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Tag Archives: Tokyo

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After a very early morning bus ride from Jeonju to Gimpo airport in Seoul it was on to Tokyo, so that Marcella might have a little taste of Japan, and to do a workshop, again, at the Tokyo Film School.  While here seeing a lot,  including friends, and in a few days we’ll have a meeting with Matsumoto-san, who for some years now has been dangling the prospect of coming to here to teach a class which would result in a portrait of this massive and vastly interesting city.  Find out more then.

Meantime a bit of echo from Jeonju – this review posted on-line a few days ago.  Makes me wonder which projection they saw, the mangled first one, or the second using H264 file. Or perhaps at the DVD library. Anyway glad it got some nice ink.

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GENTRY CO. .Still022They Had It Coming

But then having sent a note to Pedro Costa to say how much I liked his film Horse Money, he replied saying his French and German supporters were no more, and it was back to the real cheap film process for the next one.  Doesn’t matter how good you are, if it isn’t calculatedly “commercial,” in the present world it is deemed worthless.  What an ugly world.

downloadHorse Money

But it is our world.  Brutal – especially if you are black-skinned in America, or poor anywhere – and dishonest, as with Obama approving arctic drilling and trying to slip the TPP “trade deal” over at midnight, or other such things.  For the moment the neo-liberal-con ideology has appeared to triumph, and the world is suffocating under its grasp.  Though as with all such things, seeming “victory” tends towards over-reach, and there’ll soon be a comeuppance.  The current US weather gives a hint of this future….

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And then yesterday, in a BIC Camera store here, I saw the new Sony 4K Handicams, the larger one costing now about $4K.  Half the price of my XDcam a handful of years ago.   To add to the avalanche of unneeded imagery drowning the world.

DSC039744K, $4k

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Tokyo street

Yesterday I finished up the 6 day workshop at the Film School of Tokyo.  Given that it was really just 4 days as a hole was knocked into the schedule by the Christmas 24/25th days making no room available those days, I’d say it came out very well. 13 participants, all of whom tried, and last night, showing the rushed little films they’d made during the last day, I was very pleased at how good they were, and how much they’d learned in so short a time.  I come back at the start of March to give a talk at the Athenee Francais, which is doing a partial retrospective, and the last thing we’ll show is new films these people make in the 2 months at hand.  I am optimistic most of them will make something worthy of showing in public.  Anyway a nice time, even if I am a bit tired in consequence.

While here, at the behest of Toshi Fujiwara, who translated for me, and has his new film No Man’s Zone showing in the upcoming Berlin Forum, I screened for just a few of us, my last finished film, Dissonance.   I had, in fact, never actually sat down and seen it – instead I’d set it up on the computer, rendered a file of it, and since the conceptual nature of it didn’t really require I look at it there, and once finished I didn’t take time to sit and look at it, I never did look at it.  On finally seeing it I guess I’d say it confirmed my thoughts about what it would do – ruffle your psychic feathers in some undefinable manner.

The first sequence lasts 50 minutes: 3 panels, per above, each a single take.  As I thought, it doesn’t get boring at all – instead it slips under your radar and plays with your subconscious.  The remaining sequences do the same:

So I guess it will join the growing list of my unseen cinema.  I sent this one, and previous ones, out to enough festivals, but for some reason they don’t accept them.  I confess they’re not what one would call “audience pleasers” and it seems increasingly that is what festivals, bowing to the dictates of commercial pressures, require.  Don’t want to challenge or upset our audience.  Recently, while looking for screenings in US for the coming spring, I suggested to programmer in the mid-west that I’d like to screen my Iraq war trilogy – Homecoming, Over Here, and Parable.   She nixed the idea, saying that whenever she’d screened films having anything to do with Iraq or Afghanistan, the warm butts had not shown up.   I guess even the so-called liberal kind of people who go to art-house type cinemas would rather keep their heads in the sand about what America does, and what that does to us.   Nice for the government that does these things in our name that the citizenry, acting like good Soviet ones, makes censoring unnecessary: they do it themselves.

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From Parable

At Toshi’s request also showed Parable, which I had not seen in quite a while – a few years perhaps – and it is one weird film too.  I guess in my dotage I am going off the deep end.

Homeless in Tokyo

Tomorrow back to Seoul, for a few more months.  Later perhaps some further ruminations on the rich texture of Tokyo, where a disembodied present collides with fragments of the past and sends signals of the future spiraling out.

Happy Gregorian Spin Around the Sun 2012 !

Asakusa Temple

Christmas, a day I normally evade as best I can, found me in Tokyo where I’m doing a workshop at the Tokyo Film School.  As it happened the space we were using there was not available on December 25, so it was a free day for me.  In the days before in the hyper-busy Shibuya district I’d noted the frenetic Christmas theme in the many young people dressed in red Santa outfits, hawking restaurant offerings and such.  Noxious seasonal songs pervaded the speaker systems, though it was clear that this country – unlike South Korea – is very minimally Christian, but they seem to have gone whole-hog on Christmas as yet another excuse for rampant consumerism – as if they needed one.   While Japan supposedly wallows in a now several decades long malaise of the economy, and was hit with the double whammy of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster it caused – recently said by the government to be a 40 year long problem to clean up – one would be hard-pressed to note this on the streets.   Or when exchanging money, where the Yen seems to stand supreme, despite the alleged difficulties in Japan’s economic machinery.   Rather there seems a constant rush of well-dressed people, young and old, wrapped up in fashion (a wide range of often curious ones), and with the means to have it, as well as engorge themselves in the endless restaurants and bars, not to mention classier places which I can’t afford to enter.   As well “love hotels” hawk their space and time with notices of 1,000 to 4,000 Yen for “rest” (120 mins) or 6K for “stay.”   Yesterday during my random walk around Asakusa and Ueno I bumped into a street of these, nearby the Ueno station and across a railway track from the Tokyo National Museum, with appropriate ladies standing about on the street offering their wares.  No Christmas outfits though.     As it happened the museum was mostly closed, as was the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum and I found myself instead going to the National Museum of Western Art for a somewhat dismal collection of 2nd and 3rd rate works from major artists, and a larger assortment of lesser artists.  There were though a few good paintings – a Hammershøi being perhaps the best.   They did, however, have a very interesting exhibition of William Blake engravings.  At least they let in the elders for free.

Buddhist prayers

Tokyo seems a vast melange, a cyclotron in which the sublime and the crass are racing by one another at the speed of light, and occasionally they smash into one another and produce a hybrid of the two, spinning out in delirious design.  From their arts it seems they’ve been at this a long time.  I am sure Mr Blake would have found it all fascinating.

William Blake draws himself