1695 – Let the Bullets Fly 让子弹飞 (2010 movie)

Directed by “Six generation”  Jiang Wen

Set in China during the warring 1920s, “Poxy” Zhang (张麻子; Jiang Wen) leads a group of bandits, each of whom is numbered rather than named, and ambushes a government horse train carrying Ma Bangde (马邦德; Ge You), who is on his way to Goose Town (鹅城 E-cheng) to assume the position of county governor. Ma’s train is derailed, killing both his bodyguards and his adviser, Counsellor Tang (汤师爷 Tang-shiyeFeng Xiaogang). Ma has no money, having spent it all to bribe and buy his position. To avoid being killed by Zhang’s bandits, he lies to them claiming that he is Counsellor Tang and that his wife (Carina Lau) was the dead governor’s wife. He tells the bandits that, if they spare him and his wife, he will help Zhang to impersonate Ma and pilfer Goose Town’s finances.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1533117/

1663 – The Psychedelic Video Museum (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s)

​Sit back, relax and drip drop out! Dig into this wonderfully magick link via Erik Davis.

Towards a science of psychedelic aesthetic (essay originally published in Psychedelic Press, no. XXV (2018): 49–59.)

​About:

The Psychedelic Video Museum is the world’s first museum of psychedelic art and video. It is the fruit of  a decade long effort which began in April 2010, and the foundation of the Daily Psychedelic Video, a group blog that’s been serving the internet it’s daily menu of selectively curated psychedelic videos from across the web.

The videos on this website were carefully selected from within the Daily Psychedelic Video collections of more than 4,000 videos that were posted on the website between April 2010 and April 2020. Together, they constitute the first ever attempt to showcase the variety and creativity of psychedelic video artists from across the globe, since early 20th century and to this day.

You can roam our virtual exhibition halls choosing to advance chronologically, from early 20th century psychedelia to this day, or by region, by exploring global hotspots of psychedelic creativity such as Germany, France, China, Japan and Israel. Alternatively, you can also explore psychedelic videos of different themes, styles and moods: feelgood psychedelia, contemplative psychedelia, marine psychedelia, poppy psychedelia or hip-hop psychedelia.

Whichever way you decide to move through these collections, be sure to do so in an explorative psychedelic frame of mind.  These videos are a mindstate-dependent form of art. They don’t have to be viewed under the influence to be enjoyed, but they dramatically benefit from a relaxed, fanciful, contemplative gaze which allows the shapes and colors on the screen to resonate in our minds and bodies.

Some examples

Everyday Objects In Macro – Macro Room

A mind-bending video shows the reality of everyday object in extreme close-up.

A BOX with Secret (Шкатулка с секретом) – Valery Uragov (1976)
​An awesomely psychedelic yellow-submarine-style soviet animation from 1976.
APOGEE/Spring Stranger - スプリング·ストレンジャー
Awesome, elevating video by Japanese group Apogee
My…MY… – Lei Lei (2011)
 A person wakes up naked and embarks on a strange journey
MGMT – When You Die (2017)
​A morbid but stunning and impeccably done video by MGMT. Directed by (Mike Burakoff & Hallie Cooper-Novack).
Hashish – The Drug of a Nation – Boom Pam
 A song by Israeli band Boom Pam.
Jeff Minter: Heart of Neon
​ou cannot talk about psychedelic video games without talking about Jeff Minter. Teaser for the documentary Heart of Neon about the legendary game designer (by Paul Docherty).
Katamari Damacy 
​All cutscenes from the remaster of 2004’s trippy classic Katamari Damacy.
Berg – Kanahebi (2015)
 Animated marine life forms. Animated by Hideki Inaba.

1659 – Monster Hunt 捉妖记 (2015)

timespace coordinates: ancient China where monsters lived side by side with humans.

directed by Raman Hui

Monster Hunt is a mainland China-Hong Kong 3D action fantasy comedy adventure film. It became a success breaking many box office records, including being the highest grossing movie in China.

The forest scenes were shot at the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in northern Hunan Province (the distinctive pillar karst formations are a hallmark of Chinese painting).

Always wanted to see Monster Hunt since its release after watching a Chinese trailer but never quite managing to trace it. It felt bizarre, disconcerting, zany and now in retrospect almost closer to the 3D feel of the Animal Liberation Front fable Okja by Bong Joon-ho. To me it is interesting to compare or contrast Monster Hunt with other animation productions of Raman Hui who has several important contributions to his credit starting with a Simpsons episode, Antz, work on Shrek and several other 3D animation and computer graphics hits. It is at once it is a transnational work – witness to Raman Hui Hong-Kong, Canada & Silicon Valley working experience, proof of the “convergence culture”(Henry Jenkins) with a seamless integration of gaming, CGI, character design, merchandise fandom conventions and yet there is other things as well. Post-production was done in Beijing almost exclusively with only a few works done in Taiwan.

It is not the first Chinese comedy fantasy with a pregnant man – there is the Ten Brothers (man giving birth to 5 demigod children!).

