Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Friday, November 15th, 2002
After finishing a wonderful day of teaching small children the wonders of the English Language I gave Rebecca a kiss goodbye and boarded a bus to the wonderful city of Pusan. Located on the South-West coast of South Korea, it is home to the Pusan International Film Festival, the reason for my trip.
I boarded the bus at 8:20pm and arrived in Pusan at 1:30am. It was a long trip. But alas, I made it. Unfortunately, a problem arose upon my arrival. I had two nights booked at a Hostel in Pusan, on Yeougdo Island which is on the south end of the city. The Lonely Planet Korea guide we have, located the Express Bus Terminal in the centre of Pusan. However, since its publishing, the Express Bus Terminal must have moved to the North most tip of the city. The subways and buses had stopped running, and a taxi would have been more than I had brought for the trip, so I began to walk. And Walk.
I walked up a small mountain towards Beomosa temple, but, due to the fact that it was 2:30am and pitch black outside, I could see nothing (I would later visit this temple with my sister almost a year later). So, I turned around and headed back to civilization. I walked for most of the night, stopping from 4am - 5am at a PC house, where I talked briefly to Kyle. Then, again, I set off.
At 5:30am the subways opened. I travelled to Haeundae beach, the location of the first film I would be viewing. I walked out to the acutally beach, it was 6:30am, and I decided I should watch the sunrise. When I arrived at the beach, I found it was littered with hundreds of people, armed with cameras, all waiting for this sunset. It must be something I thought to myself. And was right. I witnessed, in my tired and delirious state, the most breathtaking sunrise on earth, at least from my experience. I stood in awe for about an hour before deciding to explore the area. I had until 2pm, the time the first film started. It was only 7:30am.
To the North was a massive hill covered in homes, resembling something I would see on the Riviera (and Haeundae beach is known as the Riviera of Korea) and to the South was another massive hill covered in forest. I decided to head for the forest.
Along the seaside was a cliff which I scaled. I walked up the hill and found a temple. The entire hill was filled with old people walking, running and doing other forms of exercise. I ran out of film in the camera at this point. I decided to head to the other hill. I walked along the quaint little boardwalk and entered the other district.
The seaside was filled with restaurants, all which served fish, all which had walls of aquariums, filled to the brim with every type of fish and crustacean imaginable. I wondered around the docks and began to scale the hill. I saw a sign for "The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Library." That must be nice I thought.
I followed the road up the hill, and the higher I climbed, the more European things became. At the top was a pagoda with a gorgeous view of the sea. While I was up there, I a Korean woman wanted to have her picture taken with me. I cheerfully obliged, although her husband didn't look to happy about it.
I headed towards this Mystery Library, but after a few hours of trekking, it turned out to be nothing more than a overpriced cafe that had pictures of mystery authors and a few of their books on shelves in the back.
My feet began to ache. I decided to head towards the theatre. I made it there around 11:30am. Still early. What to do. I ate lunch, and then found a place called "see". I went in, and it was a video house. Kyle had told me about these. You can rent films, and watch them in small private booths. So I did so. I rented D-Tox, Stallones latest, which I don't believe has been released in North America yet. And for good reason. It stunk. But the experience of sitting in this small booth with a huge comfy
chair was something else. After that, it was time for the movie.
I watched my first film, "Public Enemy", which was alright. Nothing great. So, it was time to head to downtown Pusan, to the PIFF Square. When I got there I was amazed. The largest crowd of people I have ever seen littered the streets. I could barely move. I wondered around for an hour, making sure to familiarize myself with my surroundings. Then I headed off the my Hostel, which was tucked away in the mountains on Yeoungdo Island. I was the only non-asian person at this Hostel, and only one person spoke English, a Korean-Canadian from Toronto named Andy. We met while I was being interviewed by a TV station as to my likes and dislikes of the Hostel and the festival.
Around midnight I fell asleep. I have been up for 40 hours. My feet ached. I had the biggest blister on my foot, larger than a toonie. I had bought a new roll of film to take pictures of the mass crowds, so I also took one of this mammoth blister.
I awoke at 7am and set off for the PIFF square. First I saw an incredible Korean film called "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", which didn't sit well with some people the audience. Next I watch "A Snake of June", the latest opus from one of Japans greatest contemporary directors Shinya Tsukamoto.
Yes Mr. Chris Barry, it was incredible. It was very erotic, which I didn't expect, but incredible none the less.
