Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sampling of Hong Kong Film Songs

I am in the midst of one of my lazy periods. They come and go. But to give this Blog a small pulse, here are four selections from a two disc CD of Hong Kong theme songs. These four are pretty familiar but I would likely mistake which films they are from, so I will leave that to those who know best.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Thank God the Health Care Bill has passed. Now maybe all the Tea Party nutters out there can go back to doing what they do best. Sleeping with their siblings and masturbating with their guns. And now that it will pass into law, we can finally tell them that Yes, this is in fact a Government takeover of the health care system in the USA - soon to be called the USSA. By the end of the week plane loads of Chinese and Cubans will be arriving to take over our medical care services. And Yes, it is also true as your hero Glenn Beck said that Obama is setting up Gulags out west in which to place all the anti-government protestors. But in this case, the purpose will actually be to teach you to read and write beyond your current third grade level. And to think for yourself. I know it will be difficult but someday you will be thankful when you can finally get that job you have dreamed about bagging goods at your local Walmart.

 In celebration of this moment in time when Congress did the right thing for a change, I give you a touch of cheesecake.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Crawling Out of the Attic Space - Another Bollywood Horror

The other night I had dinner with a neighbor and she asked me whether I missed being a part of the New York Asian Film Festival. Not really I answered, only that I no longer had the opportunity to watch obvious classics like this film I came across on YouTube.

And that video led me to this bizarre Raquel Welch video.

Ok – time for another Bollywood horror film review. I can only put it off for so long with pointless videos of girls with large chests.

Jadu Tona (Black Magic)
Director: Ravikant Nagaich
Year: 1977
Duration: 124 minutes
Music: Hemant Bhonsle

I never ever got around to seeing The Exorcist because when it came out there were all these stories about people in the audience having seizures and epileptic attacks – nothing I wanted to chance. But thankfully now that I have seen Jadu Tona I feel that I never have to see The Exorcist. Jadu Tona has a possessed young girl who throws up on the camera lens and rolls her eyes a lot and I bet Linda Blair didn’t even dance on the ceiling as this one does. So what could The Exorcist have that this film doesn’t? Though I doubt if any audience member in India had a seizure while watching this - unless it was caused by laughter and that wasn’t from the comic relief believe me (though the film has plenty of that for anyone who cherishes that art form - think mental institution=crazy people=comic relief). O.K. so this film wasn’t exactly a scare fest. In fact, the scariest thing about it was a roomful of children and dolls celebrating a birthday in a musical number but that is a personal bogeyman of mine.

The film actually has a terrific cast with the chiseled chinned Feroz Khan looking manly, Reena Roy as the love interest, Prem Chopra who was one of the great sneering villains of Bollywood playing a concerned father for a change, Ashok Kumar, a true legend in the 1940’s and 50’s doing his duty as an Inspector, Aruna Irani who has been popping up in a lot of films I have seen lately doing a basic walk through, Jeevan who is another perennial villain actually being a villain and of course what would any film be without the hilarious antics of Jagdeep. And let us not forget Baby Pinky who portrays the possessed girl as if her allowance was cut off and she throws multiple fits. Two of the playback singers are Asha Bhosle and her daughter Varsha Bhosle (who has since become a right wing nutty Hindi columnist and suicide attempter). So this film is by no means a “B” film, it just feels that way.

Aamir (Prem Chopra) is bringing his two daughters Varsha (Reena) and Harshu (Baby Pinky) to visit his parents in a small rural village where superstitions still run deep. A poor man stops their car on the road and tells them that before entering the village they must pray at the base of the Banyan Tree or bad luck will follow them. Being modern city dwellers, the family of course poo-poo’s this and continues on their merry way to the village where the radio is playing the theme song to Hawaii 5-0. Harshu, who is shaped like an over stuffed vegetable dumpling, goes off to explore while her big sister reads Harold Robbins, a sign I have noticed in Bollywood films of crass modernity. Harshu goes into the fields and performs a musical number for which the Song Gods of India quickly punish her for the crime of subjecting an audience to this sight. Such things should not be allowed in any film industry.

She then wanders into an old ruined house where a ghost tricks her into allowing her to be possessed by him as he has some unfinished business on his mind – revenge. Harshu begins having these little jerking eye-rolling fits but while the villagers want to bring in a priest (Premnath) to chase the evil away, the family just puts it down to silly behavior. Back in the big city of Bombay, they take her to a psychiatrist Dr Arya (Feroz) who diagnoses her as having a multiple paranoid personality and scoffs at the crazy idea that Harshu could be possessed. But not surprisingly he pays many house calls on Harshu and then spends his time with Varsha as he unleashes his masculine and hairy chest on her. He continues to scoff even after Harshu walks on the ceiling, likely kills a man by strangling him and attacks Arya when he takes her up in his little plane – always a wise thing to do with either a possessed person or one who has a multiple paranoid personality! Enter Inspector Jolly Goodman (Ashok) with his irritating habit of initializing everything – i.e. good morning=GM, I need to take a leak=INTTAL – who instantly knows this little vegetable dumpling is behind murder!

This film gets so close to that elevated status of “so bad, it’s good” but sadly just misses the mark even with a rather fun whacked out last 20-minutes of murder, walking on the ceiling, scorpions and exorcism or as Inspector Jolly Goodman would put it “20-miniutes of MWOTCSAE”.

My rating for this film: 3.5

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

8 from Gigi Leung

I've been scanning all the photos that I picked up at the Hong Kong Photo Shop way back in March 2009 over these past few days. I'll put them up along with film reviews over time, but meanwhile I thought I'd put up a few of Gigi Leung. Funny, I was never really a fan of hers when she was at her peak of popularity in the mid-90's with those 100% films, but with time things grow on you and with me it sort of turned with her role in A War Named Desire. Terrific film and she was great in it. Looking back I think she represented to me the beginning of the "Idolization" of Hong Kong film - a trend that took off in the 90's with the marketing and packaging of young fluffy fresh faced idols into all aspects of the entertainment world - most of them so lacking in actual ability that the first strong wind blew them away never to be heard of again. But compared to many of those that came after her, Gigi is a heavyweight and has been able to stick around for fifteen years now. She hasn't been in many films for the past few years due to taking care of her brother, but that along with a lot of charity work just speaks good of her. Like many of the Hong Kong singers, Gigi has had to sing in both Cantonese and Mandarin to reach a larger market. Down below are three selections from her Mandarin CD Love Songs for Myself (2006).

Monday, March 01, 2010

Another Soundtrack but from Thailand

If for some reason you have yet to watch the Thai film Tears of the Black Tiger, you really should give it a go at some point. Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng in 2000, it is like nothing else you have seen and it would  have made my Best Films of the Decade list if I had bothered to put one together. It is a loving surreal tribute to older Thai films and the soundtrack reflects this with a load of old fashioned laments, some of them from songs written back in the 1940's. Here are the songs that have vocals - probably not to everyone's taste I expect but very evocative of another time and place.