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Sakasama no Patema (2013)
Incredible, keeps you guessing, surprises you constantly
I don't want to spoil anything but when I saw the concept of this movie I did not think much of it. I figured I'd go watch it on the strength of the fact that it won some award in Ireland. I just saw the North American Premiere and I was totally shocked by it. The only review I had read of this movie was that it was "OK".
Folks, this movie is better than OK, it is fantastic. It is not at all what I thought it would be and the concept of "inverted" is key here. They keep on changing what's real and what's not, and your idea of what reality is switches back and forth several times. They have a few really big reveals in the film that kind of blow you away. I don't even want to say what other movies this is like because it would give it away. But similarities aside, it still manages to be original and refreshing. Just be prepared to have your mind blown several times in the course of the movie all the way to the ending.
There is another movie called Upside Down that came out around the same time as this, maybe a bit earlier. I have never seen it but the reviews on it are terrible. These guys may not be the "original" upside down movie but they certainly did a great job with the concept, probably better based on the reviews.
Do yourself a favor and watch it, and do not read any plot synopses on it beforehand. Don't spoil the surprises.
The Monster Squad (1987)
Exactly why is this movie bad?
I'm not gonna say this movie suck because it's stupid and has bad acting or whatever. Fact is, this movie could have been great. The actors were cute, the monsters looked incredible, and the effects were fine for the time. It's 80s camp, it's monsters, it's kids kicking crotches - all that is awesome.
The sole thing that brings this movie down is how choppy and incoherent it is. It seems like there is a story (which actually seems to be a cool story for an 80s kids/monster film as far as I could tell) but only the writers knew it well, and as a result it's edited in a way that if you knew the story and characters it would make sense, but to anybody in the audience it's hard to identify with the characters or feel with them or even follow the story well at all. I very much wanted to like the movie simply due to its 80s charm. I love that kind of stuff, really I do. But the story is so badly structured you can't enjoy the movie.
Characters join the Monster Squad for no reason. Bad guys do things with little or no setup. Characters seem to have knowledge of things happening that they shouldn't have. People have odd motivations and strange reactions to events. All this could have been corrected with good editing, both writing and film editing.
The characters were lovable but that was destroyed by the bad film structure. Ruining lovable characters and monsters like those kids is simply a travesty.
At the same time, the movie seems incredibly confused as to whether it's for young kids or old kids. Lots of swearing and other "big kid" things (over 13 please), but lots of characters in elementary and grade school.
I love 80s kids adventure movies. This is not a good one. At the end I felt cheated because not only was it a bad movie, but it was a bad movie that definitely could have been totally rad 80s awesome. Nostalgia nothing, even as a kid it's not memorable simply because you couldn't get close to the characters because of the bad way it was edited/written.
This is saved from one star because of the potentially cool characters and the 80s-ness of it.
Ys: Book 1&2 (1990)
I'll try to be objective, but this game really shines for me
My problem is this is the first video game RPG I've ever played. See, that's a huge bias with me because it totally blew me away. I borrowed a TurboGrafx 16 with a CD player and a ton of games for a week in high school and the whole experience totally excited me. This system was not popular, so me and my few friends were probably the only kids in the entire school who even saw it. This is back in the days of SNES and Genesis, 16-bit gaming. Back then, there was no such thing (to console gamers) as voice in video games or CD quality music.
So enter the Turbo CD games. It was expensive so no one had it. It had tons of anime games but nobody knew what anime was back then! Can you kids imagine? I had never seen a narrated intro anime movie (movie!!) for a video game. That didn't exist back then. There were cut-scenes with graphics and text on the SNES and Genesis, but not animated with orchestrated music and with a real narrator. This game was years beyond what I expected to see video games do and only a few of us saw it, the few people who had TurboGrafx.
Combine that crazy stuff with the fact that this was my first RPG makes it amazing to me. Also be aware that I was a huge cartoon and anime geek at the time, and the fact that well-known voice actors from all my favorite cartoons were in this game almost made me die of happiness. See, these hobbies are very acceptable and popular now, but back then nobody knew about them and certainly didn't think it was cool.
So I'll try to rate this game looking back at it without letting too much of my feelings mess with it. Although it's bound to happen, so don't hold your breath.
