Mission Statement

On January 1st, 2010, I have started off the new year with an explosion - of embarrassing memories involving the New Year's Eve party I had last night. But I am now compelled to begin with the following mission statement and adhere to it commencing today.

Only recently I have become obsessed with Lewis Carroll's twin stories of Alice - Alice's Adventures (in Wonderland) and Through the Looking Glass (and what Alice found there) - and since reading the books and everything about the books, I have had a keen interest in the film interpretations of the books. What I found in these interpretations was the joy of learning other perspectives, also the joy of immersing myself within the books deeper as I unravel these perspectives. I'm constantly discovering new things - which can be said of just about any novel, but the Alice books are ones I find the utmost pleasure in reading which sets itself above any other book in the place of being my favourite.

In this very blog of mine I feel that it can be used as my medium to completely share my discoveries. In plain terms: I will write a review for every filmed interpretation I can get my hands on. There are rules to set myself, the main point will be to know how far a story can go before you can call it an "Alice" story. There are shows like Lost or movies like The Matrix which make allusions to Alice, but they are not exactly adaptations of the Lewis Carroll books. The SyFy 2009 television version of Alice however has extracted characters and events that take place in the books and twisted it into its own tale, therefore warrants a review. Basically, if a girl called Alice has followed a white rabbit down a rabbit hole (or through a looking glass) then I will want to review it.

I will have a format for every review to follow. It will be in this order:

Relating to the books - to observe exactly how the film-makers have interpreted the very words of the books, and how closely (or loosely) they have stuck to them. I also bring up concerns about the separation between Wonderland and the Looking Glass events and characters, and how some film makers have brought them together under the same roof. I bring these up more out of interest than spite, so bear with me. I will not pretend I know everything about Lewis Carroll, the Liddell sisters or any other person Carroll knew, but I know as much as I have currently read (which is not enough) and use whatever knowledge I can to help explain myself in this section of the review.

Creative liberties outside of the books - observing events or characters that have nothing at all to do with the books, and see how they interact within the story. It might be strange but this kind of thing occurs very often and sometimes they work really well, other times they completely miss the mark. I think this should be explored as thoroughly as the book itself, for it will explain either the mentality of the film-makers, or the logic of Wonderland/Looking Glass much further.

How the film plays out - split into two segments:

Storytelling structure - the pacing and overall dynamic of how the story plays out. Weather it's engaging or boring, comedy or tragedy or anywhere in between.

Filming technique - visually dissecting the scenes in terms of cinematography, movement, acting, dialogue/monologue, editing, music, sound, stage, props, special effects (CGI/puppets/compositing). If it's an animated film I'd like to observe its animation technique and technicality. If there's anything I've forgotten please tell me.

It is important that I remain objective and never use an example of "how I would have done it". These reviews are all about the films themselves and respecting how it has been done. Anything about "how I would do it" will belong in their own separate posts.

Now I would like to list all the characters of Wonderland and Looking Glass for I will often refer to who is included and not included since I believe it's a matter of importance. These lists will help not only anyone unfamiliar with the books (but familiar with the movies) but also help myself to constantly check off the characters and see who's who and what's what. I will often include characters in terms of how I interpret the story, but without breaking my own rule I will write additional notes at the end to basically say that these issues can be disregarded, yet still carry an importance in my mind when writing a review. There are also characters repeated many times, since as I see it that every time they come and go they seem to have a different behaviour. In terms of dream-logic I'd like to think they are different characters all together, this however can also be disregarded if you please.


Alice and her older sister
White Rabbit (down the rabbit hole)
Dinah (Alice's cat)*
White Rabbit with kid gloves and fan
other animals and birds inc. Dodo, Duck, Eaglet and Lory
White Rabbit (thinks Alice as "Mary-Ann")
White Rabbit (voice)
Pat (voice)*
other various voices
Bill (sounds and voice)
a crowd of animals and birds inc. Bill (a lizard) and guinea pigs
Giant puppy dog
Caterpillar (smoking hookah on a mushroom)
Old Father William and his son
Pigeon (crying "serpent!")
Fish footman
Frog footman
Cheshire cat
Baby (pig)
Cheshire cat (talking to Alice)
March Hare
Five, Seven and Two (of spades - gardeners)
the Queen's parade -
-ten soldiers carrying clubs
-ten courtiers ornamented with diamonds
-ten royal children ornamented with hearts
-guests (Kings and Queens)
-White Rabbit
-Knave of Hearts
-The King and Queen of Hearts
Croquet game - hedgehogs and flamingos
Cheshire cat
the executioner (an ace of clubs)
The Duchess
The Queen (of hearts)
The King
Mock Turtle
The trial -
-King (as the judge)
-White Rabbit
-Knave (in chains)
-the whole pack of cards
-birds and beasts (as the jurors inc. guinea pig)
March Hare
Duchess's cook
Alice's sister

*Dinah appears when Alice falls into a dream during her fall down the rabbit hole, then she wakes up from that dream when she lands in a pile of sticks and begins her adventure. To me this represents more than a dream-within-a-dream, but more like a new dream followed by another new dream, as if this was the proper procedure to access Wonderland. I would imagine the White Rabbit must go through the same thing. This is all just my own speculation, and the Dinah-dream is often excluded from adaptations. It just occurred to me that perhaps the White Rabbit has a more exclusive access as it's presented this way in Jan Svankmajer's version, I'll post more about that in its respective review. The only time we see an illustration of Dinah is right at the end of Through the Looking Glass, but when Alice has her dream while falling is when I personally would consider Dinah as a proper character of the story, although unseen.

*As I read it in the book, the moment when Alice is stuck in W. Rabbit's house she is interpreting within her own mind what is happening outside, through voices and sounds that she can hear. I love when books use literary devices like this and doesn't just go for an all out visual description of where the characters are and what they see. The book's illustrations depict what is happening outside, but only as it's described through Alice's interpretation. So in this instance, we never actually get to meet Pat in person, other than hearing his voice and knowing he's probably Irish or something. Every film adaptation I've seen seems to depict what is going on outside as if that's how the story actually is, so then Pat now becomes a fully developed character.

Looking Glass

Here I'll decide to use the book's original "dramatis personae" and show the characters as they are representatives of chess pieces. This involves pretty much every character of the book, except a few I will add on to afterwards. The "pieces" are arranged in the order Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight, Rook.


W. Queen
W. King
Aged man
W. Knight

Alice (replacing "Lily")


Humpty Dumpty
R. Queen
R. King
R. Knight


Other characters include:
Kitty (black kitten)
Snowdrop (white kitten)
Jabberwocky and other creatures from that poem:
-Jubjub bird
The train guard
Man dressed in white paper
Gnat (tiny insect voice)
a hoarse voice (Horse) followed by other voices
Looking-glass insects:
Leg of mutton

if there was any more I missed out please let me know.

Alice with a hat?

Here is a thumbnail sketch I did a while ago. If I had time I'd scan some other attempts I made, but maybe in the future I'll show what my progress is like as I keep re-attempting these images until I've perfected them.

