I watched this fantastic Lupin the Third film over the weekend, Goemon Ishikawa’s Spray of Blood (Chikemuri no Ishikawa Goemon) that tells the tale of how Lupin and his crew met up with Goemon. It’s a more adult take on the series, and features much tenser action than I’m used to seeing in Lupin stuff — think more along the lines of the animated sequence in Kill Bill — and I absolutely loved it. Great action, great character moments, and what made me even happier is that I later realized that it follows a Jigen movie from a few years ago, which itself is a follow-up to The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna) series that I remember hearing about when it came out, but never saw — I watched the first episode and it was killer.
My buddy Matt Alt wrote a great piece for The New Yorker about the arrival of Your Name — a film I loved to death — to North America.
You probably don’t need any extra incentive to visit the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, but I sure would like to drop by in the coming year to check out the yearlong food exhibition (from May 27). More details in this Spoon & Tamago post.
Earlier today I got to talking about the films of Hirokazu Koreeda with a friend at work, and it’s only after looking him up that I realized he had directed Maboroshi, which not only was his first feature film, but also one of the first proper Japanese films I remember watching at a theater — this would have been back in 1996-98, while I was student in Montreal. That movie marked me quite a bit, but I hadn’t watched any of his other films, so tonight I decided to watch Our Little Sister, which I absolutely loved. Sure, it doesn’t hurt that it stars beautiful girls as the sisters, but I thought the story was quite touching, and the performances were really outstanding. Think I’m going to need to start making my way through Koreeda’s filmography.
This is a great video essay on the use of color by Akira Kurosawa and his later films. I watched Ran recently, and was struck by the mesmerizing and intensive use of color — it absolutely acts as a tool to help tell the story that is being told. Via this tweet.
After I finished my recent 1985 movie marathon, I wanted to do another one, but for a year of film that would feel very different. I picked 1967 for the simple reason that it marks a 50 year jump, and I thought it would be interesting to revisit movies of that era that I watched when I was younger, as well as discover some I had never seen.
What I found especially interesting with the selection I ended up making — I figured I was going to go for a dozen or so, and ended up capping it at 10 — was that most of what I wanted to watch was French. I’m not sure if it’s a sign that French cinema was so strong at that time, or if it’s just that I would have watched a lot of these because of my French-Canadian background, and so they were part of my upbringing. Yet, of the 30 movies I watched for 1985, none of them were French, so I do think that French cinema was on a more equal (if not higher) footing with Hollywood at the time, and that it tended to reach a more global audience than we see with French films these days (which I admittedly do not follow at all).
All in all, it was another fun exercise, offering me a satisfying snapshot at the state of film — and culture in general — at that time. Here’s the full list of films I watched — which you’ll also find under the “1967” tag.
- Belle de Jour
- Bonnie and Clyde
- Casino Royale
- Fantomas Contre Scotland Yard
- In Like Flint
- Le Samourai
- Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
- Point Blank
- The Graduate
I mentioned last year really wanting to see the movie Hirune Hime (seems that the official English title is now Ancien and the Magic Tablet), and here’s a review of the film over at Time Out Tokyo. Considering that it’s directed by Kenji Kamiyama, who was behind Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East, two series I quite like, I’m definitely in for this.
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.
I’ll start by saying what I didn’t like about this movie, and that’s the distracting breast animations on the two main female characters. But other than that, I had a blast watching this. The animation is beyond slick, and it makes all of the action incredibly stylish to watch. Definitely some of the best CG animation I’ve seen. I also like that the entire movie feels so self-contained, that it all takes place on one of the Gantz “missions.” But I think my favorite thing about the movie are all of the alien designs — inspired by traditional Japanese yokai, they’re really a joy to watch on the screen. I’m not that familiar with the entire Gantz storyline — I’ve seen the live-action movies, which were fine — and this is making me want to get back to reading the manga (I’ve only read the first couple of volumes).
Looking at the lineup for the Spring 2017 season of anime, I gotta say there’s nothing much that seems to be for me — even less than the winding down Winter 2017 season (the only series that really grabbed me this season was Onihei).
Of all the regular series debuting, the only ones I’m interested in watching are GranBlue Fantasy The Animation, which I though was starting during the Winter season, but they just released the first 2 episodes, with the series proper starting next month, and Atom: The Beginning, a prequel series to Astroboy. I am very happy to see that on the OVA front we’re getting a sequel to the Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt — the first series was really fantastic, with super slick animation, and a jazz-heavy soundtrack. On the movie front, there’s of course Masaaki Yuasa’s Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome and Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta, as well as the Blame movie, and maybe also Biohazard: Vendetta.