Friday, August 31, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Further, I love Thailand and everything Thai since last yr after my Bkk trip (love the place and the food and all the good looking guys and girls there!!) and find Thai people one of the friendliest people in the world....it seems others agree too:)
Further, I have always had a special spot in my heart for Mother India, the world's largest democracy, one of the oldest civilisations in the world, and also a place of deep culture and history. India, by the way, celebrated its 60th Anniversary of Independence from British rule a couple of weeks ago (India was split into modern-day India and Pakistan in 1947, now known as 'The Partition') and so i would like to wish Mother India a Very Happy 60th Birthday:)
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
Thai character trumps flaws of politics
By TOM PLATE
LOS ANGELES — When social scientists or journalists are in doubt, sometimes it's best to consult the artist.
On Aug. 19, there was a big referendum vote in Thailand. It passed, but no one is that thrilled about it — no one except the ruling junta. It had kicked out the previous prime minister, who is now in exile, and cooked up the new referendum to make it harder for someone like him to ever have so much power again.
The referendum did well enough in the urban areas of Thailand, but it pretty much bombed in the rural areas where the previous prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is still considered a hero.
The reason Thaksin is liked in the sticks is that he gave the impression he really cared about the plight of the poor. The gap between rich and poor is a big problem in Thailand, even if poverty is no worse than in the rest of Asia. Increasingly, in fact, it's a regionwide concern.
India's intellectual prime minister has offered deeply thoughtful and timely speeches to his wealthy business elite as well as to his countryman about it.
China's current leaders have openly admitted that creating wealth alone won't do if the rich-poor gap only gets worse. Even Japan, with its samurai-socialist-capitalist system equating proper income distribution with social harmony, is alarmed by its own apparently widening gap.
But up to now, none of these three giant countries has been able to dazzle the world with original and effective gap-reduction policies. Thailand, under Thaksin, had hoped to be different. Instead, Thaksin's pro-poor policies were viewed as deeply demagogic and insincere by ruling circles, and triggered a military takeover almost a year ago. To say the least, the country's oft-admired king did not appear notably unhappy about the ouster.
You would think that all this political turmoil would have made Thailand into something like another gloomy Myanmar. But that hasn't happened. That's because, if I may be allowed a diversion, you can travel as much as you want and go wherever you want but you may not find a more likable people anywhere than the Thais. In their culture there is no hour for the dour.
This is where the artist as expert comes in handy. Chris Coles, the painter who divides his time between Bangkok and Los Angeles, is a huge fan of the Thais as a people and often paints them in his art: "In my paintings, there is tremendous resilience in the Thai culture and personality that can deal with an amazing level of adversity without complaining, a primitive energy that can work six 12-hour days and still find the energy to party hard a few nights a week.
"And there is also the Buddhism that helps Thais maintain a strong desire for the middle way (i.e., endless compromise and wavering) instead of violent confrontation."
Coles loves painting Thais precisely because their stoic energy brings his canvases so much to life. And if the artist — with his slashing expressionist lines and bucolic bursts of color — has in fact caught the national character more or less exactly right, the character of the Thais should long endure over the defects of the country's political system and culture, at least as we in the West see them through our own ethnocentric eyes.
You don't have to be an expert on Thailand to appreciate the enduring Energizer-Bunny energy-level that is manifestly on view. Coles himself admires the Thais for more than their vivacity as models; he admires their vivacity in life. He says the reason that unemployment in Thailand, despite all the other troubles, hovers at a mere 2 percent or so has little to do with government policies.
Rather, it has everything to do with the Thai character. These people work — and when they lose a job, they don't wait for someone to help them; they go out and find a new job.
Says Coles: "The big capitalists and industries will keep growing, the tourists will keep coming, and the Thai people will carry on."
Artists are not always known for being optimists, but this optimistic view by one optimistic artist is going to be my view for the time being. Thailand is never going to become a leaden Myanmar or a disaster like North Korea. Bumping along, working hard, it will find its rightful place on the Asian stage — and find it with a smile as big as the country itself.
UCLA professor Tom Plate is a veteran journalist and author of "Confessions of an American Media Man."
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
SCOURGE OF 'WOMB MURDERS'
Indian women who never had a chance
By B. GAUTAM
MADRAS, India — India may be the land where the Buddha preached nonviolence, and Mahatma Gandhi practiced it to perfection, but the country's "womb murders" are a horrible reality.
