Saturday, February 24, 2007

Viva: An Ode to Anna Biller

My favorite film from Indiefest was Viva. This film is a pastiche of different 70’s cultural touchstones. Anna Biller was the driving force behind this film. She was the star, director, producer, screenwriter, casting director, animator, and set designer. She procured and/or made the costumes and wrote the original songs. This may not seem unusual for a small independent film but she did two things that are atypical for independent films today. She shot on 35mm and she made a period piece; the film is set in 1972.

Viva is the story of Barbie Smith (Biller), a bored housewife in the LA suburbs. Her life is devoted to her husband but otherwise unfulfilled. She separates from her husband when he leaves to spend an extended ski vacation alone. This allows Barbie to pursue her dreams. The rest of the film is a series of vignettes that I would describe as Barbie's Sexual Misadventures. And what misadventures they are! Instead of modeling, Barbie and her best friend become prostitutes. The title of the film refers to the pseudonym that Barbie adopts when she becomes a prostitute.

By my count, Barbie was surreptitiously drugged twice (and both times sexually assaulted while unconscious) and separately forcibly raped. Despite those overtones, Viva is comedy.

The reason this film works is because Biller is relentless in spoofing the 70's or more accurately, she spoofs the media representation and cultural self-image of the times. Biller plays Barbie as naive or foolish depending on your point of view. Biller as a filmmaker and actress must be fearless or shameless. Foremost, Biller sashays across the screen, in scene after scene, wearing the most hideous collection 70's clothing since the last Austin Powers movie. That is when she is wearing clothes. Biller spends a significant amount of the film topless. She also applies a frightening amount of green eye shadow which accentuates that strange affectation she does with her eye. When sexually aroused, she squints her right eye. The effect is to appear confused or constipated. I would accuse the filmmaker of exploiting the actress except they are the same person.Viva - Anna Biller (in headdress) during the orgy scene.The film is not to be taken seriously. Biller has crafted a series of exquisitvely memorable scenes and she strings them together with little interruption. My favorite scenes include Barbie visiting a client at a nudist colony, Barbie visits a gay hairdresser, and the climactic bacchanal where Barbie drives the partygoers into a sexual frenzy. That orgy scene is an instant classic. The orgy is a costume party so it gives Biller a chance to wear what looks to be an Aztec headdress or it could be Chinese inspired.

I know I must be forgetting some stuff. The actors deliver their lines in an odd style that's kind of an exaggerated stage-acting with a healthy dose of self-mockery. Several of the principal actors sing, mostly off-key, lyrics such "Fly your freak flag high." If I understood the Q&A correctly, the score was "reworked" from Radley Metzger films. Metzger made porn films in the 70's so the score sounds as if Johnny "Wad" Holmes is going to show up any minute. Biller stayed true to the period if Playboy magazines are to believed. Let's just say that some of the female extras must have been prohibited from getting bikini waxes during production. Also, the nudist colony scene has the most full frontal male nudity this side of porn.

As I was watching Viva, I thought that there was something unidentifiably attractive about Anna Biller. Biller does not have the typical body that you would associate with an actress that is frequently topless. She's a little soft in the middle which is only highlighted by the unflattering costumes, camera angles, and her frequent state of undress. The running gag in the film is that Barbie is a sex goddess that no man (and few women) can resist. Having seen Biller in person, she is an attactive woman but there is some je ne sais quois sexuality on screen that is present despite her self-parodying performance. After seeing the film, I googled Biller and read she is part Japanese. I'm half Japanese so I wonder if there was a subconscious, Hapa connection.

I enjoyed the film so much that I saw it twice. I was debating whether to see Viva a second time or S&Man. I chose Viva because as I was exiting the theater for Fido, I saw Biller standing in front of the theater. Curious to hear her speak, I chose Viva. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake because the film isn't as funny the second time around. In fairness, most comedies are not as funny upon repeat viewing because you know the jokes and set-ups before they arrive. However, it was interesting to hear her field questions after the film. I was expecting Biller to be assertive and flamboyant. She came across as soft spoken and slightly self-conscious.