The story behind it goes like this:

I've often said (not on this blog but elsewhere) that if I were to do an interpretation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland then I would leave out any element from Through The Looking Glass. There are many reasons, but the biggest one is that Looking Glass has its own logic which is more self-contained outside of Wonderland, mixing them up will not so much taint Wonderland but more-so on the genius of Looking Glass. More explanations on the separate logics of Wonderland and Looking Glass will come later.

HOWEVER, if I were to interpret Wonderland, perhaps I might take liberties in adding elements of the original MS - "Alice's Adventures under Ground". Now what is in the original MS that is not included in Wonderland? We all know that there are many things in Wonderland not included in the MS, many of the best parts, but if you read the MS much closer it will certainly have a different feeling to it. What I like about Under Ground is that it is much more directed as a gift towards the Liddell sisters, whereas the Wonderland story is more directed to a general audience, but with parts that still honour the idea of being a gift to the Liddell sisters. Oh yeah, and there's also this one small detail, mentioned only once but sparked a whole new world of ideas in my mind:

"And yet what a dear little puppy it was!" said Alice, as she leant against a buttercup to rest herself, and fanned herself with her hat, "I should have liked teaching it tricks, ..."

I thought it interesting, since the illustrations by Lewis Carroll in the MS (which he stated he drew them much later after writing down the words) depicted Alice without a hat. Maybe he forgot about it? Maybe he thought it was too hard to draw? His drawings aren't very good by illustration standards, I could imagine him having nightmares about trying to draw a hat. I remember the difficulties of hats back when I was a crude artist. Then when it came time to write Wonderland, he probably considered the illustrator John Tenniel would be drawing Alice with no hat, so he changed the text:

"And yet what a dear little puppy it was!" said Alice, as she leant against a buttercup to rest herself, and fanned herself with one of the leaves. "I should have liked teaching it tricks very much, ..."

So what is the true Carrollian intent? Did he want a hat, but thought it too difficult to predict visually? It makes sense to me, since Wonderland is set in summertime, a hat would be useful, plus being the Victorian era when it was common practice to wear hats. Or was it more "Carrollian" to have Alice fan herself with one of the leaves? She was shrunk down so small that a leaf would be sufficient to be a fan.

In my mind, I want to see more Alice wearing a hat. I would want an interpretation that other people may not have seen before, and still back up my points with quoting the text to support my ideas (without having to twist words, but just leave the words as they are).

I've run out of time so maybe I'll expand this later.

Although I did fail the challenge

I wasn't afraid of doing so!!

What I learn.

I set a challenge for myself recently on DeviantArt. For 15 days in a row, I will draw one picture a day and submit it to my gallery regardless of quality and completion. One hope is to make a habit out of drawing pictures more, but along the way I found myself overcoming many weaknesses I have had that held me back. These are weaknesses I would outright deny, or even worse proclaim them to be my strengths! Here are the two generalised weaknesses with expanded insight explaining just about everything in the universe: Fear of Failure and Perfectionism. I am NOT trying to write an inspirational piece! This is entirely personal, only fit for me. If anyone else relates to it then that's fine, but there is no gospel here.

1. Fear of Failure.

This one was hard to admit at first, but looking at my results in the past (or lack of) I had to seriously analyse myself and open my mind to any new possibilities if it had a chance of helping me. I'm only up to the 6th day in my challenge and I've already noticed how fear of failure has consumed me in the past.

The way it works is this: I draw a picture and it's chock full of mistakes, I hate the drawing. It doesn't meet the minimum standards of quality I'm looking for and so I discard the drawing. The thing is, my standards of quality are much higher than anything I've ever produced in my life. They are based on other people's drawings that I'm aiming for! In order to reach that standard it takes A LOT of hard work and most importantly, the know-how.

Contrariwise (I couldn't resist), you may learn new tricks all by yourself in your own experimentation, but if you don't know how to do something you actually want to do then you won't always accomplish it through sheer luck. It takes research, practice, mastering, THEN you're open to experimentation. Above all, A LOT OF HARD WORK.

This is what fear of failure is about. I think about attempting what I don't know, but because I don't know then I haven't begun, and all that hard work that could have happened never will happen. The irony of having fear of failure is that in the end you fail anyway.

To overcome the fear of failing, I have completely eliminated the standards of quality I'm after, and I just draw what I want draw without worrying how bad it looks. If I end up hating it afterwards, at least I made something, and the failure doesn't taste so bad after all. In the end the only person I'm trying to impress is myself. I'm more impressed that I can come up with any output at all.

I am in favour of quality over quantity, but I can't handle it. I can't privately draw a thousand bad pictures for every good one I show. Keep in mind, this is only addressing my own personal issues, I wish not to inspire others to think like I do.

2. Perfectionism.

If you think too hard, you may think perfectionism is the same as fear of failure. If you think even harder, you'll find that it's in a completely different league all together. You may have heard many clichés like "nobody's perfect!" or "perfection doesn't exist!". They basically summarise everything I'm about to say, but I would really like to expand on the inherent problem of perfectionism with a couple of examples.

Firstly, perfectionism comes after the step of overcoming fear of failure, and you are ready to start working hard. But where is the point that you will be truly completed? Through the following examples I will demonstrate that no matter what state your work is in, it's always never finished and in a constant state of work-in-progress.

I'd like to use the example of a blu-ray disc I spent a lot of money on recently called Rebuild of Evangelion 1.11 - You Are (Not) Alone. I also have the DVD of Evangelion 1.0 as a comparison, not to mention the original TV series which the movie was based on (virtually identical to the first few episodes). One of the special features was a musical vignette charting the progress of "rebuilding" the Evangelion 1.0 movie into 1.01 (the version 1.11 is rebuilt even further). There are many scenes deconstructed by starting off with an animatic, or a pencil test, or primitive CGI graphics, then constantly reshowing the scene in motion as it's being worked on. The scenes would usually come to a point of being acceptable of being published on the screen, but then it gets taken further and further. More sparkles, more subtle movements, more lighting effects. It becomes excessive. I think the point that they are trying to illustrate (even from the numbering "1.11" in the title) is that there will never be a definitive, final, "perfect" version of the film. There's no reason why there can't be an Evangelion 1.2 or 1.21, up to a 1.99999999 and so on. It's possible to keep it going and going and going until it becomes the most excessively expensive and technically accomplished animation of ALL TIME (as if it wasn't already).

The other example is on another blu-ray I spent a lot of money on, being the "Definitive" Blade Runner. What they have now claimed is that this is the ABSOLUTE FINAL cut of Blade Runner. There are already 4 other versions floating around, so it was time to take all the footage they had, re-master it, fix up some scenes, piece it together under the final decisions of Ridley Scott, release it and say "No more! This is it! The DEFINITIVE FINAL CUT!!". What's to say Ridley Scott could be watching it two years later and thinking "damn it! I liked it when he said "fucker" instead of "father" like he originally did!".

The possibilities of reworking the film are endless! Scenes could be taken out for pacing, or scenes could be re-arranged. How about putting the Unicorn dream at the very beginning, opening shot of the film? Harrison Ford wakes up to it, and as for the actual opening where the last blade-runner gets shot, that information can be slowly divulged over time when they re-play the footage throughout the movie! I only just thought of that on the spot! Of course, just about every scene would have to be re-arranged to play out differently, all I'm saying is that it will NEVER be perfect. Never truly, definitively, finally completed.

