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Question or comment?
One person wrote: "To me it raises a question most Americans would rather avoid: If the Japanese military was so beaten down at this point in the war, why was it necessary to nuke Hiroshima?" This question is really a comment which reflects a certain pre-disposition. One answer is: because Japan had not yet surrendered and stopped fighting.
However, if the Japanese military was so beaten down at this point in the war why didn't the Japanese leaders stop the fighting and stop the suffering by stopping the war?
This criticism of the atomic bomb fails to recognize that no one knew in August 1945 when Japan would stop fighting. Also this approach seems not to recognize that even without an atomic bomb the fighting and dying would continue as long as the war continued, not only in Japan but in China and elsewhere. Even another two months of war (and conventional bombing and blockade) would have killed more people than died at Hiroshima AND Nagasaki combined.
a friend of DF NY
Kyûtî Hanî (2004)
Lighthearted Fun with Clunky Ending
Cutey Honey is a fun adaptation of the animated series into a live-action feature. There's not much depth here; characters are pretty simple and the acting is nothing special. Eriko Sato's main job is to look great, and she does. I'm not complaining here, I'm just forewarning any viewers who might be looking for something that takes itself seriously. Cutey Honey does not.
Well, it doesn't take itself seriously until the ending. The final showdown between the creepy Sister Jill and Honey features a awkwardly-toned message about love. It's a fine message but compared to free-wheeling silliness of the rest of the film, it feels very slow and uncomfortable. After all, this is a few minutes after a villain sings to Cutey Honey before a battle.
Despite the "downer" ending, I still had a lot of fun watching Cutey Honey, and I would recommend it to others who are willing to relax and enjoy it as well.
Oruchuban Ebichu (1999)
Funniest animation since Excel Saga
Oruchuban Ebichu is one of the funniest anime I've ever seen, certainly the funniest since "Excel Saga." What makes Ebichu even more appealing is the adult nature of the humor, coupled with the outrageous "cutesyness" of a talking hamster. I would also compare it to "Azumanga Daioh" in that the stories are very short, and there seems to be no sense of continuity, so one could watch the episodes in any order and not be confused.
It contains a lot of sexuality and sexual references but it's not pornography. It's far too silly and the art is much to "simple" to be erotic. Still, it's definitely not for children or anyone who can't handle puns involving genitalia. Highly recommended, although given the sexual content I doubt this will ever be imported to the United States.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
Gets Funnier Every Time I See It
A lot of people hate this movie and I can understand that. When I first saw it in theaters I didn't really get into it. I loved Tom Green's TV show but the film seemed too weird to enjoy. But that was then. Subsequent viewings have increased my respect for the movie immensely. One thing that I've noticed more is the great supporting cast. Tom is Tom; you either like him or you don't. But Rip Torn, Anthony Michael Hall, and Marisa Coughlin all perform very well. Harland Williams is always funny, although his role here is small.
Obviously this movie is for fans of Tom Green only. Some people are going to repulsed by animal ejaculate and gratuitous violence on a small boy. If you hate it, no big deal. But at this point, I love it.
Double Team (1997)
Absurd Yet Endearing
I've seen this film a number of times over the years. Call me mad, but it has a special place in my heart. Admittedly, the acting is awful, and I'm not just talking about Dennis Rodman. The script is ridiculous, full of clichéd references to "the game." And the fight sequences, arguably the only reason to watch the movie, are so dominated by stunt-doubles I wonder if Van Damme and Mickey Rourke ever met during filming.
Still, I love it. Maybe it's a case of "so bad it's good," maybe I'm just partial to Van Damme, or maybe it's because I still have that promotional "Double Team" baseball cap from working in a theater. But whenever this movie comes on cable I am compelled to watch.
For some reason, I'm compelled to drink Coke afterwards....?
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
I was able to see "Tôkyô Godfathers" at its premiere in New York. Sadly, the film was not added to the IMDb until months later, so I've had to sit on my comments for some time.
I'm a big fan of director Satoshi Kon. Both of his previous films feature stories and issues not normally seen in animated films. "Godfathers" continues this happy trend and goes even further by covering subjects not normally associated with Japan, period. Homelessness, immigrants, and homosexuality all play key elements in this tale.
Perhaps the biggest difference here is the comedy, something Kon's previous films did not approach. "Perfect Blue" was a dark thriller and "Sennen Joyû" was more of a tearjerker. "Godfathers" is played for laughs, which for me weakened the movie a little bit. Some of the more outrageous moments made the other theatergoers crack up, but I felt it was a little too silly at times.
