Persepolis (2007)

Watched the adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s autobiography comic book today, it was, in my opinion, not about the revolution of Iran nor the Iraqi-Iranian War as much it was the specific coming-of-age of Marjane. At times it felt a clear extraction of an individual’s life. The specificity is something I aspire to reveal in storytelling, such as Marjane’s clear characteristics not serving a major plot device or progressor, such as her messiah/prophet complex as a child – it can be said that all these amount to her rebellious nature as an individual in a repressive regime, but I believe the feeling of being rebellious was more blunt from the punk impressions or Western-cultural influences on Marjane.

From the first 20 minutes of the film, the pacing and transitions of shots were jarring. I hope the filmmakers didn’t create a linear production from the start to the end. It could’ve been that way, as it felt like that. There is also a lot of comic-like images that don’t really play well in animation/film. I feel the family’s contemplation of the future of the country after the Shah’s defeat as being rather too fast and inconsistent to the protagonist narrative of Marjane. Why couldn’t it be portrayed from only Marjane’s point of view?

I really enjoyed the return to Iran montage (Eye of the Tiger), I imagine the feeling of being clinically depressed and overcoming the feeling would’ve been longer, darker and depressing to watch, ironically. But the conveyance of Marjane’s old nature of enjoying Western films and music returning to her was uplifting and reassuring that she will change people around her in this exhausted nation.

Movie Reviews – Gran Turino (2008), Attack the Block (2011), Never Let Me Go (2010)

 

Gran Turino (2008) is a Clint Eastwood creation, directed and starring Clint Eastwood (written by Nick Schenk, Clint Eastwood and David Johannson). It is a moral simple parable story of a Korean War veteran living in a lonesome life as an anti-social pensioner (although I don’t know if pensioner would be accurate). What I felt from the film is the strength in making the audience feel fear, anger and most emotions the onscreen characters would feel – disincluding the antagonist gangs of Asian decent. The character Walt Kowalski is a retiree in a predominate Hmong Asian immigrant community in Detroit, US. Walter finds his neighbour’s kid a young man being peer pressured into stealing his Gran Turino car, this doesn’t go well for the kid – called Thao nicknamed “Toad” by Walter. A couple of scenes by Walter helps with a scuffle with his neighbours and the gang of Asians. This starts a positive relationship with his neighbours to him giving him food and flowers and inviting him to their house – he is stern and reluctant but ultimately befriends Thao’s sister Sue. The main character Walter is a blunt, occasional verbal racist but does not mean to harm others but merely to speak his mind – he does this through the film to the gangs and youths he encounters – most of the time armed with a gun to their faces.

I liked this film a lot, it was easy to follow and great to see Clint Eastwood at it again on the screen (since Million Dollar Baby (2004)). I think what I did really like was the trope of using stereotypes of white racist old man veteran and immigrate thug as a way to show that there is a level of civility that can be communicated and understood by most of the audience. We all feel different from some labelled groups but when we communicate and get to know the groups – our stereotypes are dispelled. The ending was sastifying it showed that violence is never the answer and the solution is sternness and self-respect.

Ghostbusters (2016) – Review [Spoilers]

Ghostbusters (2016) is a reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise from the original Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) directed by Paul Feig and co-written by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig. From my understanding Paul Feig has not been a major blockbuster director as much as his more notable Directors and creators in the business. I’m concerned that I might be judged or labelled Feminist or Masculinist – I don’t know. But my opinion should not stop anyone reading this from watching what they want to watch. To start off, I did as a child watch Ghostbusters and the second film as well as the TV show – and to be honest I haven’t watched the originals as an adult since. So I don’t really care or can remember to compare this film with the original. So this is a fresh review for the film with little (only pop culturally) knowledge of the franchise. And another thing I want to say is that I really do love SNL (Saturday Night Live) – Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Lesley Jones. I don’t really like Melissa McCarthy to be honest. I didn’t like her in most of her films I’ve watched. I don’t really find her funny. I’m really happy to see Cecily Strong in this film I might have a crush, I don’t know.

