The most down to earth celebrity EVER.

His name is Jackie Chan.  I read his blog whenever he has time to post and I am always amazed at how humble and caring he is.  It is one thing to be good at what you do, and then make a living out of it; it is another thing entirely to not let it get to your head.  If you read his blog you will see.  For the last month or two he has been in New Mexico filming for his next movie The Spy Next Door. While the movie itself looks like a combination between The Pacifier and Accidental Spy (another JC movie), I’m just amazed by Jackie Chan himself.  He posts pictures of the kids in the movie and all the fun he has been having living in the US for awhile.  Here is a picture of him:

Jackie fell in love - with Lowes!!

Jackie fell in love - with Lowe's!!

I love the fact that he is enjoying so many simple things about life instead of being out there buying name brands, driving fancy cars and cheating on his wife.  (Although there are rumors that he does, it is hard to believe.)  He also goes on to advocate recycling and tries to control the crew’s wasteful use (or lack there-of) of bottled water.  Jackie Chan remains one of my all-time favorite stars for things like this.

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Japanese CD Review: Koda Kumi – Trick (2009)

3.5 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

I was really excited to find out that Koda Kumi had a new album releasing this month.  I have continuosly enjoyed her music throughout the years even through changes in style and sound.  I am happy to report that it is currently number 1 on the Oricon charts.  After last years controversy I was uncertain about her comeback.  At least the Japanese are a little more forgiving than the Chinese (ie: Edison Chen)

My ratings per song.

My ratings per song.

Overall, the album is pretty strong.  After a few listens though, “Black Cherry” is still Koda’s strongest album in my opinion. However, there are a few gems on this album.  My biggest surprise is that Taboo became my favorite song on the album.  I didn’t much care for it when the single released, it kind of blended into the background for me.  But, after a few turns on the ol’ WMP I think the album version of Taboo has a stronger composition.  I also like the representation the video gives to homosexuality.  It’s not a common theme in most Asian culture (aside for Yuri/Yaoi stuff.)  It’s nice to see a little bit of modern acceptance of it in any form.  My second favorite is Show Girl – a fun track that has a good beat.  The song Bling Bling Bling is just plain annoying as hell.  I can’t stand it at all. I listened to it once all the way through and now skip it along with That Ain’t Cool.  I never liked Kumi’s colaberation with Fergie.  Alone, I like them both perfectly fine, but this song grates at my nerves.  It doesn’t seem very well thought out, as if someone thought “Hey, let’s team Koda Kumi up with Fergie, who cares what they sing!”  The video is kind of pointless, lots of grinding around on eachother with a few nice-looking cars thrown in for affect.  Driving is a fun track, rock-ish in nature with a little Koda Kumi flare.  Just the Way You Are, Joyful, & Your Love all return Koda to her pop roots and are simple and sweet.

Overall, it is a good album – but that’s it.  Just good.  Not great, mindblowing or amazing.  Just pretty good.  I really hope that the songs I didn’t like weren’t the one’s that Koda herself worked on; because I know she had more input on this album.  I like the fact that the more time that passes, the more effort she is puting into the albums other than just singing.  Hopefully she will just get better and better.


Japanese Movie Review: Dororo (2007)

Last night I watched this:

A stylized dance number!

A stylized dance number!

Surpise! It’s not a Bollywood flick!  This is actually one of the first scene’s to Dororo, a fantasy movie based on the work of classic Japanese manga-ka Osamu Tezuka.  I usually balk at his stuff, because it’s usually a little to different for me.  I admit that he was a genious and very prolific.  I think that some of his work are just too over my head.  I read Phoenix, but I ended up confused most of the time, and never read it again.  I watched Metropolis, and wanted enchanted by it, but I didn’t love it.  So, it was a delightful surprise that Dororo has shoved it’s way into my top…well, it’s one of my favorites of the year.  On to the what and why.  There may or may not be spoilers ahead, so read on if you have seen it already.  I promise not to give away the ending!

Hyakkimaru (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a man with a mission.  He is out to reclaim the 48 parts of his body that he was born without.  Read:

Aww! It's such a CUTE blob.

Aww! It's such a CUTE blob.

In order to accomplish this task he must kill all of the demons that were given a piece when he was born.  Hyakkimaru does not know why he was born this way, or who is responsible, and along the way begins to unravel the mystery.  As a child he is taken care of an elderly oji-san who claims Hyakkimaru as his own child and through his awesome shaman-y powers manages to create body parts for him using the (ew!) remains of children who died in war (always recycle!) One day, while battling a demon in a bar:

Smile! You're on Yokai Camera!

Smile! You're on Yokai Camera!

Hyakkimaru runs into a theif that decides she is going to follow him, and tags along.  Relcutantly he tells his new friend that he has not one true name but that he has been called Hyakkimaru, Dororo, bakemono and a number of others.  She decides that Dororo (an actually mis-pronuciacion of dorobo=theif) suits her better and picks it for herself, leaving him to be Hyakkimaru.  She convinces him to treat her as a boy and routinely refers to him as Aniki (traditional term for a respected (slightly) older man, not generally used by women.)  So, Dororo (Kou Shibasaki) joins him in the fight against the majin (demon gods) that he must kill.