When Indiefest first screened the film, there were several scenes where the boom microphone was visible. It occurred in so many scenes that I thought Biller was making an intentional reference to shoddy, 1970's filmmaking without knowing which specific film or director she was lampooning. I hate it when the boom mike is visible so it really grated on my nerves to see that mike show up repeatedly. However, during the second screening (second for me, third screening of the festival), I don't recall seeing the mike. Biller showed this film in Rotterdam during the first screening. I wonder if Indiefest got the copy with the outtakes during the first screening. It's expensive to strike duplicate copies of 35mm print.

That reminds me, Biller should be complimented on filming on 35mm. She was able to recreate the soft-edged look of films of the period. Biller's skills as a director are on full display as there were many different sets and location shoots. Only a skilled director could have pulled all that off while shooting on 35. Even more impressive is that typically, directors will have a viewer so that they can see what is being filmed while it is filmed. Biller said she did not use one (presumably due to budget restraints). That means she had to film everything and hope that it came out ok because she wouldn't see the finished product until the film was developed later. I assume they didn't have dailies.

Biller was not the only person to give an unforgettable performance. Marcus DeAnda who played Clyde captured that Euro-trash look and sound perfectly. Similarly, John Klemantaski was spot on as stage director Arthur from Liverpool. Barry Morse as Sherman the hairdresser was at the screening & was unrecognizable.

I hope this film gets more screenings. I'm not sure if it'll get a distribution deal without some editing. In it's current state, it's probably an NC-17 film given the MPAA history on male nudity. The odd part is that given the premise of the movie, there is nothing gratuitous about the nudity.

Here is a link to Anna Biller Productions Website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Strike One, Strike Two, Strike Three

As I mentioned, when I attend Indiefest each year, I am forced to endure some truly horrible films. Some of these films, I dislike as a matter of personal taste. Others, I dislike because they are poorly made, poorly acted, poorly directed, poorly scripted, et al.

This year, Indiefest showed a funny short film titled Moosecock. It was a film within a film. The film includes a vapid ~1 minute film plus 6 minutes of the Making of Moosecock mocumentary.

I think the Indiefest organizers should give out an award to the film that scores the lowest in audience voting. Perhaps they can chip in a few dollars or find a sponsor to give out the Golden Moosecock Audience Award. The cash prize would be contingent on the filmmaker agreeing not to make anymore films. I'd kick in $20 to stop some of these filmmakers from filming again.

My three worst films of the 2007 Indiefest are:

2nd Runner-Up: The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell; (2006). This film falls into the category of personal taste. The nonsensical plot (set in 2097) has to do with a post-apocalyptic United States. Tex Kennedy is destined to lead the US into a new future. He takes two human looking robot/bodyguards and his girlfriend Cannibal Sue along for the ride. There is a blind prophet, the Spawn of Satan dressed like a lounge singer, Satan's sadistic minions, Fidel Castro's descendant, and a rival gang that wants to kill Satan (or does he want to kill Tex?). This film reminds me of another film from my youth - The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. I never understood or liked that film and the production values were a lot better than The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell. The audience around me ate this film up so perhaps I "just don't get it."

At the beginning of the film, a very attractive 50something woman played the last President of the United States prior to the apocalypse. During the Q&A, I realized that she was Jane Seymour. Her daughter was involved in the project. Daniel Baldwin had a small role as well.

I will say that this film made me laugh at times and the directors did insert some Shakespearean threads into the film.

The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell Official Website

1st Runner-Up: A Ripple in the World; (2007). Get a load of this script: A 22 year old virgin works at a hotel. He sees a cute hooker coming through there on a regular basis. He calls up the escort agency and asks them to send over the girl based on his description. Instead of a girl, they send over a tranny who just happens to be the brother of the whore of his dreams! By the end of the movie the virgin has gotten a blowjob from the tranny and had sex with the sister (while her tranny brother is on murderous rampage). Add in an urban cowboy pimp, a blues singing/guitar playing preacher, and an obese, sociopathic, closeted homosexual for good measure.

You would think that would be enough for an entertaining if not trashy movie. Perhaps under more experienced/talented direction it would have been. Instead, we get crappy looking video, stultifying dialogue, clichés, and wooden acting. Director Aron Cho said he had more skills as a director on this film than he did on his first film. Maybe by his 10th film, we’ll get something worthwhile. The acting and dialogue constantly reminded me of how bad the acting and dialogue were instead of the advancing the plot. This film is the perfect example of a film that could have been much better with the same plot but with a different director and cast. I believe Cho wrote the screenplay so he should be congratulated on that; the potential of the film is apparent.