The introduction of the film was great. Zach Woods was a delight to see for me, I think his face makes me smile all the time – I don’t know why. I love Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy having a academic background to which shows that they are knowledgable characters and they have dignity in the science community – this could be a film about the open-mindness of high thinkers and the science community. But alas it’s not it ended abruptly and brings to question – where do they get the money to fund their Ghostbusters business, are they even paid? The chemistry between the two actors are magic – they know each other and the audience knows this and feels this. What should have probably taken place is a deeper explanation of the characters backstories. Why should we as an audience care about the characters – and in fact we know nothing about them. They are in-effectively orphan characters – with the exceptions of Lesley Jone’s Uncle. I refer to this characters with the actors because to be honest I cannot remember their names even though they were said repeatedly through the film I just did not care about them. My favourite character although would be Kate McKinnon (I think I should check the wikipedia for the names);

  • Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates
  • Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert
  • Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann
  • Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan
  • Chris Hemsworth as Kevin Beckman

Jill I believe Kate McKinnon’s character, was a badass – although pretty much flawless and quirky she brings the technology of the weapons for the Ghostbusters. I remember the original films having a lot of pseudo-scientifc jargon talking about ionised, neutrons, photons, protons, Apparitions, Paranormal, etc. This film does this as well, and to be honest it’s not really a bonus or a feature that makes the plot or the character better but really gets in the way with making me understand the film. Assuming the rest of the audience have not received their PhDs in the hard sciences. But seriously Jill does not give an eff about most of the worries the gang has over the logistics, or politics of their work with dealing with ghosts. It kind of bothers me that the Ghostbusters never ‘saved’ Zach Woods – Tour Guide’s life or at least looked for him.

The introduction of Lesley Jones was way too late – I hear that people think this is a racist portrayal of a black blue-collared New Yorker woman, but honestly guys I think that’s just Lesley Jones being Lesley Jones. That’s how she is in SNL and in real life – watch her interviews. She’s sassy it’s part of her comedy persona.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) [Spoilers] – Review

audrey-hepburn-breakfast-at-tiffanys-poster_www.panicposters.com

 

Originally a novella by Truman Capote in 1958 – the story of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961) is about a young lady (I say lady because woman would be general and not including the high society the character goes by) called Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) living and loving the high life of socialites of New York. Directed by Blake Edwards and music by Henry Mancini – I believe that the music, especially the recurring song is important towards the emotions and feel of the film. It’s clear that Blake Edwards knew his craft and being a native Hollywooder and growing up with filmography in his veins. He is mostly known for his Pink Panther film franchise (centralised to the character Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a French police detective). Interestingly enough Henry Mancini created the iconic Pink Panther theme tune.

In my opinion the story of ‘Breafast at Tiffany’s’ (1961) is clearly been immortalised from the iconic ‘sex symbol’ and socialite Audrey Hepburn and Tiffany Co. I imagine the original purpose, message or reception was very particular to it’s time in the baby booming days. But today, it is a slow pace film for me, with ridiculous character stereotypes (one particularly racist towards Japanese people). Holly Golightly’s character is mysterious yes, but is she likable? No, not for me. She is a catty, promiscuously suggestive, concupiscent person. Truman Capote likened her as a ‘American Geisha’ and not a Prostitute – I think this might stem from the trend of the film and cult following. Especially from the liberal, progressive undertone of the film might infer – like that Holly Golightly is a Call-girl, Paul Varjak (played by George Peppard) (the love interest) being Gay. I don’t really know if that’s a possible option the writers/author might of considered – but it would probably a very different film. With more grit.

The film is basically a 115 minutes run of showing Audrey Hepburn’s androgynous feminine style to the audience (to which they pay money to see because they love the Actress religiously). I don’t think I’ll write about the film in detail because I think the aura of the film and the culture behind it’s production and cast.

tumblr_n2t0yda0aM1sxsuljo1_500

Imagine all the tumblr gifs…

Anyways, I felt the film was overly blown to what it original conceived with the audience at the time. I don’t know and cannot be bothered to find out the reaction at the time but I imagine it was well received and standardised for romantic films throughout Western and World Cinema.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) [Spoilers]

 

Today I went to see Independence Day: Resurgence – in 3d as recommended by other reviewers. I can understand the film had a lot to tell in a short amount of time but what struck me as one of the main issues was the pacing of the characters. The beginning painted a main cast of Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T Usher, Maika Monroe, and others. I say others because it’s clear that, the creators really wanted to sell a franchise with these young faces. But honestly, wait I forgot there was a chinese pilot called Rain Lao – the actress is called “Angelababy” in IMDb, yes Angelababy. What. The. Fuck.

