Ghost in the Shell (2017)

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I actually liked it. I was so upset when they first announced the casting of Scarlett in the main role (not only because of the white washing, but also because I think she’s a terrible actress), but then when the trailer came out I thought that the world that was presented looked pretty interesting, and figured I’d eventually watch the film for at least that reason — I love the Total Recall remake for the same reason, not because it’s comparable to the original in terms of story, but just because I love taking in the sci-fi world that is depicted in that movie. As for the new Ghost in the Shell, on a visual level, I was not disappointed — not only do I love the world that is shown here, but I thought the film was really well shot (by a director I knew nothing about). As for Scarlett, I still think she’s the weakest link in the film (and the explanation for why she looks like Scarlett doesn’t make it better), but I still quite enjoyed watching this for the visual treat on offer.

Lucha Underground (Season 1)

Right now I’m incredibly addicted to watching the first season of Lucha Underground — I’m currently on episode 31 of 39 (they have the first 2 seasons on Netflix). I watched it for the first time back in 2015 while I was still in Japan, and was enjoying it at that time as well, but then stopped around episode 9 or 10 (probably in part due to the move). Getting back into it, I’m just reminded of how much fun it is, and how it scratches the pro wrestling itch I still have occasionally, but that I can’t get scratched from checking in again on WWE (there’s too much of it, and I just don’t care for most of the current roster, and I find most of the matches boring to watch). Lucha Underground has super fun (and silly) stories (and I like that they’re shot in a slick “TV drama” way), the high-flying action is truly exciting to watch, and I just can’t get enough of it.

Sunday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade (July 2017)

So even though I haven’t been posting updates on a weekly basis like I was doing, I have in fact still been watching cartoons every Sunday morning. My standby continues to be a couple of Mickey Mouse shorts (I just finished season 2, so from next week will be attacking season 3) and old Merry Melodies/Looney Tunes shorts. For the rest, I’ve been sampling a few things, including some old The Scooby-Doo Show episodes (the Scooby-Doo series I remember the most), but what I’ve watched the most is the old G.I. Joe cartoon, which I loved as a kid. I watched the 5-part “Rise, Serpentor, Rise” that kicked off the second season of the 1985 series, and this morning I watched part 4 of the 5-part “Operation Dragonfire,” that kicked off the first season of the 1989 series (which I didn’t see much of back then). Sure, it’s pretty awful, but I still get a fun nostalgic kick out of watching these. I did try watching some more Steven Universe at some point, but just wasn’t really feeling it. I did really enjoy the five Ant-Man shorts that were recently released, that have an old-school vibe to them.

South Park (Season 20)

It’s been years since I’ve watched any South Park (I’d say probably 10-15 years), but these past few days I’ve been playing the South Park Phone Destroyer game, and it got me wanting to check it out again, so I decided to jump into season 20 (the latest season that they have up on the Crave TV streaming service). I’ve watched the first 3 episodes, and man, I’m in for more. It’s still as funny as I remember it being, and the fact that I haven’t watched it in such a long time means it feels relatively new again to me. I don’t know if I’ll then want to go back and watch some more seasons, but for now I’m having a lot of fun watching it again.

Oasis: Supersonic

After watching the Beatles documentary, I decided to make it a double bill and follow it up with this Oasis one. To be honest, I don’t have a huge amount of love for the band — I liked them fine back in the day, and still think “Supersonic” is a great track, but I was never really obsessed with them (and I liked Blur more anyway). But this is a fun documentary to watch, bringing you back to that era, and seeing the struggles up close (because of the volatile relationship between the brothers). Pretty amazing how big they got, so fast, and that it didn’t last.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

This is a documentary about the The Beatles directed by Ron Howard, and I ended up quite enjoying it. It starts off with material that makes it seem like this is just going to be yet another look at the Beatlemania that we pretty much all know about, but the fact that it focuses on just the years that they toured globally (63-65) was interesting, and there was stuff that came out of it that I didn’t know.

Okja

I was very tempted not to watch Okja — I was interested in watching the movie because of the director and the actors involved, but I’m extremely sensitive when it comes to the portrayal of animals in movies (and their bad treatment), and I knew this was probably going to tug at my heartstrings. Having watched it, I think it’s a great movie — there are some really beautiful shots, and so many great characters — but as expected, the overall theme wasn’t something I really wanted to take in, and so I can’t say that I loved watching it.

Castlevania

I often complain about the lack of animation produced in North American aimed at adults that’s not comedy, and so not only was I extremely excited to watch Castlevania because of that, but also because it’s based on a game series I love, and more importantly, it’s written by Warren Ellis — who I still credit as being the first person who ever commissioned me to write something. We only get 4 episodes (with 8 more episodes already promised), but it was enough to get a good feel for the series, and I really like it. The animation, although done by a studio in the US, feels like a good anime, and the story is dark and interesting — with a good dose of black humor, as you’d expect from Warren. Can’t wait for the next batch of episodes.

What We Do in the Shadows

This is something I’d been meaning to watch for a while, and boy, am I glad I finally did. I’m a big, big fan of Jemaine Clement and pretty much anything he’s involved in, and this is just such a great movie (he co-wrote and directed it with Taika Waititi). The cast is fantastic, and I had a smile from start to finish. The setup is that they’re making a documentary about real vampires who live together in a house in Wellington, and each is such a weirdo, and the interactions are sublime. La-la-loved this.

Princess Mononoke

As I mentioned when I wrote about watching My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke is a movie I just never latched on to — and I often wonder why so many people I know seem to name it as their favorite Miyazaki film. I actually had a chance to watch it in theatres when it was released in 1997, during my first visit to Japan (by boat from China). I couldn’t understand any Japanese, so just went because it was supposed to be a big deal — I also don’t remember if it was the first Ghibli film I saw, or if I had seen some before, which is highly probable, but I can’t recall. But yeah, so I saw it not understanding anything about the story, and the visuals weren’t enough to capture my interest. I then eventually watched it another time with subs, but it still didn’t have much of an impact. Watching it again last night for probably the first time in 10-15 years, I can say that I enjoyed watching it, but it’s still far from being one of my favorite Miyazaki films, or even a favorite Ghibli film. I don’t find the story to be particularly interesting, and it’s relentlessly dark in a way that I don’t really like.