Category: Uncategorized

Reviews/Rambles for the Week of 30th of January through to 5th of February

Same disclaimer as last week; very rambly, sorry for any typos. Enjoy.

Bande à Part (1964)
Oh Godard, you scoundrel. Apparently, this is his most accessible film, which I guess I agree with, though I refuse to call any Godard film entirely “accessible”. It’s probably the easiest to enjoy on just a surface level, as a crime caper that’s set in Paris with the ever wonderful Anna Karina and two suitors pining over her while simentaneously planning a robbery. Still, there’s probably a lot of stuff going on under the surface that I  didn’t pick up on. While I do love his films, a lot of Godard’s work is so dense that I wonder if I need to see the film three times back to back to fully appreciate the extent of the message that’s he’s trying to get across. And I haven’t even gotten to his later work. Still, like I said, it is fun, even if you can’t quite fully get into whatever point it may be trying to make (I should note this one does seem a little less dense then a lot of his other films). It’s wonderfully shot by Raoul Coutard, unsurprisingly, and Anna Karina is wonderful as ever. The famous dance scene is great, and all the fourth wall breaking is fun as shit. It’s a good 60s Godard movie, one that has been written about more eloquently and with more depth by better writers than myself. Check it out, if you haven’t already. 

Submarine (2011)

Richard Ayoade’s coming of age dramedy about the most idiotic, adolescent, disturbingly relatable teenage protagonist you can imagine. It’s… sweet. Often times cringe inducing (intentionally, I should add) but, yes, sweet. Still, there is no getting away from, the fact is that a lot of this film is watching our young Welsh protagonist, Oliver Tate, doing exceptionally stupid things, all the while thinking he is incredibly smart and cool and sophisticated, and if that sounds like your hell, this is probably not your movie. I’ve heard him compared to Adrian Mole, and, I don’t really think I can top that as a descriptor. Same obsession with sex, same pathetic lust, same delusions of being an intellectual, and same disturbing resemblance to the person who is writing this. You could accuse him of being a rip off, but Oliver  escapes that by being portrayed with a little more sympathy then Adrian, as well as the comforting implication that Oliver is going to grow up, and that he’s going to get better. This is in sharp contrast to Adrian, where half the joke is that he never really does change. It’s a portrait of an awkward, fumbling teenager trying to get his shit figured out, to put it bluntly, and it’s quite a good one. It’s also really well put together, which is a nice bonus. There’s more than a few compositions that have a Wes Anderson vibe to them, with their obsession with symmetry and complementary colours. It doesn’t hurt that it is shot in an absolutely gorgeous part of Wales either. Overall, it’s pretty good, especially for a first feature, and clearly has had a tonne of effort put into its construction, even if can occasionally get a little precious at times. Worth checking out at least once, if you enjoy screaming at fictional characters to “not do that you stupid f***ing idiot”. 

The Help (2011)

2011’s 60s race drama that is one of the more common films to be referred to as “problematic”. Now, ignoring that that is kind a stupid turn of phrase if you stop and think about it for a second or two, The Help is problematic. It can be argued that the film perpetuates a “white saviour” narrative, amongst other issues. However, I am a white dude, who has never been to uni or really studied race relations, and as such, don’t really feel equipped to cover them in any meaningful way. I invite you to google them. So instead, what I’m going to focus on is the one thing that makes it worth sitting through the 140 odd minutes of this film. And that is two people.

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. 

These two give absolutely wonderful performances that pull this desperately simple, one sided morality tale thing to being heart breaking, funny and at times, genuinely gripping. They’re the most interesting characters in the movie, and they make the whole thing worthwhile. So, on that basis, I recommend the film. 

Now everything else: well, it’s a bit… mixed.

Most of the performances are fine, if not terribly great. Emma Stone is upsettingly forgettable, projecting none of the charm or enthusiasm that she’s done so well in other roles, though her material doesn’t really give her a lot to work with. Bryce Dallas Howard is very easy to hate, which is the point, so I guess that counts as a success. Everyone else is alright, like I said. None of it’s really their fault, it’s just that the script that they have is so 1 dimensional. The script never really examines what makes any of these characters tick, why they think the way they do,just kind of a “these are the bad guys, these are the good guys” mentality. The only depth comes from, as I previously stated, Spencer and Davis’s characters, who are in the fortunate position of being both incredibly talented performers and also the most sympathetic characters in the movie. 