I'll get this tail for you...

I'll get this tail for you...

While there is a LOT more that happens in this film, I hate reading reviews or synopses that ruin the entire film and leave you with nothing new to learn when you actually do see it for yourself; so I’m starting the review.

I LOVED this movie.  It was fun, depressing and thought-provoking too. The beginning of the film was the most fun.  There is good comic relief throughout the movie, mostly provided by Dororo (oy0i-iiyoi!)

Eeh?

Eeh?

I give this movie credit for having the best yokai/demon/bakemono/majin I’ve ever seen too.  In most of the movies that I have seen, they seem comical or ridiculous.  Some of them in this one were a bit silly like the giant sakura tree, but I think they at least looked menacing versus just laughable.

Impressive Wing Span.

Impressive Wing Span.

This Godzilla-esque lizard was the most ridiculous one, and even then I still liked it because it was such a fun and entertaining fight.

Rawr!

Rawr!

The sakura monster was probably the one I was most surprised by and intrigued with.  I usually think that the sakura tree is a positive symbol of Japan and the fact that it was used as a monster came unexpected.  I’ve come across versions of the different demon’s in other movies and shows before so I wasn’t really super stunned by any of the others.

Too close for comfort.

Too close for comfort.

Run! The blossoms smell too good!

Run! The blossoms smell too good!

No, not even the weird conglomerate-baby spirit surpised me.  No, really…

What She Said!

Me: What She Said!

I was surprised by it at first, but it grew on me like it did with Dororo.  In a battle with a different majin I was reminded of The Matrix and Shaolin Soccer. I think I liked this movie better than those two.  I’m thinking of actually researching yokai/majin in a more serious form after this movie.  I also love GeGeGe no Kitarou and other movies with traditional Japanese monsters, so it would be a fun and interesting research topic.

Flying GONGFU!!!!!!

Flying GONGFU!!!!!!


I had a few kokoro♥ squishing moments too.  Like this one:


Squish!

Squish!

Dororo and Hyakkimaru help to free the spirits of these children and release them into the after life.  Immediately after-wards however, their families stone our heroes out of town because Hyakkimaru is a bakemono.  😦  Another example of people being ignorant and scared of what they don’t take the time to understand.

You can come to my village Hyakkimaru!

You can come to my village Hyakkimaru!

I really liked a few of his acquisitions too.  When he got back his voice the scene in the rain was very touching.  I bet they were tired of yelling and laying around in the rain though when filming ended that day.  In fact, I bet Satoshi-kun was REALLY tired of screaming in this movie, period.  I mean, he regained a lot of body parts and howled in agony after recieving each one.

I'm a real boy!

I'm a real boy!

After another battle, wherein he battles two demon dogs that strangely resembled the zombie-dogs from Resident Evil he gets two body parts back for the price of one (battle that is.)

What does Hyakkimaru see for the first time?

What does Hyakkimaru see for the first time?

Dororo, of course!

Dororo, of course!

It’s at about this time that the fun ends and they start to really get into the serious side of their reality. Dororo tells Hyakkimaru of her past, and why she instists on being treated as a man instead of a woman.  Dororo’s fate is a direct result of an evil shogun and the tyranny he pours onto his people.  Most of the real drama begins with the (surprise!) entrance of THIS GUY:

It's Eita!

It's Eita!

Eita Tahomaru is a bit of a key player to the rest of the movie, and I won’t spoil it any more than I may already have.  In short, I give this movie a high recommendation.  If, for no other reason than it was just plain fun. I can’t be the only one who thought it was good, considering that it has two sequels/continuations coming up.  The second one is due out this year.  Dororo might be a little over the heads of people not familiar with Japanese history or older fables.  Don’t let that stop you however, because you can catch on pretty quick and it explains itself really well.  The only thing that would have scared me off would be this:

Geh!

Geh!

I knew something fishy was up the moment Anna Tsuchiya these girls showed up.  Creepy.

Heroes & Heroines

Well, a bright idea turned into a longer project than expected for me tonight, and I just finished.  I am still a “newbie” when it comes to Bollywood and I was feeling ashamed about how I forgot some of the actors names.  So, I thought, I would find pictures of them and then add their names to a file or some such thing.  Then, the idea fell into my head that adding their names TO the pictures themselves would be even better.  Better yet, let’s crop them to the same size and make a wallpaper! Alas, no.  It became a tw0 hour project that FINALLY resulted in this:  BollywoodStars-by-KamalaChanI hope you enjoy!  I know it’s my new favorite thing.  It’s got all my favorites, and a few others that I admire and like to watch too.  (Plus some greats that are more famous than really one’s that I like, but are growing on me.)

Xi Nian Kuai Le!

Happy Lunar New Year to everyone!  Although I didn’t have the money to truly celebrate the holiday this year, I made sure to check my horoscope and wish everyone a happy new year.

