Tag Archives: Review

Friday Film Club: Big Game + Creepshow 2


Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Elwood’s Pick – Big Game (2014)

Big Game

Despite being the most expensive film to be produced in Finland with a budget of $10 million this also a film which for whatever reason seemed to disappear as quick as it appeared on the release radar leaving me entering into this film with a sense of trepidation, especially when compared to Rare Exports which it seemed the blogging community were keen to discuss unlike this film which no one seemed to be talking about. Thankfully I shouldn’t have worried as Helander once again has delivered a film which is similar to Rare Exports in so many ways as Helander gives us his take on the action genre with Air Force One shot down by terrorists and President Moore’s (Samuel L. Jackson) only hope of survival lies with the 13 year old Oskari (Tommila) who is on a hunting mission to prove his maturity to his kinsfolk, only not to find himself instead aiding the President to escape the terrorists now hunting them.

While the action might be kept to the most part to the mountain side we do get the obligatory cuts to the pentagon crisis room were an enjoyable Victor Garber does a lot of hand wringing as the vice president and Jim Broadbent basically steals every scene he’s in as the head of the Terrorist Intel Unit while somehow managing to make a sandwich last the whole film, let alone showing a rare darker side we haven’t seen since Art School Confidential and one I would love to see more of. Yes at time these scenes can feel like throw away exposition but thankfully they do lead up to something bigger by the finale in a rather shocking twist that comes seemingly out of nowhere.

As with Rare Exports its hard to say who exactly the audience is for this film and with such a strange family adventure vibe running throughout the film, combined with Helander’s general refusal to commit to any one tone I’ve found myself referring to this as a “Starter Action Movie”. The kind of movie you could show the kids as a gateway into the genre before you show them the Schwarzenegger / Stallone / Van Damme classics. More so when this film is free of the usual bad language and ultra-violence you might not want to expose the kids to, still if we can have starter horror movies why not the same for action movies?

Kim’s Pick – Creepshow 2 (1987)


Based on stories by Stephen King, Creepshow 2 is a sequel of the 1982 horror anthology film, Creepshow. Originally scripted with 5 stories like its predecessor, the final film includes 3 stories: Old Chief Wood’nhead, The Raft and The Hitchhiker. From wooden Native American chief coming alive to a floating oil-like blob in a middle of nowhere lake to a hitchhiker’s haunting a woman who killed him in a hit and run incident, this anthology also inserts an animated story of a paperboy reading an issue of Creepshow and having an individual story that links and transitions each of these stories. There is a charming transition from real life to animation as well as the fun introduction and inserts of The Creep.

The first story to kick off the anthology is Old Chief Wood’nhead which tells the story of the Spruces couple who runs a store in the Native American territory and as they lend money to an elder from the tribe out of good deed, they are robbed by said elder’s nephew, Sam who ends up committing a bad deed that results in awakening the wooden Native American chief who goes to hunt him and his friends down. Sam is the first familiar face, played by Holt McCallany and probably best known nowadays for his role as Bill Tench in Netflix Series Mindhunters.

The second story, The Raft, is the best of the batch and follows a lot of the 80s horror style with four college students who go to a desolate lake for a swim when they reach a raft in the middle and realize they are being hunted by an oil-like blob floating on the surface which results in some gruesome endings. Satisfying and well-executed in both its style and storyline and especially its finale.

The last story, The Hitchhiker is a more psychological horror experience following an unfaithful wife rushing home before her husband to accidentally hit a hitchhiker and then escapes the scene to find that she is being haunted by him as he repeats “Thanks for the ride, lady” and she attacks him over and over to get rid of him. Bordering between psychological or paranormal, this one has some well-timed jumpscares and a lovely twist and also questions who you root for seeing as the main female character did kill the hitchhiker in the first place.

Creepshow 2 is a fun little 80s horror comedy romp. All three stories have very fantastic little twists to them and highlight a different horror subgenre. Under the co-screenplay efforts of George A. Romero and adapting the stories of Stephen King and directed by Michael Gornick, it all comes together in atmosphere and style really well.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

The Bling Ring – Elwood’s Take

Is it a sign of the current state of society that this is now the second film I’ve seen now based on a magazine article a trend which started with Pain and Gain and with this being the second. Still thankfully this is far from dumb film making, even if its subjects are far from the sharpest tools in the shed as director Sofia Coppola continues her on going obsession with celebrity in its various forms with her fifth film, which this time draws inspiration from the Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” about the titular Bling Ring; a group of celebrity obsessed teens who broke into the houses of celebrities, stealing cash, clothes and jewellery and whom over the course of their crime spree stole in excess of $3 million in cash and belongings.

