Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Soft Porn Movie that is Norwegian Wood

The Evil One has been complaining that I have been slacking off in my blogging lately. Sumimasen. Guilty as charged. Circumstances have been conniving against me and I simply had no time to blog recently, which is sad because I still have a lot of Japan-related topics to talk about. And I am afraid that my posts will continue to be sparse over the next month because, Achtung!! my home country, Singapore, is holding its 14th General Elections in about 3 weeks time. For overseas readers who thought that Singapore is a dictatorship, no, we actually hold democratic elections once every 5 years. The issue is whether we have Opposition candidates to vote for during the elections, because more often than not in the past, the incumbent RULING PARTY had walked all over us. But things are a little different now, and I can smell change in the air and am most excited by the prospect.

BUT!!!! in any case, this blog is not a political blog and I would keep it that way. This is just a brief explanation to my secret admirers who are mourning my absence. Fat Geisha will be back in full-time action after 7 May 2011 (that's Polling Day). Those interested in Singapore politics can check out www.temasekreview.net and www.theonlinecitizen.com.

As some of you may know, I have recently been inducted into the club of Haruki Murakami upon the recommendation of a girlfriend to read one of his most famous novels "Norwegian Wood". (You can read my book review here.) The Japanese recently made the book into a movie, directed by Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung, with the yummy lead actor from "Death Note", Kenichi Matsuyama, as the protagonist, Toru Watanabe.

Thanks to China's best innovation of the century, Funshion (www.funshion.com), I was able to save SGD10 and instead watched the movie in HD quality over the Internet. Which turned out to be a good thing because it took me THREE days to complete a 133-minute movie (and I finished the book in 24 hours!!). I would have been squirming in my seat at the cinema from boredom, I think.

The Positives: To Tran's credit, the movie was beautifully shot. With ample mood lighting, and wide-angled shots of lush green fields or a romantic snowscape, the audience was certainly transported to the "simpler" era of the 1960s. The musical score was moving and fit the melancholic mood well. Matsuyama-san looked way better here than in "Death Note", and infinitely more "munch-able" especially when he's stripped down and working it out with numerous ladies on-screen (nice muscles, by the way - drool). The leading ladies, Rinko Kikuchi as Naoko, and Kiko Mizuhara as Midori, both acted sufficiently convincing for their characters. Rinko was suitably mad and depressed, and as irritating as the Naoko character in the book. Together with everything else, it was a good-looking movie.

Toru (the slut!!!) and Midori, who turned out to be the love of his life.

The Negatives: Where do I start? I think simply due to the fact that it was a movie, Toru Watanabe's first person perspective in the book was totally lost. As a result, the audience became detached from his journey, and all his internal struggles which made the novel addictive, were lost in translation. Those who did not read the book would view Watanabe as a horny teenager, eager to get it on with the girl-of-his-dreams. And indeed, with the numerous sex scenes in this movie, and without any insight to his motives, it would be difficult to think otherwise. Subplots that made the novel quirky and not your typical teenage romance and angst, such as Reiko's back story, and Watanabe's funny roommate, the "Stormtrooper", were cut out from the movie. So all we were left with is one horny, but good-looking young man, ding-donging back and forth between two ladies. The sex scenes, although shot quite tastefully, left me high and dry. You either show me more or don't show me at all!!! In the end, everything was bland, a one-note storyline peppered with lots of bed action. Snore.

Read the book - it is WAYY better. If you want to watch the movie still, save your money and watch it online.

This is one of the few chaste kiss scenes. Others were not so innocent.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And the Japanese Word for "Buttocks" Is ........ (Drumroll)


Kiss my O-SHI-RI.

At long last we have graduated to learning how to identify body parts in Japanese. The guys in class were quite excited at the prospect of learning the word "body" or からだ (karada) - I believe so that they can pick up Japanese girls in the future by praising their body - "あなたの体はいいですね!” "Your body is great!" Of course, I am not too sure if they will get the response they want or they will be "rewarded" with two tight slaps across the face. Perhaps I am imagining too much and they just want to learn the term so that they can discuss about girls amongst themselves.

In my case I am the most excited about the butt, or ass, for ulterior motives, naturally. In the beginning of the lesson when Sensei was going through the more typical terms like eyes "め", ears "みみ", mouth "くち" etc., I was itching to ask, "Buttocks" は日本語で何ですか"  but was too embarrassed to do so (I know, you thought that I am thick-skinned?!?! I am occasionally shy, as a geisha should be, dude.) Thankfully, my prayers were answered when we were given a sheet of paper with a cartoon figure and the listed body parts! Yay! (Although it would have been more inspiring if we were given a picture of Kimura-san with HIS assorted body parts listed out.)

