of Imamura, here. Imamura was not seduced by a great filmscore by Toru Takemitsu who has single handedly shaped the background of many great Japanese films working with Kurosawa, Teshigahara and others.)

  • 1imamurashoheiporno

    Watch this clip The Pornographers – (Youtube treasure will serve for good introduction to early Imamura films).

  • Nosaka Akiyuki author of The Pornographers.

    Is Being a Human Being So Disgusting?

    Imamura was the first to pay attention to Karayukisan with his film
    Karayukisan: the making of a prostitute. (Google image of Karayukisan in the world) These young Japanese women were sent from Japan and differ from the prostitutes who served Japanese soldiers from their native countries, Korea, Southeast Asia.

    Ballad of Narayama is written by Shichiro Fukazawa.
    There are two versions of Ballad of Narayama, earlier film was by Kinoshita, a much more sentimental director.

    In this second, award-winning interpretation of a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa, director Shohei Imamura has inserted some scenes of violence and ritual sex that are shocking and were absent in the first, 1958 film. The story is set in the 19th century in a remote and severely impoverished mountain village in northern Japan. In this fictional society, once the elderly have reached the age of 70 they are brought up Mount Nara, where ancient gods reside, and left to die hopefully blessed by the deities — this sacrifice will free up food for someone else in the village. (via)

    `The themes in his films weren’t for Americans, but rather for Europeans,” said Tadao Sato, a noted Japanese movie critic. “It would be difficult for Americans to grasp the convoluted state of mind depicted in his works in times after Japan’s defeat of the past war.”
    Elsewhere, though, Imamura was appreciated as a master. (Via) (Sad but true, Americans are isolated culturally)

    Imamura in one of interviews said, “I show true things using fictional techniques but maintaining truthfulness — that’s where my approach differs from Ozu. He wanted to make film more aesthetic. I want to make it more real. He aspired toward a cinematic nirvana. When I was his assistant, I was very opposed to him, but now, whilst still not liking his films, I’m much more tolerant. As for me, I’d like to destroy this premise that cinema is fiction.” (Via excellent post from filmbrain.)

    Howard’s Blend

    Monday, May 29th, 2006

    There is something about his work, something so delicate and instinctive and mysterious, but also so direct and simple and intense, that talking about it will not help anyone to see his paintings better. From I Hate Painting – Guardian, Colm Toibin’s interview)

    <> <> <> <> Howard Hodgkins

    But I work in a country where I think that if I didn’t talk about my work at all people might not even bother to look at it.
    Howard Hodgkin

    A perfect example of Hodgkin’s sharp personality is the small You Are My Sunshine, which, like a sycophant’s true feelings, contains a snide black core within effusive, almost hyper orange and yellow. (The Color of Turmoil by Ana Finel Honigman)

    Colour is, of course, what characterises a Hodgkin painting. Seductive and jewel-like, it is never simply there for its own sake. In this he belongs to a distinctively European tradition, with the French post-impressionists Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, and with Henri Matisse. As Susan Sontag pointed out, he is mindful of the ancient quarrel between Michelangelo’s preference for disegno over Titian’s for colore. It is as though he wants, she said, “to give colore its most sumptuous exclusive victory”. (Living Color – Sue Hubbard)

    How we work: Howard Hodgkin, artist
    Hodgkin paints fairly reclusively, on several paintings in parallel, most of which take years to complete. (from Rodcorp)

    Bringing together 60 of his evocative and vibrant paintings from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view new work in the context of earlier decades.
    June 14 – September 10, 2006 at Tate.
    More images from here.


    Do you have a Hodgkin painting? Mine is in the bathroom on top of small stack of Japanese books – two by Kawabata Yasunari. I was not thinking of Hodgkin when I painted this.

    <> <> <> <> Bathroom Howard Hodgekin by Fung-Lin Hall

    A Room with a View in Venice

    Saturday, May 27th, 2006

    View from a Window Venice Window by Fung-Lin Hall

    Clothes Venice Laundry by Fung-Lin Hall on lines

    Italian cities slideshow

    Floating Words

    Sunday, May 21st, 2006

  • (Kyo Machiko and Ganjiro Nakamura in Floating Weeds directed by Ozu Yasujiro)

    Finally saw Early Summer and Floating Weeds.

    Ozu Early Summer Yasujiro Ozu and “Early Summer”.

