Playtime

This is one of those classic movies that I’ve often heard about, but had never gotten around to watching. It’s definitely a strange piece of moviemaking, feeling much more like an experimental film than something that got a mainstream release — there’s no proper narrative, it just follows scenes loosely connected by space, of various lengths, but that are mostly tied together by the presence of Jacques Tati. What really struck me though was the fantastic cinematography and art direction, which creates a carefully constructed world that is utopically monotone, yet interestingly lively (especially the restaurant scene). Well worth watching as an interesting piece of cinema, especially on a visual level.

Fantomas Contre Scotland Yard

After I decided to do a 1967 movie marathon and started looking at what films had come out that year, I was super excited when I saw that this was a 1967 release. I loved watching Louis de Funes movies when I was a kid, and this was my favorite one, and I watched it countless times (almost as much as I’ve watched some Bond films). Strangely enough, it’s part of a trilogy of Fantomas movies, and I never watched the other ones, I was just obsessed with this one. Watching it again now — probably for the first time in 2-3 decades — I was happy to find it just as fun and funny. It’s not for everyone, but for me it was pure nostalgic bliss.

The Graduate

Of all the 1967 movies I’ve watched during this marathon (which I’m capping at 10), if I had to chose the best, it would be a tie between this and Belle de Jour. The Graduate was even better than I remembered, not only with a story that is still fun to follow, but with cinematography that is insanely innovative and inspired. And there’s of course the terrific soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel. The strangest thing though was to now be watching this movie and being much older than Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft was 35 years old when she played the role).

Bonnie and Clyde

The thing that I found so strange about this movie is just how wacky it is — most of the characters, including the two mains, are constantly played over-the-top, which for some reason I wasn’t expecting, this being a sorta biopic and all. I liked it so-so, but for me the absolute best moment was the unfortunately too short appearance by Gene Wilder, who absolutely steals the show the whole time he’s on screen (for like 5-10 minutes). I’m glad I watched it.

Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider

Just over a week ago, on a Sunday, my wife and I binged the entire season of this series in one day. It’s based on a mystery novel by Hiroshi Mori, one of Japan’s celebrated mystery authors, and it’s one of my wife’s favorites novels, and so when we found out that there was an anime adaptation (dating to a couple of years ago), we decided to check it out, and were hooked on watching the whole thing. It’s a great mystery, and the solution was quite interesting, and one I didn’t manage to guess. Highly recommended if you’re into mystery.

Iron Fist

Let me start by stating how I feel about the Marvel Netflix series so far: I thought the first season of Daredevil was fantastic, and I was especially wowed by Fisk and the great fight choreography; season 2 of Daredevil was a disappointment, and although I liked the portrayal of The Punisher, I felt that sticking him in court for a half a season was beyond boring; I very much disliked Jessica Jones, too dour with frustratingly slow development, and the only reason I watched the entire season was because I kept hoping it would right itself; I loved Luke Cage for the first half of the season, but then I felt it lost its way after they got rid of Cottonmouth. So Iron Fist, which arrives with horrible reviews. I used to be excited for this series — after seeing the exciting fight scenes in Daredevil, I thought we’d get that and more with Iron Fist. Alas, two episodes in, although I’m not hating the show like I did Jessica Jones, it is hugely disappointing to see such uninspired fight scenes. I don’t know if I’ll make it to the end of the season, but I’m at least still willing to give it a few more episodes.

Tangled: Before Ever After

I thought the movie Tangled was pretty good — a lot more than Frozen, and most Disney animated films since — but what really has me interested in the upcoming Tangled TV series is that I really dig the 2D animated style they’re using. Last week they aired a movie that leads into the series (starting later this week), and I quite enjoyed it. It’s got a fun vibe to it, and I do really like the art direction. I’ll at least watch the first few episodes of the series.

Samurai Jack (Season 5)

I love Samurai Jack — and its creator, Genndy Tartakovsky — to death, and so the prospect of a new season had me beyond excited. The first episode of season 5 aired last night, and it made for a perfect cap to my animation-heavy day (Mobile Police Patlabor Reboot, Gantz: 0, Your Name, Onihei). What did I think? I’ve already watched last night’s episode twice, and it went beyond my expectations. It promises a darker storyline, and the visual flair is intact. I often complain about the lack of animation for adults in the West outside of comedy, and Samurai Jack is proof that it can be fantastic. I’m so happy to get more Samurai Jack, even if it’s just for 10 episodes.

Onihei

I already wrote about checking out the Onihei series, but after watching the first two episodes, I’d fallen behind — I wasn’t watching a lot of anime in general these past two months, probably because of my 1985 movie marathon — and over the past few days I’ve been catching up on the season, and have really fallen in love with the series. I’m not usually that into straight up jidaigeki stuff, but this show has really gotten my attention, and I’ve been enjoying each self-contained episode. This winter anime season has been pretty light for me, and this is the only show that I’ve been engaging with (I’m still debating whether I want to watch more of ACCA, beyond the first few episodes I already watched).

Your Name

I finally watched Your Name (Kimi no Na wa), the biggest film in Japan last year, and I loved it. When the movie came out and was breaking box office records, I started looking into its director, Makoto Shinkai, and really enjoyed everything I watched. Just like the rest of his work, this movie is a visual treat, with the amazing colorscapes you tend to see in all of his movies, and environments that feel so familiar if you’ve spent time in Japan. It’s a great story too, and more complex than I was expecting — and I’m glad I never got spoiled on most of it before watching it.