DVD: Slant Volume 1 - Asian American Short Films

Friday, February 29, 2008

Slant Volume 1 - Asian American Short Films is a collection from the Slant: Bold Asian American Images festival which is curated by Hyphen founding editor Melissa Hung. The DVD seems to have a wider release date of 4/29/2008 at most online shops - but it looks like you can buy it now from the microcinemadvd site.

Here's the film summary:

The Best of Slant Vol 1 features a collection of short films culled from seven years of Aurora Picture Shows annual Slant: Bold Asian American Images festival. The Slant festival annually showcases the best in emerging Asian American cinema. Since its start in 2000, Slant has screened an eclectic mix of films that explore a wide range of topics and genres such as the smashing of stereotypes, off-beat comedies, family stories, explorations of culture and identity, and universal themes like love, loss, the human condition.

Slant curator Melissa Hung is the founding editor of Hyphen, a magazine about Asian American culture. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of Asian American media and independent media. She lives in Oakland, California and works for the San Francisco WritersCorps, a creative writing program for urban youth.

Films in the Compilation include: 1. How to do the Asian Squat by Daniel Hsia 2. Lilo and Me by Kip Filbeck 3. Maritess vs the Superfriends by Dino Ignacio 4. A Little Bit Different by Lynn Okimura 5. Profiles in Science by Wes Kim 6. I Pie (A Love Store) by Nobu Adilman 7. How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun-Uma by Samuel Kiechoon Lee 8. Slip of the Tongue by Karen Lum.

View the YouTube trailer (the one at microcinemadvd is a little smaller but has a better resolution).

Hot Track: Davichi, Lee Hyori, and Lee Mi-yeon

Friday, February 29, 2008

Check out the MV from Korean band Davichi 미워도 사랑하니까 (Hate You Even Though I Love You) which also stars Lee Hyori, and Lee Mi-yeon.

More on the New York Philharmonic

Friday, February 29, 2008

While I know some of you out there think I'm a cold heartless cynic - it's not true. I'm not the only one who thought the NY Philharmonic's journey to North Korea was a sham:

Chosun Ilbo: Philharmonic Concert Seen as 'Half Success' for Kim Jong-il

What did North Korean leader Kim Jong-il gain from the New York Philharmonic's concert in Pyongyang? Why didn't he attend the performance as expected? Pundits said that the orchestra's performance was a "half success" for Kim. Kim Sung-han, a professor at Korea University, said, "The performance gave us the impression that North Korea is a 'normal country' where cultural activities are possible." Kim Keun-sik, a professor of North Korean Studies at Kyungnam University, said, "Attracting worldwide attention, the orchestra conveyed a message calling for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea."
WSJ: How Pyongyang Plays the West

The timing is fortuitous, since the months from February to April mark the annual highpoint of the North's personality cult ritual. And two or three years from now, the regime will almost certainly publish a new installment of Immortal Leadership, a series of novels celebrating the main triumphs of the Dear Leader's rule. The story will be simple: Kim tests nuke, Washington protests, Kim hangs tough, Washington sends musicians to entertain him. And isn't that a fairly accurate version of events?
All right - maybe I am a cold heartless cynic - at least I'm in good company though.

It's your birthday

Friday, February 29, 2008

Here's a shout out to Disgrasian who are celebrating their first year anniversary in blogosphere this weekend -- may the drinks be strong and slanty as you go into year two.

P.S. - Sony's cat Toro also wanted to say hi.

China: No Child Left Behind?

Friday, February 29, 2008

With a population that is getting older, and economists warning that soon there may be too many older citizens and not enough younger workers who can support them - China may be relaxing their one-child policy. From the IHT:

China is studying how to move away from its controversial one-child policy, but any changes would come gradually and would not mean an elimination of family-planning policies, a senior official said Thursday [...] Some of the biggest cities, like Shanghai, have tried to make small tweaks in the policy to spur more births. Nationally, the policy now allows urban couples to have two children if both spouses are themselves from one-child families [...] Experts have warned that China is steadily moving toward a demographic crisis with too many old people in need of expensive services and too few young workers paying taxes to meet those bills. China is often regarded as having a limitless pool of young, cheap labor, but the country's biggest manufacturing centers have faced labor shortages in recent years.
Read the full article here.

Kip Fulbeck

Friday, February 29, 2008

The author of Part Asian, 100% Hapa - who's coming out with a new book this March called Permanence: Tattoo Portraits by Kip Fulbeck - will be out at the University of St. Thomas discussing "What Are You? The Changing Face of America" March 5.

Read more down at the University of St. Thomas' website.

Adrian Tomine Presentation and Book Signing

Thursday, February 28, 2008

For those interested, Adrian Tomine will be down at the Rhode Island School of Design tomorrow (February 29th) where he'll offer a presentation on his career and then afterwards be available for a book signing of his graphic novel Shortcomings.

The presentation starts at 7 PM and is free and open to the public. For more information see the RISD calendar.

Joan Chen signs on to "Mao's Last Dancer"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

According to Variety Asia, Joan Chen has signed on for a new movie based on the Australian novel "Mao's Last Dancer" about Chinese dancer Li Cunxin who escaped China at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

At the same time, Chen's new pic The Leap Years gets released in Singapore February 29th.

View the trailer below

Asian Philanthropy

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Li Ka-Shing

You may know the names of someone like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates and what they're doing with their money to support humanitarian causes, but are you familiar with names like Li Ka-Shing who plans to leave one-third of his $32 billion fortune to charity, or Anil Agarwal who gave $1 billion for the creation of a new university?

Check out the Forbes article on 48 Altruistic Asians who are giving back in amazing ways.

When Big Men Go Down Who Tells Them To Get Back Up?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

With Yao going down - and the Houston Rockets looking at the remainder of the season where the trade deadline has past and there's been significant moves in the Western Conference (Jason Kidd, Pau Gasol, Shaq) - things could just be getting started.

ESPN's Henry Abbot asks the question in a new article of who makes the decision if Yao plays in the Olympics:

The relationship between the NBA, the Houston Rockets, and the Chinese government figures prominently in any and all matters Yao Ming. Even picking him first in the draft was not simple. Now, with Yao Ming slated to be the superstar showpiece of perhaps the most important sporting event in China's recent history -- the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- there must be a hundred new ways these international relationships can be tested. With something this bad having happened, there will be blame to spread around, and future questions to work out. Will Yao Ming be ready to play in the Olympics? Whose decision will that be? Are the Rockets prepared to let the Chinese team make that call? And what about next season -- now that China's national basketball treasure has injured himself repeatedly Houston's watch (he has also had a broken tibia) might there be concerns about his returning to the NBA at all?
Yao's injury could heal with surgery in three months, technically giving him another 3 months to work out and prepare for the games - but NBA teams would rather have a franchise player of his caliber sit out from any formal play until next season.