2007 Golden Moosecock Winner: Dance Party, USA; (2006). This film typifies everything I think is wrong with independent films today. Foremost, it is one of these films with minimal scripting. The dialogue sounds as if it was ad libbed by the actors. Rather than having a script, the director develops back stories for the characters and puts the actors together to brainstorm. The director tells the actors to advance the meager plot with dialogue they think appropriate.

The film was shot on video for a small amount. Filmmakers are hesitant to say how much a film costs because it is used against them when they negotiate for the film to be distributed. I don't think Dance Party, USA has anything to worry about but I won't say exactly how much the director quoted. I will say that many people in the Bay Area have monthly mortgages that exceed this film's budget.

Modern technology enables a film like this to be made. A person can go down to a consumer electronics store, buy a digital video recorder, and make a film. Some off-the-shelf software and a powerful PC are all that's needed to edit the film and do post-production. This may sound egalitarian but the net effect is that people that shouldn't be making films are making film. Because it is so cheap to make these films, the director is not disciplined with the script. If a film like this was shot on 35 mm film, the director would have to make specific choices about blocking the scene, how long the scene should last, etc. In other words, the director would have to direct.

A common retort I hear to my criticisms is that digital video or HD allows filmmakers to experiment with actors, plots, filming techniques, etc. That is a valid statement but why do I have to pay to watch an experiment or what is in essence, a film school project?

Worst of all, this film is plodding. I fell asleep about 2/3 of the way into this film. I didn’t wake up until the audience started clapping. The plot revolves around Gus (who looks older than his 17 year old character) who tells tales about his sexual conquests. He goes to a 4th of July party and meets up with an odd 17 year old girl, Jessica. Without much prompting Gus tells Jessica about how he raped a comatose 14 year old girl at a party last year (for added dramatic effect, the girl regains consciousness during the attack). This somehow strengthens the bond between Gus & Jessica. Gus does what any 17 year old in his situation would do – he tracks down the 14 year old, goes to her house, and asks her if anything bad has happened to her. She doesn’t recognize him so (apparently home alone) she invites him in to watch TV. The two share a long conversation filled with pauses. That was the best part of the film because the pauses between dialogue were long enough that I was able to doze off until the end of the film. I don’t know how the conversation turned out or how Gus and Jessica ended up but I can’t say that I care.

The interview after the film was very interesting. Indiefest Programming Director Bruce Fletcher blathered on about how the filmmaker was at the forefront of a new age of filmmaking – ostensibly a more realistic portrayal of life that eschewed scripted and stylized plots. Fletcher noted (without a hint of sarcasm) that the filmmaker had made three films in the year since Dance Party, USA. I guess the thought that making three feature length films in one year would stretch the creative limits of an artistic genius never crossed Fletcher’s mind. Aaron Katz, the director of the film and not an artistic genius, then noted that he made the film for such an inexpensive sum and that being able to make his films for such a small amount freed him from the constraints imposed by producers and financiers. I guess the constraints he was referring to were entertainment value and an audience that was awake.

Fletcher then brought up the director of a 2006 Indiefest entry, reverently invoked the name of Bujalski, and asked if these auteurs were the leaders of this New Wave Cinema Vérité. At least, I discovered that 2007 Indiefest film LOL was filmed in a similar style; that’s 2 hours of my life I was able to devote to something else.

The film scraped the bottom of the barrel. Do Indiefest programmers really enjoy these films or are they just jumping on the bandwagon (Katz’s next film is showing at SXSW)? For his next film, I hope Katz's budget allows for a few reams of paper so he can provide a script to his actors

The only good thing I can say about this film is that it is not as execrable or pathetic as some of the stuff Indiefest has shown in previous years.

Dance Party, USA Official Website

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

That's a Wrap!

Indiefest is finally over. I say that because for several years, I have seen 20+ movies over the 12 day festival. There are a few films I want to blog about but I'll save that for another day(s).

This year I went to 30 films in eleven days. Tonight was the 12th night but I had a dinner meeting that kept me from attending. Every year I tell myself that it is too much of an inconvenience to go to so many films. This year, I saw the two Japanese films during the festival (but not part of the festival). That's 32 films in 11 days which averages to nearly 3 films per day. So many films in such a short period of time exhausts me mentally. The maddening aspect about Indiefest is that it is hit or miss so you need to go to as many films as possible to find the few gems. Despite seeing 30 programs at Indiefest, I missed ten programs including films that won the Audience Awards for Best Feature (Rolling) and Best Documentary (Gypsy Caravan).

