Jun Kunimura | A Man About Town

You know this man. You’ve seen him before. Lucy Liu cut his head off. Chow Yun-fat shot him point-blank. He haunted the Korean countryside and faced down two very, very different Godzillas. It’s a fun and impressive record that, with a glance at contemporary geopolitics, feels almost miraculous. … More Jun Kunimura | A Man About Town

The Best Red Velvet Album?

This is a tough one. For me, Red Velvet has an almost spotless discography, a blunting effect on my critical thinking, because it’s always “Wow, this song is amazing,” and “Wow, this song is amazing.” Not only that, I haven’t thought about them in terms of albums, unlike other musical acts. Best Paramore album? Easy. Pound for pound, it’s Brand New Eyes. I think it’s just the time in my life I experienced these groups. As a kid, I was getting into music (late) while CDs were being phased out for MP3s, but I still had CDs, and I’m still burning CDs today because the aux jack in my car doesn’t work anymore. I only started listening to Red Velvet in 2019, and I use Apple Music, so from my perspective, Red Velvet is just a mass of songs which I discovered bit by bit and sorted into various playlists. This had the strange consequence of “headcanon,” where songs with no real relation to one another have a strong connection in my mind, like the sequence of “Ice Cream Cake,” “Russian Roulette,” and “Peek-a-Boo.” For whatever reason, that’s how that trilogy goes, despite that “Peek-a-Boo” predates “Russian Roulette.” … More The Best Red Velvet Album?

COVID India Relief

The worldwide crisis has become acute in India, where according to CNN, as of May 1st, “just over 2% of India’s 1.3 billion people have been fully immunized with one of two vaccines — significantly lower than the United States, where 29.8% of the population are fully immunized.” Hospitals are at capacity, 300,000 new cases are reported every day. There is an oxygen shortage. … More COVID India Relief

04/19/2021 – Congratulations, Apink!

Today is the ten-year anniversary of Apink, one of my favorite K-pop groups. I don’t have anything big planned to commemorate such an achievement, but I have been working intermittently behind-the-scenes on a podcast episode dedicated to them, something like “Apink: A Musical Journey” or “The Art of Apink.” I don’t know, whatever sounds less dumb. But I don’t mind being dumb, because Apink makes for sometimes simple pleasures, with their easy, listenable sound. This is their overall character, “soft” or “cute,” so they lull you and when the surprises come, they hit hard. There’s the gradual “maturing” in tone they’ve developed in the past few years, with hits like “I’m So Sick” and “Eung Eung” — both excellent — but I don’t want to look at that as a change of style. I think it’s all one thing, that there’s a central driver behind songs as disparate in theme as “My My” and “Dumhdurum.” We’ll talk more in-depth about their artistry later. … More 04/19/2021 – Congratulations, Apink!

04/11/2021 – Pilot Pains

It’s just how things are these days, that the credits on the Kung Fu revival fade in and make a promise soon to be unfulfilled: “Based on Kung Fu by Ed Spielman.” This new show has nothing to do with the earlier one, which was a western, and the current narrative in television is that Kung Fu has been reclaimed by the Bruce Lee estate, by way of Cinemax’s Warrior. Why go back and reclaim again, in that way we ordinarily do, by only populating a problem canvas with better faces? The whole thing needed restructuring, from the draft phase, and it was already done. It was done. So I guess, well, now time for the next one! Hell, bring on The CW’s Kung Fu, because I don’t need to hear the argument that The Hunger Games is a ripoff of Battle Royale. If The Hunger Games can offer anything new, anything extra or different or special, why argue it shouldn’t exist just to boost your cult film creds? (Battle Royale does not count as “cult”). I’m perfectly willing, even possibly excited, to see the Y.A. version of “martial arts woman,” because I want to see all versions. I want to see a martial arts woman in everything I ever watch — provided she’s treated with respect. Or rather, demands respect — takes it, by the throat. … More 04/11/2021 – Pilot Pains

04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

What did everyone think of Wendy’s solo debut? We have the video for her single “Like Water,” and a mini-album with — appropriately so — great B-sides, including a duet with Seulgi adorably titled “Best Friend.” It’s been a long, strange journey, but for Wendy, she’s arrived. After suffering an injury around Christmas 2019 during a rehearsal, she spent 2020 recuperating, and while Red Velvet fans (myself included) imagined that’s all she did, here she comes with another stunning SM production. The album itself Like Water may not have the sheer dynamism of the Iseul debut before it, cleaving entirely toward the Velvet concept — no wild synth here or colorful bubblegum — but it’s a long-awaited showcase for Wendy’s vocals. … More 04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

04/03/2021 – Donovan Was Right!

My introduction to the happy world of podcasts came in the mid-2000s, and it was supplied entirely by iTunes, back when computers were slow enough to mask how poorly iTunes ran on Windows (to this date). Off the very first podcast I ever heard, Slice of Scifi, iTunes would give me the old “You’ll Also Like” tab, which led me to Cinemaslave and then Genrebusters, The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast and Fast Karate for the Gentleman. The last two are the only ones still active, with Fast Karate having technically released an episode earlier this year. “Active” rings oddly here, because I simply don’t know what happened to everyone else. If you’re a podcaster, either you’re active or you’re…? And that’s upsetting enough that I simply have to believe these people are fine and living their lives. Still, it’s the disappearance of the Genrebusters off the entire Internet that gets me the most. Those guys had such a different vibe, in terms of online discourse, something sort of West Coast but northern. Very laidback, but passionate all the same. I think sometimes we confuse passion for volume, and when I say “we” I mean “I.” Damn it! … More 04/03/2021 – Donovan Was Right!

Where Are All the Burmese Movies?

I’ve been fucking around on YouTube and this blog for more than a year now, attempting to lay down a foundation and attract some eyes before embarking on the “mission” for real. Generally, the idea here is “to promote Asian cinema and culture,” and that’s easy when such material is immediately available for consumption in the United States. We all love our Japanese anime and Chinese kung fu movies and K-pop, but what about countries who don’t have prominent relations with the US? There are a lot of those countries, or at least, there are many countries of which I’d say, “I have no idea” what their art and culture is like. “Does Asian country X even have a film industry?” I’m often surprised when the answer is yes, and then I feel bad. So let’s start with a random example, oh, off the top of my head, I don’t know — Myanmar. Does Myanmar have a film industry, and a deep history of film? Yes. In this case, I don’t have to feel as bad as usual, and there’s a reason for that. … More Where Are All the Burmese Movies?