While the Chinese national team is preparing for an Olympics without Yao, when asked about not playing, he said this from a recent article:

If I cannot play in the Olympics for my country this time, it will be the biggest loss in my career to right now
Yao didn't say anything about an NBA championship for Houston, or the dearth of playoff successes for the team. What happens if he and the Chinese government are adamant on him playing no matter what the cost to his NBA career? Will Rocket fans still support him?

I don't think there's anything in the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement that quite covers this situation.

25 songs by Asian American artists you should know

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Taiyo Na

Listed in no particular order:

  1. Sanawon - Noel KS
  2. Blue Scholars - Joe Metro
  3. Big Chan - What I Like To Do
  4. Cory Lee - Cold December
  5. Vienna Teng - City Hall
  6. Notorious MSG - Chinatown Hustler
  7. Jin - Top 5 Dead Or Alive
  8. Ken Oak Band - Slow Dance
  9. Kristine Sa - Consequence
  10. Magnetic North - Within The Rhythm
  11. Marie Digby - Unfold
  12. Meg And Dia - Roses
  13. Nivla - Be Easy
  14. The Slants - Capture Me Burning
  15. Freddie Joachim - That's Whats Up
  16. FM - Smile
  17. Kawehi - GGUU
  18. Joyce Lee - Letting Things Go Rough
  19. Susie Suh - Harmony
  20. Goh Nakamura - Daylight Savings
  21. Kat O1O - Phosphorescent Waves
  22. Exit Clove - DIY
  23. Taiyo Na Love is Growth
  24. Shanghai Restoration Project - Miss Shanghai
  25. Ailee - No One

South Korean Box Office: Early 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Here's a quick breakdown of some new South Korean movies that people are talking about including: The Chaser, The Man Who Was Superman, Once Upon A Time, Forever the Moment, and Lovers of 6 Years.

The Chaser

Opened at #2 on Feb. 15 - great word of mouth reviews have pushed it to #1 in its second week.

KOFIC Synopsis: Ex-cop pimp Jung-ho is irritated because his girls keep disappearing without clearing their debts. One night, he gets a call from a customer and sends Mi-jin. Jung-ho realizes the phone number of the customer matches that of the calls the missing girls got last. As something smells fishy, he searches for her. During his search, Jung-ho dents a car in the alley. When Jung-ho spots blood splattered on the driver’s shirt, he senses the man, Young-min, is the suspect. After an intense chase, Jung-ho catches Young-min. But because of Jung-ho’s pretense as a cop, they are both taken to the police station. At the station, the man bluntly confesses he has killed the missing women, and the last girl, Mi-jin, may still be alive. As the whole police force is obsessed with a random search for corpses, Jung-ho is the only one who believes Mi-jin is still alive. With only 12 hours left to detain the serial killer without a warrant, Jung-ho’s hunt begins, searching for Mi-jin entrapped in a place nobody knows.

View Trailer

The Man Who Was Superman

More notable for Jeon Ji-hyun's latest effort since the critically panned Daisy. After a limited release it opened Feb 1. on 514 screens in the #4 position, the next week moving to #6, afterwards dropping back down out of the top ten.

KOFIC Synopsis: SONG Soo-jung is a producer going on her third year at a small company. Her specialty is human interest stories. She is driven to produce these shallow stories for the sake of her ambition of one day becoming Korea’s own Oprah Winfrey. However, she is reaching the end of what’s left of her pride. One day, after months of not getting paid, she leaves her office with the company camera to produce a story on a lion apparently refusing to eat its meal. On her way, however, she comes across a robber, but she is saved somehow by Superman in a Hawaiian shirt. “Superman” claims he’s unable to tap into his supernatural powers as the bad guys have placed kryptonite inside his head. However, he doesn’t let that get in his way from helping others, from saving the world from global warming to saving a lost puppy. Soo-jung can see this will make a good story and, with a little tweaking and a little fabricating, she produces the Superman Saves the World documentary which goes on to be a ratings hit. However, the true story behind this “Superman,” including the bullet and not the kryptonite that is lodged in his brain, helps the frosty, calculating Soo-jung to awaken to what’s truly important in life.

View Trailer

Once Upon A Time

The comedy-action-adventure film managed to stay in the top ten since its debut at the beginning of February, holding the #1 spot in its second week. Will anyone still want to see Indiana Jones?

Hancinema synopsis: In the 1940's under the Japan's colonial rule, Bong-gu, a swindler, and Chun-ja, a jazz singer, are both after ``the Light of the East,'' a diamond on the Buddhist statue in Seokguram cave. However, Japan's head gets it and he holds a party to celebrate and move it to Japan as soon as possible. Bong-gu and Chun-ja participate to steal 'the Light of the East'.

View Trailer

Forever the Moment

The film, based on a true story about the Korean 2004 team, has been a runaway hit with more ticket sales than The Chaser and Once Upon a Time combined.

KOFIC Synopsis: The Athens Olympics are approaching and Korea is looking for gold in every sport. Korean women in particular have done well in almost areas except for the ignored and looked down upon sport of Team Handball. And when the team is assembled, it doesn’t look when the players who show up are women in their 30s ad teens with piercing. Can this oddball group overcome their personal differences and hardships and somehow come together as a team?

View Trailer

Lovers of 6 Years

The romantic drama has been popular opening at #2 and then staying in the top ten for its second and third week (to present).

Koreanmovie Synopsis: "Nothing special" is also a keyword for Da-jin (Kim Ha-neul), a hard-working editor at a publishing company, and her boyfriend Jae-young (Yoon Gye-sang), an equally diligent home shopping producer. Six years ago, they began to date. Two years ago, they started sleeping together. Now, they are next-door neighbors, but the wall separating their houses does not have any significant function. They virtually share their rooms -- and bedrooms at night. They know each other inside and out so much so that they begin to feel a bit bored, and the magical sparks and excitement is already gone. Their relationships seem to have passed a stage where something special is at work.

View Trailer

Artist Zhan Wang

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interested in checking out urban landscapes made from pots and pans? Check out artist Zhan Wang and his work at the The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco:

Zhan Wang is among the most respected artists in China, having become world-renown for his stainless steel sculptures of “scholars' rocks,” the graceful, craggy boulders found in several provinces around China that seem to have been sculpted by natural forces into complex forms worthy of thoughtful contemplation–almost like mental or spiritual landscapes. Collecting these rocks from around China, Wang painstakingly pounds, bends, heats, and molds sections of stainless steel plate across the cloud-like topography of each rock, as if wrapping it in steel–in essence, applying a modern industrial skin to an ancient geologic body. After the steel has been shaped around the rock it is peeled away in sections, welded together as a single unit–a now-hollow duplicate of the rock–and polished to a flawless steel sheen, in some cases almost a mirror finish. The resulting play of light upon their surfaces has the effect of seeming to disembody and even liquefy the steel sculptures, as if they were luminous floating masses or shimmering topographies.

