I'm Seeing (Subscribe)
Films, television, videos, or other visual media that's currently caught my eye ...
Sunday, May 02, 2010
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Every Tuesday, the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek theater -- a wonderful full-service bar / restaurant / theater -- shows anime at 7:30 pm, with no admission.
Beer buckets and Japanese cartoons - how great is that?
This week was "Strike Witches", from Funimation / Studio Gonzo.
The entire country of Japan should be angry at the Alamo Drafthouse.
Don't get me wrong - I totally dig Studio Gonzo. The English voice over from Funimation was a bit painful, but not horrendous.
But there is so much amazing Japanese animation out there, I think the Drafthouse is doing the genre a big disservice by showing something so stereotypical, so borderline ecchi, that they're probably turning off a huge number of newcomers to the medium.
For ''Strike Witches", if I made "every time you see a prepubescent girl's panties" a drinking game, I would have been under the table halfway through the first episode.
Add big eyes, cat ears (and a tail, giving more excuses to see young girls' underwear), school girl uniforms, mecha (machine parts), and lesbian fantasies, and you have everything critics id this style of animation like to trot out.
Now, this also has the stuff I so enjoy about Japanese cartoons.
In the midst of this mud are bright shining moments of commentary about the militarized state, jealousy, and soul-touching moments of familial responsibility and father-daughter loss.
And then another panty shot. At dad's grave.
I think if Drafthouse put some of the great stuff out there - "Grave of the Fireflies", "A Wind Named Amnesia", "Memories", or even the sentimental stuff like Robotech or Votron, they could really further the interest in and excitement for anime as a cultural medium.
Not that it mattered tonight, where there was a sum total of three people in the theater - and me and the guy I talked into coming know anime, and know there's better stuff out there.
Ok, so this is less a review than a cultural accountability statement.
Quick review: Fluid animation, middling voice acting, fun action kept well in check, some highbrow themes, and lots of stereotypical fan service.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
MezzoI recently watched all 13 episodes of Mezzo, the anime series from Madman Entertainment and ADV Films (RIP).
It's a great, slick, diverse little series, running the gamut from Gunsmith Cats-esque humor and action to dabbling in deeper issues (say, child abuse) and some really clever dialog (with episode 12 taking the cake there).
Streaming on Netflix, I only had access to the English dubbed version, which is solid, and not all distracting, with Jason Douglas (Harada Tomohisa) the unsung star.
As an aside, maybe it's the US edit, but the series is not at all lecherous, contrary to what its intro sequence might infer.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Alice in Wonderland (3D)I saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin today. If you haven't seen the film, and want to avoid spoilers, you may want to wait to read this until after you've seen the film the first time, and before you see it the second.
I was impressed with the film's visual style, acting, and -- most of all -- characterization. There are "people" in this film in the most unexpected places. Be sure to watch the dormouse (Barbara Windsor), and listen to the bloodhound, Bayard (Timothy Spall) for some of the more important statements in the film. They are not throw-away.
Of course, it's a Tim Burton film, so of course is it has acting from Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and music from Danny Elfman. And of course they are brilliant (if you like each of them -- which I do -- and I seem to have blessedly moved past my "I'm done with owning everything Danny Elfman phase"), but the film has a panache, an inpretentious importance, and a kind of fantasy fun.
And the film is fun, and strikes a weird balance between importance and diversion. The denouement is soulful, Anne Hathaway's meta-commentary performance on being royalty is subtle brilliance (and not heavy handed), the climax is rallying, and the fallout feels "right".
It's a movie that could be about fighting fatalism, more than a bit about accountability, and a great take on "what could have been", and "what is".
Your mileage may vary.