While I would describe "Tôkyô Godfathers" as the weakest of Kon's three films to date, that's hardly a knock since his first two are among my favorites. "Godfathers" was just missing something, but I still openly recommend it to anyone, regardless of your disposition towards anime.
Pisutoru opera (2001)
Beautiful but Incomprehensible
I was eager to see "Pistol Opera" for a variety of reasons. I had recently seen "Branded to Kill" and the idea of a follow-up/sequel/remake by the same director intrigued me. Furthermore, I am a fan of the lead actress, Makiko Esumi, from her work on Japanese TV.
Sadly, this film goes nowhere...slowly. The plot seemed simple enough but within minutes I was lost. These "professional killers" spend nearly the entire film killing each other which begs the question who is employing these people and what purpose they serve. Lots of these scenes look wonderful and have some fun ideas, but nothing makes any sense. Characters deliver long, meandering soliloquies into the camera, flip-flopping from Japanese to English and back again. Neither language adds any clarity to the circumstances. The whole thing feels like some kind of experimental stage play, especially the final showdown where characters enter and exit bizarre scenery accompanied by strange, nearly naked dancers.
What the hell?
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Tremendous Experience, But Not For Everyone
"Kill Bill" is not going to entertain everybody. The movie is very violent, and that violence has graphic consequences. Horrible things happen to horrible people throughout. And much of the film refers to other movies, some of which you have seen but most of which you probably haven't. I saw several people leave the screening I attended, most of them early in the film before things got really "gross."
However, if movie violence doesn't overwhelm you, if you're not opposed to non-stop cinema references, and if you've ever fantasized about making a movie only you would fully "understand," then "Kill Bill" will thrill you. Nevermind the "half a movie" controversy, you'll get your money's worth from this "Volume 1 (of 2)."
Lost in Translation (2003)
Enjoyable but not Extraordinary
First off, I did enjoy Lost in Translation. All of the actors were great, especially Bill Murray (as usual) and Anna Faris. Bill is always funny, but it's great to see him not play Bill Murray for a change. And Anna is terrific as the vapid American actress. Some say she's playing Cameron Diaz, my mother thought of Kirsten Dunst, but her performance is so apropos she could be anyone. When is she going to get some recognition?
Having said that, I was disappointed by one running theme of the film. Here are two people in a foreign country, presumably for the first time, and they spend a great deal of time sitting in a hotel, bored to tears. Why? Why are they so morbidly bored by this fascinating, new environment? I know I'm a little biased because I've been to Japan and I loved it, but I can't imagine any (safe) place on Earth where I wouldn't want to spend all day seeing new things. Language barrier or not, there's a hell of a lot to see in Japan. Similarly, Japanese people are not portrayed very well in the film. There's a lot of stereotyping here, and while stereotypes are all grounded in reality, I would have liked to see something, someone, or anything, shown in a positive light.
But I can't deny the quality of the movie. When it goes for a laugh, it works. When they're just talking, the conversation is interesting. So while I don't see this movie as "great," I do recommend it.
Runaway Third Act
Despite all the horrible reviews written of "Basic," I decided to give it a chance as a rental because director John McTiernan has made several of my favorite movies. Admittedly, I haven't seen a good one of his since "Thomas Crown Affair" (a remake), but I hoped "Basic" would work on some enjoyable level.
It starts off quite well. John Travolta and Connie Nielsen are investigating a murderous incident at an Army base, and both of their witnesses are untrustworthy. Their stories go back and forth, eventually painting a picture of what "really" happened. It's all been done before, I suppose, but it's fun to watch.
Unfortunately, the movie derails late in the picture. After what seems like a perfectly good ending (I won't elaborate, but you'll see), the movie just keeps going. All of a sudden what "really" happened was fake, here's what "really" happened, or did it? The conclusion of the film is an absurd reversal of (nearly) every premise of the film. I half expected one of the characters to reveal themselves to be an alien or a vampire or some other Tales From the Crypt/Twilight Zone nonsense ending.
Much like "The Recruit," the script doesn't know when to quit with all the reversing. Thanks to the masterpiece film, "The Usual Suspects," now every dopey mystery has to have "the big surprise." And you can do that once, maybe twice in a story. But you can't press that "reset button" five or six times! If I spend 90 minutes watching a film, I've got to know that at least part of that story "really happened." You can't wash it all away with "that guy was lying." No wonder Entertainment Weekly titled their review "Trashomon."
P.S. If you watch the film on DVD, there is a really funny extra segment with the screenwriter. Besides reading his own writing on camera, he explains with incredible arrogance how original his story and characters were. So pompous it's hilarious!