Thursday, April 30, 2020

Strange Days (1995)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by James Cameron, Strange Days is a mashup of Christopher Walken’s Brainstorm (1983) and the LA riots. It’s not The Matrix (1999), it’s not Escape from New York (1981), it’s a mix of different things that starts strong but fizzles out in the end.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The King of Comedy (1982)

The film opens with an insane crowd flocking around a Jerry Lewis-like character (played by Jerry Lewis). It’s intentionally nauseating. The movie knows more than the audience at this point, presenting an alien world of televised comedy and the surrounding fandom. This is Scorsese’s world, a world of extreme characters in the American excess of the last century.

Scorsese presents a century unburdened by soulless tech giants, fraud, deception, and insincerity. A century in which you can either talk to Jerry Lewis’s secretary over the telephone or go in person. A wonderful century. The century presented is one in which the protagonist, an aspiring comedian played by Robert De Niro, is free to approach the business however he wants, and he carves his path right through the man who he thinks is his friend.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Riddick (2013)

Riddick is (so far) David Twohy’s last film, and a great note to go out on. This was the film that introduced me to his body of work. I remember talking about it with some pals online when it came out, and for some reason I had just read a review of Escape from Butcher Bay.

“Would you recommend Riddick?” I asked. “Does he stab anybody with a screwdriver?”

“He stabs people with a lot of things,” said my friend.

I was sold.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Postman (1997)

Mail is a real pain in the ass. Either the local numbnuts deliver your parcel three blocks off the mark, or you try to send electronically, only to find that you need to set up a trusted SMTP relay. In the case of either problem, you likely won’t figure it out until months after the fact. There’s a reason a rampage is called “going postal”.

Poor Kevin Costner. He is tasked with delivering the entire nation’s mail on the old shoeleather express. If any package is misdelivered, he gets the blame. No vehicles, no electricity, no help of any kind. With certain non-trivial problems, all you can give it is your best effort.

As a connoisseur of video games and the artistic goods of Japan, I heard about Kojima Hideo-san’s extravagant foray into the world of Postman, the majestic and not-at-all-pretentious Death Stranding, wherein you play as Kevin Costner’s vision of a parcel carrier. There is also a video game called Postal, wherein you don’t have to deliver a thing (see end of first paragraph).

But this is no game, this is a serious examination of what it means to be an American, through the lens of our mailman and savior.

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Shin Godzilla シンセイキ・ゴジラ (2016)

It’s impossible to be an edgy hipster filmmaker without making a few enemies, so how Anno Hideaki succeeded at anything is a mystery, but the world is glad he did.

The original Godzilla movie was a parable about the experience and effects of invasion. What this parable represents is so fundamental to Japanese culture that by now, Godzilla is passe, even schlock. You’ve probably seen clips of the ridiculous battles between rubber suit performers in the Godzilla sequels. The franchise is out of control.

Anno-sensei knows this, which is why Neon Genesis Shin Godzilla is not about the drama of a giant lizard, but the process of dealing with the giant lizard. It’s the smartest possible approach to the franchise, and as is usually the case with this caliber of talent, it’s a masterpiece.

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