Monday, November 3, 2008

Japanese man petitions to marry comic-book character

Japanese man petitions to marry comic-book character AFP/ANP/File – A Japanese man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon …

TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the "two-dimensional world."

Comic books are immensely popular in Japan, with some fictional characters becoming celebrities or even sex symbols. Marriage is meanwhile on the decline as many young Japanese find it difficult to find life partners.

Taichi Takashita launched an online petition aiming for one million signatures to present to the government to establish a law on marriages with cartoon characters.

Within a week he has gathered more than 1,000 signatures through the Internet.

"I am no longer interested in three dimensions. I would even like to become a resident of the two-dimensional world," he wrote.

"However, that seems impossible with present-day technology. Therefore, at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorise marriage with a two-dimensional character?"

Befitting his desire to be two-dimensional, he listed no contact details, making it impossible to reach him for comment to explain if his campaign is serious or tongue-in-cheek.

But some people signing the petition are true believers.

"For a long time I have only been able to fall in love with two-dimensional people and currently I have someone I really love," one person wrote.

"Even if she is fictional, it is still loving someone. I would like to have legal approval for this system at any cost," the person wrote.

Japan only permits marriage between human men and women and gives no legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

Japan's fans of comic books, or "manga," sometimes go to extremes.

Earlier this month, a woman addicted to manga put out an online message seeking to kill her parents for asking her to throw away comic books that filled up three rooms.

Prime Minister Taro Aso is an avid fan of manga and recently complained that he has been too busy to read comic books since taking office.

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'Simpsons' has best night in 5 yrs.

'The Simpsons'
'The Simpsons' annual Treehouse of Horror episode topped Sundays ratings with 12.5 million viewers.

The annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode of Fox’s "The Simpsons" generated the show’s best demo score in nearly five years on Sunday, a night that also saw good numbers for ABC’s "Desperate Housewives" and NBC’s "Sunday Night Football."

Now in its 20th season, "The Simpsons" (6.2 rating/15 share in adults 18-49, 12.5 million viewers overall) racked up the best demo score of the night, according to Nielsen prelims. It fared even better, of course, in adults 18-34 (7.3/20) and teens (4.2/12).

Overall, it was the best 18-49 score for the animated vet (excluding its post-Super Bowl airing in 2005) since January 2004, and its largest total audience since February 2004.

Also for Fox on Sunday, "King of the Hill" followed with its best ratings in about a year (prelim 4.3/10 in 18-49, 8.6 million), while "Family Guy" (prelim 5.0/11, 10.0 million) and "American Dad" (prelim 3.7/8, 7.2 million) logged their highest scores in 10 months.

Fox certainly benefited from an NFL overrun funneling viewers into primetime, but its primary game was lopsided and ended around 7:20 p.m. in the East, making the numbers for its 8-10 p.m. animated block especially impressive.

Elsewhere, NBC’s "Sunday Night Football," a tight game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots, averaged a prelim 5.3 rating/13 share in 18-49 and 14.2 million viewers on Peacock affils from 8:30 to 11 p.m., with the nationals expected to come in at least 10% higher. This is likely to be the highest-rated "SNF" contest since Sept. 28.

At ABC, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (prelim 3.8/9 in 18-49, 11.7 million) was in line with its recent scores, seeing a big jump at 8:30 when "The Simpsons" ended. "Desperate Housewives" was the top entertainment series at 9 o’clock (prelim 5.8/13, 15.8 million), and "Brothers & Sisters" closed out the night with average scores (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall).

CBS, without a football overrun, had a quiet night in the prelims, getting similar scores from "60 Minutes" (2.7/7 in 18-49, 14.4 million viewers), "Amazing Race" (2.8/7, 9.8 million) and "Cold Case" (2.6/6, 11.6 million). The net then fell off some at 10 with "The Unit" (2.3/6, 9.0 million).

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The outstanding directors of today didn’t just stroll onto a film set holding a clapperboard and a cup of coffee – they had to make names for themselves first. What better way to get noticed than to rise through the ranks of the music video elite? While those other schmucks were choreographing dance moves for Britney and the Backstreet Boys, these ten directors took a different route and crafted clever mini-movies: perfect pop promos that paved their way to cinematic success.

