jump to navigation

The lazy round up post December 29, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama, Film, Manga, Music, TV.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

I’ve been kind of slack with this blog over the last few months, a combination of work, life and lack of motivation. Two of the most frustrating things about blogging are 1) you really have to make time for it if you’re to do a decent job; and 2) unless you’re in the mood, everything you write will suck (yes, some would say everything I write sucks anyway :P).

The result is I have a stack of draft posts on stuff that I will never get round to finishing off. So in true lazy ass Christmas holidays fashion, I am resorting to a round-up. For better or worse, here’s some of the things I’ve seen and done over the last few months: (more…)

Advertisements

Avatar – echoes of a thousand anime? December 24, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film.
Tags: , , ,
6 comments
Avatar poster

Does this look like a Zentradi to you?

I saw James Cameron’s Avatar at a midnight screening at the BFI IMAX last night. I’ve read a million reviews, generally positive but with a fair-bit of backbiting as well. Having now seen the thing, I can see all their points of view but agree with the vast majority: Avatar is a stunning cinema experience.

Seriously, you’re unlikely to have seen anything this visually arresting on the big screen, and certainly not in 3D. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but the animation was immaculate, like the best Final Fantasy cut-scene improved to such an extent that you quickly accept it as the real world. (more…)

Love Exposure (2008) November 30, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

Love Exposure poster

Love Exposure is a four hour cross-genre epic about an innocent misguided young panty photographer trying to relate to his father and win over his one true love.

It sounds pervy and completely batshit insane, and in some ways, it is. But its a film well worth seeing. Exciting (in both senses of the word), touching (in both senses of the word) and moving (in both senses of the word), Sion Sono‘s opus combines contemporary Japanese perversity with romance, empathy and sensitivity, delivering comic moments, disturbing moments and downright perplexing moments.

SPOILER ALERT

(more…)

Lalapipo (2009) November 15, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

Lalapipo poster

There are only two types of people in the world, those who take chances and those who don’t. The trouble is, more often than not, those chances still land you in a stinking pile of shit.

That’s essentially the premise of Lalapipo, the title of which alludes the ‘lot of people’ in Tokyo. It’s a film about the dead-end lives of several Tokyoites stuck in the city’s sex industry — that weird underbelly of Japanese society that’s seemingly always in your face, but which people try not to talk about in everyday conversation.

It’s perfect subject matter then for Tetsuya Nakashima (of Kamikaze Girls and Memories of Matsuko fame), who excels at bringing out the weird, funny, but painful, reality of Japan’s hopeless. (As it happens, Nakashima was just the screenwriter on this one, but his fingerprints are all over this. There’s even a car-crash scene in which one of the main characters gets tossed in the air à la Momoko in Kamikaze Girls).

(SPOILERS AHEAD) (more…)

Evangelion 2.0: You can (not) advance (Evangelion Shin Gekijōban: Ha) September 7, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
3 comments

Eva2poster

While in Japan, I was lucky enough to catch the second Renewal of Evangelion movie at the Human Trust Cinema in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Evangelion Shin Gekijōban: Ha (Renewal of Evangelion: Ha or Evangelion 2.0: You can (not) advance as it is alternately known) is the next in GAINAX’s remakes/reimaginings/cash-in rip-off’s of their popular, controversial anime series.

Despite my misgivings about reanimating and redoing an otaku favourite, I was really impressed by the first film (Evangelion 1.0: You are (not) alone). Yes, the story was exactly the same as the first six or so episodes of the series, but it had been a long time since I’d rewatched the TV anime and the newly animated footage was stunning. To see everything rendered in new, 21st Century colours and CG was a treat for the eyes, and the story still holds — in some ways it was even better without the filler fluff that comes with a TV series.

Yet, while the story was essentially the same, it did hint at big changes to the original plot — Kaworu, for example, made a few taster appearances.

This is carried on in the second film, which while going through essentially the same hoops as the original anime, takes a different route in getting there.

(SPOILER ALERT: If you really don’t want to know, stop reading here) (more…)

Red Cliff Parts 1 and 2 (2008/2009) June 3, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Redcliffposter

John Woo returns to far east cinema with an ambitious take on a legendary Chinese tale. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a literary epic, at once China’s Shakespeare and Lord of the Rings, and a worthy source for the country’s most expensive movie to date.

The film(s) focuses on one of the most famous stories in the work, the Battle of the Red Cliff, when two of the kingdoms united to defend themselves from the Imperial Army. I’m not even going to try to summarise the plot. The word ‘epic’ also tends to mean convoluted mess of characters and subplots, so read the Wikipedia entry if you’d like to know the historical details. The significant factors are three outstanding leaders, two accomplished armies, a gang of legendary warriors and a war that may or may not have been started over a woman.

