07/07/2006

“Let’s sing an endless song for this asshole of a world.”

by Matthew Hawkins

Well it’s been a week since a real update…

On Saturday, MK & I caught our last two flicks in the Asian Film Fest.

WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL

Taking place in the midst of the Korean War, Dongmakol is a mountain village that’s completely isolated from the rest of society. So when a handful of battered up soldiers from both sides of the conflict cross paths there place and get into a heated confrontation, the peaceful and happy-go-lucky villagers are completely confused. But when it leads to them accidentally destroying the food supply, the soldiers decide to stick around and help make things right, and as one might guess, they discover quite a few life lessons during their stay.

Basically, Welcome to Dongmakol is the perfect Korean film, and it’s hardly surprising that it was such a monster hit in its native land (fans of the film are quite proud how it was able to topple such Hollywood blockbusters such as Harry Potter and King Kong, mostly based upon strong word of mouth buzz). The movie has it all: comedy, drama, and it mixes both exceptionally well; the comedy at times is a bit goofy, and there’s even potty humor (as MK learned first hand, Koreans love jokes about poop), but it’s never a distraction, and the serious moments are also never heavy-handed or preachy. Plus there’s issues related to the Korean conflict, which Korean audiences totally eat up (and as half a Korean, I’m fascinated by the subject matter as well). Then you have the excellent camera work, sharp directing, strong performances, and all the other trademarks of Korean cinema these days. The plot sounds terribly cliched I know, but the movie actually is extremely effective and full of heart.

It also scores points for being one of the few Asian films to feature an American actor that can actually act; most don’t even seem to be real actors but simply random white dudes that whomever found on the street to deliver a few lines. Not including mix martial artist Don Fry’s brilliant performance in Godzilla Final Wars, of course.

LINDA LINDA LINDA

When the lead singer and guitarist of a band comprised of Japanese high school girls injures her right hand, the rest decide to reform by learning new songs, all covers (from the real life Japanese band, the Blue Hearts) because the old ones were written by the injured girl, so it wouldn’t be right to play them without her), and in just a few days (for the big high school rock show). Plus the somewhat hot-headed member has to switch from keyboards to guitar. Also, since no one can sing, they decided to bring aboard the Korean exchange student who hardly understands any Japanese.

It’s basically a teen chick flick, and as someone who’s neither a teen nor a chick, I really couldn’t appreciate at it at first, but as MK (who totally loved it) has been saying, there’s absolutely nothing like it in America. And it’s true: the girls aren’t fixated on getting boys and all that related bullshit (there’s some romance here and there, like how one very shy boy professes his love to the Korean girl, who then totally shoots him down for the sake of spending time with the band, which as MK has also noted, steals the whole movie, plus another girl that’s unable to tell the guy she likes how she feels, but there’s no trite scenes of the girls crying themselves to sleep, catfights over boys, or group hugs). Its just them struggling to get the music down pat, period. The whole film is very understated, even sublime in some instances, but most importantly focused on telling a simple tale simply, without trying to be all sentimental or poignant (well, at least not intentionally).

Oh, and the music is really good! I’ve linked to some Blue Hearts vids in the past, but I’m not too familiar with their music past those songs. MK & I must have seen the trailer, which features the titular song, at least twice before each movie in the fest, which means we each heard the song about 20 times before the actual movie began, but not once did the song get old throughout the film. And even though it’ll be stuck in my head forever, I’m still trying to track down an mp3 of it, plus the rest of their stuff. I should perhaps also mention that the girls’ performances were fantastic, plus each was super cute to boot. I’m primarily interested in learning more about the bassist, but that’s because she’s a in a real bad in real life, and that’s because of it’s name, Base Ball Bear,

