Amoeblog

Something In the Way He Moves: The Magic of Mansai Nomura

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, March 30, 2011 07:01pm | Post a Comment
onmyoji nomura mansai candle head oni
When there's something strange in the imperial court, who you gonna call? During Japan's Heian period, an era of classical Japanese history spanning from 784 to 1185, most folks relied on powerful ghostbusters called onmyoji, wizard-like masters of yin and yang, to ease the energies of vengeful spirits (most famously that of Prince Sawara) who'd stir up all kinds of trouble from plagues and famine to earthquakes and typhoons and other natural disasters mistaken as superstitious punishment. As we have witnessed in recent weeks, perceiving catastrophe as divine comeuppance has changed little over the centuries thanks to Shintaro Ishihara and Glenn Beck, among others, for their knuckleheaded remarks --- no "that was then, this is now" about nomura mansai abe no seimei onmyoji kyogen japanese actor traditional theater heian period era kyotoit. But this is not about jabbing trashy speculation at fresh wounds, this is about a cheesy, historic fantasy movie that I recently caught in my Heian Culture class called Onmyoji (2001, Yojiro Takita) starring Mansai Nomura as Abe no Seimei, a person of historic origin, legendary in Japanese folklore, who was in fact the Merlin of his time and place. Being one of those so-called "super seniors," it's a small miracle I didn't skip said scheduled movie day, I might add.

Continue reading...

Oscar Nomination Predictions 2011

Posted by Amoebite, January 24, 2011 10:17am | Post a Comment
Well, it's finally Awards Season, and three of our most fervent Oscar fans have major opinions about who will be nominated, who should be nominated, and who desperately needs a hair cut before the big day! Read on for Oscar Nomination Predictions from Amoeba employees and admitted Oscar nerds Sally, Brad and Jackie.anne hathaway james franco

Sally: Like last year, this year's hosts are somewhat controversial: Anne Hathaway and James Franco. What do you two think -- how will they do? I am not sure what to think, but I am guessing there will be some musical numbers involved! It'll be interesting for sure, and I'm all for the Academy skewing young. After his Golden Globes hosting/razzing, I am sure the Academy is breathing a sigh of relief they didn't pick Ricky Gervais!

Brad: I love both James Franco and Anne Hathaway so I am pretty excited. It sure is much different then the years of Steve Martin or Billy Crystal. It was very common for them to have 2 or 3 hosts in the 50's & 70's. I am excited they are going back to that format. There really is nobody like Bob Hope or Billy Crystal that can really do what they did, and Franco and Hathaway are not comics so it will be interesting, but they are funny. It will be interesting to see how they play off each other and how it all works out. I do love Ricky Gervais but he was a bit too mean for an awards show. It is ok to make fun of Tom Cruise but you shouldn't make fun of Johnny Depp & Angelina Jolie. But everything he said [while hosting the Golden Globes] was basically true! It was a bit ridiculous to have The Tourist nominated as best comedy! I am hoping for a Freaks and oscarsGeeks reunion on stage at the Oscars. I would love to see Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, & Busy Phillips all on stage!
 
Jackie: I’m a fan of the two-host arrangement, and prefer they be of the opposite sex. Did you know last year’s ceremony was supposed to be Tina Fey with Steve Martin? Anne Hathaway & James Franco—I feel they’re respected actors who don’t take themselves too seriously. I don’t expect them to improvise, so the Oscar show writers better have some great stuff.

Sally: Tina Fey would be such a great hostess for the show. Maybe they will get her to do it eventually. What 10 films do you guys think will be nominated for Best Picture for sure? I am guessing Black Swan, Social Network, King's Speech, The Kids Are Alright, The Fighter, Inception, Toy Story 3, maybe Somewhere? What else am I forgetting?