So, in summary, it’s decent. It has many flaws, but based on those two wonderful performances, it’s worth seeing.

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Film Reviews/Rambles For the Week 23rd to 29th of January, 2017

As promised, if not a tad late. More coming soon.  Apologies for any grammatical errors. Also in case the title did not clue you in these are rambly as hell. Enjoy.

Stroszek (1977)

Werner Herzog’s depressing and very good story of a group of essentially nice people who leave their terrible lives in Germany to go and live in America, under the false impression that life is better on the other side of the pond. Like I said, it’s very good. For one thing, all of the main cast is great. Bruno S. (whose own experiences serve as a basis for many parts of the script) gives a great performance as the title character, an honest but disadvantaged man who the world has done nothing but screw over. Eva Mattes is also really good, playing a prostitute, who after being abused by her pimp, leaves with Strozek for America. Clemen Shceitz is also quite good, as a slightly crazy but essentially good natured old man. While his character doesn’t really receive nearly as much screen time as the other members of trio, his performance is still interesting enough to leave a lasting impression. Like may of his other works, this film is fairly nihilistic. The general theme K got from it was his “bad things happen to good people” and “society always screws over the less fortunate”. Which are both really interesting themes, and they’re executed incredibly well here. The film contains some scenes of terrible cruelty, and it’s often greatly upsetting. Despite all that though, it’s incredibly compelling. It’s not hard to get invested in the characters, and if this kind of socially aware drama is your thing like it is mine, you’ll find yourself sucked right into this tragic tale.

Also, because I couldn’t fit these points into the main body:

  • The music is really wonderful.
  • Though it’s not revolutionary in the way it’s shot or anything, Herzog’s use of location shooting makes it very pretty to look at, in its own desolate sort of way.

Jackie (2016)

Biopic about Jackie Kennedy in the days after her husband’s assassination, here played by Natalie Portman, in what would seem to be a transparent attempt to get her an Oscar, but ends up being so much more when that. 

First, to get it out of the way: Portman is phenomenal. She perfectly embodies Kennedy’s loss, her grief and anger, her feelings of hopelessness, but also her strength and her determination in the face of terrible tragedy. About the shortest and highest praise that I can give her is that you never feel like you’re watching Natalie Portman playing Jackie Kennedy. You feel like you’re watching Jackie Kennedy. This rather incredible feat of acting is made more incredible by Portman not really looking all that much like her subject. 

The rest of the cast is also great. Peter Sarsgaard as Robert Kennedy is excellent, conveying his character’s grief and frustration excellently in a relatively limited amount of screen time, and John Hurt (RIP) playing a priest in whom Jackie confides is also excellent (but since when is John Hurt not?. Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup, as Nancy Tuckerman and “The Journalist” respectively,  also both leave big (positive) impressions with fairly small parts.

Now, I’ve made this sound like just a particularly well acted biopic. That is a falsehood. Everything in this film is excellent. First up, the music. The score was composed by Mica Levi, who also did the score for Under the Skin, and based on what little I’ve heard of that soundtrack (obligatory “I’m getting to it!”), this is very similar in tone. At times, the score can make the mood feel almost horrific, with its ethereal strings making the already intense drama almost hard to watch as it pushes you right to the edge of your seat. Thankfully, the OST doesn’t always keep you in quite that much suspense, with some very nice piano compositions lending the particular scenes that they accompany a mournful, reflective mood.

Also brilliant: the structure! The structure of this film is what really made it for me. Moments of time crash and fall over each other in Jackie’s mind, replaying and fading into each other as she tries to make sense of her situation. Not only does it add to the film as the study of a broken mind, but it also means that the film keeps you on your toes, keeping you moving from one moment to the next and then back again before things start to get stale. 

It’s also wonderfully directed by Pablo Larrain, who shoots the whole thing on film, occasionally cutting in actual archive footage, seamlessly I might add, adding to the realism. Often, he frames the characters in close ups, adding a sense of intimacy that invests you further into what’s going on onscreen.

Frankly, the film is kind of miraculous. Pretty much nothing ever seems to go wrong, and everyone is working at top form, and as always, there’s a lot I haven’t touched on. This is one of the best of the year and well worth checking out. 

