They say attitude reflects product. Speaking with Beto Solis, manager at The Peached Tortilla, he exclaimed “I love my job. Maybe, it is to the point where people may not understand [laughs]“. It’s no wonder the food is amazing. The Peached Tortilla serves a delightful fusion of Mexican and Chinese food. For the past few years it has grown in popularity and has since set the standard for how mobile food, service, taste and quality should be. The BBQ Brisket sliders, Banana Nutella Wontons, Pork belly tartine — this place has what it takes to make your tastebuds dance. As Austin natives ourselves we’ve become familiar with The Peached Tortilla for quite some time and recently took part in the first ever mobile food take over competition. We sit down with manager Beto Solis to discuss the creative process behind the menu and the exciting news of their new physical brick and mortar store opening later this year. Read below for the full Q&A…
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your time at Le Cordon Bleu and how you found yourself with The Peached Tortilla?
Well, I just graduated about two years ago. I was always familiar with working in a kitchen due to my grandfather having a lunch cart, which is how he supported his family. It afforded us the opportunity to go to school, which I was going to be a vet, but decided maybe being a veterinarian wasn’t the way to go for me. I’ve always had a passion for food and now I have over nine years of experience in the food industry! After college I was a sous chef at Iron Cactus and then I went to Mexico and my friend Richard was a shift leader at The Peached Tortilla who told me about the opening. I was always interested in joining a food truck as it’s apparently the ‘thing’ to do here in Austin. It’s been incredible.
Eric, the founder of The Peached Tortilla has said in the past that he gauged the success of his business by being grouped in with Chi’Lantro. Now you guys are going head to head with them. How has the transition been like stepping out of their shadow and evolving into your own identity?
Eric just wanted to do his own thing so he bought his own truck. Fast forward to six months ago he got another food truck and now we are independent; completely independent. We are still very good friends with them. We both work hard to make money and make good food.
You guys were narrowly beat out by them at the Mobile Food Take Over. If you ask us, Pork belly tartine, pork belly, and pineapple herb salad trumps a french fry dish anyday. What was the gameplan before going into action that day?
Our gameplan was different from Chilantro as they had a lot of fried food. We do a lot of fresh made to order food, so that’s the reason why we had/have a huge line. Frying food is quick, but for instance, our tartine takes a lot of time — we have to prepare it just right. Cilantro, pineapple, radishes and sea salt all take a lot of time to prepare, make it look pretty, and taste fresh. We were trying to get a way better quality then our competition.
Oh, I think you guys succeeded on that aspect. Speaking of evolving, you guys are opening a brick and mortar in Allandale this year. I think the biggest difference between the two is the actual physical space from which you’ll operate and cook. Now that you have a bigger kitchen to cook in, what kind of possibilities does that open up for the menu?
We are still thinking up of different dishes every day. Sometimes myself and the staff try out different ideas. We can’t tell you exactly the dishes but they will be similar to the food truck, however, we want to be a bit more fancy with it as well.
What is the creative process like?
We read a lot of Bon Appétit Magazine, brush up on how we can go toe to toe with the competition, and create something rich beautiful and tasteful. To sum it up, we read a lot, lots of research, that’s primarily how we approach it.
And when it comes to catering or even being present at a wedding, are you able to create versatile menu’s pertaining to each unique event?
We do a lot of personalized menu items. It’s a totally different menu versus our regular menu like cheese grits and shrimp, kimchi bowl, etc. It’s a lot of different varieties.
How has your role evolved over the past year? Will you be transitioning to the physical store or stay in the mobile truck?
Right now, I’m managing the food trucks. I’d like to move in at some point but I would like the team to grow along with me before I do that. I’ll still be helping out in the store but a lot of our team is brand new to the food service industry. Lots of 12 hour days!
Do you have any favorite Asian films?
Ip Man, I really liked that one.
Lastly any advice for any budding culinary students looking to improve their skills?
Don’t be afraid of a knife. You’re going to cut yourself and burn yourself. A lot. You have to learn from that. Respect the industry, always go that extra mile, and you have to be prepared because once you run out of food in a mobile truck, you’re out. It’s not like a restaurant. You have to be prepared.
