Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Blade Runner Final Cut trailer
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Both the creation and destruction of his works happen so naturally, that you enjoy the whole process just like appreciating the peaking and fading of fall foliages. The death/birth dichotomy is a repetitive theme of his work, such as his interpretation of a black hole. This also explains his obsession with rivers and tides, the beauty within natural cycles. It’s a deeper understanding of the essence of nature and the essence of life.
The movie is quite a success. With frequent use of long takes and track shots, it brings us so close to Andy’s works and mind. It’s a mesmerizing experience, both cinematic and artistic.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The Red Balloon is a French film telling a simple and magical story between a little boy and a red balloon he picks up one day. With no dialogue, we enter a visual world by following the boy through many streets of old Paris. We cannot hold our eyes back from the delightfully bright red balloon against the grey cityscape. Hope and warmth rises as all the balloons in Paris fly to the boy after his red balloon is killed by naughty boys.
Little Fugitive doesn’t look like an American movie, for its noticeable European artistic and subtle style. This time, we follow a little boy Joey to Coney Island, the closest fantasy land for New Yorkers. Interesting enough, Little Fugitive has a scene where Joey is holding a balloon in his hand. Thus these two films are linked by a common image: a little boy with a balloon.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Galleria Department Store, UN Studio
Prada, H & de M
Webb Bridge, Denton Corker Marshall and Robert Owen
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Orson Welles: The One-Man Band is an awesome documentary on Orson Welles’ unfinished projects during the last 20 years of his life. Surprisingly, the opening scene shows Welles performing as a professional magician. Later I understood the purpose of this: it’s not merely a demonstration of his versatileness, although we know he did have great talent in so many things: directing, acting, writing, editing, producing…Metaphorically, his fascination with magic also refers to his self image, as pointed out in the film that one of Orson Welles’s most famous tricks is his silhouette: a disguise, an abstraction of his self, or simply a game.
Renowned for his early career fame such as his 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds and films like Citizen Kane, Welles is taken by the critics as a burned-out genius who had done nothing during his late years. However, this film shows us some “behind the scene” of Welles’s unknown life and works, offering more understanding to the tricks he played. Oja Kodar, his long-time companion, also the leading actress in his independent film projects, takes us through these precious footages and sketches by Welles. I’m so impressed with the amount of works he had accomplished during those years, although they never got finished due to mostly financial problems. He worked so independently that he did scripting, shooting, acting, set design and editing all by himself.
The One-Man Band is a short movie in which he played several different characters. As he joked: I, myself, have always been the “one-man band”. Despite constant financial problems and rejections from mainstream, he never gave up his dream. He used money from acting and commercials to fund his own projects, one after another. Like he said to the audience when receiving Lifetime Achievement Award from AFI in 1975, “I use my own work to subsidize my work. In other words, I’m crazy. But not crazy enough to pretend to be free.”
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The World theme park in Beijing acts as a perfect setting for many metaphors: for the migrant workers, either construction workers or dancers, the park IS their dazzling world which fulfills their fantasy about traveling around the glode as well as achieving better living. Like Disneyland, the World theme park creates a perfect place to project the visitors’ dream, while the real world, what’s behind the clean and happy scenes, are supposed to be kept invisible to the audience. However, Jia chose to show us this hidden world: the hardship and struggles within the dancers and workers’ everyday life.
There’s an ironically funny effect every time we see the characters moving against the miniature attractions. The dilemma lies in their ability to migrate physically v.s. their inability/immobility to find a proper position in society. The question remains: Is there a proper identity for any of us in today’s hyperreality? What is left to be real?
Complex Social Conditions of China
Relationships became fragile and vulnerable in today’s complicated social environment in China. The sense of feeling lonely and lost is found in most characters. The security guy’s constant desire to possess his girlfriend’s body results in a frivolous and ambiguous relationship with Liao, a lonely woman whose husband stowed away to France ten years ago. The naked mannequin at Liao’s studio somehow suggests the place for fulfilling the male fantasy.
