This blog post was brought to you by the boys from Radiohead.
A return to normalcy this week as I wasn't involved with any outside volunteer work. Yesterday I went to @Con which is basically a mini Manifest (Melbourne's most popular anime festival). The venue looked nice but everything else kinda crappy. My friend and I made the most of it and sat in the theater acting silly and yelling random things during the trivia, cosplay parade and karaoke sessions. Time well spent, I say. Other than that, the rest of the week was a blur.
The Golden Globe Awards also happened this week. I watched it. Here's what I thought:
- So a lot of Hollywood is mad at Ricky Gervais. I happened to think that he did a great job humouring and entertaining the crowd.
- Most of the awards were what I expected to win (hooray for "The Social Network").
- Why did "Glee" beat "Modern Family"?
- The Golden Globes are a poor man's Oscar (people shouldn't take it too seriously).
WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
Shoot, I was too busy getting all caught up with my assessment of Julianne Moore's films last week that I completely neglected the fact that I saw two other stellar films for the first time - "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "My Neighbour Totoro". As you may be aware, I'm currently visiting The Astor Theatre in St Kilda to catch a few of Hayao Miyazaki's films that they're screening throughout this month. This week I watched "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" - two films that I've seen before and one of which I haven't seen on a big screen. I'll only write on the Nausicaa, Totoro and Mononoke though as I have not written about them before.
AND I know that I was meant to have seen some of John Hughes' films but I was in a bit of a lazy mood this week and wasn't up for watching films at home. Next week I'll definitely be his films though.
"Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" is a powerful debut feature film from Hayao Miyazaki that truly lays the groundwork for the rest of his films to follow. I like watching the first film a director makes because it's clear that some of the themes and techniques employed in that first film will be brought on over to subsequent movies. What originally was a series of manga novels that we're also created by Miyazaki himself was turned into a two hour epic. While I didn't have to many problems with the film, my major gripe of the film was the pacing. I don't know if anyone else would agree with me on that but I thought it felt a bit sluggish at times and needed to pick up. Also, the ending was a bit too rushed and we're not given enough time to truly absorb the resolution. Having said that, Miyazaki is able to give us an original film with an important message about the preservation of nature (a major recurring theme throughout most of his films). We also see Miyazaki's fascination with flight in the film which again is exploited throughout the rest of his features. What I liked most about this film was the fact that so much thought went into making it. The world in which these characters inhabit are truly unique and an a joy to explore. I liked this, though not as much as I probably should have. This film may bare much resemblance to "Princess Mononoke" but I much prefer the latter.
One thing I admire about Miyazaki is his ability to not only be able to bring mature epics like "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "Princess Mononoke" to life but also be able to make films for kids as well (that are actually good, no less). I was very excited to see "My Neighbor Totoro" because I've heard so many great things about it and I was very impressed with what I watched. If I had kids, I'd definitely show them this film because there's so much to love about it. The title of the film is misleading however as I was expecting more of the big and lovable creature but for whatever time he had on screen it was memorable enough. The film is able to mix genuine moments of humour with a poignant story about two sisters and their ill mother. While it may be suggested that Totoro is the heart of the film, that honour undoubtedly goes to Mei, the little girl who finds Totoro. It's hard not to fall in love with this character because she's an absolute bundle of joy. Great kids film.
I don't think I've spoken about "Princess Mononoke" on my blog before so here goes. This film is probably the most mature of Miyazaki's films as there is quite a bit of violence that some may find to be out of place within the context of Miyazaki's body of work. What I love about "Princess Mononoke" is how all the fundamental elements of a film come together to form something incredible. The score for this film is probably Joe Hisashi's best score for any of the Miyazaki films and feels absolutely epic which it should as the film is a wondrous journey into the unknown for our protagonist. Again the themes of nature and war remain prevelant throughout but it's the story and characters that one feels for most in this film. The story is told so well and for a two hour film, it goes by so quickly. The characters all likable and once again the world in which Miyazaki conceptualises and creates is one that's unique and amazing. This is my favourite of all of Miyazaki's films.
-----------My first official film in cinemas in 2011 was the new Chinese epic by Benny Chan, "Shaolin". The film stars Andy Lau as a warmongering general who is betrayed by his protege in Nicholas Tse. After being overthrown and losing everything, the general seeks refuge and salvation from a Buddhist temple who accept him despite his past crimes. The film isn't as great as I had imagined it to be but it is however entertaining. Other than Andy Lau's general, the other characters are fairly one dimensional and don't bring too much depth to the story. Andy Lau was fantastic in the film, I thought, but everyone else is seems rather underused. The story and pacing is also another problem. The story feels the same as most films of this genre (minus the fact that they're not fighting an invading Japanese threat) and suffers from what feels like a rather long film. As for the action, the fights are great and they actually do a good job of making non-fighters like Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse look formidable. Jackie Chan's cameo is a nice comic relief from an otherwise serious film but oftentimes feels awkwardly out of place. "Shaolin" isn't a bad movie, it just isn't a great one. While it is a nice looking film that features some great shots of exotic locations, ultimately it's bogged down by lack of depth and pacing.
TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
A major announcement was made this week that aroused much vocal emotion within the fanboy community. Warner Bros announced that Anne Hathaway was officially cast as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in the third of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, "The Dark Knight Rises". Additionally, it was also announced that Tom Hardy, who had previously been cast but was not given a character, has been set to play Bane. In the comics, Bane is most famous for having broken Batman's back while Catwoman is most famous for being the on and off romantic interest for Batman. I like these choices and don't mind Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. My reason for this is a fairly good actress and if Nolan sees potential in her to bring to life his vision for this character then I say let him cast her. Nolan hasn't gone wrong with his casting yet so I trust him to bring us something we haven't seen before.
The full trailer for Catherine Hardwicke's "Red Riding Hood" was released this past week. It features a lot of familiar visuals from the original teaser and throws in some new footage. The music that's featured in the trailer feels so completely out of place and there's a really strong "Twilight" vibe to it which is pretty disconcerting. I'm hoping this is better than what is shown here.
And finally some new images surfaced this week from Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" which will be released later this year. The above photo has me a little concerned to be honest but I'll still watch this film only with a little more trepidation. I'm mostly interested in how the 60's will work into this film (and Rose Byrne, of course).
And that concludes this week's post. OMFG, I'M TURNING 19 TOMORROW! :O