The game has a perfect difficulty. You don't have to spend too much time leveling up but you do have to do a little. However, the exploring you do while you are trying to figure out how to get through the game will level you up at a nice pace. This game also has quite a wonderful atmosphere. The incredible music definitely sets the tone brilliantly, but also the story and environments certainly take you away. The game play is great. It's an accelerated RPG, which means instead of wasting your time with random encounters and battle screens, you simply run your character into the enemies and the game immediately takes into account your stats and the angle in which you approached the enemy and reacts accordingly with damage. So if you're the impatient type like me it's a great game. It's a nice long game, it took me a week to get through playing after school for about 3-5 hours a night. It might be too short for you if you have lots of time on your hands. There's a reason EGM magazine gave this game a perfect 10 score when it was released. It's a tight game in most respects.
Playing it now, you'd probably think it was just a 16 bit game with awesome music, and you'd be right. It is fairly straightforward, no real side quests and linear, but that's how games were back then. You also might think the cut-scene animations are primitive, but again, that was the technology back then. You have to remember that full screen images of people on screen and talking were literally something no console gamer ever saw before. Also, this is one of those 'main character doesn't talk or have any emotions' type games, which were extremely popular back then. The idea was for you the gamer to take the full brunt of the emotions and situations presented to you (kind of like some first person shooters like Half-Life) and the character on screen was just an extension of you, instead of you controlling a person on an adventure who you may or may not agree with. This game pulls it off nicely, although there is still a bit of disconnection, especially now with games being so complex.
Anyway, if you consider yourself a gaming nut and you think you need to know and play all old legendary games to make yourself an expert in the history of gaming, this is a must-play. Play it alongside the popular SNES and Genesis games released in 1991 and see for yourself why all the people (look at all the comments here in IMDb so far) get all teary-eyed when they think back about it. That's the only way to see what people were seeing and expecting of video games and how far the Turbografx and Y's were beyond those expectations. It really was an amazing experience for us
Kill the Director (1991)
Brilliant short film
It's been a long time since I've seen this, maybe 8-10 years or so, but it was on PBS when I was recording a bunch of stuff and I ended up with it on tape when I was in college. My roommate and I loved this movie, my roommate especially thought it was quite brilliant.
This is a 20+ minute mockumentary where an unseen and unheard high school kid does a documentary on a relative of his who is directing a short film for film school. Of course the director has all his friends and classmates along as crew. The film he's making seemingly and subtly is pointed out as being based on his own romantic experience and is almost him stroking his own ego without creating a meaningful story. All of it is incorporated nicely into the film and characters.
I particularly enjoyed the performance of the director's girlfriend, the cute, bespectacled and loyal lackey. She was hilarious. The director is equally hilarious, almost in an "The Office" kind of way. In fact, you could say this is a lot like The Office in style, especially with the strong character performances, the odd situations, and even the prankster and immature nature of some of the side characters. But back to the director, he's a cocky and optimistic type, just like lots and lots of film students seem to be. This film is almost an expose/parody in the world of film school, kind of like Art School Confidential. The stereotypical wannabes in film school, the wannabe actors, pathetic directors, etc., it's all there in a short and succinct film. You totally believe these are real film students trying to get along with a real student director.
The movie climaxes wonderfully. The whole situation the director ends up in and what eventually happens at the end are all really funny.
I wish this movie were more famous, it deserves to be. It's just brilliant.
Excellent documentary about the Asian American experience
I recorded this movie off PBS one day when I was in college. Didn't know what I was recording, I just habitually recorded things off of PBS at the time. As an Asian American myself, I found this to be an excellent overview of the experiences and feelings that we encounter from the more ignorant and racist side of America. However, we were born here, this is the only country we know, and we love it the same as any other immigrant's children - white, black, brown, or whatever. This movie deals with that situation, where we live and love our country but have to deal with the idea that many Americans have that anyone who is Asian must be "foreign" or "unamerican". It talks about the history of our struggles for civil rights over the past century and how we were right there alongside the African Americans in the 60s fighting with them. Also discussed are many disservices done by America to Asian-Americans and how they are still today treated in surprisingly racist ways. It also explores how some Asians fit into stereotypes and how many definitely don't. It also deals with the concepts of interracial relationship between blacks, white, Asian, and Hispanics. The filmmaker talks to many different types of Asian Americans from different areas of the country and gives you a very interesting cross section of the surprising makeup of people that is Asian American. There are so many kinds of people you never knew existed.
I watched this several times and I always enjoyed it. There were some excellent shots. I also liked a few of the transitions and the editing in general I thought was clever. The interviews are very intriguing.
