“Flash Gordon meets Cowboy Bebop at Shaolin Temple.” That about sums up three of my essential obsessions: classic film/pop culture, Japanese animation, and Hong Kong kung fu movies. This blog will devote attention to those as well as other film/TV-based interests. The emphasis here will be on things that don’t get much coverage elsewhere. I like to discover obscure films that have points of historical interest. For instance, I recently watched, for the first time, the Hopalong Cassidy western, “Border Patrol” (1943), which offered the auspicious film debut of Robert Mitchum, my all-time favorite movie star. That, to me, counts as something special and I will be devoting an entry to it. I also watch a lot of little-known Japanese animated and live-action movies and TV shows from past decades and find frequent examples of beauty and imagination that deserve to be highlighted. I also have a collection of several hundred DVDs from Hong Kong’s Shaw Bros. studio, from the years 1958-1985. While I’ve watched most of the kung fu titles and have reviewed over a hundred of them for IMDB, I’m eager to tackle the non-action films in this library as well, including musicals, comedies, historical epics, literary adaptations, and contemporary melodramas. I’ve always been fascinated by the whole subject of genre moviemaking and how it’s formed the basis of film industries in Hollywood, Japan, and Hong Kong over many decades.
I’m a New York-based film historian and critic who has been writing freelance articles about film for over three decades and articles and reviews devoted to Japanese animation for nearly two decades, both for print and web publication. I am the co-author of the book, “Anime Classics Zettai: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces” (Stone Bridge, 2007), and have taught courses on anime at the School of Visual Arts and the City College of New York. I have written hundreds of reviews for Amazon.com and IMDB, all under my real name. I also have a Live Journal blog devoted to Japanese pop music, an interest that blossomed six-and-a-half years ago when, on a whim, I picked up a Hello! Project concert tape at a Japanese video store and fell in love with all of the acts featured on it. In my day job, which pays the bills, I work as a TV programmer for an educational cable station run by a large public institution.
I’ve always wanted to do blogs devoted to anime and film and decided to go with WordPress after attending a seminar in Manhattan and watching as my daughter (who attended the seminar with me) launched her blog, “Parenthetical Observations,” last fall. I decided to combine the two interests into one blog because I tend to approach anime from my background as a film and animation critic, focusing attention on the aesthetic aspects—production design, art direction, sound, music, color, composition, characterizations, etc.—rather than just the storylines. I’ve always wanted film students and scholars to appreciate the cinematic aspects of anime and take the best examples of the art form as seriously as they do the best classic films. It’s something I’ve always stressed in my writing on anime and plan to continue that here.
I’m not sure how best to publicize this blog, but for now I just want to make updating it a regular habit. It’ll be pretty bare-bones at the start, since I’m not the most tech-savvy person out there, although I’ll try to pepper it with illustrations and links to other sites. But I hope you’ll enjoy reading it and learning from it. Which is all I ask.