The video: If you’re a director and you’re running low on creative ideas, then you have two options. Firstly, make your movie black and white – instant indie credibility. Secondly, just have a hot woman in her underwear (say, someone like Kate Moss) drape herself over scenery and grind up against a stripper’s pole. Any viewers still watching will either be stroking their chins in ironic fascination or nursing king-size boners. Job done!

Director's trademarks? Sofia’s fetishism of women isn’t restricted to her music videos: see the opening close-up of Scarlett Johannson’s arse in Lost In Translation for proof.

9. BLUR, ‘COFFEE & TV’ (1999)
The video: Garth who? A relative unknown in the States, Jennings is a young and upcoming British director, perhaps best known for the short films he created as one half of media duo Hammer & Tongs. The pair directed the big-screen version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, while Jennings went solo to direct indie smash Son Of Rambow last year. However, this cutesy Blur video – in which a milk carton goes looking for missing lead guitarist Graham Coxon – remains his calling card. Aww.

Director's trademarks? Whimsy, childlike glee, irreverence. A great concept, executed perfectly. Look out for this guy, he's one to watch.

The video: It's not half as fancy or clever as most of the other films on this list, but Gus Van Sant's low-budget video for the Chili Pepper's breakthrough hit 'Under The Bridge' went some way into propelling the band into the MTV mainstream. Superimposing images of the band against gritty shots of the city of Los Angeles and its citizens, Van Sant's homely video fit perfectly with Anthony Kiedis' lyrics (“At least I have her love / The city she loves me”), although the last shot of the singer sprinting with his shirt off, pecs jiggling hypnotically, is still a mystery to us.

Director's trademarks? Well, it doesn't have any speeding buses or tornados in it. No, wait – that's Jan De Bont. Never mind.

The video: Whoah, slow down. I know what you’re thinking. Brett Ratner is a workmanlike director, almost as mediocre a filmmaker as Jessica Simpson is a singer. But – and I’m talking to principally the chaps, here – have you seen this video? Hot damn. Somehow, the little Rat fella has managed to convince one of the world’s hottest women to strip down to her skimpies and shake her booty – for that alone, his place on this list is assured. Just watch it on mute.

Director's trademarks? Hot chicks wearing next to nothing. Ratner must either be gay, a hypnotist or a magician (or all three).

The video: Cast your mind back to the days when Michael Jackson was still a respectable recording artist and – shock – a seemingly normal member of society. Here, he even displays some acting chops as a young graduate returning back to his poor home town to discover his buddies are still living lives of crime. Scorsese sets up proceedings with a black and white short before bursting into colour as Jacko shows Wesley Snipes who's really bad. That's 'bad' meaning good, not 'bad' meaning 'tax evasion'.

Click here to see the video for Michael Jackson's 'Bad'
Director's trademarks? A main character contemplating crime and its influence. Not too many Scorsese films feature a dance-off, mind.

The video: You know those little office toys made out of thousands of tightly packed metal pins? You know, the ones you leave a handprint in or occasionally use to fashion a crudely shaped cock and balls while you're on the phone? David Fincher shot a whole music video with one. Returning to his music video roots, Fincher chose an artist slightly more respectable than Johnny Hates Jazz and Sting, finding in Trent Reznor a similarly minded gloom-meister and a perfect fit for his kinetic visual style. This guy can even make desktop furniture look cool.

Director's trademarks? Repressed rage in a mundane office environment: see Fight Club for a schooling.

The video: Back in our Top Ten Commercials feature, we chose a Guinness ad from Jonathan Glazer and confessed it was something of a cheat, as Glazer had only really directed one good movie: Sexy Beast. Well, we’re playing the same card here, but only because his video for UNKLE’s tortured psycho-ballad is so memorable. As Radiohead’s Thom Yorke warbles away a shirtless, sweating lunatic (not Iggy Pop, honestly) strides purposefully down the motorway where pain and twisted metal. Considering this exact same thing recently happened in real life, it’s extra spooky.

Director's trademarks? Stark, powerful imagery that hurts your head. Message to Jonathan Glazer: make more movies please.

