"Rattle the Cage" is a great thriller, gripping, with an amazing set-up (the reasons of which, we, the viewers, actually know very little of) that puts two men in very different situations face to face, with their lives on the line. Will Dabaan get his objective, whatever it is? And will he kill Talal? What options of leaving the place alive has actually Talal left?
If the beginning of the movie is good, but relaxed, from the very first moment Ali Suliman (as Dabaan) enters the scene, the movie goes to a whole new level of gripping and crazy. However, even if the atmosphere, acting and color palette is amazing, the story falters a little bit towards the end, with a couple of moments that are stretched a little bit thin.
You won't regret watching it, though.
The movie continues with its low key approach to its subjects: we see the everyday life of the Hirata family and how things have changed since the end of the first movie. The MacGuffin of the story is the 'patriarch' 's stubbornness and denial in recognizing the need for him to stop driving. This too common situation gives Yôji Yamada all he needs to develop the story, a plot that, as the first, revolves around family, its tensions, the changes that are happening in Japanese society (family relations, elder care, job relations...), with some light touches of humor and also some serious moments. The pace is still quite slow, and it drags for moments, but the approach is spot on, and the the movie's mood and situations will delight the viewer, in particular for anyone interested in everyday's life and human relationships.
It won't make you think, but you won't, probably, be bored either.
The episode is a more toned-down one than some of the previous, with MacGyver home and in an episode that centers on family and relationships. That makes for some acceptable character development (nothing great, but more than just your usually good/bad people) and adds depth to the story. On the side of what really matters, people..., I mean, the inventions, the episode offers a nice array of basic MacGyver: smoky devices, flashy devices, dry ice and things that help you ran away. It is not particularly original but they are well deployed (and, if you allow me, more original and surprising than in the 2010s reboot/remake iteration of the show; also the old "MacGyver" has more heart, but I know I wouldn't be comparing them if not for the name, so...).
Entertaining, as always really fun, and 7 MacGyvers for the inventions.
What follows is your typical Japanese drama full of touching moments, ideas of sacrifice, the importance of family and traditional values and some romanticized ideas around Japanese culture and lifestyle. It is very well done and acted, and the direction and plot (even if some extended episodes just run for a little bit too long) grip the viewer's attention and make for compelling viewing. It never gets boring and knows how to bring the tear to the eye (curious, when it is a drama about a sock company trying to survive bankruptcy; you know, capitalism). The viewer will easily enjoy the story and how the characters are very human and nicely developed. Harder to sit through though, are some of those romantic ideas, that some times smell a little bit (it even feels like the drama is sending subtle patriotic messages).
A very nicely done show, with great acting and development, which highlights are the characters and their development (something at which Japanese shows shine, with a mysterious knack to walk the line between cheesy and touching without falling into the first).
The episode does a great job centering first on Clarke and her fight for survival after the storm and the radiation. We find a desperate and hopeless Clarke, alone, without friends or purpose, and with no idea on how she will survive till her friends come back. She tries to find a way to open the entrance and join the survivors at Second Dawn, but she soon has to give up and try to survive by herself. Pretty soon she finds a companion and we get to the moment in which season four ended, with the prisoner space ship landing on her valley. Also we get some snippets on the life Bellamy and the others are leading on their little and broken spaceship.
The plot is simple but is delivered in a great way, with good direction and solidly anchored by Eliza Taylor's performance, which is a great one, her acting keeping the viewer with their eyes on the screen. She does a great job in bringing the world and her character to life while we stay with her, and with her we get introduced to this new and desolate world, even worse that the one they were on before. It also helps that the episode gives us time to feel and understand this new world we are in, and the little breaks from it to go to the spaceship on which Bellamy and the others are feels like a perfect counterpoint to what is happening on Earth.
"Eden" does a great job of picking things up after the ending of season four while delivering, probably, the best first episode of any of the five seasons of the show. Amazing.
The show centers on UDI, the Unnatural Death Investigation unit, an organization that works to discover the truth behind unnatural deaths that occur in Japan. Japan being a country where people are not normally buried, but cremated, which means you cannot go back to those bodies to do another autopsy. The UDI has a couple of lead forensic surgeons, Mikoto Misumi and Kai Nakado, and a group that works around them.
As said above, each episode offers a case, even though there is an overall arc that offers a particular mystery related to one of the characters, and some other mysteries and plot threads that will be developed little by little. The cases are not particularly surprising or original, but they are engaging enough and offer a couple of surprises along the way. The fact that the group has only a short time before the families want to cremate the bodies adds a countdown to the proceedings that make it more nail-biting (even if we have to suffer the 'character-running-to-stop-a-body-of-being-cremated' moment here and there).
