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Johanna D'Arc of Mongolia (1989)
Joan of Arc of Mongolia - Embracing the Culture
I put this review down to hope that more people will be interested and be aware of this movie.
This is the last of the Ottinger films that I will most likely be watching this year and for the rest of my life perhaps. This is also Delphine Seyrig's last performance before her death the next year and it saddens me that this is her last film because it is an absolute masterpiece and a spectacular farewell film. While it is not like a traditional style of film where it borders between drama and documentary, Joan of Arc of Mongolia is an insightful film on nomadic Mongolian culture and perfectly captures the tension of a culture clash. In the story, 7 white women get captured by a Mongolian princess and the tension gets much tense over time as we are unsure what things like hanging clothes or drying something is considered offensive to Mongolians. This uncertainty of what offends other cultures and what scares off others is tense. But Ottinger does not go into the offensive path but rather explores much more of the Mongolian culture instead of denouncing it. It is a bit long at times, but it flows very beautifully like a documentary. This is one of my favorite films and one of the most underrated masterpieces I have seen in a long time.
WARNING: Those who do not like watching animal dying on screen, it is worth noting a scene where the Mongolians kill a goat for the feast. This is a traditional thing, not supposed to intentionally gross you out. Those who cannot handle strong graphic scenes of animal slaughter may need to stay away from this.
Shin seiki evangerion (1995)
Neon Genesis Evangelion: You Can (Not) Look Away
When I was a teen, I was only a 6th grader and was new to school. I made many great friends that I'm still close friends with them today. I thought my life was wonderful as a 6th grader and in peace. Until I met my first crush, an 8th grader who's a few years older than me. I start to panic in fear of losing her and never seeing her again. Of course I told my friends about my secret crush and they did the try-not-to-laugh-out-loud grin onto me and I handled that easily. I decided that on Valentine's Day, I would confess to her about my love. Everyday, when I leave school, I would always look back in case if she ever looks back at me. Luckily, we both loved anime and we weren't complete strangers to each other although we didn't talk that much. On Valentine's Day, I gather up my strength and decided to wait for her and give her my valentine's lollipop I found on the floor and I told her about it. She at first didn't know how to tackle it, she then said sorry and said that I was handsome and we never said a word to each other again. We were quite embarrassed and I didn't want to cause her any more trouble. I never cried in my life but I started to have these strange thoughts in my mind. I would often think what she said on that day and I often felt that the nice compliment she told me about being handsome was just to cheer me up. I also wasn't much of a talker and my older sister would often get mad at me for saying nothing and looking so bored or depressed look all the time even though I wasn't. I also thought that I helped her or at least do more for her and I often try to forget her. That day has pushed me and I don't want any insults or any bad ideas when I'm talking about this because I learned to love life as it is. The strange feeling that I had for the rest of 6th grade was depression. A feeling so strong it would make you feel like trash from the bottom core of the Earth, a useless creature born to work until you die. "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is a deep analysis on depression and it's more haunting and powerful than any other tv show or movie in years.
"Neon Genesis Evangelion", first released as a tv show in 1995, would be later create an entire franchise of this with 6 movies, (one currently in development) several spinoffs that is only to please those who are addicted into the girl characters which I admit they weren't that good, and a few games included. The franchise also included a big collaboration with "Godzilla" as Hideaki Anno, the creator of the series, also created "Shin Godzilla" or "Godzilla Resurgence". This franchise is one of the biggest influences on Japanese pop culture alongside "One Piece", "Godzilla", and other popular icons like Hatsune Miku and "Doraemon". "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is a 26 episode show of a young 14 year old kid forced to fight against monsters alongside his students like Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langley Soryu. A story that sounds like a normal mecha anime but when viewed closely and paying attention to the details you can see that it's more than just a robot kills the Decepticons for the 100th time. Evangelion's entire storyline uses emotions as the base for keeping the storyline stable. If you known people who watched Evangelion and if they say that it's depressing, you should be trust them on that. Story is something a Game of Thrones fan would have, a complex and completely confusing timeline of events that would often make you rewatching this show on and on until you'll be screaming on the floor. Is it worth it? Definitely. Something way more interesting than your usual Naruto storyline. A story filled with humor and mental breakdowns. A story that still scares the viewers and wanting the viewers to watch more of it. Eventually, you'll learn a lot about life than just watching anime from this show. A show that can be a little comedic and a little hard to handle with the fan service but aside little pebbles of fan service, Hideaki Anno still delivers his message with unspeakable precision, breaking the barriers of happiness.
The show isn't just powerful for the stories and messages but also with several clever directing tricks that'll amaze you when you first watch it. An interesting thing about anime is that anime often has the background moving and the action while the camera stays in motion. Anno finds a brilliant solution to move the camera without moving the background or doing the action. Instead, he gets his animators to draw out the entire background so the only things that move are the characters and the camera can move on it's own without having a black and unexpected border of nothing. The use of eyes in the show also can develop more shock to the audiences when it comes to surprise reactions. "Neon Genesis Evangelion" also manages to capture the feeling of loneliness or depression with a surreal and unexpected visuals. Keep in mind that Hideaki Anno himself also has experienced depression a lot when it came to keeping his original artistic vision. (This also happened to Miyazaki often) Making a powerful piece of work is certainly not easy to construct as it often pushes your limits and what you know. It is a dangerous thing to do and sometimes it will require sacrifice of time for your friends or family. Hideaki Anno often puts thought-provoking questions and a few seconds of random frames from a few episodes and often put a lot of scribbles to describe the mental breakdown of a character. Often putting the color red in the mental breakdown's to make it a lot more violent and unnerving to handle. He also does put a few parts where a character is often talking to themselves or someone talking in their minds, asking them questions on their reality and the will to live longer in that reality.
As haunting as it was 24 years ago, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" finally gotten it's first debut onto digital and many fans are disappointed with a few changes that Netflix made, mostly the subtitle corrections and the change of outro. I'm not too big on subtitles and even if they sound ridiculously stupid at times, I can tackle it. However, the change of outro music is something that I think is a major problem with not just Netflix but with the overall show. The original version was a cover on "Fly Me to the Moon" by Bart Howards and not Frank Sinatra. The new ending plays "Rei I", a song from the original soundtrack for the show and can often be heard at times, most famously on the episode, "Rei I" (Episode 5). The sudden change in atmosphere from calm and relaxing for viewers to inhale as they go on to the next episode, to the uncomfortable and creepy music that give the newcomers little to no space to breathe between episodes. This big change is a major problem because of not because everyone loves "Fly Me to the Moon" better than "Rei I" but that it also changes the atmosphere entirely to the polar opposite of what Anno intended to make. Now this problem can be solved by watching Netflix Japan which I'm sure you guys know how to do or you can go buy bootlegs or buy the entire series for $400 on Amazon just for a used one. Why did Netflix do this? Evangelion is not a big franchise to them, only a quick buck for them to make and the special covers for "Fly Me to the Moon" (Each episode had a different cover for this song, with/without strings, sung by the voice actress of Rei/Asuka, etc. There were also a few changes on the DVD too for these covers) are owned by a separate company. If you haven't known, licensing is a pure nightmare fuel when it comes to getting what you want. Netflix had to deal with this for years as I'm sure and they do not want to spend another million dollars on a few covers for a song that's used for a show that they're not even sure if the show is going to be a big hit instead of a bad miss. I could understand that but it's a pure shame that this had to happen.
