Archive for April, 2012

28
Apr
12

Take My Revolution, Please

Utena and Anthy

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a hard show to describe. It is so complex, so intricate, has so many moving parts, that capturing everything in a coherent review is almost impossible. So, instead of trying to do that, I’m just going to give you my thoughts on this anime’s various aspects.

As a brief synopsis, Utena tells the story of Utena Tenjou, a tomboyish teenage girl who is newly enrolled at Ohtori Academy. She wears a ring with a rose crest on it which was given to her by a prince when she was a child. Upon entering school, she quickly learns that several other people wear the same ring. People who wear the ring are allowed to fight in sword duels for the chance of winning the “Rose Bride.” The Rose Bride is Anthy Himemiya, a completely submissive woman who is essentially a slave to the current dueling champion. Utena is disgusted by this, and fights to save Anthy and treat her as a friend and human being. As the show progresses, more truths are revealed, and it is learned that whoever is the ultimate champion of dueling will be offered the chance to “revolutionize the world.”

That’s about as concrete a synopsis as you can get with this series. From that point on the audience is treated (or subjected, depending on your point of view) to a multitude of allusions, illusions, metaphors, and psycho-sexual imagery. Nearly every character, relationship, and duel contains far more depth than what is presented on the surface. To get a good handle on everything would require many repeated viewings. Utena is one of those series which is famously accused of not really being about anything, and just throwing weird shit at the viewer for the sake of being obtuse and weird. But if you pay attention, you’ll find this really isn’t the case at all. There is a lot of depth and meaning to be found. All you need to do is pay attention. Unfortunately, paying attention is something really difficult for moe-loving, mouth-breathing otaku.

So what is this anime about? That’s easy, lesbians. Yep, that’s it. Case closed. Oh wait. It’s not? OK, OK, let’s try this again.

Continue reading ‘Take My Revolution, Please’

21
Apr
12

I Lost My Combination to The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker poster.

The Hurt Locker is a 2008 film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. What is it about? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that it is overrated as hell. Supposedly, this movie is about a three-man U.S. Army bomb squad operating in the Iraq War. That’s what all of the movie’s scenes revolve around. However, it would be a stretch to say this movie is really about anything. But that’s not for a lack of trying.

In fact, The Hurt Locker tries to be about a lot of things, but fails at all of them. You know that old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”? Well, that’s this movie in a nutshell.

It tries to be an honest look at the Iraq War, but it isn’t realistic in the slightest. It tries to be a suspense-laden thriller, but the suspenseful scenes are few and far between. It tries to give us an in-depth look at the psychology of the men who experience war, but it doesn’t know how to pull that off. At best, The Hurt Locker could be described as schizophrenic. At worst, a piece of shit.

Continue reading ‘I Lost My Combination to The Hurt Locker’

14
Apr
12

Justified Season 1, Captain America

Justified Season 1

If you see Raylan doing this to you, you’re probably dead.

This show is great. The main character is Raylan Givens, portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, and based on the same character who appeared in two Elmore Leonards novels and one short story. He is a U.S. Marshal, but fancies himself more of a modern-day cowboy. If given the chance, he’ll quick-draw on an enemy and shoot him down. Raylan also gives steely-eyed stare-downs, and plenty of badass lines to give Clint Eastwood a run for his money. The show has Raylan moving back to his home state of Kentucky after a debacle in Miami. There, he gets entagled with a group of Neo-Nazi drug dealers. It sounds bad, I know, but it is executed flawlessly. There is intricate layering to the story, and the character’s have dynamic interpersonal relationships and are fully realized. The acting is terrific. While the pacing of the series can be rather slow at times, only punctuated by short bursts of action, if you have the attention span to get through it, you will be rewarded with excellent characters and story.

Verdict: Good

Captain America

Moichandizing! Where the real money from the movie is made!

I refuse to write out this movie’s full title, since it is nothing more than a cog in the machine for Marvel’s stupid fucking Avengers movie/shitfest. Traditionally, superhero movies are terrible. Only in recent years have they become even remotely watchable. Captain America decides that the notion of a watchable superhero movie has become a cliche, and goes back to the days of really shitty superhero crap. This is one of the cheesiest, hokyiest, worst superhero movies I have ever seen. There isn’t anything good about this movie. For example, Nazis have ray guns, people are always mugging for the camera, Hugo Weaving chews so much scenery you eventually don’t have any props left, and of course Marvel’s favorite shtick: LOL LOOK THERE IS TONY STARKS DAD AND LOOK THERE IS SAMUEL L JACKSON THIS MOVIE TIES IN WITH ALL THE OTHER MARVEL MOVIES LOL! This movie is incompetently directed, horribly paced, terribly acted, and is all in all a cheesefest of monumental proportions. And not the good kind of cheese. Not tasty cheese. Moldy, rotten, nasty cheese that the rats won’t even touch. Fuck this movie.