For his exhibition at the Asian Art Museum, Wang has selected rocks from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, alluding to the nineteenth-century Chinese immigrant experience of mining gold during the California gold rush. Both the actual rocks and their stainless steel versions will be exhibited. The artist will also create a topographic San Francisco cityscape–one of his “urban landscape” series– using steel rocks, mirrored surfaces, silverware, and stainless steel pots and pans.
You can catch Zhan Wang's art from now until May 25. View more about the exhibition at The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco's site, and Zhan at the China Art Current.

News Roundup: Divided We Fall , Ching-In Chen, Asian Activism, And Texas

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Filmmaker, lecturer, and writer Valarie Kaur

The Space Between - Detroit, MI

In the last week of January, my co-producer Sharat Raju and I traveled with our film Divided We Fall around the state of Michigan -- from a screening at Wayne State University in Detroit, to a workshop at the South Asian American Network conference at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to a day at an all-girls Catholic high school, the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield. Our audiences were diverse, but a central theme seemed to rise throughout our visit: young people learning to own the space between.
Interview: Ching-In Chen, Chinese American poet

Ching-In Chen is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and a Kundiman Asian American Poet Fellow. A community organizer, she helped to plan the 3rd national Asian Pacific American Spoken Word and Poetry Summit in Boston.
Asian American Activism' brings voice, empowerment

Some Cal State Fullerton students are seeking a surge of Asian American and Pacific Islander activism. They are dedicating a forum to address the lack of representation within the U.S. government. Issues about immigration, welfare, paranoia and racism were also discussed. Once a month a forum is created within the Multicultural Leadership Center and is designed to breed ideas geared toward ridding the strife of a community. Headlined as "Asian American Activism," the forum initiated Asian American studies major Hideki Fukusumi's monthly discussions for the spring semester.
Texas’ Asian American Vote

Texas contains one of the largest populations of Asian American voters in the country. And as the Democratic primary comes down to Ohio and the Lone Star state, Texas’ Asian American population may be a deciding factor in who will be the next president. A local Austin news station reported (video) on the Asian American vote’s significance in Texas, and suggested that while Asian Americans in California went to Clinton, her attention to the Latino population could jeopardize Asian Americans’ loyalties to the New York senator.

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian All Hero

Monday, February 25, 2008

If you're in the mood for something new to read, check out Fred Chao's Johnny Hiro: Half Asian All Hero which just started up and is on its 3rd issue.

On tap for the new issue:

Johnny and Mayumi go to the opera where they see Toshi, an old friend from Japan. As Toshi starts putting the moves on Mayumi, 47 Ronin Businessmen attack seemingly from nowhere. What could they be after? A modern spin on a classic Japanese tale.
Read more down at AdHouse Books.

Charles Ethan Porter

Monday, February 25, 2008

When I see an article like the one down at the NY Times called Rising Above Racism, on artist and painter Charles Ethan Porter, it reminds me of how many great people we've lost to racism.

How many unknowns have there been out in the world that really should have been known?

Debbie Huey & Bumperboy

Monday, February 25, 2008

The San Francisco Examiner came out with an article featuring Debbie Huey and her comic Bumperboy. Who is Bumperboy?

The hero of our stories, Bumperboy was born and raised in the Land of Bubtopia. He is always eager to learn and discover new things, as well as explore places he has never visited. He loves to meet new friends. Bumperboy is an avid marble player and one of the fastest borpers in Bubtopia. He wears a white rubber suit to protect him from high-speed borping. He is a bit on the competitive side, but he knows how to be a good sport. Bumperboy also enjoys watching cowboy movies and eating gummy worms in his spare time.
Check the full SF Examiner article here, and Bumperboy down at www.bumperboy.net.

NY Philharmonic: Can you end the conflict in Darfur too?

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm a supporter of the arts on all fronts and know the power that music and theater can have, but let's be honest about this - the NY Philharmonic going to North Korea isn't a historical cultural event - it's just a publicity campaign for everyone involved.

North Korea - who took down its Anti-American posters and rhetoric before the Philharmonic dropped in to Pyongyang - gets to use this "event" as propaganda to show the world that even with their abysmal human rights record, stalled nuclear disarmament talks, and "Military First" policy, that they're open to cultural diplomacy - and really - maybe they aren't that bad after all.

I can see it now. There's Kim Jong Il relaxing with some poor girls he keeps skinny with a healthy does of poverty, the NY Philharmonic playing in the background, and Il touting the new "softer side of North Korea".

Just the thought makes me want to wet myself.

Then there's the NY Philharmonic. Musicians who hope that they can help build connections with North Koreans to bring the countries closer together - and while I don't doubt the real feelings some of the musicians have in going there - they've really just been bamboozled and hoodwinked by people like Lorin Maazel and others for the sake of publicity and the thought of being mentioned alongside with ping pong balls.

Do they realize that according to a UN report there's only 55 TV sets for every 1,000 people in North Korea and that only a fraction of people they hope to reach will even see it?

Who knows though, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the NY Philharmonic, by playing one glorious night to be shown, edited, cut, and then re-edited, really can help bring the U.S. and North Korea together.

At least it won't hurt ticket sales.

Next stop for the NY Philharmonic: Curing AIDS and ending the conflict in Darfur.

Daniel Henney and X-Men

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cinematical (and every other X-Men junkie) is reporting that Korean American Daniel Henney will be joining the ever growing X-Men cast as Agent Zero, who has the power to absorb kinetic energy. No word on how big his role will actually be - but it should be an interesting switch from his K-Drama film and tv credits where he's probably best known for being in the 2005 tv drama/comedy My Lovely Sam Soon and the 2006 film Seducing Mr. Perfect.

Sandra Oh, Fernando Meirelles, and Blindness

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sandra Oh will be in the new film Blindness from director Fernando Meirelles of City Of God and The Constant Gardner - and hopefully it should be a little better than her last screen credit from the much lauded film The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends - I understand - you gotta pay the bills.

According to the IMDB profile page on the movie, it's in post production and will be coming out sometime this summer. Oh will be playing the Minister Of Health.

For more on the film check out the IMDB profile page.

