Archive for the 'Film' Category

Things you end up finding out.

Watched an interesting documentary on Hitler’s rise to power on NHK last night; I put it on just to see what parallels there are with the way the current administration here is doing things (there are). But some of the more lasting tidbits from Hitler’s life and the rise of the Nazi party were rather eyebrow raising:

1) Those fabulous uniforms that make the SS and the Nazi Party so fashionable were designed by Hugo Boss. The man before he was a brand.

2) Wagner (Flight of the Valkyries) was a staunch anti-semite and his daughter a very close friend of the young Adolf Hitler. When you think of it, Wagner’s obsession with Germanic legend seems indicative of this.

3) Henry Ford was also anti-semitic and gave all profits from Ford automobile sales in Europe to a fledgling Nazi Party to help pay for those Hugo Boss uniforms, propaganda posters, etc. He was the first foreigner to be inducted and decorated by the Nazi Party (accompanied with photographs).

The things we don’t know….

Mad Max 2015

There is just a taste of Gilliam in there, and that ain’t bad. Not at all.

Satoshi Kon

Thoughtful analysis of Satoshi Kon’s editing style. I need to watch these movies.

Shinjuku Station
Shinjuku Station

Took me a sec to figure out how they got this shot. It is really fascinating.

Adam Magyar, Stainless – Shinjuku from Adam Magyar on Vimeo.

Something else for them to ruin…

And at Oshii’s hands to boot. They built a full size labor for close-ups and such, but I bet the CG will stink. Sigh.

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki’s Delivery Service

What a wonderful way to commemorate Miyazaki Hayao’s retirement… The incredibly scaled down setting; the awesomely obvious green screen effects; that J-poppy diddy accompanying the trailer. Yup! All the charm and magic of the anime perfectly recreated and further evidence that Japan knows how to use all the neato tech they invent.



SDCC 2014
I mentioned before that there was some talk about possibly attending next year’s Con with the League creative team. After some frank discussion with the folks at both Top Shelf and Knockabout (UK), we came to the conclusion that supporting my airfare there was not really financially feasible. So, sadly, I will most likely not attend. We’re keeping lines of communications open on the off-hand chance someone wins the lottery or comes into some extra cash; but more than likely I won’t be going. Thanks Jeromy for offering to put me up at your place, though. Would have been great to have seen those of you who would attend.

Japanese CG
Been mulling on this because I really hate the fact that Gatchaman looks so bad (and worse the more I see of it) narratively and visually. And I was listening to Brad Bird’s commentary on The Incredibles while working and he said exactly the problem with Japanese CG: “The computer tries to make everything look small, weightless, clean, and shiny.” That was it. They’re not doing the problem solving at the computer level that Pixar and other big CG places spend a lot of time, money, and energy solving—even for mere seconds on the screen. Harlock is faring a bit better, but you can still see of those elements pop up here and there. Thank you Brad Bird. Now I can sleep.

The new Batman.
Ben Affleck. Good actor. Better director. Can’t see him as Batman if Daredevil is any clue. My pick would be Jim Caviezel. If you need someone to go up against Supes, it needs to be Jesus!

Pacific Rim

It’s the movie you always wanted. It’s the movie you would re-watch everyday during summer vacation, destroying the videotape in the process. It is pure childhood joy.

I rest my case…

This is like Thai, Singapore or HK level kind of SF filmmaking (which may just be a slight on both those film industries).


Ooooh boy.

I’m sure many of you don’t know that Japan is working on a live action movie of Gatchaman.
Yeah, if “WTF??!!” just flashed in your mind, then you reacted the same as me. Most of you will then go, “Whatever.”

But maybe one or two of you will say “Oh boy” and you would be right to worry. I can’t go into all that I think can go wrong with the film…that would be a rant by itself. The main problems of this kind of undertaking by any of Japan’s major film studios is pretty much the same across the board:

1) Not enough invested in world-class VFX. If any of you have a chance to see the Space Battleship Yamato film, you’ll see that they gave it a good try. It’s good enough for Japanese audiences, but not at the level a property with fans around the world deserve.

2) Japan does not know how to make a simple action film. Not even on the level of a Michael Bay, that is to say, all flash and no substance. In fact, the problem with Japanese studios is the exact opposite, an attempt at heart-aching substance when there should be more flash. Too much emoting. Too much melodramatics. These days, it’s all about the emotional drama; the touching ending that leaves audiences in tears (mainly targeting women). That was the case even with Yamato.

3) Japanese script writers seemed to be paid by the character count of their scripts. This is more an addendum to the above. There is too much talking when characters and plot should be driven by action (both the figurative and literal kind). And on those occasions when something is done, it is usually preceded and proceeded by talking, the kind that just ruins the tension of the moment. I’ll draw your attention back to (2) and the aforementioned Yamato, the ending of which is so anti-climatic.

And so I present you with Japan’s interpretation of Gatchaman.

Notice something? Yeah, the “bird” motifs in the costumes are pretty much gone and/or minimized. Haven’t we seen these helmet designs in “Rollerball”? Further confirmation can be seen in the main image of the homepage here

where you can see the capes don’t end in feather-like shapes and the trademark “G” is now a hybrid of the classic “G” on their belt and the “bird logo” that would be on their chest. Yes, I understand that adaptation of the costumes to suit live-action will result in changes. Colors and some details, yes, but it seems the concept of the Science Ninja Team has also been changed as evidenced by the text in red. Translated it reads:

At the beginning of the 21st century,
a mysterious invader destroyed half the planet in just seventeen days.
In order to avoid extinction, humanity has placed their hopes on one thing.

