21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Month: June, 2017

Laputa Castle in the sky

Laputa Castke in the sky is a Studio Guilbli anime film about a girl called Sheeta (Keiko Yokozawa) and a boy called Pazu (Mayumi Tanaka) who possess a magical crystal and go in search for a floating castle, defeating Sheeta’s evil kidnapper Muska (Minori Terada) along the way.

I had the pleasure of watching this movie with my best guy friend, who loves anime films. Indeed, I have come to like anime a bit as well. I have watched a couple of Studio Ghibli films, including Ponyo and Grave of the fireflies, among others. The attention to detail in the movie is intriguing, as it was made in a time when all animated films were hand drawn. I admire the Japanease drawing style, it’s rather individual to their own film and art culture, and the guy friend and I ended up watching the film itself in Japanese, which meant that your attention was not focused on the movie itself, but also the ability to follow along with the subtitles along with the story as well.

At times, the movie did drag a little and if was hard to get into at first, but it was generally a good movie all the same. The little boy Pazu looked adorable, and the castle looked incredible. I think that you would be in some obvious danger if you lived in the floating castle and you were afraid of heights. The robot reminded me of iron giant and the villain guy reminded me of Agent Smith from the Matrix.

In the future, I would definitely look into watching more anime films.

Overall, a great movie with an interesting plot line and detailed animation that gives subtle hints to the culture at the time that the movie was made.

4/5

 

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Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of ignorance)

The type of love that I’m talking about is absolute!’¬†

Birdman is about a slightly washed up actor name Riggan Thomson (Micheal Keaton) who is mostly known to play the fictional superhero known as Birdman twenty years prior to the events of the film, and Thompson tries to make a comeback by writing, directing and starring in his own broadway show. Birdman also stars Edward Norton as Mike Shiner, a cocky actor and star of the show, and Emma Stone as Sam, a drug addict, along with Zach Galifiankis as Jake, Riggin’s lawyer, Naomi Watts and Andrea Risenbrough (the latter of whom I previously saw in Shadow Dancer).

Generally, I heard mixed reviews about the film. Some people said that it was terrible and depressing, and other people liked it. I’m also lead to believe that it won a couple of Oscars. I liked how the camera followed the main character around, perhaps playing with his subconscious, and the voice that he is plagued by is in fact his younger self as Birdman. It is up to your interpretation into what really happened at the end. He either jumped and fell to his death or he jumped and thought that he was Birdman.

As for the rest of the film, I didn’t really like Emma Stone or Naomi Watts as actresses, but that is only my opinion. I do like how Thomson’s Birdman character was the voice of his subconscious, pushing him to near insanity. While watching this film, it made me realise how much of a huge part journalism actually plays in reviewing and giving impressions about a play or a film. I only watched it because it was on Netflix and it had Edward Norton in it. Although the drumming background noise got a bit frustrating, I think it was intended to build suspense.

I do like the camera work i.e the 360 degree shots, the continuous long shots throughout the film. There’s the constrast between the rather dingy looking backstage at the theatre and the part of the theatre that people pay good money to see, and the difference between the young, heroic Birdman, and the old and rather washed up Riggan Thompson. There are also various discussions that say that Black Swan and Birdman are the same sort of film and they’re both about people who think that they are birds and who strive for perfection.

Apart from that, the movie went in for a bit too long, and I ended up having to watch it in two parts. At times, it dragged on, ¬†sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn’t. Edward Norton had a good screen prescence, and I don’t think I’ve watched a Micheal Keaton film before but he’s rather well known. It was also rather brave of his character to run through Times Square in his briefs.

Good cast, interesting camera work, great perspectives and considerably better than Map to the Stars (another movie about fame) but generally average everywhere else.

3/5

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

We’re not supposed to be friends, you and me. We’re meant to be enemies. Did you not know that?’¬†

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a movie based on the book of the same name by John Boyne, and it is about a forbidden friendship between a German boy named Bruno (Asa Butterfield) and a Jewish concentration camp inmate boy named Schmuel (Jack Scalnon). It also stars Vera Farminga as Bruno’s mother, Rupert Friend as Lieutenant Kotler, David Thewlis as Bruno’s father and and Sheila Hancock as Bruno and his sister Gretel’s grandmother.

I read the book for school back in year 5 and year 7 respectively, so of course I’ve had to analyse both the book and the film to death. I distinctly remember having to get our parents to sign permission slips back in year five as we were all too young to watch the film at the time. We were also all not allowed to watch the ending at the time as well, and I do recall my old teacher calling the book ‘the Boy in the stupid pyjamas’.

Despite that, I think anything from a child’s eyes when applied to a serious subject such as the holocaust and World War II is particularly horrifying. Considering its subject matter, I would never consider this movie to be my favourite film, and for the most part, the movie is downright depressing. However, this was the movie that originally got me interested in the actor Asa Butterfield, who was ten when he was in the film, yet his performance was far more striking than anyone else’s in the movie. I think it’s the fact that he went on to do several more brilliant, thought provoking films and has since done incredibly well in his acting career. Apparently him and his other young co star Jack Scalnon did not know anything about the Holocaust at the time, which makes it slightly more haunting. Now that I’m considerably older than when I last watched the movie, I picked up on a couple of smaller details, such as the fact that it sounded as if Lieutenant Kotler’s father was actually a Jew.

There are a couple of plot holes in the movie, for example, wouldn’t someone notice a boy hanging around outside the camp? I think the camp that divides them was for metaphorical purposes, as Bruno seems to be very free and comfortable in his own life and Schmuel is imprisoned only because he’s a Jew, showing a contrast between the two boys. Also, young children would be killed upon arrival to the camp,so the entire film is slightly inaccurate. I’ve always found the friendship between Bruno and Schumel to be a rather forbidden one. When it comes down to it, it’s the things that you do for a friend that ends up getting you killed.

Other than that, the cast was good. Asa Butterfield and Jack Scalnon worked really well considering that they were both very young at the time, I’ve seen David Thewlis in a lot of things and he was good both in the film and as the character of the emotionally distant father who happened to be a Nazi soldier. Rupert Friend graced his scenes with his charming screen prescence and secretly snappy mannerisms, and Vera Farminga was good as Bruno’s mother. She’s also been in her fair share of horror films. The film really shows how impressionable and naive children actually are, from the way that Bruno thinks that the camp is a farm, believing what was actually propaganda and calling the camp ‘Out-With’ to his sister Gretel having Nazi propaganda posters on her wall. Children will also believe anything. You are almost caught up in their naivety and blinded to the actual horrors of the war and the holocaust, that are now a huge part of our history today. The ending in itself is considerably emotional. How has an empty room that slowly faded to black shown more about the truth of the Holocaust than going in to great detail about it? It’s as if the viewers have been hit in the face and had their emotions played around with. I’ve also always found the bit when the man with the gas mask pours in the gas rather scary.

Overall, a rather haunting and emotionally stringent film that is considerably more poignant as it is seen through the eyes of an eight year old child.

3/5