The 442nd Infantry Regiment

This is a repost from my old blog. I was reminded of it when I went to see the remake of the Karate Kid the other day, and I wanted to share it again.

I have an annoying (to some) habit of going onto Wikipedia and reading about anything I have just come into contact with. I often bother my girlfriend after we have seen a film “based on a true story”, by trying to determine the accuracy of what had just seen and informing her of the deviations from reality. But this activity pretty much extends to any film or television show I have watched.

So the other day, after I enjoyed a festive showing of the classic 1984 film “The Karate Kid”, I duly fired up Wikipedia, and began reading about the film I had just viewed (and have done about one hundred times).

There’s a scene in the film when Daniel goes through some belongings of Mr. Miyagi. One of the artefacts is a letter informing Mr. Miyagi that his wife has died during child-birth whilst she was in an internment camp. Then Daniel finds Miyagi’s war medals. I had always found this odd, as the idea of a US Officer having his own wife imprisoned in an internment camp whilst at the same time serving in the Army of that country just impossible.

Wikipedia confirmed however, that he was indeed a member of the US Armed Forces, and the article speculates as to whether Miyagi had been a member of the (real) 442nd Infantry Regiment. And as is also my want when on Wikipedia I duly clicked on the hyperlink to a page dedicated to the 442nd.

I was amazed with what I read.

The 442nd Infantry, formerly the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, was an Asian American unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during the Second World War.[2] The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany. The unit became the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients.

Not only did Japanese-Americans fight for a country who at the same time had imprisoned their families, but they did so with unrivaled bravery and honour. Mind-boggling. I guess it speaks volumes about the utter madness that is war.

Check it out for yourself, the 442nd Infantry Regiment on Wikipedia.

More Bill Murray

I just discovered that those two Bill Murray anecdotes I posted come from the same interview, published recently in GQ. It goes without saying that its a must-read.

Other interesting points include Murray finally scuppering those persistent Ghostbusters 3 rumours, as well as some truely fascinating insights into his craft

I have developed a kind of different style over the years. I hate trying to re-create a tone or a pitch. Saying, “I want to make it sound like I made it sound the last time”? That’s insane, because the last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time. And everything is going to be different this time. There’s only now.

(found via Daring Fireball)

Great Bill Murray Anecdotes Of Our Time #283 – #284

#283
Bill Murray agreed to star as the voice of ‘Garfield’ in the 2004 movie of the same name because he thought it was written by Joel Coen (of ‘The Coen Brothers’). It was actually written by Joel Cohen (not of ‘The Coen Brothers’).

“I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I’d never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, “So-and-so and Joel Cohen.’ And I thought: ‘Christ, well, I love those Coens!’ They’re funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, ‘Yeah, I’d like to do that.’

“Finally I went out to L.A. to record my lines… and the lines got worse and worse. And I said, ‘Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we’re dealing with.’ So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, ‘Who the hell cut this this thing? Who did this? What the f**k was Coen thinking? And then they explained it to me: it wasn’t written by Joel Coen.”

(via Contact Music)

#284
Rather than deal with agents, Bill Murray has set up a toll-free number where people can leave a message for him. If he wants to work with you, he will call you back.

“I have this phone number that they call and talk. And then I listen. I just sort of decide. I might listen and say, ‘OK, why don’t you put it on a piece of paper, and if it’s interesting, I’ll call you back, and if it’s not, I won’t.'”

(also via Contact Music)

Bill Murray – Greatest Actor of all time.

And for good measure, here’s Bill with RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, in a coffee house (from Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes”)

Inception

Yesterday I saw Christopher Nolan’s new film ‘Inception’. Coming on the back of the almost universally critically praised and Box Office behemoth ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Inception’ carries with it a huge amount of anticipation.

I enjoyed it; a perfect pop-corn blend of plot, emotion and action (in a manner similar to ‘The Dark Knight’). When we were in the cinema lobby after one of the first things I said was “It was the most original film i’ve ever seen”. Having slept on it, i’m not so sure. It occurred to me as I was drifting off to sleep last night that it has remarkable similarities with Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (which for me was the best film of the last decade). But having said that ‘Inception’ still is wildly original.

I’m not going to bother with the mechanics of breaking down the whole plot etc, (go see it, but the jist is its about people who can enter your dreams) but I do want to address one issue with the film. Or rather, an issue others seem to have with the film. Whilst many are hailing ‘Inception’ as a great film, it also has its fair share of detractors who feel Nolan’s film is far to driven by its clockwork-like plot. One of the criticisms i’ve seen is that for a film set largely inside peoples dreams the visuals are rather flat; or are no where near ‘dream-like’ and surreal enough. The film plays brilliant games with physics in the dream world, one which they cleverly explain in real terms and this allows for some fantastic sequences but for the most part much of the dream-world action is remarkably realistic, and this appears to have annoyed some critics.

