Listening to Arthur Hnatek’s album ‘Melismetiq’ drove me to sleep one afternoon. The pianist’s fingers tenderly brushing the ivory keys. The trumpet beaming a yawning melody, gliding weightlessly above the warm pop and crackle of bass, drums and sprinkled electronics.
I didn’t fall asleep because I was bored to tears. The album silenced the haphazard noise in my brain. It calmed every fibre of my body. It was perhaps the first hour I spent doing nothing in months. It was perhaps the best nap I had in years.
I’d imagine that the first paragraph might’ve provoked you to let escape a yawn as well.
If I were to think back to where I was in 2009, as a reference point for the decade that has just gone by…time REALLY didn’t go by THAT quickly huh?
This year’s contemplation came a few weeks late, because of the seriously bipolar weather suffered by Australia: bushfires in December/January quickly gave away to thunderstorms and flash flooding, which promptly knocked out our broadband.
A lot has happened. A lot of stories I got to witness and tell. A lot of triumphs and a lot of bullshit. Music enjoyment-wise as a fan of film music and soundtracks, the gold plunder is evermore deep, and I always relished in finding new names making it big in the spotlight.
2019 was also a year of goodbyes, as multiple years-long franchises close their curtains on a bygone era. How To Train Your Dragon. The MCU. Star Wars.
In continuing one of this blog’s last longstanding traditions, I present to you: the best in soundtracks of 2019.
How do I even classify this film? It’s a period drama, romantic comedy, kinda political thriller and even a pinch of musical. This all-in genre meshing works very much both in favour and to the detriment of Samurai Shifters.
Continuing on with the format I established with the SFF earlier this year, I will be sharing some thoughts I had watching a new roster of Japanese cinema, in the midst of a unusually busy season of films for me (last I checked, I had 11 movie tickets already lined up for November and December).
Regular readers many already be familiar with how my lineups usually look, and while I am always looking for opportunities to inch beyond my tendencies and preferred genres, I believe that this comfort zone of mine is at least diverse enough for surprises, while also satisfying my own tailored love for cinema.
As I look for ways to keep my writing brain well-oiled, I will be trying out a more ‘modular’ approach to blog posts: rather than dedicating each post to a singular theme that I hammer out mostly in one sitting, I’m taking a few pages from my old seasonal anime list posts, and compile short capsule reviews that I write throughout the week(s). In this instance, I have given myself a pretty decent schedule for the upcoming fortnight of movies that are screening at the annual Sydney Film Festival, and will be reflecting on each title I watch, before publishing it at its conclusion.
Philosopher Alain de Botton stated at the 2013 CDI (or the City of Ideas International Festival), that “the media is the teacher…once you’ve left school and university, or in other words for most of your life, you will not be educated in a classroom, but by the media.” The accompanying and profound implications of citing media as the ultimate signifier and shaper of society and identity has led me to diagnose the contemporary main driving model of media consumption – namely the on-demand binge culture subtitled the ‘Netflix Effect’ – and how this…new experiential frame of consumption in turn re-frames urban culture. The methodological significance of studying the currently dominant formats of mass consumption and popular media, in conjunction with its influence on cultural identity, is what I would argue a post-human integration of technically separate but intrinsically co-existing schools of cinema studies and cultural sociology: namely the cinematic city’s integration with the urban experience and Charles Taylor’s concept of the ‘social imaginary’.
The slogan ‘Cool Japan’ was first used by the Japanese government in reference to its nation-branding projects back in 2005. Since then, the Cool Japan phenomenon has become a site of intensive focus for scholars in Japanese studies, particularly from the points of view of popular culture and creative industries (e.g. Sugiyama 2006, Dinnie 2009, Fujita 2011) and nationalism and nation-building (e.g. Iwabuchi 2007, 2008) (Valaskivi, 2013). Indeed, such saturated focus on this phenomenon has covered extensive and ripe ground from relatively regional frameworks, which examined its impact within Japan, as well as Japan’s influence within the East Asia sphere. In turn, Katja Valaskivi proposed to extend its study paradigms by contextualising Cool Japan through the transnationally circulating practice of nation branding. And thus with this essay, I will approach the study of the Cool Japan branding project by extending upon Valaskivi’s frameworks in her paper ‘Cool Japan and the social imaginary of the branded nation’; and by extension Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary (Taylor, 2002), through their integration into a semiotic and cinematic analysis of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 anime film ‘Kimi no Na wa’ (will be referred to as ‘Your Name’ from now on), which I argue will introduce unique observations that may ground Cool Japan’s main circulating features; namely 1) nation branding, 2) the concept of ‘Cool’ and 3) the idea of ‘essential Japanese values’, within a diverse collection of symbols, message streams and candid imagery that can be better appreciated and more readily understood.
Social television and by extension, popular media, forms a central reflective lens through which one can observe and debate the general assumptions of cosmopolitanism in the contemporary Global Internet age. The frameworks of argument presented by Youna Kim in her exploration of the Korean Wave (with a particular focus on TV dramas) are grounded within understanding the discursive construction of an ‘East Asian Popular Culture’ (Chua, 2004), as well as exploring the shifting of the cultural export tides, as global awareness and appreciation for Asian media expands.