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Monday, 29 August 2011

Metal On Metal

The big news this week is that I attended Manifest for the fourth year in a row! I've been documenting my visits to Manifest for the past few years here on my blog and for those who've stuck it out with me since the beginning (although I feel like as though those people don't read my blog anymore) they can probably see that Manifest gets bigger and better every year. Manifest is one of the things I look forward to every year cause I always have a blast with my mates and the people there are awesome!

This year was the biggest Manifest yet! They had two seperate buildings - one entirely for video games and the other being the standard trading hall. Now I could share a lot of anecdotes about the day but why do that when there's a load of pictures that can be viewed and admired?!?! A lot of these photos aren't mine though and are taken from other people so kudos to them for sharing the photos with everyone!


Myself and some mates kept the theme of cardboard boxes from last year and went as cardboard Gundams this year. Surprisingly, those things killed our necks and backs after wearing them for so long. We took them off during our lunch break though and destroyed them.


This one's my favourite.









Marshall Lee and Fionna from Adventure Time’s Gender Swap episode! These two cosplayers are so amazing.
Best cosplay or best cosplay?

My crappy doodle of Finn, Jake and LSP (who clearly isn’t lumpy enough).
This was a little something I drew at one of the stalls. Hooray for crappy Adventure Time doodles!



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NEON GENESIS EVANGELION!


MORE NEON GENESIS EVANGELION! HOORAY!







ALL IN ALL A PRETTY RADTASTIC DAY, NO? I swear next year, should I decide to partake in the antics of Manifest again, I swear I'll get more of my OWN photos and upload them. How about a vlog? :O
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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No film has ever moved me the way that "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" has. Some films have gotten close - an example being "127 Hours" released earlier this year - but none has striked me in the same way that this documentary feature has.

The film begins with some archival footage from a performance that the band, Anvil, had in Japan many years ago with modern day rock icons like Slash from Guns N' Roses and Lemmy from Motorhead, reflecting on how influential Anvil were on today's metal scene but also wondering where the lads of Anvil are. The band never signed a huge record deal, thus never really earning the recognition they deserved and consequentially faded away into obscurity. 30 odd years later, the band is still going strong with two of it's original members Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner still rocking out with two younger members of the band.

At first, the film draws many instant comparisons to the mockumentary "This is Spinal Tap" but where that film aimed to show the lunacy and pretentiousness of rock and roll, this documentary aims to tell a story about two lifelong friends who've made a promise to keep doing what they love to do and to do whatever's necessary to keep their dream alive. Lips and Reiner are the most interesting subjects of the film and their friendship and the story of their band is an absolutely amazing tale that is objectively brought to screen with much devotion. Underlying issues such as the way the music industry works and the sacrifices most people make when trying to make a career in the arts are also brought to the table admist the turmoil of the band and the desperation of two aging rockers still hoping that their music finds success. In short, the film is basically a lot like Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" but with rockstars and the world of music.

The film made me laugh, cry and feel things that I didn't even think existed. It's an astonishing piece of work - one of the best films I've ever seen. It doesn't matter if you have no interest in metal or if you don't want to watch "ugly" people for 80 minutes because this film is absolutely essential viewing for everyone who's ever had a dream. An inspirational, emotional and highly engaging piece of work.

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No "Tidbits of Film News" this week. I've been busy, if you haven't noticed by the delayed blog post. Anyways, I'll end it there. Hope you all have an awesome week. :)

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Short Change Hero

HARROOOOO!

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Heh, Mana Bar dress code.

The only thing I did this week that was worthy of a small mention here on my blog is that I visited Melbourne's Mana Bar. Pretty small place, a lot smaller than I had imagined but a pretty awesome venue nonetheless. The drinks were pretty expensive though which has discouraged me from ever buying another drink there. The main draw of the bar though is the fact that it's basically a free arcade, haha. My and my mates pretty much sat around playing Super Smash Bros Brawl and Super Street Fighter 4. Kinda makes me want a Wii just for SSBB.

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This week's title is brought to you by The Heavy. I've just gotten into them recently and am loving them to bits. If you're a fan of The Black Keys give these guys a try - they have a pretty similar sound!