College Road Trip and Brenda Song

Saturday, February 23, 2008

19 year old Brenda Song, who's already accumulating an impressive resume through her Disney Channel credits like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Phil of the Future as well in movies like Santa With Muscles and Like Mike (and the TV/DVD movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior) is also making an appearance in the first G rated Martin Lawrence flick College Road Trip as Christina Wong.

Check more out on Brenda Song down at her IMDB profile, or her site, and more about the movie at the Disney official site.

Sweet Seduction: Kat 010's Natural Phenomenons

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kat Ouano, the keyboardist from Crown City Rockers, released her debut album a couple of months ago called Natural Phenomenons - a trip hop and experimental excursion into music that Kat describes as "sweet seductive sounds" and "music to mentally massage your mind" - and she's definitely right - the music is filled with lush layers that just vibe.

The instrumental album comes either as a standard CD, or a limited edition POP-UP version. Check the info from the artist herself:

With this ever changing world of music, it seems to me that music is getting more and more disposable by the minute. Of course, we all have to, as a fact of survival, adapt with change and embrace these new technologically mastered days. And I am definitely one that loves technology, but, no longer is the day you wait in line at the record store and purchase that long awaited album from your favorite band/group and treasure the actual existence of it, reading the liner notes, examining the artwork, staring at the pictures, and holding it. Today, losing a song doesn't mean that you've misplaced your album, it either means you've deleted it from your playlist, or you're hard drive crashed.

Making this Limited Edition Pop Up CD is my romantic way of making the music personal again. Each Pop up CD is imagined, handcrafted and assembled by me, and if you choose, it can be autographed and dedicated.
To find out more about Kat 010 and listen to some sample tracks, go to her MySpace page, or check out the official page for her CD where you can pick it up.

Jodhaa Akbar, Aishwarya Rai, and Getting Banned

Friday, February 22, 2008

While the movie 3 1/2 hour epic Jodhaa Akbar is getting some rave reviews by the likes of the NY Times, it seems the pic helmed by actress Aishwarya Rai (Bachchan) is also creating some protests - and getting banned - even though about 70% of the story is still fictionalized.

From the AFP:

An Indian state on Friday ordered cinema halls not to screen a controversial film featuring Bollywood's most glamorous star Aishwarya Rai after violent demonstrations.

Many people from India's Rajput community have staged angry protests over the depiction of a romance between Mughal king Akbar and a Hindu princess, saying the film has distorted history and shown their ancestors in poor light.

"The screening of the film has been suspended and not banned," Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of central Madhya Pradesh state told reporters in Bhopal.
"Jodhaa Akbar" -- said to be one of the most expensive Bollywood movies ever made -- depicts a romance between the 16th century Mughal ruler Akbar and Rajput princess Jodha Bai.

Check out the trailer below

Yahoo, Jerry, News Corp, MS, and now Condoleezza?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dear Jerry,

I know you feel guilty about breaking down and getting some Chinese journalists jailed - I mean I can feel you on that one because my conscience would be talking about what a traitor I was as well even if like you said you were put in a hard position.

But let's get real here shall we? You have Microsoft going directly to your shareholders to take over your company. You have News Corp. who you've been dealing with to try and see how you can get a deal done there - and that's not really going anywhere. And at the same time your company still needs to get its a** in gear no matter you do so you can somehow capitalize on the strengths your company has left (because you know you don't want to get Google involved).

So I ask you dear Jerry - what the hell are you doing sending a letter to Condoleezza Rice asking for the State Department to help out in the release of the Chinese "dissidents" that you in fact help put away?

I know you're still working on some PR issues, but don't you have enough on your plate already?

ImaginAsian TV Election PSA

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm all for PSA's on voting, and this is at least better than the reassed MTV PSA - but still, even though a couple weeks old, doesn't quite make me want to get out and vote any more than before I watched it - and as ImaginAsian TV has some more bucks now - maybe as the time gets closer to the general election, they'll be able to kick out something with a celeb or two.

Asian Eyelid Surgery: It's not all about looking White

Friday, February 22, 2008

So another article down at The Daily Pennsylvanian caught my eye - yeah I know - on Asian eyelid surgery and one thing I wish people would talk about in these articles is that the surgery goes on in Asia frequently - not just here in America where the perception is that Asian American women (or men) just want to look more white - which in so many ways - that perception - is completely offensive.

What a lot of people who like to pontificate on the subject don't understand - or decide to leave out - is that half of all Asian people are born with the eye crease and the other half - those who might end up having surgery - aren't.

So when an Asian person decides to get Asian eyelid surgery - maybe it's just about looking like their Asian counterparts - and not about looking white.

And really - what's wrong with that.

Race Roundup

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some new from across the way:

Racist Hate Mail Probed at NH Prep School

Police, the FBI, and the US Postal Service are investigating hate mail sent to black students at an elite prep school, the New York Times reports. Sources say students at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire received letters containing their photos from the school's directory with the words "bang bang get out of here" beneath. The letters had apparently been posted from a nearby town.
Second South Carolina deputy acknowledges racist remarks

A federal judge in Florida must decide if the actions and racist banter of two South Carolina sheriff's deputies are enough to dismiss evidence against two Egyptian students arrested with explosives material. Attorneys in Tampa have spent two days picking apart the August 4th traffic stop by Berkeley County sheriff's deputies near Goose Creek. Two deputies who stopped Youssef Samir Megahed and Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed have said they made racist statements, equating them to the Taliban and joking about them being suicide bombers.
Sen. McKague's racist resolution

It seems that one of our very own senators, Shirley McKague, wants Congress to do something about the number of illegal immigrants in Idaho. The good senator thinks that the president and Congress should remove the birthright citizenship of children of illegal immigrants. I really hope Congress has more sense (I have no hope for the president).
Racist Attacks on Obama Growing More Heated

With the selection of Barack Obama as the first black Democratic nominee for president seeming more possible by the day, racists and white supremacists are posting increasingly ugly and even threatening remarks on the Internet.

DWTS: Kristi Yamaguchi gets down and Cheryl Burke gets a real partner

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On the finale of Dance War - and you know how I felt about that show - the new contestants were announced for Dancing With The Stars - and one of them is Asian American figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi who will be paired with dancer Mark Ballas - and I while I couldn't stand Dance War I do like some DWTS because where else can you see Penn Jillette try and ballroom like the pros?

At the same time, it's nice to see that AA dancer Cheryl Burke finally got a partner who wasn't a bust this time around (no offense Wayne - you're still tops in Vegas babe) so maybe she'll actually have a shot at winning this time around.