A strange crystal known as The Stone.

Only 1 person in 8 million can sync with and use its power.
Humanity has gathered these “compatibles,” harbored them in a facility, and forced them to train as special agents.

Now, they have been reborn as Stone wielding ninjas…
…known as Gatchaman.

“Stone”??? “Forced to train???” Well, that seems to explain why there are those “register numbers” on the photos which is also written on their helmets. No more “G1″, “G2″, “G3″, etc., in other words, they aren’t a dedicated group of youths who have taken on the task of battling Galactor. Ken doesn’t seem like he’s going to be a pilot; Joe (excuse me he’s “George” now), a race car driver, etc. So far, all the things that define the image of these characters are gone, replaced by some weird kind of premise. Oh, and those strange, Japanglish phrases on the picture that’s also written on their helmets?? WTF is that? Anyway, with the “Bird” motif seemingly gone, what will that also do to their trademark weaponry, the God-Phoenix, and its Phoenix attack. Not much has been said about Galactor either which has me worried that the filmmakers will do to Galactor what they did with the Gamilas in “Yamato”: turn a human enemy with a distinct point-of-view into some insect-like alien rabble.

I could talk about the casting, but that really won’t matter if the basic concept is being torn apart. Whoever is on those costumes can’t change fundamental problems in the script and production design. I’m sure the movie will look “neat” but as a fan of the show, I know they could do better. ‘Cause remember the sensation this caused?

Even pop-group SMAP gave it a good try and at least showed it could be done. (the live action version of the commercial above)

They should have at least gone for some evolution of this if they want to have a global hit. But that’s not what Japanese studios are after these days, which is sad. End rant.

Rurouni Kenshin Live Action

Or would that be “Samurai X” (GAG!)

Alright fight fans, have your say:

Reading the comments on Youtube, there certainly is a lot of excitement for a great “action pic.” But let’s not forget there are comedy and romance elements in the story as well. If they fuck up the tone on those, then this will be a mess. Japan rarely succeeds at infusing humor or romance into an action film without wild tonal shifts. Factor in the tendency of appealing to the girl demographic plus the now standard practice of writing to make people cry in the theaters and the potential for disappointment is quite tangible. I am personally still not convinced though am warming to the idea.

Ackbar is Fortuna

So great!

The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas
The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas

That Fincher fella sure knows how to cut a trailer!

A Masterpiece

There are some obvious issues with the models and animation, but the storytelling is a triumph.

Macross F movie 2

For those interested:

Today’s Delivery

Something just arrived….

The Japan exclusive steelbook blu-ray!

and goodies.

So, Like Wow II

Yesterday, two extended clips of the Yamato movie was aired on the TV program Smap x Smap, which is the TV program for the group of the same name, one member of which is the lead for Yamato. I’ll be honest and say that the effects seemed to stand up to scrutiny on my HDTV. Quite well done and certainly not “cheap” looking. That being said, however, it still seemed to lack sophistication. The capital ships seemed to lack a sense of scale, particularly the Yamato. There’s an odd “plasticness” to them which I am unsure was intentional or not (Japan having a great tradition of model making). Lighting shaders also seem to be run of the mill. On a beauty pass of the Yamato flying passed the camera with the key light on the opposite side of the ship, the “dark” side seemed way too bright and showed too much detail for what it should be had they gone for BSG style “realism.” The director also had the annoying tendency to fly the camera from outside of a ship, in through the cockpit and onto a closeup of a character far too often. At least 3 times in what was shown last night. So, overall, the SFX are passable. Better than I’ve seen in a sci-fi movie out of Japan, but certainly not world class as the marketing would have Japanese believe.

Here’s one clip:

And here’s the opening 2 minutes:

Am I going to see it? Probably as a rental. Over the weekend, the “weepy audience” commercial for the film aired confirming my fears that this is targeting a young, female demographic since the guys are just going to come to see the fireworks. I am certainly not feeling a sense of “adventure” from what I have seen and that is a shame.

Some of the audience comments from this clip:
“I cried the most at this film this year”
“I felt a true sense of wanting to protect the planet.”
“It made me consider a lot of things.”
“Of all the films I’ve seen, this one is the best.” (the young boy at the end who can’t be more than 11)

Reviews by average viewers have been mixed. Right now it’s averaging 3 out of 5 stars on one site. Lots of 1 and 2 star reviews by long time fans whose biggest complaint is the story of the entire saga being mashed up into 2.5 hours; they also found the deliberate focus at sentimentality and melodrama an affront to other themes the series had to offer. There are some 4 star reviews as well, as expected mostly from women not familiar with the series and a few “semi-fans” who thought it was respectful enough.

That’s a nice OUT fit!

The young Eric Magnus Lehnsherr as he should/could be.

Early Xmas

Just some recent Hong Kong Film DVDs I treated myself to.

So like, wow.

I can’t seem to get to the actual video link, but here’s the facebook page that has Yamato….meets BSG?

**James, I am editing your post to embed the trailer instead of going to FB. Hope you don’t mind.** -ben


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