Sexual Freedom

31 05 2017

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Over the weekend I caught up with the new TV adaption of one of my favourite recently-read books, The Handmaid’s Tale. It is a dystopian and brilliantly realised series about a woman who finds herself in a new world where women have been stripped of their rights and placed in a rigid, ritualistic hierarchy of oppression: from well-coiffed but powerless society wives to domestic drudges known as “Marthas” and then “handmaidens,” the women whose sole purpose in society is to bear children. The book was originally written as a chilling thought experiment, and the TV series is just as compelling.

It made me wonder afterwards – what is the connection between sexual and political freedom? Can sexually repressed countries ever be politically free? To what extent has the oppression of women thoughout history been driven by the wish to control their sexuality? Or is it the other way around, is that just a “symptom” of a powerlessness that is primarily economic?

Nodame Cantabile: encore!

30 05 2016


In preparation for the new, fourth series of early 2000s anime hit Nodame Cantabile, I have been re-watching series three. The show charts the relationship of a naive and exuberant piano student with her serious “senpai” or senior, with a quirky mixture of otaku obsessiveness (in this case, in relation to classical music), sweetly good natured observations about human nature and that very Japanese sensibility – which I love – of cherishing and appreciating the everday and the mundane. In this it reminds me a lot of “What did you eat yesterday?” and the works of Makoto Shinkai.

Get UR freak on!

22 11 2014

New Obsession

18 04 2014

Jessica Lange in American Horror Story: whether channelling Diane Ladd in “Wild at Heart” as the venal Southern matriarch fallen on hard times in Series One, or as the hardbitten and cruel Boston nun in Series Two, Asylum, Jessica Lange chews up the scenery like no other.

TV Talent

23 02 2013

In addition to movies, I have been catching up on some quality TV time lately. I have really enjoyed (surprisingly) the Broadway-musical themed “Smash”, a series that follows the trials and tribulations of a Marilyn Monroe-theme musical trying to get off the ground. It stars Debra Messing (from “Will and Grace”), Angelica Huston and the lovely American idol reject Katherine McPhee. I say “surprisingly” because I have always found Broadway rather twee and irritating – and yet the show has hooked me in completely, even in its ruthlessly catchy (and witty) musical numbers.

Then of course there was the recently concluded first season of Asia’s Next Top Model – don’t worry, no spoilers here!

But my biggest TV obsession of the moment is undoubtedly “Enlightened”. A savage satire, this tells the story of a disenfranchised, dissatisfied and incredibly self-involved office worker played by Laura Dern. The show’s (pitch-back) comedy comes from the central character, returning from a stint in rehab after a career meltdown. She is now full of new age hippie-shit wisdom and endlessly spouts unwanted plattitudes to everyone around her, yet somehow fails to notice what an awful person she herself can be. It is brilliantly observed and cruelly close to the bone in its portrayal of career disappointments and mundane office life.

Laura Dern’s performance in the main role is pitch-perfect, too.

I can’t wait for the second series, which is (I have read) even better than the first.

Is Brazil the new Japan?

21 02 2012

In the 1980s American celebrities flocked to Japan to make big bucks on tacky TV commercials no-one on their side of the Pacific (they hoped) would ever see. It became a much celebrated (and lampooned) phenomenon. But now that Japan’s economic fortunes have dimmed, the Hollywood A-List are jetting elsewhere for easy dollars – this time South of the border. Booming Brazil is the new market of choice for moonlighting megastars.

See: Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker hawking upmarket shopping centres in respectively, Rio and Sao Paulo.

Megan Fox and Mike Tyson for English school CCA (they also run ads featuring Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest pay-for-play yen whores back in the day).

And Jennifer Lopez, in Rio as we speak to promote beer brand Brahma at Carnaval.

Interesting the different ways they broach their stars not being able to speak the language.

The age of avant garde innocence…. Eiko Ishioka X Kazumi Kurigami

11 02 2012

(That stereo cost 84,000 yen!?!?! Wow, the Bubble years really were crazy… )