Everything produced is always still in its work-in-progress, this includes work-in-progress itself. Say a film is only half completed, the rest is only shown in storyboard animatic, or missing footage, unrendered CGI effects etc. That to me is just as valid as a product you will see on the screen in the cinema (half the time they are even reworked further for the home video release). It may not look as spectacular, but the point is that it's there. The point is - there is another point relating to the last point.

If nothing is ever "complete", then when is the best time to stop working on it? First answer: when you're exhausted (either your health or even your funds). Second answer: when you hit the deadline. If you have no more time to spare, that's that and that's it. You may think you have no deadline, but that's where you're wrong. We all have a deadline, if you think about it. My deadline for this particular challenge I'm doing is midnight every night. You can set your own deadlines for yourself if you're unsure. Working without a deadline is like working without anything, but if that must be the case, then you might as well go with the first answer. I usually stop drawing when I'm completely exhausted, then I go and watch a movie or play a video game for the rest of the night.

Overcoming perfectionism is coming to accept that there is no completion. Every species on the planet is still evolving. Everything you do will always be work-in-progress (WIP). You must accept that early stages of WIP and later stages of WIP are one in the same blanket. When you need to stop, then just stop! You can always re-work it later when you've gained some know-how, or you can just move on to something else!


A smaller thing for me to overcome right now is laziness. I just generally feel too tired a lot of the time to ever work on anything. Firstly, I know there is no such thing as "artist's block", it's just an excuse for your laziness. If I'm out of my own ideas, then I'll draw some fan-art. My mind is always banging on about something, so it's not hard to draw anything related to what I think about.

An obvious improvement over laziness, even general fatigue, is analysing your own diet. If food is supposed to supply you with energy, then why do I get tired when I eat so much of it? Firstly, it's hard to have energy when you're not up and exercising physically, and drawing pictures or writing isn't about developing your six-pack no matter how you think about it! Secondly I'm eating too much crap and I'm not eating enough vegetables and raw fruits.

I read some blog post from a vegan talking about how milk isn't good for you unless you have four stomachs like a cow, and how his health has improved after he started eating more vegetables and raw fruit. I was slightly irritated by a sudden turn in vegan-preaching, but simultaneously I was desperate enough to try something new anyway. I went down to the fruit-store and bought some pears and mandarins and experienced it myself. I started feeling a bit ill, which is apparently normal as the "toxins" were being "flushed out", but then I felt fine a little while later, and rather energised too! To me it felt like a cleansing process, and the thing about me is that I kind of like the cleansing process, enough to go "play in the dirt" just so I can get cleaned out again. I still drink milk, I enjoy my calcium, but I make sure I eat some raw fruit afterwards. I've taken it upon myself to eat more fruit, I feel it's done me well. You don't get an energy "kick" like a caffiene buzz, but it's more like a healthy energy spread out over time, which is exactly what I want for non-physical exercise and long-lasting concentration.

Overcoming laziness is the biggest challenge, but the best way I can think of is through the art of habit. We live our lives by habits, we make them and break them all the time. Most habits are formed without us even realising, but the most important thing to remember is that you can make your own habits. It takes patience, hard work and fanatical dedication, but you can do it.

The trick is to give yourself at least 30 days for the challenge (this is also a trick some advertisers try when they ask you to "take the 30 day challenge", so that you form a habit of buying their product intuitively against your will). Keep repeating your action over and over, mentally aware of it at first, every day. Eventually you won't have the mental awareness, it will soon become second-nature. You will just keep doing it out of the plain fact being it's what you do. Breaking habits is just as much a mental task as making them. Personally I'd like to say it's 15 days, but I haven't really tried it seriously until now, so we'll see.


RED NINJA video game review

Firstly I watched the opening movie, laughing at how corny it is, probably written by a 13 year old boy, being appalled by its choppy Uwe Boll-esque editing, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of personality or charm in the main character, a shame because she's designed so cute.

So I started playing the game, I figured out the right analogue stick controlled the camera, so I immediately went for the up-skirt and felt I've accomplished all I needed to in this game. I proceeded to turn it off and put it away, forever.

Ponyo ~ a review (pictures to come)

Yesterday I decided to make the trip to Dendy cinemas in Portside, since it's the only place screening "Ponyo" in its original Japanese language (with subtitles). I am of the opinion, although it still lies at the heart of the fundamentals of animation, that the voices must be recorded BEFORE the animation and not after. The animators must make a performance based on the voice work! If you add voices after an established performance you are going to ruin it!!!!! The last (and only) Ghibli film I heard in English dub was "Spirited Away" which tore at my heart like a rain of knives. It's worse than listening to a ballad by Britney Spears! (I was going to say "shards of glass scraping across a blackboard" but I concluded that that might sound pretty cool)

So anyway, the movie, in its original Japanese...it's beyond words. It's what animation should be, and so much more, to the point of being excessive (which is a good thing). But what should animation be? Let me explain. Animation is about giving life to the drawings on your piece of paper. Animation should make you put aside your disbelief of what's real and what's not real - without you even realising it! This involves more than just illustration principles, there is also heavy reliance on sound-design, and also good story-telling. In this sense an animator is more like a wizard, a grand conjurer, a mage who defies the laws of energy-conservation and creates something from nothing. Hayao Miyazaki has shown with "Ponyo" that he is the grandest, most majestic magician alive. From the opening sequence of sea-life, watching hundreds of jellyfish moving across the screen all individually, and all of it drawn by hand!! It is absolutely captivating from start to finish. When Ponyo is running across the water, chasing the car, I was truly overwhelmed.

I love how Studio Ghibli is one of the last few Japanese studios to practice FULL animation. It doesn't associate itself with any of the other traditions and clichés that have befallen the rest of the market, which in turn has alienated the dedicated fans of the 80's and 90's pre-"Love Hina" anime who found something decent to escape into, but now is tainted with a system of executives and market-research to find out what "sells". Studio Ghibli still concerns itself with good, unconventional story-telling. The mood of Ponyo is like a rollercoaster that doesn't stop. All the characters are lovable, even Ponyo's father (who plays a bit of a villain, but not in a generic "evil" way). This is important, it makes me want to keep watching, knowing I'm in safe hands without awkward uncomfortable moments like heart-break and betrayal, the kind of Disney/Don Bluth stuff that rapes you and tries to hug you afterwards. Some people might crave that kind of stuff but I've been through it too many times, I'd rather a true sense of purity like a Miyazaki film, and then his own sentimentalities that come out (i.e. caring for the elderly and pollution in nature) have much more effect.

In summary, "Ponyo" was amazing. If you had any decent sense you would make it your NUMBER ONE priority to watch this film (providing it is in its original Japanese).

In other news I bought a scanner recently and I intend to use it.
I get lots of cool ideas, but when the opportunity comes to write them down it never crosses my mind and I'm sidetracked ALL the time. I might as well do it here right now while I have blogger open.

Firstly, before I get to the game, I should mention one idea that's been brewing lately: Tap-Dancing Metal. If done right and taken seriously enough it would be brutal as hell! Just think about the blistering-fast tempos!