The video: Nothing less than pop culture gold. Director John Landis brought his expertise from American Werewolf In London (plus make-up artist Rick Baker) and crafted one of the most widely recognised, most often parodied and highly celebrated pop promos of all time. At a cost of $500,000 it was the most expensive video of its era, but it was worth it – to date, Jackson’s Thriller album has broken every record under the sun and has sold over 65 million copies. It was to be eerily prescient too, Jackson’s real face eventually crumbling to resemble its zombie self.

Click here to see the video for Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'
Director's trademarks? Listen out for the screen announcer mention fictional film ‘See You Next Wednesday’, a line featured in several other Landis movies.

The video: A balls-out action trailer for an awful-looking seventies show that doesn’t exist, this short video sees the Rayban-wearing Beasties playing policemen: sliding across walls, busting perps’ heads open and sliding over bonnets i.e. all the cool stuff of being a cop, with none of the paperwork. The tone is pitch-perfect – tongue-in-cheek but just naff enough to flirt with reality – while Jonze’s shaky handheld direction lends ‘Sabotage’ an intentionally cheesy feel – dig those crappy dummy corpses. Extra points too for the glorious fake cast – starring MCA as Nathan Wind as Cochese, Ad-Rock as Vic Colfari as Bobby “The Rookie” and Mike D as Alasondro Alegre as “The Chief” (and Fred Kelly as Bunny).

Director's trademarks? A typically impish sense of humour with a small budget reaping big returns.

The video: Three minutes and forty four seconds of sheer visual delight. Quite how Michel Gondry, whose CV contains enough wonderful music videos to dominate this entire list on his own, began storyboarding this particular brain-wrong, we have no idea: it takes an abundance of imagination to make film this intricate. So perfect is the marriage between music and image, it results in a spellbinding video in which the central character is tossed around a colourful world of floaty dreams and cheese nightmares, all to a kickass Chemical Brothers beat. Scenes fuse into one another in succession of ingenious transitions, all without the crutch of CGI. We’ve never taken LSD, but we imagine it’s something like this.

Director's trademarks? There’s classic Gondry on show here, from the dreamscapes of Science Of Sleep to the lo-fi charm of Eternal Sunshine and the inventiveness of Be Kind Rewind. Do yourself a favour and check out this.


The video: Yep, the guy who directed man classics like Transformers, Armageddon and The Rock got his start shooting music videos for tubby tonsil-wobbler Meat Loaf. A fairly obtuse homage to Beauty and the Beast (with a little Phantom Of The Opera thrown in for good measure), the video for ‘I Would Do Anything For Love’ sees Meat playing a hideous monster (good casting) while the bad boys of the police storm his haunted castle to stop him from touching up a young lady. Or something. To be honest, we’ve never made it to the end.

Director's trademarks? The first five seconds feature a car chase, a sunset and a helicopter, so yes, it’s safe to say this is indicative of Michael Bay’s work. Ali

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What's with All the Ugly People Having Sex?

From Tommy and Pam to YouPorn and, now, from “Nailin’ Palin” to Zack and Miri Make a Porno, tracking the democratization of pornography to the mainstream.

By Stephen Marche

Zack and Miri Make a Porno Movie Poster

This movie poster was banned by the MPAA for lewdness, which means that Canadians (and anyone who has the Internet) are the only ones who can enjoy it.

Anyone who's spent any appreciable amount of alone time in front of a computer lately knows that the culture of instant accreditation, in which a million blog posts are added to the Internet each day and everybody is a mouse click away from becoming somebody, has infiltrated the world of smut. Just as so many aspiring Spielbergs dish their chop suey on YouTube and would-be Basquiats splay their wares in cyber galleries, Americans are no longer content to leave the business of porn to the professionals. Ever larger numbers of ugly people are setting up poor-quality cameras to film themselves in unimaginative positions for the benefit of all mankind, with Kevin Smith taking a front seat in his latest, "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." The title more or less sums up the plot, but Smith's aspirations are higher: He's trying to make an "Uncle Buck" for 2008--a middle-of-the-road comedy that defines the figure of the crass-but-ultimately-decent schlub for a generation. While Uncle Buck drove a Mercury Marquis and hit golf balls at teenagers, Zack produces and stars in his own adult films. That's what regular guys do now--even as porn increasingly loses its share of Internet traffic, DIY porn sites like YouPorn and RedTube have shown an annual percentage increase in the thousands. The desire to videotape and share every last detail of ourselves has spread to our sex lives. Pornography, like every other type of expression available in contemporary life, has been democratized.

