Tag Archives: Japan

How to Celebrate Hungry Ghost Festival Aug 15th

14 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Ghost Month will reach its perigee on August 15th. At the Hungry Ghost Festival (盂兰盆节), these once human souls are permitted to visit the living world and some may visit their descendents to see how they are doing. On this day, we venerate them with happiness and acknowledge their existence. We save the first row in any performance venue for them to sit there. Anyone who tries may well feel a chill!

This time of the year is a different sort of Halloween. As for what believers can do in preparation is to beware of certain practices lest the spirit attaches itself. This can range from avoiding wearing clothing that is red or black to not killing insects crawling around–they may be someone’s grandparents reincarnated. The best thing to do with the latter is to catch and release the critter outside.

Superstitions aside, some fans of horror cinema may opt to get into the mood. Instead of scaring ourselves silly, we may opt to look at supernatural comedies. My choices have to fit the criteria of how the spirit world interacts with reality. Instead of a top five, I have six on my list. In my culture, we consider this number lucky. Amongst my favourites that are distinctly Asian and PG-13 in tone are:

Continue reading

Advertisements

[Fantasia 2019] The Stardust Brothers are Back and Where to Find Them

25 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The Stardust Brothers has no relation to Ziggy, and nor it firmly rooted in 80s nostalgia. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (星くず兄弟の伝説) is a movie that’s simply bonkers. I found a sprinkling of inspiration from Spinal Tap, a weighty nod to The Blues Brothers and a zaniness ala The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. I’m more inclined to say The Monkees, because I watched too much of this television show when I was a wee lad.

Relative unknowns, a crooner Shinga (Shinga Kubota) and a punk rocker Kan (Kan Takagi) from rival pop bands are paired into a hilarious manzai synthpop singing duo. To understand their rise to fame is far too gonzo to make sense of it all. This film is an experience–beginning with a black and white sequence until colour is splashed on screen–about these two parading their music to unimpressed lounge patrons. Where these two are performing now is ironic, and if the audience they are singing to care, I’d be surprised if they get an ovation. As any band will tell you, life after that initial moment of fame is different.

Continue reading

[From the Archives] From Baseline to Big in Japan – Tennis Pro, The Interview

17 Jun

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Originally published in 2015 on Vivascene
This interview I conducted has since disappeared.
Revised edition June 2019

Ask any musician, and you will hear that breaking into the music scene is tough. To get the recognition that matters is even harder. Seattle-based band, Tennis Pro, found that they had to take their act to another country because in the good ol’ United States of America, their local music scene was quite stagnant.

“I think that Seattle, after the 90’s explosion [with grunge music], has struggled to find its identity musically,” said drummer Sean Lowry. In his opinion, the city had fallen into a melancholy folk-rock wasteland.

Continue reading

Go Get ‘Em! Geek Girls, Documentary Review

18 Mar

Upcoming Shows:
AUSTRALIA –
Demand Film
March 19-April 9, 6:30pm

CANADA, WINNIPEG –
Winnipeg Cinematheque
March 21-25 & 29

UK, LEEDS –
Left Bank Leeds
March 29, 8pm

BELGIUM, BRUSSELS –
Millenium Documentary Film Festival
March 21, 7pm & March 25, 5pm

Geek Girls is a documentary by filmmaker Gina Hara (Your Place or Minecraft), chronicling her journey on why life as a female nerd is tough. A brief background about her childhood explains her motivations, and to see her interview other women (11 in total) who have found occupations by keeping true to themselves is inspiring no matter what the gender. This 80-minute production looks at how nerdom is a badge of honour instead of a sign of shame.

Sometimes the gender issue is not always in focus, as nearly every child played with dolls (Barbie, Transformers and GI Joe all belong in the same category), read comics, traded baseball cards or played some kind of video game. The labelling happened when peers in high school knew these secrets. Though back then, etymologists will note the words nerd and geek meant different things. The modern definition is more synonymous, and with this work, looks at these ladies deal against so-called societal norms.

Continue reading