2017년 9월 25일 월요일

Launching Q Branch Academia Reviews

My day job still does not allow me enough time to properly do this, but I know that I will never get around to getting the present blog up and running again if I kept waiting for "enough time." One of my original ideas for the revived Q Branch was to set it up as a critical database cum personal notations for the audio-visual materials that to be used for my classes. Well, as it turns out, my students at UCD are less and less interested in watching motion pictures in class, and the equipment for media presentation are no longer well taken care of. My showings of The Epitaph and The Host during my Korean History class last year were met with student enthusiasm, but unfortunately the DVD player went dead in the middle of showing the latter, to my acute embarrassment. Sigh…

Honestly, given the crappy situation with humanities curriculum in a university in today's world, I don't know if I will get around before my retirement a course totally devoted to Asian movies. But for now, I am going to operate under the assumption that, if I write about those Asian (Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Southeast Asian) films, not just about the films themselves but regarding the accessibility and quality of the vehicles in which they are presented (to wit, Blu Rays and DVDs) and, most importantly, about how they could be deployed as instructional resources, somebody out there might find such jottings useful. Of course this public service orientation needs not be taken too seriously by anyone who reads my entries. I am doing this mostly for my own pleasure, partly to show off my collection, and partly to opinionate about other people's artistic achievements (which, wouldn't you know it, is always a great fun!). But a part of me, believe it or not, genuinely cares about what the motion pictures, animated features, Korean TV dramas and other media products could really teach the young 'uns about not just the Asian societies, cultures, histories, but the human condition as we know it. 

So here is what I will do: in addition to my usual analysis and opinionating, I will incorporate into the reviews of these select films/animated features/whatnot my musings about their potentials as classroom teaching resources. Can we ("instructors") actually show hyper-violent, disturbing thrillers such as Violent Cop or Battle Royale in classroom settings, and if we do, what could students be able to "learn" from them? Can we assign any cinematic version of Chushingura in an early modern Japanese history course as a legitimate interpretation of the changing ethos of the 18th century Japan? These and other questions might be addressed, to the best of my ability, in these entries devoted to the Asian media products. 

Oh, and I decided to classify these reviews under the "Q Branch Academia" rubric, inspired by the Arrow Video's "Academy" line of classic titles. Pretentious, I know, but what can I say? Pretentiousness is a sine qua non for most of my "productive" activities. So onward I march!

The first title to be covered under this new "Q Branch Academia" category isViolent Cop, Kitano "Beat" Takeshi's feature-film directorial debut. Don't tell me you expected a Miyazaki Hayao title, eh? (Not to worry, a Studio Gibhli Blu Ray may yet be covered in these pages sooner than later, after all)