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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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The second of Yoji Yamada's "Samurai" trilogy, "The Hidden Blade", much like "The Twilight Samurai" before it, garnered much praise and was nominated for 12 Japanese Academy Awards (although unlike "The Twilight Samurai" only walked away with one award). The film follows Munezo Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) a former samurai warrior caught up in a time where the age of the samurai is no longer required and that the power of economy proves superior to the power of the sword. The film bears heavy resemblance to it's predecessor both in tone and in plot however, unlike it's predecessor, never quite amounts to the nuances of "The Twilight Samurai". Some of the story beats mirror that of "The Twilight Samurai" (it's eluded in the film that Katagiri and Seibei Iguchi learned from the same master.) It never hits that heightened level of emotional resonance and thus, feels like a film that's less personal and intimate. The story of the film, is more or less, an alternate version of the "The Twilight Samurai". The film does have it's quietly profound moments of course, but they're often subdued by the other ongoing subplots in the film (ones involving the major change Japan was going through at the time). I would have to say that I was quite disappointed with this film after having expectations raised quite highly due to the superb "The Twilight Samurai" but "The Hidden Blade" falls short of my expectations. At least it didn't have a "forcefully beaten over the head" ballad-type song playing out during the ending.


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After watching "The Hidden Blade", I was hoping that "Love and Honor", the third and final installment in Yoji Yamada's "Samurai" trilogy, would raise my spirits. "Love and Honor" is about a samurai, Shinnojo Mimura (Takuya Kimura), who works in his clan's castle as a food taster for the lord of the clan. His job is dull but earns him enough money to get by for he and his wife. However, after an unfortunate taste test one day, Mimura becomes blind, thus forcing him out of his job and being left in the care of his wife, Kayo (Rei Dan). What I liked about this film was that it wasn't similar to the other two films at all. Sure, it was similar in style and tone but the story and characters were completely different which is nice. This time around, the story is more grounded on the relationship between our two leads Shinnojo and Kayo. The characters develop well - Mimura having to deal with his new found blindness and having his entire life change and Kayo having to defend the honour of her husband by not only taking care of him but also having to do what is necessary to keep some form of income and compensation coming in. A much better film than "The Hidden Blade" I feel with interestingly flawed characters.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

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Big news this week as Ridley Scott looks like he's ready to return to the world of "Blade Runner". Alcon Entertainment acquired the rights to "Blade Runner" and are hoping to expand further as there is much in the world of "Blade Runner" that can be explored. No word yet as to whether or not Harrison Ford will return for any of the new set of films. I personally love this and think that a new "Blade Runner" film would look exceptional what with today's technological advancements in film and all. It's exciting news but one that most people, understandably, looking at with much trepidation.

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In other news, Bradley Cooper's been dropped from the remake of "The Crow" (why remake this movie?) and in his place stand two leading contenders, Mark Whalberg and Channing Tatum. Wait what? Okay, this piece of potential casting news is really bugging me. I actually would've been fine with Cooper as The Crow (wouldn't have been happy with it but was willing to tolerate it). The other two? Not so much. Whalberg's screen presence in films doesn't really connect well for character, nor does Channing Tatum's (who, physically doesn't look anything like what you'd expect from The Crow.) Come on now, we've had to suffer through three horrible sequels - let's not put the nail in the coffin by seriously suggesting them for the part.

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This next video isn't so much "newsworthy" but is fun to watch. Hell, it may even prove to be informative! It's 6 minute and 24 second video highlighting 25 of the greatest unscripted scenes in movie history (at least according to this editor/uploader). I actually had no idea that the line, "Warriors, come out and play!" was unscripted. It's great to see how some of these unscripted lines have gone on to become classic quotes.


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And that's it this week. Hey... where's Wall-E, everyone?

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Venice Queen

WHAT TIME IS IT?


Certainly not Adventure Time! Although I would love for it to be Adventure Time all the time. But no, it's just time for another weekly update.

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Oh look! I actually got out of the house to hang out with awesome people this weekend. I was at my mate's going away surprise party last night and had a pretty good time with friends.























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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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Released in 2002, Yoji Yamada's poignant samurai drama "The Twilight Samurai" is a Japanese film that needs not squander in bloodshed or violence - a characteristic of which is certainly quite aytpical of what's expected in a samurai period piece. The film centers around Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada), a low ranking, petty samurai who has fallen on hard times - he has to take care of his two daughters and senile mother on his own after the recent death of his wife. His associates at his day job make fun of him behind his back by calling him, "Twilight", due to his nature of going home before dark to try to make more money and spend time with his children.

