Stephen reviews: Spring and Chaos (1996)

spring_and_chaosSpring and Chaos [Ihatov Gensou: Kenji no Haru イーハトーブ幻想] (1996)
AKA Kenji’s Spring [Kenji の春]

Starring Shiro Sano, Shiho Niiyama, Mariko Kouda, Chikao Ohtsuka, Akane Tomonoga

Directed by Shoji Kawamori


Spring and Chaos is a fantastical biopic of one of Japan’s biggest literary figures, Kenji Miyazawa. Never heard of him? That’s because you’re not from Japan. He wrote a number of children’s stories and poems that make me think of Aesop’s Fables, or perhaps Hans Christian Anderson. So how many western anime fans are interested in a bizarre dramatization of the life of a poet they’ve never heard of? Probably not many. I’m not even sure why anyone bothered giving it a US release, but I am pretty sure its sales couldn’t have been very good.

I think the only reason it got a US release was because Shoji Kawamori had made it. When this film released in America, Kawamori was already a big name for his major roles in creating Macross, Macross Plus, and Escaflowne. More knowledgable anime fans would have also been aware of his smaller involvement in other big titles like Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, Gundam or perhaps even his importance to Transformers. So it’s no surprise that Spring and Chaos appeared right around the time Kawamori’s Arjuna series was coming out, trying to take advantage of the name recognition while the fans were buzzing over his latest work.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Spring and Chaos (1996) →

The Great Silence (1968)

greatsilence_6The Great Silence [Il grande silenzio] (1968)
AKA The Big Silence

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Vonetta McGee, Mario Brega, Carlo D’Angelo, Marisa Merlini

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Expectations: Low.

threehalfstar


The Great Silence must be pretty high on the list of the bleakest films in existence. So if you’re not going to be OK with a movie that doesn’t contain a single shred of hope, optimism or happiness, then The Great Silence is one to avoid. But for those willing to take the plunge into this snow-covered land of darkness ruled by ruthless bounty killers and their greed, then you are in for one of the greatest Italian westerns of all time.

The Great Silence opens by introducing us to Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a mute gunman who lives by a strict code of only firing on a man in self-defense. He is a good man living in a cutthroat world, but his quickness on the draw and his code allow him to stay within the bounds of the law. On the other side of the proverbial coin is Loco (Klaus Kinski), a bounty killer who will kill anyone, anywhere without a second thought… as long as there’s a reward to be collected. He is an evil man, but like Silence he is also technically operating within the confines of the law. The film inevitably puts these two men against one another, but to describe the film in such simple terms makes it sound a lot more average and unremarkable than it actually is.

Continue reading The Great Silence (1968) →

A Few Thoughts on Doctor Who: Season 1 (1963/1964)

doctorwho_1I finished the first season of Doctor Who the other day, and while I knew I’d be a fan after just one episode, now my love for the show is firmly entrenched. It’s a unique take on the sci-fi TV show, specifically because it’s more focused on serial-style adventure thrills than truly thought-provoking science fiction (although there is a bit of that, too). I love how the show’s basic premise allows the writers to dream up literally ANYTHING and it’s a plausible setting for the next story. This lends the show an unpredictable nature that makes it really special.

But while it is unpredictable in that regard, the stories themselves do become rather predictable after you’ve seen a few. There’s always some contrived reason why the group can’t just jump in the Tardis and leave danger behind, and over the course of the story it’s not wrong to expect at least one member of the group to get kidnapped (and subsequently rescued). These can easily be seen as faults or examples of lazy writing, but in a weird way these obvious plot points endeared themselves to me over time and I found myself looking forward to seeing how the show would deliver the goods each time.

Continue reading A Few Thoughts on Doctor Who: Season 1 (1963/1964) →

Mindwarp (1992)

mindwarp_1Mindwarp (1992)
AKA Brain Slasher, Dream System

Starring Marta Martin, Bruce Campbell, Angus Scrimm, Elizabeth Kent, Mary Becker, Wendy Sandow, Brian Brill, Bekki Vallin

Directed by Steve Barnett

twostar


As a fan of Evil Dead, one goes into a Bruce Campbell movie with certain expectations. Chiefly, that you will have your Bruce Campbell jones satiated at least a small bit. I don’t mean to say that Bruce must always be the over-the-top Ash type, but I do expect him to bring something of his inherent swagger to a role. You can probably see this coming, but Mindwarp contains none of that. So if you do venture down this path in your Bruce Campbell fandom, you will now do so well informed. I was not so lucky. Had Mindwarp filled this void with something engaging or interesting, we might have a good movie anyway. Instead we’re left with a rather boring movie that features a lot of good ideas and great, gory KNB FX work. It could definitely be worse!