… On Sunday was the sorta secret Subway Cinema Asian Film Fest 5th anniversary bash which I ended up not going to. I love Asian cinema and all, but believe it or not, MK wasn’t the only sorta burnt out after the fest. And once again, that fucking crowd… plus the chance for chair-broiled burgers and hot dogs won out in the end. But even though I made the final decision Friday night, I was still dying to know the hush-hush list of movies that would be playing, as well was Ric, so we both tried our best to get the info, but we were unsuccessful (sorta of a shock… I can understand me not getting the 411, but one of the primer Asian cinema experts in North America?). Though despite Grady’s tight-lips, I did uncover some vital info, such as how they weren’t going to be playing any Stephen Chow movies (if I was going to possibly miss Love on Delivery or God of Cookery, I would have potentially changed my Sunday plans), and everything is available on DVD anyhow (it’s just stuff that’s relatively obscure that no one talks about).

Instead MK & I drove out to Long Island for the annual 4th of July BBQ at John Green’s family residence. The highlight of the ride over was blasting Boredoms’s Pop Tatari, much to the annoyance of the Brooklyn yokels when we were still in the borough (even them cranking up their Jaz-Z couldn’t stop us… though MK’s extremely noisy car also helped us/annoyed everyone else). Anyway, we just sat around to talk and eat hot dogs. Dave got me all excited when he said that he got the season 1 DVD set of Kids in the Hall for $20 at Amazon, but I’ve since discovered that its the price from their marketplace sellers, which I’ve had iffy luck with (I think I bitched about the time I got the third volume of SCTV and it was totally destroyed due to shitty shipping). Then MK & I had dinner with Dave’s dad and his girlfriend whom I hadn’t seen in years. So later in the evening I finally showed MK Quick Change, which is one of my most favorite comedies of all time (and easily Bill Murray’s finest), and as expected, she loved it as well. It is bar-none the most perfect “Fuck you New York City!” film ever made. And Genna Davis also rocks in it as well.

The next day MK & I went over to Robin’s new digs to watch DVDs and play some games; to be honest, it was primarily to avoid my house which was slowly filling up with my roommate’s nieces and nephews who were in town for the big party she was throwing the next day. Showed him a few episodes of the Venture Brothers, including the mind-bendingly awesome Fantastic Four parody episode. Plus he finally got a taste of the Trailer Park Boys, season 4. It took a while, but he warmed up to the show (and without actually getting to the pro-wrestling episode!). Note to self: I have all of season 6 on my hard drive at home, just sitting there, doing nothing. I also brought over some fighting games, including King of Fighters, which made Robin squeal like a happy little baby. Speaking of, I’m seriously considering getting my PS2 modded (well, buy MK’s friend’s Morgan’s PS2 off of her to get modded) for KOF XI. Though like many others, I’m holding out on a possible US release since its Japanese release is getting so much attention (a domestic two for one release with Neo Geo Battle Coliseum would be fucking sweet). Plus I also got Phantasy Star 4 from Robin, which I’m trading him with for a MiniDV/Super VHS deck that my work is throwing out due to a bum FireWire port (the thing’s a $4000 beauty and totally work fixing). Anyway, besides KOF 2001, and some Soul Calibur 2, Robin and I played some Mortal Kombat 2 & 3 (which is the best, regardless what anyone else says… mall cop guy for the fucking win) and Primal Rage, which I remember looking much better back in my youth. And previously in the day, MK & I went to Rocketship, which happened to be one of the few things open in the Carol Gardens area, and I got the second collected volume of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition. I’m super pleased that it was actually released (for a while there, I was afraid they’d do just one collection… so hopefully the rest will come out, which is the book of the dead and the appendixes). Again, it’s hard to explain the appeal of having an encyclopedia covering every single super hero and villain from Marvel, no matter how insignificant or stupid. But if anyone asks me “Hey, what issue of Marvel Preview did Rocket Raccoon appear? #6 or 7?”

