Feb 26, 2012

The Time of "Super8"

I watched the movie "Super 8" on DVD. I can't say that this movie is a masterpiece, but I like it.

Last year I watched "Cowboys and Aliens" on a large screen of a movie theater, because I am a big fan of Daniel Craig. The plots of "Super 8" and "Cowboy and Aliens" are still similar. Aliens come to a small city in the U.S. and kidnapped a girl who the main character loved. And then the main character got into the nest of Aliens underground and rescued the girl with his friends.

According to Wikipedia the budget of "Cowboys and Aliens" was $163 million and "Super 8"'s was $50 million. Super stars, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, appeared on "Cowboy and Aliens", but there were no famous actors in "Super 8". The special effects of "Super 8" were much cheaper than "Cowboys and Aliens". But "Cowboys and Aliens" was just a piece of trash.

I read the critics, who said that "Super 8" was influenced by "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E. T.", which was made by Steven Spielberg, one of the producers of "Super 8". But this movie reminded me of the movie "Stand by Me".

The main characters in both of the movies were boys who lost their own immediate family and had pain in their hearts. And they were seeking something with their friends, who also had complicated backgrounds.

The time of "Stand by Me" was the late 1950s, when the author of the original story, Stephen King, was a boy. "Super 8" took place in the late 1970s, when the director of the movie, J. J. Abrams was a boy. J. J. Abrams and I are the same age, so I felt a sense of nostalgia in the time of "Super 8".

At that time there were no iPhones and Handycams, but there were Walkmans and 8mm movie cameras, Super 8. My parents shot me on 8mm film, like the main character's father of "Super 8".

As I mentioned, "Super 8" wasn't a masterpiece, but I like it.

Feb 22, 2012

"I'm Punctual." Punctuality and Modernization

When I learned the word "punctual" in high school, I thought that it was strange. In the Japanese language there is no single word that means "punctual", although of course we can explain the concept of "punctual" in Japanese; "時間に正確な". I feel the meaning of "punctual" is too much for a single word.

Wikipedia has the following to say about "Punctuality".

According to each culture, there is often an understanding about what is considered an acceptable degree of punctuality. Usually, a small amount of lateness is acceptable; this is commonly about ten or fifteen minutes in Western cultures. In some cultures, such as Japanese society, or in the military there basically is no allowance.

If it's true that punctuality is so important in Japanese society, why is there no single word meaning "punctual" in the Japanese language?

Punctuality is deeply related to the stage of industrialization. Before the Industrial Revolution the concept of "punctual" wasn't common at least among ordinary people. They didn't have to be punctual.

But after the Industrial Revolution, it became quite important for the owners of factories to insist on their workers being punctual. Workers had to front up for work at exactly the same time every morning. On the other hand farmers and fishermen don't need to keep time.

In fact before World War II Japanese people weren't always that punctual. I've read some articles written just after World War II, in which it was said that Japanese people needed to learn to be as punctual as Americans in order to modernize.

In developing countries (before World War II Japan was also a developing country) the public education systems make people punctual and they would turn to be good workers or soldiers.

So I imagine that the origin of the word "punctual" might be English, somowhere around the time of the Industrial Revolution. But when I looked up a dictionary, I found that the first known use of "punctual" was in 1675. So my hypothesis was wrong.

Anyway, I'm a modern Japanese, so I'm punctual.

Feb 15, 2012

Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino: Good Taste and Bad Taste

Recently I've watched the movies on DVD, which I had missed when they were released. In this month I watched "Milk", "District 9", "Hearafter", "Sherlock Holmes", and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". Every movie is interesting, but "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is much better for me than the others.

I wrote about the movie "Sherlock Holmes" in the entry "Sherlock Loved John H." This movie isn't bad, but Guy Ritchie's masterpiece is "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

While I was watching this movie, I reminded Quentin Tarantino's movies, especially "Reservoir Dogs".

Both of them have a lot of things in common. They are typical picaresque romances. There are full of violence, strange characters, complicated plots, cynical jokes, nice music, and elaborate compositions in these movies. Above more, they are really cool.

I love exploitation movies. It's famous that Tarantino is crazy about Japanese B pictures and Sonny Chiba, who is an action star, appeared on "Kill Bill". I also found many quotations from exploitation movies in "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels".

When "Hatchet" Harry was shot, you can hear the sound of a musical box. This is the quotation of the last scene of Clint Eastwood's movie "For a Few Dollars More", which was a one of the most famous Spaghetti Western movies.

There is a point of difference between them. Tarantino intentionally has quite bad taste, but Richie has really good taste.

Feb 5, 2012

The Age When Rock Music Was "Progressive"

My wife said to me, "I haven't listened to Yes for a long time, but I found out I liked their music. Have a look at this video on Youtube."

Do you know the band "Yes"? From the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, there were rock bands, who played music called "Progressive Rock", such as Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, and Emerson, lake & Palmer.

The black R&B musicians, such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry, began to play Rock and Roll in America in the mid 1950s. The white musicians, such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, imitated them and made Rock and Roll one of the most popular styles of pop music.

In the 1960s, the Beatles pursued the potentialities of Rock, (At that time, the word "Rock and Roll" was replaced by the word "Rock") and showed that Rock wasn't just dance music and that it could also be serious music.

I think that the 1970s was the golden age of Rock. Many styles of Rock, including "Progressive Rock", flourished. The bands, who played "Progressive Rock", wanted to make Rock serious music. They thought of it as "the progress of Rock".

But what is "progress" in Rock music?

Inamoto, one of my friends told me that this video was really amazing.

