Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thanks Angelo

I have neglected blogging, mostly because I have not been writing as often as I should. But today, after reading good old Mr. Angelo Barovier's newly formed blog Eclectickle, I decided I should write something, because like him, he's doing it partially as a way to force himself to write, which is also one reason I also started doing it. Because really, do I have anything interesting to say? I don't think so. Well, maybe something slightly interesting, but nothing most would remember 24 hours later. But should I be writing if I have nothing to say, shouldn't I just write in a journal? Hmmm, so many things to ponder.

Well, one thing that occupies my mind these days is that of my child which shall be sprung forth into this world come the end of the summer. What kind of wonderful skills will I teach him/her? They will undoubtedly be a master of several martial arts forms, that's for sure, their training will start at a very early age. I will also have them playing Dungeons and Dragons by the time they're six. I will have to make a rather detailed regiment of media consumption, as they will be raised on a steady diet of martial arts films and anime/manga/comic books. I am torn as to what I should do about the Disney dilemma. I'm not a big fan of Disney animation, mostly because of the way they have 'for a limited time only' releases of their films so as to jack up the demand. So I really don't want to go down that route, however, I do have fond memories of watching Sleeping Beauty and The Fox and The Hound as a child.

As far as my film consumption goes, its been all over the place lately. I finally got Enter the Void on Blu-ray, which is still one of my favourite films from the last decade. I got The Walking Dead on Blu-ray also, which while flawed, is still pretty great. I was a little skeptical of the additional characters of Merle and Daryl, but if I think they're going with Merle the way I think they're going, making him the Guvenor, then I accept that decision. Plus, Michonne will apparently be in season 2, and thats pretty exciting, because the show is definitely missing swords.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday, November 15th, 2002

My writing has been lazy as of late. Well, not that lazy, I got a fancy new book from Rebecca for Christmas which I have been writing in a fair bit, but none of it is shareable, at least not in its current form. So instead, I've gone back to the archives, and am unearthing some classic Roachstaff tales.

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

The future and beyond

I thought about writing either a year in review thing like i did last year, or do a 2011 new years resolution thing. But I'm not. Whilst it was most definitely not the best Christmas I've ever had, having to put my most adorable blind ninja cat to sleep, spending Christmas eve at the hospital in Guelph after Rebecca's dad came close to kidney failure, and then spending Christmas and Boxing day puking my guts out and shitting my pants, it gave me sometime to think introspectively about several things, and also to watch a lot of films.

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


Let's start with my failure to complete my October challenge.

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

Udlug Spleenripper

I post this again, as I did on Facebook earlier, because this short documentary his been on my mind all day. I came home, described it to Rebecca, knowing full well that she would never be able to watch it without crumpling into a ball of tears, and I found myself crying in the process. That's the power of cinema ladies and gentleman.

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

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.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shaman of Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!

I had every intention of going to see A Serbian Film at the Bloor tonite, but I am zonked. My body, aching from my recent re-start of the physically fit Matt program, and tired from lack of sleep and recovery, is telling me stay home, rest, and watch Reign of Assassins. So that's what I did. Here's what I was missing.

My body will thank me for it. And Reign of Assassins was amazing enough to warrant the change.

Pin - A grand fine piece of Canadiana with a very young David Hewlett, about a family and their relationship with Pin, a life sized, anatomically correct dummy the father keeps as a prop at his family practice. The father, a doctor and also a ventriloquist, uses Pin as a means of education and entertainment for the youngsters, using his ventriloquism skills to have an engaging conversation with the dummy. Of course the doctors children, particularly his son, develop a strange relationship with Pin. A strange relationship indeed. Also a strange but engaging film that I liked a lot.

Voodoo Island - A silly b-horror film from the 50's featuring the acting stylings of Boris Karloff, it features some really bad excuses for killer plants and a rather abrupt and anti-climatic end. But it on the plus side, it features some great dialogue and Boris Karloff!

