Dream 546: Rocco

04.21.2018 § Leave a comment

Rocco the peg-legged half-raccoon janitor comes to my aid when I’ve lost my foot as well amidst the zombie android apocalypse. We defeat one of the enemy up on a construction crane. A bottomless-pit hotel gets flooded with magma.

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Film Micrœview #420: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

04.18.2018 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

I think Brody nails it: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/review-spider-man-homecoming-hedges-its-bets

Film Micrœview #419: The Witch (2015)

04.17.2018 § Leave a comment

Rating: Bad.

Some are seeing this as a feminist film, but I feel it’s the opposite, hypocritically perpetuating the same persecutions it purports to repudiate. Obligatory kudos to the production design but it’s in the service not of animating suspense and terror, only tedium and insult.

 

Film Micrœview #418: Predator (1987)

04.15.2018 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to these 80’s extraterrestrial action movies when I’m left home alone for prolonged periods of time.

Insanely ridiculous credits sequence. Maybe this was a thing for a certain type of movie back in some day before my time, but to me now it’s cheesy as hell.

Also, so unfortunate about the smarmy one-liners injected for Arnold early on. “Stick around,” are you serious? Quite dissonant with his high-and-mighty attitude in scenes with Carl. Stick to the memorable quips that resonate with the action, e.g. “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”

I salute them for not killing the black guys first. Of course they do inhumanly slaughter a ton of brown Central Americans.

Music is quality as ever.

Film Micrœview #417: A Quiet Place (2018)

04.15.2018 § Leave a comment

Rating: Bad.

I’ll take Krasinski and Blunt on their word that they conceived this film as a plumbing of the fears of modern parenthood, and that they did not consciously intend it to be read as the voice of Drumpf’s white America, feeling silenced and driven by fear of dark foreigners, howling out. I doubt they are bigoted people; probably just insulated. But it’s not enough these days not to be proactive. Good diversity move pushing for a deaf cast member. But for them to play so dumb in the media spotlight, shrugging and being glad that the film is causing a conversation or that people are finding deeper layers (as if the xenophobic undertones aren’t objectively there because of their own ignorance and subconscious motivations) bothers me immensely. I felt pretty uncomfortable with the whole situation during the film, and worse after reading more about what’s going down amid its reception. And apparently Krasinski was all huffy about the negative influence on the American political mood from his Benghazi film a few years back – what am I supposed to make of his choices here in light of that?

I was not as impressed with the technical handling of the central horror mechanic as I thought I would be either.

Dream 545: Continuum of Meats

04.13.2018 § Leave a comment

I’ve missed a NIN show at midnight.

It’s actually quite simple! I don’t believe them at first, but it really is. They just offer a continuum of meats from beef, through spicy beef, to spicy chicken. Scoop down in and you’ll get whatever proportion between two neighboring meats as you’d expect.

Film Micrœview #416: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

04.11.2018 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

I had seen this film before, 15 years ago, when I was 19, a kid to me today, but still much older than Seita. At that time my buddy and I were into anime after seeing Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Ghost in the Shell. I was visiting him at his college over the summer and we just scrounged up some underage beers and got drunk while watching it. Up until rewatching the film, I had looked back on this experience with amusement. It is common knowledge that this is one of the saddest movies ever crafted, and for two 21st century schizoid boys to more or less play drinking games while watching it clearly indicates that we didn’t get it. Honestly all I could really remember from the movie was getting a rise out of Setsuko’s imitation crab. Hell, we probably even watched the English dub of it.

Rewatching today (in the shadow of Takahata’s passing), sober and relatively mature (and after having lived in Japan as an American for 3 years, if that matters), I can recognize how utterly crushing the experience of watching this film is.

Yet I do not find it to be the masterpiece so many claim it to be. The sadness I feel watching this film is shallow. I feel it is an exploitative sadness. It’s not tapping into deep, universal human experience. I don’t see myself in it. I just can’t help but have the bottom pulled out from under my heart seeing a poor three-year-old girl wither away, her fourteen-year-old brother unable (on various levels) to take care of her.

Of course there are some expertly rendered sequences of suspenseful terror, of bittersweet beauty, of abject melancholy. But I feel like the overall organization of the film is lacking. Sometimes its loose nature works in its favor but on the whole it amounts to a conduit for this dying child to push a message.

Regarding that message, while the delivery may leave something to be desired, I appreciate its complexity in and of itself. I can see Takahata and his career struggles painted into Seita. I can see the delicateness of the balance between need for participation in society and need for staying true to yourself. I can see the tragic blend of immaturity and maturity beyond his years in Seita. I can see how this is a kid with major problems, and the film is about those major problems primarily, and only incidentally about the cost of war, insofar as he would have been given opportunities to safely work through and grow out of his problems in a healthy society, without losing his family and himself in the process.

To a far lesser extent do I appreciate the final shot, pressing this moral onto modern Japanese youth.

In any case, I think the moment toward the beginning, which sees Setsuko crying, and Seita facing away, unable to directly help her, and then spontaneously performing gymnastics to cope and perhaps hoping to amuse her – is certainly the most poetic of the film, and perhaps encapsulates the entire thing.

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