A few problems I had were I didn't like the narrator's voice and delivery. Obviously she's a normal person doing her own movie's narration and it sounds amateurish, but it is tolerable nevertheless. The film quality suddenly changes near the end because she used video instead of film in one section. Some people aren't explored as much as I would have liked. I think the movie could have been stronger somehow, but I'm not sure. It's a quiet movie and a lot of the issues brought up might still be confusing to non-Asians watching it, and might end up boring to some. Although like I said, I thought it was all really cool.
If you are interested in Asian American issues, the film still holds true today and you should like it a lot.
Aunt Hallie (1989)
It's pretty funny
I recorded the show "Are We On" from PBS when it was on many years ago and this was featured on it. I recently re-watched all my old tapes and saw this. It's a real gem of a film. It's very subtly hilarious but also has some flat out funny gags. The delivery that the narrator gives is perfect and the way the actors look is perfect, too.
The story is simply what the description states. It's watching Aunt Hallie do silly things, like throwing away perfectly good plates or trying to get out of a chair without touching the armrests, and other stupid stuff to keep from spreading what she thinks is a disease she's contracted. All the while the narrator is giving a very monotoned but hilarious southern, slow narration about what Aunt Hallie is doing.
I suffer from tourettes/obsessive compulsive disorder, so this seems even funnier to a person like me.
Tiny Toon Adventures (1990)
A groundbreaking show. Seriously.
It's now 2005 and 15+ years since this cartoon first aired. I haven't actually watched it seriously or closely in about 10 years. Now that I'm an adult in my 30s I can look back with a serious eye as I watch the episodes again.
In concept, the cartoon is partly an homage to the classic Looney Tunes but also its own original show. There are a few episodes that are structured like the old cartoons. For example, there is a singer that attacks Buster and so he exacts revenge on this singer's concert -exactly like the old Bugs Bunny cartoon. The ensuing cartoon is similar to Looney Tunes, just in a different era. If you look at the old Looney Tunes, they did an awful lot of stuff exactly like Tiny Toons did. The old Looney Tunes made a lot of social commentary and parody. There were celebrity impersonations. There were a lot of corny period jokes, slang, and dialog. The comedy was surreal and wacky. You can say this exactly for Tiny Toons as well. The comedy styling is 'spiritually' the same. Most definitely a throwback to the classics which hadn't been done well (if at all) in cartoons in the decades prior to this show. We recognize the cultural references in Tiny Toons and we can roll our eyes when something we don't like comes up. But the reason we don't think Looney Tunes are corny is because we weren't alive back in the 40s. Also, Looney Tunes was original back in those days but today cartoons are rehashed over and over. So it's easy to perceive Tiny Toons in an unfair light due to our exposure to current events and our overexposure to cartoons in general.
There certainly are differences in many respects - the timing, the delivery, and obviously the duration of the shows. They are two different styles from two different periods, being done under two very different circumstances - Looney Tunes being made for adults in theaters and Tiny Toons being made for kids watching TV. Even so, they did a good job making an original show with original gags AND still paying homage to and patterning after the comedy stylings of the old Looney Tunes.
Since Tiny Toons had a lot more time to play with, they had some genuine moments of great animated inspiration. You only have to look at episodes like 1 minute to 3, the baby Plucky toilet episode.. there are so many more. For example, one of the best comedy dialog exchanges ever animated is in ThirteenSomething when Babs and Buster are on the phone in a split screen, hoping each misses the other. The miscommunication is spectacular. Notably, the character development in this episode and in several others (usually the ones penned by Deanna Oliver or Sherri Stoner) is rather good. The female characters were taken seriously as personalities and developed, unusual considering the opposite is usually true for cartoons of that period.
This was the first modern cartoon that had lots of both pop culture-referential and self-referential humor. This was way ahead of its time. Tiny Toons really opened up a door for writers to take comic liberties that are so common in the cartoons today, instead of doing the boring old crap we endured as 80s kids. Yes, I loved Transformers and Thundercats, but Tiny Toons totally jumped away from all that. It was a breath of fresh air. Bakshi's New Adventures of Mighty Mouse may have been a precursor, but Tiny Toons made this surreal style of comedy cartoon writing a real success.
As a kid I totally overlooked some jokes. For example, one episode is an homage to the Marx Brothers that I completely ignored as a teen. Now I have a newfound respect for it. There are so many inspired gags that I never noticed that are genuinely brilliant. It's that kind of comedy that makes me think of Looney Tunes and Family Guy. I NEVER noticed that kind of comedy as a kid. I've been thinking this for most episodes I watched recently.