Tuesday was of course the 4th of the July, but more importantly the big Nathan’s hot dog eating contest at Coney Island, which I’ve been dying to see in person for almost forever (though most importantly, how everyone else knew this as well). The thing was scheduled to start at noon and it was suggested that people arrive an hour early to get a view of the action, so MK & I arrived at ten. But even then, the area was already super packed, but we managed to find a decent view of the stage, despite the fact that organizers placed the press box right up front and immediately to the right of where the action was going to take place for some ultra retarded reason (as MK proclaimed angrily “Don’t they have zoom lenses?!”). By 11 the place was completely swamped, and we had so little breathing room to even operate our little Japanese fans, plus all the folks were totally blocking out the ocean breeze, so MK, who was starting to feel claustrophobic, decided to get away. I felt bad and was going to go with her, but she knew how much I wanted to see the little Japanese guy (Takeru Kobayashi) embarrass the US on its day of independence by downing more hot dogs than us. Then came the realization that it wasn’t going to start at noon sharp but closer to 12:30 and till then I’d have to endure a never-ending cavalcade of Brooklyn’s worst local talents (at that exact moment some shitty rappers took the stage, which was becoming increasingly harder to see btw, and the entire hour plus beforehand MK & I had to endure some stupid shitty junkies playing jazz), plus I too was getting so hot that I was afraid I might pass out, so bolted. Which means I never saw the contest, the whole fucking point for making the trek out so early in the first place. Needless to say I was pissed. And once again, it was another fine example of completely f’d up planning on the part of local organizers who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about crowd control and actually putting on a decent show for the folks in attendance. All they cared about was having that nice wide shot of a sea of people for the national TV audience.

Later on I met up with Joe & June, who arrived way too late to even come close to the stage (they were going to join us earlier but opted not to go due to scary weather reports, then changed their minds when they realized that it was bullshit… sorta like the previous day), and I then managed to track down MK & Robin, so we all got some greasy Coney Island food and hung out at the boardwalk. Later on we made it to the bumper car arcade and I was totally shocked and dismayed to see that all the classic skee-ball units have been completely replaced with garish “modern” ones (I guess the Jersey shore is the only option left for that authentic skee ball experience). Robin & I had a round of super souped up Ms. Pac Man, and with not much else to do, primarily due to the insane number of people on-hand, plus since MK wasn’t feeling very good, again due to the heat, we all headed out. Overall, a fairly disappointing Coney Island outing, especially since it was MK’s first time out and I wanted it to be something special.

Oh, and I found out afterwards via a voicemail message from my friend Marc whom I ran into in the hot dog eating contest crowd before having to depart (and who ended up staying through the whole thing) that Kobayashi, whom many were predicted was going to lose this time around since his numbers have been slowly dipping, came back with a vengeance by beating his own personal best, which happens to be the world’s record, of 63.7 dogs.

Anyway, we all then stopped by my place where the party was in full swing with all of my roommate’s friends and family, who were enjoying the sun, whereas we were already exhausted from the heat, so like true party poopers, we all ate inside (less bugs that way as well). Once it started to rain and everyone started to come in, including all the screaming kids, Robin suggested we all go back to his place, and we did. But instead of it being empty (the plan was just to watch DVDs and get drunk) his roommates and their friends were there and playing Scatagories, so we ended up joining in (well I did, but half-heatedly… after the tiring and somewhat disappointing day, I just wanted to get smashed, so I just ended up pounding the Heinekens). Here’s a fun fact: if you play the game with lesbians (which Robin’s roommates happen to be, as were all their friends) expect at least one pussy joke each round. Afterwards we just sat and talked, but MK still wasn’t feeling too hot, so we decided to turn in. She feel asleep by 7:30, and I too was tired, so after a few final hot dogs (the party at my place was still raging, with a water balloon right taking place just as we returned), I took a shower and was in bed by ten, though I did get to check out the Brooklyn fireworks from my bedroom.