The best of the show, however, are the characters and their interactions. Satomi Ishihara is particularly good here, her acting fitting the character better than in some of her other dramas. But the package around her, with Yutaka Matsushige or Masataka Kubota, really helps. Their interactions, banter, and how they are developed is the highlight of the show, with some very touching moments. Yes, the show may try to manipulate the viewer with the music and some particular plot twists, but when you care about the characters and it does it not in an intrusive (or very intrusive) way, you won't care much.
If you want a mystery of the week, with funny characters, and some feelings thrown into the mix, you may enjoy "Unnatural". A good one.
"The Teacher" tells the story of a school meeting, where the parents of the students of a class meet to talk about the teacher of their children, for reasons that are not very clear at the beginning, but seem to be pretty damning for the aforementioned teacher. Little by little, by flashbacks, and by the conversations between the parents, we get to know the problem, and we get to know the different opinions and why those different opinions happen.
It is a very interesting look on how power, families, or school work, with a lot of dark humor and sarcasm and an ironic look to an era where Communism was in power in what nowadays is Slovakia. The director, Jan Hrebejk, goes for satire, not being bleak and angry, but tongue-in-cheek. Nothing of what he tells will be particularly surprising, but centering on the abuse of power and corruption in a school, instead of in the government or military, offers a fresh look, and the amazing work by Zuzana Mauréry elevates this movie to another level. Her acting is amazing, and she brings Mária to life in a performance that will stay with the viewer long after the credits roll. A really interesting, and good, movie.
"Eyes" is your run-of-the-mill Japanese horror movie. It has the high schooler, it has the little child (in this case a brother), it has the not very subtle ties to family relationships, and it has some random woman with long black hair. And even if it tries to be original and offer some twists on an old formula, the truth is that the movie can't sustain its flimsy plot. Things make little sense, the mystery is quite lame, and the acting is not crème de la crème.
Some points for atmosphere, though. It will entertain you if you are in the mood, but you will forget it even while watching it. Not the best J-horror.
The story centers on Suzu, a young girl from Hiroshima, before, during and after the Second World War. She has a brother and a sister, she loves to paint and draw (and is a real artist), she enjoys simple things and has an easy smile, she just wants to be happy and help the ones that surround her.
However, life is never so simple and here, the war comes into play. And "In This Corner of the World" does a great job in balancing the small (Suzu) with the big (Hiroshima, the war and its consequences...). Even if Suzu is almost always there, on the screen, many little details, small conversations, and the interaction between characters depict a world of violence, of hate, of power and unresolved conflict. It is sad, it is touching and it shouldn't be a surprise if it makes you cry.
The animation is amazing. It is all very cute and smily, which makes the hard moments hit harder, the sad moments be sadder, and the angry moments make you angrier. The color palette, and the character's expressions help to bring the story to life and to make all of them feel real and close and their needs and desires truthful.
It is a great movie and totally worth viewing. Highly recommended.
Old Lord Hidetora Ichimonji is getting old and, when a couple of lords come to ask for his third son to marry one of the lord's daughters, Hidetora decides it is time to retire. He will divide his territories between his three sons and retire, even though he will keep his title and some power. The youngest, Saburo is against this decision, but the older two brothers are really happy with their father's decision and promise to take care of him. Saburo is sent away, stripped from all of his possessions and Hidetora starts his new life.
What follows is a story of hate, betrayal, desire, corruption... You know, the stuff of great stories. The two older brothers start to plot against each other and against their father, the wife of the older brother too, Saburo just seems to worry about his father... There are a lot of threads but Kurosawa does an amazing job in threading them and keep the plot advancing while making things more and more interesting. The plot is full of nice twists and touches, and the characters are well rounded, their behavior and decisions well justified and presented. Kurosawa was a great director, and every frame of this movie is a clear example of his touch. Everything is really great, from the music to the palette of color, and even the use of the scenery is also top notch.
Totally worth seeing, "Ran" is a movie about the dangers of power. Any kind of.
"One Punch Man", the anime adaptation of the manga of the same name, delivers a constant barrage of laughs and action in a faithful adaptation.
Saitama is a hero. But not your average hero, like Son Goku, that needs 30 episodes to destroy the big bad after having gone through another 30 episodes of fights with the henchmen. No. Saitama wins his fights with just one punch. We don't really know how he got so strong (the explanation of his training regime to Genos is hilarious), but he is. So strong that the constant apparition of new and more dangerous enemies are never a threat. Even if you keep waiting for a real 'enemy' to appear.