Shooting from a stand-off perspective here Coppola chooses to play observer rather than making the audience part of the gang, more so as their criminal activities continue to spiral out of control. Needless to say its only a matter of time before the group begin to enjoy perhaps a little too much the faux celebrity lifestyle they have carved out for themselves from their burglaries or from selling on the items they choose to not keep for themselves. Still what sets this film apart from the numerous true life crime dramas is the brazen stupidity of the group in question, for these high schoolers don’t don disguises or balaclavas and frequently brag to their friends about their exploits while posting pictures of themselves posing with their ill gotten gains over Facebook, so that it’s only essentially a matter of time before the law catches up with them, with of course the big question of course being just how long it will take before they come unstuck .

Making up the group we have ring leader and wannabe fashionista Rebecca (Chang), whose choice of fashion school only seemingly stretches as far as where there girls off “The Hills” go. New kid at school and Rebecca’s chief partner in crime Marc (Broussard) wants a lifestyle brand, while the trio of Nicki (Watson), younger sister Emily (Rock) aswell as Nicki’s best friend and adopted sister Sam (Farmiga) are home-schooled in lessons torn from the self-help bestseller (And general universe botherer) “The Secret” by their new age mum (Leslie Mann), which perhaps along with their already spoiled and care-free lifestyle might explain their lust (like the rest of the group) for celebrity.

Despite sketching out the group members with quick strokes and minimal focus on detail, what Coppola surprisingly does here is essentially tell us everything we need to know about these essentially shallow individuals, without any unneeded padding or attempts at trying to figure out what makes them tick, especially when all this group cares about is what can be seen on the surface even more so when their aspirations are soon so focused on fueling their faux celebrity lifestyle, especially as their become increasingly lax with their criminal activities, while flashing their cash and generally hovering up coke. Like with Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers this is youth lived through excess and little much of a damn being given to the consequences of their actions, as they continue to fuel their own self-delusions.

Once more Coppola shows herself as a highly visual director, with each of the heists taking on their own style, from the single sustained wide shot of reality star Audrina Patridge’s home being raided as Marc and Rebecca work their way through it room by room. Elsewhere she takes a more voyeuristic trip around the rooms of Paris Hilton’s mansion which was actually shot on location, taking in the excess and trappings of wealth that the group so badly crave, as she shoots the scene like a criminally charged edition of Through The Key Hole. Elsewhere the crimes are followed via google earth and TMZ reports, while occasionally cutting away to an insight from one of the key players in this scheme often accompanied by them trying to place more of the blame on another group member, especially in the case of Nikki who frequently tries to play for the sympathy of the public, while trying to portray the image of a good girl lead astray, when the truth couldn’t be more different.

The cast assembled here while largely unknown with the exception of Watson and Chang, they still manage to give a highly believable performance as this group, while I would have to also at the same disagree with the exaggerated praise which Watson has received for her role here, which essentially just build on what she started with the irritating “Perks of Being A Wallflower” and as such see’s her once again trying to play against the Hermione role she has become so synonymous with, by exhibiting general low level bad girl behavior, while far from doing anything to stand above the rest of the cast with Chang for myself being by far the strongest player here, from the devious looks she flashes to Marc as she randomly breaks into cars, to steal left behind cash and jewellery, to her frequently cool demeanor as she attempts to escape to Vegas and pin the blame on her fellow group members.

The downside to the film though is that Coppola gets so caught up in the robberies and the downward spiral of the group, that when it comes to the sentencing it feels rather rushed, with no desire it would seem to focus on the aftermath of these events, outside of a brief catch up. Something which might be frustrating to some, especially when it leaves the focus of the film being kind of limited in scope, but nevertheless this is still another strong movie from Coppola even if it might not be her strongest work to date, it is still an engrossing watch while also providing an interesting statement on celebrity driven youth and the allure of the celebrity lifestyle.

