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Kakushi ken oni no tsume (2004)
The tale of a samurai who is reluctant to draw his sword
I originally went to this film at the Palm Springs International Film Fest expecting lot of samurai action. What I did get was a thoughtful, well directed drama about a samurai who had never drawn his sword and was coming to terms with the changes in his country during the 1800's. The actors do a masterful job, and the main character really makes you feel the conflict in his heart.
There is very little swordplay in the film. Pretty much only in one scene toward the end. It plays out in a gut wrenching way for the main character. It took courage to tell the story of a Samurai who is reluctant to fight. The film deals with a very complex moral question: When is it okay to kill? The main character is put in a moral quandary when he's forced to do something that he is morally against. I felt director showed us a part of Japanese life that we're not used to seeing. The every day, domestic details of a honest, good samurai.
If you get the chance to see it, please do.
The Call of Cthulhu (2005)
A great film
I just got it in the mail and popped it into my DVD player. I was surprised at how good it was. The filmmakers did a great job translating Lovecrafts work to the screen. I was surprised at how well they created the sets out of virtually nothing. Yes it's cheesy at times, but so would a film that was made in 1925 have been. They were true to the story and true to the concept they laid out. The music was outstanding as well. It really helped set the mood for the entire film. I was expecting it to sound artificial, but the composer pulled out a orchestral score with sound from a synthesizer. Which strangely works with the film considering that the soundtrack would have been probably with an organ if it was made in 1925.
I found it to be a true inspiration to an aspiring filmmaker such as myself.
Beowulf & Grendel (2005)
Great Epic worth a few viewings
I just got back from a viewing of B&G at the Palm Springs international film festival. I've been following it on the net for a few years now and finally got the pleasure of viewing it.
While many people may bash this film for not following the original, I would say thats a plus. While i'm a fan of the epic poem. It does lack detail and character motivations in key scenes. B&G is an interpretation of the epic poem that tries to explain the motivation behind Grendel.
*****possible spoilers**** Grendel is a human-like creature who is not that much different from any human who enters a blood feud with the king of the danes. I found this interpretation of Grendel to be fascinating. The director and actor are able to inject some sympathy into the characters plight and not fall victim to making him a meer monster. In fact as you watch the film you feel more pity for him than the warriors he kills.
I enjoyed the fact that the films fight scenes weren't just 20 1/2 second clips slapped together. You were actually able to see what was going on.
The visceral nature of Iceland lends a reality to the film that makes it all the more believable. The characters are standing in freezing muck and climbing cold, wet shale rock. I felt that background led a believability to the film that others with 3 times the budget don't achieve.
Lastly, during the Q&A session with Sturla (the director) 1 Beowulf expert, (I say that because he said he'd been teaching the poem in his classes for over 25 years) stood up and told the director that B&G was the truest representation of the poem on film to date. Another English teacher said that she felt film was amazingly accurate to the poem and well made.
I have to agree. If you get the chance go see it.
Smart Card (2005)
A clever short film from a talented new director
I actually saw this at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and met the director afterward. I'm a life long sci-fi fan, and its nice to see that there are filmmakers out there who respect their audience enough to make smart science fiction that comments on where technology is going. So many films that deal with this subject delve into the whole "mark of the beast" nonsense. I liked how the writer/director showed us where our world is going and asked whether it is a good thing or not.
Excellent acting, amazing cinematography and a clever plot. I hope to make short films like this. James Oxford, (the director) was a really nice guy. I wish him all the best and hope to see more of his work in the future. He has talent.
Sweet Steampunkage! don't understand the criticism..
I just saw this last night at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, with subtitles in Japanese. And I loved it. I've been a passive anime watcher for years but i've more recently been more serious about seeing more.
Steamboy had a great story, great characters, and wonderful gadgets! Considering such vapid releases as Wild Wild West, most Steampunk films are horrible. But Steamboy actually tried to tackle some ideas for once. As far as the genre of steampunk goes, Steamboy is at the top for me.
I loved the inventiveness of the world. Virtually every frame is exactly like a watercolor picture from the Victorian era. I actually have an old book with steam engine paintings and diagrams. This film looks like it sprang to life from its pages! Go see Steamboy. If you over analyze it, yes you'll find flaws. But, honestly, I went in with no expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. Frankly, I think a lot of anime fans can be a bit snobbish when it comes to anime. They want every ounce of every frame to be perfect. I'm a casual anime fan and had a blast watching it. I plan on owning it when it hits DVD. Can't wait for a sequel.
Bottom line: The public if fickle. One minute they like one thing the next they don't.
Lesson: Many "great" films were financial flops in the box office.
other anime I liked, (to give you an idea of my tastes.): Vampire hunter D, Sin, Metropolis, Full Metal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell (feature and Stand Alone complex).
Giant robots, Ray guns, and more..who could not love it?!
I've just gotta say, I loved this film. It was the first time in a while that I watched a movie and really enjoyed the ride. The look, the sound, the story and the effects. I enjoyed the world that Conran took us too. Maybe its cuz I'm a fan of early 20th century culture. But I love the cheeze, pulp, and wonder that the film embraced. Weather you like it or not, you gotta admit, Sky Captain was different. It strove to be something new and exciting. And for me, it succeeded. Sure the acting wasn't amazing. But again, this film wasn't supposed to be a serious drama. It was pulp! Pure and simple. It took us back to that time that we sat in front of a TV on Saturdays in our pajamas and stared at the TV in wide eyed wonder; gripping our seats in anticipation of what was going to happen next.
I've read a lot of the negative responses and I feel kinda sad. Wheres that sense of childish wonderment that we had as children? Some people over examine a film and expect every film to be the next Citizen Kane. Well, just because it isn't doesn't mean its not a great movie. I'm a film believer that films that have heart are great. Sky Captain was a labor of love and it had heart.
(Only because the Holy Trilogy is reserved at 10/10)
The Money $hot (2000)
Vulgar and Funny
I saw all the episodes of this on the web. Personally I've always found the porn industry oddly interesting even beyond the obvious reasons. Each episode is pretty short and its about the day to day lives of people who work at an adult video magazine. Even though it was shot on DV I thought it was really funny. You don't often see a decent series based on such a subject that includes explicit nudity and good writing. Many of the topics were very adult but the filmmakers did a good job with the writing and the the interaction between the characters. Overall I was quite surprised at how good this series was considering its low budget background. It would make a wonderful series on HBO or Showtime. Hope to see in on DVD someday.