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Thoughts

Movie Round-up #3

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I like to watch a variety of movies from a variety of time periods.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – ★★★
Wes Anderson’s latest film is a rather eccentric but also charming little story about an orphan boy and an unhappy girl who try to run away together and make a home in a little cove which they name Moonrise Kingdom. The movie is peppered with characters who are odd, and yet oddly normal. I can’t say I liked any of the characters in particular – in fact, I found the two central characters, Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop, a little unlikeable – but there’s something in the characters which makes them… empathetic? Wes Anderson has a reputation for making films that are quirky but charming, and I’d say Moonrise Kingdom is a good example of that. (I should go watch his other movies…) Oh, and though I’m not familiar with much of Benjamin Britten’s music, the pieces featured in the movie were rather good.

Ooku (2010) –
Interesting premise that fell flat. Ooku is based on an ongoing manga and the story takes place in an alternate 18th century Japan, a Japan where a disease has decimated the country’s male population thus causing a reversal in gender roles – the women take control, and the men become commodities. It revolves around a man from a poor family who decides to join the shogun’s harem in an attempt to help his family. Naturally, he rises to the notice of the lady shogun, but not before making friends and enemies amongst the rest of the harem. I got bored really quickly. Nothing of any real interest occurred – everything went exactly as expected. Zzz.

Mulan (2009) – ★★★½
Not the Disney Mulan. This is Jingle Ma’s live-action version, starring Vicki Zhao. It was actually better than I expected. The basic story is the same – war is brewing, the Emperor summons every family to send a representative, Mulan takes her father’s place and then proceeds to rise in the ranks most unexpectedly. The ending was bittersweet, but appropriate to the character and this version of the story. I have no problems at all with Disney’s version of Mulan (it’s one of my favourite Disney films), but the same happy ending for this film would not have worked. So on a critical level, I’m satisfied with the ending.

Casino Royale (2006) – ★★★
Yeah. Took me a long while to get around to watching this. haha
It’s certainly one of the better Bond films (not that I’ve seen many). I prefer the look of Sean Connery’s Bond or Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, but then those two gave off a distinctly “fictional” feel. Storybook spy, kinda. Daniel Craig’s Bond is more rugged and “real,” which works for the story and the overall feel of the film. (It’s a bit like Nolan’s version of Batman compared to Tim Burton’s version – the older one is more stylised and fantastic, the newer one places more emphasis on being “realistic” and gritty.) But it had a solid story – although I did get slightly confused with the villains at one point – and actual character development. So thumbs up to Casino Royale. Wonder if I’ll get around to seeing Skyfall in cinemas. Hm.

2046 (2004) – ★★
I found this… rather too long. The way it jumped back and forth between the main storyline about the writer, Chow (played by Tony Leung), and his sci-fi story about the man from the future was confusing and took a while for me to grasp. Even the main storyline jumped  to and fro a bit between his past and present, so that just made it even more confusing. It wasn’t a very happy story either – mainly going on about Chow and his relationships with other women after he lost Su Lizhen (the movie is a sequel to In the Mood for Love). And he’s no Steve Rogers, that’s for sure. The movie felt very sombre, with an emphasis on the loneliness of humans in the city, which seems to be a trait of Wong Kar-wai’s films (of which I’ve seen three – In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and 2046). The gloomy, unhappy feel plus the length just didn’t do 2046 any favours.

Chungking Express (1994) – ★★★
Another Wong Kar-wai film. I watched this before I watched 2046. Probably a good thing. If I’d seen 2046 first, I might have just left Chungking Express for another day.
Chungking Express has two separate stories which are only linked by the presence of a snack bar that the main characters in both stories frequent. The main characters are two policemen, Cops 223 and 663 (one played by a strikingly handsome Kaneshiro Takeshi, and the other by Tony Leung, who also looks pretty good. haha) who have been dumped by their girlfriends. While much lighter in tone compared to In the Mood for Love and 2046, I still felt like this film was on the serious side in the way it turned the focus on loneliness and the lengths some people will go to for love and companionship.

Akira (1988)
Akira is another of those films that one hears of a lot, especially in animation circles. Well, I hated it. It was violent and there were some surreal-ish sequences, which made me dislike it all the more. I also saw no real merit in the character design or animation style. It looked and felt very “1980s anime”. The story is supposed to be groundbreaking or something. Maybe it was back then, but seeing it through “contemporary eyes”, I don’t find it very groundbreaking at all. The grimness and the violence was just too much. I was glad when it was over. Now I can tell people, “Yes, I saw Akira. And I hated it.”

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) – ★★½
Judy Garland! Christmas! A musical! Also, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” makes its debut in this film? haha I didn’t find the story riveting – it’s mainly about a girl trying to attract the interest of the boy next door. But hey, at least it wasn’t mired in gloom.

Top Hat (1935) – ★★
I watched this because we’re going to see the stage version in London later this month. :P
It stars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and so it’s obviously all about the dancing. Story was okay – about romance, and the problems caused by mistaken identities – but yes, the focus was very much on the dancing. And the dancing was good. Fred Astaire is always good at that. Apart from that… I can’t say I was very interested in the movie.

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Ratings:
5 stars = “Really really liked it and would watch it again without hesitation.”
4 stars = “Really liked it.”
3 stars = “Liked it.” or “Didn’t really like it, but it was a good movie.”
2.5 stars = “It was ok”
2 stars = “Meh. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it.”
1 star = “Forgettable/Boring/Not interesting.”
0 star at all = “Not even worth thinking about.” Or, “I dislike it so much that I am unable to think rationally about it.”

 

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