Brad: Yes, I think all the Golden Globe nominated dramas will get an Oscar nomination for Best black swan movie posterPicture for sure. Those would be Social Network, Black Swan, King's Speech, Inception, & The Fighter. And I think those would probably be the 5 if there were still only 5. Although I can't imagine they wouldn't nominate True Grit. That would probably take the spot of The Fighter if there were only 5. So I think 3 of the last 5 will be True Grit, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, for sure. The others I am not so sure about. I would like to see Blue Valentine and Winter's Bone included in the 10. But I am betting it will be The Town & 127 Hours, unless Rabbit Hole and Ghost Writer somehow sneak in there!
 
Jackie: Here are my predictions:
(1)Animal Kingdom    
(2)Another Year    
(3)Barney’s Version            
(4)Black Swan      
(5)The Fighter      
(6)Inception      
(7)The King’s Speech      
(8)The Social Network    
(9)Toy Story 3    
(10)True Grit 

Another Year or Barney’s Version could be replaced by any of these: The Town, Winter’s Bone, The Kids Are All Right, Rabbit Hole, or The Way Back.

Sally: Now that we've had a year of having 10 films nominated for Best Picture, what do you guys think about it? Is it a move for the better?
blue valentine
 
Brad: I think it is a move for the better. I loved that movies like District 9 & Serious Man got to be in the Best Picture race last year. It is interesting that there is no movie like The Blindside that will probably be in the 10 -- no movie for everyone to complain about! Unless something like The Tourist or Burlesque sneaks in there. But that won't happen. I think it probably helps with the ratings and it might help some smaller movies get some more exposure. It would be great for Blue Valentine or Rabbit Hole and Winter's Bone or Animal Kingdom to get in to the group of 10 and get some more exposure.
 
Jackie: I am still a fan of the ten-nominee system. It’s a boost for all--film box office & telecast ratings.  I say, keep it going!

Show Me State of Mind—Winter's Bone

Posted by Chuck, January 21, 2011 01:29pm | Post a Comment

clinton lewinsky

Was it really almost 13 years ago that Bill Clinton came clean about all that randy behavior in the White House with Monica? Time flies in a land of dropped flies. I don’t remember what I was doing at the moment—as people are wont to do in times of cataclysm—but I’ll never forget the lesson: Politicians have libidos. I could have learned it a hundred different times (Gary Hart tried to inform me), but it’s the type of thing that doesn’t easily register. I remember thinking that it’s not all powdered wigs and sturgeon roe; there were stiffies going on under big official desks. Even still, it doesn’t seem all that possible.winter's bone

Anyway, this obviously got me to thinking about Winter’s Bone. The movie, not the Daniel Woodrell book. Pardon the Freudian pun, but the film is set in the Ozark Mountain range, which extends right through the heart of Arkansas, with the slick gray dourness of Clinton’s hair. The austerity of the setting and small budget no-nonsense comes off like an Oscar caught in the headlights (one assumes purposefully). The casting—aside from maybe Jennifer Lawrence, who is the unmade-up, unsmiling teen heroine of sorts—is realistic to the point of distraction. Many of the cast members just have that look of a dog’s chewed-up ear. Many of them aren’t actors at all, but real people in their real way of going about life in shotgun dwellings. There’s plenty of good fancy hatred in their eyes, too, the kind that comes from smalltown distrustfulness and aggravating proximity.

Continue reading...

All That Biodigital Jazz, Man

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 30, 2010 10:55am | Post a Comment
tron arcade game legacy disney upright set
I remember the first time I caught sight of the glowing, blacklit neon appeal of TRON. The boxy upright console outshone the others in my hometown Putt-Putt arcade and I couldn't help desiring to bask in its purple hazed portal though I'd always considered Centipede to be my one and only love. Let's be honest, playing TRON was about as exciting as the saccharin in a can of Tab, no matter how romanced I was by that Starlight Express meets Pinball Wizard of a design story. It's a silly game popularized a silly movie and it seems the good folks down at Disney completely understand that. TRON may never be taken seriously for its dramatic narrative and that's exactly right-on, but it is bursting with cinematic content. For me, re-viewing the 1982 classic TRON flick and the recently reimagineered TRON: Legacy was pure pop Sci-Fi pleasure the likes of which anyone this side of the Logan's Run Carousel knows better than to over-analyze.

