Posts Tagged ‘ Japan ’

Your Name (2016)

YourName

About 2/3rds genius and 1/3rd melodramatic, but the brilliant stuff is so brilliant, it’s easy to dismiss the rest. Fantastic, original story that asks and answers and surprises at every turn, and such astounding visuals, stuff that gets burned into your brain long after you’ve watched it. And a perfect ending, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Hand in glove perfect.

Two scenes in particular have stuck with me: the one with the lead girl, Mitsuha, in the field looking up at the asteroid as a chunk of it breaks off, a moment later revealed to be incredibly important to the story and the first real clue that there’s more to this movie than meets the eye, a storytelling brilliance that goes well beyond the simple body switching story we’ve watched thus far. And the second was the wacky dream sequence after Taki, the male lead, drinks Mitsuha’s sake, which is hard to put into words but is so damn visually poetic and brilliant, with the asteroid spilling drops of water on a globe-like map of Japan. Pure filmmaking genius. Just great.

This film is spellbinding. A must watch. Yes, there’s some goofy stuff, like the music video sequences, all 80 of them, and the romance is fluffy and over the top, like a soap opera, but eh, small potatoes, I say. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in years. It’s everything that’s great about anime, and why I prefer it in some ways as a visual storytelling tool than live action. Just incredible.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2011) – 4/5

Creative, yet somewhat shallow horror comedy fantasy science fiction hybrid that nonetheless works despite a rather ambitious, thinly stretched plot that doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense but is usually always fun, occasionally quite funny, and very well acted/shot/made. And what a crazy, over the top, gore splattered last act. Definitely more fantasy than horror, though, so be warned.

Like a lot of Joss Whedon’s stuff, the plot of this film feels like something out of an anime, especially the last third. I’ve noticed he often borrows heavily from Japanese anime type themes and story elements, most noticeably here through his meshing of **SPOILERS** corporate bureaucracy/advanced technology and fantasy/the supernatural. **END SPOILERS** He even sort of acknowledges this with the hilarious **SPOILERS** scenes from Japan of the schoolgirls being terrorized by that little girl demon thing that’s in a lot of their horror. You know what I’m talking about: the iconic wet haired monster thing that looks like the demon girl from The Ring. **END SPOILERS** Funny, funny stuff whenever that came on. But yeah, not very many mainstream American writers take their inspiration from Japanese anime, or steal from it nearly as readily or as often, or with as great success, so, good for him, getting rich and famous from stealing and all. Bastard.

And yeah the dialogue is the usual Whedon cutesy clever fluffy stuff he’s known for. It’s a decent story; not the groundbreaking horror redefining brilliance I had heard it was, but it does interesting things with old clichés. The rules aren’t always clear, though, nor do they always make sense, and some of it feels like it could have been explored more, especially the **SPOILERS** monster escape scene that follows the third act,**END SPOILERS** and the final “reveal” at the very end, but it still delivers as far as all around crazy insane stuff goes.

Overall, I liked it. The film is flawed: the plot isn’t as well-developed or as narratively consistent as it could have been, nor does it go as far with its unique concept as it could have. But it’s entertaining and funny and clever when it wants to be. There are also hints of depth here that are ever only briefly touched upon, then never explored again. One in particular that comes to mind is the scene **SPOILERS** in the elevator near the end of the second act when the lead girl and the nerdy guy are led through the ever shifting cubes of monsters, and it briefly stops at the one monster who’s clearly a reference to Pinhead from the Hellraiser series, and the two just stand there looking at one another, this woman and this monster, only a few inches of glass between them. **END SPOILERS**

It’s a great scene visually, but what did it mean? Nothing. Because, emotionally, it was empty; nothing was established between the two before that brief meeting, so there was nothing there for the audience to get once they did despite the film attempting to make you think there was. It was a missed opportunity for something that could have been quite powerful. It’s the scene that sums up this whole movie, in a way: clever and creative, but ultimately hollow and meaningless. Even the ending is like this; yeah, that happened, but so what? Who cares?

Still, it’s a good movie for what it is. Entertaining, gory, creative, funny, well shot, decently acted. Worth a watch.

 

You Only Live Twice (1967) – 4/5

 

An entertaining, but relatively predictable and often hilariously sexist Bond film full of explosions and half-naked women and deformed guys sensually stroking fluffy cats. It’s a ridiculous movie, no doubt, with a silly plot that barely makes sense, but whatever; it’s fun and exciting, though it does go on a bit longer than it should. And I really don’t see what the big deal with Sean Connery is. He’s a decent actor, but he’s old and not very attractive; he simply isn’t very believable as the charming, large than life super spy that the character of James Bond is supposed to be. But maybe he just wasn’t in his element here.

The plot is okay, kind of silly, like I said before. The idea of moving the action to Japan was a nice touch: the country is beautiful and the culture seems to really rub off on the film, to an almost racist extent at times, especially during the scenes where **SPOILERS** Bond has surgery to look more “Asian,” complete with straight Asian hair being attached to his head. **END SPOILERS** Ugh. And the sexism here, god. Women serve only two purposes in this film: to look good in skimpy clothing, and to have sex with/be romantically attracted to Connery. I understand that women never really have much else to do in these types of films, but this movie doesn’t even try to hide that fact. Definitely a product of its time.

Overall, I liked the film. Sure, it’s outdated and silly, and occasionally offensive to just about everyone that isn’t white and male, but it has a few decent moments, and some iconic scenes/characters that have been stolen by a number of other films/shows over the years. The film is typical Bond: predictable plot, cool action, evil villains, attractive women, etc etc. And it’s funny at times, sometimes intentionally, sometimes otherwise. Not great, but good.