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Restaurant Opening Fall 2014:
5520 Burnet Road, Austin
Psycho-Pass is a Japanese anime television series by Production I.G. that aired on Fuji TV’s Noitamina programming block between October 2012 and March 2013. The story takes place in a dystopia where it is possible to instantaneously measure a person’s mental state, personality, and the probability that a person will commit crimes with a device installed on each citizen’s body called the Psycho-Pass. It follows members of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division and the crimes they investigate. The series was inspired by several live-actions with chief director Katsuyuki Motohiro aiming to explore psychological themes seen in society’s youth throughout dark storylines. As the story unfolded and they revealed Sybil’s true form I was a little disappointed. I mean, here I’m expecting a super computer or something and instead it’s brains of people who cant be scanned by the system.
Psycho-Pass depicts a futuristic society where people are monitored for their latent ability to commit crimes (as in Minority Report). But while MR depended on clairvoyance to see the future, the world of Psycho-Pass relies on scanning a person’s brainwaves to judge the stability of their mental state. The more unstable a person becomes, the more likely they become to commit a violent crime. The police then dispatch a specialized task force to neutralize the threat. These task forces are made up of an inspector (or something of an overseer) and a group of subordinates called “enforcers.” Enforcers are brutal and efficient–they are not only willing to pull the trigger, but they also can delve into the mindset of the “criminal coefficient” and use that insight to stay ahead of the bad guys. They can do this because they are (of course) latent criminals themselves, and are little more than glorified hunting dogs (a comparison often made in the show).
The art, animation and music of the latter half of the season were all enough to bring tears of joy to my face. From the awe-inspiring sweeping landscapes of the Tokyo landscape to the sleekly rendered fight scene animations, there is nothing in Psycho-Pass that isn’t visually appealing to watch. However, like Blade Runner and Other Cyber punk series, the character designs were distinguishable and I was very impressed by the various technologies and ideas. Psycho-Pass demonstrates a willingness to work with familiar source-material (dystopic societies, technological anxiety) and forge a new and sterling show from it. The show is dark (there is a rape scene within the first five or ten minutes) and bloody (the enforcers weapons, known as “dominators,” reduce criminals to bloody splats on the walls). It also delves into the very human capacity–some might say penchant–for evil. For a show that claims to be concerned with character psyches, Psycho-Pass also does not disappoint. We are able to watch the main characters slowly develop and change over time, and are given a sense of a real world where people are bitter over having their fates chosen for them. To top it all off, the sound track is amazing. Watch it as soon as you can.
Over shadowed by series like Sword Art Online & Attack on Titan, Psycho-Pass released under the radar to many (myself included), however this series is not one you’ll want to miss. I really enjoyed 80% of this show. It had a lot of potential but the final act of the season was completely devoid of the intrigue that I felt in the first half. Psycho-Pass may take a bit of time to get off the ground by episode 16, the show is travelling at pace so fast that you’ll be guaranteed to be blown off your seat. A second season is currently in production alongside an animated film by Production I.G., so there is certainly more to look forward too. So, with that said…welcome to the future. How guilty are you?
For me personally this mystery-horror comedy was too shrill and silly – but at least it dares: It is full of anarchic humor and stylistic playfulness. This movie is real film making at its best without regards to genres and formulas. The filming is done and bounces back to horror comedy splatter to drama to tragedy and back again. Boring it is not! But you have to get involved with the crazy and often not entirely coherent narrative. Exciting, however, is the fact that it is one of the first fictional films that picks up the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the associated fears and processed in its own way.
Hong Kong, the present day. At 02:25 a group of passengers in Mong Kok Road, Kowloon, board a late-night minibus heading to Tai Po, in the New Territories. An argumentative couple disembark at the last moment and, as the passengers set off, they see them dead in a roadside accident. Those on board the minibus, driven by Suet (Lam Suet), include You Chi-chi (Wong You-nam); Yuki (Janice Man); Wong Man-fat (Simon Yam), a middle-aged gangster type; Temple Street fortune-teller Mak Sau-ying; married couple Bobby and Pat, who are going to watch football on TV at a friends’ home; druggie Blind Fai, who’s on the run from some dealers and thinks the bus is heading to Tsuen Wan, seven miles from Tai Po; IT specialist Shun (Chui Tien-you); long-haired geek Auyeung Wai (Jan Curious); a nerdy young woman, LV (Melodes Mak); and some students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The minibus goes through the Lion Rock Tunnel on its way to the New Territories, but as it reaches Tai Po the passengers notice there are no other cars on the road. After dropping off the university students – one of whom suddenly starts to feel ill – the minibus reaches its destination in Kwong Fuk Road at 03:12.
