How's it hanging?
Pretty eventful week this week which was nice for a change. Started the week with some films from the Japanese Film Festival (thoughts on films below) and ended it with me completing the story mode of “Arkham City”.
I watched three films this year at the Japanese Film Festival, two of which were pretty underwhelming and one of which was pretty awesome. Film festivals are always awesome, the sense of excitement is just a great vibe to get at these things, regardless of how the films turn out. Although I will say though that I should probably research just a tad more next time to ensure that particular films end up being less of a colossal disappointment. Lesson learnt.
On Friday night, a bunch of my friends hung out together for a bit of fun at our friend’s apartment. If I lived on my own, I’d totally want to live in a place like hers. It was meant to be a board game night but we ended up playing Monopoly cards all the way through. I still wanted to Scrabble. Oh well. After that we all enjoyed a leisurely walk to the piers at St Kilda beach and killed time just talking nonsense. So pretty much an awesome evening with awesome people. Read the rest of it on Ellen's blog.
So I guess that now leads me into this weekend, which consisted of me playing and finishing “Batman: Arkham City”. I was meant to receive a copy of this game a lot earlier but the order never came through for some strange reason so I kept off buying it anywhere until last Thursday when JB Hi-Fi had a Christmas sale where a lot of their stock was being cut down. “Arkham City” was only $55 which was a major bargain!
Also, I bought a copy of “Rango” on Blu-Ray the other day. I didn’t intend to buy it but it just happened to be on sale and I thought, “What the hey?! I may as well!”. Poor spending choices, Hieu. I haven’t re-watched the film yet though but I will at some point.
WHAT I’VE BEEN WATCHING
Before I start, you’ve probably noticed that everything I’ve done in this section in the past couple of weeks has been completely in dot point form. Reason being is because I don’t really have as much time to write fully formed reviews about each thing I see as much as I would love to.
Each week I balance watching television shows/films, a (scarce) social life, a job, volunteering and other leisurely pursuits (which include blogging) but somehow putting up fully written reviews of films doesn’t quite fit into all of that. So anyone looking for some fully written pieces on films/television shows may be in for some disappointment from now on.
BUT that’s not say that I WON’T be doing any written reviews in the future. It just means that I won’t be able to do them for an indefinite amount of time - just until I find the right time to be able to include in writing time. Again, sorry to disappoint if anyone actually wanted fully informed and fully written thoughts. OKAY ENOUGH WITH THE FORMALITIES.
This week was a mini Naomi Watts week. I think she’s a fantastic actress and what I like most about her is the fact that not only is she an actress who is able to work between odd indie films like “I Heart Huckabees” and major motion picture events like “King Kong” but her risky and daring picks for roles that one would consider to be against-type (“Ellie Parker”, “21 Grams”) certainly make her an enjoyable talent to watch on screen. Her risks pay off more often than not, and that's an admirable quality about her as an actress - that she strives to look for a challenge.
Having said that, this week, I took three films from her filmography to watch – “Muholland Drive”, “Funny Games” and “The Painted Veil”. In addition to these three films, I also watched, “Maboroshi no hikari” and “The Secret of Kells” at home and watched “Arrietty”, “The Last Ronin” and “Life Back Then” at the Japanese Film Festival.
- You know for a 2 hour and 20 minute long movie that I neither enjoyed nor hated, I have to say that it didn't actually feel slow at all.
- I'd have to say that it's probably because the film is like an elaborate puzzle and the whole time my brain kept working and trying to figure out just what the hell was going on.
- I said that I neither loved nor hated the film because I simply just did not understand it.
- And I can't hate or love what I don't know.
- But I can say for certain that if this is what the rest of David Lynch's films are like then BOY is it gonna be difficult for me to find any praise for him.
- Laura Harring + blond wig = Marilyn Monroe. I doubt this was coincidence.
- And yeah, Naomi Watts owes a lot to David Lynch cause this was the film that got her noticed all around the world.
- Which is fair to say since she was magnificent in the film.