Wednesday night was of course movie night. When MK & I arrived, Jeff and the gang were watching clips from the old George Reeves Superman serial, to once again “cleanse the palate” of the shitty new movie. We then watched the beginning of 2001, the moved onto to assorted clips from a bunch of stuff, most of which I can’t remember, though I do recall seeing bits and pieces of Head, the Monkees film that’s pretty trippy but a tiny bit disconcerting (one minute it’s all happy and wacky like the TV show, then next thing you know that infamous, and brutal, footage of the Vietnamese villager getting shot pointblank is shown 20 times at once), plus a bit of the space shuttle’s launch that happened the previous day, which looked rather nice in hi-def. Since everyone was a bit up in the air on what to watch as a feature, myself and a few others insisted on seeing the rest of the 2001, so we did.

I gotta say… I’ve never been too found of HD television and all the ridiculousness that comes along with it (such as the insane price of admission, along with the stupid Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD format war), but watching 2001 in high definition was the first time I seriously wanted to take the plunge. For once, technology has totally lived up to the hype; you wouldn’t believe how absolutely beautiful it looked. Never before, perhaps since its original theatrical release, when it was part of a traveling “road-show” which played the film in its original 70mm format. In fact, Jeff remembers what it looked like back then and said that the movie looks exactly the same in HD.

As for Thursday, I finally got Drill Dozer on the cheap. Best Buy has it for $10, and you have a GBA get it, now. It’s seriously one of the best games I’ve played all year (everyone who’s played it has said the same, and in this case, everyone is correct). I’m just so glad I didn’t have to resort to paying the original $30 price, but instead of at a store, which would have been okay, but to one of the assholes on eBay that have been snatching the game ever since the price has been slashed, hence why its all of a sudden hard to find.

I also posted the GameSetWatch special report I did at the Gaming Age Forums, and the response has been positive. I will admit, I was getting bummed out by the lack of feedback, which made me feel that people really don’t care about the New York gaming scene after-all. I also got some nice emails about it, including a very cool guy at Nintendo of America.

Back to the GAF thread, a few people have pointed out some stuff that I totally forgot about (and in the comment section of the GSW piece itself as well), such as the Museum of the Moving Image’s video game collection and the chiptunes scene around here. So yeah, once again, sorry Jeremiah! I do intend on filing some sort of follow-up report, mainly to check on all the other (albeit far less visible) stores that people have pointed out that I didn’t know of (or again totally forgot about, like that place in Queens, Bonus Stage or Video Game Buddy, that I stumbled across when I was in town to catch a movie with Dave). Though I’m pretty certain that the Broadway Arcade on 42nd is most definitely closed, but I’ve been wrong before…

Plus, for those of you who may have missed it, some follow-up on the Chinantown tic-tac-toe playing chicken. I’ve looked everywhere for info on what happened, but the only thing I could find was this, which is sorta sad and grim. But this morning, Adam passed along this: what really happened, and its a happy ending after-all. And it totally validates the guy’s response in the first tale!

And as usual, I’ve been a bit too busy to keep a close eye on gaming news (though like everyone, I’ve heard about those stupid “racist” ads from Sony for the white PSP in the UK), but I have caught wind of a few things…

- Back at NeoGAF, someone passed along some pictures of OutRun2 SP SDX, which runs off their new Lindberg arcade board (the same one powering Virtua Fighter 5). It doesn’t look a whole lot different, but it doesn’t look worse, and it was visually stunning to begin with. But the most interesting part has to be the alternating two player driving mode!

- By now most folks know that Tingle, the weird, sorta gay guy in the skin-tight green suit who really wants to be a fairy really bad from the Legend of Zelda, is getting his own game. Well for those who haven’t seen it, here’s the website. And it’s pretty neat! Also, yes, I hope it comes to the US as well.

