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There is always room for improvement; leave a comment tell me what you think. And please, be brutal. Nothing like being eviscerated by the general public (though in reality no one reads this so maybe not so general public).

26 12월, 2007

Music For my Soul

As mentioned and groused before on this blog, music on the great Western front seems to be on the decline. The lack of imagination seems to be the prevailing trend in all sorts of genres. Of course there is the occasional unmistakable breakout of amazing talent such as Amy Winehouse and...come to think of it, that pretty much sums it up, with maybe the exception of (maybe) The Gossip. Instead people like Take That, with their stonkingly good first single from their comeback album, Westlife with their Michael Buble rehash and even the flippin' Spice Girls seem to have oodles more talent and are back with a vengeance here in the United Kingdom. Spice Girls might be stretching it. So  again thanks to the conduit of Javabeans and her fab website, an introduction me to a group known as Clazziquai occurred by happy happenstance about eight months ago, and boy is the music just absolutely gorgeous.

It originally started of as a one off side project  in 2001 for DJ Clazzi with brother and sister singers Christina and Alex Chu and was called the Clazziquai Project, received little notice from the critics, but created underground hype on the net. Their first album in 2004, Instant Pig was their come out party, garnering them critical and public success and their music was used in films (How to Keep my Boyfriend) K-dramas (run away success My Lovely Sam Soon) and advertisements, and they soon became a well known band. By this time however Christina had now become an unofficial member and was instead replaced by vocalist Choi Horan. To date they have released 3 full albums Instant Pig (2004), Colour Your Soul (2006) and Love Child of the Century (2007), as well as various remix albums including the latest Robotica (2007) which has 6 new tracks and remixes of 7 older songs.

Clazziquai's music is firmly in the camp of non hip hop, wannabe or otherwise, though this doesn't preclude them from working with hip hop acts like Tablo from Epik High amongst others. DJ Clazzi wanted to create a fusion of Jazz, House and Trance amongst others, creating this uniquely cool sound, and it works superbly. One of the best tracks is Gentle Giant, a charming, nursery rhyme like song that manages to be engaging and off-beat at the same time.

Here's a video (fan made, actually created for the K-drama Thank You) for  Gentle Giant. The little trill that Alex does while singing "falling" always gets me

My apologies. I will eventually learn to upload audio tracks and so not put you through all this hassle, but till then, enjoy.


All their albums are entirely entertaining and just a joy to listen to, a  versatile hash of bossanova to funk, and electronica. For those looking for an alternative to the current indie music (which really can't be defined as indie anymore because its mainstream and indie one would think was the defined as anything done with a small budget in someone's garage) I highly recommend this group just for its sheer sense of fun and great musicality too. The only drawback is that they are Korean (even though Alex is Korean/Canadian, but he might be from the French-speaking bit, who knows) and  their English lyrics sometimes make no sense (e.g. lets get dance/moving in a right time).


Another video, this time from their most recent full album, Love Child of the Century (2007), entitled Lover Boy.

Quick Note

Hey folk(s), felicitations of the season and what not. Just a quick, sad note. The choreographer of one of my favourite movies of all time, Michael Kidd, passed away. I've watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) since I was about eight years old, and it is one of my most enduring and fond memories of my late uncle's household. I never got tired of his collection of Elvis, Bollywood and classic Hollywood movies, and he is partly responsible for my love of movies today. Seven Brides with its strong, rousing choreography and retelling of Sabine Women tale, even though it was a tad bit politically incorrect, was a perrenial favourite and is part of my DVD collection to this day.

Michael Kidd also worked in the theatre, and directed the footwork Guys and Dolls (1951) for which he won a Tony for.

May he rest in peace.

15 12월, 2007

Rain is Coming to a Screen Near You!

For the few who are unaware, the Wachowski Brothers (responsible for the Matrix trilogy) are remaking the the Japanese anime Speed Racer. An integral part of any Nigerian kid's childhood due to the incessant repeats on our national TV station NTA, Speed Racer is is near and dear to my heart. What's got me all atwitter is that Rain/Bi, South Korea's hottest singer in both looks and popularity, is playing the part of the Japanese racer Taejo Togokan. Apart from the fact that most of the American audience won't notice that he is very obviously not a native Japanese speaker ( I wonder how they are going to get around that particular issue) I am quite chuffed that he will be making his first splash overseas as an actor and not as a singer.

Why acting and not singing? Well, he's had this annoying pipe dream for a while now that he's going to make it big in the American market since he's already conquered Asia. Given a whole host of huge reasons, including the fact that his brand of pop skews towards the R & B genre and America has long since moved on to "alternative" pop, and the American music industry is amazingly resitant to anything not remotely homegrown (reggaton, dancehall, heck even Daft Punk has a hard time) I do not feel that a failed pop career would be an ideal position for him to be in. A better introduction for him would be the big screen, where i'm sure he will put his best foot forward and show himself off wonderfully well in what i'm sure is going to be a very limited role. He is a solid actor with a few great productions under his belt including I'm a Cyborg But That's Ok with the fabulous director Park Chan Wook, of the Vengeance trilogy. They've got a production still with Rain about to punch the living daylights out of Emile Hirsch. I'm so excited!!! He is one of the few people I would actually squeal for, he's so cute! Ok. obligatory drooling done with.