"The Twilight Samurai" has been compared to Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" a lot and rightfully so as aspects of these films overlap each other. It's a quiet film tells a great story and defies what we've expected in these types of films. Seibei is a fantastically written character which is grounded Sanada's performance - one full of nuance. He and Yamada manage to make the audience see that Seibei's a sad, even lonesome, person but despite his low income and desperate situation, he'll go on and do what's best for him and his family without caring about the judgement of anyone else. Seibei's just a likable guy who wants to help out his family. He's a character that understands that the age of the samurai is coming to an end and has accepted what is to become of him after the swords have been laid down. He's someone who would be much happier with a simple life and to be able to see his daughters grow up.

It's a quiet film but one that's deserving of great attention. I can see that it's definitely an instant classic as far as Japanese cinema/samurai films are concerned (sweeping the Japanese Academy Awards that year by taking home 12 awards). I'd be happy if other people seek this gem out.

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That's it for the week. No Tidbits of Film News this week unfortunately but I will be bringing that back next week. Anyways, until next time, readers. :)

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Arabesque

Hey guys.

Hoarding movie ticket stubs cause I have nothing else better to do. In other news, I really should stop going out to the cinema almost every week. Almost.


Someone on Formspring asked for me to show my movie ticket stubs. Well here they are. Money wasted. I should probably like not watch movies in cinemas for a while or something after really looking at this, lol.

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On Thursday I got to check out the Lego exhibition that's been running at Federation Square for quite some time now. Federation Square ran a get together program for it's staff and volunteers so I figured I may as well take advantage of this to get free access to the exhibit and to also get as much free food as I can (catering was involved, as you can imagine). The first floor was just a general shop for all things Lego, the second floor involved art pieces constructed entirely from Lego by Nathan Sawaya (HE ALSO DID THE FLAMING C LEGO FOR CONAN O'BRIEN!) and on the third floor was basically a play space where you can sit down and create things from Lego. I'd definitely recommend it to everyone! It's a lot of fun, really!

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After that I had a film screening at MIFF for "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" with my friend, Carrie (who also owns a blog so be sure to check it out at omfgcarrie.blogspot.com) . Thoughts on that documentary can be found below!

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Also, just to raise a bit of awareness about it for people who are interested, Melbourne will be apart of co-hosting the Korean International Film Festival this year. The festival will run in Sydney first from August 24 - 29 and then will commence in Melbourne from September 10 - 13. Yes, it's more than a month away for Melburnians but I thought that it'd be good to let people know and prepare if they chose to go. Full information about the festival, including the films that have been selected to screen can be found at their official website - koffia.com.au
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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It was a crowded house on Thursday evening - not a single seat was empty. Everyone went quiet, cozied up, got comfortable as the lights dimmed and the screen went to black from the commercials before it. Some light music begins to play and fading in from black was a shot of the little red monster, Elmo. Cue the "awwws" from the crowd. Not bad of a reaction to start the movie, I'd say.

"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" is a documentary focusing the man behind Elmo, Kevin Clash. His is a wonderful story for the screen and is an inspiring one. The documentary plays it straight and what we're presented isn't something deeply profounding or something that can be argued or debated over - it's simply an autobiographical account of Clash's life up until now, nothing more. It doesn't break any new ground but it doesn't have to. It knows what it is and it'll deliver on your expectations and more. The interesting thing though is that while it is a focus feature on Clash, it gives insight into the world of pupeteering, some insight and history on the Jim Henson and the Jim Henson company as well as the legacy of Sesame Street. I definitely walked away from the doco learning a lot more than I thought I would.

What's undeniable is the fact that Clash has crafted a character that's both a pop culture icon and an endearing symbol of happiness and love. Elmo is a character that kids are attracted to like magnets and, despite having a tall black man bringing the puppet to life right in front of them, kids are always attracted to Elmo and will engage with him at all times. And Clash loves that. His passion for puppeteering and bringing inanimate beings to life is a gift - which is something that documentary is able to show - and one that he has used to inspire joy in children worldwide.

Not only is this doco a story about Clash but also a heartwearming reminder that you should never let go of your hopes and dreams - that you should take the good with the bad and do what you can to get the best out of yourself. "Being Elmo" will make you laugh, cry and feel like a child again in certain parts of the film. But importantly, it's a film that inspires.