In a post-apocalyptic future, economic inequality is at its most extreme. The rich live out their days in clean future-huts, hooked to Infini-Synth machines that allow them to dream their lives away in virtual reality. Meanwhile, the rest of the population is forced to survive the harsh desert climate of the radioactive wastelands. Oh, and most of them are hideously deformed cannibal mutants called Crawlers who live in a network of underground caves! But Mindwarp begins on the cheery side of things, introducing us to Judy, a dreamer who desires actual and more tangible stimulation than what VR can provide. Things soon turn sour, as in Judy’s attempt to rebel she mistakenly kills her dreaming mother and is promptly banished to the wastelands. Be careful what you wish for, Judy!

Continue reading Mindwarp (1992) →

Stephen reviews: Hermes: Winds of Love (1997)

hermes_1Hermes: Winds of Love [Hermes - Ai Wa Kaze No Gotoku ヘルメス 愛は風の如く] (1997)

Starring Takehito Koyasu, Miki Ito, Kenji Utsumi, Chie Koujiro, Satomi Koorogi, Osamu Hosoi, Kikuko Inoue

Directed by Tetsuo Imazawa


A very loose interpretation of Greek mythology, the title character of Hermes: Winds of Love is here imagined as the king of all ancient Greece. He’s not a god in this film, except for sometimes when he is. The same can be said for his wife Aphrodite. And yet there are actual gods roaming around as well, such as the unnamed goddess of love and the father of all the gods, who is not Zeus but someone named Ophelius (I’m sure that’s not the way it was spelled in the subtitles, but I no longer have the DVD available to check on it).

This lead to a rather bizarre film that was hard to interpret. It’s obviously neither an attempt at historical accuracy, nor at mythological accuracy. I wasn’t sure if the creators were just playing with mythology that they didn’t know much about, or if they were deliberately altering things to work for their story. After a little digging, though, it turns out that the film was produced by a group called Happy Science, which appears to be Japan’s equivalent of Scientology. Suddenly it started making sense that the film made no sense. It might also explain the random spaceship orbiting Earth that appears for about five seconds and is never seen or heard of again.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Hermes: Winds of Love (1997) →

Guest Podcast at Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

anime_superhero_projectako

I recently participated in a podcast hosted by Bubbawheat at Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights in which we compare and contrast superheroes in anime with their American cousins. I even manage to remain civil when Bubbawheat brings up that blight upon the anime world, DBZ! I feel like we barely scratched the surface, but a good time was had by all. And if you have any interest in anime or superheroes, you’ll probably have a good time listening in as well. If nothing else, you’ll finally get to hear my real voice, which has absolutely not in any way been digitally altered to conceal my true identity. The show is called Filmwhys, and the episode is Extra #12 Anime Superheroes!

So head on over here to check it out!

The show is also readily available via iTunes, Stitcher, or PodOmatic! Take a listen and let us know what you think!

Honour (2014)

honour_4Starring Aiysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Harvey Virdi, Nikesh Patel

Directed by Shan Khan

Expectations: Moderate.

threestar


Honour begins with a quote: “Life is nothing without honour,” and all of the film’s characters are in some way affected or driven by their idea of what is honorable. While using the quote to bring our attention to this could be seen as a somewhat heavy-handed move by a first-time writer/director, I think it works rather well. The quote acts as a bell, ringing in the audience’s mind throughout the picture, allowing us to think on the meaning of the quote and the emotions behind it for the characters.

Due to the structure of the film, giving a basic synopsis has the potential of ruining certain aspects of the story that should not be ruined. What matters is that a 20-something girl returns home hoping for refuge, only to find more hostility there than in the outside world. Honour is a thriller that reveals its story like the layers of an onion, allowing the audience to go deeper and deeper into the tale in a highly engaging, non-linear manner. This type of structure is definitely not new to cinema, but it is used here especially well and with much skill; the tension that builds through the film is excellent.

Continue reading Honour (2014) →

Page 1 of 161123...10...Last »

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 34 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages

Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films
Top 5 Jackie Chan Films from the 1970s
Cinderella (1977)
Stephen reviews: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie (1999)
Judge Dredd (1995)
Street of No Return (1989)
Deadly Stingers (2003)
The Young Master (1980)

Large Association of Movie Blogs