Is she a Porn-star? Anyways, her character was as important as a reused extra. Her uncle had more plot. And can I just say beloved Startrek actor Brent Spiner’s character, (the mad “tamale” Area 51 scientist – yeah no one cares or remembers him) – he has a touching moment with his friend’s death which was so stupid. Why did Jessie T Usher’s character Dillon (Will Smith’s adopted son)’s mother have less impact with a main character from the previous film. She was a protagonist! No one cares about Dr. Brakish Okun‘s friend, I was glad he died so we could see the next scene. The characters’ pacing was inconsistent at times, there was a lot to tell with some of them which was explore in minimal detail yet minor characters had 3 minute monologues/dialogues to develop their characters. I still don’t really care or know the pilots of the film. Even President Whitmore’s daughter seemed a blank. Why should we really care about her.

In my humble opinion I would have her develop her character with regards to her mother’s death. Make it in the plot. It was a big deal in the last film, why is it not in this film?

In terms of good characters, Jeff Goldblum was always a great character, David Levinson shows to be the logically voice in the film. Instead of the alien counter being wrongly judged with peace this time the Madam President (played by Sela Ward) confirmed an attacked on an unknown sphere that warps into the moon’s atmosphere. It seemed mysterious and I have to say that, if the gravity is being warped around a wormhole, I’d think it would be hostile. But nonetheless, turns out this sphere was a second alien species, (the sphere shares weird amount of similar to the sphere from Halo 4 (2012) with the Didact)

思い出のマーニー (Omoide no Mānī) – When Marnie Was There (2015) – Review – [Spoilers]

 

The Studio Ghibli adaption of When Marnie Was There (1967) directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, produced by Toshio Suzuki and Yoshiaki Nishimura as well as written by Masashi AndōKeiko Niwa and again, Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Hiromasa Yonebayashi is actually an animator who worked on most of the notable Studio Ghibli films, like Spirited Away (2003), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). From what I understand this film is an adaption from a novel written by Joan G. Robinson in 1967 (whom pasted away in 1988). Unfortunately I was late to the film due to a few reasons. But from what I saw at the beginning I realised this was very Studio Ghibli, not in terms of art but intros. There is a shy, frail girl with boyish qualities being away from her ‘city’ life to a rural magical little greenland. With friendly background characters like cute fat old women with hardworking citizens working the field or carrying stuff. All in the while the character called, ‘Anna’ I believe is exploring the scenery as Miyazaki would want every Japanese child to do. She is special and reclusive. She has a euro-centric quality that evidently plays a big part of the story. I was curious and a little indifferent about her character. But during a halloween Japanese-style trick-or-treating, a ‘bigger’ girl with outlandish qualities and extroverted gawks at Anna. She compliments her on her unusual blue eyes. Something I assumed the illustrators and designers used unspokenly. Manner Japanese artists use euro-centric features and elements in their character. But alas, this time it was in the story and relevant.

X-Men: Apocalypse – Review [Spoilers]

Generic title, but relevant to the story and the character whom which is the titular. What did I think about the film? It was probably one of the best X-Men films, is it one of the best super hero films? I guess so, I really wanted a little of a innovative original demise to Apocalypse.

X Men: Apocalypse (2016) is the 8th or 9th installment in the franchise. I say or because of Deadpool (2016) having his debut this year and there is an Xavier School, with a metal dude and a short moody buzz cut girl. I forget what happened because I didn’t really play Deadpool probably, it was on the background. I guess that’s a review for another time. If you watch Oscar Isaac talk about Apocalypse there is a good amount of clarity on his motives. But to be honest, there is very little in the movie if I remember. Apocalypse had four horsemen, which happened to be two women and two men. It would probably more appropriate to say four horsepeople. I guess. Nonetheless, the horsemen were not appealing to me. They were one dimensional and lacked any real reason to be there. Okay, Magneto had a reason, to be upset about not being able to live in peace – even when he tries to adapt to the human world. But why did Apocalypse choose the first three people whom happen to be mutants. Come on, Storm was basically a robber, Apocalypse Oscar. You should get like the best of the best Mutants in the world, which happen to be in abundance apparently according to Cerberus and Xavier. I agree with Jeremy Jahns, Magneto was where all the feels were at. I think Quick Silver could have been the reason of Magneto not wanting to destroy everything, his change of heart wasn’t clear and was very artificial for the sake of redemption. If Quick Silver said, “I’m your son”, I think that would have been a good reason for Magneto to change his ways, but no. It didn’t happen, in fact nothing really happened from the beginning to the end of the film. Seriously, no loses, no change of the X-Men. It was repetitive and how many times have we seen Wolverine’s escape from being Weapon X? But to be honest it was kind of cool seeing the Phoenix again.