With this introduction it is pretty easy to see that "One Punch Man" plays the "Dragon Ball" or "Naruto" card but with a twist, poking fun to all the constant fights in those anime. And it does a great job of it, with a constant tongue-in-cheek approach to your hero anime: from the 'heroes association' to the hero's rankings to Saitama's fights, "One Punch Man" is in constant 'funny' mode. Some jokes will be better understood by fans of action anime, but all the deadpan jokes can be enjoyed by everyone. It also helps that the fights, when they come, are perfectly paced and with amazing effects. The humor delivers, but the action too and the threats are always 'believable'.
But in what "One Punch Man" excels is in characterization. Saitama is your hero after all the threats have disappeared. He is a hero that does his job because it is his job, but doesn't really find a challenge in it anymore. Genos is the perfect secondary, the one that would be the hero in your regular show. And all the others, like Mumen Rider or Terrible Tornado, just add to the series. The voice work is amazing (in its Japanese version, which is the one I saw) and bring the characters to life. The only problem I found is that I enjoyed more the manga than the anime (it also had the surprise factor that this adaptation doesn't (can't) have).
Do you like anime? And action anime? Or action? If you do, this is for you. And if you don't, this is for you too. "One Punch Man" is amazing.
You won't regret it.
In this episode, Xander is depressed after Cordelia break's up with him before Valentine, because, you know, appearances. Cue Xander teaming up with long forgotten character Amy, now, as her mother before, also a witch. Xander just wants Cordelia to go through the same sad and depressing feelings he is going through, but the spell doesn't work... well, as intended, and all the women start to love him, and obsess around him.
From that moment on it is all silly plot development after silly plot development, but so perfectly done, that the viewer won't be able to stop laughing. It's the kind of episodes that make casual viewers become fans, and that, after all the plot and background have already been set, gives life to a show and helps the viewer relate to the characters. It is an episode that doesn't just go for laughs (there are quite a lot of them), but also offers a lot in character development and is, in its own way, quite realistic in that respect.
Very, but very funny episode. Classic.
The plot in its basics: five citizens of Israel with double nationality but otherwise seemingly normal lives are accused of kidnapping the Iranian Minister of Defense. Little by little we get to know why, how and all the other answers to the questions behind the kidnapping. At the beginning, though, all five of them seem to be completely innocent people (ok, except Sean, who looks shady from second one). The plot does a decent job on developing this premise (even if, when you think about it after ending the show, it is all a little bit head-scratching because some plot points make no sense).
However, the strongest points of the show are the characters, all of them really interesting and well developed, and the pace of the development of the story. In regards of the first, the characters are fleshed out and the acting good enough. And in regards to the second, the rhythm, the music, the camera work all work to make every episode "Lost"-style gripping, normally ending with a cliffhanger and with some really nice twists along the way.
We have the typical hero that has a secret and, even if he doesn't want to, has to join forces with another character. In this case, our hero is a 'collector', a person that tries to recover illegal components that use energy from the 'dimension W', a dimension that has helped humanity to get an endless supply of energy. He is old style and doesn't like the use of the components that let humanity tap into the dimension W. Not very deep sci-fi, that's true. At the very beginning of the anime he gets involved with a robot, the creation of the man that found the dimension W and the robot (with the typical character and looks of a young girl, something too typical in some kind of Japanese anime) decides to stay with him.
From that moment one we get our hero, Kyoma, getting his missions and the robot Mira helping him. The model is one mission per episode. Around the half of the series we get into the big arc of the show that will last till the end of the anime.
The first part is lots of fun, with cool characters, great rhythm and funny plots, with some silly humor thrown into it. The second part is darker, the plot gets a little bit messy and is more into 'big fights' but it is still really interesting and fun. Not very demanding, but always fun.
The animation is really cool, even if there are a couple of moments where the quality is not great. It does a great job in making the viewer feel involved in this world and characters, with a very stylized look and a nice use of color. Perfect for this type of series. And the music is just plain great.
P.S.: I haven't watched the OVA, so this review is just for the anime series.
But in this episode everything changes as we enter into the big story-line the show has been teasing us from the very beginning: the big 'numbers', the 'original' coils and the accident that happened on the Easter Island. This is the big arc of the show, and it does a great job of introducing new characters while keeping the center on the ones that have already been introduced, feeding the viewer on some quite relevant back story. The pace is slow at the beginning, but after the flashback the episode gets into a frenzy mood, with lots of action, things happening non-stop and the start of a big mystery. Will the show be able to give a good answer to all the questions introduced till now? Maybe yes, maybe not, but till now it is a really funny show.
The special picks from this moment and follows as if nothing had happened and there had not been more than three years (for the viewer) between both moments. Which, if you see all together will not matter, but if you see this special without refreshing your memory, well, you will have problems trying to remember why the two characters had ended up there.
