Thursday, May 29, 2014

I'm not dead!! Updates and some travel photos! Golden Bomber! A.B.C-Z! Kyary Pamyu Pamyu! Broken toenails! Godzilla!



Me and my buddy, the Godzilla statue in the Tokyo theater district!

Hello, dear friends! I'm so happy to be talking with you after so long! I wanted to drop in and let you know that I should be able to return to writing in some form or other in June. Exactly what form is something I haven't decided yet but I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments.

You see, what happened was this:

a) I got a new job very suddenly and the work is much, much more demanding, leaving me much less time and energy for hobbies.

b) My local Indian cinema has closed down, leaving me without an easy source for first run movies.

c) I went to Japan, which was both expensive and time consuming. And a dream many years in the making. (I saw an A.B.C-Z stage production and the band GOLDEN BOMBER in person!!!!!)

As well as d) I'm just growing increasingly uninterested in the corporately-funded, navel-gazing, Hollywood-influenced films coming out of Bombay.

When I started blogging back in dickity-six, there really wasn't much out there in terms of information or reviews, other than what you could find in the Bollywhat forums. And now, well, there is a massive amount of information and reviews and I'm not sure how much I'm contributing to the conversation, if at all. Is it necessary for me to continue to pick over the film "news" (such as it is)? How useful are my overly serious reviews of mass films? I just get the feeling that fewer and fewer people share my point of view. That the old films aren't just to be laughed at but have something important to offer. That filmi emotions other than romance exist. That mass films can address important topics. That the Hollywood "tropes" aren't the only way or, indeed, the BEST way, to tell a story.

On the flight to Japan, there were three Hindi films available and I decided to watch R…Rathore again. (Strangely enough, it had been "edited for content" to the point where if I hadn't seen it before, I wouldn't have known why certain plot points happened, but that's beside the point.) The film reminds me quite a bit of something like Rishi Kapoor's Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, a really uninspired plot and underwhelming acting from most of the cast, fondly remembered for the amazing song picturizations. But even though R…Rathore is not a good movie by any standard--including the "I have a 13 hour flight and the pickings are slim" standard--there are at least some echoes of the Hindi film style I fell in love with. An appreciation and dedication to the "show" of show business, chief among them. When Sasha is working so hard to entertain me, who am I to deny myself the pleasure of being entertained?

So, as you can see, I am rather conflicted here. I'm almost tempted to switch entirely to South films, if I had a reliable and inexpensive source of new releases. With the theater closing, though… and watching in my living room is so unsatisfying. But in my film viewing of the last couple of years, it's been the Tamil films that have stuck with me. Bala's Paradesi, Kamal Hassan's Vishwaroopam, mass entertainers from Vijay and Jiiva, experimental films like Pizza… the theaters of Chennai are full of surprises and delights.

Anyways, I wanted to update you on my status and my thoughts for the future. Please feel free to weigh in, although if you are one of my hate-readers (and I know there are a few), please feel free to keep your comments to yourself!

And now, the dessert of this post… have some travel pictures from my trip to Japan! I went hunting for records, attended a crazy number of concerts and productions, and found one of Vijay's filming sights from Jilla! I can also proudly say that after five years of studying the language that I can speak enough Japanese to get by. There was no prouder moment on my trip than when I was able to make small talk with a shop clerk in Harajuku.


The VERY first day I was in Tokyo, I went to the Nissay Theater see my fave idol group A.B.C-Z perform in 『ABC座ジャニーズ伝説』, a delightful musical (based on a true story!) about a Japanese idol group from the 1960s that goes to America to record "Never My Love" but must tragically leave before it can be released and then the Association does it first. 



FOILED BY THE ASSOCIATION! 
*Curses*
The musical is ridiculously entertaining and features "cameos" from bands like The Monkees and The Spiders! (So, basically, written specifically for me.)
Watch A.B.C-Z in action over here if you're curious!


All the magazines and TV stations and other groups send flowers for artists doing stage plays and concerts! I saw this over and over again! It was a really nice touch! Very Japanese...


