Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tofu Shop Open for Business

From Donald Richie's A Hundred Years of Japanese Film, a quote from director Ozu Yasujiro:

"I've always said I don't make anything but tofu...I'm like a tofu shop--so even when making a brand new film, I can't suddenly change to comething completely different. It has to be something like maybe fried tofu or stuffed tofu, but certainly not pork cutlets."

I like creators who know their themes and prefer to make very good tofu as opposed to mediocre pork cutlets, myself. Though I suppose you'll never know if you can make good pork cutlets unless you try...

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Awesome Women in Film Part II

Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Batman Returns. Batman Returns came at a time when I was in a not-very-good relationship, and Pfeiffer's depiction of a women who uses her near-death experience to make herself over into a badass fighter who takes no crap from anyone was...inspiring. I loved that she rejected Bruce Wayne at the end despite admitting the appeal of being swept away like a fairy princess. "I'd love to live with you in your castle...but I just couldn't live with myself."

Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia. Fresca writes about Amy Adams in Julie & Julia, but it was Streep that captivated me. I loved her gusto, her passion and warmth, and the openly sexy and mutually-admiring relationship she has with her husband.

Emma Thompson as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Witty and sarcastic, caring and perceptive, Thompson brings so much crackle to this role and her scenes with her then-husband Kenneth Branagh as Benedict, as their battle of wits becomes a cover for more tender feelings.

Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu-Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I could just watch Yeoh's face for hours in this movie. She's so contained and restrained, and the death scene with Chow Yun-Fat is heartbreaking as they realize they're out of time to say the things they never said to each other. Plus, she kicks ass and her martial arts scenes are totally believable (well, as believable as any of the fight scenes in this movie that relies heavily on nicely done wire-fu).

Awesome Women in Film Part I

So Fresca did some posts on women in movies, promping me to ask myself which women came to mind when I thought of my favorite actresses and characters. The ones that most immediately leapt to mind:

Dame Judy Dench as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love. I liked this movie, but it did tend toward the glurgy...but Dench cut through any glurge in her brief appearances as the cynical, world-weary Virgin Queen, raising a dubious eyebrow at the shenanigans of the young lovers.

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway in Secretary. Secretary is a love story about a shy, damaged woman who wants to be dominated sexually, and the man she finally cajoles into doing it. There's lots of room for squick in that description, but Gyllenhaal completely sold her part and made me believe totally that this was what she wanted and what she reveled in. In fact, she was so convincing that I found the end of the movie--a more conventional sort of happy-end where it's fairly clear that the humiliation and BDSM are more safely compartmentalized into the bedroom--rather disappointing.

Katherine Hepburn as Rose Sayer in The African Queen. Resourceful, passionate, intelligent and funny, Rose discovers the depths of her abilities over the course of the movie and ends up grabbing life with both hands, fighting Nazis, and falling in love. She's awesome, and of course Hepburn plays her with zing and energy.

Kim Novak as Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton in Vertigo. Yes, she's a cypher. But what a cypher she is! Novak's tormented performance in the second half as the man she loves slowly remakes and destroys her is stunning and terrifying.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Walk, Don't Run!

U900, a Japanese ukelele duo composed of a knit rabbit and knit bear. Only in Japan, I swear. The video is a cover of the Ventures tune "Walk Don't Run." The rabbit starts off by saying "All right, the faster we finish this the faster we can go eat," and the bear agrees. The translated lyrics are basically like, "If you rush things, you'll get it should take your time, relax. It's no good if you get it wrong." At the end the rabbit announces, "That was perfect!"

The really funny thing is that on the full video, found on their official DVD (which I might have bought), it closes with a voice off-screen saying, "Uh, guys? The tape wasn't rolling yet." And which point the rabbit and bear get appalled looks on their faces and mutter "If you rush things, you'll get it wrong."

Words to live by! I've taken to muttering "Isogaba (gabagaba) maware!" when I'm feeling stressed recently.

Also, their cover of "Tequila" is amazingly cute. :)

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