Verdict: Shitty

07
Apr
12

A History of Violence

A wholesome family film.

A History of Violence is a 2005 film starring Viggo Mortensen and directed by David Cronenberg. (He also directed the 2007 film Eastern Promises and the 2011 film A Dangerous Method, both starring, you guessed it, Viggo Mortensen.) I have seen Eastern Promises multiple times and just recently saw A Dangerous Method, not to mention numerous other Viggo films, so I was prepared to be blown away.

The film wasn’t terrible, and it didn’t disappoint in the BAMF department, but it definitely wasn’t his best film. There was plenty of graphic violence and unbelievable situations for Viggo to wriggle his way out of, but the acting, especially the child acting, was pretty terrible.

Let’s start with the bad. Considering that every actor in the film has a long list of titles under their belts, I don’t get the weak performances. This wasn’t David Cronenberg’s first rodeo, either, but considering I saw his later works first, I must have just been spoiled. The acting was extremely flat in parts and then way overdone in others. The children reminded me more of robots than children. In the opening scenes, for example, when the homicidal maniac shot the whimpering kid, I was laughing at how the kid was crying. I don’t really think that’s what they were shooting for (no pun intended). Ed Harris was really the only actor I can exclude from this, because I didn’t get that awkward feeling in any of his scenes. Everything just felt a little bit off and the cheese factor was off the charts. A scene that really exemplifies this is when the local sheriff shows up at Tom’s house and tries to get to the bottom of his “history”. His wife starts bawling uncontrollably (too much, in my opinion) and then the sheriff leaves. After that, Tom and his wife, Edie, start slapping each other around in an apparently erotic way because then they start doing it on the stairs. I can relate because I know I get all hot and bothered when I learn about my husband’s secret mob history and we’ve punched each other a few times.

OMG oh noes!

Another example of the cheesy bad acting was when Fogarty (Ed Harris) confronts  Tom (Viggo) about his history in the Philadelphia mob. Tom gives him a shit-eating grin and denies it–but it comes across as really fake. I couldn’t tell if Tom was supposed to be an amnesiac, an idiot, or just a really bad liar. (If they were going for bad liar then they succeeded.) He kept denying it repeatedly with that same goofy look on his face, and I didn’t buy his reaction, not one bit. Also, he had a tendency to talk way too softly, which just reminded me of the really bad voice-overs they did for the children in Pod People (“I think I’ll call him trumpy”). If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you can suck it. Or try googling.

Moving on to the good stuff. There was plenty of graphic, gratuitous violence with Viggo at the helm. He punches a man repeatedly in the face, and then they show the man lying on the ground struggling to breathe with what’s left. Or after Tom shoots Crapley in the head and they show him dead on the ground, his face blown off. I’m not into torture porn or anything, but they did do a good job of making it gory enough to be realistic but not so gory that it made me want to throw up. Not only that, but they made Viggo’s character seem innocent, likable, and secretly capable of an ass-whooping all in one fell swoop. This is a woman’s dream man: sensitive, handsome, with an ability to pistol-whip his enemies at the slightest provocation.

I look innocent but I will kick your ass.

The peak of awesomeness in this movie happens at the end, when Tom’s brother Richie orders his men to have him killed–Tom miraculously escapes from the choke wire and kills both of them. He runs downstairs, tricks Richie into going outside (proving Viggo is not just handsome but smart, too), shutting the door behind him and using the opportunity to shoot the final henchman multiple times in the head, blood splattering everywhere. Finally he steps outside and delivers a fatal bullet to Richie’s skull. He killed his own brother! The amount of sheer ruthlessness was awesome. Show no mercy, Viggo. Show no mercy.

Overall, the film didn’t let me down in the action department. There was more than enough Violence to satisfy me. The acting was where I really felt let down. Though the cast was filled with experienced actors, only one managed to deliver a solid performance.

Verdict: Average




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