#245- Akira

Quick recap: In Neo Tokyo,A teenage motorcycle club fights the government, who have taken their friend and turned him into a dangerous psychopath.

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Teenage biker gangs are the worst

Fun (?) fact: The film takes place in 2019, as Neo Tokyo is set to host the Summer Olympics. As ultimate proof the IOC all secretly love anime, Tokyo is actually hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020. Either that, or they know the world will be ending very soon.

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My thoughts: 5 minutes into Akira and my only thoughts were, ‘what the hell am I watching?’ and ‘Can I just watch this forever?’. To say this was an amazing experience is an understatement. As I drove home after the movie (I watched it at the Drafthouse) all I could think was that this movie changed my life somehow, even though I can’t explain in what way.

I’m not by any stretch of the imagination an ‘anime’ fan, although I did once buy the Cowboy Bebop Blue album because I was going through an especially bad breakup. After watching Akira, I GET it. Something this complex can’t be told through traditional means and anime is perfect for weaving in ridiculous plot points with achingly human experiences. I’m intentionally vague about the plot because there are just so many layers there. I went in thinking this was going to be some fluffy guy film about racing motorcycles and found that it was so much more.

Everything in Akira is over the top- the music, the plot, and especially the visuals. I can not believe this was made in 1988 because there are many shots that seem impossible without the aid of computer graphics. There were several really creepy scenes, which, as mentioned above, I won’t get into, but it gave me nightmares later on. I’m also a wimp, so take that into account. I have no idea if this movie is for everyone, but if you are in the least bit interested in anime, this is a hell of a way to get acquainted with the genre.

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Final review: 5/5

Up next: Foolish Wives

#243-E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Quick recap:

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I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens. Who came to earth… and then died… only to be brought back to life again. And his name was: E.T., the extra-terrestrial. I love that little guy.

Fun (?) fact: E.T. is actually a plant-like creature and neither female or male

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This might be my new favorite reaction gif

My thoughts: This movie has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Back when VCRs were hella expensive, Three-year-old Me would carry around the VHS tape everywhere I went on the off chance someone would feel sorry for me and let me watch it. It wasn’t until I ended up in the hospital when I was 5, that I finally got my hands on a VCR proving that a) sometimes you have to go to extremes to get what you want  and b) Chicken Pox is no laughing matter.

I’ve sat through E.T a handful of times as an adult and each time I’m amazed by how much the movie still affects me. I choked up as always during the scene when E.T and Elliott are in the bathroom dying, but there was this added layer to the movie where I identified more with the mom than I have in other viewings. It was almost as if I was watching something for the first time, noticing what the mom is going through as she deals with a separation on top of taking care of three kids, one of whom brings in an alien that almost kills him. It’s a lot to take in and though she doesn’t always handle things perfectly, she sees the bond Elliott and E.T have and she respects it, even though the consequences are so serious.

On paper, this movie looks like it would be a major train wreck. This kind of cutesy-buddy story about an alien and boy just doesn’t work most of the time, as evidenced by the many copycats that came after *ahem* Mac and Me. But throw in Spielberg and John Williams and you are at least heading in the right direction. There are so many iconic scenes in this movie- the bikes flying in the air, E.T and his glowing finger, and the score is still my favorite from everything Williams has done. I don’t know how an adult might react to viewing this film for the first time, although I can predict that it would probably be negative. The film itself is shot through the perspective of a young boy because it is a movie meant for children. It meant so much to me as a kid and I carried those lessons with me through adulthood.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: The Last Wave

 

#186- Fantastic Planet

Quick recap: A race of super huge blue people (Draag) oppress a race of teeny tiny humanoids (Om).

how I feel at the end of the week

how I feel at the end of the week

Fun (?) fact: The ‘Om’ race is a word play on the French word for man, ‘homme’

This movie had a lot going on

tbh, how congress should solve most issues

My thoughts: I’m still choosing movies at random, so it surprised me how many science fiction films I have seen lately,this one being my second French sci-film when I thought there weren’t any. Actually, Fantastic Planet started out in Czechoslovakia but had to be moved to France because Communists aren’t really fans of being made fun of. Go figure.

