Archive for the 'movie' Category

To remember who we were all once

the emotions were pure, unfiltered, unpretentious.




It’s easy to make a great movie with big stories. This is a movie describing very ordinary life of very ordinary people. The scenes are so ordinary that you’ll be surprised that they can actually become a movie. A surprisingly captivating movie. A master piece. A true demonstration of the power of cinema story telling.

To watch.

the blank space is – an art

In Chinese paintings, blankness is called the “breathing space”, left for imagination. Chinese values what is not said more than what is clearly stated. Thousands years ago, in a competition painters were asked to paint the scene in a poem. The poem described the spring time when flowers were flourishing. The road was covered with fragrant petals. A horse galloped by. Petals were stirred up and left floating in the air. Many painters painted the scene word by word. The winner painted a horse racing by, with its horseshoes surrounded by butterflies.

One modern art painting I’ve seen is just a white canvas. That’s the extreme case of blankness.

In music, a sudden pause unleashes the power.

In movies, what is not in picture forces the viewers to complete the story. The viewers’ curiosity is heightened and attention drawn. The movie 菊次郎の夏 made many of such pauses. It gave the movie a sense of real life’s pace, not rushed by the limit of the two hour cinema time. This movie is about how a nine-year old Japanese boy spent his summer with a almost stranger man. The boy lost his father when he was a baby. His mother moved far away. He lived with the grandma who had to work everyday. When the summer vocation came, all the normal activities such as after school soccer practice stopped. His friends went on vocation with their families. The boy suddenly felt the lack of his own. One day, after receiving a parcel from his mom, he packed up his summer homework, family photo, took his mom’s address off the parcel, and went off to see his mom – just to be stopped down the street by a group of teenagers trying to knock the little money off him. A neighborhood couple intervened. The wife sympathized and asked her clueless gangster-ish husband to take the kid to see his mom. Their journey started with the man spending a couple of days and all the travel money on betting bicycle race. (Doesn’t Japan have horses, greyhounds, rabbits?) His lack of responsibilities put himself and the kid in various unfavorable situations. When they finally reached the destination, they realized the mom was remarried and had a complete new family. At this time, the movie was only 2/3 done. It could go many different directions including your typical American ending ;-). However, it continued with the life pace without a hint of rush. The man and the boy ended up camping out with three guys they met on the road. An inspired poet who was traveling the country in a van. Two motor bikers who wear serious black but have heart as soft as mochi. The summer ended when everyone departed. At the end of scene, the boy and the man said goodbye on the bridge the first met. The boy asked, “Uncle, what’s your name?” After got his answer, he ran toward home and disappeared from the view. End. I almost did not want it to end here. I would like to know what would happen when they met again. The director must have resisted the tempt to add any more touch to his canvas.

In the documentary “Objectified”. It was said the best design is to take elements off the design, until every feature left is absolutely necessary. Editing the movie can be the similar process.

I wonder, what is the blank space in our lives? On Monday when we are asked by our colleagues how our weekend was. We were almost embarrassed to say it was just normal two days. Nothing exciting happened. Internet filled all the large chunks of our “inactive” time. And smart phone patched up the remaining small gaps. While these devices become more powerful, and the content distributed through them is forever growing, is it even possible to taking their influences off our minds, so we can have some blank space to develop the thought of our own?


“Objectified is a feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability.”

fractal – self similarity

Amazing to know the rule exists, everywhere; and has been applied to so many areas – art, coastline measurement, medicine, cell phone antenna, computer generated organic forms (in Star War!)…

Fractals: Hunting the Hidden Dimension: Nova
The mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot coined the term in 1975.

Another amazing book to read about another great mathematician Paul Erdős – “my brain is open”
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

Collect art for the art

HERB & DOROTHY tells the extraordinary story of Herbert Vogel, a postal clerk, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means.

Valentino & Mr. Wright

Two men with vanity. And because of their absolute confidence, immortal.

The documentaries
Valentino: The Last Emperor
Frank Lloyd Wright (PBS 1998)

One can argue that neither fashion nor architecture is a necessity for humankind. If we lived in a world without anything beyond what is absolute necessary, what kind of feelings would the evening gown or Falling Water stir in us?

Over thousands of years, we are conditioned to appreciate such things. Gradually we distribute larger and larger part of our happiness to them.

In Valentino’s film, his 45 years’ career celebration was held in a museum hall. Gowns that he designed over the years were hung in rows on the wall. The gowns, heavily decorated and without a real body inside, looked almost scary. In another scene, Valentino and his partner argued about the backdrop of his fashion show. The sand dunes, made out of hard plastic, looked almost cheap when there was no light on. With lighting, they still looked out of place in contrast to his elaborate evening gowns. Yet, the audience were moved. Why? What is in addition to the design which get us emotionally charged?

Only recently I learned each year’s fashion “hot” color was decided by a group of designers. Did I really think that the trend was consolidated from data by watching how people wear on the streets? In reality, we were marketed to.

Architecture, is different The feeling we get inside a building comes directly from us. We do not need to be told how to feel. Quoting from a architecture critic, “Great architecture, like any kind of great art, ultimately takes you somewhere words cannot take you at all…Some experiences gets you in your gut. And you just feel it. And you can’t quite even say it.”