Casshern

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Casshern is an unusual beast. It has an anime aesthetic with rich visuals that are clearly animated yet it is a live action film. It’s dark, brooding and soulful yet also action packed and anime confusing. The anime is much more like a moving painting than a Saturday morning cartoon.

Casshern is a Japanese film therefore there are subtitles. This would be a problem for some as there is a lot of exposition regarding the society in which the characters live and the science behind the main storyline.

Set in a future dystopia after the end of the 50 Year War between Europa and Asia, the Earth has been decimated and the scenery is dominated by destroyed infrastructure and the blood red suffering sky filled with the pollution of so many years of war. This future is steam punk influenced with the great machines of coal and steam dominating the skyline. Even the robot armies of Europa have a feeling of World War I about them more than a shiny imagined future.

Society has suffered and Asia has won this devastating war which means the signage is a mix of Russian, Japanese and Chinese. Loud speakers announce Soviet style propaganda and banners hang from the walls in a way reminiscent of World War II.

The storyline is actually quite poignant, in retrospect, with lessons about compassion, understanding the different, the ethics of science experimentation, racism, the realities of war and political corruption. It is never really clear who the baddies are but it is clear which characters think they are baddies and those who think they are good.

The world is run by corrupt old officials and the people are looking for a saviour; in steps a human restored to life by neo-cells (don’t ask me; although I think the answer is “science”). He is a reluctant hero who is suffering from his memories as a soldier and trying to understand the situation in which he finds himself. He also has some solid daddy issues.  But then so do most of the characters.

I really liked this movie and it was actually in the retrospect that I think I liked it best. In some ways it was a crazy over the top sci-fi influenced anime but in others it was a poignant look at the trials of life, death and the decisions we make.

The main drawback of this film is the serious anime confusion one suffers while watching it. Maybe if I could understand Japanese Casshern would be less confusing, no doubt the more subtle concepts are lost in translation.

I certainly don’t think Casshern is for everyone but anime fans should probably check it out.

 

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

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Woah! Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is one of the best action movies I’ve seen in ages! (Although there is a lot of grammar in the title which is slightly odd but I suppose it makes sense.)

I know some people have an inbuilt Tom Cruise dislike but luckily I do not as he is the go to guy for high intensity action stunt mayhem. (And, to divulge a little embarrassing truth about myself here, I thought he was a hotty when I was a teenager and that sort of thing doesn’t entirely leave a girl even in to her motherhood years although it’s more of a soft spot than a hot spot now…)

Less divulging more actioning…the scenes on the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai were gut wrenching and edge of the seat. Aargh, the heights! Knowing that Tom did some of his own stunts up there just adds to the Aargh. I saw this in HD and it was almost a little too real. I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t get to see this at the movies as the heights probably would’ve made me nauseous.

So, storyline you ask. Well, let me tell you about the storyline… Hey you, ACTION! First of all Tom is in jail and then he’s not (ACTION!) then Tom meets up with Simon Pegg (more funny less action) but then Tom goes to the Kremlin (ACTION!) and then Tom gets caught by Russian cops (ACTION!) and then Tom goes to Dubai (Burj Khalifa ACTION!) and then Tom goes to India (Bollywood ACTION! – not really but there is ACTION!) and then Tom saves the whole friggin’ world (ACTION!!!!!). Oh, and there’s a car chase in there too, in a sandstorm, in Dubai (ACTION!).

Storyline? Unnecessary I say. Acting skills? Unnecessary I say. Character development? Unnecessary I say. Action? Hells YEAH!

I like action films.

This film is an all-out no holds barred action film and if you don’t like that sort of thing don’t watch it. Also it’s extremely blokey in casting terms. Always a bit of a letdown but I’ll let M:I-GP off the hook cos’ ACTION! It really would be cool to see a female actress/stuntmaster pulling off some of the stunts but then you know it is a Tom Cruise film after all and we all know Tom doesn’t like to share.

I can’t wait for the next one.

In the words of Ricky Bobby “Help me Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me to [make the next M:I a good one!]”. So really, only sort of in the words of Ricky Bobby.

I have little else to say about this film except “ACTION!”.

I like action films.

Monsters University

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I start with the fact that I love Monsters Inc. Love love. It is one of my favourite movies. So, yes, I was disappointed by Monsters University.
It was fun to finally see another Monsters film. Mike Wazowski is a great character.  And I was hoping for more shenanigans from the little one eyed green guy but unfortunately it was just more of the same.  There wasn’t really any new insights into the main characters although Randall’s squint story was nicely done. There were some lovely touching bits about being true to yourself and finding the life path that suits your strengths. Too obvious for my liking and it’s the same message as Monsters Inc.
I can’t say I didn’t laugh during this movie, there are definitely laughs. It’s just nothing new. It’s kind of predictable and feels more like an excuse to get the characters out again to make a bit of dosh.
All it did was make me want to watch Monsters Inc again so I could feel the love love. I suppose it explains things a little bit but that’s not enough.  It needed a kickin’ story line for the characters to interact with. But, no, the story was predictable. I liked the first one because, for a kids movie, it was not too predictable and the ideas were new and fun. What great idea – the monsters are real kids and they are in the creaky wardrobe. The wardrobe doors are so much more than what they seem and we spend our lives opening and closing figurative doors and sometimes there are monsters! The metaphor is awesome.
I’m sad. I wanted to like it so much. This one is by the books and for the money. Nice to see all the gang again. That’s about it.
Mike’s New Car was better.

