Tokyo Godfathers Review:

 

[This review contains spoilers]

This is the most interesting Christmas film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s about three homeless individuals: a drunk, a gay cross-dresser and a runaway girl. Each have very unique reasons for having ended up in such a horrible situation, literally living in a cardboard box.

It’s a film about family. How these three are one, and how they meet those from lives they’d lost.

The film starts with them finding an infant in the trash. It sounds horrible, and the movie suitably focuses on the horror of such an event. This leads them on a strange adventure as they search for the child’s mother; from them saving a Mafia boss stuck under his vehicle to a car chase at the end. There is a strong element of action in a film that seems to mainly focus on human connection. It’s an odd contrast, but this film is at least spiritually, a screwball comedy.

The strange turn of events shouldn’t make sense, but they do. There is a constant message of ‘Christmas miracles’, which is an interesting take from the Japanese perspective.

This is a bit of a thinking man’s film, but with all it’s comedy and action, it’s really for everyone. It tackles hard topics with a grin, with comedy always waiting in the wings to remind you of the levity in life. This is a happy story. But it does show that people can ruin their lives. That even a baby can be thrown away. That the world can be sick. But in that, you’re rarely alone.

That you have family to combat the winter.

Satoshi Kon made a great film, he’s known to do that. I hope that you look into him and his other works, because it’s criminal that he isn’t better known. It sucks that he passed before his time. This is a great film, it’s animation is wonderful. I loved the art. The script is both well written and funny. The translation, from what little I can tell, did a great job.

Check out this film, and merry Christmas.

Funny Face Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

If you thought Audrey Hepburn was ugly, you’re either dumb or stupid, yet somehow this film wants to convince you that she has a ‘funny face’. Not in this or any other lifetime. She looks like a model and there’s no other way of seeing at it in my mind.

This a musical film about fashion. Honestly, I’ve seem better musicals, Into the Woods springs to mind. Also the fashion part, I thought The Devil Wears Prada did it better. This isn’t to say the film isn’t worth watching, it is. It’s sweet, silly and harmless. However I found it to be rather unremarkable.

The dancing is fine, but given it was Fred Astaire, he really wasn’t at the top of his game. He was rather mediocre, which for him is still far better than the average dancer, but for him. Rather weak. Kay Thompson was enjoyable in her role as a rather sour woman. You warm up to her, but she really did start as rather unlikeable.

This film is a romance between Hepburn’s character Jo and Astaire’s Dick. It’s a silly but affectionate romance that gets into all sorts of trouble. Dick is many years her senior and kisses her randomly for no reason. I suppose that’s romantic, however Jo really did take her time to get close to him. It honestly felt out of place to me, why pursue someone that shows no interest? Especially for the first half of the film.

I didn’t buy the romance. Randomly kissing someone doesn’t lead to instant love. I didn’t feel the build up between them, it just kind of happened and it was odd.

The fashion part of the film is its strongest aspect. It feels believable to me. They photograph her, think she’d be great as a model and she joins in to meet some professor in Paris. Simple, but it works.

The parts of the film that shows off the fashion are lovely and they feel sophisticated. I enjoyed watching what was considered trendy back then. Hepburn just look wonderful in that role. It helps that the colours just popped of the screen, the movie was dripping in it.

This film isn’t for everyone and I couldn’t recommend it. It felt strangely average to me. The plotting was rushed in some places and a little slow in others. The musical numbers were just okay. Skip this one, go watch An American In Paris instead.

Baby Driver Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has a great sound track. I don’t normally talk about the music to a film because normally to me it’s just in the background adding to the ‘emotion’. This film actively makes you notice the tracks being played, from making Baby (the main character) lip-synced to the lyrics to the films action hitting (literally) all the same beats.

It’s excellently done and really sets this film apart from most.

The music is also implemented in a unique way with how it plays throughout the film. It’s either on a radio, or on Baby’s iPod. The music is used as a plot device, by Baby using it to block out the ringing he constantly has in his ears. It’s even great when he loses most of his hearing toward the end of the film, the audience experiences it too, by the soundtrack becoming more muted.