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Prior to having seen "All About Lily Chou-Chou" earlier today, I had heard a great many things about it. Several of my friends attested it to being a great film, one of whom even regarded as one of his absolute favourites. Needless to say, they set the bar pretty high for me when I watched it.

The film follows two primary characters, Hoshino (Shugo Oshinari) and Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara) and tracks both of their lives over the course of a few years. The film charts their destructive friendship and the intermingled relationships that they form with other supporting characters in the film. If I speak any more, it might run the risk of entering spoiler territory so I'll leave it there and let you decide on the trailer.

Admittedly, the film was hard to follow with it's non-linear narrative. The film begins somewhere in the middle of the film then reverts back to the beginning, when Hoshino and Yuichi meet each other for the first time and become friends and then finally tracks back to the present. In between scenes are text messages that typed up on the film, all participants of an online fanclub dedicated to fictional singer Lily Chou-Chou - a cult-like figure to some of these participants. It's up to you to decide whose text messages these belong to as the film progresses which does help to keep you on your toes and ultimately adds a lot to the story by the end of the film.

Now, the film is slow and there will be moments where you will roll your eyes and wish they just move on. An example of this is during the Okinawa sequences. They just go on and on and on and just slow the pace down considerably. With a running time of 146 minutes, you'd think that some decisions should've been made about what to cut and what to include (although the original cut stands at about 157 minutes).

Criticism aside, there was one thing that I did take away from the film and that was the fact that "All About Lily Chou-Chou", released in 2001, could easily be seen as a companion piece of sorts to the 2000 film, "Battle Royale". There's a sequence early on "Lily Chou-Chou" where Yuichi's mother proclaims, "Kids these days are very scary." It's a statement that's explored throughout the film as it progressively delves deeper into the psyche of some of these troubled teenagers. Both films can be read as character studies of the modern-day youth and just how scary some of these youths can be. However, where "BR" chooses to explore this issue with violent temperament and within the confines of genre, "Lily Chou-Chou" explores it with an eye of depravity and realism that seems a tad exaggerated thus making it seem somewhat unbelievable. Now you could easily say that "BR" is insanely unbelievable (for the uninitiated, that "BR" basically put school kids on and island and made them fight a game of death) but on the surface, "BR" is essentially a stylised action/horror film (although I don't like to call it horror) and it embraces that fact. We accept that insane things can happen in a film like "BR" yet it's hard to understand what motivates the youths of "Lily Chou-Chou" to do what it is they do. Nonetheless though, I happen to think that these two films can go hand in hand with each other as both show some degree of deconstruction for certain modern day youths of Japan. To discuss further would be to spoil the film. I'm afraid if I continue to discuss about it, I'd get some backlash about the "unbelievability" factor of certain films that I enjoyed like "Last Life In The Universe", "Air Doll" or "Love Exposure".

Anyways, the film carries with it a nice visual style and utilises handheld digital cameras in a successfully experimental way. Very rarely would you see a steady shot set on a tripod. The kinetic nature definitely helps to add some depth to the film, moving in a way that the music moves the Lily Chou-Chou fans of the film - ethereal-like. And the soundtrack itself is a nice mix Claude Debussy as well as songs from the fictional Lily Chou-Chou herself (but it's really J-Pop's Salyu).

I personally found the film to be rather underwhelming. It really wasn't what I was hoping it to be and it disappointed me in that regard. I had hoped for another "Love Exposure" and thought this would be it but I alas, it was not. I like that there were some things that I was able to take away from seeing that but it didn't do it for me as much as I would have liked. Perhaps it was because the bar was set so high by some of my friends? That's just me looking for an excuse now, haha. It's an interesting film but if I write any more it's gonna become an essay or thesis so I'll stop there. You guys can decide whether or not it's something you'd be interested in. At least the Shiina Ringo reference was nice (come on, her music is DEFINITELY from the ether!).


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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

First up are some first looks at Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises" and Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel" in these official high quality pictures! I'll let you pass judgement on them below.

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ALSO, here's a trailer some of you may be interested in. Below is Sundance's Grand Jury Prize Winner "Like Crazy" which has been described as "(500) Days of Summer" meets "Blue Valentine" with long distance relationships. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones star (Jones won Best Actress at Sundance). The film's been getting buzz as potential Oscar-running film. I don't know if that's true yet based on this trailer but we'll see.


