Monday, March 28, 2016

Association for Asian Studies Conference, 2016

It was excellent participating in the Association for Asian Studies Conference in Seattle. The conference included many outstanding panels. Info regarding the panel I presented in, chaired by Hongjian Wang and Chialan Sharon Wang, is below:

"Divergences and Convergences: Comparative Studies of Contemporary 
Literature, Film and Theater in PRC and Taiwan
Friday, 12:45pm-2:45pm

Discussant: Perry Link, Princeton University

"Native Grotesqueness: Contemporary Native-Soil Literature in China and Taiwan" 
-- Chialan Sharon Wang, Fengchia University
"Future Ancestors: Luo Yijun and Wang Anyi’s Postmodern Family Histories" 
-- Brian Skerratt, Chinese University of Hong Kong
"Sympathetic Portrayals in a Sea of Anti-Japanese War Films: Café Lumiere and Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" 
-- James Wicks
"The Fraternal Twins on Stage: Experimental Theater in Mainland China and Taiwan since the 1980s" 
-- Hongjian Wang, Purdue University

 Seattle provided a beautiful setting for the conference.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Devils on the Doorstep (Jiang Wen, 2000): Mini-Film Review

Jiang Wen's (director, writer, star) classic Devils on the Doorstep (2000) is a dark and brooding portrayal of 1945 China at the tail end of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Jiang Wen's film focuses on a group of peasants in rural Hebei China who are asked to hide two prisoners--a Japanese soldier and a Chinese collaborator--by a mysterious figure in the middle of the night who threatens to destroy the peasants' small town if they do not comply. Torn between following this strange order, staying true to their heritage and sound moral character, and avoiding the watchful eye of the encamped Japanese army, the peasants undergo a series of trials that occupy the liminal space between humor and terror until the film's climax. The film is shot in black and white with the exception of an unforgettable sequence captured in color.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Symposium: “Taiwan Cinema: Yesterday and Today” & Book Release

I'm grateful and excited to participate and present at an upcoming symposium & book launch for An Annotated Bibliography for Taiwan Film Studies (Columbia UP). An Annotated Bibliography for Taiwan Film Studies is my second book--it would not have been possible without Jim Cheng, the primary author, researcher, and director of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University who invited Japanese Studies Librarian Sachie Noguchi and myself to co-author it. Link to the event below:

April 21-22, 2016
Columbia University
Sponsored by Columbia University Libraries, Columbia University Press, 
Weather Head East Asian Institute, and Ministry of Culture, Taiwan.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953): Mini-Film Review

Yasujirô Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953) represents an elderly couple's travels from small-town Japan to a bustling Tokyo in order to visit their grown children. Although the film moves slowly, interestingly the same question which drives audience interest across multiple film genres--namely, "what will happen next?"--is relevant for viewers here. In a sense, we (always?) already know the answer, so we can reflect on the images as they appear.

Ozu layers imagery in the film--traditional interior shots are collections of right angles, outdoor shots are comprised of diagonal stair-cases and train tracks, people move across streets and boats slide evenly across still water--contrasting stasis and movement. He is rightfully regarded as a master of the long take, even though his technique seems less noticeable today when compared with directors like Hou Hsiao-hsien--whose Café Lumière (2003) was produced as an homage to Ozu's film--and others. However Ozu, I believe, does not get enough credit for his dialogue, which is yet again evenly paced here. It carries the tenor of a film which is a meditation on inter-generational family relationships and the passage of time. 

Tokyo Story Trailer on YouTube