I guess the world isn't ready for it yet. Oh well, back to the game.

I won't go into the details of the inspiration behind this, I'll just start right off the bat with the premise.

I call it "Roleplay Overlord". You begin with your character (I'm thinking you customise their look) with enough money to buy 1 of 3 different RPG's from the video-game store. In the start there are a total of 5 RPG's you can buy but you'll have to save up enough money to get them all. To make money you have to play your RPG (a game within the game) until you build your characters strong enough to enter tournaments (kind of like Golden-Sun battles or like Pokemon battles), which start off as local tournaments (a prize might be another RPG game), city-wide tournaments, state-wide tournaments, country-wide tournaments then you get accepted in the world-wide tournaments. For those tournaments you need to make enough money to buy a 2-way ticket, and if you lose the tournament you don't get your money back so you better be really good at your RPG! Once you become the world champion, you get an e-mail inviting you to the underground high-stakes tournament where it's REALLY difficult and expensive but you get A LOT of money if you win.

Now, these 5 RPG's are all different and equally rich in depth as each other (maybe the more expensive ones have more depth), you carry around a save-card that holds your character data to take into the tournaments. There are particular secret bonuses and items that can cross over the RPG's for extra advantages, so keep that in mind. When you have mastered all 5 RPG's you will unlock the 6th RPG, which is a game where your character has enough money to buy 1 of 3 RPGs in the video-game store, but in this game (within the game) there is only a total of 3, but over-all it works the same as the main game described in the above paragraph, not to mention there are items and bonuses can carry over to the original 5 RPG's. These 3 RPG's should have simpler graphics, all in 2D and 16-bit colour pixels which will make them distinct, but they still are rich in depth as the original 5 RPG's in the main game.

Now, beating those 3 RPG's within the game within the game, you unlock a 4th RPG, except it doesn't start with you buying RPGs and entering them in tournaments, it's just another typical fantasy RPG but it's REALLY HARD, you're expected to grind for HOURS before you can move to the next area and there are confusing mazes that require you to draw your own maps, and all the items are really expensive so you have to grind even more. The bosses are next to impossible and they kill you every time, unless you grind for DAYS or WEEKS and if you beat the bosses then you get super secret special items that can carry over into the previous 3 RPG's and even the main 5 RPG's. There is a special place in this ultra-hard 4th RPG where you will get the opportunity to play a simple text-based RPG, so now we have a game within a game within a game within a game and this is the ULTIMATE challenge, because it's REALLY SUPER HARD and there are barely any graphics, just large 8-bit pixels of a guy reading a page (he's kind of like the "Dungeon Master" of a D&D game) and occasionally your dice rolls. It would be a good idea in the "4th RPG" you're playing to collect as many dice as you can to give yourself the upper hand in luck. In the ultimate text-based RPG is where you find the real beneficial bonuses that will make you near-unstoppable in the other 3 RPG's or the main 5, but not so much in the underground high-stakes challenge where most players will probably have these items anyway.

In summary, here's the hierarchy:

. . . . |
. . . . |
RPG1--RPG2--RPG3 -(RPG4) -(RPG5) ((RPG6))
. . . . . . . _____________________|
. . . . . . . |
(rpg4)- rpg1-rpg2-rpg3
. . . |
. . . |
text based RPG

The idea is that this game is to be the most time consuming game ever made. Ever.


Come to my house on the night of nth of m, 20xx and we will watch the following:
From Dusk Till Dawn
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
Good Night And Good Luck
Syriana (optional)

See you there or maybe not!

Video Game reviews.

Even though I have a full-time job, this doesn't mean I can't spend late nights enjoying emersive video games. Here are a few reviews for recent ones I picked up:


This game is really good and found myself playing it up until the point I stopped playing it, then I found I haven't played it since then. I do hope to pick it up again soon!


Here are a couple more games:

DOKIDOKI (heartbeat?) MAJO (witch) SHINPAN (hunt-down) DUO (2)

I don't know what it is with the Japanese and their witches but they seem to really like witches, especially cute little girl ones or sexy ones that aren't really witches by definition and don't do anything witch-like, and ones that attend middle-school and worry about un-witchly things like romance with a boy who has no personality and looks really creepy when you rarely see them. I think the Japanese have done as much research on witches as they have done on chimeras, behemoths and the laws of physics.

But as for this game, you'd only appreciate it if you're a pervert, and even then you'd have to be dedicated enough to beat this game without knowing how to read walls of Japanese text (pro tip: hold down the Y button to zip through the text). I've beaten this game twice.


So here we have more Japanese witchery (the girl in the foreground of the above image). Here is a game that I have been obsessed by for the past few weeks - and I don't even like Golf! I must say the concept of "fantasy golf" is more appealing than "EA Sports Tiger Woods Generic Golf Game Two Million Seven Hundred And Ninety Six Thousand Four Hundred And Eighty Eight This Time With High Definition Grass Texture!". But why am I so obsessed with Pangya!?

I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a gross fascination, shall I say "fetish", with the concept of dress-up games. I never played with dolls, but somehow I feel I've missed out on so much enjoyment when it comes to dressing up characters in little cute costumes, then throwing them out into the world and make them do things. This game gives me the pleasure of dressing-up, but at a price. The game is incredibly slow-paced, the costumes are incredibly expensive and what's worse is that I have to play freakin' GOLF to make my money! ("pang" as it's called in this game). AND LOTS OF IT.

When I unlocked the final character, Kaz, who is a really cool demon-looking boy with sharp hair and sharp eyes with razor sharp dress-sense, the game got pretty interesting. But I've reached my thresh-hold, I'm now playing against perfect calculators with little margin of error. No matter which way or how strong the wind blows, no matter what ground the ball is on, no matter what club is used, the ball will perfectly go straight towards the hole in god-like shortcuts that I've broken my knuckles punching walls from frustration in trying to replicate. I've reached my thresh hold in sheer frustration and I doubt the rest of the costumes are worth unlocking anyway.

I see that there has been a sequel released in the US and I really want to play it!

The Fate of Lost?

I just watched the season 5 finale of Lost. Don't worry there won't be any spoilers (although there may perhaps be spoilers for previous season finales), my main mind-defecation for this blog post will be more about my concern of where Lost is heading, and my internal-conflict of how I want it to keep doing what it's doing for the final season but I'm afraid at what cost?

I loved how season 5's finale gave me an overload of mindf*ck through pure storytelling, but only just the right amount of overload to keep me sane. Any more and I'd be decorating my walls with mind-defecation instead of my blog...and it might just come from more places than the mind if you know what I mean.

I thought I had a mind-bender with season 3's finale, but that was just from a writing device that caught me off guard. Up until that point we've just been getting flashback structure, then BAM we're hit with a flash-forward. Season 4 kept going with flash-forwards, but also throwing in the occasional trick like mixing in a flashback. I loved season 4 for constantly blowing my brain and mending it again just so it can be blown once more, however the finale was just more of a cliffhanger than an amazingly spectacular (there is no word that can go here to describe what I'm trying to say). Perhaps it was due to the high quality of storytelling of the previous episodes that they couldn't really reveal anything too amazing but just give off a big explosion of light and settle with that. I did like the secret compartment behind the secret compartment though.

