A Perspective from Within

I’d thought I’d take the time to not review a movie.

“Why’s that,” you ask? As a critic myself, I love to review movies and tell others what I think of them. But my criticisms come mainly from my experience in the film industry itself, which makes my view different from most other’s even if only slightly. A viewer will watch a movie and think “Oh, this movie was good,” or “I just hated this movie.” I, on the other hand, see every film ever made as a result of a miracle. It staggers the mind how so many people can agree on a project, produce said project, then release that project to a number of people. (It’s even more staggering if it’s a bad movie with a poor premise.)

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Sawako Decides

Hikari Mitsushima is one hell of an actress. I haven’t looked too much into her past, but from what I gather she is a gravure idol-turned-actress, who started out with small bit parts in feature films, notably the live-action Death Note series. I have not seen these films, so this means next to nothing to me. She first really made waves in circles of Japanese Cinema fans in Shion Sono’s masterpiece, Love Exposure, as the protagonist’s obsessive love interest, who put him through hell. Though she was one of the major characters in Love Exposure, it is in Yûya Ishii’s Sawako Decides which she truly shines. After having only seen two of her films, she has already put herself in contention to be one of my favorite young actresses working today.

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The Guilty Pleasures Pile: Carnosaur

Science Fiction; U.S.; 1993; 83 minutes; written and directed by: Adam Simon; based on the novel by: Harry Adam Knight; produced by: Mike Elliot; Executive produced by: Roger Corman; New Horizon Home Video

Actual Quality

Guily Pleasure Quality

There are some movies that defy all thought and predictions. Films that go beyond the boundaries set for them by their contemporaries. Films that literally boldly go where no respectable person has gone before. (Mainly because respectable people know better.) These are films that are so bad they’re good. You laugh at they’re vain attempts to make you care, the silly ideas that are meant to scare you, and performances that no one, not even the actors and director, seemed to know what they were going for.These are the films that find themselves in our Guilty Pleasures Pile, and though many on this film blog have already thrown stuff into the pile, I’m going to make my first contribution in a while to the stash with a little mockbuster film Roger Corman executive produced en lure of Jurassic Park called Carnosaur. In fact, it’s fun to see how these two franchises kept butting into each other’s territory.

Corman was known in the olden days as the director who looked for one thing from his actors and one thing only: Stand on the tape mark, you turd. Actually, he was a wonderful guy to work with and lot of fun, but you had to hit your marks. He didn’t care what your line sounded like, he didn’t care how you did what you did… he just wanted you to stand on the tape mark and say your piece so he can say “cut”. Read more of this post

Cashback

Cashback began life as a 15 min. short film that struck a chord with audiences enough that it won an Oscar nomination. The writer/director/producer Sean Ellis decided it would be worth it to expand it into a feature that incorporated the short, saving time and money. It reportedly only took him a few weeks to write the script and get the entire cast onboard, including the lead, Sean Biggerstaff who plays Ben Willis, a young art student suffering from insomnia (two weeks worth, at least) after a traumatizing breakup with his girlfriend, Suzy (Michelle Ryan). To pass the extra 8-hours of day, Ben takes a job at a local supermarket where he meets his egomaniacal boss named Jenkins (Stuart Goodwin), two loafers named Barry (Michael Dixon) and Matt (Michael Lambourne), and a pretty checkout girl named Sharon (Emilia Fox). Because of his insomnia, Ben finds himself able to manipulate time, eventually being able to pause the present whenever he wants. Read more of this post

The Kids Are All Right

Independent films are a cornerstone of filmmaking that has been around in one form or another since the medium’s birth, but they really came to prominence as a reaction to the major film studios’ domination over the industry. In perhaps the earliest example, United Artists was established to wrest control away from the five major studios. But, somewhere along the way, probably in the 80s, coinciding with the formation of the Sundance Institute and the success of Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise, “indie films” became a genre of its own, marked by a certain tone and quirky approach to characters and plot. While plenty of fine films have been produced under this influence, the genre faces the same problems that plague any movement which becomes a method, and that’s that what was once fresh starts to become stale. What once felt authentic and real now seems artificial and fake. Read more of this post

Love & Pop

1998; Japan; 110 minutes; Directed by Hideaki Anno; Produced by Toshimichi Otsuki; Dist. by Toei Company

Hideaki Anno used to have a really solid grasp of clear simple story-telling. Really, he did. Back when we was working with Hayao Myazaki and directing Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Anno had a very charming, “Miyazaki-esque” style of story-telling that pulled in his audience and made them smile throughout the story while occasionally pulling at a few heart-strings. You’d never guess that by looking at his more popular work, Neon Genesis Evangelion, where Anno seems to channel a darker, more complicated side of his self and produces quite unnerving angles to an already dismal story premise.

Anno’s trend of complicated and unsettling visceral story-telling seems to be realized to its fullest with his first live-action, experimental film Love & Pop, a coming-of-age story about a young girl, named Hiromi Yoshii, who struggles as she watches all of her friends grow up into different people. Read more of this post

Chuck & Buck

We take it for granted that we ever actually “grow up”. We age, certainly, and we get taller and fatter, but mental growth seems optional, at least past a certain point. Given the complexity of our psyches, it’s not incomprehensible that we retain so many of our child-like (and childish) mentalities long after we’ve become “adults.” But perhaps some of the most fascinating individuals are those that hit a wall in that development from child to adolescent to adult. Of course, we aren’t really lacking for any depictions of such man-children on film, but they’ve almost typically been rendered in a wholly comedic way, rather than in one that seeks a more genuine depiction of the “condition” that explores it on a more psychological level. Read more of this post