Doing the A.B.C-Z "Five Stars" pose outside the theater after the show. I was basically walking on clouds.


The next day, I visited TV Asahi where they film Music Station!


Ate my first real meal… curry! There is a whole bunch of Indian restaurants in the area around Tokyo Tower.



TV Tokyo where A.B.C-Z film ABChanZoo! They use the whole area around outside to shoot song performances! I was a little too excited to see this. LOL!


A pretty little pond in Koenji (高円寺) which is a Brooklyn-esque area of Tokyo. I wandered around and found a great record store http://libraryrecords.jp and a copy of Rock Steady with Flo & Eddie filed  casually in with the reggae records.


But my real goal was the UFO Club!! A place I highly recommend if you are going to be in Tokyo and love punk music. I saw four bands play and they were all FANTASTIC!




THE FADEAWAYS



THEEE BAT

(The drummer cracked my big toenail in half. Don't ask.)



VIVIAN BOYS, who did the best cover of "Heatwave" that I've ever heard



The BAITONES.

(I bought a T-shirt.)



Rainbow Bridge!


Gundam Statue!


Zepp Tokyo! The next day I went to Odaiba to see Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at Zepp Tokyo! This was the third time I've seen her perform and it was definitely a different experience in Japan than in the USA. I'll say that much. If you don't know Kyary--although you should because she's awesome--you can check out my favorite song of hers over here.


I saw a lot of elderly people painting.


A grumpy cat!!!!


The day after Kyary's concert I went to Kyoto! The view from the train...


The river!


One of the many little shrines dotting Kyoto. This one was next to my hotel and gave the kami a little prayer every time I walked past, so I would have a successful trip. 

*clap clap bow*


An ad at the Kyoto theater for a Tsuka Kouhei play starring one of my favorite actors, Totsuka Shota! I scoured almost every book store I could find for Tsuka Kouhei scripts but play scripts seem to be as difficult to locate in Japan as they are here in the US! I may end up having to order something from amazon.co.jp.


Some lovely ladies in rental kimonos. There were quite a few Japanese and Chinese tourists all decked up in pretty summer rental kimonos! Although I overheard Western tourists mistaking them for geisha. I could not face palm hard enough nor move quickly enough away from those dum-dums.


Green tea ice cream high above the city!


The view from Kiyomisu Dera!


From Kyoto, I took the train to the country town of Maizuru to see one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BANDS… GOLDEN BOMBER!


Believe you me, I was quite the exotic specimen in Maizuru. So, I have to give a huge shootout to the mama and daughter who took me under their wing and made me feel so welcome. I was really overwhelmed with their hospitality and friendliness. Thank you so much, Minae and Minae's Mama!! I will never forget your kindness!!



My concert swag.


A fox statue at Fushimi Inari! Vijay and Kajal filmed some of the beautiful song Kandaangi Kandaangi here!









I made a little offering to the Tamahime Okami here. For reasons.


Classy shrine selfie!


My feet! I climbed to the very tip top of the shrine in my sturdy flats!


A covered market area in Kyoto. I got lost in here a million times! But I found a FABULOUS record store called Happy Jack that I highly recommend. I bought out the Group Sounds section.


One of my Happy Jack finds… MATCHY!


The national library. Obviously.


Oh, ho ho! Guess who went to see the play again!


Stealth selfie inside Nissay Theater! You don't know how bizarre it was to actually BE THERE after seeing it in DVDs for years.



A banana parfait at Autumn Leaf, which is Golden Bomber bassist Utahiroba Jun's "handsome guy" fruits bar. And OMG did it deliver on all counts. The waiters were drool worthy and so was the food! Definitely check it out if you're in Tokyo!!


Autumn Leaf is in Akihabara! I also visited the official AKB48 store but the line was way too long to get into the cafe. Maybe next time! I bought a picture of my fave AKB girl, Takamina! 