Duck Amuck (1953)

Classic Warner Bros. short with a surrealist bent. Pretty great honestly. Breaks down not only the fourth wall, but the world of the film itself. Daffy Duck screaming at his creator to animate him properly is not only absurd, but also really funny. One of the most celebrated of all the Warner shorts, and with good reason. 
I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Ken Loach’s latest, showcasing the trials and tribulations of good, working class people at the hands of the state. As I understand it, this is not exactly a new theme for him. But if he’s this good at it, I say keep going. This is an excellent film, but it’s also a pretty harrowing one. It kind of amounts to watching these lovely people being undermined by a hopeless bureaucracy that is supposedly there to help them. It’s filmed in a very barebones style, mostly unshowy mid shots, with some occasional wide and close-ups. This stripped back approach allows you to focus on the emotions of the film, which consist mostly of:

  • Righteous anger
  • Crushing sadness
  • Occasional hope

And those very powerful feelings that are baked into the screenplay are heightened further still by the two leads, Daniel Johns and Hayley Squires, who are both incredibly sympathetic and very believable. Everyone else is great in the movie, including the child actors, but those two particularly stand out.

Suffice to say this is an incredibly raw film, and one that, even a couple of days after seeing it, is still in the process of breaking my heart. Well worth seeing, but be warned, you’re going to feel the feels. 

Where Have You Been? / The Future of This Blog Going Forward

Hello people! All… 5 of you. Long time no see, eh? How’s things? You can’t answer that question? Because this is not a conversation?

Well alright then…

Anyway, hi! If you forgot about this blog, you’re not the only one. So did the writer himself! For you see, for the-past-however-long-it’s-been-since-I-last-posted, I have been lost in a great variety of things, namely school, laziness, reading better film writers than myself (and by that plural “writers” I mean just Tim Brayton), and my pathetic attempt to complete my monstrously huge and ever growing IMDb watch-list. I haven’t really stopped writing, but I have stopped publishing. So you may ask, what have I been writing? Well, other than a few attempts at actual screenwriting (I forgot to mention, I’ve also developed vague delusions of wanting to work as a filmmaker), mostly I have been keeping a film diary, wherein I write my brief thoughts on a film, but without actually doing a proper plot-summary, or full on delving into the film. Rambles, basically.

That quality of rambling, mild-incoherence, is what has kept me from actually publishing them. However, since barely anyone reads this blog in the first place, I  have now decided I may as well put them up here. It would certainly be better than what currently lives on this blog..

*looks over to old anime reviews*

*shudders*

As well, as that, I might occasionally write some full on analysis type things on either broad topics or specific films/anime/whatever. Who knows, maybe if I’m feeling particularly courageous, I’ll actually talk about politics, rather than just retweeting smarter people than myself (shameless plug: twitter @danieltunetweet).

Anyhow, TL;DR

Where have you been?

Doing nerdy teenager stuff.

The future of this blog going forward?

Short writeups about what films I’ve been watching, and maybe some analysis type things if I have the time.

Also, here’s the first of of those short film not-quite-reviews, so you can see how things are going to work:

Paterson (2016)

Jim Jarmusch’s latest. Excellent. Like most of his filmography, its chill as all hell, with close-to-no plot. This one is particularly plotless, even among his other works, from what I can tell (I’m not nearly as caught up with his filmography as I should be). How plotless, you might ask? Virtually no drama for all but the last twenty minutes of the movie. That’s the level of plotlessness we’re on. It just calmly observes the life of this person, over the course of one week. There is virtually no real conflict to speak of, with all the characters of the film being essentially nice people, who very rarely do anything particularly objectionable, and on the rare occasion they do, the film is less intent on condemning them and more on understanding them. Like I said, the only real hints of drama come towards the end,and they’re all resolved fairly quickly. And that lack of any real plot or tension is why I loved it as much as I did. The film is far more concerned with the tiny details of a person’s life, the subtle changes that occur over the course of the week, and the things that stay the same. The film’s main character is a poet (though not a published one), and, fittingly enough, I’ve heard many people call the structure of the film itself poetic, with each day functioning like a stanza does (an observation that, obviously, I agree with). In some ways, it is a profoundly simple film, and in others it is an incredibly complex one. There’s so much I haven’t touched on, and there’s so much to love about it. Maybe after a couple more viewings I’ll actually write something about it that is more in depth than this brief diary entry. But I’m pretty sure the blu-ray is a long way off, so until that time comes, I’ll just say that I really loved it.

Stop Taking Film Critics So Seriously

 

Full Disclaimer: This was originally a piece of classwork that was to presented as a speech. However, since I haven’t posted here for months, I figured it was relevant enough to be reposted here. And I am aware how hypocritical this is. Do as I say, not as I do.

