Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tord Boontje at ICFF

Saw this interview with today's hot designer Tord Boontje at ICFF. To me, his works are both natural and technical, both pure and sophisticated, both decorative and minimalist - just LOVE it!

Source: MoCoLoCo

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Wind Will Carry Us

The Wind Will Carry Us by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is a unique movie where landscape plays a starring role, from the unique Kurdish mountain village, to the stunning fields of gold. Trees are referred as landmarks for directions in such a barren landscape. Inside this terraced village, you always have people above or below you, overseeing and overhearing the lives of your neighbors. Roofs are part of the living surface. Your horizon is vertical. There is not a single portrait of the interior of the houses in the entire movie. The only interior scene shows a dark cave barn where a girl gets milk for the engineer. Judging from the outside, we can guess the inside would not be comfortable.

The plot is minimal: A film crew visits a tiny village to document the local mourning ceremony of an anticipated death of an old woman. However the women remains alive for a while which turns the crew into wanderers. There is a mysterious dimension in the narrative, for the viewer is never given full knowledge: the real identity of the crew is kept in secret almost throughout the film; the main character is called by villagers “engineer” which is also misleading; the acousmatic voices of the engineer’s colleagues and several villagers the engineer encounters. The viewer has to fill the gaps with his imagination.

The engineer’s cell phone is the only connection between the remote village and the outside world. Everytime he has to drive out of the village to a cemetery on a highland to get signal. Following this repeated path with his unexpected interactions of local residents, we get to learn the daily routine of village life. During the waiting period, the story is diverted into questions on a series of relationships: between life and death, between old and new, between insider and outsider, through many idling moments. As the title The Wind Will Carry Us suggests, the film has a drifting and mesmerizing beauty in it.

There are noticeable recurring themes in Abbas's films such as driving scene, barren landscape, reflections upon life and death, esp. in A Taste of Cherry. A Taste of Cherry has a simple and obvious structure and concept, but lacks the richness The Wind Will Carry Us offers us. Another great Iranian life/death themed movie is Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine by Bahman Farmanara.

Not A Lynchish Film by Lynch

Too bad I missed Lynch's lastest film Inland Empire at Drexel Gateway. Instead, I watched DVD of The Straight Story, a non-Lynchish film made by Lynch. Like the movie title, Lynch tells the story in a very straightforward way, without any Lynchish twist or special effect. The movie is based on a true story: a 73-year-old man drove his lawn mower all the way from Iowa to Wisconsin to see his illed brother, very very touching! It shows Lynch is quite capable of making a good conventional movie, then you may appreciate more of his brilliance in his Lynchish movies.

Life is a journey. A road trip we take is a journey within a journey. Many great movies portray road trips deeply imprinted in the characters’ lives. I found a webpage about The 10 Road Trip Movies You Gotta See. I've only seen two of them so far, shame :( I will add two Latin American ones to the list: The Motorcycle Diaries and Dust to Dust .

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cagliari Contemporary Arts Centre

by Zaha Hadid, under construction (source: Arcspace)

The renderings look like surrealistic paintings, esp. the last one.

Golden Iris

I missed taking a picture of the gorgeous pear blossoms at Marble Cliff this year, but caught another seasonal favorite - the golden irises by the boardwalk at Creekside Park in Gahanna, the most beautiful and lively park I found in Columbus ^_^

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Thin Red Line

Can you believe these images are from a war movie? The Thin Red Line, is an unconventional war film about battles between US and Japan on a Pacific island during WWII. Unlike most war movies focusing on only the horrors of war, TTRL adds in much more richness in the humanistic and reflective dimensions. The images of the beauty and serenity of nature are often revealed through subjective gazes of soldiers, recalling metaphoriccal meanings. At other times, the war is seen through the innocent gaze of nature, the curious eyes of living creatures - thus the absurdity of war is manifested with remarkable contrast. The voice-overs from a few soldiers questioning the meaning of life and war are quite powerful.

It came out the same year as Saving Private Ryan. TTRL won the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Fest while SPR won several Oscar awards, that's why SPR is far more well-known than TTRL. After seeing TTRL, SPR looks more like a typical Hollywood thriller to me. The director of TTRL Terrence Malick cares about quality rather than quantity in filmmaking, so he made only five films (including a short film) so far. Badlands and Days of Heaven are both fantastic.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

California's First Green Hotel

Listened to an interview with Wen-I Chang, the developer of the first green hotel in CA on NPR. Later I found this interesting article by him talking about how he became green and the design process of the hotel -

Dark City

The other day I talked to JNo who just came back from Shanghai. He mentioned something very unusual to him, I guess to most Americans: All the lights on buildings are out at midnight everyday. Since his office was in a high-rise in Old Shanghai facing Pudong and he stayed up late a few times, it was quite dramatic to see all the lights go out at once and the city seemed dead. It reminded me of my favorite sci-fi movie Dark City (very comparable to The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor, both came out a year after), in which everybody in the city falls into a coma when the clock strikes midnight everyday due to the alien's power -the city freezes as all the motion ceases. This filmic city always appears grey and gloomy because sunlight is blocked by the aliens. But the real sense of darkness here is not about the absence of light, or the absence of action, but the absence of memory due to the aliens' manipulation. Places like "Shell Beach" only exist as a faded image, an unreachable destination.

Compared to the quick switches between day and night in Chinese cities to save electricity, Vegas is the opposite: there is nothing suggesting the change between day and night when you are inside a casino, no sense of time - it is going on forever.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Y+Yoga Shanghai

Designed by Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, this yoga club is perhaps the hippest one in China. I'd love to practise yoga there :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Power of Visual Analysis

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Isn't it amazing? Now I won't worry about typos :P