Side Note

The free image-hosting service I used to use – Photobucket – changed its policies so now all the embedded images don’t work and I’m slowly reuploading the pictures and changing all the image links. In case anyone is wondering why the pictures in so many of the old entries don’t work. ^^

Mulan (2020)

Disney’s live-action remake of their 1998 original was not much better than all their other live-action remakes. A little better than or on par with Beauty & the Beast, but not better than Aladdin. (Just realised I haven’t reviewed Aladdin! I should get around to that.) I haven’t seen The Lion King remake but I bet this is way better than that one. So it has some things going for it.

So far, none of them have surpassed their originals.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I have a rather long list of complaints but first, a disclaimer of sorts: My dissatisfaction with this live-action remake can be attributed in part to my great fondness for their originals. While I attempt to keep some objectivity when watching these, I find that it’s very difficult to not compare them when the originals are vividly stuck in my mind.

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The Gentlemen

Mickey Pearson, marijuana magnate, is looking to sell off his business and retire. But it’s not that straightforward in the criminal world and thus begins a web of favours called in and betrayals avenged…

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Note: I am not very familiar with Guy Ritchie’s body of work apart from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (which I really enjoyed), Sherlock Holmes (2009 and 2011, both of which I thought were just ok), and Aladdin (also just ok).

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Little Women (2019)

Do I really need to summarise this? haha

Greta Gerwig’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women (and Good Wives) has gotten a lot of good press and some Oscar hype, and it did look nice in the trailer. But I don’t think I was nearly as impressed as many of the professional critics were.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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Hello World (2019)

Hello World is the story of high school boy, Katagaki Naomi, who lives in Kyoto in 2027. Naomi’s future self appears and reveals to him that he’s actually little more than a digital record of the real Katagaki Naomi. Future Naomi has developed an avatar self to go into the recorded past and help teenage Naomi save his soon-to-be girlfriend, Ruri.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

This is going to be rather short as I find I don’t have much to say about it.

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The Garden of Evening Mists

The Garden of Evening Mists is based on a book of the same name by Tan Twan Eng. Jumping back and forth between “present day” 1980s, the 1950s (where the primary story takes place) and the 1940s, it tells the story of Yun Ling, the sole survivor of a Japanese war camp called the Golden Lily. Post-war, Yun Ling seeks out former Japanese Imperial gardener Nakamura Aritomo and asks for his help in building a Japanese garden to fulfil her dead sister’s wish.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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Knives Out

Old Harlan Thrombey, crime novelist, is found dead, having apparently committed suicide after his birthday party. An unknown person hires Benoit Blanc, the “last gentleman detective”, to investigate this supposed suicide and it isn’t long before everyone in his household is a suspect, from the rebellious grandson to the sweet-natured caregiver.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoyed this much more than I did Frozen 2 as it was a murder mystery very much in the veins of a Poirot story.

=== Spoiler warning after this ===

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Frozen 2

In Frozen 2, all starts off well, and then it is not. Elsa’s hearing a creepy voice, Olaf’s pondering life, Kristoff’s wanting to propose, and Anna… Has nothing in particular on her mind. Elsa accidentally wakes the spirits or something and the Frozen Company set off to find the Enchanted Forest wherein dwell the Northuldra, who used to be friends with Arendelle. This eventually leads to Elsa pursuing the voice and answers at the mysterious river Ahtohallan…

Overall rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Okay, let’s get this over with. (This alone probably indicates my overall feelings towards the movie.)

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Rose vs Tonight: Fantasy and Reality

In which I attempt to solidify some vague thoughts on the differences between The Purple Rose of Cairo and Tonight, at the Movies.

On the face of it, 今夜、ロマンス劇場で or Tonight, at the Movies is a Japanese variation of Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). Both are stories about a movie-loving person falling in love with a character who literally comes out of a movie. In Tonight, it is a budding scriptwriter and assistant director named Kenji who comes to love the adventurous Princess Miyuki. In Rose, it is Cecelia, a waitress in an unhappy marriage, who falls for dreamy archaeologist Tom Baxter.

Though both begin with the idea of a dream coming true and involve the main character having to make a choice that determines the ending, Rose presents the fantasy alongside brutal reality, and its ending is rooted in the latter. Sad ending, but the most likely logical outcome. Tonight gives us a fantasy that becomes reality, with just a hint of melancholy, and gives us an ending that is closer to a fairytale.

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