Even through these several problems/controversies, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" still manages to outshine several other animes and series in Japanese pop culture. Bringing this underrated gem back for viewing for everyone has it's pros/cons. Luckily, it's more on the pro side in my opinion but for real die-hard-fans-who-would-die-for-their-waifus will definitely have millions of problems with the new Netflix edit of this show. (No cuts were made, just a few adjustments with outro and subtitling. Also English Dub has also been criticized too but I didn't hear it. Sorry for those who were curious about that.) In the end, I don't care about whatever Netflix did to butcher this as people would say, I only care about the fact that the message is still strong and clear to me and audiences today. A must-watch for any anime fans. People who aren't fans of anime, beware, you may have to take inhale a few awkward moments here and there but it's still worth watching. This show is definitely for everyone and is highly recommended to watch it slowly and not all in one day. The ending for this show can feel a little raw and uncooked for a good ending but look no further than "End of Evangelion", Anno's true ending to his visually expressive masterpiece. "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is what created modern anime today and dare I say, one of the best TV Shows I've seen. 10/10
Whiplash: 2 Angry Men (Major Spoilers, Just Watch It)
When it comes to opening shots, there has never been a better way to summarize an entire story or introduce one with something easy to take in. "Whiplash" is something that isn't easy to handle at first. The black screen is what we only see but the film's potential comes only through the sound of drums. It eventually becomes more faster and powerful and it suddenly puts us into discomfort of the intensity and the increase in speed of the violent slam of the drums. Our opening is rather showing a drummer practicing on the drums as the camera slowly moves towards him and he realizes that something was watching him. A medium shot of J.K. Simmons' character is standing there, listening to him. It is revealed that he has a rude personality and that Miles Teller's character is rather ashamed that he did not catch J.K.'s character's attention with his skills. It was at that point, the relationship between Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) and Andrew (Mile Teller) would begin. A story so violent and horrifying without expressing it through physical violence. This is what began "Whiplash"
"Whiplash" is something that's scary and alienating to viewers. We are often to sympathize with our main character and stay close to them as we are taught to. Andrew is a character that isn't much to sympathize with. A man who's driven to insanity by his strong passion for being a legendary drummer along with Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich. To be honest, I didn't even see the sudden change from innocent to pure evil in Andrew. It is disturbing to see one man's passion killing the person itself. A dangerous level obsession. And this is all caused by Terence Fletcher, a man that has gone as far as making a trombone player cry in shame for being out of tune. Although, we do feel a little sympathy for him as it is revealed that his best musician or student in this case has died in a car crash. It was actually a time when he cried and a close personal shot was powerful enough for us to feel bad for him. Even if Andrew has to curse and insult his friends and get into a violent car crash and managed to be a few minutes late, Fletcher kicked him out of the group and Andrew's response came out with all that anger and stress being released with a powerful tackle and wrestling. Andrew's passion in being Fletcher's student is to the point his hands are bleeding from drumming injuries. It is also shown that Terence has been kicked out as a teacher and is now a jazz band musician that also is having a concert the next day. Even after being kicked out, Terence still pushes him down and still treats Andrew poorly. It is to this point, Andrew has learned a powerful lesson and it all happened with the song that nearly killed both of them, "Caravan". Andrew starts to slam with anger and passion as he tells the cello player to start playing the charts for "Caravan" and soon Fletcher decides to have the whole band to play, "Caravan". Pissed with Andrew, Andrew fights back as one of the cymbals hit Terence in the chin. A surprisingly satisfying moment for many people. And then, our finale ends with Terence and Andrew finally both having a common ground that they can both handle and Terence throws the final part of "Caravan" at him and Andrew drums his now again bruised hands rapidly as he the movie ends. It is never known if Andrew survives or not, but it is clearly known that Andrew became one of the world's greatest drummers of all time that night and it has been completed that night.
A deep well-layered story that has several emotions and colors that makes up what "Whiplash" is now makes Whiplash a modern classic. Possibly the best film of 2014 for many people. A film that has never been more refreshing and more realistic than any other film. A film that talks about obsession and passion of an artist is something that isn't so common in modern cinema today. Only film to ever compare to "Whiplash" is Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan". Haunting as the music, "Whiplash" is a must see for anyone, whether you hate little bits of blood or hate anxiety. A modern masterpiece. 9/10
Rim of the World (2019)
Rim of the World: A Cringe-Injected Disaster (SPOILERS)
This review is coming especially from a teen and I can tell you that there are certainly many problems with the movie that I found and things that I didn't like about the movie. "Rim of the World" is a film that continues to do the kids save the world trend that's been going on since the blockbuster hit, "Spy Kids".
"Rim of the World" is something that isn't even worth watching it for fun or for a quick and lazy viewing. It's constant change in color in the atmosphere is one of the biggest problems I had with this movie. Of course, "Rim of the World" came out in 2019 and there are of course no problems with the video quality at all. However, it was the DIRECTOR'S intention in making each scene strong with a specific color, each giving a random emotion delivered from the color. Of course, the settings like the purple night is quite beautiful at times. Yet, the horrible and predictable writing cannot prevent those stunning visuals from attracting the audience. A film so painfully ridiculous, filled with a bucket list of swear words coming from the children which I do not support that idea. Even if there are kids who cuss, it is better not to let them cuss in this movie since their acting aren't fully matured and that's the difficulty of making a film with kids. Making a film with child actors is easy for the crew or you to tell them to run around and scream like it's the end of the world. Although, good directors must also understand that their acting is not top quality nor top notched, even if they take drama class before. It certainly takes experience and practice to get what you really want. Especially if it's going to be a kids save the world movie, you better create something more intense and more separate from other films who have attempted to do this idea. In a way, this is more of a teen film with a few popular comedians like King Bach and Rudy Mancuso, a film that certainly will catch only the younger viewer's hearts and not the adults. Certainly playing Lil Pump music and rap songs are the stuff that kids like to listen to, well yes but in the way they use it, definitely not. In the scene where the characters go to a mall and try getting new clothes, they somehow miraculously find Adidas clothing that was used for advertising. Throughout the rest of the film (3/4 into the film already) most of the scenes after the mall began to look like an ad trying to sell Adidas by having kids save the world with them. (With these clothes, you are destined to control the world. Probably) Worst off, the Adidas were somehow all clean and no dirt or any mess was on it, even after the aliens attacked. And in the beginning of the film, the character escapes from the evil alien and all changed clothing within at least a 2 minute period from killing the alien to riding the bicycle onto the highway. (HOW?) Certainly there are many issues and mixed feelings that shouldn't be in this film but the most recent controversy about the racism is what troubles me the most. A director who never seem to take a lot of pride and happiness into his work decides to strike again with another failure that nobody will enjoy.
The racism controversy of this movie is quite strong. The black kid (Dariush is his name) is an annoying egotistic comedian which puts a big fat shame sign onto the black people which I highly hated about and it seemed like nothing good came out of him. A character that I wished was more sympathetic than just the plain laughing stock. And then there's the smart Asian kid which I began to get real mad with due to the fact that basically in most films, it's always smart Asian kid or ferocious Asian kid who can beat up a stranger. When you watch films from Asia with kids in it, they are completely different from these racial stereotypes that this film has created. I respect all races and the fact that these 2 characters are predictable and that the black kid is the jokester and the Asian kid is the smartest person on earth is something that American cinema needs to change right away and needs to stop doing immediately.
And now, I talk about the teen film subgenre. A teen film is often a film where a movie relies more on emotions that teens would often feel anywhere on friends or someone. Many school films always have the big bully with the college jacket cliché and the nerdy kid who loves Star Wars. The only problem is, not all schools have these type of students and even the rules of schools are different like mine don't allow phones. A good teen film is one that is able to connect with any teen from any school and the best tool to get a teen's attention and love is by using emotions or feelings towards one character like bringing the feeling of wanting to attack your teacher into the big screens. A film that has been praised for 30 years that is a wonderful example of a teen film is "Heathers". Even the most violent and disturbing films like "Battle Royale" still manage to capture mine and several other teenager's attention with it's strong and vivid feelings and thoughts that one character has for another. Something so strong that it manages to hypnotize us which is an amazing thing because it's not often a DVD or Blu-Ray disc can really get you loving it to death and making you feel all these wonderful feelings. "Titanic" is also a wonderful example, creating our modern "perfect boyfriend" idea that all girls want. "Rim of the World" is not really much of a teen film but it can at least capture a pinch size amount of a feeling that you would want to save the world but that idea never seems to be clear enough to be that good.
