Kara no Kyoukai, also known as Garden of Sinners, a series of 7 films with a psychological / supernatural focus. The first is called Fukan Fuukei or Overlooking View, and is 48 minutes long. This series of movies almost feels like a series, and is the current focus of an online anime watch club I’m participating in. I will share write-ups written for the club, which aren’t written in the form of notes, but also aren’t me trying to come up with a specific point (thus far).
Final and important note – these write-ups are written after watching each movie, not the whole series of movies. Spoilers of movies beyond the one numbered in each entry will not be tolerated.
This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. It’s relatively close to a review though, as aside from describing the movie’s plot I actually go over it pretty closely. There will be a fair amount of spoilers.
First thing first – this is directed as a movie. Look at all those “dead moments”, those quiet moments where “nothing happens”. Shiki waking up, people just standing or walking, without music, and most of all the pretty long sequence where Shiki had eaten her ice-cream. You can see it in shows, often by the BBC, and say in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Serial Experiments Lain, but it’s much more common in films, and usually not in Hollywood films either.
Some recent anime episodes led me to discuss flashbacks in a bit more length; I think this topic is interesting enough to devote more time to. The discussion and examples used will follow anime, western television, films and books. It is not an anime-only topic, but anime might get a bit more space and examples because I have examples on hand and it’s what made me revisit the topic conceptually.
Flashbacks obviously can come in the form of showing us content from earlier episodes, say, so we’ll remember what happened. An anime infamous for flashbacks in this way, which had episodes where up to a third of the content was recycled was Naruto – this was done because the anime was catching up to the source material and they wanted to use as little content per episode as they could. We’ve even had some examples of a flashback within an episode to something that happened the very same episode.
Note, however, that sometimes such “remembrance” sequences aren’t only required, but drive a point home – you can see it where someone is surprised by a new development and the flashback serves to have them narrate to us what actually happened, or show it again now that we’re armed with new knowledge and can put in the proper context – it’s very common in thrillers – think of the resolution of The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, or recently in anime the case of Akatsuki in Log Horizon thinking of how Shiro and Nyanta had defeated Demiklas – we’ve seen the content we’ve just seen, in slow motion, accompanied with her trying to work out what happened which we’ve missed.
Director Ari Folman is well known in Israel these days for his film Waltz with Bashir, which isn’t done by Rotoscope, in case you’re wondering. A couple of weeks ago I’ve watched his newest film, The Congress, at a local sci-fi and fnatasy convention, surrounded by other convention goers. The film was different, and interesting on many levels. One thing I didn’t feel it manage to do well is add up to a consistent creation, on an artistic level, or on any thematic level – discussing its theme, the main question it raises, or its messages. However, considering the film is split into two different moods as part of its concept, I guess it’s not all that surprising.
The Congress is very loosely based on Stanisław Lem‘s novel, Futurological Congress.
The first half of the film deals with actress Robin Wright, and is filmed “normally”, with her being faced with her fading career and being given an ultimatum – sell over her digitized avatar to the studios who will be able to make film without her involvement, with the catch of being unable to ever act again – the other side of the ultimatum is that she simply will get no more contracts – so either way, they’re shutting her away from movie-making, but the difference is whether she’ll get to choose which roles to play in, or won’t. In case you wonder, she sells her rights over.
I’ve watched Pacific Rim a acouple of months ago, and while it aired another movie which I hadn’t watched was airing – Kick-Ass 2. The reason this is relevant to my story is that my write-up of Kick-Ass 1 is very relevant to this post. Kick-Ass had been a B-movie that had been proud of it being one, with constant winks by the writing and acting cast to the audience. I think Pacific Rim would’ve benefitted from feeling the same way.
I feel this movie doesn’t really know what it wants to be, it has top class production values, lavishly (computer-)generated fights, it has a serious tone to it – the shots are dramatic, the lighting is dramatic and somber, with top class filmography, and most of the cast portrays its role in a serious manner, as if they believe their lines, and that the world they’re acting in is real – some of them are in no way or form good actors, but it’s the thought that counts – serious movie.
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be a few spoilers in this post.)
Monsters University is the prequel movie to Monsters Inc., which had been released almost 12 years ago. I didn’t watch that film in the cinema, but when my brother rented the DVD from Blockbuster’s for the weekend (yes, people used to rent physical DVDs in brick and mortar stores in the past), my baby brother watched it non-stop all weekend long. I’d pop around now and then, the movie would play, and I’d sit and watch. I estimate I watched it about 3 complete times that weekend, and I don’t tend to rewatch films in close proximity.
The above is basically me saying that I think Monsters Inc. was something special, a movie you could rewatch time and time again, a movie which had a really good emotional backbone (Boo was so good). They waited quite a bit before they’ve released this latest movie. I think it was a solid movie, but it’s not really a successor to Monsters Inc., and the setting is almost immaterial.
We meet Sully and Mike before they are friends, as they embark on the road to become Scarers in Monsters University. What follows is a regular run of the mill opposites become friend, underdogs rising to the top, how much are you willing to give up for success – a regular story of friendship and attempting to achieve your goals. The jokes are alright but not hilarious, and there are special effects, some special moments, and a general setting that tells you you’re in the same universe as Monsters Inc. – but on the whole, this movie could’ve just as easily belonged to any other franchise.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a Disney movie, and it’s probably aimed at children. I am no longer a child, though I like to think I still retain some endearing child-like qualities within me, and there are a great many Disney films I still enjoy immensely, so while I’m not the target audience for the film and I’m sure some of my criticisms might not be ones to draw the merit of the target audience, I believe they still have merit. Especially once you consider the audience of this blog is probably not as young as they might have once been (but who is?).
