The Cannonball Run (1981)

“The most distinguished group of highway scofflaws and degenerates ever gathered together in one place” meet at a bar in Connecticut to kick off an illegal cross-country road race. They then proceed in their various vehicles, overcoming various difficulties, to traverse the continent.

Jackie Chan plays a Japanese character, apparently because someone thought all East Asians look the same. They must also have thought that all East Asian languages sound the same, because Jackie mostly speaks Cantonese in the movie.

Death Race 2 (2010)

As fun as Death Race, for all the same reasons. Yay, poetic justice!

Plus, since this is a prequel, we get to find out more about some of the characters from Death Race, like how Lists got his nickname, and how Death Race got started in the first place: it was better than what the prison was broadcasting before, which was a man-to-man fight called Death Match.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/death-race-2/id409429870

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng

Life and Death in Shanghai is an amazing book about an amazing woman. The tone in which she tells her own story is deadpan, but the events are extremely dramatic. If you’ve never read about the Cultural Revolution, it’s eye-opening.

Some of my memories of the book are:

  • how Nien Cheng’s private home was turned into living quarters for several families, and regular household routines were disrupted by food rationing;
  • how when destructive Red Guards came knocking, Nien Cheng tried to preserve, and in only some cases succeeded in preserving, some antiques she had in her house, by relinquishing them to be stored in government museums;
  • and how after she was arrested, she had to live in a freezing concrete cell, where her food was insufficient and her clothing was insufficiently warm, yet she maintained exquisite poise and self-assurance.

A few passages from the book are reproduced below.

Continue reading Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng

Please be understood.

at The Central
at The Central

I spotted this hilarious Engrish sign at Book Mart at The Central. It is (I assume) not a joke but rather the best translation they could manage.

Thank you for usually favoring it more. This time I will perform store remodeling construction in the following schedule. I am so sorry, but a store is closed until November 3. I really trouble it, but it, please be understood.

I think it means:

Dear customers, thank you for your continued support. The shop will be closed for remodeling until November 3. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

If you are looking for a better translation for “please be understood,” consider:

Thank you for understanding.
Thank you for your understanding.
Thank you for your kind understanding.

Death Race (2008)

Death Race is a cross between The Fast and the Furious and The Hunger Games. Ish. Some of the jolty filming was not to my taste, but I liked the premise, morbid though it is: Private prisons run popular, televised and very deadly auto racing competitions on site. Winning first place in five races theoretically earns a release from prison.

Usually I have a low tolerance for stuff breaking, but this movie broke stuff rather joyfully, and somehow I didn’t mind. I wonder where they shot the film and how much they spent. Luckily, the bonus features explained a bit about that.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/death-race/id291147060

Death Race 2 (2010) is a prequel.

Death Race 3: Inferno (2013) is a sequel.

Death Race is a kind of remake or prequel of Death Race 2000 (1975).

See also Deathsport (1978).

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

I am reminded vaguely of:

  • Blade Runner, because the cyborg was contemplating its identity.
  • Firefly, because it was set in Hong Kong in the future, where there was both English and Chinese.
  • X-Men, because it had a theme of mutation and change as necessary for progress.
  • Childhood’s End, because evolution made a huge leap to something transcendental.
  • RahXephon, because it had weird music.
  • The Matrix, because of the green numbers and the neck plugs.

IMO, the exposition was too heavy-handed for the whole thing to come off as subtle and beautiful and deep.

I didn’t like the American voice actors’ performance, which seemed flat or dull, perfunctory. Also, the English subtitles were completely different from the English spoken track.

The source material is Japanese, but the setting really is Hong Kong… In one scene there’s even a jet coming in for a landing at Kai Tak Airport right over the city.

The special features on the disc showcased the beginning of the use of CGI and digital editing; the movie was a combination of hand-drawn and computer techniques.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ghost-in-the-shell-25th-anniversary-edition/id1219320615