Besides these ideas, the CGI and other minor problems continue to haunt me to this day. Out of nowhere, Dariush began to start talking about R-Rated movie references from Werner Herzog all the way to Silence of the Lambs which I don't understand why even talk about this stuff if 1.) You'll get a few kids wondering who, "Buffalo Bill" is. 2.) These aren't jokes. They're just really bad references. The boys even start talking about sex which I don't even understand the point about talking about it and it's nowhere close to appropriate for kids to even talk about it. (It all happened because only one out of three boys get to sleep in the same bed as the girl. This is making me even more uncomfortable than the entire "Clockwork Orange" movie itself) The girl also has to kiss the boy which I don't think was even needed for this movie, a hug will be a better alternative. With all these action movie clichés, it certainly was a pain to be listening to several predictable lines and watching the world's longest Old Navy commercial.
"Rim of the World" tries his best to make this film for teens by giving him these big celebrities, rap music, and clothing trends but little did he understand what made films like "Heathers" and "Superbad" under their sleeves. 2/10 Not worth watching.
Rashomon (SPOILERS): A Perfect Film
There has never been a film like "Rashomon" ever before, and there will never be a film like "Rashomon" ever now. "Rashomon" is in my terms, "the perfect film". I'm aware that some people will of course say "Godfather" is better than "Rashomon" because well, "Godfather" is always ranked in the top #10 greatest film lists from critics and the internet all the time. I am also aware that there is no perfect film. However, when you can achieve a level of power by visual storytelling like "Rashomon" or "Godfather", you might as well call it "the perfect film", even if it's close to perfection because we can never achieve that "perfection" that our human minds so need desperately. What qualifies "Rashomon" as a perfect movie is that all technical aspects and detail has been examined and executed well enough to lure us into the world of the film itself. "Rashomon's" specialty in this case, is the strong voices of its cast, the cinematography that's still stunning, and the overall influence that still makes the movie cunning. "Rashomon" also started the future careers of Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, and several other Kurosawa mains outside of Japan with their well received films.
A story can never be made without having a character that is, human or unhuman. Without a character, it is simply a moving gallery of moving pictures. The choice of actors and the wonderful actresss as the main characters was the jackpot of Japanese cinema. Getting three powerful Japanese actors/actress into one movie where each of their voices can be heard clearly with levels of emotions planted on each line. Toshiro Mifune plays as the crazy bandit who is the one that commit the crime of the murder a swordsman and the rape of an innocent lady. His role probably influenced him few years later when he plays another character with the same characteristics in Seven Samurai. Interesting enough, he created his own character for Seven Samurai. The strong and fast moving athleticism of the bandit certainly was an important ability that the actor will need for the role and Mifune himself executed this to his max. When watching the battles throughout the film, Mifune constantly squirms and run while running away or towards his opponent which is Masayuki Mori, who plays as the swordsman. Both have excellent stamina when battling each other off in their own battle scenes that are constantly wrestling each other in the leaves and the dirt while trying to grab a quick weapon to kill each other with. Fights more intense than many modern films today that is. Machiko Kyo is the most powerful when it comes to emotions. Here twisted cries of help and mercy certainly gave the audience themselves several feelings from sympathy to betrayal. A wide variety of feelings flow out of Machiko's performance. Every single scream that escapes her lips is an instant stab to my heart like it was real. Other actors including Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, and Kichijiro Ueda also had their own special places in this story as well. These three were destined to be at the Rashomon gate on a violent, rainy storm. Each one lashing their anger out into another, slowly going insane like the millions of droplets that explode in an army of hundreds. And that's basically the entire cast of the movie. (Except for the Medium which is only for a brief chapter of the story). However, when it comes to lying, these actors/actress are able to hide their lies so well and so clean, that it's impossible to tell whether the statement was true or not. For the acting is definitely on it's own level and cannot be supported greatly without the stunning cinematography of Kazuo Miyagawa.
Kazuo Miyagawa wasn't a big name when it came to film. Yet, he also did the cinematography work for another of Kurosawa's essential masterpiece, Yojimbo (1961). Film itself is not always created for fun. Great directors who want to achieve something big in the film industry knows that every detail in a film counts, and this also counts on cinematography. But if it's cinematography, how can you make each shot important as the other you ask? Think about that 1.33:1 aspect ratio of "Rashomon" as a room. When you encounter close-ups like Screenshot #5 of the Blu-Ray review for this movie for example, you really don't have that much space to breathe and it gives off rather an intense atmosphere when combined with the actress' exaggerated look which Kurosawa is well known for using. There is also a type of shot that Kurosawa loves using which he will use in his most biggest work of them all, "Seven Samurai" which uses three actors/actresses into one shot in equal height. Now there's not a example screenshot for this in the Blu-Ray review but in the Japanese Blu-Ray boxset with other Kurosawa classics like "Ran", "The Quiet Duel", and "Madadayo", take a look at the second screenshot as it's close to what I'm saying, except that it's like a medium shot with three people in it. Normally, it would be the person in the middle will be close up in front and the other 2 on the side will be in the back. In my view, it shows how all three characters are the same level, no one is far more superior than the other, they're all the same. And with the fact that most of the time, the characters are looking in their own different directions give it more dramatic power that you can see in a play. Each one with their different thoughts but they know that they're still the same. Kazuo Miyagawa played a huge role in making the film as how it is and without these spectacular shots, the audience wouldn't be interested in going further into the story. However, the story is the biggest hook of them all, providing an influential idea/effect that changed film history and printed the words KUROSAWA into any film historian's textbook of film.
"Rashomon" is most commonly well known for it's bizarre story of a murder case but with a big twist into it. The story first based off on the short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa called, "In A Grove". It is actually Ryunosuke Akutagawa that deserves the praise and credit for making this movie come true and starting off careers for many people and influence many ideas and other cultures today. Sadly, he died at the age of 35 from suicide on an overdoes of barbital. Even to this day, he is considered the, "Father of the Japanese short story". A murder case that's been fogged up by 4 different perspectives from the witnesses themselves. Three of them are lies and only one is truth is what we really think of. Kurosawa destroyed that idea in every way possible. The story itself has been shattered so the that only little bits of truth comes out of all four of these stories. Yet, it's still a mess to even decipher and unlock the truth of it. And through this puzzle do we learn more about human nature through each one of our stories as one character is protecting themselves in their own stories while making others look foolish. A disturbing truth of human nature is that people will eventually rat you out and betray you out of greed. With the painful truth of human nature, we, the audience, are never able to find the real truth ever again. Forever alone on the bottom of the ocean of truths and lies. It is that once we have been treated with these scary ideas of human behavior are we given a happy ending. An ending so satisfying, it gave us the meaning to live and to respect our precious lives to the fullest. To control and create your own destiny and relive life in a whole new perspective. Well, maybe not that powerful. Now if you're wondering what it does with the film industry, there's a lot to say about that. The movie itself spreads a new idea that was named after the movie called the Rashomon effect. Rashomon effect is where an event is told in different perspectives and views of the people or witnesses. This effect would be later become the main idea or tool of every other mystery/murder movies in American movies.
Powerful acting, clever cinematography, and the creative influences are only a few examples of what makes this a "perfect" film. "Rashomon" is a film that manages to jog our emotions while sending us many horrifying truths on human feelings/behaviors. And right when you can't take it anymore, the movie cheers you up with an ending that will brighten your day a lot more and finally gives you that air to breath after all that pressure and the cramped areas of suspense. A film so wonderful, that any movie fan can talk about this for hours and not get tired of it. That is if they like watching art films. Watching it the first time might be slow for some people. But after multiple viewings, you will find yourself more interested than ever. A film that started off an entire generation and a successful start of one of the world's greatest decade in film. 10/10
Prisoners: An Grim Thriller Epic
Plot: Wolverine marries a cheerleader and then had a daughter and a son. One cloudy Thanksgiving Day, the children thought it was fun to beat up a van with their fists while one of them attempted to stab the van with her newborn claws. Eventually, she doesn't have full access to it, resulting in both of them being kidnapped while the son and the neighbor's daughter is just watching the latest episode of Bachelor's Paradise. They decided to do a fun Easter egg hunt, and no one got an Easter egg at all so Wolverine loses it. Donnie Darko goes into a Chinese restaurant and wonders if he was born in the year of the rabbit. Finds out he wasn't. Then he hears that there's a van that looks like Burger King themed van. He finds out that there was the van right behind him, trying to kill a tree. They founded the man and they revealed that it was Eli Sunday, escaping his death from Plainview's hands. They find out that Plainview still bashed his head in but he's still in perfect shape. Wolverine loses it and decides to go medieval torture on him. And the rest is just Wolverine torturing Eli Sunday for not getting killed in There Will Be Blood while Donnie Darko predicts that there is going to be another end of the world soon that year.