The street is totally deserted and, though the passengers’ phones work, nobody answers their calls. Suet and Man-fat remember that the traffic suddenly disappeared in the middle of Lion Rock Tunnel. After exchanging their numbers, the passengers split up. Chi-chi and Yuki, who were sitting next to each other, walk around but he still can’t reach his girlfriend Yi (Cherry Ngan) by phone, nor Yuki her boyfriend (Yiu Yuet-ming). Meanwhile, at the university the students panic when their friend’s illness rapidly spreads. Chi-chi grabs a bike and cycles to Yi’s home, which is empty and covered in dust. Then all the passengers’ phones start ringing, with just an electronic scream at the other end of the line. They all arrange to meet next day at a small restaurant in Tai Po to solve the mystery of what has happened.
Overall, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the journey that counts: the group’s efforts to decode what is going on, the confrontational energy that is Hong Kongers’ greatest strength and weakness, and the continual sense of life lived on the edge of total collapse. Part of the solution to the mystery is guessable way before the passengers twig to it, but the film isn’t dependent on any one big twist. After a decade largely spent contributing to portmanteau movies and working as a producer, Hong Kong maverick Fruit Chan finally rediscovers his creative mojo.
The snoopy reporter Sadie Blake is called by her nerd colleague Ethan Mills that has deciphered a code and found an address in Koreatown from information of the Goth Tricia Rawlins about a bloody cult. Sadie does not give attention to Ethan, but when she sees on the front page of the news that Tricia has been found dead in a dumpster in Koreatown, she decides to visit the address. She finds an abandoned house with a gruesome basement full of blood and she immediately drives to Ethan’s apartment. She finds the place in a complete mess and is abducted by a stranger and taken to Bishop, who wants to know what Tricia has told her. Then, Bishop and his mate Eve kill Sadie and they have a necrophilic threesome with her body. Later, Sadie awakes in the freezer of the morgue and sooner she realizes that she is a vampire and promises revenge to her sire.
The story jumps around a lot, flouting the conventions of time as we know them; things simply don’t happen in the exact order we’d expect them to, which clouds Sadie’s motives and intentions quite a bit. Is she good? Is she even human? After all, once she’s been attacked by the vampire people, she’s not exactly the picture of health, and she’s gotta eat to survive. Is her ultimate goal of revenge enough to offset the unpleasant facts? It helps that there’s a typically hissable bad guy, Bishop (James D’Arcy). He’s eternal, of course, and he kills and mutilates and rapes for the sheer joy of it. There are no moral or ethical quandaries with this guy.
Some of the spatial transitions involving Lucy Liu’s character seemed like an editor wasn’t paying proper attention. Probably the best case is where she’s getting tucked into a car trunk, unconscious, during a dialog about getting her car and the kidnapper’s car to another site and then the scene transitions to homeless people on cots and someone who looks like Lucy, dressed in scrubs (when did that happen?). She sucks the juice out of a fresh corpse, then wanders into the night and onto a bridge to kill herself. What happened to her car? When did she get redressed? Who were those morons who kidnapped her? Was that business about taking her to bishop part of a script that got rewritten? Other odd transitions make you wonder if you’re following the same character, or are there multiple characters who, in the failing light, look like they might or might not be Lucy Liu, making you want to go back and review scenes for the wrong reasons.
A couple of minor flaws here are what keep this one down, but otherwise this one here has a couple of really good points to help it. Give this one a shot if you’re into vampire films or a fan of the creative cast, otherwise stick this one into the heed caution category when trying to decide to watch it. The final confrontation in the barn is all of the above, with some really great suspense and atmosphere, a great location and some nice action, which is always appreciated. The fact that the flashback to the turning scene is continuously shown, going more into detail about what happened and it shows that it was a graphic, brutal, bloody scene that is a little uncomfortable to sit through, the way it should be. The fact that there’s also a really a really high body count is the last one, which is always great to have in a film, making it fun and really enjoyable. Even though there’s not a lot of blood spilled, the fact that a lot get knocked off is really nice. These here are the film’s best points.