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And that's all this week! Here's a video paying tribute to the films of Pixar which have been put together by Kees van Dijkhuizen, a video editor whose put together some amazing tribute/montage videos in the past. Check out his channel: youtube.com/user/keesvdijkhuizen



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Monday, 1 August 2011

Norwegian Wood

Hello friends.

(Just gonna say up front that this post is pretty much dominated by my thoughts on the "Norwegian Wood" movie as it is very long.)

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Went back to uni this week which was ever so exciting (sarcasm if you weren't aware). Classes this year consist of me writing for documentary/non-fiction stories and radio. I also have a class in screen criticism as well. The way I see it, I kinda wanna get as many skills as I can in all sorts of mediums (not just limited to film, or in this case fictional storytelling with film) whilst refining my writing.

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But that's it really. Nothing much exciting happening. I've been out and stuff but nothing about it seems good enough to report back so I'll suppose I'll just end it there. I had plans to finish off "The Killing" and watch "All About Lily Chou-Chou" but things got in the way, unfortunately. We'll see how it goes next week, perhaps?
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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An internationally renowned director whose made a name for himself on the festival circuit; a cast of talented Japanese actors and source material that's both highly evocative of the era it's set in as well as being rich in narrative. What could possibly go wrong? Well apparently quite a bit as Tran Anh Hung's ("Cyclo", "The Scent of the Green Papaya") latest feature, "Norwegian Wood" - adapted from the famous Haruki Murakami novel of the same name - isn't quite as enamouring as one may think it to be. It's no secret that I've been anticipating this feature for a long time now (around about the time I began this blog too!) and to say that it underwhelmed me is to put it quite lightly.

One of the biggest mistakes of the film is the fact that the name of the film really loses all meaning within the context of the narrative. It seems that every plot outline for the film in any piece of promotion or review begins with the idea that upon hearing the song "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles, our protagonist, Toru (Kenichi Matsuyama) begins to reminisce about his early years in high school and college, dealing with the death of his best friend and tumultuous relationship with his best friend's girlfriend at the time, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). The song is used twice within the film - once during a nice moment in the film and again during the closing credits -but it seems more like an era-appropriate piece inserted just to remind people that they're watching a film that's set during the early 60s in Japan. Of course, audiences aren't meant to know this and those that haven't read the novel may not have a problem with the title and its context within the film. However, those who have may feel like the film doesn't do right by the novel.

Most novel to film adaptations are tricky to work around - you're not guaranteed a 100% success when adaptating works of literature to film since they have a strict production value placed on them (as well as considering the running time that would suit audiences). Liberties must be taken in order to make the film work which is very understandable. Tran does as best he can to adapt the novel for screen and basically captures most of the core story - that is the strained relationship between Toru and Naoko. For that, I commend Tran's efforts for trying to do as much as he can for them. And to be honest, I would have preferred if the film focused entirely on just those two characters as Tran does a nice job of directing the action around them. But unfortuantely, the product that was displayed before me wasn't that. Tran's choice to include unnecessary supporting characters that the audience may not care about altogether is one that hampers the progression of the film. Just when you think the film picks up and moves along, in comes a subplot that doesn't add to the overall story nor build upon character development which is sad as a lot of the supporting characters within the novel are woefully underused within the film.

The biggest of these supporting characters to get the shaft is Midori - a fun, vibrant girl whose personality is practically the complete opposite of Naoko's. She is seen as the "alternate" for Toru, someone who exists to show Toru that there is life after his best friend's death and that he can move on. The character of Midori (who just so happened to be my favourite character within the novel) is perhaps the biggest waste in the film as her existance within the film not only hampers the pace of an already slow film but also adds little to the already interesting main story of the film. As much as I like the character within the novel, for the film, she might have been written off entirely as I was much more invested with Toru and Naoko than I was with Toru and Midori.

This critique of Midori can also be attributed to the presentation of the character. Model-turned-actor Kiko Mizuhara is a blank slate throughout the film, making her character uninteresting and painfully boring. The usually consistent Kenichi Matsuyama doesn't fare too well in the film either, often seeming rather detached from the script and never truly tapping into the core essence of his character - that of a lonesome young man trying to move on in his life but feeling like everyone around him is weighing him down. The only standout of the cast is Rinko Kikuchi as the mentally fractured and emotionally damaged, Naoko. Kikuchi is no stranger to playing fragile characters - having recieved a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 79th Academy Awards) and does a fantastic job here.

