I used to watch Batman: The Animated Series everyday after school while doing my 8th Grade Algebra homework. It became such a ritual that my brain now associates Math with Batman and vice versa. I can't even do simple math problems without Danny Elfman's Batman Theme getting stuck in my head.
After watching the first season (aka "The First Stage") of the show, must admit I like what I saw (violence and T&A), but I was very frustrated by the pacing of the show and by the lethal inaction of th characters. I frequently found myself yelling "RUN Fucker!" or "SHOOT Goddamn it!" at the TV as the characters stared blankly at their attackers or went off on some internal monologue reflecting about their soon-to-be-over lives instead of taking actions that would potentially save them or their fellow pawns in the sick and twisted game that is GANTZ.
I've heard the The Second Stage is faster-paced and I really hope so because the occasional exploding head or jiggling breast in the first 13 episodes barely kept my attention during the tedious parts.
ong>My Neighbors The Yamadas
(Houhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun)
dir. Isao Takahata
I first saw a downloaded version of My Neighbors The Yamadas several years ago and I was blown away by how such simple animation could be so emotional expressive.
Then I saw it on the big screen last year along with several other films directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko and Only Yesterday) as part of an academic symposium on "Animation and the Contemporary Japanese Imagination" sponsored by Studio Ghibli and USC's Annenberg Center for Communication. Those were two amazing days last year. I got to ask Takahata a question during the Q&A session, hear him give a lecture on Japanese scrolls, and I got Takahata's autograph on my Grave of the Fireflies DVD.
And these last two nights have also been amazing. Sam is in Las Vegas this weekend so it was great to hang out with my Animation friends, having dinner and watching anime. Maybe it'll become a regular thing.
ong>Ali G Indahouse
dir. Mark Mylod
In his feature film debut chameleon extraordinaire Sacha Baron Cohen takes his most popular character, wigger extraordinaire Ali G, all the way into the British Parliamentary House of Commons.
Having just rewatched all of Seasons One and Two of Da Ali G Show I had really high expectations for Ali G Indahouse. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I realized that the film was scripted, and I was ultimately disappointed that the script was so mind-numbingly moronic.
The thing that makes the HBO show so mother-ing funny is that it's unscripted. Sacha is so quick-witted and most of the laughs come from his deadpan retorts to the baffled/frustrated/annoyed responses from his unwitting interviewees. All of that is lost in the movie, though, because the dialog is scripted so all the reactions to Ali G's stupid antics are not genuine. Hopefully the forthcoming Borat Movie will be mostly, if not entirely, unscripted.
That said, I still laughed my ass off while watching Ali G Indahouse. Then again, I almost felt guilty for laughing because the humor is so fucking juvenile. If dick jokes were edible, this moive would end world hunger. And though it references several relevant issues in global politics, the movie is truly devoid of any real social commentary.
But who the fuck cares about world politics?! Ali G sure as hell doesn't, as this film makes perfectly clear. Ali G is all about self-gratification, and goddamn if this movie isn't gratifying, even if is only on a superficial level.
My biggest complaint, and I know this is going to sound totally fucking stupid, but since I'm talking about a movie where stupidity reigns (literally)... my biggest complaint is that Ali G Indahouse is loaded with scantily clad women, but there's not a single nip-, I mean tit, oops I meant bit, ya BIT... there's not a single bit of nudity. This is especially frustrating considering the über-hot Rhona Mitra has shown the goods in other films (or so I've heard cuz I haven't actually seen Hollow Man).
The highlight of the movie is Martin Freeman as Ali G's wigga homeboy, Ricky C.
I haven't seen Malibu's Most Wanted, but when I saw Martin Freeman decked out in yellow wearing a bandana, a visor and bling, I immediately remembered the commercials with Jamie Kennedy dressed up in almost the exact same clothes.
I mean just look:
Martin Freeman as Wigger 'Ricky C' in Ali G Indahouse
Jamie Kennedy as Wigger 'B-Rad' in Malibu's Most Wanted
I found a quote from Martin Freeman on his offical website about working with Sacha Baron Cohen:
"He could no more direct me to act than I could direct flight traffic. The man is a big lumbering fool."
After reading the interview that this quote came from, I'm still curious if Martin meant this as an insult, or if it is just a brutally honest description of what it was like to work with Cohen.
I can't speak for Martin, but I suspect that if Martin *really* thought Sacha was a crap director he wouldn't have made that comment.
I don't suppose directing actors is really Sacha's strong point, but in terms of making that kind of comedy, he's the only man for the job.
ong>Da Ali G Show
Sacha Baron Cohen is such a great chameleon that if he wasn't so freakishly tall * and his characters weren't so well, freakish, he'd be able to interact we the same people in rapid succession as Ali G, Borat and Brüno without anyone realizing that they are all really the same person.