IF you’re an EDM fan and you haven’t heard of Ken Loi prepare to have your ears explode. “Too Late” is Ken’s first release featuring Zashanell since his breakout hit “All It Takes” on Tiësto’s Musical Freedom label and it marks the third release on Starbright Records. His previous releases in 2013, “The Wall,” “Don’t Stop The Love” and “Knock Down,” all received widespread support in the DJ community from artists such as David Guetta, Benny Benassi, and Kaskade. We talk about a variety of topics and his stunning progressive house anthem with a melody that immediately sticks with you and a gorgeous vocal line that builds along with the track. Read below for the full interview…
What brought upon the move from producing to DJ initially? Were you just wanting to see the other half of the picture — seeing peoples reactions to something you produced?
Yes, DJing was the next step and felt right! It’s nice to see reactions to your music and also learn what works and what doesn’t, on top of that I get a lot of inspiration after each gig!
How did you know Zashanell would be a good mesh with your style?
You never know really until you work together, but I felt musically we were on the same page so it turned out great! I love both tracks we have done together and they are really special to me.
Do you feel that sometimes vocalists do not get the recognition they deserve? It seems EDM vocalists are often overlooked on tracks because of the DJ or producer. What’s your opinion?
I can see that definitely, people overlook the fact sometimes it’s the vocals that really make the track. They are overshadowed by the producer a lot of times but I guess it’s a way to at least get your name out there…
On the topic of remixing an existing record, how do you approach putting your own spin on a track while keeping the integrity of the original mix?
I usually listen to the original and also see who else might be remixing the record, so I can make sure to make it as different as possible. It really depends on the track where I take it, I can’t really tell you how I approach it because it’s always a little different! I recently remixed a record for Popeska that will be coming out on Wolfgang’s Kindergarten records, that is a good example!
After being on an imprint for a bit you decided to capitalize on your success and create Starbright Records. Where do you see this label going and what challanges did it present that forced you to grow as an artist?
Probably the best thing I’ve done I think, there’s a lot of freedom and I can put out records that I believe in. It’s mostly a platform for my own projects at the moment but I will be looking into signing other artists in the future, but lots ahead and I’m really looking forward to it.
So is there a conflict of mainstream and experimental when releasing a new remix or track? How do you balance out the two?
There’s always that issue, but I’m just doing what I feel like at the moment!
What are some of your favorite Asian films or anime?
Any movie with Donnie Yen! Anime…I am a bit behind these days but used to watch a lot of Naruto.
Tell us about the bootleg pack, how you embrace social media, and musical plans for when you hit 40K!
Social media has made a big impact for everyone I think, music can reach anyone in the world now! A lot of new talent and bedroom producers come out of this, so that is great. I think Soundcloud has been the biggest for me, being able to share my music to people who have never heard of me or been to any shows. 40K…I don’t know yet, maybe some free original music
If you were to give any tips to an upcoming producer, what would you say is a truly important thing to learn first, when producing? Small tips, that makes big impacts and is something for everyone (from your point of view), to make things better?
Definitely learn the ins and outs of whatever DAW you are using, it’ll allow you to be more creative when you need to.There’s also a lot of information on the internet, so make use of that! When I learned, it was just all trial and error, no Youtube [laughs]!
Tell us about your 2014 plans, tours, and etc. You’ve already released a handful of new tracks and remixes…what is ahead?!
Tons of original music!!! And hopefully making more stops in new cities!
Be sure to get this smash exclusively on Beatport NOW and pick up Ken Loi’s Amorphous EP now!
Beatport Link - http://bit.ly/TooLateStarbright
Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/user/kenrloi?feature=watch
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/kenloi/ken-loi-zashanell-infinitee
Yumiko Glover’s discusses her ongoing research about contemporary social issues in Japan not only through her prolific artistic output but also through frequent presentations for the Sociology of Japan and Women’s Studies course at University of Hawai’i Honolulu Community College. Upcoming exhibits include a survey of modern and contemporary Japanese erotic art at the Honolulu Museum of Art (November 20, 2014-March 15, 2015), where her work will be featured alongside established artists such as Masami Teraoka. Read below for the full interview…
As an artist, what is the biggest gap to bridge between modern sociology of Japan and Women’s Studies?