    Setsuko Hara (right, from the photo above) was Ozu’s muse and Susan Sontag’s favorite Japanese actress.
    (Both Ozu and Setsuko Hara remained single, Ozu was most likely gay and Setsuko was Garbo like, read more about her here, The Enigma of the ‘Eternal Virgin’.)

    Hara Setsuko doll or droll.

    Contrary to received opinion, Yasujirô Ozu does sometimes move his camera. And when he does ­ as is usually the case when filmmakers do something in an exceptional way (i.e., Mizoguchi’s rare close-ups) ­ it is wonderful, because it is fully motivated, even if not strictly necessary. (From Rouge, Miguel Marias)

    Move your mouse and animate the film stills.

    TV film critic Roger Ebert was selected to do a commentary for “Floating Weeds’ Criterion DVD collection. It was a case of floating words by constantly repeating the few things he knew about Ozu.

    Floating Weeds Floating Weeds Yasujiro Ozu (image source)

    Speaking of words, we might explore and learn a few catchy
    Japanese phrases, (onomatopoetic) and play on last names of a film master and a famous Japanese actress.

    Japanese Sound effects and what they mean

    Ozu Ozu – means nervous, diffident, sheepish

    Hara Hara – uneasy feeling, thrilling, scary

    Hiso Hiso – whispering, hiding something like Cheney and his oil gang.

    Butsu Butsu – mumble (Bush talk), erupting pimples

    Bu Bu/Bou Bou – grumble, complain, pig sound (Bush talk)

    Bera Bera – glib, jabber, Roger Ebert film talk, floating words – including Hara hara (scary) and Ozu Ozu (insecure feeling) –

    Pera Pera – fluent like Takeshi Kaneshiro who speaks in Mandarin, Japanese, Cantonese and Tawaian dialect

    Waku Waku or Doki Doki– happy excitement

    Vexations – Satie and Cage

    Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

    “I came into the world very young, in an age that was very old” ( from the Selfportrait of Erik Satie-wikipedia. )

    Eric Satie Eric Satie by Pablo Picasso was born on May 17, 1866.
    (The famous portrait by Pablo Picasso)

    Watch this visual collage video for Eric Satie’s music. (Found Youtube – Looks like Jane Fonda’s film “Sunday in New York” was used for this footage.)

    Satie may have been the first composer to write music intended to accompany film (Entr’acte, the surrealist Rene Clair’s film short in the middle of Satie’s Relache). (Ideocentrism – J. Emerson Read more, this portrait of Satie by J. Emerson is hilarious.)

    Stones by John Cage
    John Cage (image source)


    goes in seaRch

    of sunlIght he comes across haydn

    bill anastasi is looKing at haydn through a lorgnetter

    I have also studied wild mushrooms so that I won’t kill myself when I eat what I find. I am always amazed how exiting it is in any season anywhere to see just any mushrooms growing once again. The same is true each time I hear Satie well-played. I fall in love all over again.” (John Cage)

    It is possible that Vexations might never have been performed if it had not been for John Cage.

    Vexations then is simply the best example of how Cage brought interest to Satie, and likewise changed, or at least broadened, the way people think about him.
    Cage’s Place In the Reception of Satie, from here.

    New River – watercolor by John Cage
    John Cage (image source)

    Portrait of Eric Satie by Susanne Valadon ( mother of Maurice Utrillo)

    Valadon painted Satie’s portrait and gave it to him, but after six months she moved on, leaving Satie broken-hearted. During their relationship Satie had composed the Danses Gothiques as a kind of prayer to restore peace of mind. Apparently, this would remain the only relationship Satie ever had. (Wikipedia)

    Line drawing of Satie by Jean Cocteau

    Blowing the Blues Away

    Saturday, May 13th, 2006

    Horace Silver

    Horace Silver’s autobiography is out.

    Listen to these tracks from his homepage.
    1 Nica’s Dream (Horace-Scope)
    2 Strollin’ (Horace-Scope)
    3 Filthy McNasty (Doin’ The Thing)
    4 Sister Sadie (Blowin’ The Blues Away)

    Miles Davis, J. Coltrane Mingus, Theloneous Monk are not the only Jazz greats, there many many more.

