Subtle romance: my favorite clip from Fallen Angels

I can't believe this movie is 15 years old, and that I first watched it almost five years ago.  I was reminded of it today when we were watching Chungking Express and I thought to myself, sure, I kind of like this movie but there was something about Fallen Angels, the sequel/companion film by Wong Kar Wai, that spoke to me.  Maybe because the characters are much more shockingly odd, and the film itself that much murkier, sad and ardent.

I don't remember a whole lot about the film (you can find an analysis of it here) except this one scene where Cherry and the Mute are sitting in a cafe after they've been chasing down her ex-boyfriend and Mute realizes he's falling in love with her.  I love the way the shot is set up, with hapless Cherry gazing obliviously in the other direction while Mute, whom we have come to know as someone unworthy of respect, yet whom we want to indulge despite ourselves, leans towards her and breathes her in with such dreamy enjoyment that you really wish she'd come to her senses already.  Meanwhile, the world behind them buzzes with activity, but you can't take your eyes off this quiet moment of stolen intimacy.

I don't think this scene is supposed to be taken literally, but I think it captures an element of misappropriate longing that anyone with a little wistful strangeness in them will recognize right away.  There's something about the bold, unrequited movement in this scene that I like very much. I screen-capped it for your viewing pleasure, followed by a very excellent fan-made vide o that centers on the weird but beautiful Takeshi Kaneshiro's character, the Mute.

The lack of good movies to queue up in Netflix is f-ing depressing me.

Okay, so I do have 499 movies in my queue currently (the limit is 500), but still.  Once upon a time there was no end to the number of good movies I wanted to watch.  I mean, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't have so many in my queue.

But I was just browsing the "popular new releases" section of Netflix and came across this page where there were exactly two movies that were rated above 3 stars, one of which I'd already seen (Slumdog Millionaire...and that wasn't even as good as City of God).  Maybe because I used to dream about making 4- and 5-star movies...but this is really f-ing depressing, man.

At least I can somewhat get my fix through TV on DVD--there are so many amazing shows from the last few years.  And I just bought both seasons of Carnivale on Amazon for like $40, a steal!

The Music of Braid: the Game

A few weeks ago, Garry, Mark, Sanny and I stayed up until the obscenely wee hours of the morning to play this fantastic and ingenious game called Braid, on the XBox 360.  The game is conceptually profound, created by indie game developer Jonathan Blow (no kidding!), with artwork by David Hellman.  It follows a protagonist, Tim, through various puzzles that explore the flow of time, in different worlds in which time behaves according to different rules:
  • Time and Forgiveness
  • Time and Mystery
  • Time and Place
  • Time and Decision
  • Hesitance
  • World 1
By the way, Braid is quite possibly the most depressing game ever--at least the overarching themes.  The look is a bit like Zelda or Super Mario Bros., but the mood and feel of the game are on a whole different plane, and I attribute that in part to its haunting, gorgeous soundtrack.  It's a bit Celtic or new-age in style, but not super cheesy like a lot of new-age-y music is.  And in the context of the game, it is simply otherworldly, mysterious, and multi-dimensional.  And it's especially bemusing juxtaposed against the relative simplicity of the graphics, yet totally befitting the complexity of the gameplay.

Here are a couple of my favorite tracks, but the whole list of songs from the Braid soundtrack can be found here.

How I'd monetize at least part of YouTube, if I were still at the Goog

Sell. CDs.  From. Indie.  And. Commercial.  Artists.

Sell.  DVDs. Next to. Movie Trailers.

Take a small percentage of the sales revenue.  There's got to be a huge population of people who watch movie trailers, music videos, covers of popular songs, and original work by indie artists trying to get exposure.  Relatively, the sample players on Amazon and Barnes and Noble suck so bad.  This is the perfect way to test drive media before buying - if Google just brought it all onto one platform and standardized the checkout/distribution process.... just think.  Omg.  They'd be even richer than they already are.

I guess they already sell mp3s, but I think it's about getting all these people who make new music and don't have a good way to distribute it, make it buyable.

Just random brainstorming on a Wednesday evening.

Foodie Tuesday: A Modern Travesty, or--Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, the Book vs. the Movie

Given how much I love food, children's books, and movies... well, you know I HAD to say something about this.

