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‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ by Hayao Miyazaki (1989 film) – review

kikidoyouloveme-c537c2fbe895a651b76179c8b7a4f23bBeing a witch can be this fun. She can fly on a broomstick anywhere faster, higher and further and see the world in her own eyes, which takes her to a higher plane of existence. Perish the titular image of a spooky hag with an equally evil looking black cat flying together on a hackneyed broomstick on Witches Sabbath as a medieval invention of a woman laden with sexual and spiritual depravity. For a witch can be young, innocent, good-hearted and hard-working into the bargain who tries to live purposefully and meaningfully with what’s given to her as a result of responding genuinely and humanly to life’s challenges.  Such is a growing tale of Kiki’s Delivery Service, aka Witch’s Delivery Service.

Kiki, a thirteen-year old witch, leaves her mother and father for an independent one-year training of witchcraft at a faraway place where no other witch lives. Her companion is a witty and trusty talking black cat named Jiji that is more of kin than pet. When Kiki finds a place in the port city of Koriko that has the outlook of San Francisco, Marseilles and Nice beautifully combined, she sets up a delivery service as a messenger flying on a broomstick passed down to her in a long line of witchery by her witch mother. The business is in bloom because of her excellent customer service, positive attitudes and beautiful heart, boosting her self-confidence, filling her heart with the love of humanity. Her broomstick and craftiness in flying with amazing navigation skills are part of witchery, but her real magical power is her empathy with people that infatuates all with a sense of euphoria. Kiki comes to know that the real magic comes from within, not from supernatural entities.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 Japanese animated film that was written, produced, and directed by great Hayao Miyazaki, which was an adaptation of the 1985 eponymous novel by Eiko Kadono. The fineness of Japanese animation is at the meticulous rendering of original literary source text to the animated version without losing the authenticity of the original theme and maximizing the emotional and visual effects. Also, there is a polyphony of pathos and affabulation found in Miyazaki’s animations, such as Graves of Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, and his other television works as presented in The World Masterpiece Theater. In fact, Kiki’s Delivery is a bildungsroman film of an adolescent girl who tries to establish her own place in the world while growing up, independent of the comforts of her home and conformity of lifestyles that is likely to be pinned down on her by a society’s convention. In a way, it is reminiscent of Jonathan Livingston Seagull in terms of his search of self-identity and growing into adulthood through the vicissitudes of life. However, Kiki’s rite of passage seems more adventurous, more libertine and more vivacious, all in the artistic mastery of Miyazaki’s creation of La Vie de Rose according to the eyes of young and resilient witch Kiki. Young, Old, Man, Woman, regardless of where you are or what you do, this is a film that will bring you all to the world of fantasy wonderfully anchored in reality that will entertain you with beautifully rendered scenery in detail and a story worth the keeping at heart.

my thoughts on the ainu according to Thucydides’s historical perspective

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The Ainu in Hokkadio, Japan

The article on the Ainu as featured in October 2019 issue of BBC History makes the interesting parallels with the history of the Anglo-Saxon and the Celts in Great Britain. The Wajin, or more widely known as Yamato people elsewhere in the Far East, are the major ethnic group of the Japanese archipelago, many of whom are the descendants of the ancient Silla (57 BC – 935 AD), a kingdom located in a southern part of the Korean Peninsula. (The Anglo-Saxon). The Ainu whose wherefrom and wherefores are still a mystery primarily inhabited in Hokkaido (The Celts or the Welsh).

However, it must be known that the Yamato were not hell bent on obliterating the Ainu culture but in effort to unite the divided provinces by Shoguns under the newly established monarchy of Tenno, which was in fact modeled after Papacy of the West during the Meiji Restoration. And it wasn’t that the Japanese mercilessly persecuted the Ainu under the reign of terror. Rather, they tried to indoctrinate the Ainu modern way of life, which in many ways improved their primitive quality of living by conforming to the reformed policy in favor of their betterment.

True that the Ainu were often subject to discrimination by their unique ethnicity, just as the Welsh and the Irish experienced it from the English, but part of their diminutiveness of presence resulted from the juggernaut of the modernization that necessitated the swing of things.

this was a woman!

Josephine Baker was surely more than just a pretty dancer who thrived on her exotic charms and wild popularity from her adoring admirers; she had the guts to talk back to the authority that ignored her presence, the voice to speak out against injustice, the pride of who she was and the will to fulfill her meaning of life despite her hardships. And she did all of this with a graceful choreography of decencies and humanity in style.