The UNICEF report "State of the World's Children 2007" states that about 7,000 fewer girls are born each day in India than the global average of girls born in a given population would indicate.
This finding is based on the latest Indian census data and a study by the British medical journal, Lancet. UNICEF concludes that 10 million female fetuses have been aborted in the past two decades. India's gender ratio has therefore fallen to a terrifying 800 girls to 1,000 boys.
While the nation is ready to congratulate itself on a variety of achievements, including a 60-year-old democracy and a just judiciary, many Indian mothers turn into killers. More precisely, they are pushed into killing baby girls growing inside them. If female fetuses are not aborted, many infant girls are killed soon after birth. The methods are primitive: Babies are fed paddy husks or poisoned milk, or drowned in water or milk, or smothered with a pillow, or buried alive.
Renowned economist Amartya Sen said as early as 1986 that 37 million women were missing in India. The aversion to raising a girl child is age old. Ancient Indian religious texts such as the Vedas say: "Let a female child be born somewhere else. Here, let a male child be born."
Another religious manuscript, Manu Shastra, is well known for its vilification of women. The mood and the mind-set have not changed much since then.
Today's pressing socioeconomic problems are added factors provoking feticide and infanticide. Women in India are still second-class citizens and, at least covertly, are treated so.
Sons are preferred because, traditionally, they will earn income and support their parents. And in a largely agricultural society like India's, boys are considered more helpful for working the land than girls.
Daughters will marry and leave home; what's worse, they must be provided with a large money dowry for their husband's family, an obligation that still festers like a cancer.
The belief that the solution to the burden of providing a dowry lies in eliminating a female life cuts across religious and economic lines. The rich and the poor are equally guilty of this crime. In the posh, upmarket South Delhi area, the gender ratio is 798 girls to 1,000 boys.
Despite the ban on conducting sex determination tests, clinics for this purpose, under the garb of examining the fetus for abnormalities, have sprung up in Indian cities. If the fetus happens to be female, chances are high that it will be aborted.
The question that naturally arises is how a mother can take the life of her own child. Writer Gita Aravamudan says: "The hand that takes the life of the infant may be hers, but the will is not. This will has been generated over many centuries by the subjugation of women to a subhuman status. The time-immemorial prejudice has been so internalized by women that they can hate their own baby girls and carry out murders with clinical precision. She remains mute as her backyard is turned into a graveyard."
I remember seeing a Bollywood film in which the scriptwriter and the director paint a horrifying picture of a futuristic land with hardly any women. Men turn into carnal creatures, treating the few available women as pure sexual objects, meant solely for pleasure. A family of five men — a father and his four sons — ravish a woman to death!
Is there a way out of female feticide and infanticide? Some say yes, and they point to education. In a highly literate state like Kerala in South India, womb murders are unheard of and there is a healthy sex ratio of 1,058 girls to 1,000 boys. Female literacy in the state is a high 87 percent, and one can understand why little girls live.
Literacy certainly enables communities to get around dowry and other troublesome issues. Education is equally helpful in making women economically productive and independent. Above all, it fosters a healthy respect for women, which is still a distant cry in most parts of India.
Ultimately, society must learn to turn a girl from an economic liability into an economic asset by educating her and helping her lead a life without crutches of any kind. Only then will society be able to vanquish practices such as womb murders.
B. Gautam writes for a leading Indian newspaper.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
August 15th, The 62nd Anniversary of the End of WW2...終戦６２週年記念特集：抗日戦争記念電影.....終戦６２週年記念特集：中日戦争に関する映画プりヴィウー
This years post will focus on film projects that are coming out this and next year which have a WW2 theme.
Also, as a note, res 121 on the comfort women issue was passed by the full house of Congress in late July which demands an official and unambiguous apology from the Japanese parliament on the issue of wartime rape by the Imperial Army during WW2.
