Wednesday, 31 August 2011

戀するキムチ (Kimchi Love)

This is a one-episode NHK drama which commemorates the 70th anniversary of Gifu NHK. The plot's simple: Kakamigahara city in Japan has become a new tourist destination because of the Korean drama Winter Sonata, and the city council wants to produce a new kind of food which represents the city in a food festival. The girl who is responsible for the programme discovers, through the help of a Korean exchange officer, the real taste of 'home food' in the process. 
What's interesting in this drama is the context in which it's produced. Korean influence in Japanese popular culture is increasingly evident in recent years, and it is met by some discontent in Japan. In my opinion, the mingling of Japanese and Korean culture is inevitable, as the two countries are so close geographically and their cultures and languages have so much in common. What's particularly interesting in this drama is when the Korean officer questions the use of kimchi to represent Kakamigahara city in the food festival, asking 'Aren't you ashamed to be imitating others when there is so much Japan has to offer on its own?'. In the end, after helping the girl overcome all the difficulties, he reasons, 'Tradition is built on what some people have started. In a way, with what you have done (making kimchi with local flavour), you are also starting a new tradition.' 
This is, I suppose, what 'fusion food' is all about. It's not about how authentic the food is, but how well you have made changes to something foreign and made it your own. Once you have made it your own, it's not about tradition anymore. Just look at how 'California rolls' are sold worldwide, even in Japan, and how  Japanese Italian food has almost become a cuisine of its own!

The Women Fall in Love Twice (Japanese film)

Interesting formula - short stories of contemporary relationships in Japan. The stories are all 'overheard' by a middle-aged writer who is constantly out of ideas for his column. He then draws inspiration from various stories he overhears at the cafe where he writes - but in the end when he really runs out of stories to tell, he has to tell his own 'boring' story, which turns out to be not so boring. 

Directed by Isao Yukisada whose most famous film is the tear-jerking Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World, The Women Fall in Love Twice isn't as touching as one expects, but personally I do find the stories a realistic portrayal of modern Japanese relationships. It also shows the listlessness and loss experienced by many young people today - not knowing what to do, drifting from one menial job to another, not having a proper place to live, drifting from one 'relationship' to another... that's what modern society is often about, whether you like it or not. I like how the women portrayed in the short stories aren't the stereotypical (and typical) Japanese women who succumb to men's domination - they are all very 'special' in their own right and each and every one of them is mesmerising because of that. Apparently, 'being nice' isn't the winning formula for Japanese women anymore... well, not in this film at least!  

Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher's been showing here for a month now - and I've only just seen it! My teacher friends in Hong Kong are saying it's showing on 1st September and they're all gonna see it after the half day school... hahaha.

Of course Cameron Diaz's teacher is an exaggeration (or, perhaps such teachers do exist?!), but some bits in the film do remind me of the old days - how some teachers like to go to the P to complain about everything, how some teachers like to frame others, how some teachers wear inappropriate clothing to work, how some teachers don't teach and only show movies in class, how some teachers like to cheat so their class get better results in exams... ALL THESE HAPPENED IN MY PREVIOUS WORK PLACE, NO JOKE. So while it's hilarious seeing all those in a film, it also reminds me of the bad ol' days...

Monday, 29 August 2011

Notting Hill Carnival 2011

We had fun today at the Notting Hill Carnival!!! Lots of beautiful people, funky (and super loud) music and 'smokey' food!!! I'll let the pictures speak... :)

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