- Not quite the epic romance it may have been but works well, if not better, with its limited restrictions.
- I guess with the exotic setting of 1920 – 1930s China, you’d expect something along the lines of “Gone With The Wind” but it works much better when it’s not trying hard.
- Edward Norton and Naomi Watts bring a sense of poise and nuance to the film – such a nice feeling to have when you see accomplished thespians like these two work their talent on screen.
- Lovely cinematography that not only captures the beauty of China but also that sense of sweltering heat emanating from the countryside.
- Also the score by Alexandre Desplat (whose scores you may have heard for recent films like
- “The King’s Speech” and the final two “Harry Potter” films) is amazing – it complements the film so well.
- I just really liked this film and wanted so badly for these two to be happy together because I have a bias for both actors.
- Would I go so far as to say it’s underrated? Perhaps. You don’t see many people talking about this film but I think there’s something strikingly beautiful about it.
- Plus I’m a bit of a sucker for melodramas like this so maybe there’s a bit of bias there too.
- A lot of people recommended that I watch this because it seemed like a film that I would get a kick out of.
- So I watched it and wow, this was pretty terrible.
- What I don’t understand is if this is a shot-for-shot remake of the original film, does that mean the original film is exactly like this? And if so, why is the original film critically acclaimed?
- It makes me wonder why Naomi Watts and Tim Roth even bothered to do this film.
- Not that I doubt their credibility as actors or anything like that.
- But essentially it’s just a home invasion with these two guys who torment this family.
- And that’s it.
- I normally like films with a minimalistic setting but I just found it exhausting to watch.
- The long shots don’t help either – you just want them to cut to the next scene or shot to get momentum going.
- I think this film is trash – the bit with the remote made me want to turn the film off (and I probably should’ve).
- Lovely, slow moving film.
- There's a very raw and human quality about it.
- Which makes it quite powerful of course.
- Probably unfair of me to even say this but the film made me think, "This must be what a Yasujiro Ozu film must feel like" judging by the way it was constructed and the story itself.
- Unlike After Life, Air Doll and Nobody Knows, this film doesn't necessiarly celebrate life but is fascinated with death.
- Yes, Hirokazu Koreeda is a man whose films have been about death and loneliness but, from the films that I've seen of his (the ones mentioned above), these have been used for the characters to see life in all its glory and all of its ugliness.
- Here, we just have a simple story about a woman who is given no answer concerning the sudden death of her husband (played by an almost unrecognisable Tadanobu Asano).
- She just simply... drifts. And moves on with everything.
- She's affected by it, of course, but everyone has a different reaction towards death.
- Also noticed that a lot of the scenes show characters on their sides rather than front on with very little use of your standard shot-reverse-shot. Is that another Ozu-esque inspired move? I dunno.
- Marvellous work of animation.
- Truly ravishing and visually sumptuous film.
- Reminded me a lot of those old fairy tale storybooks you'd see as a child.
- The watercolour backgrounds look stunning.
- Also reminded me a bit of Samurai Jack and similar Genndy Tartakovsky creations.
- The film is just brimming with so much imagination and life that it's hard not to feel like you're in a completely different state of mind while seeing it.
- See it in HD, if you can. Cause GODDAMN. The visuals just pop out off the screen.
- Beautiful score as well.
- Really thought it was interesting that everything was on a 2D plane.
- By that I mean objects look like they're floating but in terms of physical space and representation, it just means that they're in the same room albiet in an opposite direction of a character.
- Goes back to that fairy tale storybook-inspired design.
- A new Studio Ghibli film is always cause for celebration, even if it isn’t one that’s directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
- For me, I feel that if you’re a fan of “My Neighbor Totoro”, then you’ll love “Arrietty” as well.
- It’s more or less, the same story – child encounters a strange creature and tries to befriend it.
- The creature, in this case, is a very small person. And no I’m not talking dwarves here.
- In any case, this is classic Ghibli and everything you’ve come to love and expect about Studio Ghibli’s works of animations are all on display here.
- The immaculate art, the beautiful scores and a lovely story.