I don't think that Jerry Lee Lewis played "serious music". But both of Yes and Jerry Lee Lewis are quite enjoyable. I can't say that Yes is more "progressive" than Jerry Lee Lewis.

I wrote in the entry "The Song for All of the Stupid Boys in the World" as follows.

I think that rock music isn't contemporary music now either. Hip hop killed Rock music in the 90s, and Nirvana was the last band that created new rock music.

Nirvana weren't called "progressive" but "alternative". By the 1990s, people had already stopped believing in the "progress" of Rock.

Feb 1, 2012

Sherlock Loved John H.

In order to decide if I wanted to watch the movie "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows", I rent Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" at a DVD rental store.

I enjoyed it very much. The images in the movie were stylish and I laughed at the cynical English jokes.

I love "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch". After he got married with Madonna, well, I don't want to talk about it. And then after he got divorced, he began to make cool movies again.

There are the people called Sherlockian, who study very small details of Sherlock Holmes stories. One of their biggest study subjects is the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Some Sherlockian insists that Dr. Watson is female. I've read the theory that Holmes was female.

But I think that Holmes was gay and loved Dr. Watson, and Dr. Watson was so obtuse that he didn't notice Holmes' love for him. I'd like to prove my theory by analyzing quotes from "the sign of four."

Dr. Watson fell in love with Miss Mary Morstan, and at the end of the story, they were engaged. I'll quote the scene, where Miss Morstan, Dr. Watson, and Holmes rode a carriage by invitation of some unknown person.

He leaned back in the cab, and I could see by his drawn brow and his vacant eye that he was thinking intently. Miss Morstan and I chatted in an undertone about our present expedition and its possible outcome, but our companion maintained his impenetrable reserve until the end of journey.

Dr. Watson fell in love with Miss Morstan at first sight. Holmes must have noticed it, because he was quite sharp. Dr. Watson and Miss Morstan were talking with each other with a pleasant atmosphere, while Holmes was just silently fuming.

You might think that this passage wouldn't be enough evidence that Holmes was angry. How about the next scene?

"Look here, Watson; you look regularly done. Lie down there on the sofa, and see if I can put you to sleep."

He took up his violin from the corner, and as I stretched myself  out he began to play some low, dreamy, melodious air, his own, no doubt for he had a remarkable gift for improvisation. I have a vague remembrance of his gaunt limbs, his earnest face, and the rise and fall of his bow. Then I seemed to be floated peacefully away upon a soft sea of sound, until I found myself in dream-land, with the sweet face of Mary Morstan looking down upon me.

Holmes played the violin with heart in order to make Dr. Watson sleep well, but Dr. Watson went to "dream-land" with Miss Morstan. How poor Holmes was!

The next morning, Dr. Watson said to Holmes that he wanted to visit to Miss Morstan!

"Well, of course Miss Morstan too. They were anxious to hear what happened."

"I would not tell them too much," said Holmes. "Women are never to  be entirely trusted, not the best of them."

I did not pause to argue over this atrocious sentiment. "I shall be back in an hour or two," I remarked.

"All right" Good luck! "

How obtuse Dr. Watson was! Last night, he fell asleep hearing Holmes' playing the violin, but he had never noticed Holmes love for him at all. If he noticed it and ignored it, he must have been so cold blooded.

Although he would say, "I shall be back in an hour or two," he would never come back so soon when he met with Miss Morstan.

It was evening before I left Camberwell, and quite dark by the time I reached home. My companion's book and pipe lay by his chair, but he had disappeared. I looked about in the hope of seeing a note, but there was none.

"I suppose that Mr. Sherlock Holmes has gone out," I said to Mrs. Hudson as she came up to lower the blinds.

"No, sir. He has gone to his room, sir. Do you know, sir,"" sinking her voice into an impressive whisper, "I am afraid for his health?"

"Why so, Mrs. Hudson?"

"Well, he's that strange, sir. After you was gone he walked and he walked, up and down, until I was weary of the sound of his footstep. Then I heard him talking to himself and muttering, and every time the bell rang out he came on the stairhead, with 'what is that, Mrs. Hudson?' And now he has slammed off to his room, but I can hear him walking away the same as ever. I ventured to say something to him about cooling medicine, but he turned on me, sir, with such a look that I don't know how ever I got out of the room."

"I don't think that you have any cause to be uneasy, Mrs. Hudson," I answered. "I have seen him like this before. He has some small matter upon his mind which makes him restless."

He said, "some small matter"! Your obtuseness was guilt, Dr. Watson.

And then I'll quote the very tragic last scene.

"Well, and there is the end of our little drama," I remarked, after we had set some time smoking in silence. "I fear that it may be the last investigation in which I shall have the chance of studying your method. Miss Morstan has done me the honor to accept me as a husband in perspective."

He gave a most dismal groan. "I feared as much," said he. "I really cannot congratulate you."

I was a little hurt. "Have you any reason to be dissatisfied with my choice?" I asked.

"Not at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met, … But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest bias my judgment."


"The division seems rather unfair," I remarked. "You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?"

"For me," said Sherlock Holmes, "there still remains the cocaine bottle." And he stretched his long white hand up for it.

What a tragedy! Holmes knew the end from the beginning, but he couldn't do anything but just saying, "I really cannot congratulate you." And Dr. Watson was happy in an innocent way.

I wrote an entry about "Kiss of the Spider Woman". I think that this novel is one of the masterpieces about tragic love of gay people. But "The Sign of Four" is as tragic as "Kiss of Spider Woman.

At the end of story, only cocaine was left for Sherlock.