Now we come to season 5. Without giving anything away, I just loved how we are given an answer but only at the expense of a Pandora's Box opening full of new questions. I don't think a story has been told this well since End of Evangelion, but that brings me to my ultimate conflict concerning the fate of Lost.

My favourite kind of stories are the ones that require you to have your brain switched on. I love complexity, I need to think more than I could handle, so that when I sleep my brain will grow and evolve enough to handle it, and then I need more. From my experience with people, and perhaps it's not as much experience as a normal socialite would have but also is the precise reason why I'm not a socialite, is that people tend to scoff at the idea of using their brain when it comes to entertainment. People want to be entertained with something simple and not thought-provoking. Explosions and tits accommodate to these tastes, it doesn't really matter the context of where they came from just as long as it's a bunch of pretty colours. Lost contains explosions, tits AND lots of pretty colours but they all belong to a context, so it's been doing pretty well so far.

Now, though, Lost is getting more and more complex, as it needs to, but all the explosions, tits and pretty colours are starting to fade away. Maybe not the explosions, but if they're caused by electromagnetic fields and other science mumbo jumbo then it won't hold for long. I hope it gets even more complex in the next season, but if it does it might lose a lot of its ratings and will probably be canceled before it even ends. All I can hope for is that fans of Lost, the ones who are just there for the fireworks, don't lose faith in the show and will keep supporting it. Something like this is hard for me to hope for because I've already lost faith in humanity. I know there are a lot of smart people out there, I know there are probably a few million Lost fans who love it because it provokes thought, but that's not enough against the tens of millions who'd rather watch American Idol and a bunch of mindless light shows.

Theory on "Synecdoche New York".

WARNiNG: This post will contain spoilers for anyone who has not seen this film at least twice!

I have just watched Synecdoche New York at a cinema and it was absolutely thrilling. For the first time I fully appreciated the effect of the lights dimming when the picture started, then the lights coming up when the picture ended. The reason why is outlined in my previous post about this film, but that post is a jumbled unstructured mess so I will outline it here once more. The lights dimming indicates going to sleep, the picture appearing before your eyes is told like a dream with dream-logic and the lights coming up when the picture ends indicates waking up. I believe the best way to completely enjoy Synecdoche New York is in this way. Combined with the uncovering of this theory I am about to explain, overall the experience was more than overwhelming. I could have stood up and punched the nearest person in the face. It was also interesting to notice the scenes that made other people (watching it for the first time) laugh out loud. This was my third time so I laughed at a lot more scenes, but the comedy was more about how much I love watching this film. In the second viewing I hung on every word, while the third viewing I was able to look all around at other details while still gripping on dialog, making even more sense of the film.

I also discovered an amazing feeling of paradox. The ending of the film was so climactic, because to explain it properly you have to explain the entire movie, scene by scene, as it finally builds up to this amazing conclusion. But the conclusion is played out so subtly, so gently and softly. The context is HUGE but the scene is so small. It's the same paradox as the theater production itself getting bigger and bigger, but smaller at the same time. There might be more paradoxes in the film that I haven't noticed, so I will have to look out for them in further viewings.

My theory will be explained in two parts, the context of the ending (**SPOILERS!!**), setting up the scene and also the beyond the 4th wall meaning of it all. Or perhaps, going beyond the 4th wall is also another context, hidden from view.


I will mainly center the context around the character of Ellen, the cleaning lady. I think she is a very important clue to the story. Caden Cotard goes on a search for his first wife, Adele (who is a painter), and when he's at her apartment he is mistaken for the cleaning lady "Ellen", but he assumes the role of Ellen anyway because it allows him to be inside his first-wife's apartment.

While seeing one of Adele's exhibitions he finds a portrait of Ellen. Where this portrait came from is a complete mystery, but my thinking of its origin is in my "beyond the 4th wall" theory that I will explain later. I haven't yet analyzed the film entirely scene by scene, perhaps there is a little detail I overlooked. I notice there was a scene of Ellen's dream on a television commercial much earlier in the film, but I don't think that has anything to do with the origin of the portrait. There is also the "dream logic" that crops up in the film but I like to think there's more to it, but I'll get into that later.

So, in the real world, Caden Cotard assumed the role of Ellen. In Cotard's play, he decides to recreate the scene where he assumes the role of Ellen, except use Ellen as an actual character based off this mysterious portrait. Then we get to a point where Hazel, the assistant and love-affair of Caden, dies and Caden decides to base the play on the final day before she dies. He needs a new actor to play himself (not including the actor who was playing the original actor (who comited suicide earlier) who plays himself), so in an amazing twist the actress playing Ellen convinces Caden that she can play him. After a successful rehearsal of the new version of the play (an overly dramatic version of a play within a play) Caden Cotard feels he has exhausted his creativity. The actress playing Cotard suggests she should take over the actual directing while he rests, and that he could fill the role of Ellen (in the play).

So here's the context: The actress who was playing Ellen is now playing Caden Cotard, but because Caden Cotard is now playing Ellen, the actress is playing Cotard playing Ellen BUT also directing the play at the same time. It's something that can be thought of in a single moment but will take forever to explain because your words will keep going around in circles. But when you understand it completely, you can then entirely take in the subtle, soft ending as an overwhelming climax.

But where did the portrait come from?


The easiest part to understand about Synecdoche New York is when Caden Cotard is making a play where actors are playing actors, then actors are playing the actors playing actors, and so on. But here's where my theory is: what if, from the beginning, we have been watching actors playing characters and not the actual characters themselves? Put it this way: we are watching a film by Caden Cotard, and we are not watching Caden Cotard on the screen, but we are watching Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Caden Cotard on the screen!

This could have been the original intention of Charlie Kaufman the whole time, that there is this world beyond the 4th wall that the actual events on the screen are merely imitating, taking artifacts from and playing them in the film. Not that it's based off Charlie Kaufman's own life, although maybe it is, I wouldn't know. We don't see what's behind the 4th wall, we are just seeing what's being reflected from it (perhaps represented by seeing Caden through his reflection in the mirror in the opening scene?).

A theory shouldn't be without evidence, so here are a couple moments that I think are essential clues:

Firstly when we see Caden directing the young actor in "Death of a Salesman". He gives him advice to acknowledge the fact that the audience knows that he is a young actor playing an older character who will meet his demise, and feel the tragedy of it. I find this a suitable allegory to the whole film if you take my theory into practice. Most of the actors (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Catherine Keener etc) are younger than the characters they play in the film, and we know they all meet their demise, if we're already acquainted with the story that is.

Secondly when we are watching the rehearsal of Ellen outside Adele's apartment in the play, Caden hears the voice of Adele (on a tape-loop) and attempts to open the door to the apartment himself. The actress playing Ellen says "You're breaking the 4th wall!". My thoughts are too scrambled to put this into words, but I think it's a very important clue.

As for the mysterious portrait of Ellen, well that may just be an artifact from the existence behind the 4th wall that somehow creeped its way into the 3-wall story. And if that's the case, then my hat goes off to Charlie Kaufman for blowing my mind harder than double-barreled shotgun ever could, and I don't even wear a hat!!