Out of those 30 programs (really 29 since I saw one film twice), I would only recommend a handful. A program is defined as a feature length film or a short film compilation. My top choices were Viva, Yellow, Neighborhood Watch, The Mermaid of the River Plate (40 minutes), The Ballad of Greenwich Village, and Green Minds, Metal Bats. I was highly entertained & impressed by numerous short films.

One of the best things about Indiefest is that their primary venue is the Roxie Theater. The theater itself is outdated and the floor is not pitched or sloped at a steep enough angle to see over the people in the row in front of you. The popcorn is not as good as the Castro or the Balboa and actually their concession stand menu is limited. The staff can be a little surly at times as well. Also the neighborhood is sketchy. Why do I like to go to the Roxie again? Oh yes - the best thing about the Roxie is that Truly Mediterranean is two doors down. If you haven't been to Truly Med, you need to go because their Falafel Deluxe and Shawerma are delicious. They serve them burrito style in lavash bread instead of in pita pockets. Despite the fact that their website lists their only location as in Bellevue, WA (across the lake from Seattle), they have a small take-out joint on 16th St. near Valencia. Trivial digression - I read that every culture has a variation of the wrap: falafel, burrito, spring roll, stromboli, etc.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Eating Japanese

Today, I took a break from Indiefest to see a double feature at the Castro.Toshirô Mifune in Drunken Angel
The first film was 1948's Drunken Angel. Directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshirô Mifune, this film is one of their earliest collaborations. According to IMDB, it was their first time working together.

I'm a fan of Kurosawa's films. Drunken Angel is a small masterpiece. The eponymous character is Dr. Sanada played by Takashi Shimura. Shimura was one of Kurosawa's stable of actors. Shimura & Kurosawa teamed up for 22 films together. Most famously, Shimura was the leader of the Seven Samurai.

In Drunken Angel, Shimura plays an alcoholic doctor that is serving the medical needs of a poor neighborhood in post-WWII Tokyo. Mifune comes to him with a bullet lodged in his hand. Mifune plays Matsunaga, the Yakuza boss of the neighborhood. Dr. Sanada immediately suspects Matsunaga is suffering from tuberculosis. Matsunaga dismisses his diagnosis with a punch to the face. Undeterred, Sanada seeks out Matsunaga the next day. Mainly through nagging and some brutally honest conversations, Sanada convinces Matsunaga to seek treatment. The treatment is short-lived as the previous Yakuza boss gets out of prison and returns to the neighborhood to reclaim his territory. Matsunaga is forced to defend his territory to the death.

From that simple plot, Kurosawa is able to show his mastery. Kurosawa usually has straight-forward narratives but what makes his films great are the memorable scenes that advance the story but when taken individually are special in their own right. In the middle of the neighborhood is a cesspool. I suppose it represents the moral character of the neighborhood. Kurosawa opens several scenes with shots of the cesspool - wind causing ripples on the water, bubbling water, people dumping garbage in the water, kids playing in the cesspool, etc. The audience comes to expect each scene to open with a different shot of the fetid water.

Kurosawa reaches into his cinematic bag of tricks for this film. He shoots several scenes through doorways. (I heard he learned this technique by watching John Ford films). Blocking scenes this way allow Kurosawa the literally frame the shot so that the characters are in close proximity and the viewer's attention is focused on the interaction of the characters.

He also inserts a dream sequence in what would later be associated with French New Wave style. Mifune is running along the beach when he sees a coffin. He takes an axe to the coffin to discover his tubercular self in the coffin. The tubercular Mifune chases the healthy Mifune by way double exposure on the frames.

Another gem of a scene occurs in the Yakuza nightclub Mifune owns. A Japanese woman sings an uptempo jazz number about jungle love. There is a call & response portion (I always like when songs have call & response). The groove is so powerful that the normally staid Yakuza supporting characters are driven to dance à la Blue Brothers.

