Charlize Theron and Park Chan-wook

Movies / Off Topic
Charlize Theron Video Image

During a round-table of Hollywood producers Charlize Theron reveals she was given the rights by Park Chan-wook himself to make a western adaptation of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. She’s been trying to make it as a producer (and perhaps as an actress) since 2005, but the pieces haven’t fallen into place. It is still on her plate and I am certainly excited to see what she could do with it.

The rest of what she reveals about Bombshell on this clip is also fascinating.

Content Creation Conundrum

Indievisual Mag / Solutions
Content Creation Feature Image

Generating content is a challenge to all those who operate any kind of media channel, be it a video channel, a publication–digital or print, or even a social media site. Providing one’s audience with compelling and enjoyable content which encourages them to return for more or continue to engage with one’s site puts considerable amount of pressure on the site owner/creative staff. A friend once told me a story about someone they knew who was wrestling with doubts about the type of content they should be providing their audience. My friend, rightly, told them to just keep generating content they are enjoying. To begin creating content for the specific purpose of satisfying their visitors only will make the operation of the site feel like “work”. Ultimately the content itself will suffer as a result. I, personally, have not encountered this conundrum as of yet. My audience is rather small yet, and the nature of Indievisual’s mission means the articles I write are aimed for whomever willingly follows the magazine or stumbles upon one of the articles through a search on the web or my social media activities. I do not have a large, loyal following hungrily awaiting the next post or article. However, as Indievisual’s “editor-in-chief” and principle “writer”, I still do genuinely feel the responsibility to write quality articles in a timely manner. If you’ve read my previous “year-end reviews” (here and here), you’ll note the one issue with which I continue to struggle is the number of articles publish. As a “one-man” operation, sometimes there is not sufficient time to write articles or conduct interviews on any kind of planned timeline. I do so whenever time allows. Regardless, I earnestly desire to publish more often.

As a solution to the problem, I have sought the aid of contributors; or at the least requested people to write about themselves or their experiences as a means to source additional content as a supplement to articles I research and write myself. Unfortunately, the people to whom I have reached out have not been able to deliver. One individual ultimately admitted losing confidence in and thematic coherency to what they were attempting to write after months of waiting for them to complete the article. Rather than give up, I have instead encouraged this person to continue gathering their thoughts and when inspiration strikes to write their article. When this will be, I do not know. Another individual I asked to profile–rather than interview–initially welcomed the proposal enthusiastically, so I sent them a questionnaire which I use as a resource for the quotes and overall narrative of the article such as in the case of Hasegawa Toshiyuki and Andrew Kirkham. However, the person has yet to return the questionnaire even after contacting them a few times to check on their progress since first reaching out to them in November of 2018. As recently as July, I had been asked to wait “a little longer”. This month will mark a year of waiting. Yet another individual expressed their appreciation of a proposal to feature entries from their blog in a series intended to spotlight their particular perspective on the industry, but I have never received an official approval nor the English transcript of their text. At this point in time I do not know if I ever will.

I recognize that in these cases the individuals are also busy with their own lives and careers. I can certainly sympathize with them. The irony is these attempts at seeking third-party sources for articles have involved as much time, if not longer, as it would have taken had I tried to write them myself; the end result is still a shortage of published articles. That being the case then, I have decided to own the problem. The aforementioned content may still appear one day, but for the time being I will focus on interviews, event coverage, and essays which I can conceive and complete on my own in addition to Caught My Eye write-ups on movies I find and research myself. Though this will mean fewer articles will be published at infrequent times, at the very least I will not be at the mercy of others’ schedules or creative blocks or simple forgetfulness. I had hoped to serve my readership better by publishing more frequently and sought the aid of others in an attempt to generate more content, but I fell into the trap of thinking “more” equated to “better”; a “better” site, a “better” experience. My friend referenced at the beginning of this post was largely speaking about maintaining a consistent quality of the content regardless of how long it may take to create with the caveat I always communicate with my audience (as in these blog posts). In short, adhere to the old adage of “quality over quantity”.

I will continue to await responses from the previously mentioned cases, and I certainly have a variety of article concepts for contributors to write, but I believe my motivation for engaging others to write for me was born out of a fear the site was not being generously updated. That is not why I should have been seeking contributed articles. My aim is to one day deliver articles on a regular basis, but I may not always be able to do so. Having made an attempt at remedying this without much change in the number of articles published, I think I should instead continue to focus on maintaining my own standards for interviews, features, and write-ups with respect to staying faithful to Indievisual’s mission to “spotlight unsung figures in Japan’s independent film scene.”

Alicia Vikander on Learning Japanese

Movies / Off Topic
Alicia Vikander Feature Image

I am a big fan of Alicia Vikander, who came to everyone’s attention through Ex Machina. But it was through her acting in European movies such as A Royal Affair that I recognized her talents and marked her as someone whose works, Hollywood or not, should always deserve my attention.

So, she was cast in an adaptation of a book the story of which is set in Japan. Already my interest is piqued. In this video she reveals a good portion of the movie involves Japanese dialogue and it is fascinating to hear how the production adapted to the language differences for the performer. I think this is a great way for Japanese productions or foreign productions hoping to shoot in Japan to approach foreign-language dialogue. It is important to recognize how the actor wants to say or how the dialogue should feel in their native tongue (or in this case adopted tongue) and marry this with the language which they would be speaking. Doing so retains an authenticity both in the feelings behind the words and the very words themselves.

