Portrait of a Japanese Man

Yuko was at school yesterday to check on some things, and she met an old classmate she hadn’t seen in 7-8 years. He now works for Hitachi. He’s also an active mountain climber, and has climbed to the top of Everest. He was at the university to meet with students in the mountain climbing club. Being sempai (alum), it’s something he has to do periodically. They would have liked to talk some more, but because he’s now married, it’s generally not viewed in a positive way when a man has coffee with a “female” friend. In fact, it’s not rare to have a Japanese wife looking through the husband’s pockets after he comes home, as well as looking at his contacts on his mobile.

A while back he was working on a project at Hitachi, and his superior became angry with what he had done (not up to par or something). He ordered him to shave his head in punishment, which he promptly did.

I Love Paranoia Agent

Kon Satoshi’s PARANOIA AGENT is blowing me away. I’ve seen the first 4 episodes now, and I can honestly say that it beats anything else I’ve seen. What Kon is doing with this series is a continuation of the brilliance he’s displayed in films like PERFECT BLUE and MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, with absolutely nothing being watered down for the medium of TV. It’s so interesting how every episode focuses on different characters, yet all the pieces fit in an overall storyline which is keeping me glued to every episode. I haven’t enjoyed an animated series as much as this one in quite a while. It also has a terrific weird-creepy-mesmerizing opening that I absolutely love.

ACA Media Arts Festival

Last mention of REALTOKYO for the day, I promise (sorry, but I haven’t been web surfing lately)! This Media Arts Festival at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (same place that hosted the very cool LEVEL X show) looks like something I’d like to check out.

How “artistic” are these “media arts”? What were the evaluation criteria? And what about the pell-mell concept of mixing virtuosos and newcomers? Well… let’s stop asking questions and look at the festival’s selection of digital art, computer games, animation, manga, and other torch-bearing Japanese “media art.” An opportunity to see a broad range of recent works including Kuwakubo Ryota’s “Digital Gadgets” and Kawamoto Kihachiro’s distich animation project “Winter Days” free of charge, the ACA Media Arts Festival is an event definitely worth visiting. Special submissions by previous prizewinners such as Oba Yasuo or Hashimoto Mika are also promising.

Kim Ki-Duk

Looks like I’m going to have to get a hold of some films by Korean director Kim Ki-Duk. From RT:

With his unique style, director Kim Ki-duk has created himself a reputation as a “Korean Kitano Takeshi” (or Miike Takashi if you want) at festivals around the world. His provocative films have ambivalent qualities mixing vitriolic stories and beautiful images, which is probably a result of the filmmaker’s experiences as a painter in Paris. This is the 7th film of Kim Ki-duk, whose 10th one has just won a prize at this year’s film fest in Berlin, and it made my lurch when I saw it at Pusan International Film Festival in 2001, when “Bad Guy” was released. It kicks off a series of recent works by the director to be shown in Japan, so be prepared for a Ki-duk-flavored whirlwind hitting the country.

Offbeat

This festival-on-a-DVD thing from the 89mm label sounds really cool. Here’s the REALTOKYO blurb:

Launched in 2002 in Berlin, “short film label” 89mm has so far released a number of shorts on floppy disk. In a special project with the e:motion label, this time 89mm presents a DVD containing 13 collaboration pieces by pairs of visual creators and musicians. While films range from B-movie kinds of flicks to cute animation and cutting-edge computer graphics, musical styles include electronica, techno/house, ambient, and electronic rock. With another 12 TV/movie theatre commercials and other films in the “bonus material” section, the DVD offers a rich overview of contemporary creators of sound and image in and around Germany, and to people in Japan it is especially recommended as an appetizer for next year’s “German Year in Japan.

While on the subject of shorts, I recently got the 3 BEST OF RESFEST DVDs, as well as the 3 DVDs from the Director’s Series, covering Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Michel Gondry. I haven’t had a chance to check out the RESFEST shorts yet, but the director DVDs are truly great. I was a bit disapointed that the Spike Jonze one didn’t include more of his music videos (he’s done over 40), but the commentary tracks and other shorts are very nice (especially that Fatlip documentary).