Back when I was a kid, it went without saying that Judi and Ron Barrett's excellent Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was one of my favoritest picture books, ever.  As a kid, my imagination lit up at the thought of this magical place called Chewandswallow, where food rained down from the sky, where no one went hungry, and where everyone, regardless of color, got to eat yummy American food instead of boring Chinese food.

As an adult, I can appreciate stuff like the beautifully painstaking details of the woodcut illustrations.  I remember a few things well.  The banks of cumulus hamburger clouds.  The Jell-O sunset.  The roofless restaurant.  And of course, Grandpa's pancakes.

But, then I saw the trailer for the new movie.  As it began, I had no idea what they were getting at--it looked like another silly excuse for a Hollywood kid's movie that had been developed within an inch of its life (too many cooks in the kitchen, pardon the pun).  The trailer was halfway through before I realized it was a film adaptation of this most beloved children's classics.

First off, while they borrowed heavily from the visual concepts presented in the original book, the movie retains none of the book's rich, charming artistic style.  While the real Chewandswallow is a place peopled with colorful characters, busy and alive with warmth, the world of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, the movie, is a cold and empty place where there's only the main character and his female sidekick/love interest.  Not to mention, the book includes a ton of incredible details that I'll never get sick of discovering (Rich people frowning over limp broccoli! A newspaper called the 'Chewandswallow Digest'! Lower Intestine Street!).  Compare images from the book and the movie in the diptychs I made below, along with some extra images I love from the book.

Secondly, in the book, food raining like manna from the sky is presented as, gasp, a good thing.  As a kid I totally ate up (har har) the different scenes of regular citizens going about their day, catching chicken drumsticks on the go and filling their umbrellas with orange juice. In the movie, food is a menace from the get-go.

Thirdly, like Superman, Chewandswallow comes with inherent superpowers.  Its ability to shower food on its citizens is totally natural, delightful even.  In the movie, the food is the creation of some loser mad-scientist guy.  How lame is that?

Lastly, the storytelling in the book is wonderfully tongue-in-cheek and smart, if very straightforward.  I really doubt the movie will carry on any of that subtlety and delicacy as it whups us in the face with its fancy effects and loud graphics.

I'm definitely one to agree with this blogger that Hollywood is about to turn this masterpiece into a "shitty, nihilistic movie."

Mysterious Cities of Gold: Now on Hulu in High-Def!

A few weeks ago I posted, with great excitement, about the great anime series Mysterious Cities of Gold on DVD for the first time in the US.

Well now they've done it - they put all 39 episodes on Hulu for your instant streaming pleasure!  I was so happy when I, just out of sheer curiosity, typed in the series title into the search bar while Garry and I were watching the Secret of Nimh (that's another post altogether).

I just watched the first episode and it's as good as ever - high quality storytelling, though this episode has a TON of set-up and backstory and not much really happens.  I think you have to get a few episodes in before the real adventure starts.  Also, the music throughout is crazy-fantastic...very cheesy disco-80s.

Sorry, I totally couldn't resist posting about the second official New Moon which Jacob Black makes his moves and swishes around that beautiful long hair of his.

I know I am just setting myself up for disappointment when November comes and me and my grown-up friends get trampled in the theater by scores of rabid teenagers on their way to watch the New Moon movie. But I find myself pouncing on every little morsel we're getting in the way of previews, and savoring it in a most untoward fashion.

Anyway I really wish Jacob Black didn't have to chop his beautiful hair off halfway through the movie. It's such a shame. I am not usually into long-haired dudes but on native Americans, it works. In fact, on Jacob Black, the mane is downright dreamy. (I mean... 0:30-32, 0:39 even though it's so obviously CGI'd, and that intense look at 0:55 omg omg omg omg OMG!).

Yes I realize I'm talking as if he's a real person. Shut up. Team Jacob 4-evarrrrr.

AMC » Mad Men Casting Call

So Banana Republic and AMC are putting on this casting call. You submit a Madmen-style photo of yourself, people vote, and the winner gets cast in an upcoming episode.

My friend Annie told me about this fellow Googler who is one of the more highly rated contestants, and no wonder. Look at that jawline! Can you imagine some people have to focus on work with this guy around!

You can vote here.