This is new. The production of porn has historically been an elite activity, and the tradition of the obscene has always thrived in the highest realms of high art. The walls of the best-preserved cities of the ancient world radiate with high-grade pornography--like the man weighing his enormous cock in a huge balance at Pompeii--which was crafted by a select few, utilizing the finest techniques transmitted by a literally priestly caste. Postmodernist art, too, has flirted constantly with the pornographic, in pieces like Warhol's "Blow Job" or the sculptures and images of Jeff Koons's "Made in Heaven" series, which show Koons and his Italian porn-star ex-wife, La Cicciolina, engaging in poses that are both an homage to and a mockery of the history of art-making: explicit references to Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," Manet's "Déjeuner," and Courbet's "The Origin of the World," among others.

But pornography isn't a close relative of high art anymore; it's now mass culture, a mainstream business that Smith's Zack likens to "Coke or Pepsi, with dicks in it." Days after John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, an Atlanta-based porn producer posted a casting call for look-alikes. Naturally. The porn Palin was as inevitable as the action figure, the lipstick-pit-bull foam cap, the Tina Fey impression, and the editorials in "The New York Times." Just another way of processing the event.

The explosion in DIY porn, like so many crazes and mass phenomena, has been sparked by celebrities--Tommy and Pam, Colin Farrell, Paris Hilton, to name a choice few--and they remain our best hope for understanding our own worst impulses. All of their tapes were stolen, or taken under conditions of extreme betrayal, and their appeal, more than titillation, is that they offer a glimpse into the real lives of fantasy people. They show the airbrushed and preening at their most vulnerable and contorted, and the intimacy of our schadenfreude is the main attraction; it turns out that even someone as good-looking as Colin Farrell looks ridiculous taping himself in bed. The stars really are "just like us!" Kim Kardashian, meanwhile, changed the rules of DIY pornography almost before they came into existence. Her effort was the last homemade celebrity porn video with any capacity to surprise us, and she kept addressing "everyone" throughout the production, as in "For everyone who thinks my boobs are fake, they're real." The game was up right then. Surely, the trick is to maintain the fiction that this is somehow a private moment. "Ars est celare artem"--the art is to hide the art. Kardashian too clearly knew what she was doing. "Everyone," as it turns out, was the massive audience who would later tune in to "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." The sex tape wasn't the price she paid for being famous--it was how she achieved fame in the first place. Homemade pornography is the Kardashian arrangement extended to the vast and numinous world of our personal lives: Homemade pornography is do-it-yourself celebrity, and in a world in which just about anybody can get a reality show, the homemade sex tape is the closest most civilians can come to feeling like a real star. Taping oneself and posting the footage online offers the same deal as Hollywood: For the price of your body and your dignity, you get the joy of being an image others cannot tear their eyes from, the lightness and glory of intimacy's form without the burden of its content. This arrangement has seemed entirely equitable to millions of young Americans who've been promised their 15 minutes. And who would deny the world's youth the chance to exhaust their capacity for illusion by betraying themselves?

And so when rumors of a Britney Spears sex tape started to swirl, the news was greeted with perfunctory reporting and a collective yawn--in the world of amateur sex tapes, we're all superstars now. In the epilogue of "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," the two lovers start a company in which professionals help you make your own porn, a neat attempt to reconcile the professionals with the amateurs. But it's a failed attempt, a bad joke. Who wants to look like a porn star, which is, in the end, a gruesome example of a menial laborer? No, we want to be the celebrities, the people who are so wonderful at looking like they don't want to be looked at. In America today, the shadowy game of personal exposure is better than sex; the desire to have our dirty little secrets revealed is so much deeper and stronger than lust.

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Attention Christopher Nolan: Here’s A List of Good Third Movies

Posted by Mister Hand (

Speaking to The Los Angeles Times about the possibility of directing a follow up to his smash hit The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan makes it clear he is not sold on the idea.

I have to ask the question,” he says, “How many good third movies in a franchise can people name?