Director and Filmmaker Kurt Nishimura

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Screenshot from Silence directed by Kurt Nishimura

Born in Hawaii and settling out in Portland, Oregon, 22 year old Kurt Nishimura who won the The Re-Animate the Decemberists Contest (and got nominated for a mtvU Woodie Award in '07) is out with a new video for Olivia Broadfield's track Silence that you can view here.

Nishimura is also working on his first full length feature film about the culture of Hawaii called Obake - and judging from the work in his music videos as well as his shorts, it should be pretty interesting.

For more on Kurt Nishimura check out his site and his MySpace page.

Go Go Japan Pocket Film Festival - Submit Your Own

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I know some people don't get this - and I can understand that - but there's just something inviting about a film festival which is strictly for cell phones - either films to be shown on a mobile phone, or taken with one.

I think part of it is just curiosity. How well can someone actually make a movie for that format? Will it really be any good? Could it be even more personal even though it's not on an AMC sized screen?

Here's some info from Reuters on Japan's first Pocket Film Festival:

The inaugural Pocket Film Festival in Japan, showing movies made entirely on mobile phone cameras, will kick off Friday in Yokohama.

Forty-eight films, chosen from more than 400 entries from 18 countries -- including Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea and Germany -- will screen in competition at the weekend event, organized by the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

The competition has two categories, one for films to be shown on regular screens and the other for films to be viewed on phones. The winning film will receive 500,000 yen (US$4,500).
If you're interested in being a mobile phone filmmaker you might also want to check out the French Pocket Films Festival (4th edition) which is taking submissions up through March 1 and will take place at the Pompidou Center, Paris June, 13-15th.

Utada, Heart Station, and more digital downloads than the population of Sweden

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Superstar Utada's 28th single Heart Station/Stay Gold, officially drops today on the heels of her still red-hot '07 where her music sold 12 million digital units.

Shoji Doyama - president of EMI Music Japan - talks about how Utada is helping to pave the way for how music keeps getting distributed:

The success of Utada Hikaru shows that our strategy of providing access to music across multiple formats and platforms has been embraced by the consumer. We will continue to offer more opportunities for more people to enjoy more music and will keep breaking world class records.
Asian superstars who continue to blaze new paths on the music scene - definitely cool.

Profits over Racism: A & E Lets The Dog Back In - Have They Been Covering For Dog All Along?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How sad is it that the A & E channel is letting Dog the Bounty Hunter come back to television all for the name of profits? Remember - this is the guy who if his daughter brought home a black date he'd say f*** y***.

Let's recap for a moment the whole conversation that started all of this:

Duane "Dog" Chapman: I don't care if she's a Mexican, a whore or whatever. It's not because she's black, it's because we use the word 'n*****' sometimes here. I'm not gonna take a chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for for 30 years because some f*****g n***** heard us say 'n*****' and turned us in to the Enquirer magazine. Our career is over! I'm not taking that chance at all! Never in life! Never! Never! If Lyssa [Dog's daughter] was dating a n*****, we would all say 'f*** y**!' And you know that. If Lyssa brought a black guy home … ya da da. It's not that they're black, it's none of that. It's that we use the word 'n*****.' We don't mean, 'you f*****g scum n***** without a soul.' We don't mean that shit. But America would think we mean that. And we're not taking a chance on losing everything we got over a racial slur because our son goes with a girl like that. I can't do that Tucker. You can't expect Gary, Bonnie, Cecily, all them young kids to [garbled] because 'I'm in love for 7 months — f*** that! So, I'll help you get another job but you can not work here unless you break up with her and she's out of your life. I can't handle that s***. I got 'em in the parking lot trying to record us. I got that girl saying she's gonna wear a recorder....
So I guess the moral of the story here is that you can be as racist as you wanna be, but as long you make some faux attempts to say you aren't - as long as you're making money - A & E will take you back.

Has A & E been covering up for the Dog all along though?

Fight this all you want - but you know that a slew of racist slurs must have came out of Duane's mouth a ton of times during the filming of his shows - so the question I have is this - what did A & E producers do when they saw those shots?

Obviously they must have edited them out - but how many and for how long?

I'm curious to know to what extent A & E producers have been idly sitting by as they watched Duane make racist comments.

Hot Track: Foxxi misQ's X-B-F

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Japanese female trio Foxxi misQ who's brought us Ultimate Girls, Luxury Ride, Alive, and Party Booty Shake just released their latest MV for their single X-B-F, which will be out and available for purchase on March 19th.

Check out the video

Snoop Dogg teams up with Indian rap trio RDB for Bollywood debut

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reports are out via AllHipHop that Snoop Dogg will be teaming up with the Indian Rap Trio RDB (Rhythm, Dhol, Bass) for their new single and video - which will be the lead track for the new movie featuring Akshay Kumar.

Snoop Dogg and Bollywood? What took so long?

Rhythm, Dhol, Bass

If you're not familiar with RDB, here's some info on them from their Wikipedia profile:

RDB are essentially a group of three Sikh brothers from Bradford although; Kuly, Manj and Surj who over the past four years have been performing, producing and djing for thousands of people in nightclubs, festivals and parties.

Originally club DJs, the RDB brothers play a blend of Bhangra, House, UK garage, Hindi, Bollywood, RnB, Hiphop, Ragga and Dance music. Even having firmly established a fan base worldwide, the RDB team still say they represent their own country, the UK, where they have performed in many well known clubs.

They have performed alongside celebrities from the urban world of music, including Tim Westwood, Mc Romeo, So Solid Crew, Shola Ama, The Dream Team, Misteeq, UK Apachi

Ramiele Malubay, Top 3 Most Popular American Idol Contestants, Links & Clips

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yahoo News is reporting that Asian American Ramiele Malubay, the 20 year old Filipina who's made it to American Idol's Top 24 - is the #3 most popular contestant right now generating some of the most buzz:

Ramiele Malubay may hail from Florida, but California is taking the strongest interest in the petite powerhouse singer -- as does New Jersey, Washington, New York, and Virginia. The geographical appeal bodes well, and that's just in the United States. Philippines media has been rooting for the "Fil-Am" competitor. Most importantly, her buzz among the traditional "Idol" Search audience (ladies in their 30s) are better than number 2 Kristy Lee Cook.
If you needed some more stats on Ramiele, here is some info from her AI profile, and you can also check out her MySpace page:

Age: 20
Hometown: Miramar, FL
Favorite Quote: "If you're hated, you're doing something right."
Audition City: Miami
Musical Influences: My musical influences would be Aretha Franklin, Jackson 5, Mariah Carey, Lani Misalocha, and Regine Velasquez.

Some Video Clips Of Ramiele:

Audition Clip

Hollywood Round

Video Game With A Conscious: ICED (I Can End Deportation)

Monday, February 18, 2008

This is pretty cool - the human rights organization Breakthrough launched a new video game on immigration called ICED - I Can End Deportation which you can download from the site at http://www.icedgame.com/.