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake - Another 50's horror film, incidentally released by MGM as a double feature along with Voodoo Island, this film is the much better of the two. The story is far more interesting, the special effects are far better, and it has this guy with these weird catfish mouth barbs dangling over his lips and he walks around in silence, poisoning people with a long dart.

The Manson Family - This film took 10 years to make! And its great. Disturbing, and crazily psychedelic, this film is probably takes you as close as you can get to visualizing the state of mind the family must have been in during their time of love and then death. Its frickin' trippy, but oh so good.

Karla - This was interesting. It had the appearance and feel of a made for TV movie, and whilst the approach to the narrative was interesting, presenting Karla's view of events and then letting you know at the end she was probably lying the entire time, it doesn't really use that route to its advantage. Its a bland film. Not in the least bit offensive, but not really engaging either. It just sort of exists.

The Collector - From Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the writers of Saw 4, 5, 6 and the upcoming 3-D incarnation, comes a film that's basically Saw but in a house with a man dressed as gimp instead of jigsaw. At heart the film has some interesting ideas, a decent story, and some solid cinematic execution, however the insistence on using gratuitous violence and even more gratuitous means of death in this film is taken to levels that are borderline loony tunes. There is physically no way in hell this guy was able to rig that house the way he did without Arkin ever realizing. I laughed. Which is sad, because it did excite me for the first 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, until it descended into mindless, pointless and ultimately meaningless and ineffective gore. Plus, Arkin's decisions get more ridiculous as the film progresses. If your suspension of disbelief level is so high that you think you can fly in real life, then you will probably enjoy this film. Otherwise, you'll get frustrated.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I continued my quest of 31 horror films over the month of October. Not as easy as you think. I am 2 days behind

Ju-on (V-cinema) - Takashi Shimizu's original v-cinema sensation, this sort of breaks my rules as I had seen this, just not with subtitles. You can read a review I wrote for it here. I have a theory that some films are scarier when you are absorbed by the visuals and not so much the narrative. This happened with this film, which I found haunting the first time I watched it sans subtitles, although not so much this time. The same thing happened the second time I saw Ringu. The first time was in the middle of the, and the film had subtitles, and while it was still frickin' amazing and oozed dread, it was far more a frightening experience the second time I watched it, late one night on TV in Korea, with no subtitles to save me. Maybe its the fact that glancing down to subtitles breaks the ever building sense of despair these films exude. I don't know. All I know is, it was scarier when I wasn't wrapped up in the narrative.

Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo - This year marked the 10th anniversary of the release of the original v-cinema Ju-on (see above) and so Takashi Shimizu 'oversaw' the production of two sequels, Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo aka Ju-on: White Ghost and Kuroi Shoujo aka Black Ghost. White Ghost definitely had its moments. I won't go into too much detail as I will be reviewing it shortly at the J-Film Pow-Wow, but needless to say, what it lacked in SFX and scary ghosts, it made up for with tension and a few creepy moments.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - This is another terrible remake by Platinum Dunes, and by the most pretentious music video director on earth, Samuel Bayer. I have issues with this man and his anal retentive Kodak film ads. Moving on, the film lacked any kind of tension, or character development. Its just a series of quick scares that have no build at all, and that are always combined with a loud boom of bass and loud noise, to let you know what just happened was suppose to be frightening. This is a piece of shit, the Paul Haggis version of a horror film.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days - I loved 30 Days of Night, and I love Ben Templesmith's art. This film obviously lacks the budget the first one has, and because of that it suffers. Its not a bad film, its actually fairly well executed. The problem is that the vampires, who are suppose to be feral and animalistic, don't look nearly as good as they should, like in the original. It also comes off sort of daft, because there are only a handful of vampires in the film. They send 30 or so to butcher Barrow in the first film, but here the queen Lilith only has 6 of them on her giant freighter? A bit silly.

Frozen - Adam Green is really becoming a force to be reckoned with. I loved this film. Very tense, and it had moments that made me cringe. Its also refreshing to see a film like this, that is simple in concept, and based around some great performances by the actors. And some of the camera work is pretty amazing. Adam Green's got some balls to make a film like this.