Things that were cool were definitely Magneto and Apocalypse. In fact, I think just those two could have been the whole film if you ask me. I disliked pretty everyone else, or felt indifference with them. Especially Olivia Munn as Psylocke – why was she important? Who the hell is she?

via GIPHY

Yeah she has like purple blades. Wow – in a whole where people can literally have magnetic poles to move the whole damn earth, people who can identify any mutant alive, an infinite powerful psyche called the phoenix. And Apocalypse chose a dude with wings, purple sword girl and a wind controlling street thief. But not to sound completely negative about the film, I did really like the Egyptian opening with the cool looking scenery – oh and too bad Apocalypse couldn’t make that Shiva reference to him. I think it was okay, I mean it doesn’t really downplay the OG (Original God). Overall, good film, could be better, I mean more innovative and original. And please for god sake give the audience some kind of payoff. Stop with the “and the story continues with a group of x-men”. We get it, there’ll be more X-Men films.

Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007) – Review [Spoilers]

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – (走ることについて語るときに僕の語ること)(2007) is a clever rephrase of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981) by Raymond Carver. Murakami does mention Raymond once or twice in the book and thanks his widow for allowing to use the title for his memoirs about running. I think the use of his book title as a rephrase of Carver’s book is probably his deep ingrain love of running as comparable to romance. I think it’s well known at this point that Murakami is a solemn person, that works alone and prefers isolation. In this memoir book. Murakami barely mentions his wife or any romantic happenings around him as much. Perhaps Murakami sees his story as one of many stories of running, a collection of runners and novelists alike.

 

The Vintage Books edition (2016 UK – Illustated by Noma Bar and Design by Suzanne Dean)

Haruki explains that this was an ongoing book written without much preparation but as a conversational progression to the end of the book. It’s like William Empson’s Ambiguity, that through monologuing one could find clarity. The fore words set a tone which does not exactly carry on, there is little self-help feeling to Murakami’s memoirs. Titled, “Suffering is Optional” – it goes to show an anecdotal story about a famous marathon runner whose brother had a mantra he would speak and later the said person would adopt as his mantra, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional” – again this sets a tone of philosophy that Murakami adopts with himself and his way of life but does not for a moment suggest it to anyone. In fact on the 2nd page he clearly states this is not about losing weight and getting healthy. Which I’m sure he would feel if you take this as a way of motivation that’s great, but this is a book about his running career that in turns informs his novelist career. Through the book Murakami believes that his running habit was healthy and in tone of him writing, it created a balance for him and his free non-communing lifestyle. He is a quite and lonesome man that understands his needs and in turn what he clearly does not need. Probably that’s what makes him a great writer that can write tons of books with a strict deadline – it’s the fact that he understands what he cannot do rather than he can do. It’s not about having limitations but knowing that being in a competition will ultimately cause issues with one’s self interests. He states that he never competes with other writers or runners – he understands that he could lose that competition. He feels that his writing is based on himself and his personal life at the moment, and the fans of his style of writing will understand that.

Chronologically He starts as a newly enthusiastic runner who finds a way to quit smoking and clearing his head through the practical exercise, he then realises his love of the sport and enters marathon running as a hobby. As he grows he realises that he cannot be the best even if he has all the motivation and threshold of pain at the peak of human endurance. His body grows weaker. Ultimately he jumps off the back of his running career when he realises his lack of interest grew and the ultramarathon (62 miles run in Hokkaido, Japan – Lake Saroma Ultramarathon) causing such a level of mental theological epiphany that he could endure the knowledge and pain of the experience.