One more thing to mention about this film. I have read some scathing reviews about it and it mainly concerned how uncomfortable it is to watch at some points. For me it's when Caden gets his head split open at the beginning, but other than that I am absolutely enthralled and spellbound by this film. I think I could watch it a hundred times and never get sick of it. It makes it even harder to watch it analytically because I get so easily drawn into the story. I think it has something to do with the music (notice how many times Charlie Kaufman's name appears in the song-writing credits), as if the music plays the film and not the other way around like we usually perceive. I think this film is crafted to the finest detail, even everything we barely see out-of-focus in the background. Everything. Synecdoche New York could possibly be my number 1 film of all time, surpassing 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love this film and that's the brutal truth. Brutal.


Movie Night at my house! (photos taken with my DSi)

Hello! Welcome to Movie Night at Archfriend's House! All of these will be played from our living-room projector on to our large blank white wall (ignore the stains) and everyone will be served with a complimentary glass of Vodka.

First off we begin the night with -

Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight)

Specially imported from Spain (don't worry it's in English, well, Shakespearian English) this is the rare post-Citizen Kane masterpiece by Orson Welles, one that he himself always raved on about, and that's saying something! The story is a compressed version of both Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 by William Shakespeare, with elements of Richard II, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor thrown in. Centered around Shakespeare's original character, John Falstaff, it is here that Orson Welles summarized a sprawling Shakespeare epic into film-format, using bits of material that otherwise suited the theatre. The film is wall-to-wall (except for the giant battle scenes) with Shakespeare-talk so if you aren't learned in complicated English words then you'll be left behind. However, with intense active listening skills you might just be entertained with the high-brow comedie experience.

Up next we have -

Love & Pop* and Shiki Jitsu ("Ritual")

Specially imported from Japan (the US version of Love & Pop is out of print) comes these two rare masterpieces of cinema. After finishing the animated world of Evangelion, before starting on the adaptation of Cutie Honey, estranged yet highly respected story-teller Anno Hideaki decided to make these two very personal projects. Love & Pop is an interesting exercise in obscure film techniques you'll never see anywhere else plus dynamic editing that thrusts you into the story weather you can follow it or not. Shiki Jitsu is the most significant film in existence, adapted from a book written by Ayako Fujitani (Steven Seagal's daughter) AND she also acts the leading role as her own fictional character! On top of that, we have cult film director Shunji Iwai also acting in the lead male role, a big deal because this is the only film he's acted in! There are more things to explain about it but I would be just rambling on about something which could easily just go into its own post. I'll do that later.

*no subtitles

If you're still around then get ready for -

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

Specially imported from Italy this is the original 168 minute version which Sergio Leone originally intended! This will also feature the underwhelming monoreal soundtrack complete with sound-drops and all the static crackles and pops!! It's all in Italian with no subtitles so you will have complete purist-enjoyment.

And now to take us into the early hours of the morning we will watch -

Droopy, the complete theatrical collection

Get ready for non-stop laughing (on the inside) as this specially-imported-from-the-USA 2-disc set of 24 theatrical shorts climaxes all over the screen! After leaving the Warner Brother's studio tired of such bland characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck or Porky Pig, Tex Avery went to MGM with complete freedom to make fully animated shorts of his own character, Droopy. These are non-stop gag based animations the way Tex Avery imagined cartoons to be. They will be watched in chronological order in its entirety so we can count gags being recycled 1, 2, 3 even 4 times! Also, witness the crude racial humour that reflected the times in American society from when these were made! You'll be dying of laughter (on the inside)!!

Well that's it. After all that you will be kicked out into the cold grey morning and you'll have to make your own way home because I don't drive a car.

Smashing the Antiu, once a year.

Performance video for "Execration Text"

It's still unclear to me why John Vesano is no longer the bassist/vocalist for Nile. Just look at him! (in "Execration Text" and "Black Seeds of Vengeance" videos) He is a beast of a man. If I were in a death metal band I would want to keep that guy no matter what the cost.

Live performance for "Black Seeds of Vengeance"

Before Vesano there was a guy called Chief Spires but I don't know what he looked like. That's a pretty cool name though. Strangely enough after John Vesano left (after completing the "Annihilation of the Wicked" album) Nile's songs became a lot more catchier.

Demonstration of the guitars in "Papryus Containing the Spell to Preserve It's Possessor Against Attacks from He Who is in the Water" - Karl Sanders on the Left and Dallas Toler-Wade on the right.

The melodies are a lot more stronger on their last album, "Ithyphallic". It also helped that Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade weren't focused on the drumming side, as they left that up to their drummer (George Kollias). That is pretty logical to me. If a guitarist, who in most circumstances wouldn't know how to drum in the first place, wrote the drumming parts would it be anywhere near as creative as it would be if the drummer wrote his own part? Just listen to a song like "Eat of the Dead" from their last album, compared to a similar type of song from the previous album "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten". Both are great songs, but Eat of the Dead has so many little subtleties in its drumming (try air-drumming to it) that you know only the genius of a proper drummer could come up with that.

Preview of George Kollias' "Intense Metal Drumming" DVD

I've been listening to Nile lately, partly because Karl Sanders' new solo album "Saurian Exorcisms" is coming out next week and I've already pre-ordered it. His last solo album "Saurian Meditations" is excellent, it took a while to really grow on me but now every time I listen to it only gets better and better. It's almost like a soundtrack to a forbidden movie. I think the best two songs are "Of The Sleep Of Ishtar" and "Contemplations Of The Endless Abyss", the latter being relevant to my interest of avant-garde soundscapes that creep me out.

OK now I have to go and find all these youtube videos..

Thinking about thoughts on "Synechdoche New York"

Warning: this post may contain spoilers to the films "Human Nature", "Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation", "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind" and "Synechdoche New York".

I re-watched this film just now. I can't really say what my thoughts are, they're too complicated to put into words, I don't think my head has really wrapped itself around this film enough. In the fashion of the film itself, or in the fashion of Charlie Kaufman's beyond-the-4th-wall mind, I will share my thoughts about the thoughts of the film.

Because I see the film itself about being a film in itself. One thing Kaufman himself pointed out is that he was interested in dream-logic, which this film contains, yet I don't think it's all just one big dream. I see this film as being a story told in dream-language. It goes back to the old analogy that the cinema is a portrayal of a dream. Think going to the cinema, past all the trailers and commercials, the lights dim and it's totally black in the room (ignore the glowing exit sign down the bottom corner, or do your best to), this is like closing your eyes and then suddenly without noticing a moving picture with sound plays before you in your mind. This moving picture seems to have a story, familiar characters that you know or feel, but it doesn't play like real life. Time is not linear, people don't act the way you expect or sometimes they are exactly what you expect, the logic is nonsense but it doesn't mean it's not logical. When the film ends the lights go up and you stretch and feel like you've just woken, but the story plays through your mind and the more you think about it the more it gets weirder and weirder. The great thing about films opposed to dreams is that you can watch them over and over, so that if you forget something you can re-visit it again.

