370 – A Plastic Ocean (2016)

plastic ocean posterA PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution.

https://www.plasticoceans.org/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5203824/

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363

We slip into Tientai caves,
Home is a hole,
And a hole’s where nothing is.
We visit people unseen —
Chewing magic mushrooms,
Underneath tall pines.
We talk about the past and present,
And sigh at the world gone mad.

Shih Te (9th century)

345 – Pacific Rim (2013)

spacetime coordinates: 2020 – 2025 Alaska // Hong Kong // Manila // San Francisco // Pacific Ocean //  Tokyopacific_rim_coverPacific Rim is a 2013 American science fiction monster film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Charlie HunnamIdris ElbaRinko KikuchiCharlie DayBurn GormanRobert KazinskyMax Martini, and Ron Perlman. The screenplay was written by Travis Beacham and del Toro from a story by Beacham.Pacific-Rim-Quad-PosterPacificRim_DOM_RGB_3200x1600.inddThe film is set in the future, when Earth is at war with the Kaiju,  colossal sea monsters which have emerged from an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To combat the monsters, humanity unites to create the Jaegers,  gigantic humanoid mechas each controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link. Focusing on the war’s later days, the story follows Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot called out of retirement and teamed with rookie pilot Mako Mori as part of a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kaiju.

Knifehead, the first Kaiju to appear in the film, is a tribute to the plodding kaiju of 1960s Japanese films, and is intended to look almost like a man in a rubber suit; its head was inspired by that of a goblin shark. Leatherback, the bouncer-like Kaiju which spews electro-magnetic charges, is a favorite of del Toro, who conceived it as a “brawler with this sort of beer belly”; the lumbering movements of gorillas were used as a reference.  The Kaiju Otachi homages the dragons of Chinese mythology. The director called it a “Swiss army knife of a Kaiju”; with almost 20 minutes of screen time, it was given numerous features so the audience would not tire of it. The creature moves like a Komodo dragon in water, sports multiple jaws and an acid-filled neck sack, and unfurls wings when necessary. It is also more intelligent than the other Kaiju, employing eagle-inspired strategies against the Jaegers.  Onibaba, the Kaiju that orphans Mako Mori, resembles a fusion of a Japanese temple and a crustacean. Slattern, the largest Kaiju, is distinguished by its extremely long neck and “half-horn, half-crown” head, which del Toro considered both demonic and majestic. 

Gipsy Danger, the American Jaeger, was based on the shape of New York City’s Art Deco buildings, such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, but infused with John Wayne‘s gunslinger gait and hip movements. Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, was based on the shape and paint patterns of a T-series Russian tank, combined with a giant containment silo to give the appearance of a walking nuclear power plant with a cooling tower on its head. Crimson Typhoon, the three-armed Chinese Jaeger, is piloted by triplets and resembles a “medieval little warrior”; its texture evokes Chinese lacquered wood with golden edges. Striker Eureka, the Australian Jaeger, is likened by del Toro to a Land Rover; the most elegant and masculine Jaeger, it has a jutting chest, a camouflage paint scheme recalling the Australian outback, and the bravado of its pilots.

Rather than popular culture, the director drew inspiration from works of art such as The Colossus and George Bellows‘s boxing paintings.

The classic Japanese woodblock print  The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai was a common motif in the ocean battles; Del Toro recalled, “I would say ‘Give me a Hokusai wave’… we use the waves and weather in the movie very operatically.”  The director asked that Knoll not necessarily match the lighting from shot to shot: “It’s pretty unorthodox to do that, but I think the results are really beautiful and very artistically free and powerful, not something you would associate with a big sci-fi action movie.” Del Toro considers the film’s digital water its most exciting visual effect: “The water dynamics in this movie are technically beautiful, but also artistically incredibly expressive. We agreed on making the water become almost another character. We would time the water very precisely. I’d say ‘Get out of the wave [on this frame].'”

The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Rim_(film)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1663662/

Pacific_rim_poster

 

329 – Contact (1997)

spacetime coordinates: 1990s New Mexico // Florida //  Puerto Rico // Washington, D.C. // Wisconsin // Hokkaido

contact posterContact is a 1997 American science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan‘s 1985 novel of the same name; Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film.37696-1920x1200contact 1Jodie Foster portrays the film’s protagonist, Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds strong evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact.

imdb        wiki

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What Happens If China Makes First Contact?

As America has turned away from searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, China has built the world’s largest radio dish for precisely that purpose. (read more)

“No civilization should ever announce its presence to the cosmos. Any other civilization that learns of its existence will perceive it as a threat to expand—as all civilizations do, eliminating their competitors until they encounter one with superior technology and are themselves eliminated. This grim cosmic outlook is called “dark-forest theory,” because it conceives of every civilization in the universe as a hunter hiding in a moonless woodland, listening for the first rustlings of a rival.”

042 – the chinese botanist’s daughters (2006)

spacetime coordinate:  1980s China

Les filles du botaniste (Chinese: 植物园, Botanic Garden) is a dramatic and delicate story of two star-crossed lovers set against the fantastic lush of Chinese gardens.

based on a true story

the chinese botanist_s daughters

 

The story starts when Min, a botanist who spent her childhood as an orphan, comes to intern at the botanical gardens under her new instructor, Chen. It is there that she meets An, Chen’s daughter, and finds herself falling in love in a time and place where same-sex relationships are an unforgivable crime.

Since it delves into a topic considered taboo in China, the government refused to allow for the film to be shot or even shown in the country (it was ultimately filmed in Vietnam)

Dai Sijie (director) “I felt that the deep love that brought these two young women together was extremely romantic. In my mind, these women weren’t so much ‘lesbian’ – since they didn’t really possess a recognition of knowledge of themselves as such – but rather they just were determined to love each other dearly. That unwavering surety of pure love just tears at the heart. Also, what really got to me was the fact that these were women denied their freedom. They were justified in their love and there should be no reason why they shouldn’t be able to continue in it–so one has to wonder, why do they not have that right? Since I have experienced losing the right to my own expression, I know what it feels like to not be able to be who you are in your own country. I felt close to both of them, because to me it seemed like we were all outsiders.”

The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters Interview with Dai Sijie in Tokyo Wrestling

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imdb

041 – The Assassin (2015)

spacetime coordinate: 8th century China during last years of the Tang Dynasty / the distant province/circuit of Weibo in the north

assassin_poster

he Assassin (Chinese: 刺客聶隱娘; pinyin: Cìkè Niè Yǐnniáng; or: The Assassin Niè Yǐnniáng) is a 2015 martial arts film directed by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. A Taiwan/China/Hong Kong co-production, loosely based on the late 9th century martial arts story “Nie Yinniang” by Pei Xing, a core text in Chinese swordsmanship and wuxia fiction.

landscapes

“The King of Kophen’s bluebird failed to sing for three years.
One day the Queen remarked : Birds sing only to their own kind, set the bird before a mirror!
The King heeded her advice.
The bluebird saw its own image, it sang of its sadness, it danced, until it expired.”

(trivia:  In the film, the actors speak classical Chinese which was mostly used for literary texts and almost never spoken. The final version henceforth includes Chinese subtitles.)

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imdb