Archive for August, 2010

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K-Pop Korner: T-ara – Bo Peep

August 31, 2010

It has been some time since we sauntered down to the Korner, dear readers. As ever, I am a perpetually distracted flibbertigibbet and the temptation to indulge in homo-erotic jokes about Korean pop stars was recently lost amidst concerns about movies, a busier than anticipated summer work schedule, a spot of traveling, and the resumption of decent reading habits on my part.

T-ara arrived on the K-Pop scene some 18 months ago after reportedly training for three years prior to their debut. They first came to my attention when one of my students, when offered the opportunity to select a music video to watch at the end of class, requested a song that I thought was called “Boobie Boobie”. After an awkward few moments, and the eventual deployment of a pen and paper, it transpired that the song was called “Bo Peep Bo Peep“, the then-new hit single by girl group T-ara.

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Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die #8

August 30, 2010

This is a guest post by Nick Mann

Happiness

Part of what makes Korean films so unique and interesting to watch is the tendency they have of blending genres.  The results are consistently fresh, unique and unpredictable.  However, one genre is so prevalent that elements of it seem to seep into virtually every other genre, and most of the films produced in the country.

Brothers divided by war, sisters united beyond death, vengeance that defies logic, love directed by fate… How can one discuss Korean film at length without acknowledging its flair for the melodramatic?  For that reason I feel obliged to dedicate at least one post to the mighty Korean Melodrama.

Happiness (행복) is the story of a man, Young-su, whose self destructive life-style has finally caught up with him and as a result he checks himself into a sanitarium after being diagnosed with cirrhosis.  The simple way of life is difficult for him to adjust to at first, but he quickly falls for Eun-hee a sweet and pure young woman and long-term patient of the clinic. In some respects Eun-hee may be regarded as a stock character of the genre, but thanks to some unique quirks and a sensitive performance by actress Lim Soo-jung Eun-hee is more than a walking cliché, and challenges Young-su’s outlook as over the months he undergoes a transformation. When his health improves the pair move out of the sanitarium and into a cottage in the countryside.

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The Expendables

August 26, 2010

This is the first post I have ever been inspired to write after chancing upon a clip of Bill O’Reilly.

The reports on Sylvester Stallone’s plans to make an unapologetic homage to the action movies of the 1980s with an ensemble cast of action stars from then and now seem to have been circulating for years. The development of The Expendables was followed from the start with interest akin to that of an upcoming Tarantino film (geeks in the know first heard the title “Inglorious Basterds” in the mid-90s). For better or worse, Stallone seems to have succeeded in securing the presence of every action star he wanted bar the notable exceptions of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, who turned down the roles offered. This happened because those two men are legitimately insane (Van Damme complained about his proposed character lacking in substance…seriously). The movie finally landed recently and seems to be performing well, despite the fact that it largely fails to live up to its promises.

Stallone plays Barney Ross, the leader of the eponymous mercenary group. He’s joined by a team of ludicrously named* mercs played by Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and the Scandinavian demi-god, Dolph Lundgren. Ross’ group is approached to take a job that involves overthrowing a brutal Latin American dictator on a politely fictional island. During an initial reconnaissance mission there, Ross encounters the brave and defiant Sandra, dissident daughter of the dictator dedicated to her father’s downfall. (5-hit alliteration combo!) Sandra’s struggle inspires Ross to assemble his team to defeat the dictator (and the rogue CIA agent drug-baron who’s really running the show), not for the money, but because it’s the right thing to do and it offers them a shot at redemption for their bloodstained lives. Mayhem ensues.

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Beijing Bound

August 8, 2010

The Wig-wife and I are flying off to China tomorrow for a holiday that will see us take in the sights of Beijing and hopefully the famed Terracotta Army in Xian before flying to Taiwan to rendezvous with some friends who are currently living there. Things will be quiet for two weeks and I’ve already had little opportunity to do much at all here recently thanks to an unexpectedly awkward summer schedule in school.

Appy-polly-loggies, dear readers!

Normal service should resume in due course.

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Lux Æterna – A Modest Proposal

August 8, 2010

I’ve taken it upon myself to declare that the time is long overdue for a moratorium on the use of the musical score Lux Æterna in advertising and marketing. You all know Lux Æterna, even if you do not immediately recognize the name. Written by the brilliant Clint Mansell, the tune was initially composed for the score to Darren Aronofksy’s 2000 film Requiem for a Dream and was performed by The Kronos Quartet. Later, a re-working of the track with a full orchestra was used in the trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and was dubbed “Requiem for a Tower”. This latter version was inferior to Mansell’s original in its pomposity and the discomfiting way it was used to sell a big siege battle in an epic fantasy film when originally it explored the harrowing desperation of ordinary people lost to their delusions in Aronofsky’s film. Of course, this is a small complaint when considered alongside the tedious and unimaginative way both versions of the song have been used as a dramatic, catchy way to sell all kinds of shite over the past ten years.

They use this tune for every goddamn thing; from video game and film trailers to ads for smart phones; from the theme song for the judges on a British talent show to an entrance song for professional wrestlers. In addition, there is the relentless tide of fan-made YouTube videos where the song is deployed as the default choice to convey something dramatic and in your face. The most jarring aspect in all this is the implied sense that the choice of the tune is somehow a brilliant and unique move whenever it is tacked on to whatever ad, montage or trailer it appears on yet again. It’s time for this to stop.

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