Friday Film Club: Zombieland + Stoker


Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Zombieland (2009)


Even back in the end of the 2000s, Zombie horror has already been plentiful. Paved before by George A. Romero and the Living Dead franchise or Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later evening landing on something more similar to Zombieland in the UK called Shaun of the Dead. Horror and comedy isn’t a rare combination and yet, zombie horror comedy is one that works so very well and yet again proved when Ruben Fleischer’s feature film directorial debut is a movie about four people of all ages that end up surviving together in this post-apocalyptic USA filled with zombies which all started from mad cow disease morphed into “mad person disease” and infected the world when these mad people turned into zombies.

Zombie films are been there and done that and while a lot of these segments are quite familiar. Zombieland stands out because of its four characters and how its able to maintain the very fun and light-hearted tone throughout the film with humor that hits a lot of the times. This dark humor sprouts also from the witty dialogue from these four and their wildly different personalities and the fact that the audience only knows them by where they come from.

Jesse Eisenberg takes on his normal role of his 2000s where he plays an awkward college boy called Columbus who is weak and fairly useless except because of his scaredy-cat personality, he has made up a ton of rules which become a pushing force throughout the movie. He’s not supposed to survive this long but being over-zealous about protecting himself has gotten him this far until of course, meeting Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee who is an older man with a lot more bravery and recklessness and is double the man that Columbus is. Tallahassee is the bombtastic character that adds so much flair to this story. Of course, the mighty will also fall for the young and weak damsel in distress game when this is how Emma Stone’s Wichita and her little sister Abigail Breslin’s Little Rock join their party. Nothing bonds a group like some connery.

With the sequel of Zombieland hitting theatres, it’s the perfect time to revisit this film from 10 years ago. Zombieland is a solid zombie film outing with a hilarious cameo from Bill Murray and a fantastic ragtag team including Michael Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and of course, Woody Harrelson. The four playing characters which no doubt, for fans of the film leaves great impressions.

Elwood’s Pick – Stoker (2013)


There is always going to be a certain amount of hesitation whenever  one of the heavy hitters of foreign cinema decides to make a stab at the English speaking market, especially when there is the prospect of their style not translating to a Western audience, let alone the inevitable meddling from studio bosses. A fate which has sadly befallen many a great director with Guillermo del Toro’s  Mimic certainly being a prime example of such meddling. Park Chan-Wook throws his directing hat into the international directing ring, after wowing us previously with his Vengeance trilogy, which included the soon to be (unnecessary) remade Oldboy, while he also showed us a lighter and more playful side with the sadly overlooked I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK which he made for his daughter. Both showcased his visual flair with frequent love for unconventional plot points, such as the sign language sex scene in Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance.  Needless to say I was curious to see how his style would translate, while equally interested to see if his style would be forced to be toned back to suit a western audience.

Thankfully Chan-Wook fans can rest assured that he has lost none of his visual flair in the transition from his native Korea, with this Hitchcock influenced tale on which India Stoker (Wasikowska) solitary and privileged life is thrown into a tailspin by the death of her father Richard (Mulroney). Now left with her estranged and mildly unstable mother Evelyn (Kidman), who upon meeting Richard’s charming and charismatic brother Charlie (Goode) at the funeral invites him to stay with them, unaware of the secrets he is hiding.

Okay at this point I probably have said too much about this film, as this is certainly one best seen blind. True this is no easy feat these days were information is but a mouse click away. I will also state right now that there is a high chance of spoilers ahead so consider yourself warned.  So save yourself now and go watch what is possibly one of the more original and rewarding releases of 2013

While perhaps not as good as some of his previous films perhaps due to it being the first film which Chan-Wook hasn’t written himself, it is none the less a positive start for his first venture into the English language market, while certainly giving us one of the more interesting films of the year.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story

Is there a point were you outgrow boy bands? This is just one of several questions posed by director Jessica Leski in her debut film as she attempt to explore not only the appeal of boy bands but also what sparks such devotion in their fanbases. This she achieves by following four intergenerational women who all consider themselves to be obsessed fans of their chosen boy band.