- Although my one criticism of the story, and this is the same for films like “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” is that the film kinda just abruptly ends and doesn’t provide a sense of closure that you’d want or expect.
- It’s that feeling of, “Oh, that’s it?”, that hits you which is a disappointing feeling.
- Nonetheless a nice film and another jewel worthy to be encrusted into Studio Ghibli’s crown.
American-dub trailer but whatever. I find it cool that in the American dub, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett play Arrietty's parents since they're both married in real life.
- “The Last Ronin” wasn’t quite the film that I had expected.
- I mean, judging by the film’s description and how it looked, I was expecting something more along the lines of Yoji Yamada’s, “The Twilight Samurai”.
- But what I got instead was basically a film that was rather underwhelming and goes in a direction that I was not expecting at all.
- Basically it ended up being a weird melodramatic piece that touched on very little about our protagonist.
- What’s more absurd are the attempts to try and make this guy settle down in his life after he’s done serving his duty (it’s more towards the end of the film but it’s an act of desperation both from the character and of the filmmaker).
- Pretty weak film – a few nice moments here and there, but isn’t as thought-provoking or moving as I’d like it to be.
- Should’ve have read more about the film before I went in to see it.
- Interestingly enough, I do believe this is Warner Bros' first fully financed Japanese production.
- “Life Back Then” was pretty terrible.
- Like, “The Last Ronin”, I was expecting a completely different film, something life-affirming that was along the lines of Hirokazu Koreeda’s, “After Life” or something similar to “Departures”.
- But no, it’s just a very ‘cheesy’ and desperate drama that I personally think might have had a more successful run had it been a television show instead of a full-length feature.
- The opening minutes of the film were quite promising but all that potential was squandered as we are treated to a rather cringe-worthy story with even more cringe-worthy dialogue.
- In a way, this film is kinda shows off some of my pet peeves when it comes to Japanese film and television.
- Some exaggerated acting here and there coupled poor, unrealistic dialogue makes for a pretty lousy two hours.
- What’s worse is that there’s always this kinetic movement with the camera – the kind of camera that you’d typically find in war films with the slight zooms back and forth and such.
- It takes you completely out of the moment of a scene, I feel, and does not feel natural.
- Again, I probably should have done a bit more research instead of impulse buying based on the description.
- Never judge a book by its cover I guess (wrong context, I know, but what if the book looks nice and there is nothing to it?!?)
TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
Ya'll love film posters right? WELL HERE ARE TWO TEASER POSTERS FOR TWO COMIC BOOK FILMS THAT ARE POISED TO WIN OVER THE MASSES AT THE BOX OFFICE - "The Amazing Spider-Man" starring the best celebrity couple ever (they look mad cute together, dawg) and "The Dark Knight Rises" starring a bunch of crazy talented people who are going to take over the world with their charms and good looks. (I have a lot of feelings for these two films that my fanboyism looks more like fangirlism).
Remember those rumours of Colin Firth potentially joining the American remake of "Oldboy"? Well they've been squashed - Firth won't be joining the film and has passed on the project. Firth was tapped to play the American version of Lee Woojin, Adrian.
Someone over at SlashFilm suggested we have Edward Norton for Lee Woojin and all of a sudden I am completely 100% behind this choice. CAMPAIGN FOR NORTON AS WOOJIN, PLEASE?!
So apparently a film about professional wrestler Chris Benoit is going to be made. Ummm, huh? I don't know how to feel about this. Not many people would like to admit that they're fans of professional wrestling but I'm one of them. Benoit made headlines back in 2007 when he murdered his wife and son and then hung himself in his home. Whoever is tasked with making this film, you've got a LOT of tough decisions to make about this. This film will either be an insightful unpacking of professional wrestlers and the industry altogether or it will be a clusterfuck of huge proportions. Something tells me it will belong to the latter.
And that's it this week. Boy that was a long post. You can choose not to read it of course. ANYHOW, this blog post's title was brought to you by Kleerup and Lykke Li. Have a listen below. BYE.