Pitch Perfect

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This one’s a more recent addition to the list but I was looking for something to watch with the kids and Miss 14 recommended it. I have to say that her recommendation was greatly appreciated by me (especially because it’s on my list and I could knock another one off but also because it is a great film!).

Pitch Perfect made me laugh out loud, actually and repeatedly. Rebel Wilson as ‘Fat Amy’ (not sure this is funny but, you know, movies) is hilarious and I can see why everyone wanted to work with her after this. And I don’t just say this because she’s Aussie (and we tend to act like we own all the succesful exports from round these parts plus the New Zealand ones) but she is very funny. I bet you she adlibs like a fiend.

I also like Anna Kendrick as the lead (who I also liked in Camp – one I prepared earlier). It’s refreshing to see a less conventionally gorgeous actress leading a Hollywood movie usually only the British cast less conventionally gorgeous women in TV and movies.

It’s nice to watch an ensemble comedy that revolves around the lasses and isn’t overly devoted to romance. Don’t get me wrong romance abounds in Pitch Perfect – it just doesn’t overpower. This movie certainly passes the Bechdel Test, no worries.

Of course, the Glee comparisons pop into my head as I watch but this time they can be overlooked (unlike Camp) as the machinations are similar but not the characters. These women are misfits and lovin’ it. They want to win but it doesn’t define them (okay, maybe one of them but there’s always one isn’t there?).

I’d just like to point out here that, yes, they battle adversity and, yes, they are the underdogs and, yes, it gets bad in the middle and, yes, it will all probably work out exactly as you expect it will but for some reason (writing? acting? directing? all of the next to?) the journey just carries you along on a wave of good feeling and laughs.

Of course I don’t usually like a musical but this movie ain’t no Kaante and the singing is what it’s all about – I could tell that from the title (did anyone really think this was a horror movie about a serial killer who can aim a pitchfork really well? Or maybe it’s a baseball movie? Or maybe a movie about really excellent sticky black stuff? Stop me, I could go on!).

Anyhoo, I was pleasantly surprised and exceptionally pleased that no one randomly burst into song halfway through a sandwich and that singing occurs as expected (musical sanity at last).

I suppose they are making a Pitch Perfect 2 and I hope it is as good as the first but I bet it will be a rehash with more of our, by now, favourite women and no doubt lots of Fat Amy. Fingers crossed it can deliver as much fun as the first.

To keep you informed, this was the second time Miss 14 had seen Pitch Perfect and she still liked it. Miss 11 did not like it: “It’s boring”.

The Yes Men

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The Yes Men features feats of audacity that are almost too much to believe. I literally gasped at times and found my hand over my mouth at one point for the utter disbelief of what they were saying.

Back in the early noughties these two blokes became really good at making fake websites. Their George W fakesite ended up receiving requests for the then Presidential candidate even though the site was filled with honest to God statements by Mr GW himself that were absolutely dreadful. GW’s team would have sued for defamation I’m sure if only it hadn’t all been true!

Anyway, this led to them beginning a World Trade Organisation fakesite at http://www.gatt.org/which contains outrageous statements about the policies of the WTO. Seriously, go check it out.

The WTO was singled out for its ongoing policies of ‘money, money, money – how can we make rich people even richer and legally exploit every asset the earth contains (or that walks upon it) while spending as little as possible?’. Great policy guys. These are the guys who negotiate with governments to ensure free trade unhindered by pesky things like human rights (extreme version learned from The Yes Men – everything I know I learned from movies).

This in turn has led to them being invited as WTO representatives to trade events around the world. And they went. Herein lies the shock and awe. These two are brave souls and the best life hackers I have ever seen.

At one event in Europe they speak to an audience filled with the CE’s of manufacturing businesses and politely tell them that the North wasted it’s time in the civil war as slavery would have ended anyway when Southern slave owners realised that it’s cheaper to pay an employee base wage in their own country than to house and feed an unpaid worker in the US. They completely outlined the current modern day slave labour conditions of third world workers and called it a good thing. Then the audience clapped… (Hand over mouth at this point).

But it went further! The stuff this audience listened to – I really hope they were just super polite and inside were thinking WTF???. Here’s hoping. It seems unlikely though as one of the Yes Men then went on to strip out of his suit and reveal an ‘executive leisure suit’. He states that the WTO made the suit so overworked executives had time to take part in leisure activities while still being able to oversee their third world factories – through a computer screen – that is on the end of a giant phallus that pumped up from the guy’s groin! I kid you not, the audience still didn’t get up and scream WTF??? Here’s a picture:

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WTF???

See this movie; make up your own mind. Are we super polite or super screwed up enough to always put profit before people? How I hope it’s not the latter while knowing quite well that it generally is.

Also, I never want to eat a poo burger…