Modern Sociology of Japan and Women’s Studies are the two courses at the University of Hawaii Honolulu Community College to which I regularly give presentations as a guest speaker. The title of my presentation is “Japanese Social Issues through Art Work.” Although they are two different courses of study, I discuss the economic, historical, ideological and political aspects of certain phenomena that I incorporate into my artwork, so it fits well with both subjects.
For those unfamiliar, even the art of anime has ‘ecchi’ and ‘moe’. From your perspective, what is the psychology behind implementing erotica in Japan’s modern animation and figure drawings?
Implementing erotica in art work was common in Japan from way back in the Edo period (1615-1868) as it appeared in shunga. You can find strong influences of shunga in Japan’s modern animation and figure drawings. Shunga in the Edo period and today’s erotica in anime both fulfill viewers’ curiosities and sexual desires on some level. The difference I believe is that Edo people still had real relationships with human beings while they enjoyed viewing shunga. On the contrary, there are large numbers of people in present day Japan who are not only physically satisfied by erotic animation and games but are also content to maintain imaginary relationships with their characters in that virtual world.
Tokyo of the 1960s and 1970s saw a lot of happenings and performances taking place on the streets, but this rarely occurs now. What has changed about the way people use the streets?
The reasons for using the streets of Tokyo are different today. The people in the 60’s and 70’s, who used the streets to appeal, demonstrate or protest against their principles such as the art movement, politics, or war. They could form a large group with like-minded people without using the internet or text messages. On the other hand, people in today’s Tokyo use the streets to express their personal tastes quietly and individually. For example, you can see all kinds of people in cosplay, Lolita, Harajuku kawaii, in Harajuku/Omotesando area, but their purpose is mainly as a fashion statement and to attract attention. People’s reactions are corresponded or communicated through text messages and SNS.
I’d like to add my personal experience on the street in Tokyo since much of my current artwork is produced in response to a scene I witnessed on street near Harajuku Station in Tokyo in the summer of 2006. I approached a large crowd of middle-aged men who were sitting on the ground holding cameras with large telephoto lenses. The subjects of their interest were girls in their teens wearing French maid costumes, sitting on the sidewalk posing in ways that intentionally revealed their underwear. I learned that this was not a commercial or professional photo shoot, and that there were similar crowds formed regularly in locations throughout Tokyo. The shock and anger I felt at that moment only grew stronger as I studied the background of this social phenomenon. This experience later became the subject of my BFA thesis and is an ongoing painting series, which is entitled: “Moe” Elements of the Floating World.
Focusing back to your artwork, do you paint scenes or objects that act as an indirect satire on society or human behavior?
Through my choices of imagery and composition, I’m expressing my views and opinions on society and human behavior. In my paintings, high school aged girls dressed in French maid or school uniforms are depicted as monumental figures and the small animals represent men. While playing an exhibitionist role, girls appear to be self-absorbed, taking pictures of themselves, or looking in the mirror. Though they are not interacting with men, they are fully aware of their attention. To represent men, I included small animals such as rabbits and frogs which were used as satire in Japanese art since 1200. The animals in my work represent scopophilia, pleasure derived from the act of looking. Their interests are exclusively focused on girls’ private areas, and are not interested in the girls’ individuality, communication, nor even dating. Rather, they’re just superimposing the appearance of these girls onto their favorite characters in erotic games or animation. In my paintings, the agendas of men and women are irreconcilably at odds with one another.
How do you go about pushing the envelope with regards to the use of oil?
I think that oil paint is a medium that takes many years to master. Some artists spend their entire lifetime trying to perfect their use of oil paint. I’ve only been using oil for seven years and I feel that my skills need to develop much further. For now, I want to focus mainly on oil while simultaneously working with other media, including installation art.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or anime?
Shinsei Kamattechan, the Movie, Harakiri (1962), Key of Life, Cutie and the Boxer, Macross, and Space Battleship Yamato.
What is the biggest different, culturally, between Hawaii and Japan, and does having this dual perspective on life give you an advantage pertaining to your ‘artist eye’?
Hawaii, specifically Honolulu, is a diversified city with a unique mixture of cultures. Japan is not as diversified, and the culture is totally different. The disadvantage is that I can’t witness what’s happening on a daily basis in Japanese society. However, I feel that being able to observe what’s happening there objectively is a greater advantage. If I always lived in Japan, I would perceive the cultural changes there so gradually that it would probably appear normal to me, and I don’t think that I would be so intrigued by the subject.
So there is a China Town in Honolulu?
Chinatown in Honolulu is a historical district covering 15 city blocks. It is the oldest Chinatown in the U.S. My first solo exhibition was held at a restaurant called Lucky Belly in Chinatown in Honolulu in 2012. Besides artwork, their food and service are excellent. I highly recommend it.
Next year you are showing work with a gentleman we interviewed in the Creative Spotlight, Masami Teraoka, who told us about his exploration into the Catholic Church’s morality recently, as the clergy’s sex abuse issues had spread globally and the current transparent cultural environment. Will you be sharing work of equal importance?
It’s an honor to show my work with great established artists like Masami Teraoka and Mayumi Oda at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition on modern and contemporary Japanese erotica (November 20, 2014 – March 15, 2015). The title of my work is: “Moe” Elements of the Floating World I. Moe is Japanese slang that describes something precious such as the idealized visions of youth and innocent femininity. In my paintings, I have been incorporating the images of teenage girls wearing French maid costumes or school uniforms in public in Tokyo. These two outfits have become a huge phenomenon in Japanese society in the past decade and continue in popularity to this day. A fashion statement, these outfits evoke a sense of innocence or submission that arouses men. As such, men superimpose these girls onto their favorite characters in erotic games and pornography. Although Japan’s gender gap is still wide, women’s position in society has slowly improved. I soon realized that those images are so popular because Japanese men are still trying to adjust to this social status that women have recently developed. This phenomenon suggests that patriarchy is still very much alive and deeply rooted in Japanese men and is supported by complex economic, historical, ideological and political aspects. This tension manifests itself through the choice of imagery and composition in my work, drawing from the various above-mentioned references.
What is the biggest differential between modern and contemporary Japanese erotic art? Has it really evolved all that much?
In the modern art period (1860-1970), the censorship of erotic art was enforced by the government. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) and then after WWII, the ban on pornography applied to erotic art in Japan. Today, obscenity is still prohibited there, but the definition of obscenity is obscure. Though shunga has influenced contemporary art including anime and manga, it is still considered an obscenity and is ambiguously prohibited. I thought it was ironic that while shunga cannot be shown in Japan, Makoto Aida’s was allowed to be included in his solo exhibition at Mori Museum in 2012, even though Aida’s work is clearly related to shunga.
Lastly, any advice you could offer up to a fellow female artist?
Don’t let your gender obstruct your passage.
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The film ‘The Rocket’ encompasses beautiful, honorable and unique sets of attributes that have touched me and I expect will touch audiences around the world. Australian writer/director Kim Mordaunt was inspired to make this wistful, often lyrical film after his 2007 documentary Bomb Harvest, which told of the annual toll claimed by the unexploded bombs in Laos. Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), a surviving Laotian twin at birth and therefore potentially bad luck for his family, travels with his family and two friends to find a new home after being displaced by plans for another dam. Not only is Ahlo played by a new young actor who keeps your sympathy, but also Kia, his girlfriend is equally charming and intelligent. Their journey is plagued by setbacks, yet Ahlo remains intrepid and creative as he finally plans to nix this curse and become a hero. So far the film is filled with bizarre adventures, mostly suggesting he is a curse on the family as bad luck plagues it (It’s not Little Miss Sunshine’s pleasant turbulence; however, Rocket’s family is an eccentric crew). One of the most interesting fairs to be seen ever in film is the Rocket Contest, held each year to send missiles to the clouds to induce rain, to “poke the gods’ arse,” or something like that. This event is the Holy Grail of the family’s journey, a way to gain prize money and to counter the bad karma of Ahlo’s birth.
The other key part of this story is that Laos was the most bombed country in the world with more than 75m unexploded bombs ( out of 260m dropped) still buried or half buried there as a result of the Vietnam war. These bombs are referred to as “sleeping tigers” in the film and are a very real constraint on the health and safety of the local people. A secondary theme in the film explores in part the Hmong minority. It is not clear in the film but it looks like Uncle Purple may have been part of that conflict. While we discover more about Uncle Purple in the film that story is only sketched out. Beautifully filmed on location in Laos by cinematographer Andrew Commis (Mabo, The Slap, etc), The Rocket looks superb and provides an engaging insight into this exotic land and its rich culture. Mordaunt draws naturalistic performances from the small cast of largely non professional actors.
‘The Rocket’ is one of the first proper feature films based in Laos. It shows its stunning landscape with excellent cinematography and also touches tastefully on some controversial issues, which have been shaping the country in the past and the present. The sensitive storyline includes many layers that give it texture, which makes it such a rich movie and exiting journey for the audience. After taking food from a holy place, Ahlo’s attempt to return it causes serious problems for his family and they are forced to go on the road looking for a new home. When they stumble on an annual rocket festival where top prizes lure participants to build and launch the best rocket into the sky to beseech the sky gods to bring rain, Ahlo seizes the opportunity to bury his image as the carrier of bad luck. While The Rocket requires a suspension of disbelief, it is only a small possibility that you will leave the theater unmoved.
The natural performances of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ echo in ‘The Rocket’, both leads believable as intrepid young, underprivileged waifs of pluck and imagination. The relationship between Ahlo and his loving but too vulnerable father, Toma (Sumrit Warin) is reminiscent of father and son in Vittorio DeSica’s Bicycle Thief. Caitlin Yeo’s original score, never obtrusive, like the film itself, tells the story with dignity and respect for the characters. Writer-director Kim Mordaunt has balanced the disparate elements perfectly. And best of all, it is not some exploitative tome about the emerging third world. It’s about family! Its formulaic nature and slight drift to the sentimental do not keep it from being an original work of merit. The Rocket, winner of the World Narrative prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, is one of the year’s best movies with a plot as imaginative as anything else out there.
Pet Girl of Sakurasou is an amazing anime. Amazingly animated, characters are developed and well realized, and the story is paced well enough with some good drama and humor through out. For collection 2, Misaki’s attempts to escalate her campaign to win Jin’s affections take a disastrous turn. The care and feeding of a pet girl is something only those with the most dogged determination should attempt, but Sorata Kanda never really had a choice in the matter. Tasked with keeping the acclaimed but highly dysfunctional and unfocused artist Mashiro Shiina from forgetting to eat, brush her hair, or wear clothes, it’s been a long, slow battle to get to the point where he’s reached a general understanding of her extreme quirks. Which doesn’t mean that Mashiro doesn’t still walk out of the dorm half-naked. It’s just that Sorata now understands that it’s going to happen.
The comedy in this is absolute gold and when it comes down to any scene, this anime will put every ounce of emotion into it. You can see the love of the creators in every scene making this anime absolutely worth watching. It has one of those open ended but absolute closure endings that give you everything you need, but there can always be more. The single lost star is for the stock market like range of emotion a certain 2 characters have, and for the time dilation aspect. The story progresses perfectly but you don’t realize what has been a month or a week unless someone says something. Then again I might just be trying to squeeze some reviewer pride out of this. The realism of the plot and the turmoil of the characters are all things we’ve all faced before. Failure, jealousy, and even that feeling where success was right on the tips of your fingers to then lose it in a blazing fire. The characters having to deal with these issues while trying to maintain their relationships with each other felt even more powerful because of the stress and pressure each character is under because each other’s talent, hard work, and dedication to their respective fields.
Pet Girl Collection 2 is a great change of pace from other anime because it’s willing to talk about the negatives as well as the positives. Like life, you have to take the good with the bad. Pure success breeds contempt and boredom, so it’s nice to see characters working hard, some failing, love not blossoming like it should, etc.
In summary, this might come off strong, but collection 2 has a very charming story that I felt spoke to me more then any other second half anime I’ve watched before. It was able to bring up serious topics that are easy to sympathize with because they involve realistic situations that we face as life moves on. The structure of the story is very well paced adding characters appropriately and having each of them and giving them their own set of problems and concerns making it easy to find someone to compare yourself to. It does a fantastic job of not just focusing on the main characters, but on all the side characters without making it feel like filler stories to extend the content. By the end of this show I found myself thinking about issues brought up in the show and think about not just myself, but my friends and family to see if something I witnessed in this show can help them in some way. This anime teaches you lessons and shows you how people deal with all sorts of conflicts that life will throw at you. This is the first comedy that I felt the most immersed in. I felt not just laughter, but happiness, sadness, and the happy kind of sad that you feel when you look back on fond memories. This has my 2014 anime release highest recommendation because it succeeded in being a superb, entertaining, charming and realistic. I think almost anyone will enjoy watching this show
Vaughan Ling is a professional concept designer working in the entertainment industry. Vaughan is currently working as a vehicle/prop designer and modeler. He gives us an inside look into the industry, from automobiles to TV and film. Read below for the full interview…
How would you describe your beginnings as a designer?
I used to love playing with legos, I think that got my head started with vehicles, robots and all that. I wanted to become a mechanical engineer until I found out how hard math was. I studied Product and Transportation design throughout school. I was absolutely obsessed with cars (and still love them) After interning at Honda, I found designing cars wasn’t for me. Soon after I got my first real design job at Hotwheels with Mattel, which was still cars, but much more freedom than designing a real car. After my experience at Mattel I knew I wanted to get into entertainment design.
I thought maybe you could offer some insight about the automotive industry. Why concept cars closeness to production never quite match up and the increasingly level of difficulty for auto designers to accomplish that —even under the loose restraints of concept design. Your thoughts?
I had a small opportunity to witness the auto industry first hand in an internship at Honda. I found that designers are usually given an engineering package to sketch over without much freedom to change the existing shape. Designers are fighting for inches, even mm. So from my limited experience, it’s a matter of government safety regulations, getting optimum storage, headroom, fuel economy numbers etc before design is even considered. This is only one company though, I’m sure others might have different processes. Some concept cars do make it unscathed to production though, good examples I think are the FJ cruiser, 350z, even the Murano/FX35, Ford GT. The Izuzu Vehicross still looks like it came straight off an alien planet although it’s almost 20 years old.
How hard was it for you to improve your line work? Is it about drawing mileage or is it more about building confidence in yourself as an artist?
To be honest I don’t consider myself a great draftsman. There are students that can draw better than me. Of course I try to keep up by doing figure drawing regularly and just doodling in general. For confidence, I know alot of artists can by shy and have a self defeating attitude, myself included. One great piece of advice that has helped me with art is to simply say thank you, whenever someone compliments your work. An artist should be genuinely open to both criticism and praise.
Looking at your concepts and your work on TRON, you are quite proficient at creating concepts of the future. If you had to somehow work on a project that was set in a fictional world in the 1960′s, how would you approach building designs for vehicles and props in that era?
I would go to Movie World in Burbank and grab some old picture books/magazines from the era, and probably read a bit and do some sketch studies to get a feel for the time. Maybe go to a car museum or classic car show. Google. I guess it’s like being an actor, you have to become the part. Another thing I like to do is take an object and rearrange it into something completely different. If you’re doing say a spaceship from the 50s, you can take a kitchenaid and rearrange the parts to look like a spaceship. This will give the audience the feeling of that era, but in a new and weird way.
How will the aid of 3-D Printing and the accompanying technology affect your work?
The nice thing about 3d printing is the low investment to test out ideas. I make alot of 3d computer models which can look nice and polished published on the web or in print, but a 3D sculpture is just so much more powerful. When people can hold something in their hands it automatically makes a stronger connection. I have a 3d print sitting on my desk right now called BunnyBot which I started producing last year. You can check it out at www.heavypoly.com. 2014 is going the be a great year for 3D printing.
As an instructor, what is the golden rule you try to instill in your 3D modeling students?
I don’t have a golden rule. Maybe do your damn homework!?
Do beginners need design schools or maybe they can learn everything by themselves?
Private Design school is a great luxury but I think it’s possible to learn a ton on your own especially with all the online videos and smaller design schools lately. 90% of what you learn even in a Design school is from working with your peers into the morning hours. Anyway, if you want to be a designer you will be constantly learning for the rest of your life. School is just the beginning.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Animation, the classics, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, also Tekkonkinkreet for sheer beauty and Aachi and Ssipak for nastiness. Chungking Express, Battle Royale, Drunken Master, Ong Bak, Kung Fu Hustle. Honestly I haven’t seen many Asian films aside from anime and Kung Fu. Any recommendations?
What is ahead for you in 2014? Any projects you could tell us about?
For 2014, I’ll be pushing ahead with www.Heavypoly.com , making models and posters and hopefully more 3d prints. There are a few side projects I’m working on with Ash Thorp, Maxim Zhestkov Ben Mauro and Lorin Wood that will hopefully come out this year. I’m excited for it!
What advice could you give for people that would like to become successful in CG?
In the words of Arnold…
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