In "Synechdoche New York" the story is like a dream, but it's not the main character, Caden, who is dreaming, it's you - the viewer. That's what I'm trying to say.

The one thing I really love about watching this film is that it's completely the vision of Charlie Kaufman. This story wouldn't have worked if he didn't direct it. Everything about the film is complicated, like it complicates complexity and turns into itself to make the complex complications multiplying by its own value. I will talk about turning points later. As for what I'm talking about now, I'd like to explore Charlie Kaufman's other works.

I usually hate to admit that to understand a masterpiece you will usually have to understand the artist who created it. I hate to admit it because it's just too much work. I also like the idea of separating myself from "who done it" syndrome so I can try to appreciate the piece (in this case the film) from the point of view from someone who has no idea what it is, what it's about and who made it. I like that feeling of being amazed for the very first time. But then there's that part of me that says it's not enough, I need to know more and understand it more.

I've been a follower of Charlie Kaufman since "Being John Malkovich". I thought that movie was great, especially how you can watch it again and pick up things you didn't notice before but were of great importance to the story. I see "Being John Malkovich" as a self-contained movie, it works without working against anything else. It was a couple years later when I heard about "Adaptation". I saw that film and then I saw it again. I later found it on DVD and watched it plenty times more. It was in this film that Charlie Kaufman wrote himself into his own story, and Susan Orlean's story. Both "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation" were directed by Spike Jonze, which were his first two feature films. "Adaptation", as opposed to "Being John Malkovich", was not a self-contained story. It contained references to Charlie Kaufman's own (split?) personality, it even contained behind-the-scenes of "Being John Malkovich" as a reference-point of who Charlie Kaufman is. It is a story about him adapting a book, "The Orchid Thief", then we see the actual film-adaptation of the book (which we know Charlie is working on), but then it turns around and Charlie's fictional twin brother, Donald, decides to finish the adaptation by involving himself and Charlie in a thriller ending that breaks the rules by following them, which in turn is breaking them. It doesn't make sense in words, but happened in the film and that's the only way to accept it. Watching these films I can't help but notice the creative influence of Spike Jonze when it comes to this strange deadpan realism of Kaufman's fantastic psychological experience.

I'll briefly touch on George Clooney's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". In this one Charlie Kaufman was commissioned to adapt a book by Chuck Barris, infamous TV show producer and host of the original "Gong Show", where he confesses that he was really leading a double life as a hired assassin working for the CIA. A story like this seems right up Kaufman's alley, riddled with a confusion of truth and fiction, and easily complex storytelling. But George Clooney and Kaufman didn't really have too much communication, if any, and the film turned out to be more to Clooney's vision more than Kaufman's. I still think it's a great film, as a George Clooney project, and Charlie Kaufman's presence is vaguely there through some of the writing and humour.

Now we have Michel Gondry's side of Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman's first adapted screenplay, "Human Nature", was relatively obscure compared to his other stories. From the get-go "Human Nature" was an already complex narrative, starting as a story being told by a man who is dead. What we eventually get is a story being told from three different viewpoints, piecing together a whole story about a man who grew up in the wild, was taken out of the wild by a nature-loving woman and a nature-hating scientist. The scientist decides to use this man as a subject to prove that manners and sophistication can be taught to the most primitive beast, but we learn from an alternative viewpoint that the man was only willing because he wanted to impress women and get laid. Thus we have sophistication as being a result of primitive desire, which is also prevalent in the nature-woman's character to impress the scientist. My favourite line is "Words are evil!". The other Gondry-Kaufman project is of course "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind". I'll briefly try to explain the complex narrative of this one: We start at the conclusion of two people who don't know each other but feel like they do because they get along so well, then we start from the start, when these two people actually did know each other but they broke up, it's important to note that we are in the memories of the main character, but this isn't obvious until we're up to the point where the procedure of his memories being erased begins within his memories. At this point his memories start moving backwards, but outside his mind there is also the forward-narrative of the people erasing his memories. The people have trouble along the way because when he discovers that he doesn't want to continue the procedure (in his mind), he starts to complicate things by hiding in points of his past that are buried deep down and can't be tracked. There's an important subplot with the people carrying the procedure which leads to the important discovery when we're at the conclusion (continuing from the beginning of the movie) and the ultimate answer to all the problems: "Yes".

I don't know why I even tried.

Now I'd have to talk about Michel Gondry's influence on these films. I've been a fan of some of his most iconic music videos, and his "how did they do that? That must of been hell to pull off" experimental techniques in film. One in particular is Kylie Minogue's "Come Into My World" music video. I can see that Gondry also likes to play with dream-logic. Most of his work is usually set within a dream or memories of the main character(s). He has made films that he wrote and directed himself. I've only seen "Be Kind Rewind" which was a truly fascinating experience. I see Gondry as more of a playful film-maker, whereas Spike Jonze is more of a hybrid of deadpan realism and fantasy, as if they were the same thing.

Now we come to "Synechdoche New York", a film written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. My first viewing of this film I felt he had a style that might have been cross-between Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze, but then afterwards I realised that it's really not like that at all. It's all Kaufman. There are so many things so subtle and complicated that you're forced to view it multiple times, even freeze-frame it and notice things that you will only notice by doing that. I would think only Charlie Kaufman could put subtle hints into backgrounds/foregrounds, even if they're out of focus, that you would notice important plot points. The stalker who eventually plays Caden in his play, is the most obvious one. And then there are the turning-points, as I mentioned earlier. Every scene seems to have a turning point, which turns into itself but also moves the story forward. Imagine a wheel turning and moving along the ground, and then a wheel inside the wheel, turning as caused by the overall turning of the larger wheel, and another wheel inside the smaller wheel, etc. The wheel is an analogy of the plot.

Here are a couple examples still fresh in my mind: When Caden is at the after-party of his opening-night of Death of a Salesman, he talks with Hazel and she suggests they get stoned. He says he gets "bothered" when he gets stoned so he has to turn her down. He gets home the next morning and finds his wife Adele and her friend Maria have gotten stoned, they say they can't wait to see the play but he seems to take it with a grain of salt (because they're stoned). They do see the play that night and Adele hated it because Caden borrowed something that wasn't his so it couldn't be entirely truthful to him. Caden doesn't defend himself, even so the play turned out successful, but he decides to make something original and truthful to himself. There's always this constant struggle between people not doing things and other people doing that very thing, turning themselves and it creates a self-perpetuating momentum. Another example is how Caden decides to assume the role of an elusive "Ellen", the cleaning lady of Adele's apartment, then in his play he casts a woman to play Ellen based on a portrait painted by Adele. Meanwhile Caden mentions when he has an affair with Tammie (an actress in a whole other complex twist and turn in the story) that he thinks if he were a woman he'd be better at it than being a man. In the play Caden decides he needs a new actor to play himself, the woman playing Ellen convinces him that she can play the role, but then a new turn happens when Caden decides he needs time off, but the role of Ellen (who he originally was in the real world) is open and that he will play her. So now the role of Caden is played by a woman and Caden is playing the role of a woman. It is after this turn that the whole story is now about Ellen, a woman who never really existed because it was Caden all along, but Ellen is being played by Caden, who is being directed by the woman who was acting as Ellen but is now acting as Caden. At this point I think the wheel has now turned into a spiral but I still haven't quite wrapped my head around it.