The article doesn’t say that Nolan then leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms with a smug smile, but I can picture it. The guy makes a billion dollar-grossing movie and all of the sudden he’s the sequel expert. Just because he crafted possibly the greatest superhero movie of all time, he thinks he’s all that.

I’ve got news for Christopher Nolan. There have been plenty of great third movies. I mean, there’s…

Well. Come on. Rambo III. I mean, that wasn’t… so bad.

Okay, it was. But hey! Who gave us Mr. T? That was Rocky III, my friend! And that was…

I don’t care what anybody thinks, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was one helluva… I mean, it was… a…

Hey! How ’bout that Home Alone 3?! Come on… Ebert liked it.

Maybe I’m not making the strongest case here. The fact is, we really, really want Nolan to make a third Batman movie, right? So putting aside the nonsense, here’s six good “third movies” to inspire Nolan and give us the Dark Knight follow-up we so desperately crave:

6. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Yes, it had Ewoks. But it did wrap up the original trilogy story nicely, and even the most staunch Jedi haters can’t deny that the film has some slam bang moments. Furthermore, unlike the new trilogy, Return of the Jedi has Han Solo going for it. And let’s face it: the best thing about any Star Wars movie is Harrison Ford playing Han Solo. Think back to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Recall the best scenes from those movies. Tell me that Ford isn’t in all of them.

5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

As if Indiana wasn’t bad ass enough, they decided to throw Sean “Drop Your Panties” Connery into the mix, and every scene the two are in together is somehow both hilarious and action-packed. It’s intelligent, deals with the real threat of Nazis attaining the Cup of Life, and almost every line is quotable. Plus, the movie had the classic sensibility to show four heroes riding off into the sunset to tie up the entire franchise. Did you hear that Spielberg? It TIED UP the franchise.

4. The Bourne Ultimatum

If someone were to ask me what’s the best of the Bourne movies, I’d be hard pressed to find a favorite. I consider Ultimatum to be every bit as good as its predecessors. So far, these films have been the most even in quality of any series I’ve ever seen. There’s talk that this might become a James Bond-type franchise, and if past success is an indicator, I hope it’s true.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

As far as I’m concerned, the first two Harry Potter films don’t deserve to be called movies. They’re just glorified PowerPoint presentations: soulless, artless, fan service crap. So I was very surprised when I was dragged to see Prisoner and enjoyed every minute of it. I believe most of the credit goes to director Alfonso Cuarón, a masterful storyteller, who later gave us the excellent Children of Men. Regarded by many Harry Potter fans as the best of the series.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The worst you can say about the conclusion to Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy is that it’s too long. Otherwise, it kicked ass critically, commercially, and was the darling of Oscar night. People were engaged in this whole “third movie curse” talk prior to its release as well

1. Goldfinger

By far the greatest “third movie” ever made. Not only is it a great Bond film, but it’s a treasure trove of cultural touchstones. “I don’t expect you talk. I expect you to die!” From Russia With Love was the film that ensured the Bond franchise was viable, but Goldfinger was the movie that made Bond an icon.

Please, Mr. Nolan, Make a Third Batman Film

So Chris, take notes, suck it up, and make that third Batman movie. Batman fans like us will never forgive you if you don’t do it. And if you fail? Well, because we are rabid fans, we’re bound to register our disgust all across the internets.

But we believe in you, Chris. As much as we loved Tim Burton’s Batman, we saw the chinks in his armor–his narrative discontinuity, his penchant for raising style above substance. If you have any weaknesses as a filmmaker, it’s in defining spatial relationships during action scenes. There’s not a single fight scene in either Batman Begins or Dark Knight where we can tell what the hell is going on through all the fast cutting and micro-editing. It’s a small point, and the films are so good, they overcome that weakness.

That’s all beside the point anyway. Make the movie. It’ll be fine. Oh, and we guess the answer to your question, or at least our answer, is six. But we’re sure there might be more. Most directors couldn’t handle it, but you’re not most directors, and we have full faith in you to create an incredible third film.

Editor’s Note: It should be known that Mister Hand actually hates The Last Crusade, and I had to write that small portion. Feel free to send him death threats or, even better, long emails explaining in excruciating detail why The Last Crusade is one of the best films ever.

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