My Thoughts: I thought it was shocking when I first watched this. You see cute-faced Eli turn into a big peach emoji with a dark red color from the color editors of the movie, "The Hero of Color City". This film goes off with oh hey, the children are kidnapped. And then when you hear Wolverine shout, you just jump off your seat and you're like, "Oh don't go mess around with me like that Wolverine." *shouts* "Shoot, gotta run away from here." This film is a crime thriller epic that lasts for 153 minutes of nonstop pain and suffering of the Behind the Scenes of the Greatest Showman. Don't watch this if you're a weak stomach. But if you're not, then watch it. The film is by far the scariest thriller I've seen. This movie is intense and emotionally disturbing to see Grandma from Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer pointing a gun at Wolverine because Wolverine doesn't use his powers at all so it sounds stupid yet scary to see Grandma pointing the gun at Wolverine after Christmas. (I forgot to tell you that Prisoners is a extended cut of Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer)
Just watch it if you are able to hand brutal violence and if you like long crime thriller epics.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
There Will Be Blood (2007) Review
Plot: The story is about a man's life through greed, power, family, and rivalry. Our main character, Daniel Plainview, goes out to seek for some oil with his son (adopted), H.W. Plainview, as his defense when it comes to getting a good place to steal some oil from the places around it. Daniel thought it was going to be a normal oil rig, when his oil rig started to release some gas, causing the oil rig's ass to get on fire. And when he thought that was over, he gets a few more problems until the Devil gets into his soul.
My Thoughts: I wrote this review after my 3rd time watching this movie after a month of watching it the first time. (Wait till you hear that I watched the Incredibles also from June to July 5 times) Just when I thought I loved everything in the film, the scene that I hated the most was when Daniel Plainview opens the oil rig and the music starts playing. The music is constantly being cut from the beginning to straight to the end and they play the beginning of the finale twice and then finally the last notes. By far, I was surprised that I haven't noticed this but this just felt bad and the music is being butchered and transitioned badly several times like a butcher. Other than that, I loved it. The oil represents the Devil's blood and Daniel's quest to get as much of the Devil's blood inside of him. The oil rig had a whole ocean of the Devil's blood in it. And when it caught on fire, I believe that was when Daniel really saw the Devil himself. The movie makes me think about how they portray Daniel Plainview as the Devil and not a greedy sociopath. The cinematography was shocking and it was different compared to his other films like The Master and Boogie Nights. It wasn't stylish, yet there is the great cinematography that makes us remember Daniel Day Lewis as one of the scariest movie characters.
This remains as one of my favorite films because the movie makes you think deeper and makes us see the movie in a whole new way after finding out what it meant. I love the music, especially Convergence, I love the beat. (Also "There Will Be Blood") This movie has a deeper meaning that we people didn't expect and in a way, this movie honestly made me terrified as if the movie was a horror film and it shows the innocent Daniel at the beginning evolve into the violent man he is now.
It's about the milkshakes. And if you can't handle the hidden meaning, then I will slurp that milkshake in front of your face.
THERE WILL BE EMPTY GLASSES OF SUNDAES AND FULL GLASSES OF STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKES WITH CREAM ON TOP.
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Incredibles 2 Movie Review (SPOILERS AHEAD.)
Summary: The film is takes place right after the first one did. They fight against the Underminer, which they did already with Mr. Incredible and Frozone in "The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer" (2005). But they change the ending of that game just to continue on obviously which is good because the game only has Mr. Incredible and Frozone to play as and NOTHING ELSE. Then they get in trouble for destroying a Government building and then they have to live in a motel after the aftermaths of the Underminer attacks. (kaboom) Eventually, Frozone comes and talks to Bob and Helen Parr about a guy who wants to help all three of them bring back supers into justice again.
Thoughts: I was happy at first, and now I wish that the third will be stronger than this stale piece of bread. Oh sorry, did I offend you, well everyone has opinions too you know. (I didn't offend you right?) Why do I think this movie is bad, well because the movie has a bad storytelling. In a way it's like you see an intense crime fighting scene, and then you see some father having an emotional breakdown over his new math book. Well that's not the point actually, the point was that there are no major plot twists that ever shock you, you just know that, "Ok, something doesn't feel right and then that lady who doesn't sleep just puts a mask over her head and she's like 'I'm so sorry little one.'" And I kind of felt like this was a little weak since most of the stuff that goes in the movie kind of copies off of the other film. I really thought having that ending was just bad.
Seriously, this film isn't that great as I expected. There are a few mistakes that I have noticed throughout the film and the story isn't powerful and there isn't anything new to explore. (Hey guys look at my basement, it's empty.)
Although Incredibles 2 does have positive ratings from many critics, it is one of the most disappointing films for me this year when it comes to movies that came out in 2018. (NINJAGO MOVIE) The 1st film is where the Parr family deal with mediocrity as the main theme of both of the films. Well Incredibles 2 is the just a synonym for mediocrity.
My dark predictions will ruin your day. There might not even be a INCREDIBLES 3 movie unless if they have a plot twist. (But it's going to be useless to add in a plot twist.) This movie is where Brad Bird is like, "You've watched the 2nd, i'm finished."
Suspiria: Visual Horror
Before starting off this review with a crash, I want to say that I, myself am not a horror fan so I do find many of these scenes creative and I have no knowledge if there are millions of other horror films that copy this style of visual and musical horror.
A girl enters one of the greatest ballet schools out there. She sees someone running in the woods at night, sounds like horror materials there. Hears girl telling her not to come in. What the f### is going on right now? The next scene will explain all of this nonsense with a quick stab to your senses. I present to you, a horror film that had visuals and music like no other horror film could ever do or even think that they could do. "Suspiria", a horror film that is not psychologically scary, or not on that level that gore makes you scared, but actually the colors and haunting chants of the music that plays with your emotions constantly. The main characters in the movie is being threatened that they will be killed. Nobody realizes it, but only the audience itself. To only watch dark magic pop out in front of their eyes without anybody else knowing it. A scary secret that Dario Argento shares with us.
Even if the film doesn't feel real with it's crazy and surreal use of colors, it still feels realistic because in fact, it looks more of a nightmare that we would have and not something real. A nightmare you thought was real.
"Suspiria" offers blasting visuals that give it a nightmare presence and chanting ritual style music filled with drum beats that echoes into our hearts and the same music cue can tell us that there's going to be a death that one cannot avoid when they hear this music.
"Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy" Slows Down for the First Time
The interesting thing about films coming from one country or an entire continent is that the bad films have always looked the same with each other. My previous review was on a Finnish rock band movie that takes place in 1977 that nobody ever heard of and never will. I thought it was a good film at first but I found myself often falling asleep on several scenes, which proved the entire film pointless and it's only a quick grab of cash. However, I watched this in a airplane flight so it wasn't a quick grab of cash but I still didn't find myself even loving it to that certain degree. The movie before that however, was "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy" which often got me bouncing around on the debate that the movie deserves a good or bad rating.
Movies are often difficult to review for a beginner level critic who has no experience and says stuff at the top of their heads. I don't watch movies twice often, I don't watch bad movies since I still am afraid to even watch them, and I don't like watching American or European movies as often compared to Asian films and that's a big bias I have with movie watching. It's not a great thing, it's kind of an addiction to be watching the same emotional drama with the same emotional twist at the end. It's predictable when you only like watching films from a certain country or continent. I am trying my best to goddamn have the mood to watch European and American dramas more.
"Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy" is a film that I would definitely consider an average. With it's obviously made out 1950s Hong Kong film set, people challenging the main character to a fight, the same shot to show the little kid get punched in the eye since the third Ip Man movie which I don't consider that good to bring back memories to a scene that is exactly the same as this. There are many things that I've seen from the Ip Man Trilogy that appear in this movie, making this no different than other films. The Ip Man Series has definitely become a monster itself, being forced by the audience to make spinoffs that could've been considered Ip Man 4 if it didn't have a different actor as the main character. The Ip Man Series was wonderfully fun and emotional at times to watch before gaining it's big critical success with Ip Man 3. To be honest, I first found about this franchise when the third installment came out on Blu-Ray. So I must admit, I did watch it when it was an all time high. But, this film is one you can obviously tell that the company itself just wanted to make for a quick cash. A film that earns the same quality as a Nikkatsu film 50 years ago in Japan. (Quite forgettable)
Now I might get dissed here and there for my trash talk but please respect it because it's my opinion and this review should be in no way, taken as a fact but rather a way of viewing this film in my light. The movie still holds the fun action scenes and beautiful cinematography with the neon lights which I never seen in any other Ip Man film.
With the fun visuals, "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy" is a fun joyride if you don't care about watching literally the same Ip Man movie that you've seen years ago. After the third movie, I got tired with watching the same stuff from the Ip Man Franchise. If they do literally the same formula and the same clichés and same parts like Ip Man is a nice guy, gang wants to fight Ip Man, the opponent is a mean person, and someone dies in the movie, I will NOT go easy on Ip Man 4 since I'm starting to get real bored with watching the same films. Audiences love this movie and I did. But, in a critic's view, you can't let the same movie pass by with a good rating all the times.
Miss Farkku-Suomi (2012)
Miss Blue Jeans: Meaningless Moments in Life
At first when I watched it, I thought it was ok and it was only the soundtrack. But, then I start thinking about the overall movie itself and how slow paced and how many of these scenes are useless to even watch since the story could've been more faster. This review is probably never going to be read so I decided to say that this movie isn't that good at all and it's an interesting love story but it serves no purpose in my opinion and there seems to be bad acting.
Interesting is that the main character is in love with the girl. Although, he never gets her at the end and that's what makes the story good. Although, the acting and many of the scenes of the band just playing music is kind of a filler and these scenes could've been entirely cut from the real movie itself. The movie is only worth a duration of a short movie. It's a film that can fool many people who believe that this film is good but it's still meaningless and I'm not a fan of high school or rock band movies. This doesn't mean that I'm bias since I do like "Grease" and I also like a few rock songs that isn't from the band Queen.
With a few smart cinematography moves and a few ranges of freedom from the rock music are only the good stuff to talk about this movie. Is it worth watching? No. I watched this film on the plane and never seen it on DVD nor Blu-Ray. It's a type of film you would see on YouTube with a 144p and a dark halo ring around it. Don't forget to mention the high pitched chipmunk talk.
This is a film that will be never see the light ever again and will be thrown under the bus of hell forever. This film is not worth watching with it's limited amount of emotions put into these scenes and it will make you fall asleep.
Audition: An Unexpected Turn
I really expected the scary parts of this movie to occur a lot earlier but those who can't stomach those horror scenes will have to wait until the one hour mark has passed. For audiences who know that this is a psychological horror movie in which everyone would or should know by now will have to endure and suffer the wait for the scary stuff to happen (in a good way) and those who have no idea will have to endure and suffer the sudden twist in genre from drama to pure realistic horror. "Audition" is Miike's true masterpiece, one that doesn't suffer from the V-Cinema treatment nor any controversy but rather a kind of new way of making horror. Now I said kind of coming from a film fan who doesn't often watch horror movies but did watch The Shining enough to say that there are certainly some ideas that could've possibly been transferred here. Watching "Audition" before the one hour mark was rather interesting but dull for a few horror fans, watching "Audition" after the one hour mark was watching our main protagonist be treated with the pure hell treatment. It certainly is not a bad movie if some of you were wondering by my tone on this review, but it's painful to watch this film with the violence and that's not a threat.
"Audition" was first released in 1999 for the Vancouver Film Festival in Canada was later released in Japan 5 months after it's first screening. Starring Ryo Ishibashi which Japanese cinema fans remember him from Sion Sono's cult classic, "Suicide Club", another famous horror film, "The Grudge", and his role in a forgettable movie, "War" with Jason Staham and Jet Li. Eihi Shiina (from "Tokyo Gore Police") plays as our villainess or the main character's new wife which more people will remember her rather than Ryo Ishibashi. Also including a well known actor, Jun Kunimura, who appeared in more famous films than any one else in the movie. (Gangster who gets beheaded in "Kill Bill Volume 1", Tea-House Shooter in "Hard Boiled", Stranger in "The Wailing", "Manhunt", "Outrage", "Unforgiven" Japanese version in 2013, "Like Father, Like Son", "Why Don't You Play in Hell?", "Ichi the Killer", "The Wind Rises", and his first well known role in America was as Yashimoto in Michael Douglas' 1989 action film, "Black Rain") "Audition" offers several cinematic shots, violence, and pure horror to startle even the strongest of audience. The pure horror will be forever put into your minds like how the main character is tortured in the ending.
The calm and beautiful villainess will certainly fool many of its audience with just her look. The film certainly had several raw ingredients at first and boils it down to get a delicious piece of meat that gets horror fans grateful for Miike's take on horror. He will later on direct films like "Ichi the Killer", "Gozu", and his recent 100th film, "Blade of the Immortal". The way Miike makes his violence in this movie is by carefully placing the materials needed for it and make the audience watch 10 minutes of slow violence that will make people vomit or leave the room/theater. There certainly has never been a better tool for horror than it's sidekick, gore.
"Audition" separates a combination between the two genres, drama and horror. This formula was also seen in "The Shining" which I began to see a few similarities in how both directors make up for the scares. Using this to make the movie will require the director to hypnotize its audience into thinking that it's just a drama film but completely flipping them out with the scary parts at the end. When making a scary scene now, it will definitely require a lot of knowledge on the problems with horror movies now and creativity on a way of making the audience suffer as much as possible on the main points. So far, only "The Shining", "Misery" and "Psycho" are films that I've seen to ever trick the audience into having them identify with the genre. Psychological horror has been a popular subgenre for over 50 years, from "Rosemary's Baby" to "Silence of the Lambs" and all the way to "Sinister". Miike dived head first into a subgenre that is so well known that it's going to take potential in order to make his film more memorable than any other psychological horror films. And he executed that powerfully.
Now, "Audition" is by far, one of the most disturbing movies of all time according to several critics and none other than the audience or the Internet itself. I believe that this movie deserves a title higher than, "Cult Classic" but should be given the title of either "Horror Masterpiece" or "Japanese Modern Classic". "Audition" is in no way for everyone to watch and should only be in interest for those who like to have nightmares but I don't have nightmares when watching psychological horror so it was a breeze for me to watch and handle the startling content of gore and blood. With it's quick cuts into a different scene all of a sudden, visually beautiful scenes before the one hour mark, and the happy lady who gets to torture people for fun is what made "Audition" a haunting and fearless movie that stands above other modern horror movies today.
Cowboy Bebop Movie: What is it Missing? (SPOILERS)
BEFORE YOU START DOWNVOTING ME, keep in mind that I still enjoyed this movie and tv show. (Watched the tv show 3 times in a year as a teen) I also haven't watched this movie for years but I still got some parts clear in my mind. "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" is a continuation between episode 22 and 23 in the TV Show which in my opinion doesn't really matter because most of "Cowboy Bebop" has their own little short stories in them that doesn't do with anything over the main story of the entire show. The TV Show is definitely a must watch and I highly recommend watching it first before this movie as a fan since you might not get used to the style of this movie which holds a very jazzy and fluid motion into it's style.
"Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" starts off with a rather unintimidating bank robbery, the blue shoes of an important man walks into the store. He's wearing a headset, doesn't know what's going on. He is revealed as a chill guy because he is a chill guy. He pulls the trigger of a confetti and kicks the robber's face. Shoots the other people and the other robber is captured by a buff man coming from the ceiling. And here we are, the scene that we all seen in action films. The gun against the innocent person's head and our blue shoe man is pointing his gun at the baddie. Of course you know what happens to the robber, he dies of course. We've been introduced with a man that holds the power of Keanu Reeve's chillness.
That cool man was named Spike Spiegel.
