Archive for the ‘film’ Category
1) As an alluring, briny Puget Sound air was being carried through my window mirroring the visuals of Antonio Bay, I so desperately wanted Smellovision. 2) Adrienne Barbeau was an amazingly beautiful woman when her hair was straightened and feathered. Her usual poodle-do was simply dreadful. Seriously, had she gone straightened in Swamp Thing, she would have run away with an Oscar.
Without any question, there is a film that so perfectly and quintessentially depicts my life.
West Side Story. That’s right, my life is a forbidden love affair between myself and the sister of my sworn enemy and leader of a rival gang. As my mates attempt to takeover the streets with the fiercest snap/dance battle ever seen, I am consoling a broken heart knowing that my one true love might mean the death of us both. Although, I guess that would make me Tony, and then I’d be a former Jet. I can’t really get with that. More of a Sharks man, myself. Guess it really isn’t my life, then.
In all seriousness, there’s no film that depicts my life. I’m in that weird mid-20′s stage where teen flicks are too juvenile, silly comedies are too silly, and I’m not quite pulling down Clooney roles, either. The minute a flick about a designer who loves volleyball, fashion and curry is written, I’ll be sure to change this.
As an aside, for claiming I don’t like Romeo and Juliet, adaptations have graced this list on back-to-back days. These two were just too good not to put down.
Having to pick a film no one would expect me to like…well, that’s a bit tough because I really like all kinds of films. So long as they’re either French or Japanese. All kidding aside…who’s to know what people expect you to like? Other people of course. Instead of just asking randomly about “which film would you be shocked that I liked?” and getting a slew of films suggested that I probably didn’t like, or creating a list of option to choose from for the people in life (in which the list would probably be slanted toward a single option anyway) I just went ahead and picked a film that is probably shocking in just how much I care for it.
Dirty Dancing. That’s right, I love Dirty Dancing. This admittedly cheesy pop romance flick is absolutely adorable. Even though I cringe every time Swayze uses Grey’s nickname “Baby” (excpet, of course, “nobody puts Baby in the corner,” one of my all time favourite lines), and cringe even harder at the notion of Cynthia Rhodes’ Penny getting a shady back-alley abortion, there’s something goofily charming about this film, much in the same way as all those Ringwald/John Hughes flicks. The difference here (and the reason I adore it so much) is the addition of dance. I admit that I slavishly watch dance flicks. It’s not even that I’m good at dancing, and I don’t really find “the dance flick plot” all that inspirational. I do however, find dance to be a beautiful form of expression. So, folding this element in with all the other elements in Dirty Dancing, and I am bound to loving it. I’m a sucker, I know.
The great thing about this flick, too, is that you’re getting exactly what you sign up for. It’s not pretending to be great. It simply says, here is a campy pop love flick with all the trappings that come with, oh, and some dancing. I love that.
I love Baz Luhrmann. With the exception of Australia, I don’t think there’s a miss in the resume. Of course everyone knows Moulin Rouge! because that films is PERFECT. However, that’s just the pinnacle of Luhrmann’s blend of music and drama. Strictly Ballroom was his first foray and it is a solid flick.
Then there’s Romeo + Juliet. It seems as if it had made all the wrong moves: hiring teen throbs Leonardo DiCaprio back when all he could do was pout and Claire Danes who despite being amazing in My So Called Life hasn’t been close since. They modernized the timeless tale of love and loss to include a metropolis full of near post-apocalyptic vibes, handguns, cross-dressers and psychedelic drugs. Meanwhile, they updated none of the dialogue. Train wreck, right?
Not at all. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet (or much of Shakespeare if I’m honest) but this hit all the right marks with me. It may not hold up well given its dated production values, but I felt the anachronistic speech was right at home with modern din of the rest of the film. The vibrancy bled into the film, and into my mind and only served to create an ode to a classic that was at the same time all its own. Furthermore, the idea of true love feels even more important when the world around these lovers is rather bleak.
It’s a guilty pleasure because the film isn’t particularly good. There were some disjointed scene transitions and DiCaprio and Danes are entirely forgettable as the leads. However, the visuals and styles coupled with John Leguizamo’s Tybalt and Harold Perrineau’s Mercutio (man, I wish I could have played my Mercutio like this) were absolutely jaw-dropping. It’s a film I adore despite it’s flaws.
