Friday, December 30, 2005

buried treasure in a dead, but once glorious cinema

I've spent many hours of my life in old Chinatown cinemas, an insitution that died at the end of the 20th century. With great movies, cheap double bill prices, and strange snack bar food, they were exotic detours where you could feel like a stranger in a strange land and not leave your own city. I share many of the memories of that experience as Grady Hendrix, one of the founders of Subway Cinema and the New York Asian Film Fest talks about the closing of New York's last Chinatown movie house, the Music Palace:
I'll come clean: I've done shameful things in the Music Palace. I've eaten dinner, breakfast, lunch. Slept all day, dozed off for a few minutes, worked my way through a pack of cigarettes in one sitting, gotten drunk, dug through their trash, smoked dope, taken speed, had sex, argued with a cell phone user, played with a kitty, and had a party. To be fair, the sex and the dinner were both before they started turning on the lights between shows...knowing what I do now I would've held off.
Go here to read the full gallop down memory lane

Recently, in the basement of this abandoned temple of celluloid experience, over 400 films have been discovered. I am sure that there are folks out there hoping for lost martial arts treasures, but most likely, from my own past experiences rooting around in closed C-Town cinemas, they will be cheap sex flicks and weepy Taiwanese melodramas that nobody bothered to return to the homeland. Once again, Grady Hendrix reports from the scene...

Check out Grady's blog on trends and gossip in the world of Asian cinema, Kaiju Shakedown. Grady has a great sense of humour and has been hailed by Time Asia as, "The Shakespeare of the Subway Cinema movie collective." Time magazine called his scratchings, "Fabulously muscular writing, as high-octane as the films and often more artful." Witness his ferocious style of fury in his write-ups for past Subway Cinema presentations like In The Mood For Gore or their Old School Kung Fu Fest. I've selected titles that have also played Toronto's Kung Fu Fridays series. If any of these perk your interest and you live in the Toronto area, some might be making return engagements...


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Muay Thai Tourist

At the end of March of this year, I went on a biz trip to Thailand, but since it was my first time there, it seemed to be more of a pleasure trip. Luckily, in my work I get to meet interesting and unusual folks and this helps ease the "work" part.

Since I got back, I have been meaning to pop up a web gallery, something to send to the friends I made there, to justify my mad shutter snapping. I spent most of the day working on it, first in iPhoto, but wasn't too pleased with bare bones look of the "free" web gallery. Then I tried Photoshop, which was slightly better, but I eventually settled on starting up a Flickr account. Not much in the way of Kung Fu pics here, but now that I have the Flickr method practiced, let me prepare the few pics that I took while on the set of TOM YUM GOONG, the new film by Tony "ONG BAK" Jaa to satisfy the Fu craving. So til that happens or a kung fu film picture is updated on this blog, why not have a look at my tourist snaps of Thailand. Enter the jasmine kingdom here.

I did take a break to go see an matinee of KISS KISS BANG BANG at the local rep house around the corner from me, and it was alot more enjoyable then I expected. A surprise was that it kinda counts as a "Christmas" movie in the same was as DIE HARD was, being set in the yuletide season.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Hold on to your heads!

Drafting up some entries and plotting out the course of my new blog. Taking some baby steps as I flex my old writing muscles. In the meantime, here is a great Italian poster for THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, the 1975 Shaw Brothers flick that started a mini-genre of airbourne cuisinart weapons. Previously only available dubbed in English and in a crappy pan and scan quite possibily taped off TV, it is now out on Region 3 DVD remastered, in Shawscope, in Chinese with English subtitles.

The truly gonzo flying guillotine film to catch is MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE aka ONE-ARMED BOXER 2 which features a one-armed hero, a blind guillotine master, and a yoga master who can extend his arms, kinda like Stretch Armstrong. Long thought to be lost, the original elements of the film were restruck for a limited release a few years ago.

I've recently stumbled across a number of great posters for the Italian releases. The level of detail is amazing, far superior to the cheap US posters. Such a promise of action, violence and sex. Heck, on this poster alone, I'd buy a ticket. I'll try and take a better picture of this in the future. For reference, here is the Chinese release poster of THE FLYING GUILLOTIE. Ciao.

You killed my father, but still...

After much meditation on the steps of the blog temple, I have decided to walk through the hollowed doors and start the Kung Fu Fridays blog! This blog will serve as a sidebar to the Kung Fu Fridays movie screening series here in Toronto and also to share my curious hobby of collecting Asian kung fu movie memoribillia. And of course, I will deviate from that with links to other cinema, music and pop culture tidbits.

The true inspiration from this blog comes a Merry Christmas email from my bud in a faraway place, Jason Gray, who is living with his lovely wife Eiko in Japan. In his greeting, he urged his friends to start blogs so he could be updated on what we were all up to. Well here it is, bud! Once I get a hang of this, I might start another one that will be more personal, but first things first. More entries to come.