Among the other memorable scenes/performances are the knife fight scene between Mifune & his rival in which they slip and slide in paint, a 17 year old schoolgirl and her crush on the doctor (complete with Sailor Moon school uniform), Matsunaga strolling the neighborhood market while everyone gets out of his way (comparable to Brando in The Godfather), and the moll that switches her affection from Mifune to his rival as his disease advances.

I don't have much to complain about with this movie but I can always find a few issues. It seems odd to me that they would have a cesspool in the middle of a neighborhood like that; especially in Japan. Mifune's make-up consisted of increasing rouge on his cheeks to give that hollowed out look as he wasted away from consumption. The application look very dated - similar to what the zombies looked like in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.

The second film was Fires on the Plain directed by Kon Ichikawa. Fires on the Plain
The Castro programming guide has this to say about the film:
Ichikawa’s ferocious adaptation of the Shohei Ooka novel is about a group of ragtag Japanese soldiers in the Philippines during the final days of WWII who are forced to survive under the most extreme conditions imaginable.

Fires on the Plain is nominally a war movie but at its heart, it is an exploration of humanity's depravity. The film opens with PFC Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi) being chewed out (pun intended as you'll see) by his commanding officer in the Philippines. Tamura has TB and was sent to the field hospital. However, the doctors wouldn't admit someone that was ambulatory so they sent him back to his camp. Tamura's CO didn't want him because of his disease and weakened state. He sends him back to the hospital with some raw yams and a grenade. His orders are to stay at the hospital until admitted. If he is not admitted, he is to blow himself up with the grenade. Thus begins the nomadic, peripatetic journey of our protagonist. For a guy with TB, Tamura certainly has energy to walk all around Leyte.

Tamura is again denied admittance to the hospital so he falls in with some soldier/squatters who are in the same situation as him. He (and the hospital) get strafed or shelled and Tamura sets off alone to survive. The rest of the film are a series of vignettes as Tamura encounters Filipinos, Americans, & other Japanese soldiers before reuniting with a pair of soldiers from the hospital.

At that point, Tamura is starving and falls in and out of an altered states of consciousness. One of the soldiers has "monkey meat" which he offers Tamura (nice raw meat scene). Tamura refuses to eat the meat claiming he has sore teeth & gums from not having eaten for such a long time. I believe that was a lie (I'd have to watch the film again to be sure). By now, Tamura and the audience suspect the meat is primate but not from monkeys. Soylent Green is people!

Tamura is semi-lucid but disgusted by this dietary choice but his laconic and easy-going nature keep him with the cannibalistic pair. BTW, if you wondering why Tamura wasn't killed for his meat, it is because eating the flesh of a TB victim is unhealthy. Eventually one of the cannibals shoots the other and literally begins to eat him raw. That was another memorable scene. The camera is behind the soldier as he is hunched over the prone body. He tosses chunks of meat over his shoulder towards the camera. Tamura confronts him and shoots him dead.

Drunken Angel looks like a "classic" while Fires on the Plain looks dated. I'm certain that this film must have been shocking in 1959 but it is not as powerful today. Funakoshi in the lead role gives an oddly detached performance. There were several other issues that distracted me from the film. It did not look like the film was set in the Philippines. The landscape was at times devoid of vegetation and at one point I saw what looked to be an evergreen tree. Having never been to the Philippines, I don't have first hand experience. I was expecting a tropical jungle. Some of the dialogue was in Tagalog which Tamura spoke a smattering of. The Tagalog scenes were not fully subtitled which may have been intentional so that the audience could be as confused as Tamura.

A scene that stands out for me is when Tamura is contemplating surrendering to the "Yanks." From a hidden vantage point, he watches as another soldier approaches some Americans with his hands raised and yelling (in Japanese) that he is surrendering. The Americans allow him to approach but a crazed Filipina resistance fighter jumps out of the truck cuts him down with a machine gun. The American soldier chastises her but it's enough to dissuade Tamura from surrendering. It's interesting that Ichikawa had a Filipina kill the soldier. He could just have easily had an American kill the soldier. When I see a scene like that, I wonder if it was a purely artistic choice or it represented the cultural feelings of the time. In other words, a common belief is that despite losing the war, Japanese people are contemptuous of other Asian peoples. The same mindset that led to the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere still exists if you believe certain people.

War movies usually present the soldiers as a Band of Brothers but that was definitely not the case here. It was each man for himself and they were quite willing to rob, cheat, and ultimately kill each other to survive.