But this made me think; just how wacky and surreal and amazingly mind-bendingly visual are your dreams? Mine never really are. Of course they swim inside a dream-world logic. Geography is usually inconsistent. My primary school appears in my back garden; my home town consists of one long street with only two buildings of note on either end. A door in my house leads to the middle of a shopping centre. And of course fantastic things can happen in dreams, but for the most part my dreams, and the majority of dreams I hear about from friends are relatively mundane. They reflect odd and fantastical events, but are still anchored in a world of real world objects and physics. As I said, ‘Inception’ does allow itself to play with some impressive feats of bending space and time, mainly when introducing a character to the dream world (and by extension, introducing us, the audience) and it directly acknowledges the strange geography in which dreams play themselves out, but other than that there are no people with fishes for heads flying around on giant tubes of toothpaste etc. which is what I gather critics were looking for. One conceit I will give is that while the film plays with the idea that time in dreams can be much different to real world time (and this idea is central to the dream-within-a-dream maze into which the film brings us) it doesn’t reflect the relatively inconsistent logic of dreams. People appear from no where, and disappear just as quick. Another consideration is that ‘dream-like’ is often used to describe a scene that is hazy, ghostly and other-worldly. ‘Inception’ doesn’t really give us any of these, these are hard, fast and thrilling dreams.

Dreams
Photo owned by katieg93 (cc)

Is it a romantic notion (fueled by other films) that dreams are these truly amazing and magical places? Are we overstating the power of dreams? It is truly amazing the levels of imagination that the unconscious mind can conjure up and trick us with, but it does this surely, by making this dream-world so unsettlingly real. Isn’t that why are tricked in the first place? Isn’t that why we only recognize it was a dream when we come out? Hindu mythology tells us the the entire Universe, and indeed our lives, are the result of Krishna dreaming. A dream that is so real that he has forgotten that he is dreaming. That is to say, we are all Krishna, the God head, lost in the deep dream that is our lives. And this is why it works, it seems so….real.

Or is it just me? And are my dreams just that boring? Are there people out there tonight dreaming of fantastic melting clocks and impossible panoramic vistas?

Do I need to start eating cheese?

Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School

Rogue Film School is a 4-day seminar taught by famed director and madman Werner Herzog, The schedule includes a Meet & Greet and three all-day sessions, all for the sum of $1450. (Please note: this does not cover hotel costs, travel/parking or meals, but you will receive a signed copy of “Conquest of the Useless” by Werner Herzog, as well as a Certificate of Participation.

And what is the Rogue Film School all about? Well, according to the website:

The Rogue Film School will be in the form of weekend seminars held by Werner Herzog in person at varying locations and at infrequent intervals.

As for content

The Rogue Film School will not teach anything technical related to film-making. For this purpose, please enroll at your local film school.

So, what do you learn?

The Rogue Film School is about a way of life. It is about a climate, the excitement that makes film possible. It will be about poetry, films, music, images, literature.

But, this being Werner Herzog, that is not all

Related, but more practical subjects, will be the art of lockpicking. Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance.

But please note:

Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth.

Finally, the site advises:

Follow your vision. Form secretive Rogue Cells everywhere. At the same time, be not afraid of solitude.

Sounds great! And, if you are wondering why Werner would want to expose you to “The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully”, well, the man has experience with this.

“The art of government is to fill that void beyond death with threats of a rather unspecified nature”

I saw Chris Morris’s “Four Lions” last night. Very, very funny film, but also clever, quite moving, and thought-provoking. Don’t want to say too much beyond that, other than “Go see it!”. Its a comedy about Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers, so Morris has to juggle the dual balls of laugh-a-minute comedy, and well, suicide bombing. Although the film is mainly just about the suicide bombers, and the act of suicide bombing with very little in the way of political commentary, it also features a subtle context relating to the states reaction to terrorism. As the sun sets on New Labour’s reign in the UK, the post-mortems are kicking in. One of their legacies, no doubt, will be one of promoting a paranoid, Big Brother-esque nanny state in response, they say, to the threat of terrorism. The death of Jean Charles De Menezes is referenced briefly in “Four Lions” as well as the looming spectre of state surveillance. As I digested all of it this morning, I thought of the following quote:

Alan Watts:

At anytime the world is full of threats, mostly from other people. And there are monsters. There are all sorts of things that scare you, but beyond every monster is death. Dissolution is the end of it all.

And by and large the art of government is to fill that void beyond death with threats of a rather unspecified nature, so that we can rule people by saying if you don’t do as I tell you, i’ll kill you. Or you’ll kill yourself. And so long as we can be scared of that, and so long as we can be made to think of death as a bad thing we can be ruled.

Not sure which lecture this was taken from, I’m getting two books of his transcribed lectures this weekend, I think its in there. I found it via this clip, which is the longer quote set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor…