where recently = late spring and onwards; I have far too many half-finished drafts that have been sitting long enough that I couldn’t finish them properly without rewatching but hate to delete the parts I wrote. These are mostly the impressions that were left and not thoughts at the time.
Monster Drive Party, Tomoyasu Hotei, 2005 tour — a very intense performance, but it did not translate well to DVD (or at least wasn’t what I want out of a tour DVD); dark and murky; uneven camera (I hate to say too much Hotei (and I wouldn’t have bought this if I didn’t like him), but would have liked to see more of the band in general, and specifically the left side, which was under-represented).
Aurora Madturn, LOSALIOS — solo project of Tatsuya Nakamura (中村達也, drums, ex-Blankey Jet City); core band was Tokie (bass, unkie and support) and Takashi Kato (カトタカシ, 加藤隆志, guitar, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra); some songs featured Asuka Kaneko (金子飛鳥, violin) and/or Masami Tsuchiya (土屋昌巳, guitar, ja.wikipedia). I love this (music and performance and all), but it’s probably not for everyone. The music is instrumental and occasionally a bit repetitive and/or formulaic; the performance is not the most exciting as everyone stays in their own spot on stage (involved and interested and intent on their playing, just not moving around much). The focus is on Nakamura; Tokie and Kato are playing as much to him and each other as to the audience, and when the others appear, they are off to the sides. Mixed in with the performances are some backstage clips and other random footage. (From this, Ghost Club and Three Dog Night are on youtube)
The Avengers ’66 v1 — a bit much of dated race portrayals; native savages in one (though somewhat poking at that stereotype) and even in black and white, a white person in a dark wig + makeup does not really look Chinese or African. The “Chinese” woman’s wig was particularly obvious and the “African” woman made me think of Hawaii; she was wearing a strapless dress with a large floral pattern and a big flower in her hair. Oddly, most of the men in both episodes seemed to be somewhere near the proper ethnicity for their parts. None of the roles were very large; the “Chinese” woman was only in the beginning of her episode and there was a Chinese man with a small speaking part later, and one of the African men had a brief role as exposition-man (I don’t think the “African” woman spoke; if she did, it wasn’t more than a line or two). Other than the racial issues, these episodes were standard Avengers fare: there is a dust that kills all plants and birds it comes in contact with, and there are carphones and hunting and Mrs. Peel being chased by someone on a horse and generally kicking ass; disappearing physicists, and one reappeared and suddenly hated his Chinese wife, and there is weirdness within a hotel; and one that starts with a man shot by a “native” arrow outside of London and an odd sickness caused by a cult and affecting men who had served in an African colony and drums in the distance that were plot, not soundtrack.
The Avengers ’66 v2 — I don’t think I took notes and have since returned it; I wasn’t impressed with these episodes. One had Mrs. Peel kidnapped at the beginning, with her substitute acting as Steed’s sidekick throughout the episode, so there was not enough of Mrs. Peel to interest me in this episode. One involved shenanigans at a golf course and was bland. One started with a dead man in a pram and ended up at a dance school and involved a shoemaker and a tattooist.
The Legend of the Shadowless Sword — a Korean attempt at a wuxia-style movie; pretty but extremely predictable. Vaguely historical, set in 927 A.D. The capital of Balhae fell to Georan; the Georans have been killing off all of the royal family of Balhae, but realize they could use one as a public-relations prop; the resistance is also looking for last member of the royal family and find him first (barely); most of the movie is them fleeing and her trying to convince him to be king (and at first, him running away from her because he doesn’t want to be king). A bit gory: geysers of blood, exploding bodies, limbs flying everywhere; visibly and audibly breaking bones were what made me start fast-forwarding through any fight scenes with large groups, though. (movie on wikipedia and imdb; Balhae on wikipedia)