First up we have Elif who s the youngest of the particpants and an obsessed One Direction fan to the point were she went viral when a video of her breaking down during the announcement of their concert DVD was posted online. Next we have Daria an obsessed Take That fan, we also have Sadia representing the fans of the Backstreet Boys and finally we have Susan who at 64 and still an obsessed Beatles fan even being one of horde of Beatles fans who descended on Southern Cross during their tour of Australia. Each of them bring something different to the table and as their stories unfold especially with what the bands mean to them and the effect they had on their lives.

Starting off with a charming feeling of innocence as each of the women talk about how they discovered their chosen boy band and what it was which sparked their interest which unsurprisingly stems from them finding one of the members cute accompanied by charming animated sequences playing out their fantasies with the members which range from Elif playing tag with Zayn to Sadia being taught how to swim by Nick. How they choose to celebrate their favourite boybands though is were the film really gets interesting especially for the likes of Daria and Sadia whose Xenial fandom antics have a fun nostalgic glow to them with Sadia talking about sending out a Backstreet Boys News letter using the family e-mail or Daria living out in sticks passing time at the weekend obsessionally learning the dance routines off a concert video incase she should ever be called up to stand in for one of the members. Compared to Elif who with the power of the internet can speak to her fellow Directoners all over the world to track their every movement to the point were they refer to them as “Their Boys”

At the other end of the spectrum Susan and her Beatles obsession provides another interesting angle to the film, especially when looking through her memorabilia collection and seeing how much of it is replicated over the years with band being swapped out for the latest chart topper. However while the boybands might be changed out over the decades Leski skips over the controversy that the bands suffered or how their break up instead choosing to present them in the same perfect light their fans view them in even though it does feel like a missed opportunity to see how Zayn leaving One Direction effected Elif and how Daria was effect by any of the major scandals which rocked her fanbase from Robbie Williams leaving, their controversial image change or her beloved Gary from Take That being caught up with his fellow members in an off shore banking scandal.

Thanks to choosing such fascinating and knowledgable subjects for her film Leski is able to avoid any use of voice over or cut aways to pop culture experts and psychologists and instead lets the quartet compile their stories in their own word soley even having Daria breakdown the boy band formula from what sort of roles the band members have to play and styling requirements which when laid out on the white board is actually kind of surprising to see how they all fall into the template she has just laid out.

Interestingly the film spends the last half hour of the film five years on from when Leski began following the woman and in doing so find many of them having entered into a phase of transition away from the boy band obsessions with a trip on the Backstreet boys cruise…..yes that is actually a thing and Leski has the footage to prove it! However for Sadia it’s almost a wake up call for their biggest fan as faced with a mirror vision of herself x1000 she realises that there is more for to achieve on her own including learning to swim. Elif also finding herself in a similar situation as with her parents refusing to let her pursue music at college also kills her love for One Direction to be replaced with a love for Jazz. Ultimately the documentary ends in a good place for all four of the participants though the same can’t be said for their fan status but despite this the documentary maintains the sweet tone which carries throughout the film as Leski clearly isn’t trying to judge any of the fans but more understand what drives their obsessions.

One of the great things about documentaries is the ability to take a subject and turn it into the most surprisingly engrossing experience and certainly Leski’s film does exactly that as for those of us who were never part of the boyband hysteria are given an insiders view while providing a sense of nostalgia for the devoted. Regardless of if your a boyband fan or not this is a facinating look at fandom in it’s purest form.

Rating: 4 / 5

Friday Film Club – Balto + Kitten With A Whip


Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Balto (1995)


Loosely based on the true story of a dog of the same name who helped save children in Alaska, Balto has some live action scenes in Central Park of an elderly woman recounting his story and what makes Balto a hero. Most of the movie aside from the beginning and ending is animated filled with not only a group of sled dogs in Alaska but also with a Russian goose called Boris and polar bear brothers Muk and Luk who are terrified of water and of course, Balto who is an outcast and expected to be dangerous because he is half Husky and half wolf. An unexpected grouping but an effectively funny one that gives it the cute and fun adventure with a bit of drama.

Balto is a family adventure animated film. At the same time, it has those added elements of romance between Balto and Jenna where Jenna’s affection is trying to be won over by the top dog called Steele who doesn’t want to admit defeat when he fails at bringing home the medicine to save the children in Nome during the storm. It is a story of triumph, danger, friendship and romance. At the same time, Balto is a character that has to learn to embrace his own differences and use those differences as what helps him to succeed in this journey. Its an inspiring little animated film.