Here's the scoop:

In the game, you can step inside the shoes of one out of five immigrant teens, each of a different ethnicity and immigration status. The game teaches how U.S. immigration laws detain and deport immigrants while denying them due process and human rights.
I've played through the first part of the game - won my citizenship - and overall it's pretty slick, and a great concept, so check it out if you get the chance.

No love for Spielberg - but his movies are O.K.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Apparently Spielberg is still getting hit with criticism for pulling out of the Beijing Olympics:

Hollywood film-maker Steven Spielberg has been ridiculed in the Chinese media and on the Internet for living in a "sci-fi" dream world over his decision to sever ties with the Beijing Olympics.

"Mr. Spielberg knows nothing about China's endeavor to solve the Darfur issue," Xinhua quoted a commentary in the Guangming Daily as saying. "He is unqualified to blame the Chinese government."

One posting said: "The US slaughters civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. Director Spielberg, don't you feel ashamed being an American? You don't criticize your own country, then how can you criticize China?".
You've got to start wondering how this might all play out - and if bigger things are going to start happening - but then again - as long as everyone still loves E.T. - maybe this will all blow over:

But Spielberg's work has been spared criticism, according to the Xinhua report, because Chinese people still loved his movies. It quoted Xinghe, a Chinese writer, as saying that the US producer had inspired Chinese youngsters who love science fiction.

"He has great talent. We are regretful over his decision, but we can still enjoy his movies," he said.

Box Office: Step Up 2 the Streets debuts strong with the #2 position

Sunday, February 17, 2008

While there's technically one more day in the weekend - the numbers are in - and Jon Chu's new film Step Up 2 The Streets (chock full of Asian goodness) came in at #2 for the V-Day weekend pulling in strong $26.3 million since its early Thursday release - right behind the #1 movie with Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson Jumper, which has taken in $33.9 million since its Thursday release.

Next up for Chu - The Prom.

Health Care Access

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A snippet from an article at Newsweek on a new American Cancer Society study:

In a new study, which will be published in the March issue of the journal Lancet Oncology, researchers at the American Cancer Society (ACS)—where Brawley is now chief medical officer—analyzed records of more than 3.7 million cancer patients diagnosed between 1998 and 2004 throughout the country. They found that minority and uninsured cancer patients like the woman at Grady Memorial Hospital have a significantly higher risk than white patients and those with private insurance of having reached an advanced stage of the disease by the time they are diagnosed or seek treatment.

But even when you take insurance into account, race still has an effect," says Elizabeth Ward, one of the study's authors and managing director of surveillance at the ACS. "So we have to look at factors operating at a variety of levels ... whether the facilities that are available are acceptable, whether or not the person can access [specialized] care, whether there have been experiences of discrimination or a feeling that one is not receiving good care at a particular facility, especially if it seems related to race or ethnicity."
Read the full article here.

Music, Blue Scholars, and Asian American Hip Hop

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Update: Video clip was changed from Joe Metro to Back Home

The Asian American duo Blue Scholars - Geologic and Sabzi - in addition to their touring and running MassLine Media, will also be doing a panel discussion down at Colorado State University this February 28th to talk about their music, social justice, contradictions, and inspirations.

Check out the video for their track Back Home:

For more info on Blue Scholars, go to their official site, MySpace, or Wikipedia.

K.T. Tatara and MTV's Most Valuable Players

Saturday, February 16, 2008

If you're not familiar with the comedy of K.T. Tatara - see the YouTube clip below - and if you get a chance, watch him as one of the comedian personalities on MTV's Most Valuable Players where they're recapping some of the most outrageous reality tv show characters.

K.T. Tatara at The Ice House

For more on K.T. Tatara, check out his Comedy Central profile, official site, or MySpace page.

Sen. Chris Buttars, black babies, and the NAACP

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Interesting story on Senator Chris Buttars late this week, and being asked to step down for racially charged (see subtle racist) comments he made on the Senate floor:

While the regional head of the NAACP is calling for Sen. Chris Buttars to resign over a racially charged comment, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. says that is a matter for voters. And Senate President John Valentine says the decision is Buttars' alone. During debate Tuesday on a bill to equalize school construction funds, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, called the measure an "ugly baby." Other senators picked up on the metaphor and as Buttars stood to oppose the measure, he said: "This baby is black. It is a dark, ugly thing."

During a break after the debate, Sen. Ross Romero approached Senate President John Valentine with concerns about the offensive remark and, when senators returned, Buttars apologized, but insisted it was not meant to be racist. "I made a comment that I think a lot of people could take racist. I certainly did not mean that in any way but it was wrong and certainly could easily have been taken that way," Buttars said. "I apologize to anyone who took offense. . . . I ask for your forgiveness."

Jeanetta Williams, regional president of NAACP, is calling for Buttars' resignation. "We are asking him to step down," she said. Williams had said Tuesday evening that she accepted Buttars' apology and would not demand that he step aside, but she later remembered an earlier incident where Buttars questioned the legality of the Supreme Court's landmark civil rights ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which did away with the "separate but equal" doctrine.
Read the full article down at the Salt Lake Tribune.

Race Roundup

Saturday, February 16, 2008

News bytes on race and racism from around the way:

Racist etchings should be fully investigated

When symbols of racism show up in public, it’s always offensive. When those responsible for the property figuratively shrug their shoulders, it’s downright distressing.
Houston DA resigns amid scandal over e-mails containing porn, racist and political comments

A district attorney who's considered the state's most powerful prosecutor resigned Friday under the weight of a scandal involving the release of dozens of pornographic, racist and political e-mails on his office computer. Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal blamed the bizarre inbox contents, which included love notes to his secretary and campaign strategizing, on a combination of drugs he had been prescribed that affected his judgment, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Fashion is racist: insider lifts lid on 'ethnic exclusion'

Speaking as London Fashion Week drew to a close, Carole White, co-founder of Premier Model Management, which supplies models to top fashion brands, admitted that finding work for black clients was significantly harder than for the white models, because both magazines and fashion designers were reluctant to employ them.
Hastings says 'racist streak' may hurt Obama

As the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has tightened to the point that it may be settled only by superdelegates at the Democratic presidential nominating convention in August, a prominent South Florida political leader is saying that America's racial attitudes will hurt Obama's chances.
Ann Coulter Starts Early with Racist Slurs Against Obama

Watching "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann yesterday on MSNBC (the only hour of basic cable where one might hear something relevant) I learned that Ann Coulter has already begun implementing the Far Right's strategy of smearing Barack Obama. Coulter's job is to inject into the Republican echo chamber racist words that would be unacceptable anywhere else. We are drearily familiar with her lies, false accusations, exaggerations, innuendo, and racist attacks while pretending to be "funny."