The friendship between Xiao Tang and the Russian woman is well conveyed. Sharing the similar fate brings the two women close to each other; language is no longer the obstacle in communication. The scene where the two meet at the restroom of the club is so powerful, simply heartbreaking. This recalls Jia’s documentary Dong, where the story flows from the construction workers at Three Gorges Dam to the prostitutes in Bankok – different people are connected not only by a river surrounding them, but also their way of making a living on their bodies.
The cheap life of migrant workers is fully revealed especially through a young guy’s tragic death. He writes down something before passing away in the shabby hospital. Jia didn’t show us what’s on the note immediately. Instead, after we hear the crying, the camera leads us to the blank wall with text gradually appearing: the dead worker’s last words are simply a list of amount he owed to his co-workers. In Dong we experienced another construction worker’s death and even followed to his extremely poor home. Such things are happening all the time in China and workers’ lives are worth much less than an economy car.
Use of Flash animation
A short Flash animation is used to portray characters’ strong desires aroused by each emotional phone message. The use of Flash is by no means Jia’s trick to get fancy or to copy Run Lola Run; it feels quite natural here since both Flash and cell phone message are digital media. The surrealist images and vivid colors of the animations are in sharp contrast with the grey tone of the filmic reality, an almost romantic and utopian expression of the characters’ feelings and desires. The similar contrast can be seen between the dancers’ splendid appearance in the show and their ordinary daily looks.
The open ending of the movie is quite successful. The ending scene offers different readings: Is it truly an accident or a planned suicide? At the very end, with the blackout of the screen, we hear the short conversation: “Are we dead?” “No, we’ve just started.” This raises another question: are they still alive, or that’s just some kind of unconsciousness? My reading is on the positive side:)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the only Calatrava building I’ve visited, has the unspeakable charm to me. The first time I was there, I was on a class trip and the pavilion just opened to the public. The incredible elegance of the structure and space took my breath away. I remember standing in the reception hall for minutes with my eyes fixed on the beautiful roof structure. The second time I was there with my parents and husband only a few days ago - the same sunny day, the same blue sky, of course the same shock by the stunning beauty of the design!
Always amazed by Calatrava’s organic form, innovative engineering and romantic imagination and sensitivity to the site –
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A natural connection is the13-Dog Statue at the entrance of Tokyo Tower, erected by Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1959. An incredible story goes behind it: 13 sled dogs (Sakhalin huskies) were left behind in Antarctica by a Japanese research expedition in 1958 due to an emergency evacuation. Almost a year later a subsequent expedition arrived and found two of the dogs still alive! This true story probably inspired the Disney movie Eight Below.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Who on earth killed the electric cars? The oil industry, the car companies, the government, the consumers...None of them can get away with the murder. After all, it was our human weakness we have never overcome: the short-sightedness targeting only at short-term profits.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I have to say St. Ignatius is PERFECT. Built ten years ago, the trace of time can be easily read thru. the beautifully weathering skin accompanied with lively vines.
I was quite disappointed to see how Bellevue works in reality: Holl's original idea was to introduce natural light to both lobby and galleries. Unfortunately, the three big light wells are permanently covered, as well as the clerestories along the gallery walls for a much more controlled interior lighting. The random pattern of the recessed downlights inside the galleries were also altered to evenly spaced track lighting.
The hanging curvy stair tube made of translucent glass remains the only highlight of the museum. It felt like stepping into a weightless space, a space blurred and softened by sunlight.
During my last visit of Beijing, I saw the construction site of Linked Hybrid, a sustainable high-rise residential community right off the 2nd ring road of the city.
Years back in NYC, I walked around Little Italy looking for Holl's storefront gallery . It took me quite some time to recognize the building. With all the revolving panels closed, it looked really austere and blended into the surrounding environment.Now I look forward to visit his new art museum in Kansas City. With the cheap airfares from Skybus, it would be an easy weekend trip :)
Saturday, July 28, 2007
1) the guild glasses of Andries Copier
2) the revolt chair by Friso Kramer
3) Heineken’s Longneck bottle
4) the Bugaboo stroller by Max Barenburg
5) Tea kettle Lapin by Nicolai Carels
6) Milk bottle lamp by Tejo Remy
7) the bakfiets (the Dutch cargo bike)
8) the Philips eco-lamp
9) the smoked sausage by and for Unox
10) the tulip