This Sundance nominated documentary by 'Twin Towers' Oscar winners Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman as well as funded by American AOL vice-chairman Ted Leonsis deals with the group of over a dozen foreigners whom chose to remain in Nanking despite evacuation advice from their embassies. They did as much as they could to protect the chinese civilians and refugees from Japanese barbarity during the Massacre. It weaves archival footage, interviews with Chinese survivors, as well as testimonies of Japanese soldiers with stage readings of the actual diary entries kept by some of the foreigners during the worst days of the Nanking Massacre. Besides Sundance, it has been shown at the Hong Kong Film Festival as well as The Shanghai Int' Film Festival and has been released in China from July 7th onwards. I'm looking forward to seeing it! I think it will have a major impact on worldwide audiences and really help to push the knowledge of the Nanking Massacre (and Japanese WW2 atrocities generally) to a wider audience with the prominence of its directors as well as producer Ted Leonsis. I'm glad an American cared and was moved so much to spend money and make this doco!Way to go Ted:)
Official Site: http://www.nankingthefilm.com/
A US-British-China co-production on the Rape of Nanking. It is supposed to cost around US$50 million dollars and is planned for release next year in 2008. The director is Simon West (of LaraCroft fame) and the story revolves around a Chinese mother and her daughter during the Nanking Massacre in 1937 as well as the group of foreigners whom stayed behind to set up and attempt to save the Chinese residents of Nanking during the Japanese invasion and subsequent bloody and horrific occupation of the city. The movie shooting has been delayed and delayed and further the scriptwriter was changed and the American production company also changed due to insufficient funding from the original American one. I hope it does get through.
Nanking Christmas 1937 (US-HK/2008):
This film by HK Director Yim Ho will be an international movie with a focus on the group of foreigners including Germans, Americans, and British residents of Nanking whom stayed behind to assist and defend the Chinese against the brutal Imperial Japanese Army during the Nanking Massacre of 1937-38. It is reported that the director is still scouting for appropriate casts and the script and budget has been approved already. It is set for shooting later in the year.
This film by renowned award-winning Chinese director Lu Chuan of Kekexili fame has already begun shooting in northeastern China and is set for release next yr in 08. The film revolves around a Chinese soldier and his love as well as a Japanese soldier set during the Nanking Massacre in 1937. The script for the movie underwent major problems with Chinese censors (all the films dealing with the Nanking Massacre undergo rigorous approval processes as they are classified 'sensitive topics' and have to be approved by not only the govt. department dealing with films but also the Foreign Ministry as well as other relevant departments.) The cast is not known yet.
The Diary (US-Germany-Japan-China/Not Known Yet):
Major production by Stanley Tong (most famous for his huge action flicks with Jackie Chan such as Police Story series, The Myth,etc) which is apparently going to be the first major film dealing with the entire Sino-Japanese War, and not just the Nanking Massacre, starting from the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937 all the way to August 1945 when Japan officially surrenders. It reportedly is going to go even further and end with the Tokyo Trials in 1947. The script and finance for the film have both been approved and the director is currently finalising casting as well as location confirmation.
The Children of Huangshi (US-Germany-Australia/2007):
This foreign production is based loosely on the true story of a British man who leads 60 Chinese orphans across rough terrains to the edge of the Gobi desert to escape the oncoming onslaught of Japanese troops in China during WW2. It is currently in post-production and was shot in both China and Melbourne, Australia. It stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha Mitchell, Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. It is slated for an opening in December in the US and early March next year for China.
Lust, Caution (US-Taiwan/2007):
After Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain comes a Chinese spy romance set in wartime Occupied Shanghai by Ang Lee. It is based on Eileen Chang's short novel which was inspired by true events that occurred. It tells the story of a Chinese girl used by the resistance in China to seduce and assassinate a pro-Japanese colloborator working for the puppet Japanese government in Shanghai during the Japanese Occupation in 1942. In the process, however, she finds that she has already fallen for him. It stars Tony Leung, Tang Wei, Joan Chen as well as Wang LeeHom. It is to be released in September. There was some controversy regarding which country it was produced in during the Venice Film Festival of which it is competing. Ang Lee has always been very proud of his Taiwanese (as well as Chinese) heritage and is known to have refused to naturalise and become an American citizen despite advice from close friends that it could pose as an obstacle to his career in America especially after winning the Oscars for both his latest films. So, whenever his Taiwanese production company is involved in a film he will always insist that the festivals and Academy Awards list 'Taiwan' as the country of origin but this year the Venice Film Fest., due to political reasons, i'm sure, decided to change 'US-Taiwan' on the application form to 'US-China' on their website. After Ang Lee's assistant complained, it was changed back to 'Taiwan.' I am proud of Ang Lee's success.
Anyways, i'm looking forward to seeing his film......