I found it interesting in regard to all the departures from usual or all the mentioned canon DreamWorks and MIB inspiration that had supposedly influenced it (as the director acknowledges). In fact the movie also tries to vaguely (admittedly) try to use the ancient mythological geography Classic of Mountains and Seas 山海经 basically a compendium of the fabulous creatures, beings and entities of pre-Qin dynasty China, roughly from the period of the Warring States to the beginning of the Han dynasty – consider the first golden age of the Chinese civilization. It is full of various medicines, animals and fantastic geographical description (550 mountains and 330 channels). Truly an ancient Chinese bestiary – it is a collective encyclopedic work, one that had contribution from various sorcerers/folk medicine women and men as well as the later Fangshi (“method master” translatable as alchemist, geomancer, magician, omenologist, mountbank, wizard, thaumaturge etc). Taoist fangshi are present in many martial arts (wuxia) Chinese movies but here there is cross-over with the role of the exorcist. Maybe it does not actually manage – and in the end we have another toy, another easily theme parked CGI character modeled by the pressure of actually selling it or replicating it as merch. Nevertheless it is worth moving further ahead.

There are in contrast with other Western monster movies several divergences. In fact it might be part of a more open inhuman outlook on the world, which is felt in both block buster as well as indie SciFi comedies. In part it is changing from the inside, from within the form itself, as defined by stalwarts of the new weird China Miéville (Kraken) and Jeff VanderMeer (The Southern Reach trilogy, Borne, Dead Astronauts etc) that has been opening new monster friendly vistas and teratologic ecosystems. Monster Hunt is not so much a Hunt as a way to protect and learn to live (even bear – become surrogate mother to a monster).

The movie bends the gender roles and keeps at its center the friendship of humans, ex-hunters with the monsters, human-as-monsters and monstrous-humans – in fact one such important hunter of the monster hunter guild actually takes the side of the monster and swears to protect them keeping them hidden or under cover (monster can shapeshift) as villagers. There are inter-monster succession wars, there is a renegade ‘evil’ (although evil is hardly the proper word to describe overall these fairly violent monsters) that heads the guild and actually controls a restaurant – specifically catering to the whims of the upper class. This restaurant functions exactly like such real examples of restaurant of medicinal-nutritional establishments in Chinese culture promise fertility and long life using various animals, roots, minerals. So in a way it is critical of the wet market tradition as well as the traffic of exotic and rare animals – “monsters” that are being shipped and illegally traded using international trade routes for a lot of money. The female huntress – is much more of heroine than the recent Mulan adaptation that is been called out as a case of ‘failed empowerment’. Huo Xiaolan (Bai Bai He one of the biggest Chinese stars) is the leading figure clearly – a true strong female movie character if there is one without paying tribute to the patriarchal tradition. She not only faces tremendous odds and saves the male hero’s ass several times but also reverses most stereotypes of the martial arts movies. Her counterpart the villager inheritor – is himself comic relief in comparison with her. He also gets to be pregnant with the baby monster with Huo Xiaolan helping him along the way as a midwife and paying for his tremendous appetites. He is also gets attached to the monster baby and vice-versa and refuses to deliver him at pain of death ot the highest bidder. He is a lame, literally so, has a foot disability (while at the same time an important giveaway sign, a blemish of the shaman, mountebank or trickster). In fact the main male actor had to be changed and 70% of the movie re-shot, since the initial choice, a young Taiwanese actor was embroiled in some drug abuse scandal with the Chinese authorities. The next choice actually refused to take a salary just to see the movie get done as a favor to Hui Raman.

While the monsters have been described as much too wobbly, the acting and action as completely over the top – one should see it also trough the eyes of this 2020 COVID year’s Chinese attempts to curb and further regulate wet markets as well as the connection btw animal welfare, animal farming and pandemic spillovers. The political historical trope of the rightful dynastic heir and heinous courtly eunuch or minister – has a long history in classic Chinese movie, opera and literature, and so it seems to reappear in the monster succession wars. Monster Gunt goes boldly against the meat- dishes and even treats veggies as soul-inhabited. At the restaurant we also have the famous chef scene – one of my overall favorites that tries to fry, cut, steam Wuba (the little monster King) and fails to do so – since it, like the Monkey King seems to only get stronger or to get fortified by these alchemical -nutritional transformations. Also a characteristic of Wuba – is his plant like appearance, in fact most of the time little Wuba looks like a little Mandragora (a Solanaceae a nightshade not a Brassicaceae like the radish) – is colored or even nicknamed as radish (with various Chinese, Korean, Japanese heirloom varieties). Here is a funny and bizarre Japanese collection of netizen antropomorphic Daikon radishes on markets, gardens and people’s houses.

bailuobo (白蘿蔔) in Mandarin or lobak in Cantonese
Varieties of Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus from the Seikei Zusetsu agricultural-encyclopedia
illustration of Nüwa from the Classic of Mountain and Seas 山海经

imdb