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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Fineshrine

Hello (goodbye and hello).

To anyone that was expecting a post last week, I apologise for skipping yet another week. I swear it isn't because I've grown lazy with my blog - I've just been busy with a lot of things from work to catching up with friends and essay-writing. But really, if you want to know where I am or what I'm doing you can always just hit me up on Twitter or Tumblr, right? Good, glad we got that cleared up. Where was I?

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I've been attending the Reel Anime 2012 mini film festival that just wrapped up this week at the Nova. Lovely little season of films which I'm sure to grab as soon as they become available for home release. And as much as I love going to the Nova, I will say that one of the films I saw at the festival was smeared thanks to some rude patrons who kept talking all the way throughout it. Terrible people. Anyways, as always you can find my thoughts on the films below.

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Picked up a copy of Borderlands 2 over the week and have been obsessing over it. Played quite a bit of it with my mate and so far we're both like 20-something as far as levels go. Not sure what the level cap with this one is but I'm assuming it's like 50 or something. I dunno, I'm just really enjoying the game right now and am finding my experience with it very similar to the first game. Still need to pick up a ton of other games though but I'll probably need to actually WORK before I get the money to buy my collection back up.

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Managed to break down my "custom" topic question for world cinema class this week and have begun writing the essay to the question/problem I asked. Yeah, don't get too confused by that. Writing about Korean cinema. Well, to be more specific I'm writing about the 2003 film Memories of Murder and how the film is a representation of the anxieties expressed by South Korea during the 1980s. Loaded, right? But there's a lot to draw from there. Original question I was going to explore was, "How has contemporary Korean cinema defined the country's identity?" but I figured that was too broad for a 2,000 word essay. It's too bad there's not enough writing on South Korean cinema to substantiate my claims but I'll have to work with what I got, I guess. Actually having fun researching this. Ugh, why am I even talking about this?!

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Speaking of Korean cinema, I wrote a piece for Meld Magazine about my experience at this year's Melbourne KOFFIA event. The piece seems to have been well received  I dunno. People like it, I guess. But anyways, I actually had fun writing that piece and it's probably because I had a great time at KOFFIA so be kind and read it, yeah? Awesome!

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And to celebrate the forthcoming Blu-ray release of Wong Kar-wai's 2000 masterpiece, In the Mood for Love, the Criterion Collection released a video that provides three reasons why everyone should watch the film. Hard to disagree with the points they've made, I must say. And yes, if you haven't figured it out yet, In the Mood for Love is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite films. I'm pretty sure it's like my second or third favourite film now. I'm starting to become a little jaded when it comes to the position of where Fight Club should be to be quite honest. Anyways, check out the video below and then check back with me about the actual film itself because I want to know what other people think of the film.


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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

Now I know I haven't been writing fully-written reviews/thoughts on films I've seen but just know that the process can sometimes be time-consuming and I want to be able to post on a regular basis. Which pretty much means that sometimes I won't be able to get around to writing fully-written ones. Just a warning for the future I suppose (although I'm sure I've said this many times in the past before). But yeah, that and I've been kinda busy as well. Anyways, here we go!

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At this year's Reel Anime 2012, I got around to seeing three of the four films screening at the mini-festival and thought that they all had something special to offer. These three films have certainly been my most anticipated feature-length anime titles so it was great to be able to catch them on the big screen and at a fantastic venue like the Nova. The three titles that I refer to are Wolf Children, From Up on Poppy Hill and Children Who Chase Lost Voices from below.

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Directed by Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars), Wolf Children is essentially the story of a mother and her two children, both of whom just so happen to be werewolves (although they can seemingly turn into a wolf at any given time, rather than waiting for a full moon). I will never grow tired of seeing Mamoru Hosoda's art style - I think that the way his characters are drawn suit the kind of stories he is capable of telling. Wolf Children was my favourite film of the festival simply because it was one of those great "slice-of-life" kind of films that left you feeling refreshed and inspired. An elegantly told story with some lovely characters accompanied by a beautiful score. Luckilly for us, we get to have Wolf Children just a few months after it released in Japan! Also was a pleasant surprise to see that Japanese actress Aoi Miyazaki voiced the mother in this.


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Goro Miyazaki (Tales of Earthsea) didn't receive as much adulation as his father, legendary director Hayao Miyazaki, with his debut feature film but I feel that with From Up On Poppy Hill is something of a redemptive feature for Goro. It's not a particularly great film, by any means, but it's certainly an admirable effort. A step in the right direction for him although he does have a long way to go. And although the film is scripted by his father, one would think that the third act of the film could have been vastly improved. The ending does a disservice to the rest of the film which is a shame considering how well controlled the first two acts were.


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Children Who Chase Lost Voices was my least favourite film on the festival although perhaps the reason for my unenthusiastic reaction towards the film is due in part to the audience that I watched it with. There were some people sitting behind me and my friend who talked all the way through it and it took two "shooshes" and a "shut the fuck up" from another patron for them to actually be quiet. Horrible movie-going etiquette! Had to rant there... Anyways, the film is essentially Makoto Shinkai's (Voices From A Distant Star, 5 Centimeters Per Second) love letter to Studio Ghibli. However, despite the lovely touches of homage to Ghibli, Children Who Chase Lost Voices is an overly long film that's packed with far too many weighty ideas and concepts. As with all Shinkai films, backgrounds are gorgeously animated creating a dreamy atmosphere all throughout but other than that, there's not much else I took away from the film. Shinkai is a talented director, of that I am certain. But this film isn't necessarily a good representation of what he is capable of. 5 Centimters Per Second remains his best film and that's only an hour long too!


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Some few months ago, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry screened at MIFF but I was unfortunately unable to catch it. I had heard some positive reactions towards the documentary from people I knew and was interested to see what it was about. The film was made by freelance journalist, Alison Klayman, and covers Chinese artist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a few overseas exhibitions. The film is less about the art of Ai Weiwei and focuses more on his political activism against China. Like Ai, the film is never apologetic for its depiction of the Chinese government and while it may seem terribly one-sided, the film also depicts Ai as a fallible man who makes bad judgements every so often. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry provides a deeply interesting portrait of a fascinating figure - a figure that stands as a symbol for creative expression and free thought not just for artists but for the marginalized in China. A film about human rights. The closing shots of the film are especially powerful.


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Not official poster but Mondo posters are usually the best thing ever.

Opening this week is Looper, a science-fiction/noir hybrid of amazing proportions. Set in the future of 2044, the film uses previously explored concepts of time travel in other films and brings them together into one fine amalgamation. The film moves at a rather quick pace but I personally never felt out of the loop (excuse the pun) when it came to how well explained the world of the film was. Too many films dabble far too much in exposition and explaining the rules of the world (see: Tron Legacy). Looper gets it out of the way within 10 - 15 minutes and establishes the world quickly enough for us to really get into the story and boy does it have a story to tell. Smartly written, the film takes ideas from other time travel films but adds to it and provides its own mechanics. It feels so rich in subtext and it never feels too predictable. Honestly is one of the most fun films I've seen this year in a cinema. It's not perfect however, there are a few undeveloped ideas which could have been further elaborated on to give a more emphatic meaning on the narrative/characters but otherwise a solid effort and another excellent film from Rian Johnson. If you haven't been paying attention to him yet, you better do so now.

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Once again, going to forgo Tidbits of Film News and leave it there. This blog post's title owes itself to the electronic/R&B outfit, Purity Ring and is from their album Shrines. I love the album and you should too. Maybe. I dunno. Just listen, yeah?


End post.

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