Without getting into what happens between them both, the special then follows your typical "Border" episode, with a 'ghost' asking Ishikawa for help, and him trying to decide which way to go: the 'official' one, with rules, police and the system, or the 'un-official' one. The special does a great job on keeping Ishikawa on the grey zone (more than ever), without letting us know if he will go all dark, or if he will keep trying to fight his demons. It helps that Oguri seems to have been born for this kind of ambivalent characters, and that the mood, the pace, and the grey and dark illumination is perfect. From the moment the music from the series sounds, you will be back to the world of Ishikawa, the policeman that, after getting injured and left with a bullet in his head, can talk to the dead.
A really good ending (?; it leaves the door open for a second series or even a movie) to the series, one that fans of the TV series will enjoy.
"Living with My Mother" is a very touching, slow, introspective movie, typical or your late Yôji Yamada, with sparse use of camera work, long takes, and a focus on characters and their dialogues, instead of on action or fast changes of view points. The story centers on Nobuko, Koji's mother, after the end of the war, and how she tries to come to terms with what has happened in her life. Sayuri Yoshinaga does a great job of imbuing her character with life, making her feel close even if you know little of the history behind her story. Yamada does not center on pain or tears, but on the little things that make us human, and instead of telling us a story of the struggle to eat to live, he tells us the story of the struggle to understand, forgive and adapt to be able to live in an world that has changed completely.
It is a little bit slow, and some moments can be a little bit stretched, but the direction, the acting, the mood and the pace are great, and it is a movie that is worth seeing. It is a movie about humanity.
There is a high school festival but, again, someone seems intend on killing the students. Buffy and Co. suspect that the dummy is doing it.
The episode does a great job in poking fun at the fact that students keep dying on the premises of the high school (who would want their children to go there after the first couple of episodes?) and also does a great job at playing the 'dummy' card. We all know the dolls are scary, but "Buffy" turns this upside down offering a very funny take on it, with a very tongue-in-cheek approach to the plot. It is also has a very nice pace (an upgrade after the previous one's stilted one) and the acting fits perfectly with the mood. Buffy, Willow and Xander's horror at having to take part on the festival is the perfect mood setting for the rest of the episode.
All 'horror' shows have to have one episode with a dummy in them, and this one does the trick for "Buffy". In a really funny way. A winner.
The pilot of "Younger" is fun, fresh and fast, and it introduces very nicely the viewer to the characters: Liza, her daughter, her best friend and her workmates. It has lots of humor (of the white kind, all very nice, but with charm) and the plot develops nicely, without hiccups, just going for laughs. It helps that all the actors do a great job, starting with Sutton Foster (even though just changing clothes and hairstyle to pass her for a 26-year-old is stretching things a little bit thin).
A show that tries to entertain while doing some commentary but without meanness in its bones, "Younger" is off to a great start.
The first episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is a fun, charming and enjoyable introduction to the series. It lets the viewer get to know the characters (there are quite a lot), their dynamics (simplified: the nerd, the posh, the vampire slayer...) and it also introduces some plot developments. Watched twenty years after it aired, it has a charm and an 'innocence' that enthralls. However, it also tries to fit too much in too little time, there are some inconsistencies with the plot (consequence of trying to fit too much info and characters and of throwing Buffy against a big vampire conclave from the first second) and an acting that is, well, over-the-top and more than cheesy (in particular, our hero, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, who has the high school student part, but not so much the vampire slayer one). The action parts, in particular, show its age, with some jumps, kicks and fights are too simple and with poor camera work.
Nevertheless, the characters have charm, it has some good humor (even if a little bit silly), and the basic idea is simple but great: a high school student that also is a vampire slayer, and her friends that help her. It may not be perfect, and it may show its age, but it is worth your time.
"Haburashi / Onna Tomodachi" is an enjoyable drama, with some mystery in it, but that is not particularly original or surprising. It is centered more on the relationship between Suzune and Mizue than on anything else, and also on how Mizue's appearance wreaks havoc on Suzune's organized and quite successful lifestyle. It is kind of annoying how easy Mizue gets to control everything on Suzune's life and it can become highly irritating, all with Suzune being moved and pushed around by Mizue and her secret plots. Suzune is one of those characters bland and empty, that seem to exist to sacrifice themselves for others. Yuki Uchida does a good job to give some life to the character, but it is difficult to empathize with a character whose life and decisions are so easily controlled.
However, as the plot advances and the characters have time to breath and develop, the plot becomes better and more engaging. And with only 8 episodes in the series (and less than 30 minutes long each) it can be seen even in one afternoon.
It is good enough, but far from great. If Suzune's inside world would have been better depicted, her decisions toward Mizue (who also is sometimes undercooked as a character, going from manipulative to victim without much explanation till the very end) would be better understood.