Filmmaker Mode

Off Topic
Filmmaker Mode Feature image

If you’ve ever been to someone’s home to watch a movie–or if this is the case in your own home–and noticed how the picture looks oddly soft and synthetic while high speed motion looks unnatural, the fault is the settings of their or your own television. The average consumer is not aware of the default settings established by manufacturers that are actually a detriment to the movie viewing experience as the filmmaker(s) originally intended such as the correct aspect ratio, colors, and frame rates. Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie recently made headlines by calling this problem out, asking consumers to disable motion smoothing on their television in the manner of a PSA prior to the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout on Blu-ray and digital. The problem is each and every manufacturer has different terminology for this technology and other settings which mar the cinematic experience at home. Furthermore, each and every manufacturer’s interface often obscures where such settings can be found. I am fortunate enough to be technically minded enough to know what to look for and have maintained a policy of never using electronic devices of any kind at factory set defaults. That being said, it can be difficult to know exactly which settings to disable, leave enabled, or to what level these onboard processing features should be selected in order for an even experience watching movies or broadcast television (if your television allows for the choice).

In an attempt to make the movie going experience better at home without having to know the technical jargon involved, “the UHD Alliance, three major television manufacturers, and leading Hollywood filmmakers announced at a press event held at the Screen Actors Guild a new partnership effort to implement Filmmaker Mode as an extension of the 4K Ultra HD spec” (The Digital Bits). Essentially, the goal is to allow consumers to engage Filmmaker Mode with a button on the remote or a clear and obvious menu setting. With Filmmaker Mode engaged, the TV’s settings will automatically be changed to parameters that most accurately display 4K content as signaled by the data either on disc or within streaming metadata.

A vertible who’s who in Hollywood filmmaking have lent their day one support to the initiative including Rian Johnson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Christopher McQuarrie, Reed Morano, Damien Chazelle, James Cameron, Ava DuVernay, the Duffer brothers, J.J. Abrams, and M. Knight Shyamalan. They have participated in a testominial video shown at the event which can be viewed below. No doubt this will also be shown to the many manufacturers and studios which have not yet jumped onboard at the outset.

It’s a shame something like this did not happen out of the box, or manufacturers have enabled these by default without full explanations offered in order to let consumers “opt-in” rather than “opt-out” of the settings but with more and more people viewing movies and cinematic-like television series at home, the need for a unified, technical solution across all manufacturers of not only televisions but disc and streaming data is imperative. When consumers begin to see the difference they were not aware of previously, the cinematic experience will only improve for creators and consumers alike.

Please read the full report as detailed by Bill Hunt over at The Digital Bits by clicking here.

Kon Satoshi – In Memoriam

Filmmakers
Kon Satoshi Feature Image

August 24th marked the 9th anniversary of Kon Satoshi’s untimely death from pancreatic cancer. The world of cinema lost one of its greatest and most unique visionaries that day. Note that I intentionally do not relegate him to the moniker of “animation director”. Kon was a cinematic storyteller who happened to choose the medium of animation to tell his stories. I will even go as far to say he was one of the world’s best independent filmmakers specfically because his work emobodies the bold, unique, risk-taking, singular voice filmmaking often championed by Sundance and other independent film organizations. The framework of any of his movies or series translate just as well in live-action and his visual language is certainly informed by live-action filmmaking; as opposed to anime directing which pervades much of what those products are created to do.

My first exposure to Kon was the Magnetic Rose section of Otomo Katsuhiro’s animated omnibus Memories. The humanistic themes he unfolded through exquisite direction left an indelible impression, even greater than the namesake of the omnibus who up until then seemed to be the pinnacle of animated film direction, and whose Cannon Fodder episode was great but somehow paled in comparison. Because of this, I was ready and eager to see Kon’s feature-length debut Perfect Blue; needless to say the movie needs no further introduction. I then worked hard to secure screenings of his third movie Tokyo Godfathers at the San Diego Asian Film Festival when I was the international film programmer there. For some reason his sophomore feature, Millennium Actress, slipped under the radar or had not been well-known abroad enough to have English subtitled prints available, but I secured a copy of the DVD on a trip to Japan and thankfully was able to view this bittersweet, sublime ode to cinema.

I was excited when he announced a TV series, Paranoia Agent, but ironically living in Japan made it difficult to view (life does get in the way often) and I have yet to see his last completed directorial feature Paprika. But I will some day. But not having done so has not lessened in the least my admiration for this incredible auteur whose works tackled issues and taboos in Japanese society and culture (pop or otherwise) through unique examinations of human nature. Moreover, he had a clear understanding of the genres his movies occupied and was able to distort them through the medium of animation, freeing him to be visually unorthodox while still maintaining a high degree of thematic realism.

Kon Satoshi article image
Photo by Laurent Koffel

It is a shame the movie he was working on at the time he passed away, The Dream Machine, still remains unfinished. Production company Madhouse had pledged to complete it “no matter what” but later stated they did not have enough money. I see this as an unreasonable excuse as his legions of fans around the world would gladly crowdfund its completion if Madhouse had the forethought and collaborative mindset to do so. As recently as 2018, the founder of Madhouse stated production has been halted “indefinitely” as there are “no directors in the Japanese animation industry that could match Kon’s level of ability.” (from an article posted on Crunchyroll which is now deleted). My obvious answer to that statement is “cast a wider net”. Limiting the talent search to just Japan seems too single-minded, but absolutely expected from the local industry. For these reasons, Kon’s final story may never see the light of day.

Kon Satoshi remains one of my all time favorite filmmakers. If you are not familiar with Kon’s work, I would certainly encourage you to begin from the start and work your way chronologically through his filmography. I am hoping the 10th anniversary of his passing will prompt retrospectives to be held across film festivals throughout the world. If such information should come to light, I will be sure to share them on Indievisual’s social media.