- Another game that is actually making me pay attention to the Xbox 360 is Capcom’s upcoming Dead Rising. Each new set of screenshots is making the look better and better, but this practically seals the deal for me…

- Over at Insert Credit, someone pointed toward some rather interesting info regarding mini games that you sometimes play while the game loads, like in Tekken or Ridge Racer. Hey those are both Namco games, right? . You can find the original discussion here btw.

- And someone else passed this along: a vid of some crazy cosplayer stating Sony’s superiority over Nintendo from Anime Expo 2006. Pay special attention to the crowd reaction, primarily the dancing fat guy with the DV cam (which you just know has to be at capacity by that point from capturing hours and hours of 14 year old coplay girl’s boobies from earlier in the day).

Note to MK (who’s going to Otakon next month since that’s when her new book is debuting): this is precisely the stuff you’re going to have to deal with! And its precisely stuff like this that makes me embarassed to admit in public that I like video games (and you can forget about anime… I still prefer to call it by its late 80′s/early 90′s term “Japanimation”).

- Check this out: the new Shadow of the Colossus statue coming out…

It’ll be available this October. Aside from the color of the fur, which seems off (though this could be just an early prototype picture), its totally perfect.

Which reminds me, I’m thinking about picking up these Animal Crossing figures, which I believe are out now.

- And finally, like most folks who have blogs, I really don’t appreciate spam on my site. Unless its really cool, and this definitely qualifies: some guy who goes by pixel form sent me info regarding a souped up NES he’s created for chiptunes purposes. A fucking hot rig if I’ve ever seen one…

  • http://www.gamersquarter.com Shapermc

    Man, the reason that I caved in and bought a 360 last weekend was because I wanted to have the system and still have time to play Oblivion on it before Dead Rising took over my life.

  • http://www.magical-girl.com/ Alice

    Linda Linda Linda also featured original music by James Iha formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins. It’s basically the rock equivalent of Swing Girls, which you probably wouldn’t like either.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    I dunno… I’ve heard some really good things about Swing Girls, and have been told I’d totally love it.

    Also, I guess I should take back my comment about not liking teen chick flicks. A good movie, regardless of genre or classification, is a good movie, period. So I’ll see it,

    Plus, I totally love Ghost World, and I guess that’s a teen chick flick. And I enjoyed Clueless as well. Probably some others, but nothing comes to mind at the moment.

    Oh, and the original music was pretty superb, even though there wasn’t too much of it. I’d love to get my hands on a soundtrack. That and Funky Forest’s, of course.

  • http://zartanlovesyou.livejournal.com Reid

    That is a circuit bent NES

    circuit bending is so 4 years ago man. :C

  • Arluss

    Iunno, Ghost World didn’t really seem like a chick flick to me. More like what really happens when you’re a teenager after graduation and have absolutely no idea what you’re going to do with your life.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    Yeah… I guess I was sorta grasping at straws there. It stars teenage girls and angst, but that’s pretty much it.

    Okay, I go back to my original stance by declaring that most teenage dramadies aimed at girls are generally crap. At least anything that’s made these days… some of the stuff in the 80′s were pretty decent.

  • Westacular

    Ghost World really is the anti-”teen chick flick”.

    That Colossus figure looks awesome. Too bad it’s $100. His left hand looks perfect for putting odd things into it — like a bouquet of flowers. Heh.

    OH, you know what would be really sweet is if there was a light in the glyph on his head and it grew bright if you brought the sword close to it. That would be an awesome gimmick.

  • phooky

    I ended up going up to Woodstock that weekend, so I missed both of those flicks. Now it looks like I’m going to have to go digging for DVDs at that AM place on 32nd St. again.

    I had the same experience as you at my Great Yokai War viewing, by the way. Squeally Japanese girls trying to impress their boyfriends with their weird “kawaii zanshin” or something.

    I’m just happy someone else has a copy of Pop Tatari. I’ve never managed to convince anyone else to listen to that album.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    Yeah, having the sigil glow would be neat, though I would be content with the statue just shooting out black stuff.

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