Tran's history with the band Radiohead has been documented, having used music from the band several times throughout some of his films. This time around, Tran does not use any songs from the band but does however acquire one of the members of Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, to score the film. Greenwood's score is breathtaking and adds much flavour to the film. The score is able to capture the themes that permeate throughout the film - sorrow, regret, loneliness - in awe-inspiring and dizzying fashion. It would have been nice, however, if Tran had decided to incorporate a few songs from that era (as Murakami as huge on music in his novels) but that's just a minor complaint that doesn't necisarrily effect the outcome of the film.

The only other director that I would imagine to have perfectly nailed the novel - and one that would be number one in most people's minds - would be Wong Kar-wai but Tran's approach to the film is admirable to say the least. Visually, the film is enamouring and coupled with Greenwood's score, the combination of sight and sound make for some dazzling scenes. It's just unfortunate that the film's story is hampered by ordinary performances, save for Kikuchi, slow pacing and unneccessary characters that both the audience and fans of the novel wouldn't care about. This adaptation of Murakami's beloved novel might not hit all the right notes but it does come across as being somewhat faithful to the source material.

P.S. The film does stay with you for a while. At first, I didn't like it as much as I wanted to and while I still maintain those feelings about the film, I found myself thinking about it a lot more in the days after I watched it. Perhaps there's a part of me that secretly enjoyed the film? Did Naoko and Toru's story on screen affect me more than I thought it would? I can't say for sure but I've had the same feelings towards "Happy Together" as well. Food for thought, Hieu.



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Probably the most interesting of all the comic book movies to have come out this year is "Captain America: The First Avenger". Here we have a costumed hero straight from the 1940s who's recognised as an icon of hope and fortitude for an entire country - a symbol that makes you want to aspire to greatness and overcome adversady. In some ways, "Captain America" is similar to "X-Men: First Class" in that they're both period films that deal with super-powered beings who alter or have some kind of effect over the course of human history. Whether Captain America had a major part in winning World War 2 within the context of the film and comics is up to debate but its still an interesting concept that I hope other filmmakers explore in the future.

The film follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a scrawny kid full of heart who wants to enlist and help out his fellow American in war but is unfortunately unable to due to his physical stature. His heart and good nature gets noticed by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a scientist working with the military to implement a Super Soldier program. Rogers is chosen as the candidate due to his qualities, despite his enfeebled appearance, and emerges from the program as the superhero, Captain America.

Let it be noted that this film is rather long, a lot longer than it probably should've been. It takes a while for the film to find it's footing but once it gets through to the point where Captain America actually accepts his role, takes up the mantle and becomes the inspiring hero that America's soldiers need - the film becomes mostly enjoyable and fun throughout.

Some action set pieces seem awkwardly directed, however, making you never truly "feel" the intensity and excitement of a particular stunt-filled sequence. There's none of that shaky camera stuff but there's sometihng about the way in which the cameras tracked movement and what not that bewildered me a little.

Chris Evans has really come of age as an actor and does a nice job of portraying those wholesome and quality aspects not just of America's ideal citizen but of any good natured person. Captain America is basically Marvel's answer to Superman (at least that's how I see it). Everyone else in the film is okay at best. Hugo Weaving's Red Skull character teeters on cheese every now and again and doesn't seem nearly as scary as one would hope; Tommy Lee Jones plays straight and narrow and Hayley Atwell just plays the regular uninspired love interest role that these films usually concoct for their females (though that's not her fault of course).

And as far as production design goes, you can tell that they've invested a lot into the film and did a great job of partially recreating the 1940s. The costumes are spot on, as are the set designs. It's something that not many people comment on a lot of the time but every little thing counts, especially in a period film.

"Captain America: The First Avenger" fares a bit better than Marvel's other Avenger film, "Thor", in my opinion and that's probably due to the fact that the Captain is quite the interesting character with a story that inspires and leads as much as the Captain himself. It's a film about the underdog and how, when given the chance, the underdog can overcome any amount of adversadey thrown his or her way. An enjoyable time at the cinema, yes, but one that can otherwise be reserved for a showing on DVD.


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I can't be bothered putting up the film news of the week so I'll end it here. And to properly send you off, here's a silly Taiwanese animation of the "The Dark Knight Rises" trailer... or at least their version of it. Seriously crazy stuff going on here, folks. Try to spot the references to Christopher Nolan's other films.