Coming Soon: Gary King and New York Lately

Friday, February 15, 2008

Asian American filmmaker Gary King just wrapped up the filming of his new movie New York Lately where it's headed into post production, looking at a release date later this year (winter) - and from the trailers on the film's site, it looks like it's going to be a pretty cool flick and a great feature film debut for King who both wrote and directed the movie (more info as the release date gets closer).

Gary King with his crew behind the scenes

For more info check out the official site at http://www.nylatelymovie.com/, as well as the film's MySpace page, and Gary King's Director's Blog.

Spielberg, China, and E.T.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If you haven't heard, Steven Spielberg has decided pull out from any involvement in the Beijing Olympics, where he was supposed to be on a team for the opening ceromonies helmed by Director Zhang Yimou, citing Darfur and China's involvement with the Sudanese government. From Variety:

Steven Spielberg has decided not to participate in this summer's Beijing Olympic Games as an artistic adviser, citing China's lack of progress in resolving the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

His move is a public relations blow to the Chinese government, which is under pressure to force the government of Sudan to resolve the crisis in Darfur. Spielberg's worldwide profile could lead others involved in the Games to pull out and even lead sponsors to reconsider their roles in the event.

"I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual," Spielberg said. "At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies but doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur."
And the Chinese Government's response? Word from the Chinese Government and some local bloggers insist that it's more politicising of the games. From The Independent:

We regret Steven Spielberg's decision but we don't need him to stage an excellent Olympics, was China's defiant response to the film-maker's resignation as artistic director of the Beijing Olympics this summer. In line with previous comments about human rights defenders trying to tie political issues to the greatest sporting show on Earth, Beijing officials blamed activists with unspecified "ulterior motives" for trying to spoil the Games.

The tone of the Chinese response is best described as a combination of defiance, nationalistic resolve and a feeling of being hard done by. "It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur. But I am afraid that some people may have ulterior motives, and this we cannot accept," said Liu Jianchao, aForeign Ministry spokesman. He emphasised China's concern about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur but insisted China had been playing a constructive role in promoting peace there.

The news has not been widely reported in China but it has prompted a reaction among bloggers. One described Spielberg as a volunteer salesman working without a salary, peddling the American Dream by making blockbusters. "Maybe without his help we can show during the Olympics the more traditional side of our culture. Farewell, Mr Spielberg! Maybe the people of Iraq need you more than us."
At the same time as all of this is happening, China is apparently also censoring Spielberg's film E.T. as well as any movie with aliens, ghosts, or the supernatural. From the Telegraph UK:

Even before Spielberg announced he was pulling out of the Beijing Olympics, Chinese officials were plotting against his most lovable creation - ET.

In a new twist in the Chinese censors’ campaign to clean up the country’s viewing habits, aliens, ghosts and all other aspects of horror and the supernatural are to be banned from videos.

Video and audio products often “involve alien-looking characters and fictional storytelling, both specifically plotted for the sole purpose of terror,” the General Administration of Press and Publications, one of two main censorship bodies, said.

Vietnam: The Pepper King

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Who knew?

There is a shortage of pepper around the globe and the pepper price is expected to stay firmly high for the next three years, at least. Vietnam now provides 60% of the world’s total pepper. International pepper traders say that if domestic production is allowed to be adversely affected, the supply shortage will intensify.
Read more down at the Vietnam Economic Times.

Bai Ling: Strip Searched

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So FOXNews and the AFP are reporting that Bai Ling was arrested for shoplifting - about $16 worth of goods - and the Star Magazine had this to say on the ordeal:

Bai Ling, if you really wanted to read about yourself in Star, we would have gladly just given you a magazine!

Instead, on Feb. 13, the "actress" — who appears in our Worst of the Grammys fashion coverage — was arrested in a gift shop at LAX for stealing not one, but two copies of Star, as well as two packs of AAA batteries (total worth around $16).

According to reports, a store employee witnessed Ling shoplifting and completed a strip search, which turned up the stolen goods. Police were called and she was taken to Pacific Station, where a tearful Ling was questioned for two hours, booked for misdemeanor shoplifting and released (no mug shot was taken).

Ling will appear in court on March 5 to face charges.
A strip search? For batteries? That must have hurt.

Hey - at least it's not a DUI.

NPO: Out Against Abuse

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I got sent an e-mail from the founder of a new non-profit that's starting up to help with domestic abuse in the South Asian community called Out Against Abuse. They're just getting started, so go on over and check out their site and see if you can't help out with this worthy cause. Here's some more info that Sabrin Chowdhury sent over about the NPO:

The main purpose of this forum is to bring together activists, volunteers, survivors, and members of the community to encourage the discussion of gender related abuse and how it affects the South Asian community. We hope through constant dialogue and collaboration we can all learn from each other and work to educate our community on how to end gender related violence in our homes and lives.

The features of the website/blog will include a biweekly interview spotlighting an activist, allowing readers to learn more about their research and impact on advancing women’s rights. The blog will also be updated frequently with recent news and insightful articles.

I encourage you to visit the website (www.outagainstabuse.com) and offer any suggestions, make comments on the blogs, start the discussion, and pass it on to your volunteers and survivors, activists, scholars, and the rest of your community.
Pass it on if you can.

The Wachowskis, Rain, and Ninja Assassin

Thursday, February 14, 2008

According to Variety, Korean entertainer Rain (Jung Ji-hoon) will be following up his starring role from I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, with the lead role in Larry and Andy Wachowski's Warner Brother's pic Ninja Assassin (Rain is also in another Wachowski movie Speed Racer, albeit in a supporting role).

While it sounds like it could be interesting, let's just hope that they change the title of the movie before it's released to something that doesn't sound so Chuck Norris.

Filming should start in May.

V is for Valentine - or - Vaginas with teeth

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A special post for V-Day

If you don't think Valentine's Day is a mass marketing scheme to drain you of your hard earned cash for things that you should really be doing all year round - hats off to you, and may you enjoy the day with your loved one.

On the other hand - if you find Valetine's Day to just be an excuse for people to say I love you to someone they just met in the hopes that they'll put out - then you'll probably enjoy the trailer for the film Teeth.

View the trailer

ImaginAsian Investment

Thursday, February 14, 2008

With the demise of AZN Television - it's good to see that ImaginAsian Entertainment is still looking to expand and widen their reach:

Fujisankei Communications International (FCI), a subsidiary of Japan’s Fuji Television Network, has made an investment in the Asian-American media outfit ImaginAsian Entertainment (IA).