The opening credits show a rather interesting black and white style of cinematography showing a normal routine of people's live. (Including cameo appearances of the voice actors of some of the main characters)
To cut it short, "Cowboy Bebop" is mostly about a bunch of bounty hunters who are hunting bounty hunters and if you watch this movie, you won't miss anything about the main story of the TV Show. The TV Show basically has no links between the movie and the closest the movie has ever gone to even talking about the main story was when Spike was talking about his lover, Julia and just leaves it alone as if it was nothing and it is nothing in the movie anyways.
Anyone can notice that the movie has taken a huge jump in animation as most of the animation is actually way more fluid than the actual show. It's almost like a 60fps especially when you watch the entertaining fights which is one of the greatest gifts that this movie holds that not that much other anime movies have. And who could forget about the magnificent music, the MUSIC!!! The several genres of music that Shinchiro Watanabe displays in his shows and movie give off a powerful feeling especially in the fight scenes of the show when the music is catchy, you'll be jumping along the beats.
Now here comes the bad part of this movie. I noticed that some of the story kind of feels like the same as Episode 20 because Spike both gets injured after fighting against the villain of the episode and desires to come back to only kill that person or at least harm him. Even though it is nothing related to the tv show, it still feels like you needed to watch the tv show first as a literal requirement before watching the movie. Normally, I can adapt into films like "Branded to Kill" when Suzuki fans tell me that I should start off with his earlier works like "Youth of the Beast" first but it was too late but I still managed to adapt what I just say and loved. If you have the power to adapt into a movie or tv show easily, then you would be fine with this. I also felt like the reason why this movie didn't hold the force that the show had was because of the runtime. The movie had to be at least an hour long to be even considered a movie. (Basically now a rule and if under an hour, would be considered short film) The show was fast paced and was very energetic as Watanabe grabs you by the arm and pulls you through an imaginary ride of fun and jazz. The movie had to use that power and stretch as much as they could. Only problem is some of these scenes could've been easily ripped out or be cut down into a 23 minute episode. It was like a 20 minute lost episode that turned into a 2 hour epic that is all talking and is most of the time serious.
"Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" holds an energetic and jazzy look into a story which enhances the viewing but seems to lack that creativity that you would love to see. There are actually more serious scenes in this movie than fun which is the opposite way around for the show. (Unless if you're watching an episode that relates to the main story of the entire show)
I certainly had something against this movie but not the show. As a fan, I DON'T recommend this movie IF you never seen the original show. BUT, if you watched, "Cowboy Bebop" then what are you waiting for!? The band is waiting for you!
Tôkyô nagaremono (1966)
Tokyo Drifter: What Colors Makes Us Feel
Sometime in school, I recorded Tokyo Drifter onto my cable I watched some of the movie in the morning. I didn't know that I loved it so much until after school I decided to finish off the rest of the movie and I was amazed. The song still stands out in my mind even though in an interview by Suzuki that Testuya Watari wasn't a good singer so they had him saying his lines several times and pick the best version of it for each phrase. This was one of Suzuki's last films before getting fired from Nikkatsu with his cult classic, "Branded to Kill" (1967). Something seemed to really stand out to me about this film and everyone could of course tell you that it would be the colors.
When watching this film, understand that Suzuki uses what we call associative color. Associative color is the use of color that reappears every time to a certain character or idea so it's easier for the audience to identify with the character more easily. In this film, white is good guy or safe and red is bad guy or danger. He used basic colors for the audience to easily understand. If you see a red mailbox in one scene, you know there is evil lurking around. Tokyo Drifter was one of the earliest films to use colors seriously in a form of art other than films like Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1962).
Tokyo Drifter may be weak on it's story once you've seen 4 to 5 Nikkatsu films in the 60s, but the art film style that Suzuki chooses for his films make this and his other classics more separate and more visually fun than other films of that time. It may have no meaning or make no sense for some viewers but, it's one hell of a film and that's a fact.
Cure: A Train to Uncertainty
Andrei Tarvosky's Stalker first came to mind when watching this movie. It holds a eerie presence and little to no music was played during the entire runtime of this movie. It is cold, brutal, and silent, just like a personality of a serial killer that we often see in film a lot like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.
Cure is a 1997 Japanese thriller directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (not related to Akira Kurosawa for those who were wondering) that takes place in modern time Japan. Another murder happens in the quiet streets of Japan, only to leave another mark across the victim's throat as it happened with the other killings before this. The murderer was caught, he had no idea that he did it. Why? Who knows? A man with amnesia walks around Japan wondering what he's even doing. Nothing makes sense in the first few minutes of the film until you watch the end.
Cure breeds a new version of your usual David Fincher serial killer thriller. As I said earlier, it has only a few songs played throughout the entire 111 min runtime. The film can just run by itself and it manages to succeed without the aid of music because a movie can still be scary without music. I'm pretty sure that Kiyoshi used Stalker (1979) as an influence with the cinematography where a lot of the shots are always long and silent and the scary truth about it just plays out for the viewers to see. To be honest, I haven't even heard of this movie until Eureka's Masters of Cinema Blu Ray of this came out. The film is a powerful piece of work that somehow got lost between the train from Japan to America. Nobody cared for this movie at all and people still don't care for it now. It's a shame that I haven't found out about this movie until recently. Many people who've seen this film already consider this a horror film, I wouldn't go so far as that in my opinion. It certainly holds a few well known horror elements like gore and that typical psycho murder moments but in the end, it's not trying to be like other horror films and it's more of a thriller since Silence of the Lambs also has horror elements but wasn't intended to be like a horror film.
The film holds an interesting message about typical human nature and I often think about Sion Sono's controversial Suicide Club (2000, 3 years after Cure) to this. It also uses happy music for murder scenes also which stood to me. There is more to learn about in the movie than just reading a message without experience. X
Salinui chueok (2003)
Memories of Murder: The Golden Age of Korean Cinema
I'm going to be honest here, I don't know a single Korean film released before 2000 other than JSA. Basically the internet doesn't tell me anything about old famous Korean films at all. Japan had famous old films like Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi films, China has A Touch of Zen, Bruce Lee films, and Springtime in a Small Town, and Korea has basically nothing on the internet of any famous Korean films before 1990s. I am sure that i'm not the only who is curious to dive into older Korean films of the 50s and 60s but literally the internet tells us nothing! This is quite upsetting since even Criterion only released one Korean film and that was Secret Sunshine. (2008 dammit!) Every film fan should at least try a taste of each country and tell themselves if they liked it or not. Basically every country other than African countries have a past with cinema except for Korea and African Countries basically. Enough with the hate already, I'm here to discuss about the golden age of Korean cinema when it first respawned and when it first became well known onto the internet with their greatest year, 2003.
2003 is a wonderful year for Korean cinema with their 2 films that are often considered the greatest Korean films, Oldboy and Memories of Murder. Oldboy was beautiful and memorable but at the same time disturbing and uncomfortable to even watch. Memories of Murder was based off on a bunch of murders in a small local town but it includes a dark comedic twist.
With Kang-Ho Song, Kim Sang-Kyung, and Kim Roi-Ha, Memories of Murder is by far one of the greatest films to exist of all time. It's acting is top notch, cinematography is silent and moves fast when it needs to, the music is haunting, and the director himself couldn't have done better. This movie is like when you throw a dart and it lands exactly into that small hole that earns you the most amount of points, it's rewarding and it's rare.
There is really nothing else to say about this story other than spoiling it but you must watch it as soon as possible when you have the time and you won't regret it.
Koroshi no rakuin (1967)
Branded to Kill: A Hidden Face of Japanese Cinema
One simple question: What's the weirdest movie you've seen and where did it came from? *E.T.*? Well you're definitely on the amateur level for saying that is the weirdest. *Brazil*? Ok, you have some experience. Japan? Now that's what i'm looking for. Takashi Miike? Yeah, you definitely reached rock bottom if you've seen any of Miike's movies or any Japanese New Wave film, including *Funeral Parade of Roses*, *Woman in the Dunes*. And then there's the bottom of the pit of weird Japanese New Wave movies with a title you haven't heard of but it's Blu-ray cover catches your eyes with it's beautiful pink background and butterflies flying around it. A cheeky man with sunglasses staring at you. The bold colorful title, *BRANDED TO KILL* lays down onto the pit. You pick the Blu-ray up and gently lay the disc onto the player. It plays, and then random stuff happens. No, you're not stoned, you just started off with your first Suzuki film if you have no idea what is even going on with the editing.