Another aspect of Kaufman's directing is the dream-logic, that the story isn't really a dream but it's not really real either. It's like it's self-conscious of being a film. I also kept trying to analyze Kaufman's directing style but I couldn't help myself being so immersed in the story I had to actually snap myself out of it from time-to-time, only because I was trying to watch it objectively and not really trying to enjoy it as it is, which I'll do once I get all the pieces put together. Some examples of the dream-logic are quite obvious: the house on fire, the dark novel written by a four-year-old, Caden constantly seeing himself used as images in commercials and cartoons and of course the heavy time-jumps between scenes, among other things. My favourite example is one I had to freeze-frame, when it shows a close up of the book that Caden is reading which was given to him by his therapist. The therapist's voice is narrating the words, which don't see, but when we do see the words I noticed there is a paragraph of absolute nonsense, either that or way too complicated for anyone to understand. This is the kind of dream-logic where you are reading something, but the words are always changing when you read them, and they don't make sense the more you read them.

My final point on Charlie Kaufman's directing style is the structure. This is more relating to the turning wheel analogy. This isn't a film with "acts" or "set pieces". You could say there are major plot sections, but each of them roll into each other with these turns and twists, each happening in every scene. This is not a story for people who want simplicity and clarity (which is why we have "acts" and "set pieces"), but at the same time there is no reason why a film like this shouldn't be made, especially if it has something important to share.

There are more things to talk about in Kaufman's style, like his visual complexities in every frame, every scene, but I couldn't begin to describe them unless I had accompanying screen-shots, which I don't have on me at the moment.

When I go through all the previous works of Charlie Kaufman, I also notice how they seem to be from a researcher/writer point-of-view. "Human Nature" had the scientist, "Being John Malkovich" had the puppeteer (a form of story-telling), "Adaptation" had Charlie Kaufman himself writing a screenplay, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" had the confessions written by Chuck Barris and "Eternal Sunshine" had a poet, although I can't remember what Jim Carey's character did for work..but that's besides the point. It's amazingly appropriate then that Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut is a story about a theater director. Especially with some scenes where he's directing actors, saying things like "the audience should be conscious of you being a young actor who is aware that he's not going to make it by the end" (in referring to the performance of the actor playing an older man in "Death of a Salesman"). Or when he's directing in his own play he says "Now you two are having an affair off-set, which isn't good for the show. Keep in mind you're actors playing actors. And you (to actor playing a cameraman), you're not just filming the scene, you're in the scene, so act like you're in the scene!"

Charlie Kaufman has worked his way from writing about writers to directing a story about a director, directing an actor who's playing a director (both inside and outside of the story, take your pick).

I should pay more attention to this!

Aarg! I'm busy. For my next post I need to gather specific screenshots and examples for what I'm trying to talk about. I might end up doing some non-image posts but then you're just subjected to my opinion without evidence and I don't want that!

I also want to mention this next paragraph just to get it out of the way, but I might be repeating it later anyway.

One purpose of this blog is to challenge myself as an animator. I'm not a professional artist and I currently don't work in a studio so there is no means of me posting my works in progress (for I have no current works to work on). So right now I'm in the "finding my grounds" stage which is probably the most fun stage of life to be in, before your soul gets drained from turning your art into a job.

But it would be a miracle for me to get anything done. I have a full-time job where I move around boxes and I get home feeling too lethargic and sleepy to do anything. I get paid on a monthly basis which is incompatible with my budgeting expertise (which means I spend it all on the day I get paid), but hopefully that will change soon to weekly payment. Once that happens I can then buy little packets of miracles which is also known as CAFFIENE, and spend my nights relentlessly drawing and my days relentlessly moving boxes.

PERFECT BLUE, a discussion.

I've seen this movie many times, and I can see it many more because I thoroughly enjoy watching it. But I saw this movie one time with my housemate Peter and we had a discussion afterwards about what had me really intrigued by it: the fact that it's an animated movie when it could have just as well been live action. Now if you're the kind of person who enjoys actually thinking about things then Peter is a great guy to watch a movie with, especially animated ones. There is a certain topic of animation that has struck me for a while now and it's something that was brought up by Shinichiro Watanabe (of Cowboy Bebop/Samurai Champloo fame), in one of the featurettes for The Animatrix. He said he's interested in bringing together animation and the real-world, blurring the lines. I won't get into that now, I'd rather get into it in my next post (with a look at literally blurring things in animation as well).

When talking about Perfect Blue I noticed that its art style is much more reserved than your typical superdeformed cartoony anime style. Proportions and proper anatomy are observed and to go even a step further everyone looks like they're from Japan, which blends in with the Tokyo setting. No blonde or blue or green hair, some characters have small squinty eyes. A great shot in the film is an obvious contrast of styles, where the sliding-door of the video store has a large poster of a super-deformed style anime girl, probably from some generic Magical Girl story. Throwing in this juxtoposition not only contrasts art style and story style, but also mirrors this kind of illusionary personality of the main character as a J-pop idol and the way her audience sees her.

But I will get to the main topic: why is this animated when it could have been made as live action? I ask this because there isn't too many moments of impossibilities like what we associate with in animation (like giant robots, talking animals or magical beams of light), there was the ghost floating over the city scenes and perhaps some artistic landscape staging but all of those could have been added in post-production and special effects with today's technology, or even the technology of 1997 when it was made.

With our brainstorming, Peter and I brought up the point of the violence in the film. There are painfully graphic moments that make you cringe and retreat inside your metaphorical shell, like the photographer being stabbed to death with a screwdriver, or the fat delusional manager being cut with the shattered glass, or when that manager stabs Mimarin with the umbrella. Because it is animation the gore and violence, and other special effects like the ghost or the rape scene, are a part of the world just as much as the people and objects. If it were live action it would be too easy to notice when something is a special-effect, and so the audience will become too uninvolved with the story. If the gore comes out as naturally as everything else - animated - only then you can truly experience it as if it just happened to you (assuming the story has a good director, of course).

Plus, this also takes into account the creepy stalker:

If Perfect Blue were live-action and they had someone who looked like that (they would probably be using prosthetics) you would just know that it's not real from the first glance. But in an animated world someone can look like that and interact with the world just as normally as anyone else in the story, as long as you do it well like they did in this movie.

Overall I think the story is brilliant, and thought-provoking on many levels. Even if you didn't like it, I don't know how you can stop yourself from thinking about it. Then again I know people who don't like thinking, and I wish I didn't.

I'm starting this blog

I'm starting this blog as a means to talk about theories and things that interest me, much like EDDIE'S KILLER THEORIES only with my own interests. I might even draw pictures of cute girls!

The next post will be about a discussion on the movie "Perfect Blue". An animated movie by Satoshi Kon, and one of my favourite movies (as in 'movies' and not limited to 'animated movies' or 'animes').

"The Universal Quantifier" is a reference to my other blog, http://upturned-a.blogspot.com, where the upturned-A is a mathematical symbol for a universal quantifier. You can look it up on wikipedia for more information.