Tower Records in Shibuya. I dropped some SERIOUS coin here. I bought two Sawada Kenji albums, the first 頭脳警察 album, and some other things one cannot find in the United States… although, to be fair, one can no longer find RECORD STORES in the United States. It was like heaven being able to browse and listen to all the CDs on the listening stations. I spent a long time in Tower Records.


I actually really like KEYTALK!


Pizza lunch! Yes, I ate it ALL!! YUM!!!


Outside NHK Studios!


NHK Hall!! I wanted to go inside but I couldn't since they were doing a special ticket sale for The Alfee and there was a massive crowd of people queued up along the side of the building. I really like The Alfee. I could have easily joined in.


Yoyogi Stadium!


Packing to go home… my suitcase was WAY overweight.


Lovely homemade chocolates from a dear friend. 


My last meal in Japan...


What I spent Tuesday and Wednesday doing...

10 comments:

owl-and-lambkin said...

Hi I'm glad you had a great trip! I've never spoke to you before I wanted to tell you that your blog is the only blog I check every day! I love your opinions and you are doing a great job! Don't worry about bollywood right now the industry is just going through puberty ( or maybe menopause) keep doing what you are doing! Japan seems awesome I always wanted to go there! Sorry if my writing isn't very organized I find it hard to express my words through writing ( each time I get a god damn brain fart)! Wish you the best in life!

Jess said...

Looks like a fun trip! I do hope you keep blogging, even if it's on South films only. I watch all of it and I enjoy reading your reviews and thoughts on all the mass films that come out. And I think I'm not the only one who comes here for a daily bit of Indian movie gossip/news! I can only take so much Pinkvilla ;)

odadune said...

Yay! Sounds like you had a fun trip.

Re: blogging, you should do whatever you want to do, and whatever you need to do. I personally would miss your sassy comments on Bollywood news, and your thoughtful reviews of movies old and new, north and south, but at the point it stops being fun and manageable for you it's not going to be a lot of fun for the readers either.

Ideas on continuing to follow Indian films: if there is a desi-film-friendly theater that you think you can justify visiting occasionally but not often, you might try making it a biennial or quarterly treat. The only Bollywood-friendly theater "near" me is two hours away, so going there is a special occasion.

In terms of keeping up with the Tamil films, your cheapest bet might be to keep tabs on the Telugu dubs (googling "film title telugu dub" will often help you find the title). They're less expensive on dvd and some of the legit Telugu distributors also put the dubbed Tamil films up on their youtube channels (think I've seen VolgaVideos and MaaTV do this). Sometimes they're subbed and sometimes not.

Again, good luck with whatever you decide to do about the blog and your involvement in this fandom, and whatever you do, don't stress about it. :)

DPSF said...

Hello, glad to hear you had a great time in Japan!
I personnally love to read your comments and opinions on movies you saw and upcoming ones! And the news is much more interesting with your sassy comments.
But I can understand that you would grow tired of going through news everyday especially in these "on par with hollywood" times. So I agree with odadune, it should be fun for you!
Anyways, if you keep writing, even on south films only, even just once in a while, I'll keep reading with pleasure!

thrusa14 said...

Hi Filmi Girl, I'm a long-time 'silent' reader from the UK and I've always really enjoyed your blog and humour. I can completely understand where you're coming from regarding feeling disappointed with Bollywood - I discovered Indian cinema in about 2007 and quickly went through the back catalogue of major films, some black and whites ones but I really favoured nineties cheesiness, then I felt like I'd hit a wall. With a few exceptions, the films that were good and available to me (thanks to Lovefilm) seemed to have dried up, and every new film I saw left me feeling hollow. I'm still very interested in whatever Aamir Khan gets up to, but I can't really summon the energy to be interested in much else these days. I really hope you'll continue blogging - in whatever capacity - because I love to read what you write, but change is good ;-) Thanks for introducing me to Shinee, and green tea ice cream is The Best.

Moimeme said...

