“Warrior” Couldn’t Be More Relevant in 2021

Just as some believe anti-violence in film can be achieved by sickening the audience with ultraviolence, any cinematic depiction of racism necessarily traffics in the imagery and narratives of racism. And necessary they may be in turn, all the brutal historical dramas which bring atrocities to vivid life beg the question: isn’t there another way? Perhaps there have been or could be movies about racism that forgo such descriptions as “confrontational.” Instead, we could have two strangers from opposite sides of the track building a new and honest relationship with nary a slur slipping out. Sometimes you want that, and that’d be nice. But sometimes, you want to see a racist guy kicked through a wall. … More “Warrior” Couldn’t Be More Relevant in 2021

03/13/2021 – My Name is Nobody

Have you seen the trailer for this movie Nobody? You’d be excused for not remembering the title, it’s horrible. Looks like Bob Odenkirk is the latest dad action hero, and I appreciate his gradual rise in stardom. I mean, I think he’s a good actor, but more so the rise is visibly apparent. He goes from sketch comedy to memorable supporting character on buzzy TV show to lead role on buzzy TV show sequel to supporting roles on A-list Oscar movies. With an arc like this, we see how some roles and projects are more “legitimate” than others, whether or not our personal valuation of them is consistent with the objective assessment. Similarly, our previous understanding of Odenkirk slots into a different kind of spectrum. On Breaking Bad, he’s menaced by Jonathan Banks, an actor typecast as action movie heavies. Do we buy the funnyman as badass? … More 03/13/2021 – My Name is Nobody

Masokaiju Tendencies: Those American Godzilla Movies

Godzilla is a metaphor for the atomic bomb in a film from Japan, a country struck with the atomic bomb by America, so when Godzilla shows up in America, how do you want me to take that? Hollywood has a concise answer: “I don’t give a shit.” A seemingly inevitable statement made as consequence of international intertextuality is forfeited upon the altar of I don’t know what. Three American Godzilla movies have been released so far, and I understand this to be a controversial statement, so I apologize in advance, but none of them have been good. Granted, Godzilla movies are usually not good, but this is different. At least, I think it is. … More Masokaiju Tendencies: Those American Godzilla Movies

Your Guide to the Politics of Shin Godzilla

I’d wanted to write this story about a giant monster attack and realized I didn’t know how it would play out, point by point. Which government organization would do what, at what moment? Who are the key people? And then it struck me, with the power of discouragement: that story already exists, and it’s one of my favorite movies, Shin Godzilla. So onto the shelf that story went, but the question stuck: what would have to happen if a giant monster attacked? I imagined there’d be a treasure trove of resources for “speculative crisis management” or something like that, but maybe some things are too silly even for the Internet. We’ll have to go straight to the source: how do co-directors Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno answer this question? A closer look at the bureaucratic drama of Shin Godzilla might help us understand their political critique. … More Your Guide to the Politics of Shin Godzilla

02/25/2021 – You Are the Product, You Feeling Discomfort

In the inarguable blog post for With Eyes East — a feature I’m hoping will equate to semiregular content on this, you know, blog site — I got some problems. Number one being the sexual confusion I experience while watching Steven Seagal movies, but that’ll be our last item because it’s horrifying. First, and only appropriately so, Irene’s movie Double Patty came out (at the domestic box office), and no, netizens are not over “the Irene thing.” Via email alert, I was greeted by this happy headline the other day: “K-pop idols, such as Red Velvet’s Irene, are bombing at the box office as they seek big film careers,” over on the South China Morning Post (or Korea Times?). The article cites a number of idols trying their hands at acting, apparently poorly, but I only recognize Irene here, and as previous posts on this site have well-established, on this I get a little touchy. … More 02/25/2021 – You Are the Product, You Feeling Discomfort

2009: Lost Memories

By the time 2009: Lost Memories exposes itself in the final third, forgoing language and subtlety for foaming rabid nationalism, there may be a sense of relief, as its interpretation of the police procedural was laborious: a mystery unfolding poorly. This is an alternate history action-thriller which posits that Germany, not Japan, was hit by the atomic bomb, and as a consequence, Korea was never liberated. In the present day of near-future 2009, the “Japanese Bureau of Intelligence,” or JBI, battles an underground Korean terrorist cell in what would’ve been Seoul, digging up old ghosts for ethnically Korean agent Masayuki Sakamoto. … More 2009: Lost Memories

Top 10 YouTube 2020

Well, it’s that time of year again, where we count down the best YouTube videos of the past 12 months (I’d already used “year” in this sentence, so I couldn’t use it twice). What do you mean “again” doesn’t apply in this case? Well, true enough this site and its correspondent YouTube channel launched this year — and what a year! So exciting, wow. Primarily, what helped me through was YouTube, and what a year! Seems like everyone, from Yoona and Yuri to Hayoung started up their channels, providing so much wonderful c-o-n-t-e-n-t to pick up and watch. … More Top 10 YouTube 2020

The Conquerors: Nomad and Mongol

So, the mission of With Eyes East is to promote Asian cinema and culture, and a very easy way for me to do that is to look at movies which are already cultural outreaches, movies like The Raid: Redemption from Indonesia or Furie from Vietnam. I don’t have to crane my neck; in fact, I might only have to look as far as an episode of The Amazing Race. I’m gonna stop you right there, Phil, because I’ve had my share of tet a tet with CBS copyright lawyers in the past. Well, just one; he thought my name was Josh. But basically, Phil’s saying that KazakhFilm is one of Kazakhstan’s major studios, responsible for a Ghengis Khan movie nominated for an Oscar. And I said, “Bullshit,” because I know Nomad: The Warrior was not nominated for an Oscar. After cursory research, I discovered I’m half-correct. KazakhFilm’s first blockbuster production was Nomad: The Warrior, co-directed by Sergei Bodrov, and it was submitted to the Academy as Kazakhstan’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not nominated. Two years later, Bodrov returned with a movie called Mongol — the one actually about Ghengis Khan — and this was indeed nominated for that same award. So today, I want to take a look at what goes into film as ambassadorship, with these two Kazakh films as our example. How did they successfully introduce an international audience to the culture of… who? … More The Conquerors: Nomad and Mongol