I hear Luhrmann’s on The Great Gatsby (another book I cannot stand). Romeo + Juliet has me excited as all get out for that.
While I had a hell of a time deciding where to go with favourite director, there were no such issues with least favourite.
M. Night Shyamalan. I think if you were to look up “hack” in the dictionary, you’d find this guy. Okay, maybe him and Joaquin Phoenix.
My first introduction to M Night was The Sixth Sense. I remember it very clearly, I had come back home one night and my mom had rented it. She excitedly recommended that I had watch it with her. She already had. I figured it had to be decent if she was volunteering to watch it again with me, so we dropped the VHS in and sat down to watch. My goodness was it boring, dry, and horribly written. About forty minutes in I had had enough of M. Night and this Haley Joel Osment kid. I figured I could take no more, and despite not wanting to hurt my mom’s feeling, I had gotten too restless and just told her I was tired and wanted to go to bed. That’s right. I wasn’t tired, but in having choose between faking it and finishing the movie, I chose faking it.
She pleaded with me. “No, no, you’ve got to keep watching. Just wait.”
“Wait for what? For them to figure out Willis is dead?”
The look on her face was priceless. Somewhere between “did he just say what I think he said?” and getting socked in the gut. No, I hadn’t had it spoiled for me before hand, but when a creepy little kid who talks to dead things and nobody else befriends this weirdo geezer who came out of nowhere?
My M. Night fun doesn’t end there, however. No, no, no, that would be too easy. Signs was a particularly fun experience, too. I’d been asked by a friend in high school to go see Signs at the theatre with them and a group of our friends, two of whom had already seen it. Okay, I said, it can’t be too bad if two of our friends are volunteering to pay theatre prices to see it again (man, when will I learn?).
At least this time, it only took about five minutes for me to get restless. A buddy of mine and I began predicting exactly when the cat scares would hit, and exactly what they would be: “wait for it, wait for it…okay, now, dog barking!” or “an alien hand is going to came clawing its way out from underneath door. Ten minutes in I turn to one of the girls who had seen it already and asked “Aliens are afraid of water, aren’t they?” She tried to shush me as if to say “don’t ruin it for everyone” in the empty auditorium. However, the dumbfounded look blew it at least for the to others with us who hadn’t seen it. They seemed genuinely disappointed that we’d “ruined the film.” I responded with “the film was ruined by putting that on it.” I know, classy, right?
So, as far as far as I’m concerned, M Night has made a career out of boring, uninteresting, predictable flicks that hinge on how little the audience has paid attention to the clues in order to get in that “twist ending.” Well, that and a horribly mishandled racial nightmare flick called Avatar the Last Airbender. Unbreakable was good, though.
All right, as you may have guessed by now, I’m rubbish at choosing from a glut of possible choices as my favourite. The category of director is much the same. Besides, it’s not like it’s easy to choose between names like Suzuki, Truffaut, Godard, Kurosawa, Ishii and Miike. So, for the sake of the day, I decided to go with Kurosawa. I’d already spotlighted Suzkuki and Godard and mentioned Ishii, so, it felt right picking Kurosawa.
While my favourite Kurosawa films are like Seven Samurai 「七人の侍」 and Yojimbo 「用心棒」both of which are jidaigeki period films starring Mifune Toshiro as Kurosawa is famous for, I figured I’d put the spotlight on another great Kurosawa film, High & Low 「天国と地獄」. An almost perfect thriller. No contemporary ransom flick has got anything on this film.
All right. If I’m totally honest here, I’m not going to select my favourite all time female actor. Why is that, exactly? Well, because there’s more than one at the top. Two of them (Audrey Hepburn and Anna Karina, respectively) will be in films later down in the list and I’m trying to keep from too much overlap. So, instead, I’m going to go with my a favourite modern female actor: 菊地 凛子 「Kikuchi Rinko」.
I didn’t really notice Rinko until after the Ishii Katsuhito film “The Taste of Tea.” Following her performances in that, I saw her again in Funky Forest (which again featured Asano Tadanobu, directed by Ishii-san). At this point I was completely smitten. The fact that she had been paired with two of my all time favourites (twice) didn’t hurt, but at this point I could sense some real talent, so I tracked down all that I could. I went back and watched 2001′s Charusan (a Japanese Drama), and enjoyed it. I tracked down Tori (2004) which not only starred Asano, but was directed by him (more on this film later).