I liked that, it made for an almost interactive experience rarely given by most films.

The plot is fun, but it mainly stands as an action film with cars; and lots of driving. If you’re into The Fast and the Furious, Speed Racer or Redline (the anime), you’ll most likely find something enjoyable here. Keep in mind though, it’s also a Mafia, criminal type film. It’s about a young man getting caught in that sort of life and just wants a way out.

It’s also a romance film and it’s pretty well done. It won’t win any awards for the love story, but it’s nice.

No, this film really shines in it’s action. It seems to have an 80s aesthetic with it’s use of cassettes. Baby Driver lives on it’s great sound track. I’d recommend this film easily to anyone that likes fun.

Whatever happened to the chick flick?

[This article contains spoilers]

Baby Driver reminds me of two other ones: American Ultra (which is not as good) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which is a better movie). It’s is the attitude of these films, the quick editing and the surprising focus on a rather nice romance. Another, better known film, that did this ‘action romance’ better is Deadpool.

I’m not saying that if you liked Deadpool you’ll all of a sudden like all these other films (especially given that American Ultra being the weakest example). But it seems to be a recent trend, come for the bloody fights, stay for the touching story.

I find it strange that the best romance films nowadays aren’t even trying to be romantic films, but action ones. I think it’s a little sad that the romance genre is so sparse and unoriginal in modern times. I’ve brought it up before, but The Apartment has be one of my favourite romance films I’ve ever seen, and funnily enough, that one also has a male protagonist.

Whatever happened to the iconic romantic film? Where are they? There have been some decent ones, like About Time (another male lead…I wonder why?)

What about those really dumb and sappy films that stared Meg Ryan? The movies where it was obvious where it was going? Aiming squarely at that middle age woman demographic? I miss those films. I miss the predictable clichés that you’d see from a mile away. The fact that they love each other so damned much that it hurts to be apart. That soul crushing romance. I love that stuff, yet I can’t think of any true great examples of a pure romance film experience in the last few decades.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Deadpool, I think it’s a wonderful romance and a great action film, but I want more. I want to watch a woman crying like Bridget Jones’s Diary, or see a sweet quirky family dramedy like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But those were over a decade ago.

Some notable mentions should be Silver Linings Playbook. A decent film, but I wouldn’t call it remarkable. It’s more about mental health than romance, and even then, I think it plays down those more serious aspects for comedy (like the father basically gambling everything away. ‘It’s okay because they won the bet’, seems to be the films logic behind it. Real life doesn’t work that way).

Love & Other Drugs is a good film, but it’s narrative is fractured. It moves from a love story to living with a partner with Parkinson’s disease rather fast, but it does ‘go there’ which I appreciate. The Proposal is also pretty funny and silly, but not for everyone. I enjoyed it, but it’s hardly a classic.

I haven’t seen The Fault in our Stars or The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I understand that they’re meant to be good ‘young adult’ romance flicks.

The only great film aiming for this audience that I saw was Your Name, a wonderful film. Yes it’s animated, an action film filled with a time travel adventure. However it’s a love story at it’s core, which is nice.

I guess I wrote this to say, I’m still waiting for a film that’ll knock my socks off. That’ll come out and be sappy, silly and funny. That will be a return of a real romantic film, for an adult. I love Deadpool, but it’s just not that same.

Romance films of the 21st Century, where are you? It’s been too long and you’re sorely missed.

Macross: Do You Remember Love? Review

[This review contains spoilers]

It has been awhile since I last saw this film, and it’s honestly better than I remember. I once heard, that the more you watch this film, the better it gets. I can’t really disagree with that statement.

This film has a love triangle, it might be the best one I’ve ever seen. This is a war film, but it’s one with ‘love’ in the title, so don’t be too surprised with the adorableness of it all. Hikaru is interested in the star of the galaxy, Lynn Minmay and officer Misa Hayase. When he’s with Minmay, it’s a sweet puppy love, but he remains boy; with Misa, it’s different. She’s a woman that shows him how to be a man.