At least that's what I used to think. After listening to the audio commentary on the first episode of Season One I discovered that part of the reason his transformation into each character is so complete is that he doesn't use wigs or fake mustaches or anything. Cohen pretty much lives (at least in appearance) as each character for long periods of time as they shoot all the segments featuring that character. Then production stops until he can grow the necessary hair / facial hair combo before they can resume shooting again as the new character. I've personally had Ali G's goatee and Brüno's faux-hawk, but I can't image walking around with Borat's fro and mustache.
* OK Cohen's not that freakishly tall... he's the same height as me: 6'3"
It's debatable whether or not Denis Leary straight-up stole Bill Hicks' pissed-off, chain-smoking on-stage persona, but it's very hard to deny that Denis Leary at least "borrowed" many of Bill Hicks' routines. A casual comparison between Bill Hicks debut concert film Sane Man (1989) and Denis Leary's debut concert film No Cure for Cancer (1992) reveals striking similarities, including jokes about John Lennon, Jim Fixx, cigarettes and drugs. In fact, both films end with the comics pantomiming death.
Now I'm not going to go so far as to call Denis Leary a "thief." I happen to like Leary a lot. But I love Bill Hicks even more. Hicks' comedy is much closer to social commentary than Leary's.
Still, Leary is undeniably funny. He has plenty of his own hilarious material and he took the "asshole" persona to another level.
Yet another wacked out anime from GAINAX, Ebichu tells the many misadventures of a sex-obsessed, cheese-loving, housekeeping hamster named Ebichu.
The series is based on the best-selling manga by Ito Risa.
Sealab 2021 is so poorly animated that, as an animator, I'm supposed to hate it. But it's so goddamn funny that I love it.
For me, good writing trumps bad production values everytime. The writing in Season Three isn't nearly as funny as the previous seasons, but it's still hilarious.
There's a great special feature on the DVD called "Stormy Waters: Pundit" where Sealab's resident retard breaks character and gives highly insightful commentary on American politics.
Six Feet Under was easily one the best dramas on TV (OK fine, "It's not TV... it's HBO") and I'm really sad to see it end. But like the show so often demonstrated, life goes on.
I watched almost every episode of all five seasons by myself, so I'm glad I got to watch the series finale with Sam.
Currently listening to: Breathe Me by Sia
Worst Kidnapper Ever:
[from toothpaste for dinner]
The film has been getting some really bad reviews as critics (wrongly) attack the film for being violent merely for shock value. Entertainment Weekly rants that "the hideousness serves no dramatic purpose" but I totally disagree.
First off, most of the violent acts in Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance appear OFF-SCREEN, ala the ear-severing torture scene in Reservoir Dogs, or are obscured from the audience's view. By cutting away from the violent act itself, director Park Chan-wook forces his audience to face the consequences of that violent action head on. We don't actually see Ryu stick a screwdriver in a black-marketeer's neck, but we do indeed see it in all its blood-spurting glory when the badguy pulls the screwdriver out of his throat, but only after we see the terror in his eyes as he realizes that he's going to die.
Whereas most kidnapping / revenge films build their tension upon the action-packed drama of solving a mystery, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance is all about the motivations and consequences of the characters' actions, rather than actions themselves. Park Chan-wook doesn't even show us the pivotal kidnapping itself. He provides his characters with strong motivations for kidnapping a little girl and he portrays the inner emotional turmoil the characters face as they weigh the potential consequences of such a violent act. Any Hollywood film would have milked a kidnapping scene for all it's worth but Park doesn't even show it. Park simply cuts to the next scene where the kidnapping has already taken place and then proceeds to demostrate the horribly unexpected consequences of the act.
Park also withholds many of the facts about how the father unravels the mystery and finds his daughter's kidnappers. All that matters is that the father has more than enough reason to hunt them down, and that he is willing to face the consequences of his own equally horrible actions once he finds them. The "hideousness" that the EW critic claims "serves no dramatic purpose" is not about shock value at all, but rather, it serves as motivation for the father's own subsequent actions. While I concede that the act depicted is indeed hideous, it is oozing with emotional import. Park immediately cuts away from the bloody scalpel to gaze upon the father's face where he fixes his camera for the entire duration of the autopsy, because the autopsy itself is not nearly as important as the father's emotional reaction to it. This hideous autopsy is the launchpad for his quest for vengeance. It hardens his heart and makes him capable of doing evil things. He quickly becomes so desensitized to blood and guts that he actually yawns while watching another autopsy, because this time it's the rotting corpse a kidnapper.
Clearly there is nothing "flamboyant" about Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (as the EW review suggests). There is no hero of the film. Every character has sympathetic movitations for committing evil acts, but sympathy does not justify vengeance, and Park Chan-wook punishes his characters severely for their misdeeds.
Onion AV club review:
(this is the best review I've read so far)
Current Mood: )-o Tired
Currently listening to: Avalon Original Soundtrack
by Kenji Kawai