I full heartedly expected to not like this movie, but within minutes of its opening sequence, I was sucked in. For starters, I had no idea that Fantastic Planet would be animated, and man is it a trippy movie. It kind of reminded me of the Monty Python sequences, but much longer and weirder. The planet that the Draag live on is as strange as it gets, which I loved because the director could’ve used a somewhat familiar landscape but instead just threw in a ton of crazy plants and animals just for the hell of it. There is a scene where the planet is covered in crystals and the Om protagonist, Terr, gets caught in one. His master, Tiwa, simply whistles and the crystals disintegrate. Why crystals? Why whistling? No clue, but it adds to the idea of these humanoids being trapped in such an unfamiliar place.

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As with most sci-fi and horror films, the best ones are those that can be related back to real world events. In the case of Fantastic Planet, it is literally about the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia. It was very easy to see the parallels while watching the movie, which is nice, but not so glaringly obvious that it felt preachy. In the movie, Terr is kept as a pet by the Draag child Tiwa. Through an accident, he is able to absorb the lessons his owner listens to, thus gaining all knowledge he will need later on to defeat the Draag. The ending is an optimistic one: the Om travel to the Strange Planet, an uninhabited place where the Draag send their meditations. While there, they are able to find their weakness and use it to overpower them. The Draag, knowing that they have lost, admit defeat and give the Om their own planet to live on without fear of extermination, named Terr.

Final review: 5/5. I don’t know how popular this film is, but anyone who loves science-fiction should watch it, if they haven’t already. Essential viewing.

Up next: Requiem for a Dream

#185- 2001: A Space Odyssey

Quick recap: A group of scientists find a monolith buried on the moon and set off toward Jupiter in order to learn more about who might have placed it there. Oh, and there’s a crazy computer that wreaks havoc.

I feel like The Simpsons is just one long 2001 reference I feel like The Simpsons is just one long 2001 reference

Fun (?) fact: Conspiracy theorists (AKA nutjobs) claim that 2001: A Space Odyssey being released so closely to the moon landing is not a coincidence. They (the nutjobs) think that Kubrick directed the landing and used leftover props from his movie.

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My thoughts: As I have come to learn with Kubrick films, they are infinitely more enjoyable on the big screen. I had the opportunity to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Drafthouse and it was every bit as awe inspiring as I expected it to be. The Drafthouse played the entire thing-from overture, to intermission, to ending credits so that we, the audience, would have the full effect of the movie. It is a classic for sure, and yet I have no idea what the hell it is all about.

In writing that, though, I am fulfilling what Kubrick wanted. He said in interviews that he never meant ambiguity but he also said that he doesn’t expect anyone to fully ‘get’ it because it is open to interpretation. As pretentious as that sounds, I like that idea. My personal belief is that the movie is about evolution and the monolith represents the next step. Maybe it was set up by aliens? I don’t know. When Dave passes through all the light and ends up in the neoclassical room, I think it’s because he has seen the inside of the monolith, evidently all of time and space. As he progresses in age and finally back to fetus, he represents the ‘birth’ of a new age for Earth, something even more exciting to come. I have no idea if I am right and I don’t really care because that’s just not the point.

A guy next to me evidently hated the whole movie and when he left, scoffed and said that Star Wars was much better, in terms of special effects. I didn’t punch him, although I don’t think anyone would have stopped me. Aside from that guy (who also called the ‘intermission’, the ‘intervention’), I think most people would agree how amazing the whole movie looked. It’s so hard to believe it was shot in the ’60s and I was most impressed by how realistic space travel was portrayed. This is a very visual movie, which sounds redundant, but it’s not. There is very little dialogue throughout the whole thing, but there is so much too look at. It’s almost too much at times and I can see why so many people devote their lives to trying and figuring out all the symbolism.

The main reason the Drafthouse showed 2001: A Space Odyssey was because it is part of their ‘soundtrack’ series, which showcases movies with great soundtracks. So it’s a no brainer to include this film. Every note was put in place perfectly and set the mood for each scene in a way no other film I have seen does. The music heard when the monolith is first seen on the moon is terrifying and for good reason. It sounded like angry bee people or something and I actually felt an uneasiness throughout the entire scene. What also impressed me was how the absence of sound or music could be as equally terrifying. When HAL cuts the oxygen cord from the astronaut and sends him hurtling into space, that scene scared me as much as any other scene in a horror movie could have done.

Final review: 5/5. Go see it if you haven’t yet, but only watch it if you have chance to see it in a theater. I don’t see how a television could do it justice.

Up next: Fantastic Planet