 

Good day fellow humans. Today, I would like to talk to you about a topic I feel plagues our modern film-going society.

 

And that thing is Rotten Tomatoes.

 

“But what’s so bad about Rotten Tomatoes?” I hear you say

 

Well fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with Rotten Tomatoes. For those unaware, Rotten Tomatoes is a Review Aggregator. It collects reviews of a film from various different websites, works out how many of those reviews were favourable, and converts that figure to a percentage. The site works fine. It does what it says on the tin.


So why am I talking about it?

 

Well, in light of some fairly recent events surrounding the film known as Suicide Squad, I felt compelled to have a little chat about film criticism with you.

 

You see some rather disgruntled fans of that particular film, who were appalled by the rather negative critical reception of the film, decided to start a petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes, as it told people that movie was “bad” when in fact, it was actually “good.” this petition received over 22,000 signatures. Over this one superhero movie. These people were genuinely upset that a movie they liked got bad reviews.

 

I think that is more than enough evidence to suggest that maybe people are taking these reviews a little too seriously. To the point of emotional distress. But why are they getting so worked up over this?

 

Well, it seems that people think that there is a “right” and “wrong” opinion on what they watch, and that if something they like isn’t well liked by critics, it somehow invalidates their opinion.

 

This is the main thing that really irritates me about people who do this. They seem to believe that there is an objective way of criticising a film, that a movie is inherently good or bad. However, if you were to actually stop and think about it for a few seconds, you would realise that criticism by its very nature actually is based entirely around opinion, which is almost the definition of subjectivity. So, trying to find an objectively “right” review is pointless!

 

IT MAKES NO SENSE!

 

They take the word of critics as those of some all knowing film Gods, instead of someone trying to point a consumer in a nice direction when they go to the cinema on a Saturday afternoon. So, when people find themselves disagreeing with these “Gods”, it tends to create what I would call an Existential crisis, leading them to having a breakdown and than doing some rather silly things, such as the prior mentioned petition and, most worryingly, sending death threats.

 

There is another part to this particular issue that I would also like to address. That being the use of Rotten Tomatoes as justification for an opinion. For example:

 

“I just watched Adam Sandler’s latest movie and I thought it was an artistic masterpiece”

 

“WHAT! You can’t like that movie. It has a 5% on Rotten Tomatoes! That means it has to suck!”

 

This is a rather limiting mindset, as it means you dictate every bit of media in your life based around the opinions of what are essentially random strangers. Sure, they may have seen more films than your average movie goer, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is more valid than anyone else’s. They are not absolute authorities. They are guides who try and help you find something interesting to watch.  

 

So, in summary, if you are the sort of person who takes reviews very seriously, I would implore you to reconsider. Because, in the end, the main thing about going to the movies is about being entertained*. And if some random on the internet giving it a low score out of ten ruins the movie for you, then maybe it wasn’t so great in the first place. Like what you like, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise, not me, not your friend, and certainly not a critic.

*Unless you’re really into artsy avant garde cinema, in which entertainment is not a given.

Neon Genesis Evangelion Anime Review

  

Ooooh boy. Neon Genesis Evangelion. If I had to sum up the general opinion on the show in one word it would be “devisive”. If you don’t love Evangelion, there’s a rather large chance you hate it. Today I’m going to be explaining which camp I’m in and try to tell you why. Let us begin.

Story

For a show that’s often called “completely insane”, Evangelion starts off relatively simple. 14 year old Shinji Ikari is called to NERV headquarters by his estranged father Gendo. Gendo, for whatever reason, needs his underage son to pilot a giant robot to defend humanity against “Angels”, monsters that are attacking and attempting to destroy the planet that can only be stopped by giant robots called “Evangelions”. This is more or less the premise of the first 16 episodes or so while introducing and developing its large cast of characters.

But then the show gets dark. The once somewhat-bleak-but-still-totally-fine-for-prime-time series begins its infamous descent into madness that culminates in the infamous original ending and then the alternative ending/expansion of the original ending (depending on who you ask) End of Evangelion, a film that is quite possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever borne witness to. I’m not going to write to much more about the plot as I would hate to spoil anymore for those who haven’t seen it, and I don’t want it bore those who already have.

To summarise, the plot of Evangelion is confusing, amazing, weird, and entertaining. It’s thought provoking but is never so insane to stop being interesting. And the main reason for this is the emotional core of the show. The characters.

