R&A by JL: Symbol

Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Symbol is … the only one of its kind. It keeps defying the way I comprehend cinema. I became interested in the film because I knew it starred, was written and directed by one of my favorite comedians. The few who had seen it were completely baffled. I had no idea what I was about to see in advance. My reaction to the film? I was enlightened. It took me a long time to write this review because I didn’t have the time to fully absorb Symbol. Read more of this post

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UW Cinematheque: Korean War Memories

One of the great joys of living in a city with a major university (and attending that university, in my case) is the wide variety of cultural activities that the university offers. In my case, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, my favorite of these events is the regularly scheduled UW Cinematheque, a program that runs every weekend while class is in session screening 35mm prints of a wide variety of films from all over the world that would likely only be seen on DVD otherwise.

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RS: Duel

In what is arguably one of the most fruitful one-time collaborations between an actor and director, Steven Spielberg and Dennis Weaver do an excellent job with minimal resources in the 1971 made-for-TV movie Duel. What seperates this film from other countless made-for-television films is that it was made by one of the greatest directors in cimematic history (Spielberg) and on its shoestring budget and shooting schedule (13 days), it really delivered.

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Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 — Alternate Perspective

The general reception of Hideaki Anno’s most recent additions to the Neon Genesis Evangelion Franchise has been rather positive, including those reflections on the film by writers on our own site — Juuso and Johannes both praised the film on numerous levels, and had good reasons for doing so. But an important part of cinema, and the forum atomsphere that helped spawn this film blog idea was having Alternate perspectives — different views on a particular film that help increase our understanding of the particular piece and cinema as a whole.

Though I cannot attest to seeing the film in the atomsphere of a cinema, I found 2.0 to be quite underwhelming. The film was certainly high concept, and played around with the philosophy and psuedo-science that was existent from its spiritual godfather, Neon Genesis Evangelion (henceforth reffered to as NGE), but to be utterly frank, the series just did not translate well into the cinematic form. The pacing was off, and much of the character relationships, which were so essential to the brilliance of the first series, were rushed and at times fel arbitrary and nonsensical. Read more of this post

The Steamroller and the Violin

What makes a children’s film?  It’s quite easy to distinguish what does not make a children’s film, and even easier to fall back upon cliché definitions revolving around the maturity of themes present in so-called children’s entertainment.  But neither of these really brings into focus what it is that makes a good children’s film good.  They simply explain what makes boring cinema.  The questions then arise: should a children’s film also aim to please adults?  Should it be held to any standards other than those we hold more seemingly mature films of ‘merit’ to?  Are children’s films inherently inferior to serious works of artistic pomp and circumstance because they are at least superficially targeted to an audience unconcerned with supposed artistic depth and complexity? Read more of this post

R&A by JL: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World

At first I have to admit that I like Edgar Wright’s earlier output. However, Scott Pilgrim Versus The World is a shameful attempt at being interesting. I guess it was originality that makes the difference. Pilgrim is based on a Canadian comic book masquerading as manga while Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead were also written by Wright. Essentially the film is about a young bassist named Scott Pilgrim who is struggling between two love interests: a quirky Asian high school student and Ramona Flowers, a girl with 7 evil ex boyfriends who try to kill Pilgrim. Read more of this post

R&A by JL: Summer Wars

Mamoru Hosoda is one of the directors expected to become the next Hayao Miyazaki. With only a few films under his belt such high praise might seem weird, but believe me. His direction is really that good. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time made him instantly one of the best directors in the anime industry. How can one follow a major success like that? It must be hard to even create something equally pleasing. In Hosoda’s case, he even improved a little with his next film, Summer Wars. Without giving too much away, the film tells about Kenji, a boy who ends up being forced to pretend to be his dream girl’s, Natsuki’s, boyfriend in front of her large family. Meanwhile the fate of the entire world is at stake when Oz (a more developed and involving version of Facebook) is taken over by a terrorist.

Whereas The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was Hosoda’s intimate drama with small scope, Summer Wars is the opposite: a grand tale boasting more than 20 unforgettable characters. Read more of this post