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I have recently started reconnecting with my SouthEast Asian roots...I have always been more interested in my East Asian roots, being half Taiwanese (my dad), and though I majored in Asian Studies for my Arts degree, i must say, my area of specialisation and knowledge has always been more East Asian than Southeast Asian. Of cos, after visiting Bangkok last year for the first time, I instantly fell in love with it and Thai culture and not to mention Thai men!! Gosh, they are like soooo cute man...and so that experience did make me more proud of my SouthEast Asian roots.....i mean Thailand is just north of Malaysia.....however my big interest and pride in my SEA Roots came this year when i discovered Thai Tv Dramas (lakorns) and a bigger impact was actually my finding out about Filipino Entertainment!!! Wow! The Filipinos really are damn good at their entertainment scene and I just love many of the filipino dramas and movies....and i discovered that filipino men are so handsome too! What a revelation....And so the twin impact of my recent liking for Thai and Filipino stuff (and also more longstanding fondness for Singaporean TV dramas) has really made me more in tune with my SEA roots and made me appreciate more of my SEA heritage...
Below are some drama;movie intros and pics of my fav stars from Thai and Filipino entertainment:
Kaew Tah Pee (2006): (Thai Drama)
I just fell for Tik's looks after seeing abit of this Thai drama...he is sooooo handsome and cute and in epi 6 when he reveals his chest and is topless(you can see the scene below in one of the photo clips) i was like soooo oogling at his body...However i couldn't finish this drama as i just got so pissed at the script people for making his character in the drama so unbearable.....I mean i am so glad that i am not that shallow, i stopped at epi 6 as i just can't stand his character EVEN IF he has a super to-die-for body. I mean in the drama he was treating Cherry like shit but she still plays the all-understanding girl who puts up with it all...i think the scriptwriters are living in the stoneage in the way they made Cherry's character the all-sacrificing gal who silently endures all the shit that men give her....i just couldn't stand it but I still do Like Tik's look...he's SEXY.
Other Thai Dramas Currently Watching: Oum Ruk (2006) and Hua Jai Chocolate (2006)
Above and Below: Tik Jesadaporn Pholdee and Cherry in Kaew Tah Pee which was shot in Paris.Now, it may come as a surprise that i am kinda addicted to Filipino entertainment recently given how the Phillipines is really not well known to the outside world besides being full of slums and poor, where Filipino maids come from and having Muslim insurgencies in the South...but i just love their stuff... i mean the quality of the dramas and movies as well as numbers is simply astonishing..they are sooo in front of malaysian entertainment and even dare i say Thai entertainment. Although Thai movies are arguably the most popular films out of all the other SEA nations and having the most publicity, i seriously think Filipino films are better in terms of their range as well as the drama genre ones....sadly, you can't watch filipino stuff outside the Phillipines and I've never heard of a Filipino movie or drama being screened anywhere else in Asia unlike Thai horror films and comedies which are quite popular and are screened in cinemas throughout Asia. Further, I was very surprised at the number of gay-themed films found in filipino cinema and they are all quite positive too which is something which amazed me given that i had a previous filipino-chinese reader tell me how bad and stereotypical filipino gay films were and also the Phillipines is a deeply Catholic nation but after I watched some of the gay-themed mainstream films, I was like " What the heck was my fil-chi reader talking about?!! The filipino gay films are really really good and they are not biased against homosexuals at all, in fact i find them quite realistic and positive in their portrayal of gay men and gay relationships...i'll introduce some below....my interest in Filipino stuff has also improved my image of the Phillipines, I now see a different side to the Phillipines besides and beyond the more negative images that I used to hold before..
Above: Zanjoe Marudo
Dennis Trillo...Gwapo talaga....:)
I've noticed alot of the pinoy male stars are in various stages of undress and frequently pose extremely sexily in various sexual poses in ads,etc...if they did this in the American, Taiwanese, Chinese or Thai entertainment scene, people would most commonly associate it with being gay or trying to get the gay market, i am wondering if the filipinos see it that way? I mean you seldom see mainstream male stars in Hollywood or the Chinese entertainment scene wearing so little and being willing to pose in such sexy poses! Some examples below (rem, these are mainstream actors, NOT some gay porn filipino actors or professional gay magazine models!!)
Above: The magazine above is a male photographic magazine sold in the mainstream...in Western countries or Chinese-speaking areas, a magazine cover like that could ONLY EVER BE a gay one....i am just surprised it could be marketed as a mainstream one in the Phillipines..doesn't it look like the Asian version of DNA?
I have provided some trailers below so enjoy!
IntEresting CLIps on YOutube and VeOH:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04m-AGlyroA You are the One The Making(Part Two)
In a sleepy lakeside town, time curves for two people to meet and part. In the end, all that is left are their Moments of Love.