I headed back to the bus station for the trip home. I boared the bus at 4:20pm. The trip home took 8 hours to travel 350km. Traffic in this country is terrible. By the time I got back to Seoul, all buses and subways again had stopped running, and I didn't have enough for a cab, so again, I wandered the streets, hungout with an elderly security guard for awhile, until 5:30am when the subways started again.
I arrived at home at 7am, and slept until 8:30am, at which point I woke and went to work, teaching those small kids. Altogether, from 8am Friday morning, until 11:30pm Monday night, I slept in a bed for a total of 8 1/2 hours. I started to get sick. I am recovering now.
Saturday, January 01, 2011
One thing that's been on my mind since I saw Kick Ass was Toronto's representation on the big screen, or really the lack there of. I don't know if I'm the only person that gets horribly distracted by seeing Toronto pose as numerous other cities, but sometimes, it takes away from the viewing experience.
In Kick Ass, watching Red Mist and Kick Ass drive repeatedly by Dundas square, over and over and over, in more than one scene, was distracting. Seeing a giant King West sign presiding over the street, watching the kids leave the Scotia bank, all seemed to take me out of the film. Don't get me wrong, I still loved it, but at some point, enough should be enough.
The Horsemen, which supposedly took place in Detroit, had Denis Quaid passing by buildings labelled with Rogers, and down Queen Street and past the Eaton centre. One of the most worst culprits was The Tuxedo, which was a terrible movie, made worse by the fact that a chase had Jackie Chan racing down an alley at Yonge and Wellesley and emerging on the other side of town. Not that its Toronto, but in Mission Impossible 3, Tom Cruise shoots down the building in Pudong, and lands on the other side of the Huangpu river. In the Karate Kids remake, Jackie Chan and Jaden Pinkett Smith take a day trip from Beijing to the mountains in the south, something that would take a 24 hour train ride alone, since they don't exactly have the most efficient train system.
I guess my point is, movie magic can only get you so far. I'm sure the majority people wouldn't find this nearly as nagging as I did/do, but when you're supposed to be immersed in the cinematic experience, it doesn't help when you're pulled out of that experience due to some sloppy filmmaking. Because really, its sloppy.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Road Games - Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach star in this Aussie made tribute to Hitchcock, channeling Rear Window through the eyes of a ex-pat trucker in the outback, on the trail of a man in a green van that may or may not be killing female hitchhikers. This film was quite spectacular. Its smart, clever, and very well done. The cinematography was quite inventive at times, and Stacy Keach, well, he's charismatic and a marvel to watch. Which is great, because a lot of the film is him in the cab of a truck talking to his dingo (or himself).
The Horde - I was excited about watching this. It wasn't as great as I'd hoped it would be, it did lag at times, but it does feature some great combat sequences. This film will from now on be credited with adding a splash of hand to hand combat to zombie films. Yes, that's right, people throwing down with zombies. Its pretty awesome.
So, that's only 16 films out of 31. Failure! I may have actually watched more, but that was last month and my memory isn't that good. Which is a really good reason to write it more frequently.
And whilst I did fail at that, I have succeeded on one front. That of training. My schedule does not seem to mesh with that of Golden Harmony anymore , which is a shame, because honestly that is one of my favourite martial arts schools of all time, so while I bide my time until our schedules align, I have instead started to take some good, old fashioned Muay Thai kick boxing at TKMT. Its conveniently located a 15 minute walk south of me. My ultimate goal, to learn Muay Boran. Muay Thai on its own doesn't hold that much interest to me. The classes will, and are, getting me into fantastic shape, and it is sharpening my punching skills, but I have always found older forms more fascinating. You're physically learning a piece of history, channeling the old ways through physicality. I find that far more satisfying than just repeating the same cycle of punches and kicks. But so far, Muay Thai is kicking my ass. Granted, I am not in prime physical shape, but I don't think I've thrown that many punches in my life. The kicking I can handle, Tae Kwon Do trained me well, I can throw kicks till the cows come home, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of punches, well, that is pain. A pain I love and need.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Trick 'r Treat - For what ever reason, I completely missed watching this when it made that rounds, but thanks to Trevor I finally watched it, and was quite pleased. This Michael Dougherty fella knows how to make an entertaining horror film.
I'm really slacking on this watching a horror film a night thing. I'm trying my best, honestly. On the plus slide, I'm working more on Bluebird again as things are moving along again, I'm getting into some good shape, and I saw Reign of Assassins.
Reign of Assassins - Damn, I need to see this in theatres. It was pretty spectacular. Definitely one of the best martial arts films of 2010, along with Ip Man 2 and the Ip Man prequel. Its really well done, and some of the action is spectacular. A good old fashioned wuxia without any political flag waving.