My only misgivings so far are about the age of the characters with the actors seemingly a tad too old for the roles that they are portraying and the fact that the series is Japanese in origin, and yet they get a South Korean to play the lone Japanese character. There's also the thing about cartoons coming to the big screen and being butchered (see: Transformers) No matter, we will see what camera trickery (there is talk of full focus filming, where both the fore- and background remain in focus) we are going to be collectively dazzled with.

06 12월, 2007

Quick Note

Do you ever watch a movie or read a book and not particularly enjoy it until later on? That happens to me all the time. Take, for example, the movie Too Beautiful to Lie. Didn't particularly love it, but kept it nevertheless thinking it was an alright movie. Turns out two of my favourite thespians Kang Dong Won (from Duelist) and Kim Ha Neul (from My Tutor Friend) are both in this movie. Both solid actors and rewatching the movie I realise how much familiarity with the actors themselves plays a role in what I think or appreciate in a movie. Which leads to a myriad of problems for me to explore. Just some random food for thought.

05 12월, 2007

A Long Time a' Coming

It has been five months since I 'acquired' Running Wild. Obtained during the early stages of my "Kwon Sang Woo oppa iz to die 4!" phase, I was disinclined and lacked the energy and patience to sit and watch yet another cop drama. However unable to sleep, and skimming through my (fast diminishing) database of unwatched movies, Running Wild reared its head and having nothing better to do at three in the morning to ease my worries, it was watched.

The set up of the film is rather simple; you have your off the cuff, renegade cop and your by the book prosecutor both chasing down a supposedly reformed gangster for different reasons. The prosecutor, Yoo Ji Tae is after a supposedly reformed Crime Boss who still has plenty of underworld dealings but is running for a senate-like position. Kwon Sang Woo, plays the outre police officer hell bent on avenging his younger brother's death, killed by the crime boss as the boy tried to blackmail a gangster over murder. As an aside, KSW seems to be running into the problem of being type cast. He either plays out of control, nearly unhinged dudes with more attitude than sense (Once Upon a Time in High School, My Tutor Friend, and this movie) or romantic softie a role usually reserved for K-dramas. I have a decided preference for the tougher KSW.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I have to say watching this movie, these prosecutor and the cop elicited tons of sympathy from myself. Man I felt sorry for those dudes! They could not catch a freaking break for the life of them. Every single time that they managed a solid lead or breakthrough on capturing their erstwhile prey, something came up, and decimated all hope, sending these poor dudes back to square one. At one point the director cleverly makes it seem that the movie is drawing to a finale, the evidence is compiled, there are witnesses, the whole kit and caboodle. But is seems that it was not to be. Instead we as the audience  I was at the "screw this shit, lets cut those suckers up!" stage long before the characters did, cos man that bastard gangster was slippery. That is to say that the story was engaging, well written and altogether a solid piece of work that really entertains right through to the surprise ending. Every ounce of emotion that could be wrung out is, and both lead actors stepped up and truly delivered fine performances. I can't believe it took me five months.

4.25 Out of 5. Well written cop drama that surprises with its emotion.

Quirky Fun

A Cheerful Gang Turns the Earth, is another one of those fun, totally out there, quintessentially Japanese movies that make you truly wish for a Hollywood that goes all out to create an engaging, off-the-wall movie without resorting to crude humour. Semi-psychedelic, lots of fun and full of little nuggets of absurdity,  A Cheerful Gang follows the story of four strangers who meet at a bank robbery and decided that they had the necessary skills and the oodles of panache required to pull off a true bank heist and do so just for the hell of it. Consisting of a skilled pickpocket, a guy who talks a whole lot and is in it for poops and giggles, a human lie detector and a woman with both an amazing sense of time and driving skills (a female who is always on time and can out-drive all the other males? what is this world coming to!).

What's not to love about this movie? Its off the wall fun, while having a distinct anime feel to its pacing, its storyline and even the special effects applied. They manage in 1 hour 30 or so minutes to also coherently weave in themes of lost dreams, precocious youth, and single motherhood with a light touch. The movie does turn towards darker themes such as kidnapping and a conniving ex-husband which weigh it down a touch in the second act, but it manages to redeem itself and has a not so unexpected ending done with a firm tongue-in-cheek. Mexicans might be a tad offended by some poor choices in names in the final scenes of this movie, though.

Think the Ocean's  series with more Japanese, more fun, loads of random moments and less self referential humour. Bonus question: Name three conditions needed to put an elephant in a fridge. Not really a head-scratcher but one of those throwaway bits in the movie that added to the keen sense of whimsy that I loved.

3.75 out of 5 some solid entertainment