Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Long Threatened Ramble On Asian Pop Part 2

Recently I bought a copy of Kim Ki-duk's 3-Iron or by it's Chinese title 空室情人。It doesn't have English subtitles but that's ok because the two main characters don't talk. And most of what the other characters have to say you get the general gist of anyway. I really like this movie because in some ways it takes one of my bad habits to the logical extreme. I really like to walk by people's windows at night and people who are dumb and leave their lights on and their curtains undrawn let people like me look into their houses. I like looking mainly because it gives you the sense of getting a brief look into other people's lives. I also realize this makes me kind of creepy.

The first main character in the film, as I mentioned takes this to the next level and breaks into the houses of people on vacation, wears their clothes, eats their food, fixes their broken appliances, and essentially lives their life. He also takes pictures of himself next to their family photographs. However in one house he breaks into it's not empty there's a former model who's married to an abusive businessman. She doesn't talk either. In fact after he goes about his normal routine of fixing things and taking pictures, she stalks him around her own house. Eventually the two of them go off together, not before he almost kills her husband using a golf balls and a golf club. Actually golf is a major theme in this film, every guy seems to have one and golf strangely enough becomes a symbol of aggression and violence. By the end of the film, the two have them have figured out how to not exist at all, or rather exist where people aren't looking.

The acting in the film has to be really good because in the majority of the film no one talks, and it is. The two lead actors communicate their characters' emotions without saying anything. We're never completely told what either of their deals are, or how they ended up where they are but enough is given that I was satisfied anyway.

On a completely different subject, I've found that many Taiwanese people that I have met here don't like Asian movies, perhaps in a similar way to how I don't really like Hollywood movies. Some of them like European movies but a lot of them like Hollywood movies. Makes me wonder whether I like Asian movies just because on some level they're exotic to me. Or whether in fact, they're just better. I like to think it's the latter.

Also there seem to be different levels of acceptability attatched to various pop stars. For example it's ok to like Leehom 王力宏 and JJ 林俊傑 but many people to whom I've mentioned that I listen to Jay 周傑倫 's music visibly recoil in horror. Apparently it's his public persona, which frankly I haven't been exposed to because I don't understand news broadcasts at all. My private student says Leehom is better because he writes his own stuff, but he writes just as much as Jay, so I can't really figure it out. Perhaps his association with "the youth?" Maybe he's on the level of Jolin 蔡依琳。Really can someone resolve this for me? On the bottom you've got 5566, Energy, K-One, Tension, and maybe the Twins. Hell, even my 12 year old students know Energy wears stupid clothes.


Anonymous said...

the movie sounds kind of fetishy but its an interesting concept...

i feel like ive only seen a handful of good movies, and a lot of the times they're either so tragic you feel down for a week or they're funny, but only for a chinese audience....and i recon you dont have a particular liking to romance flicks, so heh...

really...people dont like Jay Chou anymore? i thought he was at the peak of his career.

Anonymous said...

ps - by good movies i meant good Chinese movies


nien said...

i think people don't like jay as much because he's really cocky during interviews. i think leehom writes more that jay, it's just that they both produce everthing. but i think it's also "ranked" by singing ability. leehom and JJ can sing pretty good. jay is okay, but people say he mumbles all the time. and everyone on the bottom sucks at singing.

oh, i got into an arguement with someone from hk about asian films. and the reason why is that asian films are of lower quality than hollywood films. so everything thing from the acting, writing, directing in the dramas to the quality of the explosions are better in films from hollywood.

there is a higher percentage of crap in asian films because pop idols cross over regardless of talent. and also there was a period of time in the late eighties, i think, when everything just sucked and people got sick of watching it so chinese people turned to western films and got hooked ever since. one reason why infernal affairs was so good was because it sort of broke the streak of crappy releases and was a real big blockbuster. after that it was shaolin soccer and kung fu. so, i mean, slowly chinese films are starting to catch on. i noticed this for mainland tv serials. a lot of them are terrible and a lot of people watch korean dramas that are dubbed over.

but, i think those people are ignorant about the some of the older directors like zhang yimou, chen kaige and wong karwai. even fruit chen is pretty good for plot. johnnie to and andrew lau is pretty good for production values.

Jamaica said...

I don't know much (well, anything at all) about Chinese pop, but there's always a hierarchy in such things. During the Boy Band era over here, it was okay (relatively speaking) to be into *NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys, and then less acceptable to like 98 degrees or um, Vertical Horizon (who would probably argue that they're not a boy band at all), and the height of suckitude to like someone like, Boyzone or O'Town (especially the latter).

These preferences were roughly correlated to popularity/sales, but only roughly; per song, O'Town was played more and sold nearly as much as BSB (this is a really skewed measure, though, since O'Town had 1.5 hits, and BSB had entire albums of hits, not to mention the fact that O'Town was a gimmick band and dissolved quickly).

One might make the same sort of hierarchy for rock/alternative (in: vaguely emo or (formerly)indie bands - see: Modest Mouse, Jane's Addiction, Death Cab for Cutie - out: vaguely poppy bands that have been around for a while - see: Blink182 - acceptable but not The Thing: bands with serious longevity such that they've come in again - see especially: Green Day; also Coldplay), or rap (I don't know enough to make this current, but I'm sure my little sisters could), or country, or any sort of genre with quick turnover.

More fringe or slowly moving genres - electronica, jazz, classical etc. do have such hierarchies, but also tend to be specialized enough that the hierarchies are at least assumed to be somewhat directly correlated with talent or innovation. Until and unless one gets things 'crossing over,' acceptability tends not to be as big of a deal as in more mainstream types of music. You might be mocked on the electronica scene for liking a Sandstorm mix or Smile. Dk's Butterfly, since those gained popularity and thus became 'uncool,' but taking songs of the same quality (and possibly by the same artists) that did not have such crossover appeal might be all right within the same group.

... I just massively overthought that, didn't I?

lovelesscynic said...

Wow, I had totally forgotten about O Town. You're right though. Longevity does play a factor in all this. In fact, I believe that at least in Asia the Backstreet Boys have even come back with an album called "Never Gone" so perhaps we shouldn't write them into history in the Boy Band Era yet. And then of course there are those who transcend their genre and just jump into the longer lived category of R&B singer, which is waay more acceptable than being a pop tart,listening Alicia Keyes is much more acceptable than listening to Britany for example.