The investment follows a similar move last year by Korea’s Sidus Corp. “Fujisankei’s decision to invest and marry their U.S. media goals with IA’s vision is a reflection on the emphasis Asian media companies are placing on leveraging their strategic importance in the marketplace—the companies that have the most to gain are getting smarter and organizing,” said Augustine Hong, the chairman and CEO of IA.

In addition to its financial investment, Fujisankei will provide a slate of news and entertainment content for the Asian-American cable outlet iaTV, including Japanese drama and variety shows.
Read the complete article here at World Screen.

Kon Ichikawa

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kon Ichikawa, the Japanese film director whose versatility ranged beyond his well-known antiwar dramas like “The Burmese Harp” and “Fires on the Plain” to comedies, documentaries and literary adaptations, died on Wednesday in Tokyo. He was 92.

Mr. Ichikawa’s career reached what many consider its high point when Americans were streaming to art-cinema houses in the 1950s and ’60s to see movies by emerging masters like Ingmar Bergman. In those years some critics rated Mr. Ichikawa on a level with Akira Kurosawa. He was “once hailed as one of the world’s greatest directors,” Olaf Möller wrote in 2001 in Film Comment.

He was also versatile in his 60-year career, directing hugely profitable thrillers, very black comedies and cartoons.
Read the full article at the NY Times.

Workplace Discrimination: You want to play like a racist, you've got to pay like a racist

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A little late with posting these as they've happened over the past month - but check out some of these settlements from employers and unions that have to pay out because of discriminatory practices based on race and national origin:

Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 28 (New York): $6.2 million dollars to 156 employees

This case actually has roots as far back as 1971 - so while it's a win, it's kind of sad that it's taken so long - but at the same time, it's being hailed as a historic settlement because of the rights it gives to sheet metal workers. The basic crux of the settlement is that 156 minority workers from the Local 28 lost wages as a result of being referred to fewer job opportunities when compared to their white counterparts - and finally - after years of going back and forth - it's been settled.

Henredon Furniture Industries: $450,000

According to the settlement, since 1986, African American workers have had to endure shots of racist language thrown at them with no help from the management of the company - and in addition to verbal harassment - as if that wasn't enough - also have had to endure threats of being lynched via nooses pictured all over the furniture plant where they worked.

While I'm glad to see these getting settled and some justice finally getting served - when will business finally get a clue?

Head to Head: The Eye (Remake) and Jessica Alba versus The Eye and Lee Sinje (aka Angelica Lee)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

After seeing the remake of the Pang Brother's film The Eye with Jessica Alba - and being a fan of the original with Lee Sinje (as well as the Pang Brothers) - I thought a head to head competition was in order pitting the two movies, and their stars against each other in a no-holds barred winner take all head to head battle.

Note to readers: This post contains a ton of spoilers.

Now that the spoiler warning is out of the way - let the battle begin.

Jessica Alba versus Lee Sinje

As much as each actress has their own style and substance, comparing the two in this role is a little lopsided.

Lee Sinje won two Best Actress awards for her role in the original film at the Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Festival, and prior to that in 2001 received the New Talent Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for her role in Ai ni ai wo (Betelnut Beauty) - all of which is to say that while Jessica Alba does a credible job in the remake, she doesn't quite have the acting chops of Lee Sinje - and it shows in the final cut of each film.

Winner: Lee Sinje

Storyline, Characters, and the Ending

Both movies have the same basic plot, and the remake does a good job of keeping the main story arcs from the original - but some of the extra additions it adds - including the ending - all make the U.S. version not as scary - or suspenseful - as the original.

A couple of key differences from the original and the remake:

  • Hospital Stay: In the original, Lee spent a lot more time in the hospital before she went home after her operation - and like a good story should - it helped add to the suspense of the movie and everything that was happening. In the remake, it felt like Alba was rushed out too early after her surgery - she didn't spend enough time in the sterile and washed out colors of the hospital getting adjusted to her new eyes.
  • The Sister: While the sister in the first movie proved to be a little aloof, almost uncaring, in the remake, Parker Posey as the sister seems almost too concerned. Posey plays the dutiful sister, taking Alba back home after her operation, offering to stay with her, and even planning a welcome back party once they arrive. Contrast that to Candy Lo, who plays Sinje's sister in the original - she's aloof and almost uncaring and really doesn't speak much in the movie - Sinje's family is concerned, but in a much more distant way which adds to the feeling that Lee's character Mun is dealing with everything almost alone.
  • The Ending: In the remake, both parts to the end of the movie are less intense and apocalyptic than the original - Alba actually saves everyone in the final scene, while Lee ends up watching everyone burn to death as she tries helplessly to free them.

I know that the remake was designed to have a storybook Hollywood ending, and in a lot of ways it fits within the overall tone of that version - but if they would have stuck to the same ending where Alba doesn't save everyone, where she's not the hero - I think it would have added to the remake's credibility, and also showed that Alba was willing to take a chance on a new type of role versus the ones she's been taking lately where she either helps save the day, or everything just ends up working out for her.

Winner: The Original

The Laugh Factor

When you have a horror/suspense movie - probably the last thing you want is the audience actually laughing when they really shouldn't - and it happened twice in the theater I watched it at. The worst came before the final scene where Alba, who is making peace with the ghost whose eyes she has, is cradling her in her arms - but seen through the eyes of her doctor who can't see ghosts - we see her talking and holding no one - which proved to be comical for everyone watching.

Winner (or actually loser in this case): The Remake

Special Effects and Editing

While everyone thought the remake might actually be better in the special effects department - sadly - while the effects were decent, they weren't what you would expect when doing a remake of a classic horror/suspense film with a larger budget. At the same time, the soundtrack and the editing of the original was just better executed - one thing you just can't duplicate is the Pang style.

Winner: The Original

And the winner is...

Hands down, the original version of The Eye is the better of the two movies - and while the U.S. version wasn't horrible by any means (because there's worse out there) - when you remake a classic film like The Eye - you have to make it your own, but still stay true to the original - and that's something the U.S. remake just wasn't quite able to do.

Orange Range: Kimi Station

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The latest MV from Japanese band Orange Range for their single Kimi Station which is getting officially released March 5th.

YouTube: Go go communitychannel

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Off for a couple of months without any videos, communitychannel (aka 21 yr-old comedian/photoshop/imovie Vietnamese Australian vlogger Natalie - who's had over 2 million views and has 51,000+ subscribers) has gotten back into the YouTube seat with almost famous - not quite virgin...!? spammers and thewinekone. OH and my dress! - but still a good watch.

View almost famous

View virgin...!? spammers and thewinekone. OH and my dress!