Being the conscientious student that I am, I am sharing my valuable notes with other conscientious (and possibly licentious) students of the Japanese language, as below:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Space Battleship Yamato - Takuya and The Cheese

Kimura-san looking intensely hot in the main movie poster.

The Evil One and I have been looking forward to watching the hot Kimura-san in action since we first spotted the movie poster out in Singapore (I saw it earlier when I was in Taipei late last year.) So yesterday, together with the Samurai (dragged by me of course), my best bud D., some Japanese classmates and my Sensei too!!! the whole chain gang descended on a multiplex in Singapore to catch a late night show of Japan's first full blown space action movie, Space Battleship Yamato, a live-action remake of a 1970s sci-fi anime series, and so named, as the Samurai intoned, after the BIGGEST battleship in the world from World War II (note: aircraft carriers today are NOT the same as battleships.)

Check out Kimura-san's "Gatsby" hairstyle. I half expected him to break out into a song and dance any moment.

Like all big, chest thumping action movies from Holllywood (Independence Day, Armageddon, etc), the plot is pretty straightforward with a group of human space crew, on the last remaining spaceship named Yamato, leaving for uncharted territories to fight hostile aliens, the "Gamilas" and to save Earth from nuclear extinction. The typical themes of heroism, self-sacrifice, brotherhood, responsibility are delivered to the audience in spades (literally shoved down our throats). The storyline of Earth dying slowly as a result of radiation from alien missiles sends a momentary chill down the spine, especially in view of the on-going nuclear crisis in Japan. Takuya Kimura is of course the heroic male lead (can he be anything else?), Susumu Kodai, a maverick top pilot who later became the Acting Captain of Yamato, and *SPOILER* sacrificed himself spectacularly at the end to save the day. Of course, there is the mandatory romantic side plot between Kodai and female fighter pilot Yuki Mori (Meisa Kuroki) to provide us some love diversion but as best bud D. commented, "There is no chemistry between them AT ALL." Which the Evil One and I agreed but that could just be the sour grapes talking.

This blog post is giving me plenty of excuses to spam gratuitous pictures of Kimura-san. 

The Positives: The special effects, I felt, were excellent and on par with big Hollywood productions. But we should not expect anything less since the Japanese spent US$22 million to make the show. The action sequences were quite exciting, interspersed with a few touching moments, in particular, the scene where the crew bid goodbye to their families. Kimura-san, of course, looked glorious throughout, even when his soft wavy hair was badly tousled (all the more to look sexy), and the scene where he was only wearing a tight singlet doing sit ups and flexing his bronzed biceps sent The Evil One and I squealing like slaughtered pigs. That alone was worth the price of the movie ticket. I could only feel sorry for my Sensei who had the misfortune to sit next to the two delirious Obasan (Gomenasai, Sensei!).

Who you looking at, Baby??

The Negatives: The movie was WAY too long, over 2 hours, since it appeared as if they were trying to cram all 26 anime episodes into one movie. Samurai nodded off in the middle of the show, I think. There were too many unnecessary maudlin scenes, particularly the "romance" between Kodai and Mori, which broke up the pace of the show, and a lot of the acting was, according the Evil One, "very bad". Perhaps it was because the characters were all boring stereotypes, seen in a zillion other movies before. Even our beloved Kimura-san did little other than to look "intense" throughout the movie. When the space crew died off one by one, including the old stoic captain, and our beloved Kimura-san in the finale, our stone cold hearts did not melt; on the contrary we were feeling amused at the cheesiness of it all. Their space uniforms looked dated, almost retro, but of course Kimura-san would look good even in a garbage bag. The script was also disgustingly predictable, even for those of us who never watched the anime before. The highlight of the movie was towards the end when after Kodai sacrificed himself to destroy the aliens, the Evil One whispered, "Don't tell me that woman is going to become PREGNANT." The next second, it was the scene of a young boy rushing up a hill calling "Mama", which resulted in both of us breaking up into hysterical laughter. It appeared that Kodai and Mori had the time "to do the deed" when Yamato went into one of its numerous "Warps".

But you know what?!? Despite the cheese, I totally enjoyed myself. A bad movie that can make you laugh is actually quite successful, in a way. Honestly I think the Star Wars movies also had rubbish storylines too. On a separate note, the alien names were just lame, like the "Gamilas" and Planet Iskandar - which I think the Japanese were not aware when they wrote it that "Iskandar" is a very common Malay name in Southeast Asia.

Conclusion: Go watch it, especially if you are a Takuya Kimura fan.

P.S. Darn I cannot seem to find the screen shot of Kimura-san flexing his bronzed biceps in the movie, which sent both the Evil One and one into a tizzy. If I find it later, will add on to this post.

You can check out the movie trailer below. And the theme song is even sung by Steven Tyler!!!! Sorry, no English subtitles, but you can get the idea anyway - such typical action movies need little translation.