Voiced by some great talent like Kevin Bacon as Balto, Bridget Fonda as Jenna, Bob Hoskins as Steele and Jim Cummings as both Muk and Luk, there’s a lot to love about this film as they bring on some great fun times and totally one that didn’t get its recognition as its release collided with the much more successful Toy Story but that doesn’t stop the greatness that this animated film deserves.

Elwood’s Pick – Kitten With A Whip (1964)


Despite the S&M title this home invasion thriller is alot less sleazy than the title would have you believe as Ann-Margaret in an attempt to rebrand herself as a serious actor stars as the young runaway Jody who breaks into the house of upcoming politician David (John Forsythe) while his wife is out of town. Initially he attempts to help the young girl as he buys her new clothes and puts her on the bus with money to help her out. Unfortunately for David she just turns up at his house again not only refusing to leave but also bringing with her a group of beatniks who only further throw David’s life into chaos.

For fans of MST3K this might already be a familiar title seeing how it received their peanut gallery treatment but enjoyed in its original form this is actually a pretty effective thriller especially during its first half with David trying to be the good person while Jody soon is revealed to be hiding more than her share of dark secrets and soon is threatening to damage David’s political aspirations by twisting the reality of their situation.

While the first half of the film is fantastic thanks to the strong chemistry between the two leads which is a little lost once Jody’s friends turn up including amatuer philosepher Ron (Peter Brown) and quick to anger Grant (Richard Anderson) and turn the situation from mind games to more physical threats all while you wonder if Beatniks are worse than Hippies as certainly Ron and his musing certainly make you wonder who buys into this tosh. Thankfully you the unclear allegiance of Jody keeps things interesting as your never sure if she trying to help David or if it’s another of her mind games. When we get to the finale the film also randomly shifts location to Tijuana in search of a shady doctor though it really seems to be just an excuse to work in some light titillation via a burlesque club which has nothing to do with the plot as we build to a climactic car chase.

Despite being MST3K fodder this is still a fun throw away watch with some fun twists even if it loses its way in the second half it’s brisk runtime and tight pacing means that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club – Tigers Are Not Afraid + The Descent: Part 2


Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where each week Kim and myself highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)


Finally getting a theatrical release on the big screen after two years going through film festivals and earning praise from both Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a Mexican fairytale, most often compared to Pan’s Labyrinth with similar tones set in an upsetting reality of the drug wars in Mexico with five orphaned children grouped together to find hope in its dark fairytale of being granted three wishes except all wishes come with its own set of consequences.

Tigers Are Not Afraid pulls together five orphaned children. As we see the main girl Estrella who comes home from school to find her mother is missing, she escapes to the street to eventually find El Shine, a young boy also surviving on the streets with a few other little boys and joins up with them. Hiding on rooftops and alleyways, they strive to survive day by day until one day Shine steals a cell phone belonging to a member of the drug cartel and discovers its contents. As the thug chases after them, the mystery of what is on the cell phone and  desperate situations making Estrella consider using her wishes despite the outcome of the first one. For their survival, this group of kids have to make tough decisions to stay alive.

Issa Lopez, as both director and screenwriter, shows off both great command behind the camera as well her sharp storytelling skills as she tells this dark fairytale. Choosing children with zero acting experience prior to this film and shooting this film in chronological order without showing them the script to capture their genuine reactions, also gives it an edge as the children all capture both their naivety as children but also what the dangerous reality has caused some of them to grow up quickly. Leading the group is El Shine played by Juan Ramon Lopez and Estrella played by Paola Lara who deserve a lot of credit for their heavier roles. With urban legends of hand-drawn tigers running around the scene and being given three wishes, tigers has their own symbol here and meshes into a beautifully touch but tough to watch story of children caught in the drug wars and fairytales that both give them hope but have some costly consequences.

If you didn’t catch this film during its festival circuits, it is definitely worth it to check it out at theatres or at least keep it on your radar.

Elwood’s Pick – The Descent: Part 2


The Descent was never a film I particularly warmed to despite many critics rushing to herald Neil Marshall as an exciting new voice in horror, even though the original film was much more effective when it was following it’s all female group of cavers trying to find a way out the cave system than when the horror elements kicked in with the whole experience feeling like a poor rehash of the superior What Waits Below. However when it comes to the sequel directed by editor Jon Harris for what is still his sole directing credit here we have a sequel which surpasses the original.