At this stage Rinko seemed to be a completely solid, talented actor that was almost a complete mirror of my favourite actor (Asano). Then came Babel. I’m really not sure how to qualify how I feel about the role, except say what an amazing, emotionally draining performance. The performance she churned out as Chieko Wataya is absolutely captivating.
From there she continued working in Japan with a great set of eccentric roles including a suicidal dominatrix in 図鑑に載ってない虫「The Insects Unlisted in the Encyclopedia」. Eventually she landed in the role of Bang Bang in Rian Johnson’s (more on him later) FANTASTIC caper film The Brothers Bloom. Even though she “only knows three words of English.” The character of Bang Bang so engaging, spectacular, and another quirky character to add to Rinko’s catalogue. I love this film.
I really should skip ahead to Norwegian Wood, but I do have a soft spot for Assault Girls which is admittedly a terrible mix-up of a film, but of note because it was directed by Oshii Mamoru (of Ghost in the Shell fame) stars Rinko as well as Kuroki Meisa my favorite Japanese pop singer. However, like I said, trainwreck, and had it not tickled all the right nerve centers would be completely worthless.
Lastly, there was Norwegian Wood, an adaptation of a book by Murakami Haruki, quite possibly one of my favourite novelists. While Norwegian Wood isn’t my favourite of his work (Wind-Up Bird Chronicle being that) it is still quite crazy to think that anyone would try to adapt a Murakami to film. Anyone who’s read him would know why. It is a pretty flimsy if not superficial adaptation, but enjoyable just the same and the highlight of it all was Rinko’s Naoko.
My favourite actor in all the world is easily Asano Tadanobu (浅野 忠信). Sometimes referred to as “the Johnny Depp of Japan.” Like Johnny, he has always seems to surprise you with the roles he takes. He’s been a gangster, he’s been a gay samurai, he’s been a masochistic, flamboyant killer, and he’s even been Genghis Khan. There really isn’t any role he can’t play, and he’s not afraid of any role in particular. When Ishii Katsuhito (think Asano’s Burton to his Depp) was asked about Asano’s involvement in Party 7 (where Asano played a sex obsessed peeping tom at the height of his popularity), Ishii-san remarked that he was worried that Asano would take such a disgusting role. He then mentioned how little Asano cared. He’s truly an actor’s actor, and while I used to the think the comparison to Depp was apt, it no longer is. Asano’s in a class of his own.
I’ve decided to highlight 鮫肌男と桃尻女 (known in the U.S. as Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl) which is a film starring Asano-san and directed by Ishii-san.
My favourite scene from the film is in the clip above (albeit in low quality with German subs). In it, Yamada – a gay hitman – stalks Samehada (Asano) into a bathroom in order to kill him. When he fails, Samehada roughs him up, only to then show tenderness by dressing his wounds. Yamada then starts blathering on, “suki, suki, suki” which roughly means “I love you.” This banter between the two is absolutely hilarious as Yamada is played with such silly glee in his boyhood crush on Samehada while Samehada’s reaction is genuinely incredulous.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. When I was a little kid (we’ll say the span of my primary school days), I was sick a lot. Which meant I missed school a lot. When I was sick I would do several things: hurry up and finish my chicken noodle soup so I could devour an entire sleeve of saltine crackers, watch day time soaps, Crocodile Dundee and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
I also realized (and I won’t blame Ferris for this) that it was just as easy to miss school if I was pretending to be sick. I got quite good at it, and ended up being excused from class due to illness a dangerous amount. The bed in the morning became my own personal stage and it became of matter of pride to coax my mum and dad into letting me stay home. Those soaps weren’t going to watch themselves you know. Neither was Ferris.
At any rate, in my young mind, I made a promise: that when I was in high school, I’d concoct an elaborate Ferris like scheme to use in duping my parents and school, and I’d go crazy around town. The only problem was that when I finally hit high school, it didn’t really matter. It was quite easy to go to school, get credit for being in class and then ditching. Plus there were no parades in my town to hijack. Le sigh.
Wasabi. In particular, the character of Yumi played by 広末 涼子. I’m not going to divulge who, or why this film reminds me of someone. Just know that I know someone so much like Yumi. And this person is awesome.