Anyway, what better way to punctuate sweet freedom of another semester completed and celebrate the spirit of the season than seeing TRON: Legacy in IMAX 3D over Christmas vacation? Disney's new take on the ambitious yet sketchy Rotoscoped, post modern, science-fantasy arcade-gaming jam delivers a not very smart but sometimes clever cross-section of tired sci-fi/fantasy genre clichés, slickly redesigned to diamond-cut, mind-blowing visual perfection, ever flying the promotional gaming flag and still driven (literally!) by a pre-Lebowski albeit CG'd Jeff Bridges (which raises questions about the ethical treatment of dead actors' imminent bodies of possible future work) as well as the more popular (and less obviously plasti-complexioned) post "Dude" Jeff Bridges. Aesthetically, TRON went from this: 
tron original 1982 jeff bridges color design story set cinematography
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy users
to this:
tron legacy castor party sequence sexy costume disney
tron legacy disney bike race visual speciel effects blur speed
tron legacy disney movie film lovers
tron legacy disney movie dinner scene design furnishings white weird
...clunky helmet no longer required. I really love the visual shift in the application of a primary color scheme from TRON's UV tinged, patent eighties neons to the updated laser red, tungsten yellow and halogen blue as they appear both on and off their respective renderings of "the grid," not to mention the thrilling, hi-tech hard edge TRON: Legacy has over the crappy vectorgraphic "effects" dealt by its predecessor. However, TRON: Legacy does manage to shovel its fair share of shit: what's with that queeny Castor character and his, or should I say HER, swishy hardly-head-of-security counterpart? Accommodating the Brits-as-villains Star Wars stereotype much? Castor's little ditty and dance act should be cast out. And how about all that easy, cheesy dialogue? I swear some of those lines were straight up lifted from the Matrix --- is that why this film wasn't made ten years ago? And while I'm not buying so much the Neo/Jesus/Skywalker/Solo vibe of Kevin Flynn's son (played by Garrett Hedlund), Sam, I am totally vibing on Jeff Bridges' Obi Wan/God/Gandalf "zen thing" update of his completely timelapsed character, under the influence of a heavy dose of his Dudeness (Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing). I mean, really, if Bridges hadn't had his prior engagement with the brothers Coen, TRON: Legacy would probably only have its visual wizardry going for it and zero characters for folks like me to latch on to. Besides, I was more than ready to settle in and enjoy the ride after that opening sequence: Bridges' voice, speaking over Daft Punk's excellent score of electronic minimalism meets classical orchestration --- incorporating Wendy Carlos' original TRON soundtrack in a fitting homage --- urging us to think of a time when computers seemed more magical than mechanical and menacing, the inevitability of A.I. more a willing dream than nightmarish catastrophe. "The Grid," he recalls: "A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day, I got in."

And the Award For Best Use of Christmas in a Non-Holiday Movie Goes To...

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 23, 2010 08:00pm | Post a Comment
gen sekiguchi survive style 5 christmas xmas holiday movie japanese film
...Gen Sekiguchi's patchwork vomitorium of tsunamic set design and cinematographic eye-candy  Survive Style 5+!!! The random yet clearly delineated Christmas sequence of this whirlwind adventure, set to the strains of "The First Noel" turned way up to eleven, is so over-the-top fabulous and inspiring that I hope to one day successfully drown my house in holiday decor à la Sekiguchi --- every year I get closer to the mark. Enjoy the visuals! Wanna know more about how Japan "gets" its Christmas kicks? Check out my "Christmas in Japan" jam here!

BACK  <<  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  >>  NEXT