Enter Suzuki, Destroyer of Nikkatsu.
Before *Branded To Kill* Nikkatsu was one of the oldest Japanese film companies of all time with directors like Shohei Imamura and Kon Ichikawa working for them with their famous films like *Burmese Harp* and the *Pigs, Pimps, and Prostitutes Trilogy*. Suzuki on the other hand, was a very hated director backed then when all Nikkatsu wanted from him was a low budget bad movie done in 28 days and to get all that money from the box office. And then after *Branded to Kill*, Nikkatsu literally turned into an adult film company that produced many bad low quality movies including an adult film sequel to *Branded to Kill* which was really unneeded for and just tells you how rotten Nikkatsu's mind has become after firing Suzuki and having a court battle with him. They later became bankrupt in the 90s or so. Nobody knows what Nikkatsu was anymore and nobody cares for the revival of Nikkatsu later in the 2000s, producing few films every few years or so. Suzuki had no intention on becoming a film director first off, but he later enjoyed doing it and he inspired many other famous directors including Jim Jarmusch, Nicolas Winding Refn, and none other than Quentin Tarantino himself for *Kill Bill* of course.
Branded To Kill is about a professional assassin who is number 3 on the ranks of assassins, and he must acquire the title of first place but the number one killer is after him. The problem with many of Suzuki's earlier films are that they are simple and very similar to each other with the same themes of yakuza or slice of life teenage drama. The only thing that makes Suzuki separate from all these other B-movie directors is that Suzuki uses a weird editing and visual style to catch it's audiences attention even if the movie is only 90 minutes long. Suzuki never intended to make his films surreal but it always ended up so as he himself claimed during an interview from the *Tokyo Drifter* Blu-Ray by Criterion. His earlier works show the best version of a used tale that's been passed down to many other films and making it the most visually stunning as possible. Branded to Kill is his final message and his big middle finger to Nikkatsu, eventually taking Nikkatsu down into hell but also being blackmailed from all the other major companies for 10 years as of that matter. It is truly saddening we will never be able to see a film like this ever again from him even if his sequel, *Pistol Opera* was released in Japan lasting a small amount of time and wasn't so big considering it was Suzuki's last few years in film before retiring with *Princess Raccoon*, a musical starring Zhang Ziyi.
*Branded to Kill* and *Tokyo Drifter* is truly 2 of Suzuki's best films and his most artistic also. Especially *Tokyo Drifter* being the most influential out of them all.*Branded To Kill* is that sweet apple juice that you drank as a child and pretending to be drunk with it. Enjoying the sweetness of it's taste and at the same time acting as a hard boiled detective who had a violent past, drinking alcohol during a cool December night with a drink at the bar. The film's style is definitely the definition of weird but probably not the weirdest now since Miike exists.
Now if you've seen the film or seen a few scenes of it, I know it's low budget and it didn't age the best and I agree with it but it still is that one piece of candy that sends you into the dimension of film that has been gone for a while, and that's pure entertainment. The film itself is not serious with a hidden meaning behind it and it is simply you like it or not. There doesn't have to be any symbolism put on here, just a bunch of dead butterflies with that gooey substance coming out and a dead bird stabbed through it's neck as a car freshener and you can call that entertainment since nothing in the world of *Branded to Kill* is important at all. It's all wacky and jazzy.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Carnival Of Souls: The Fear of Being Alone (Spoilers Ahead. Analysis)
Carnival Of Souls is like if you were in a world where you must find the greatest horror movies around and you start driving along the freeway and see a big abandoned carnival in the distance, you know you just hit an underrated jackpot.
Carnival of Souls tells a simple story on the surface about a woman who survives a fatal car crash that ends up falling into a river and drowning for quite some time. She holds the job as a Church Organist and now she must travel to another town to play as their organist for Church. The only scary part, creepy phantoms start popping up all over.
As a person who despises horror films, I cannot watch this film the second time and for a good reason. It's haunting about it's message and how it portrays anti-social people. Here we have a woman who hates being around people because she's strong willed. (Ha, the dumbest horror character to be honest out of all 10 horror films I've seen in my life.) Since she's anti-social, she doesn't do anything with people. But, the way we sympathize with her is that we start seeing these phantoms also and we feel bad for her when people like the flirting neighbor starts to leave her alone because they ran out of respect for her. She is constantly losing every single person that knows her. In the end, she starts dancing with the phantoms which represents herself that she is also like them and at the end they take her and she disappears the next day. What could this mean? Well now you know. She was basically like a phantom, a person who doesn't socialize with people and disappears on the face of the earth since nobody could remember her. And that fear for being alone makes it so terrifying.
I also love to discuss a scene in this film that I highly enjoyed a lot and is one of the techniques I haven't seen been put into use in films, the dream sequence. Now there is no arguing this is one of the most realistic nightmare scenes ever made. Our main character drives into a garage to get her car fixed, the machine pulls her up into the air so the repairman could repair the parts underneath the car. She falls asleep. Then, a light appears through the window, she sees a mysterious shadow and who knows if it was the phantom? The car starts going down and she quickly gets out of the car and starts running out as far as she could. We didn't see the phantom, nothing happened. She was trying to talk with people, nobody listened to her. And at the end, she goes to the doctor's office to talk about her issues again and it was shown that it was actually the phantom. She then wakes her up. Now let's explain this in the way the director did. He never cuts the scene of her sleeping first off, the light just appears during that shot. And she runs away right? She's at the train station and we, the audience are like okay. Then everything starts going back into focus and she can hear everything. But, how did she travel from the park to the doctor's office? How did she get anywhere if we never seen her actually do it. No doubt this is the best dream sequence because everybody actually fell for it. This is an important film for the horror genre as it shows the fear of being alone but also create build one of the most realistic dream sequences of all time. Hats off to this guy. Legendary film.
Yojimbo: the Birth of Clint Eastwood's Career
Yojimbo is one of Kurosawa's greatest works to appear on theaters and there's no denying that. Mifune, playing as the wandering samurai who encounters a gang war between the gambling business and the prostitution business.
There is really not that much to say about this film other than just watch it. Comedy was an important part in playing this story by showing the enemy's actual weaknesses and it's hilarious. Kurosawa's theory of movement in film plays well as it shows the audience that there is movement on screen and it's important for visual storytelling. Having Mifune scratch his shoulders with his head to help the audience understand that it's the main character or using dust flying across the screen are a few examples of powerful movement in film. This classic was later created into a spaghetti western movie, "Fistful of Dollars" which became the first of the three films that Clint Eastwood starred in and if this film didn't exist, then the greatest western film of all time wouldn't exist either.
Jing wu men (1972)
Fist of Fury: Racism and Nunchakus
"Fist of Fury" is the second best Bruce Lee film that everybody can (and should) agree on. Released in the same year as "Way of the Dragon," this martial arts film became one of the biggest cinematic impacts of China to date, spanning many other sequels or remakes from martial artists like Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. (Fist of Fury 2 by Jackie Chan in 1978, Fist of Fury tv series by Donnie Yen in '95, and Jet Li's bone breaking classic, "Fist of Legend")
"Fist of Fury" is about a master's best student named Chen Zhen who arrives to his master's funeral and investigates on his master's death as suspicions rise within him as the Japanese mock his school. Like every martial arts film, it's simple yet emotionally charged. Bruce Lee displays several emotions going from the saddest emotions that he ever shown on screen, to the most violent and horrifying shout he has ever produced. The tension and suspense is strong as two Asian nationalities fight each other one by one. The fight scenes are one of the coolest and it is one of the more entertaining martial arts films to this day. The movie made Lee an icon of China as he made the message against racism. For I, a Japanese, can say that this film can be extremely racist most of the times. But, Bruce Lee did not hate the Japanese people in real life and he had to make a message against racial oppression.
The acting is probably the only cheesy problem that this film has, but it's one of the my favorite martial art films to date as it's not all about martial arts films and it takes politics up to the next level.