This film is an improvement on the TV show in every way. I haven’t seen it in awhile, but the show felt dragged out, the animation inconsistent to downright poor in places. Hikaru comes off as a confused teenager, and the best romance wasn’t even the main couple. Though I will say, the songs are catchy, and the animation does have some bright spots, despite that, I can’t recommend the show.

None of this is present in the film. The animation is stunning, the songs are fun and poppy. It’s got a tight plot that’s always moving, and even when it takes a breather, there are revelations to be had.

Earth isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Everyone died, it’s desolate, and that’s not even the major twist. Humans fight against giants. We defend ourselves, when we aren’t even the real enemy. The giants have no culture, only war. The Zentradi fight against the Meltrandi, and have been doing so for thousands of years. They’re manufactured, so when they come across culture. Our culture. It shocks their system, as if it awakens something long forgotten.

This is an anime about love, mechs, and pop music. 1980’s pop music! It shouldn’t fit, but it does. Believe it or not, it’s an ancient love song that saves everything. It sounds stupid, and cheesy, but it’s weirdly charming.

The action is great. There isn’t one wasted frame. This whole film has fluid animation, and fantastic art. It incorporates parts of the TV show, in brief, but great ways; like Max and Milia relationship.

If you saw the show do you get more out of it? Yes, it has subtle call backs, but it really isn’t necessary. With the show being so flawed, and this being such a step up. I’d say, just watch the film. It’s the best version of this story.

So forget Star Wars, Macross: Do You Remember Love? That’s where it’s at!

Wonder Woman Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This film is a cartoon and video game combined into one. It has slow motion ‘finishing moves’. A villain referred to as ‘Doctor Poison’. And a final boss. It’s silly, despite always trying to be taken seriously.

I also find it difficult to when Diana wears high heels and make-up into battle. I also thought it was uneven in it’s presentation in a good vs bad side. It tries to be a little even handed with the addition of The Chief and his people’s history with the British, but overall it felt very one sided, like a popcorn flick. A big, loud, Hollywood movie.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect much substance to this film.

Here’s the thing though, I feel like this film is similar to Captain America. I feel like that movie did this plot better and didn’t take itself as seriously.

Where this film shines is when it leans on it’s Greek Mythology, when we see Diana and her innocence. Her questioning of this strange world. That angle is unique. When she’s an outsider looking within, it strikes you as something special.

When you’re on the island, with the Amazons, that feels different. But the war, it has simplistic portrayal. It just not a real war film.

Captain America, I think, succeeded more in this respect, because it was focused on being a superhero film. It was Steve Rodgers ‘zero to hero’ moment.

Wonder Woman tries to focus on the tragedies of war, more than Captain America did. It wants to show how Diana lost her innocence, yet it hides the audience from this same brutality. That rings hollow to me. I don’t feel like I truly saw what she did. I didn’t see heartbreak and sorrow. It was hinted at, but that’s it.

I felt more when Diana left the island. When her mother despaired at her loss. That scene meant more because of the time the film invested into their relationship. Her mother always feared losing her, and Diana wasn’t prepared for the hurt she caused her.

In contrast Aries, the films main ‘bad’, is a joke. His motivations make no sense. I don’t buy the whole ‘lets make a perfect planet’ spiel. He’s a God! He has millions of planets to make perfect. I mean seriously, that’s his motivation?

Also Steve Trevor didn’t have to die. He had all the ‘secret war weapons’ with him in a plane. Alone. He could’ve landed anywhere and lived happily ever after with Diana. Instead he killed himself for no reason.

It’s things like that which makes the whole film feel flimsy. Did they think this whole plot through? It really doesn’t feel like they did.

Now, it’s really not a bad film, Diana is a good character, Gal Gadot was fine in the role. The action is good. It’s a turn off your brain type film. I’m not going to recommend it to everyone, but it certainly has an audience. Check it out if you’re into superhero films, especially if you want to watch a female one.

If you’re not in love with the action blockbuster. Give it a miss, you’ve seen this one before.