Black Belt (Kuro-Obi), 2007

June 11, 2008

This is certainly the best karate film to have come out in recent years. Though the story is predictable and the script has its faults, the action scenes raise to must-see level for all fans of karate films. Partially this is due to the understatement of many of the fights. They last only a moment, much like some of the samurai duels in Kurosawa.

The lead actors, Akihito Yagi and Tatsuya Naka really are experts at karate, and often move with mind-boggling swiftness. Lets hope there are future films with these fellows. Tatsuya Naka I found particularly convincing in the role of the wayward Taikan.


June 10, 2008

It looks like my this collection will be out around September, from Better Non Sequitur press. Many of the stories have been published individually, but I think the collection will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The table of contents is as follows:

  1. Athens
  2. Barcelona
  3. Benares
  4. Berlin
  5. Carthage
  6. Dublin
  7. Edinburgh
  8. Florence
  9. Gwangju
  10. Havana
  11. Istanbul
  12. Jerusalem
  13. Kiev
  14. Kinshasa
  15. London
  16. Luxembourg
  17. Manila
  18. Mexico City
  19. Moscow
  20. New York
  21. Oslo
  22. Paris
  23. Peking
  24. Quito
  25. Rome
  26. Seville
  27. Sybaris
  28. Sydney
  29. Thebes
  30. Tokyo
  31. Uberlândia
  32. Vancouver
  33. Warsaw
  34. Xi’an
  35. Yerevan
  36. Zürich


More Film Notes

June 9, 2008

Zombie vs. Ninja: The low water mark of lousy films. If one can get past the silly costumes, terrible dialogue and complete lack of plot however, it is an interesting experience and does have some decent action sequences.

Be Kind Rewind: Funny. But funny in a way that is relatively low-key. Recommended.

L’Ingorgo: This film takes place entirely in a traffic jam somewhere outside of Rome. Though not quite at the level of the best surreal Italian masterpieces, it is still very watchable, especially as it has an excellent cast. I am not sure if it is available in English, but it should be.

Swing Girls: This is a comedy about a group of Japanese students who form a Jazz band. Great stuff.

Ogro: Starring Gian Maria Volontè, this Italian Spanish co-production deals with a group of Basque separatists planning the assassination of Carrero Blanco. Pretty much every aspect of this film is top-notch. See it if you can.

Diamond Sutra Rough Draft / Unfinished

June 8, 2008

This is a translation of The Diamond Sutra that I starter a long time ago but never finished. I was translating it from the Tibetan, using some translations from the Chinese and Sanskrit as reference points. This is a totally rough draft of the first part of the text, with notes to myself (?) left in:

Homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!

 Thus have I heard:

     At one time the Buddha was staying by Sravasti, in Prince Jeta’s grove, the garden of Anathapindika, together with a large company of monks, even 1,250, and numerous great Bodhisattvas. Then, in the morning, Buddha put on his robe and undergarments, took up his begging bowl, and entered the great city of Sravasti in order to beg for alms. Having begged for his food, Buddha returned and, with renunciation, ate. He then put away his begging bowl and robe and sat down on the seat arranged for him, crossing his legs and straightening his body with evident mindfulness.

     Many monks then proceeded to approach where the Buddha was, bowing their heads towards his feet, circumambulating him three times, and sitting off to one side.

     At that time the venerable Subhuti once more appeared at the assembly and sat down. He then got up from his seat, arranged his robe over one shoulder, kneeled, his right knee to the ground, and with hands respectfully folded said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, Sugata, it is really quite wonderful how much the Tathagata, the Arhat, the fully enlightened Buddha has helped the great Bodhisattvas by providing them with the greatest help and favored the great Bodhisattvas by favoring them with the highest favor! Bhagavan, how should the Bodhisattva vehicle be entered? How should one dwell in it? How should one progress in it? What is the best way to take hold of the mind?” Read the rest of this entry »