I read on IMDB that while shooting, Ichikawa kept the actors underfed and did not allow them to attend to personal hygiene. Kon Ichikawa is still alive at age 91 and directed a film last year.

Both films are part of a Janus Films 50th anniversary retrospective. Janus Films was one of the pioneering film distribution companies that specialized in Art House films. The list of directors whose films have been distributed by Janus is a Who's Who: Kurosawa, Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut, Polanski, et al. Janus has released a 50 film box set titled "Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films." Fires on the Plain is part of the set. Drunken Angel is not on DVD.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Animated Shorts

I went to Indiefest's Animation Amalgamation program last night. The program consisted of nine short films - all animated except for one that was stop-action.

Two of my favorites from the program are available on-line so I thought I would share the links.

Rabbit by Run Wrake is the story of two children that find an idol inside a rabbit they kill. The idol can turn insects into jewels, feathers, and ink. Rabbit by Run Wrake
Personally, I think I would have described the entity as an imp or sprite rather than an idol. What sets this story apart for me is that the animation is composed of old-school style illustrations from readers - those are books with See Dick Run style drawings that help young children learn to read by associating the word with the object. The entire 8 minute, 34 second film can be viewed at Atom Films.

The other film is Ara's Flight by Hagop Kaneboughazian. According to him, the child in the film is orphaned as a result of the Armenian Genocide but upon my initial (and repeat) viewing, that was not clear at all. The visuals are well enough but the Icarus motif and score are what caught my attention. You can view the ~4 minute film on Axis Origin.

Other shorts I enjoyed were Kuro Kumo by Jesse Norton about a woman who was a samurai in a previous life and Last Dream by Jason Nielsen.

One of best parts of going to film festivals is that you get to see films that you would not otherwise see. This is especially true for short films which have no distribution potential.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Welcome to Hannibal Chew

Welcome to my blog. My name is Dan and I have many interests but I started this blog because I love movies. This blog will be a forum for me to share my thoughts about specific movies and the movie going experience.

What inspired me to write a blog? I've long had latent, artistic tendencies that I allow to manifest in various ways. Two people have influenced me to start this blog. The first is my friend Jinx whom I have known for over 20 years. She has her own blog and she has told me for years that I should write a blog. The question I would pose to her was "What would I write about?" The answer to that question was provided by a man named Jason Wiener. I don't know how to pronounce his last name - weener, V-ner, viner, whiner, etc. I attend several film festivals in the Bay Area and Jason is a fixture at most of them. He isn't easy to miss. He has big shaggy hair, a ZZ Top like beard, and seemingly only one black overcoat. Furthermore, he always sits in the center seat of the front row in the theater. While chatting with him at this year's Indiefest, he mentioned he started a blog in January and that he was posting his musings about Indiefest. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I decided to shamelessly steal his idea. Actually, Jason and I only share a love of movies. I find that Jason's favorite films are frequently the ones I despise. Jason is much more charitable in his assessments of films. In addition, Jason focuses more on the tangential elements of the movie-going experience.

Link to Jason's Blog

I'm not going to link to Jinx's blog. It's set up so friends and family can watch her son grow (nearly 4 years old). I don't know if she would feel comfortable with photos of her son being made public. I've tried to google her blog but it never shows in the search results so I don't think she would want the URL posted.

Why did I choose Hannibal Chew? Some people may think it is a reference to the Silence of the Lambs character originally portrayed by Anthony Hopkins and reprised by Gaspard Ulliel in this year's Hannibal Rising. That assumption would be incorrect. As movie buffs and sci-fi geeks know, Hannibal Chew was a character in my all-time favorite film - Blade Runner. He made Roy Batty's eyes and was played by James Hong. Hong, a great Chinese American (ABC for those of you familiar with the term) character actor has appeared in many well known films and TV shows. In Blade Runner, he was the cyber scientist in the insulated suit that Roy & Leon first approach "to get more life." You may also recognize him as Tia Carrere's father in Wayne's World 2, Snotty, Booger's master in Revenge of the Nerds 2, or numerous other supporting roles. I'm not really that big of a James Hong fan but I didn't want to have the URL be something like I tried bladerunner.blogspot, roybatty, rickdeckard, etc. It came down to jfsebastian or hannibalchew. Although both names have a certain lyricism about them, I chose Hannibal Chew.