I was just lamenting the lack of any interesting Bollywood sites and counting the days till June (when you said you would blog again), and, out of desperation, checked your twitter to see if you'd said anything there on when you would resume blogging, and hallelujah! found this post. I hope that tells you whether there's any interest in your blog from us readers. :)

Now to your specific questions: For some time now, I have been depressed by the fact that many of my favorite film bloggers have stopped blogging. One by one, they've all moved on to other, more interesting activities in their lives. One by one the more active Bollywood forums have also disappeared, or become very inactive. All that are left are arenas for fan wars, or homes for baseless gossip. I am interested in neither. So where does that leave me?

In your absence, I've cruised some other Bolly blogs, just to have something to tide me over, only to find it all sadly lacking. Perhaps because most of those bloggers are alumni of Bollywhat, they all have a distressingly uniform take on Indian films. They may have slight individual variations on preferences of actors or taste, but the overall approach is very similar. It is precisely *because* fewer and fewer people seem to share your view that it is important, no, essential, that you keep blogging. The uninitiated, as well as the deeply involved, need to hear that alternate viewpoint.

I hear you about losing interest in the corporatized, Hollywoodized, current crop of Hindi films. So don't watch them. Watch what you like, and then write about them. Your reviews are always filled with unique insights and a warm sense of humor. Why do you need to watch first run films? Watch whatever you can get your hands on, and review those. If you don't like watching alone in your living room, invite a few friends over, or watch online with other remote friends, and have a jolly time. Where there's a will ..., and all that.

Heck, as I've told you before, write about Japanese TV shows, if that's where your passion lies now. When I like a writer, I'm willing to read anything she writes. What I like about your writing is your style and your personal take on foreign media (or even domestic media, for that matter). That's what keeps me looking forward to your posts, not the focus on a particular kind of film.

I'll stop now, as this is probably already too long. I've spent the last few hours (since I first read this post) trying to condense my thoughts and feelings into something that could be called a "comment" and not a blog. :) There's so much more I can say, but what it all boils down to is: Keep writing! and your readers will follow you.

BTW, you can skip the news review every morning. What made it fun before were your comments on the news stories. For some time now I've not been interested in your news roundup, since you are just linking to articles without saying much about them. So, pick some manageable schedule that works for you, whether it's once a week or once every two weeks, and write about what interests you, whether it's a film, a news item, an actor, or just a general rant on what displeases you. I'll certainly read it, and I'll as certainly miss not having your posts to look forward to.

Pratiti Bantwal said...

hi!

i started reading your blog in April 2014, and I simply loved it!went back and read all your older posts too. i am a huge fan of bolly and your comments/ views on everything was just so honest unlike the other paid gossip sites (esp the nargis fakhri comments----hahaha) i really liked your point of view on the online news articles.
i hope you will keep writing whenever you find the time on bollywood.
PS Loved the 'grumpy cat' pic!adorable!

Miranda said...

Filmi Girl, you have such a unique voice and measured perspective among the community of bollybloggers . . . that I think if you completely switched your focus and commentary to south films, or even East Asian films, no one would bat an eyelash. I often don't love the same styles of films that you do, but I regularly seek out your posts anyway. Thanks for doing what you do!

Divya said...

Hi Filmigirl !!
I am a long time reader and I would like to say that yours is one of the very few blogs I actually check on a daily basis. Though I may not always agree with you, (I enjoy middlebrow films) I love your humour and insight. I also appreciate that you watch and enjoy South Indian movies without any condescension. I have read so many reviewers who treat SI movies as some sort of grand joke and you actually seem to enjoy them. Please do continue to write on SI movies or Japanese movies if that's where your interests lie. I would also love it if you could write anime review (If you are interested of course)

eliza bennet said...

My comment didn't do through for some reason so here it is again in bullet point.

* Long time reader here
* Check your site almost every day
* Rarely agree with you but like to read anyway
* Congrats on the new job
* Also congrats on the travels.
* Osaka omission surprised me
* Great scores on concerts and goodies
* Glad you are back!

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl