PIGPEN CINEMA Presents Michael Jackson: Journey from Motown to OFF THE WALL

Tue. Apr 19, 2016
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer|wine|cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

“Director Spike Lee documents an in-depth look into the evolution of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and the cultural significance – and lasting impact – of his seminal first album as an adult, ‘off the wall.’”

Marcelo Burgos brings back the old days

Stylishly shot in black and white, the new spot directed by Marcelo Burgos in Argentina became a pick of the day in Creativity magazine.

Anyone who grew up in the ’80s or early ’90s will appreciate the witty humor of this spot from Schweppes in which a bunch of confused-looking millennials get a little history lesson on what life was like back then. It will definitely also make Chinese audiences with similar generational gaps laugh.

See Marcelo Burgos full reel here.

WeChat is killing my baby!

Following email inventor Ray Tomlinson’s death last week, we ask if WeChat’s irresistible rise could spell doom in China for his 1971 brainchild.

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Email’s fortunes in China have been dictated by the tides of technological change. By the time China was permanently connected to the Internet in 1994, instant messaging services like OICQ (the original name of QQ) were available and readily adopted.  The relatively few personal email addresses created were usually unappealing and unmemorable sequences of random numbers.  The torrent of smartphones that flooded the market in the late 2000s gave the Chinese a platform on which to exert their penchant for instant messaging.  The rapid rise of Tencent’s WeChat app saw generation after generation embrace text and voice messaging, all the way up to the elderly, most of whom had never had an email address.

These days WeChat has firmly established its supremacy, exposing many of emails shortcomings in the process.  Where email once replaced paper mail for its speed, WeChat is faster still.  Where email inboxes have become crammed with spam, WeChat organises desired bulletins into a tidy subscription section.  Where email was acclaimed as a non-invasive alternative to a phone call, WeChat voice messaging offers a personal touch and listening at leisure. Whereas an email address was once required to sign up for services like online banking, flight booking or topping up mobile credit, WeChat requires just a phone number and debit card to make use of all these services and more.

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Though email did gain traction in business throughout China’s boom years, internal and inter-company communications are increasingly taking place via WeChat.  Documents, films and files are sent and opened on the phone or desktop site. Though anachronistic paper business cards are clinging on, QR code scanning means you potentially may never know a contact’s email.  Instead of long email chains with multiple colleagues on cc, WeChat groups can be handily saved as an address book contact, with the @ function directly alerting desired recipients.  Most significantly, WeChat conversations are beginning to be saved, archived and trusted as legally liable records.

There is, however, still confusion to clear before email is consigned permanently to the recycle bin.  WeChat’s broad functionality has seen it pervade all aspects of personal and professional life and the boundaries have become blurry.  In most businesses, WeChat has not yet been ratified as an official business tool.  Checking your mobile at work was once a sure sign of slacking.  Is it now a job requirement?  With the boss alongside friends in your address book, it is unclear when the working day ends and social time begins.

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Communication itself can also suffer.  Whereas an email chain is understood to be a professional exchange, work discussion in WeChat groups can succumb to the casual attitude we apply to social conversations on the same app, while important memos are easily missed in the constant deluge from a heaving address book and subscription accounts.

Interestingly, the tools responsible for the death of Tomlinson’s creation – Facebook, Twitter and WeChat – have appropriated the iconic @ symbol that he bestowed upon his creation.  When Tomlinson meet his invention, he may take some comfort that his will not die, rather be reincarnated.

BMW m4

BMW takes the risk factor to the next level with P.I.G. China and director Alessandro Pacciani

To show off its new M4 coupe, BMW released a video showcasing the 430 HP beast’s handling prowess as it whips across a racetrack that has been built atop a mega factory.

Hitting over 8 million views on the web, the footage takes you on a ride filled with high octane and adrenaline fueled action that pushes the car’s performance over the limit.

The sound produced by the 430 horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six engine is music to our ears.

Watch the madness above and the making of below.

Credits:

  • Director: Alessandro Pacciani
  • Agency: Interone Beijing
  • DoP: Paul Meyers
  • Producers: Xintai Feng / Nick Dodet

Stephen Chow & Hong Kong Mo Lei Tau Comedy

During the 1990s, Stephen Chow’s name became synonymous with a unique comedy genre known as mo lei tau.  Though his recent movies retain many of the elements of his earlier work, the director is consciously moving away from the genre that made his name.

Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow is one of Hong Kong and China’s best loved comic actors and directors.  His new film, The Mermaid, has broken all major China box office records including biggest opening day, single day gross and opening week of all time, ultimately becoming the highest-grossing film ever in China and the first to join the ‘3-billion-yuan club’.  Whilst the success can be partly attributed to both the growing number of cinema screens across the country and the movie’s timely release to span two major holidays, the crucial catalyst is Chow’s enduring popularity.

Chow started out as a television comic actor in the late 1980s before getting his break in the 1990 movie All for the Winner.  The subsequent wave of movies in which he starred, and sometimes wrote and directed, would become known as mo lei tau comedies and came to define the proceeding decade in Hong Kong moviemaking.  The popularity of these movies saw Chow become Hong Kong’s leading comic actor and, alongside Chow Yun-fat and Jackie Chan, the major box office draw of the period.

Mo Lei Tau

Mo lei tau comes from the Cantonese phrase mo lei tau gau, which literally means ‘cannot differentiate between head and tail’, but is more commonly translated as ‘coming from nowhere’ or, more simply, ‘makes no sense’.  The term describes a wave of lowbrow, anarchic and absurd movies that satirized society, flagrantly disregarding filmmaking and narrative rules such as the fourth wall.  Whilst slapstick humour is central to the genre, it is perhaps most notable for its wild wordplay and creative license with the Cantonese language.

Video Clip from A Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella (1995)

Video Clip from King of Comedy (1999)

Though the term ‘mo lei tau’ wasn’t coined until Chow’s emergence, linguistic elements can be traced back to the Hui Brothers, a prolific Hong Kong moviemaking trio in the late 1970s.  Jackie Chan’s slapstick Kung Fu roles in the 1980s continued the evolution, before Chow became the figurehead for mo lei tau films in the 1990s.

The reasons the genre emerged, flourished and became intrinsic to Hong Kong popular culture are tied to the sociopolitical climate of the time.  The previous century had been a period of upheaval and transformation as Hong Kong grew from scattered fishing villages into a densely populated commercial hub, fuelled by an influx of migrants fleeing the political and economic difficulties on the mainland.  By the early 70s, Hong Kong’s formerly immigrant population was beginning to seek and embrace its own, native cultural identity.  A key element of that identity was language.  In a nation where the youth spoke Cantonese but were made to learn and write in English and Mandarin, Chow’s wild abandon with linguistic conventions provided them with a new vernacular, that excluded non-Cantonese speakers, and which they could call their own. 

Mandarin & The Mermaid

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Poster from The Mermaid

Whilst the Stephen Chow’s films have been edging stylistically away from mo lei tau since 2004’s Kung Fu Hustle, they have still relied heavily on the key elements of the genre.  The most significant departure began with 2013’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which saw Chow understandably embrace Mandarin to include and appeal to the enormous mainland audience.  The decision goes against one of the fundamental tenets of the genre as a tool of defiance and consolation, exclusive to Cantonese youth. In this sense, whilst The Mermaid is an accomplished addition to Chow’s body of work, it seems that he has, for now, left mo lei tau behind.