Reading of the intriguingly informative article about this strong-willed, headstrong woman has confirmed me in the universal credo that no matter where you came from, with the best of what you possess and the will to meaning by actualizing your valuable attributions, you can rise above biological and social planes deemed to stunt your growth into what you want to be. In fact, Baker’s resilient spirit against social discrimination and personal hardships epitomizes what Nietzsche advised to the suffering humanity:” That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” In this sense, the figure of Baker transcends a statue of civil right activist that some people like to erect for pontificating about their political ideology and becomes a universal model of humanity as she herself practiced during her lifetime. For it was not that she loved the socially disfranchised people of her kind, but that she loved mankind more.

Baker’s life was exciting, and the elements so wonderfully mixed in her that parliament of humankind might applaud her to the very echo and proclaim to the world “This was a woman!” For all her acts of courage and fortitude gracefully surrounding her person, those thousand decencies she exemplified as a citizen of the world flew from all her words and actions, really. 

 

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False histories

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History is a nonfiction narrative that reads like a novel, packed with actions, emotions, and characters, in the discovery of the universal human traits; it is both considered as parts of Humanities and Social Sciences in modern academia with the beauty of literature and the authority of science. That is why history is the most potent basis of political tool for manufacturing ideology in the form of a myth. Nazism was the proverbial example of the myth as an effective propaganda that called for the unity of the Germans. But the building of myth is not confined in the Germans; it’s an in-vogue political trend across the Seven Seas, which shoehorns ambitious political ideology into a suitably fashionable story of national pride and beguiling ethnocentrism.

Historian Michael Wood’s article “Dangerous Histories” in this month’s BBC History is the most apposite to such current revisionist view on history. In the article, his example of India, where the rise of the Hindu nationalist movement imbibes the populace with the mythical Hindu past that was claimed to be distorted by medieval Muslim conquests and British colonialism, bespeaks a danger of rewriting an untruthful history without objective facts, tempered by blind jingoism and askew ethnocentrism. In fact, such revisionist rewriting of history contributes to a powerful social cohesion of the populace  in times of national crisis. It’s really a case of mass mind-control by means of myth, the imagined history tinged with false patriotism and insular outlook on the world.

History is a collective narrative of a people who have been together through thick and thin, warts and all, sharing the same culture in the same place for centuries. Thus, it shapes the sense of identity of the people among others. However, if history serves to berating peoples of other nations to claim its own cultural superiority over them and therefore rightful subjugation of their cultures, then history as the factual subject in the academia loses its force of truth and becomes no more than a propagandist manifesto of jingoism. Let history be history, not a legend. Maybe it is high time we invoked the spirit of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, who put forward factual and empirical elements in historical narratives.

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‘Bad Ben – The Way In (2019)’, by Nigel Bach – review

I don’t know why I am drawn to this bold middle-aged curmudgeon named Tom Riley, who fashions himself to be a self-professed paranormal investigator. While I liked the Mandela Effect one about which I even wrote because of its refreshingly ingenious takes on a genre of horror film, it never occurred to me that I would be contracted with the uncanny charm of this ireful, cloddish Jersey man’s fiasco of battles with a legion of nine demons commandeering in the same beautiful house to no end. That’s the gist of this hilariously polished offbeat film about Tom Riley, the alter ego of director Nigel Bach, and that’s why he returns with his own legion of demons in this ‘Bad Ben – the Way in.’

In this installment, Riley goes back to the haunted house of which he was a former owner to rid the demons thereof at the request of a new owner before the family moves in. He accepts the offer for none other than an existential need of money, hence the repertoire of his wrestling with the demons begins: the toy girls still wreak havoc of already edgy borderline neurotic Riley with seven other demons, introducing Clown and Voodoo dolls that look irritatingly menacing without diabolic charisma. Well, that’s the point of this new film by Bach, who seems to render the ambiance of irony fused with comedy and tragedy, which is another stance on life itself according to his view of reality. At least, that is what Bach visualizes his way of weltanschauung with go-aheaditiveness and hubris even though the motives are for lucrative rewards. But then who will pillory the man in need when we all need it to get by?

Mad, bad and bold Riley is here again to do his job, and he does it with his trademark dour humor and grumpy face that render his continuing saga of ghost-busting all the more realistic and business-like, which is all the more refreshing and oddly attractive and highly addictive. If you do not like the person of Riley for his ill-temper at his worst, you can appreciate his resilience, optimism, and courage against the forces of evil at his best. This is Bach’s finest hour.