You'd notice these kinds of things if you actually WATCHED the show. Unlike some other reviewers here who I know are unfairly judging it, I've seen all the episodes and have thought about them thoroughly, exposed both as a kid and as an adult.
You can tell there was an awful lot of care taken with the voice acting too. I'm not talking about just the main characters, but the side characters were done really well and creatively too. But back to the main characters, some of the main characters were brilliant. Tress MacNeille had, in my opinion, her best performances in this cartoon. She hasn't been the same since. Rob Paulsen also did some incredible stuff here, too.
This is all not to say the show didn't have some bad episodes. It had plenty. It had a lot of mediocre ones, too. But by far it certainly had a lot of genuinely funny episodes. Especially back when it first aired it was actually funny to watch.
Out of 10 I give the show an 8.5 - and kudos for pushing the envelope and breaking down the doors leading to a new era of cartoons.
Kaze, Ghost Warrior (2004)
pretty and very impressive feat, but needs a real story
This is one gorgeous heck of a film, all the more wonderful considering only one person was responsible for its production. Certainly groundbreaking and incredible to think one person made such a beautiful, well directed piece of animation that is seriously on par with the most professional 3D animated films out there now. The slow pacing of the film that allowed the viewer to be pulled into the world and recognize the beauty of some of the backgrounds and renders is very much appreciated.
Unfortunately the plot was thin and eventually had no real ending. Much like many other indie animators out there, the artist made something that is only a small fraction of what probably is a grand epic in his mind. Much of the dialog and plot is petty cliché-ish holier-than-thou peace-loving hero-talk. Also, it felt very strange to watch this movie because the main character acts so odd. Some of the shots and direction seemed a bit pretentious, as well as some of the story. It's like the artist was pandering to himself by the posing of the characters. At the end I was wondering of the main character and all the other characters were homosexual. There was no story, dialog, or plot to show that but that's the only way to explain how it felt. I have nothing at all against homosexuality, I'm a huge liberal in fact, but that's what I got out of this film: an overbearing feeling of homosexuality despite the fact the film had nothing to do with that. You have to watch it to understand what I mean, just watch how it plays out, and I am not talking about Kaze acting girly or anything like that. I mean yeah, there was a lot of very overly sensitive, seemingly forced crying and emotions going on here that seemed really oddly placed, but that's only part of it. Watch it, you'll know what I am talking about when you see it. I am not joking or trying to make this movie look bad or anything, that is my honest opinion and I'm surprised no one has ever mentioned this. The reason I mention this is because it had no place in the movie and as such it detracted from the film as a whole. The artist was obviously trying to create a dramatic piece but what comes out is almost fetishistic and disturbing. If they had some sort of better reason to act this way then that would be acceptable. In fact I'd be really impressed and satisfied if a gay character in a fantasy cartoon was pulled off really well. Instead it just seems strangely out of place. Imagine all of those ridiculous movies, video games, and TV shows where an unnecessarily sexy female warrior is in a serious story. That's just pandering to the audience and the filmmakers. That's what I am talking about here, just replace her with (seemingly gay) male characters.
As for the animation, it is top notch. There could be a few tweaks done to make some things seem to have more weight, and some of the action scenes seem not to fulfill what you can tell could have been great potential, but check out the rendering, the facial animation, and the emotion conveyed by all the subtle movement.
The sound really needs work. Obviously the time frame of production on this film probably kept it from being better. The eerily silent parts of the film aren't artistic, rather they are annoying. The small amount of music here is great but there is very little of it. A good film doesn't need music but this film really needs something because the empty sound space, as I said before, doesn't work at all. It seems more like a huge mistake or oversight. More sound effects are needed and some of the scenes sound strange. For instance there is a scene where a chair breaks and it sounds loud but kinda like a 'generic' sound effect from a sound library. But the other sound effects are absent or very low, so the ending result is something that looks like an incomplete production.
If this was a feature-length movie that explored the story in-depth, this film was definitely going in the right direction. Like I said before, the pacing and visuals of the film would have been perfect for such an endeavor. However, the artist of this film needs a solid story writer, a strong short story with a beginning-middle-end, a good sound person, and a good editor to take out some of the pretentiousness. Then he would have an award winning film. I ask you all who seem to love this film, look past how pretty it is and ask yourself does this film really redeem itself in any other ways.