Quick Frames

Maggie Greene (a UMW History alum, for the gang cheering at home) shared a great post today on Chinese lianhuanhua 连环画, or picture storybooks. In particularly, she shared images — and, with the assistance of the very helpful Brendan O’Kane, a cleaned-up .pdf of the full text — of a 1980 Chinese Star Wars illustrated story book.  Maggie dives nicely into an exploration of Chinese appropriation and improvisation on the story (as well as some of the odder characterizations that seem to appear along the way.)

The images from the text (see Maggie’s post for a link to the full work) struck me, bringing me back to the kinds of Sci-Fi novels I used to read in my younger days. Or which I would still find, until its recent closure, at a favorite used bookstore in my summers visiting family in Sandwich, Mass.

Neuromancer (1984) may not be quite as vintage a title as the others, yet that cover is definitely vintage 80s, rounding out an earlier collection above.

Meanwhile, another very good discussion happened recently at the Columbia Weatherhead East Asian Institute site, with an interview with Gregory Pflugfelder, associate professor of Japanese history and a long-time collector of materials related to Godzilla movies. Pflugfelder shares images and insights, including the ways in which the significance of Godzilla transcends the simple Japan-U.S. dichotomy and history. Monster movies bear much more meaning in their imagery, and carry much more mileage. All with an interest in cinema and global themes should find the discussion quite useful.

 

 

 

Spring Cinema Course

Yes, I’m prepping for fall. But I’m also already thinking about a second go at my cinema course next spring, along with fellow traveller Jim Groom, who recently blogged about our foray into GIFs with that class.

For films, I’m seriously thinking of dropping Jia Zhangke’s “The World” this time around, along with previously screened “Chungking Express,” and going with a Wong Kar-wai double feature of “In the Mood for Love” (2000) and “Happy Together” (1997). The films are in some ways more challenging (some might say more opaque, while some might offer another kind of critique), and the first one — “In the Mood” — is usually one I use in my Gender course. I may use it in both courses, or trade it out in the Gender course for Ang Lee’s “Wedding Banquet.”

But in any case, both films are gorgeous to watch, and both focused not only on Hong Kong, but also on inter- and trans-national themes (“Happy Together,” for one, is set in Argentina), as well as issues of gender, sexuality, memory, violence, and time. I’m working up a reading list to accompany them. Suggestions welcome, as always…