It’s so much that the film was released in two parts in Asia, but will be cut down for the West. That’s a good and a bad thing, in my humble opinion. On the one hand, it’ll help move things along. At times, Red Cliff does resemble a long, meandering period drama, and you could easily see this being a TV mini-series if Asia had a HBO equivalent. But while the condensed version will get you to the action quicker, it will lose the appreciation of politics, strategy and relationships that really make the story gripping.

Ashamedly for a Chinese person, I’m not exactly familiar with the Romance stories or the history of China. So I was fascinated by the tactical genius on display here (what can I say, I’m a sports fan too) and the mix of scientific knowledge, wisdom and brilliance that lent many of these great men an air of mysticism. Some aspects of the story have clearly been embellished for the screen (the idea of a princess undertaking a spy mission, is, quite frankly, ridiculous), but accepting that blend of history and fantasy that the likes of Lord of the Rings has brought us, it’s not really too much of a problem.

Of course, Lord of the Rings also brought us epic battles on a scale never before seen. Woo aims to repeat that, and possibly surpass it, on the Asian scene. The battles, particularly the finale, are drop dead spectacular and certainly rival anything Peter Jackson came up with. The fact that it’s elegantly choreographed martial arts may even push it ahead (and with John Woo’s trademark doves to boot).

The film(s) is beautifully crafted with an all-star cast (Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro to name just two) and high standards all round. It’s well-worth seeking out the two-part edition to appreciate this on all levels: action, drama and history. I certainly hope the single film edition will do well enough to warrant an ‘extended edition’ release in the West.

High Kick Girl (2009) May 24, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

high_kick_girl_poster
“The Japanese Karate Kid” was how this was billed, the other film I went to see at the Terracotta Festival. High Kick Girl is DV shot, low-budget and pretty much what you’d expect: high on action, low on plot, acting and drama. But it never pretends to be anything other than a all-action B-movie, and delivers all you could want on that account.

SPOILER ALERT (more…)

Bi-mong (Dream) (2008) May 24, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

dream
I caught Kim-Ki Duk‘s latest at the Terracotta Far East film festival, which took place in London this weekend. Having enjoyed the likes of 3-Iron and Spring, Summer. Autumn Winter… and Spring I was really looking forward to this. While I certainly wasn’t disappointed per se, I was left rather confused. But perhaps that is because of the very nature of the film, blending reality and dreams to the point where you’re not sure what’s ‘real’ and what isn’t.

The story follows Jin, a Japanese artist living in Japan, who’s been having disturbingly vivid dreams. Mysteriously, he finds that these dreams are being acted out by Korean hemstress Ran. The two are on opposite ends of a spectrum, jin still in love with his ex-girlfriend and Ran having just dumped a boyfriend she can’t stand. Their dreams are connected, the reason for which is unclear.

SPOILER WARNING (more…)

20th Century Boys Chapter 2 (2009) May 11, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film, Manga.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

20th-century-boys2

Last Monday, the second movie in the 20th Century Boys live-action trilogy received its UK premiere as the closing film of the Sci-Fi London Film Festival. I can’t tell you how excited I was about seeing it. After watching the first part back in November, I’d been eagerly awaiting the next installment and feared that the usual slow Japan to UK transfer would mean waiting a year for the second and third parts (if they appeared at all). Since then, the trilogy has been picked up for UK DVD release and Viz have finally started releasing the graphic novels. Relief all round for Naoki Urasawa fans. ^^

So how about the second movie? Well, it certainly had me on the edge of my seat throughout, if only because I really wanted to know what happened next. I did enjoy the film but, on first impressions, I also found it a little disappointing. But that shouldn’t take away from what is still a fabulously enjoyable film.

SPOILER WARNING (more…)

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) April 5, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

a_tale_of_two_sisters_poster
I wrote a couple of months ago about discovering Kim Ji-Woon and my anticipation at catching up with his back-catalogue. A Tale of Two Sisters certainly didn’t disappoint.

The third biggest grossing film  in Korea, apparently, it is a marvelous modern take on an old Korean folk tale. It masquerades as a horror movie, but isn’t actually that scary and is more of a psychological thriller.

The story follows two young teenage girls, who return home after treatment at a mental institution. This stems from emotional issues surrounding their father’s remarriage and their mother’s suicide. Tensions remain with their emotionally distant father and selfish step-mother. Moreover, there is some kind of evil presence in the house.

SPOILER ALERT

(more…)