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be some spoilers in this post.)
A film full of really beautiful shots.
The movie is beautiful, there is no denying it, the computer graphics as the Wizard is taken from Kansas to the land of Oz not only show you the wonder that he must be experiencing, but let you share in the sense of wonder at this vivid world as well. This sensation is heightened by the fact we move from seeing the movie in sepia tones, as if it were filmed back when there were only black-and-white films, when covering Kansas, to full colour when the wizard lands in Oz. The filming quality in Kansas feels a tad cheap, tackish even, but that fits the theme of the ranshackle traveling circus quite well, so I can’t really complain about it.
Today marks exactly three months since I’ve awakened my blog from its multi-year slumber. I’ve managed to hold to the schedule and release one post every week. Summer is upon us, and I have some more free time, and I also want to get posts out while still fresh. This post will detail the posts I’ve made thus far since the blog’s revival, and the posting schedule for the upcoming months. Hope you’ll stay with me!
Synopsis: I will list every single blog-post since the blog’s revival on April 1st, giving a short description of each. The next blog-post will go live next week on Monday, the 8th. I will either post two blog posts a week (Monday-Tuesday and Friday-Saturday) or 3 blog posts per 2 weeks (a blog every 5 days) for the next two months.
I will spend the next week to write more blog-posts, I find it harder to write a post properly 4-6 months after watching the show. I will also try to comment on some blogs I’ve been meaning to comment on for the past couple of months but hadn’t really found the time. Hope you guys enjoy the posts and keep reading my updates
Also, feel free to comment on this post with thoughts in general, well-wishes, idle banter, or what have you.
Wolf Children Ame and Yuki (Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki) is beautiful movie by director Hosoda Mamoru, the director behind The Girl Who Leapt Back Through Time and Summer Wars, which are two other films that are worth watching. This movie is worth watching as well.
I am going to post spoilers about the movie from here on out, it’s just impossible for me to discuss it properly without going into spoilers right from the beginning. But long story short – movie is definitely worth watching.
The movie deals with nature a whole lot. The movie begins as the story of Hana, a young college student who meets a boy whom she discovers is a werewolf, they become a couple, have two kids, and then he dies. From then on out the story becomes Hana raising the children, and then the children’s lives, Hana’s life, and how they affect one another. The children are werewolves too. They don’t really go hulking man-wolf smash mode, but they can choose to be either in human form or in male form, for the most part.
The movie really does revolve about the relationship of its characters with nature; after being uanble to live in the city with the children who can’t control the shape they’re in, the costs, and other hardships, Hana takes the children to an abandoned house in a small rural town next to a mountain, and creates that as her home. Hana “Returns to nature” – she grows her own vegetables, she lives next to a mountain occupied by wildlife, she has to ride her bicycles for 30 minutes before encountering her neighbours, and other classic markings of such an act (it’s also the town where her husband the werewolf had been raised). Towards the end of the film she also joins the wildlife preservation group as a ranger, more or less.
Nearly twenty years ago, I’ve read The Hobbit by John R. R. Tolkien. Some of the thoughts I’ve had with regards to The Hobbit also held when it came to The Lord of the Rings – terribly uneven pacing. You have 20 interesting pages, 20 boring pages, 40 interesting pages, 80 boring pages… the boring parts often have long swathes of travel where nothing happens in plot, and serve more as atmosphere setters.
One of the best things about The Lord of the Rings movies was that the pacing was a lot better, and most of the slower paced things were either story-integral or were done away in the form of a montage with exhilarating music.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journeyu, sadly, had decided to do away with some of these things I think of as improvements. If I remember correctly then The Hobbit had been supposed to be a two-movie deal, but ended up being a three-movie deal. Not only this meant they had been given time to show us things that they could have, well, not glossed over, but given less time to, we’ve also received a lot of “extraneous” content. Things that are part of Tolkien’s Middle Earth‘s world, but which did not appear in the original book.
You know how in various media you hear about people confusing fear for respect, and not understanding the difference? Django Unchained is very much a movie like that – if you see me squirm or flinch back due to gore and sympathetic pain, it doesn’t mean I actually care for what I see on screen. You need the emotional attachment to be there to begin with and to be enhanced by those sympathetic pain/music sequences, they can’t replace them completely.
I think back to Prison Break, there’s a sequence where they cut off Scofield’s toe, and he’s a character we can relate to, and they do it slowly – so even though we don’t actually see the deed – we’re hugging the back of our seat. Also think of the ending of Requiem for a Dream, where horrible things happen to many of the main characters of the show. Finally, think of Fairy Tail – I touched on how influential the music was on my enjoyment and emotional participation in the show – I’ll be frank, without the music I’d have probably cared for the show a whole lot less.
But that’s just the point, if you see us flinching back or squirming in our seats and you mistake us not enjoying what happening to the people on screen with us actually caring for the characters and the story, then you are mistaken. Django Unchained kept hammering us with big sequences that were supposed to make us care – an epic story, horrible things being done to people, decadence most extreme – but it never did the small thing first, it never created an emotional attachment with us.