    Sonny Rollins is alive and kicking, visit his homepage. He was the first one to show up with the Mohican haircut and did zen meditation on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Today’s players are still dealing with Sonny Rollins’ contribution to the idiom, plundering his recordings for ideas and insights. He was one of the first to appropriate a West Indian heritage and music into mainstream jazz, which for me is very significant. His political consciousness and daring I also found inspiring – for example, recording The Freedom Suite in 1958 with Max Roach during the civil rights protests. He’s completely at one with his instrument. And few people have been able to make triplets and eighth-notes swing harder. (From the Guardian)

    Ornette Coleman is touring in Japan. (To be honest, I have not been keeping up, was surprised to find him alive and working.)

    One of the ultimate American accolades, the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, was awarded to Coleman in 1994. In general, rather than simple concerts, Coleman’s performances had by now become big multimedia events that both reflected and impacted on the host town’s community, lasting for several nights at a significant location. (via)

    Here was an innovator who died young.
    Eric Dolphy
    Photo from here – ugly webpage with great background jazz track.
    Both Horace Silver and Eric Dolphy are very photogenic.

    Salon’s tribute to Eric Dolphy, “Young Saint with a Horn” here.

    Shakers and Movers

    Saturday, May 13th, 2006

    Happy Birthday Soren Kierkegaard Marx, Colbert and Freud by Fung Lin Hall Stephen Colbert! (May 13, 1964)

    Stephen is a Taurus Dragon

    THE WOOD DRAGON 1904 AND 1964

    Wood has a modifying influence and brings creativity to this sign. Questioning and liberal, Wood Dragons enjoy talking about original ideas and are open to other points of view. They are innovative, imaginative practical and appreciate art in each of its forms. Generally less pretentious than other Dragons, Wood Dragons have an ability to get along with other people. They have the essentials to build a prosperous and happy life for themselves. Still, Wood Dragons are outspoken and at times a bit pushy to quell everyone, even in the most friendly quarrel.

    And here he is surrounded by great thinkers. Let us remind ourselves to think and help our children to open their mind and learn to think for themselves.

    Taurus Thinkers
    Group A
    Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Wittgenstein, Godel, Herbert Spencer, Poincare, Machiavelli, Kant, Thomas Huxley, Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, David Hume, Ortega Y Gasset, Karl Barth, Bertrand Russell, Rudolph Carnap, Fichte, John Stuart Mill – and if you include the creative minds – Shakespeare and Orson Wells.

    Group B Scary Leaders and a figure head –
    Adolph Hitler, Lenin, Hirohito, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Eva Peron

    Group C
    Malcolm X, Marcus Aurelius, Oliver Cromwell, Queen Elizabeth II, Catherine the Great, Josef Tito, Ho Chi Minh, Golda Meir


    What is a poet? An unhappy man who conceals profound anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so fashioned that when sighs and groans pass over them they sound like beautiful music.

    — a critic resembles a poet as one pea another, the only difference being that he has no anguish in his heart and no music on his lips. Soren Kierkegaard

    Two for One Gallery

    Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

    You are at Balboa Park, San Diego.
    Click this picture.
    Sample 1 Balboa by Fung Lin Hall

    There must be a way out of this. Click and see.

    Sample 2 Michael Merchant

    The above installation by Michael Merchant.

    The Clown Family

    Monday, May 8th, 2006

    From comics, circus clowns, milky coyote, troll, trickster, televangelists to conceptual artists, all mapped out in here, The Clown Family Tree by Jeffrey Vallance.

    The Nazi Bozo “When, oh when” by Bill Krohn

    When life gets dull, I like to shake things up. (The Fool from Arizona)

    Shroud of Blinky Jeffrey Vallance by Jeffrey Vallance. ( via)

    TV Clown by Bruce Nauman

    Eternity and ModernityYayoi Kusama

    Andy Warhol Andy Warhol glancing sideway.

    If I Had A Hammer

    Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

    Hammer Stephen Colbert by Fung Lin Hall on Stephen’s head.

    Wikipedia has updated Colbert’s profile.

    Much of the mainstream media has seemingly ignored his presence atthe function, including the New York Times, which did not mention his presence in their write-up of the evening.

    Buried by Truthiness by Amrita Rajan

    Ballsalicious – Jon Stewart said of Stephen Colbert after the White house function.

    “Colbert now a verb” from Blogcritics – Bloggers still discussing and thanking Colbert.

    Star Gazing Haacke_StarGazingby Hans Haacke

    We live in an age where religion, patriotism, success in business, and good manners have become a veil for the unspeakable. Either you remain silent or you violate the decorum. (Happy Tutor on Good Manners as the Veil of Corruption)