3 weeks ago

The Theory of Everything

1 month ago

The World According to Koreeda Hirokazu

1 month ago
Cat on a Hot Foam Board
1 month ago

Tales from the Hood

2 months ago
San Diego Surf was the first time Warhol had made a movie in California since the early Tarzan and Jane Regained, Sort of…in 1963. The month after San Diego Surf filming was completed, Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanas, which just about ended his work behind the camera.
Warhol said about La Jolla: “It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen. We rented a mansion by the sea and a couple of other houses for the people who were going to be in the movie - some of them had flown out with us and the others just met us there. Everybody was so happy being in La Jolla that the New York problems we usually made our movies about went away - the edge came right off everybody. From time to time I’d try to provoke a few fights so I could film them, but everybody was too relaxed even to fight. I guess that’s why the whole thing turned out to be more of a momento of a bunch of friends taking a vacation together than a movie.”

San Diego Surf was the first time Warhol had made a movie in California since the early Tarzan and Jane Regained, Sort of…in 1963. The month after San Diego Surf filming was completed, Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanas, which just about ended his work behind the camera.

Warhol said about La Jolla: “It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen. We rented a mansion by the sea and a couple of other houses for the people who were going to be in the movie - some of them had flown out with us and the others just met us there. Everybody was so happy being in La Jolla that the New York problems we usually made our movies about went away - the edge came right off everybody. From time to time I’d try to provoke a few fights so I could film them, but everybody was too relaxed even to fight. I guess that’s why the whole thing turned out to be more of a momento of a bunch of friends taking a vacation together than a movie.”

2 months ago
For A Few Dollars More
4 months ago

Food in the films of Wong Kar Wai

Nothing captures the particular flavour of Hong Kong coolness like the films of Wong Kar Wai. If you have ever wondered why someone would abandon North America for a life in Asia, watch Chungking Express and its pseudo-sequel Fallen Angels. Both of these films are early examples of the now formulaic structure of portraying the lives of several unconnected people whose paths cross in unexpected ways. Other examples of films that adopt this formula include Shortcuts by Robert Altman, Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson, Crash by Paul Haggis, and most recently, Babel by Allejendro Gonzalez Anarritu. Isn’t it interesting that all of these films are of the highest quality. Perhaps this formula is suited to capturing the ungrounded isolation of the individual in the post-modern city, and how this collective isolation has become the defining trait of contemporary culture.

Both Chungking Express and Fallen Angels are masterpieces of late 20th century film. They are that rare species of film that can be watched over and over with new details and layers of meaning emerging with each viewing: The portraits of Hong Kong streets, buildings and interiors; the collection of subcultures and archetypes; the terse wit of the dialogue; the mix of languages; the costumes that drift into sexual fetish; the use of numerology; the soundtracks; and the groundbreaking cinematography of Christopher Doyle. One could write a thesis on any of these aspects of these two films. It is no surprise then, that even after repeated viewings, I failed to realize the thematic presence of food in both Chungking Express and Fallen Angels.

Much of Chungking Express takes place in a diner with a great segment of dialogue focusing on the boss convincing Tony Leung, playing a policeman, to buy both a club sandwich and a chef’s salad for his girlfriend. He uses the reasoning that perhaps she would like the choice of something different. Leung later returns to the restaurant after being dumped by the girl in question, he notes that perhaps she really did like the choice of something different. Another two scenes have Faye Wong, playing a worker in the restaurant, interrupting Leung while eating his roadside lunch of charsui barbecued pork to help her carry a big basket of vegetables to the restaurant. She later breaks into his apartment and switches the labels on his canned food. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays a love-lorn detective that goes on a bizarre eating binge of canned pineapple, based solely on the expiry date of the cans. In each case, food is somehow connected to desire and loss. 

Fallen Angels is even more focused on food. Scenes include Leon Lai (Li Ming), playing a hit man, eating a burger and fries in an empty 24hr McDonald’s as Karen Mok, playing a half crazed woman with a blond wig, comes over, sits down and proceeds to pick him up. Not a word is spoken through the whole scene. This is by far the best advertisement for McDonald’s ever made. Another scene has Michelle Reis eating noodles in a semi-stupor as a full out brawl goes on behind her. By far the most interesting and hilarious food scenes involve Takeshi Kaneshiro, as a mute petty thief, hassling people and amusing himself in a traditional market after closing time. Kaneshiro’s silent slapstick recalls the comedic greatness of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. One scene has him giving a full massage to a pig carcass, in another he tries to force the sale of vegetables on an unsuspecting woman. He thrusts a skinny eggplant at the woman, and she evades the purchase by saying “I’m single, what would people think?” he then produces a massive melon instead. Later, he breaks into an ice-cream truck, kidnaps a man and forces him and his family to eat ice-cream as he happily drives around the city. We later find out that his mother was killed when she was hit by an ice-cream truck. This scene is neither sad nor maudlin, it is presented simply as part of the inexplicable course of events that make up our lives. In one of the final scenes, Leon Lai walks into a Japanese barbecue joint where Kaneshiro is now working. Kaneshiro’s comedic genius shines again as he manages to make the act of cooking meat on a stick ridiculously funny. 