(My Zodia = The Pig)

(My Zodiac = The Pig)

In Chinese culture, the lunar new year is much more prominent.  In fact, the calendar new year is hardly noted and only some people actually celebrate it.  During new years the elders hand out lai see (red envelopes) of money to the youngsters in their family. Traditionally they also light fireworks in order to scare of bad spirits, and to welcome in good luck.  There are numerous traditions and different symbols that are followed and observed in the biggest holiday of the year.  It’s bigger than Christmas is here.

laisee2

In Korean culture it is called Seollal (설날.)  One of the most time-honored traditions of lunar new year is dressing up in a hanbok and performing Sebae; a bow of respect to their elders.  It’s rather specific, and is sometimes hard to figure out if you aren’t used to it.


Here is a clip of Rain/Bi (비) trying it out. 🙂 Hooray for silly commercials. 🙂


The Japanese celebrate with the U.S. during the calendar New Year, and one big tradition for them is to dress up in kimono and visit the local temple to pray for luck in the new year and to draw their horoscopes for the new year.  Oshogatsu is a fun time, and I’ve spent a couple of them at Morikami feeding the fish, making mochi and eating yakisoba.

Hanetsuki

Hanetsuki at Morikami

I hope no matter where you are or what your beliefs are, you can enjoy the start of this new year – if you celebrate with the moon, or follow the calendar a bright new year is upon us.

Indian Movie Review: Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

Ranbeer (Saif Ali Khan) is a powerful business man who, in his rush to take care of business neglects to watch the road properly one evening; in doing so, he broadsides another car.  In a post-crash stupor, Ranbeer watches as rescuers try and fail to save the couple driving the car he hit.  After a year-long legal battle the judge hands down a strange sentence: take care of the couple’s four children as if they were your own, until the youngest turns 18 years old.  Now a court-appointed father, Ranbeer struggles to connect with the children who would rather live on their own than with the man who killed their parents.  Ranbeer asks his girlfriend Malaika (Amisha Patel) to get them everything they want, and eventually, to help him find a nanny to care for them.  However, God is paying attention to the drama of this family and sends help in the form of Geeta, (Rani Mukerji) a troublesome angel who is always cheerful, boasting of her inability to cry.  She is dispatched to unite the family as one, using her charm and is told not to use her magic in front of others.  Breaking the rules, Geeta uses her power to stop the children in several plots against Ranbeer, and also uses it to push him closer to them.  Eventually, the two start to get close as they bond with the children and one another.  After realizing her feelings, Geeta must decide whether she can handle being in love with a human, or if she will return to Heaven and keep her angel status.

Hello?!

Ranbeer Vs. The Phone

Despite rather harsh criticism from other viewers, I loved this movie.  Although, I tend to love the light-hearted “fluff” type of movie’s more than more serious and dramatic endeavors anyway.  The obvious similarities of this movie to The Sound of Music, Nanny McPhee and Mary Poppins might be a put-off for some people, but the fact that I love those movies and that they are considered by many people to be classic family films should be a great asset to Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic.  It was very similar to great children’s movies in that it took the time to teach children that learning can be FUN!

Museums are FUN!

Museums are FUN!


You can even march with Ghandi!

You can even march with Ghandi!

While I spent the first part of the movie a little frustrated with Ranbeer, I was very entertained by Geeta, and her inability to listen to God.  She used her powers in full force in front of all the kids and never really explained it either.  I don’t think that the family ever had a discussion about what Geeta really was – which was a little off-putting actually. If you have a person living in your house who can do this:

Just rowing in my moon - what?! you don't have one?

Just rowing in my moon - what?! you don't have one?

You might want to question it a little.  Just a thought…  The scenes from Heaven reminded me of Bruce Almighty, where they picked a prominent actor (Rishi Kapoor) to play the Almighty and just kind of had fun with it. I like that, because I’m sure God (in any form) isn’t a complete stiff and actually has a good time every once in awhile.

Rani is stunning as usual!

Rani is stunning as usual!

The picturizations were fun too.  While not my favorite song, I was impressed by Lazy Lamhe.  It’s got to be hard enough to film these scenes without doing it UNDER WATER!

"Singing" under water AND looking attractive - amazing!

"Singing" under water AND looking attractive - amazing!

I was bemused by the scenes in LA.  I don’t see very many of our own film crews for Hollywood movies using popular places like Universal Studios and Rodeo Drive very often, so it was fun to see a few scenes from these places.

Universal Studios!  Fix that tie Vashisht!

Universal Studios! Fix that tie Vashisht!

Wow! What a stylish family!

Wow! What a stylish family!

I am curious, however, if they actually filmed in a random ally in the US or if they themselves added this interesting bit of graffitti that distracted me during this scene:

Really?

Really?

In the end, it was a touching movie about finding family, even if they aren’t related to you by blood.  I am a full believer that family is extended to whomever your heart is connected – not just what is proper or what society dictates.

Will Vashisht ever join the family?

Will Vashisht ever join the family?

So, this is a tear?  (Don't cry Saif!)

So, this is a tear? (Don't cry Saif!)

4.5 Stars