Characters

The primary reason that I personally stayed invested in Evangelion was because of its characters. Sure, the show’s plot is interesting, but without this cast it may have become too inaccessible for me to keep caring. The characters give you something to latch on to and relate to. 

Not all the characters of Evangelion are likeable, some being down right detestable, but what makes them work is they all feel so incredibly real. Their problems are human problems. Isolation. Fear. Depression. Selfishness. The shitty things about people.

One of the sufferers of some of these problems is our main character Shinji Ikari, the emotional centre of Evangelion. Shinji is, like the rest of the show, divisive. Many complain that he’s too cowardly and unlikeable. Repulsive, even.

 I’m not really sure how this can be considered a criticism. People aren’t nessacarily inherently brave and strong. With the task that is placed in Shinji’s hands of literally saving the world from annihilation, I feel like many people would be just as terrified and weak as Shinji is. Combine that with his wide array of psychological disorders and problematic relationships and I feel it becomes quite easy to see why Shinji is the way he is. 

There are many other characters to talk about, most of whom are just as interesting as Shinji, but I’ll let you experience them yourself if/when you do decide to take on the task of watching the show.

Sound

The soundtrack for Evangelion is really good. It is highly varied and always compliments the scene in which it is playing perfectly. Not much else to say really other then that. It’s just really good. Amazing opening too.

In regards to English or Japanese, this is one is hands down Japanese. Unless you are unable to read subtitles or cannot stand listening to Japanese, I see no reason for you to listen to the dub. It’s not downright awful, but in comparison to the Japanese, the English just falls completely flat. 

Animation

The animation for Evangelion is pretty hit or miss. The show is well known for suffering from many budgetary problems. Various shots where absolutely nothing happens and a couple of infamous scenes toward the end PLUS the majority of the original finale make it apparent that animation studio GAINAX was rather short on funding for the show. However, I don’t really care. Partially because when the animation really needs to look good, it does. The battles against the Angels still look great 20 years after the show’s original run. And for the vast majority of scenes where nothing is happening animation-wise, the writing and direction is usually interesting enough to hold my attention.

Final Verdict

In case you somehow couldn’t tell by now, I adore Neon Genesis Evangelion. I love almost everything about it. From its excellent characters to its confusing narrative, it all works so well. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close to it. I would recommend it to almost anyone, especially if you consider yourself an anime fan, as it is very influential and regarded as a classic by many (including me). Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the review. Feel free to leave constructive criticism in the form of a comment here or on one of the profiles I’ve linked down below as I am still pretty bad at writing and would love to get better at it. 

Until the next post!

Final Score: A (Excellent)

MAL:http://myanimelist.net/profile/itstune

Twitter: @tuneishere

Neon Genesis Evangelion used to be available from Madman Entertainment in Australia, but has unfortunately gone out of print. It’s not available for legal streaming either. A remake series of films is available from Madman Entertainment, but I have not yet seen them so I’m unable to provide comment on them.

OPINIONS CHAAAANGE

Hello there dear reader. I hope you are well. This post is just to make a point. That point being that my opinions change. Being a young teenager I am constantly in a state of ,there’s that word again, change, which means my opinions on various bits of media do as well. So, if you’re wandering why my earlier reviews aren’t exactly the most deconstructive things in the world, it’s because I had yet to completely develop the idea that good things could have flaws, and vice versa. At some point, I may rereview some of these things, but for the time being, just know that a lot of my earlier stuff is kind of different to my current opinions. I’m sure in six months time, I will have different opinions of stuff that I have yet to write about, because that’s how I function. Anyway, I’ve got a review of the 1960 film Spartacus in the works, so that’ll probably be released in the next few days. Until then, I bid you farewell.

Hello Internet

Hello there!

My name is Tune. Welcome!

This is basically an intro post, detailing what will happen at this here blog.

It will probably all be extremely geeky, but this is my blog, and probably no one is reading it, so I really don’t care.

Here is what I will probably be doing here:
Video game reviews.

Movie reviews.

Ranting.

Lots to do with Anime, because I watch rather a lot of that.

Maybe comic reviews.

Book reviews.

And other random stuff that I don’t quite know at this point.
So if any of that takes your fancy, and you actually can be bothered reading a blog, join me on this, ultimately, rather pointless blog.
Side note: anything I review probably won’t be really new, but I probably will only have just played/watched/got/read.
Thank you for reading, and farewell.