Why the persistent references to food? As with the other aspects of life that Wong delightfully and poetically records, food is a reflection of culture. Food is as much a reflection of who we are as the buildings around us or the clothes we wear. And just as Wong’s characters are romantic archetypes of film and culture: the policeman, the waitress, the hit man, the stewardess, the restaurant owner, the petty thief. So are the items of food that are depicted: the club sandwich, the chef’s salad, barbecued pork, burger and fries, ice-cream. These are not so much specific items as food, as they are archetypes of food. Like Wong himself, they are ultimately romantic. (via The Hungry Donkeys)

4 months ago
Fai sitting with a tape recorder, trying to record something that his new friend Chang promises will release him from his sadness.

Fai sitting with a tape recorder, trying to record something that his new friend Chang promises will release him from his sadness.

4 months ago
#FightthePowder and #DotheRightThing

bobaguys:

Boba Guys and Gals,

It’s Day 15, which means we are officially half way through our Kickstarter Campaign!

The overwhelming support to our Kickstarter campaign really touched our hearts. When we saw that we hit 33% of our goal within three days, Bin and I did a little “Happy” dance. If we reach our goal, we just might have to bust out a whole special number!? =)

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Today, we wanted to answer one FAQ: why did we make our Kickstarter about #FightthePowder and #DotheRightThing?

For those who don’t know, it is a reference to an awesome movie called Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee. It’s a provocative movie that everyone should see as its themes are still relevant 25 years later. We had to re-watch it a couple times before we decided to integrate it across our campaign. We knew that reintroducing the phrase “Fight the Powder” in today’s vernacular could potential ignite unnecessary controversy across the internetz. That’s why we want to explain ourselves now.

Do the Right Thing spoke to Bin and I because it shares the same passion for social change. It’s a funny, yet authentic portrayal of race relations in the 1980s. I was only eight years old when the movie came out, but I remember watching it on VHS at a neighbor’s house. While some of the dialogue was way over my head, I remember it affected me deeply— it was one of the first times I saw Asians in mainstream cinema. The Asian immigrant store owners in the movie reminded me of my family’s situation—we ran one of the only Chinese restaurants in our little township of Woodbridge, New Jersey.

I am the first to admit that I am very fortunate when it comes to racial discrimination. I can only recall a few select instances in my childhood where I was on the receiving end of explicit racial prejudice. Most of the time, I heard silly one-off comments like “Hey Jackie Chan!” or “What are you going to do, Bruce Lee?” Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were/are still heroes to young Asian Americans, so if that’s what people wanted to call me, so be it. There are a lot worse things to be called than a Drunken Master tyke.

Two of my best friends from childhood were Italian and Hungarian. It is through them that I experienced true racial and ethnic discrimination. They endured the full gamut of racial epithets and I was often present to empathize with them. Even as a kid, I found it unfair to insult a person based on the color of one’s hair, family possessions, or even what they brought in for lunch—these are things out of my friends’ control. Although it wasn’t exactly a conscious decision, I developed an acute awareness of social and economic division.

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Fast forward twenty years later, I meet Bin and find out we share a similar point of view. This time it’s flipped. In a city where 1/3 of the population is Asian American, we can easily fall prey to reverse discrimination. We hear tinges of it when people comment about the diversity of our staff (i.e. 70% of our staff are not of Asian descent). Our team are the best, most loyal employees in the business—it is disappointing when people think they cannot make a good drink simply because of the way they look. As we wrote two years ago, Boba Guys is our way of sharing our culture with the world. It’s not about being Asian American, Taiwanese, or Chinese. It’s about bridging cultures.

One of the biggest hurdles in bridging culture is helping people understand the boba scene. In our opinion, the boba and tea industry is a bit clandestine and insular. We felt this when we started Boba Guys and met with potential suppliers. One supplier laughed at our face when we said that the future of boba lies with transparency and quality ingredients. He (the CEO) proceeded to say we were being naïve and foolish. We still think about the conversation to this day. The CEO happens to run one of the biggest industry conglomerates today.

The massive menus and endless combinations of flavors also make the whole experience very intimidating for people who are new to boba. It’s hard to know who to trust and what to drink, especially if everything looks like a colorful powder. That’s why we care so much about transparency. If people can see how we make things or the ingredients we use, it makes the experience more palatable.

We’re not here to stick it to the industry, but we are very intentional about our campaign. In order to change perceptions, we have to disrupt things a bit. We use the traditional Taiwanese brown sugar syrup method, but we also use Straus organic milk. We sell world-famous Sunny Hills Pineapple Cakes from Taiwan, but we also make Hong Kong toast with a buttercream topping instead of the typical can of condensed milk. The disruption may be uncomfortable for some, but better for the whole. By bridging cultures, you get crazy new creations like horchata boba or milk tea with chia seeds.

So we hope that explains why we chose to use the hashtags. #FightThePowder is our call to challenge the status quo and #DotheRightThing. Thank you for joining us in this mission!

Cheers,

Andrew

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