To deal with something unhealthy, a person needs to be as healthy as possible. That’s my motto” – Haruki Murakami (pp 98)

The Jungle Book (2016) – Review (Spoilers)

Yesterday I got to see the CGI feature length adaptation of The Jungle Book written by Rudyard Kipling (1894) later turned into animation film of the same name by Walt Disney (1967) and now a new era of Disney anthropomorphised films. The Jungle Book (2016) was no doubt a simple film with a very simple concept. It mirrors that of Tarzan (from Tarzan of the Apes – 1912). In fact Kipling wrote this 18 years before Tarzan, it could be possible that the creator/ author Edgar Rice Burroughs was inspired by The Jungle Book (1894). Around the plot there is only one human – Mowgli, a young feral boy that is brought up in a Jungle in the Middle of India – the jungles of Seoni, Madhya Pradesh to be specific. There is no clear indication of the year, probably what makes it transferable to different generations. But I assume it’s set in British Raj times the 1800s due to the author being around that time. The mysterious Indian Subcontinent to which Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay 1965 in British India, it was clear that he has first hand experience with the animals and landscape.

The 2016 adaptation is something completely within it’s own understand of the Indian Jungles. The director Jon Favreau (known from his directorial films like Elf (2003), Iron-Man 2 (2010), and Cowboys and Aliens (2011)) understood to avoid the clichés of India, e.g. sitar music, overly exaggerated accents and cultural differences from the Western audience. This is a film, that happens to be in India, but could be from any place in the world. As far as I’m concerned it’s a film around the ancient primitive world, the animal kingdom – something as Humans we tend to think we escaped. We must be out of the food chain and higher above all other animals – empathises on other animals – because we are animals as well. That’s probably the only message I can decipher form this film, and it’s not that covert. The film talks about the “Red Flower“, the animals slang for fire – a Human creation to destroy the jungle. Thus Humans are forbidden in the jungle – Mowgli a “Man-Cub” is given by a Panther called Bagheera (played by Sir Ben Kingsley) to be adopted by the wolves of the jungle. I don’t know why Bagheera believes this is the most suited face for the lost Man-Cub, but probably due to the protective pack mentality of wolves and humans alike, Bagheera probably thought his would be the most appropriate place for him. It’s not explained where Mowgli got his name I believe – most likely it was the name his adopted mother a grey she-wolf called Rakshaor (Lupita Nyong’o) or Bagheera gave him. Rakshaor’s CGI movements and facial expressions was amazing. Absolutely fantastic, it did not look out of place or too human – these were clearly wolves facial movements but they reflected perfectly for the motherly expression – Rakshaor was a beautiful character design and the delivery was well received in the cinema hall I was in. Due to the fact this is a popular family film, expect children. Lots of children – probably why it was subtitled was because of the possibility of one of the kids going crazy. Off the topic of the film, one of the kids (a chubby 12 year old boy) ran down the aisle, practically jumping step by step. This was incredible disruptive, not dis-including the dozens of times people had glaring smart phone screens showing their shitty instagram photos. My recommendation is to see this film at the non-peak times, early mornings and late evenings. Avoid children, people – all the stereotypes are true.

Full Metal Jacket – Review

Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987), something I’ve only watched recently. It a story of a then Private James T. “Joker” Davis, and his time in the military as a soldier during the Vietnam war. Although there is no politicians and sizable amount of information about the war and why there is a conflict, Joker finds himself at a duality of war and peace as one of his recruits (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) Private Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence is hazed to a point where he becomes mentally disturbed. At first I didn’t understand who the main character was I thought that Vincent D’Onofrio’s character would have a recovery and become side-to-side with Joker. But alas I was wrong, he killed himself (spoilers). I think that his character was a McGuffin for the point of development for Joker’s character. Time goes by and Joker is now an active soldier in Vietnam, instead of him being a man of accumulative character, he is dysfunctional and shows little improvement for the trauma of his recruit’s death. I believe that on the surface Joker doesn’t show any of the grievance of Gomer Pyle’s death. But he takes it deeply (that’s what she said). Born to kill – World Peace. Joker believes that this is not a message to confuse or make fun out of the situation for the US, but an image of the duality of humanity.

 

Overall, the film is a great insight of war without the heavy hand in making you feel like an asshole for not knowing much about the Vietnam Conflict. My only complaint is that the ending was abrupt, sure it makes sense to show that the tragedy of the war was the Viet Congs are just trying to protect their nation and might just being democratic. The American Government might just use the flag of “freedom” as a covert international imperialist approach to dealing with other nations. I think there could have been a follow up film on Joker. But that might actually be depressing considering the treatment of Veterans.