Meng long guo jiang (1972)
Way of the Dragon: the Problem with Martial Art Movies
"Way of the Dragon" was one of the first R-rated films I've seen along with Bruce Lee's other works. The first and only film to be directed by Bruce Lee himself and also stars the popular Chuck Norris, "Way of the Dragon" can be entertaining yet disappointing.
Bruce Lee plays as a Chinese man named Tang Lung who visits Rome to help with his cousin's restaurant. The only problem is that they are encountered by some of the worst acting Americans ever. (Most Chinese films have bad American actors) There is really nothing to say but this story is thin and predictable since it's a martial arts film with no message put into it. Nothing of this film stands out with it's mediocre acting, story development, and the most important, creativity. But, I got to hand it to you that the final fight scene between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris remains as one of the greatest fight scenes of all time, seeing the greatest martial artists fight out at the Coliseum of Rome, East versus West, America versus China, Strength versus Speed. Bruce Lee tackles his story with running gags of him wanting to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes in the first half of the movie. Other than that, the film isn't as great as I thought it was years ago.
"Way of the Dragon" does not come recommended, but watching the last few minutes are only the worthy parts of this story. One thing that I also enjoyed about the ending fight scene is that when one of them dies, the music starts to create an eerie and uncomfortable atmosphere that Bruce Lee always uses when he misuses martial arts and ends up killing somebody. Look at this other films of him when he kills somebody. Lee understands that martial arts should never be used for killings but he disobeys his only rule of martial arts and the sense of breaking his rule gives off a powerful impact of fear that he later used in his other films that no other martial arts films do.
Dung fong tuk ying (1987)
Eastern Condors: One of the Greatest War Films You Haven't Watched Yet (SPOILERS)
"Eastern Condors" is a 1987 Chinese action film directed and starred Sammo Hung. It also included many other famous actors/actresses who would soon become famous years after this like Yuen Biao, (Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung always work with him) Joyce Godenzi, (Sammo Hung's future wife) Wah Yuen, (the landlord of Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle") Lam Ching Ying, (famous for "Prodigal Son" and "Mr. Vampire") Yuen Woo-Ping, (action choreographer of the "Matrix", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and "Drunken Master") and Billy Chow. (The famous villain of Jet Li's "Fist of Legend") The film itself plays similar to any other Vietnam war film, but with a Bond twist into it.
During the Vietnam War, a group of prisoners are dropped into the gruesome battlefields of Vietnam as they must find and destroy dangerous missiles that the enemies hold. The story itself plays very simply, yet it plays around like a dance. Our main characters can be seen constantly being attacked by bullets of the enemies that surround them, day and night. The film itself easily kills a prisoner, one by one. Sammo dares to kill his prisoners one by one as they are driven into madness and their desires of completing their tasks without fail. There was a big scene in the beginning of the film when after the prisoners are taken in as hostages of a group of Vietnamese soldiers. They are forced to play Russian Roulette which is stolen from, "The Deer Hunter." The only difference is, children are the one that are pulling the trigger for the prisoners. While the remaining prisoners take down their enemy's camp, one prisoner was about to shoot down an innocent child when the child later stabbed him and ran away with excellent speed. It was rather an interesting scene that tells us how bad the Vietnam War was like.
Although this film isn't the greatest Vietnam War film to hold the emotional impact like, "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now", "Eastern Condors" does still thrill the audience with it's strong action sequences, a scene or two of light humor between one character or another, (Not physical humor as Jackie Chan does) and the overall strong message that it displays out. Although this film isn't that good now that I think of it, it does remain as one of Sammo Hung's greatest films to date and can get a little over the top. The story itself can be a bit too simple and uncomplex and the uses of humor for a war film isn't the smartest choice. Although, if you enjoy action fight sequences, you will enjoy this cult classic.
Fuk sing go jiu (1985)
My Lucky Stars: Art Over Story (Spoilers Intended)
Just watched this film last night for the first time and I was greatly disappointed by what I just saw. My Lucky Stars is a sequel that came after the big hit, "Winners and Sinners" My Lucky Stars was only to begin an entire span of uncreative movies that don't understand movie directing. The story itself was mostly comedians doing little jokes throughout this film.
My Lucky Stars is about a cop named Muscles (Jackie Chan) who loses his partner (Yuen Biao) at the fair while trying to expose some Japanese gangster's lair. The cops eventually decided to call out the disastrous groups of people who were criminals but they have to use them since they think they're the only ones that the gangsters don't know. (Except the gangsters don't know everyone else) So they pick out a few specific people and when I mean specific I meant, 61, Blockhead, Sandy, Herb, and Rawhide. These people are specifically chosen to find the cop's partner in the Japanese lair and just save him and not expose the entire gang whatsoever.
The story is thin, mediocre, and unimportant to the director's intention. The director most of the time felt absent as our main characters make their own jokes up onto the screen and I do admit, they can be pretty funny but at the same time, the director is missing many important ideas for a movie. For a movie should not be entirely ran upon jokes but each scene should rather hold an importance in moving the story forward. If the scene is unimportant, delete it. The story only takes up 1/3 of this movie and the jokes are 2/3 of this movie. The story is also stupid for the fact that it's only about saving some undercover cop instead of exposing a big underground gang that does bad stuff. (That we have no idea what they do.) Nothing really makes up that big hole in this film and the only thing the director does is blind us with it's stunning visual colors. The colors are aesthetic but that's the 80s. Don't get this for the blu ray is one thing for sure. Even if the transfer is great, the movie itself is lousy. Unless if you like bad but hilarious comedies, I'm leaving the choice on you.
Tôkyô monogatari (1953)
Tokyo Story: Realism made through Subtlety
1954 was one hell of a year for the Japanese film industry. Other than the fact that they're poor after WW2 ended, 1954 was probably the best Japanese film year to date. The 3 greatest directors of Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa, and Yasujiro Ozu, release by far their greatest creations. (Although Ugetsu was 1953, Sansho the Baliff was also great) Oh and I forgot that GODZILLA was also 1954 too. There's no denying Japanese Cinema was at their peak in 1954. There was Seven Samurai, Sansho the Baliff, Godzilla, and then there's Tokyo Story which is the film we're going to focus on today.
Tokyo Story tells the most simple and boring tale of family about grandparents visiting their son's place for a while and see how everyone is doing. It is hard to describe the power of this film without spoiling the ending. The ending makes up the emotions. The power of boredom is that it is normal, silent, and yet when something happens, we would end up reacting to it for no reason. Boredom is the weapon that Ozu always chose to tell his story.
Each one of his stories have special messages on life that are worth learning about. His stories might be the same, but they each hold power that many people don't see. The camera never moves a single inch. It is one foot above the ground. Moving the camera would mean you would break the power of boredom and you would expect action out of a character. That's why Kurosawa is so moving with his action. Tokyo Story is the perfect and most Japanese film that you'll ever get. Japanese drinking sake, having nice dinners, and overall living their lives to the best. Keep in mind that this film was after WW2 so the film is like an escapist film. The film is like the only source back then that can get Japanese people happy with their lives and help them forget about the war.
Fa yeung nin wah (2000)
In the Mood for Love: Love is a Dangerous Feeling
If you know Wong Kar Wai, you'll understand how the editing and colors work. Cinematography beautiful, editing great, music chosen from older times. (Like Tarantino) But what makes this film different from the director's other films?
The film is hard to understand. The story tells love on a whole new angle. Our main characters, Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow, say goodbye to their significant others as they both realize that they are both cheating on them.
The feeling of someone cheating on you is so powerful, so haunting. The strong stab of betrayal slices your heart open like a piece of paper, you can't put it back to it's original form with tape or glue. The paper will always remain damaged no matter what. The story itself is based off on a short story that those who own the Criterion version can read for free. (It takes up 90% of the booklet which explains why the booklet is 48 pages long) The story and it's philosophy is something worth understanding. I watched this as a child, I can never understand the story again and I should've hold onto this film for a little later when I am an adult. But, the past is always the past. It's not like other Wong Kar Wai films and this one is the one that you must take seriously compared to his other works. It has a very interesting meaning about true love and its haunting.