Set two days after the events of the first film with Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) left traumatised and with no memories of what happened. Now recruited by the local shrieff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) to lead a rescue team back into the cave to find the missing members of her group only to soon find themselves being hunted by the Crawlers whose lair they must once more enter.

Wisely ramping up the action than trying to replicate the first film, this in turn makes for a much more fun ride as the group soon find themselves split up after their first encounter with the crawlers and faced with a battle back to the service with caving equipment once more getting put to some very creative uses thanks to the gore quota being ramped up which in turn lends itself to some memorable moments throughout.

Increasing the cave sets from 18 to 30 means we get to explore the world of the Crawlers a lot more in this film, with Harris giving us subtle clues of how their subterranean society works including were they choose to go to the bathroom as Sarah and Deputy Sheriff Elen (Krysten Cummings) get to unfortunately discover for themselves. Much like the first film these sets look fantastic and hard to distinguish from an actual cave system meaning that the feeling of claustrophobia that the first film really nailed.

If like myself you skipped out on this sequel after the first film, this is a film well worth giving a watch, even if you never saw the original as the plot is easy to pick up especially when the film gives you all you need to know in the opening five minutes so why give yourself another reason to never go caving.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Round Up

The Blade Licking Thieves #54 – The Guys revisit the anime adapation of the arcade classic Fatal Fury

The Asian Cinema Film Club #31 see’s Elwood and Stephen checking out Sammo Hung’s take on The Dirty Dozen while finding time to tap into his inner Rambo as he joins a host of Hong Kong legends as a group of convict soldiers are sent to Vietnam to destroy a secret Ammo dump.

The Feminine Critique – Emily and Christine check out Karyn Kusama’s 2018 crime thriller Destroyer aswell as social media slashers, the subgenre of ghostiness that began with Insidious, 2010’s infuriating Legion, and a glorious mid-dive into Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason Lives

If your yet to discover The Anime Nostalgia Podcast and are a fan of old school anime host provides a fantastic look back at some classic and forgotten anime titles, while even finding the time to solve the mystery of Miami Mike

Elwood recently got to guest on the Blueprint: Review Podcast along with Jason Soto (of the Maniac With a Machete podcast) to discuss the upcoming home releases aswell as reviews of The Incident and Enter the Anime.

If your yet to check out Kim’s debut on The Lambcast #491 make sure you do now as the roundtable discussion looks at Hobbs and Shaw

Lost In Translation – Elwood’s Take

After the success of The Virgin Suicides for her follow up Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from her father filming a real Suntory whiskeycommercial with Akira Kurosawa in the 1970’s as she crafts a tale which is not only a love letter to Tokyobut also one of two lost souls in a city were neither of them speak the language while generally confounded by the world around them leaving them to dwell on their own personal issues. Certainly it’s hardly the sort of film you would expect to turn into a huge hit for Coppola not only with critics but more surprisingly with the general movie going audiences who for some reason really warmed to the film.

Writing the film with Bill Murray in mind, Coppola was so set on him taking the role that she even considered scrapping the film if he turned it down. Murray however had replaced his talent agency with an automated voice mailbox with a number that he reportedly only gives out sparingly. However thanks to her friend and frequent Murray-collaborator Wes Anderson she managed to get the number and set about bombarding his mailbox with messages before he finally called her back to discuss the film. Even when he agreed to star in the film it was only a verbal confirmation and Anderson assuring her that he was a man of his word and would turn up which much to her relief when he landed in Tokyo the week before filming commenced.

Here Murray really gives a more is less performance and the kind which he’s seemingly been trying to recapture since and while it’s a departure from his usual comedic style marking arguably on his second dramatic performance but it’s one which really works here, especially when Coppola’s script allows for a large amount of improvisation especially during scenes such as the photoshoot which have a great flow to them. At the same time he carries with the character a real world weary sense to him as he takes this commercial perhaps seeing it as one of the few remaining opportunities to cash in on his rapidly fading star, if not aswell to escape his equally problematic home life as he deals with constant faxes from his wife about her decorating plans for his office, while she clearly has no grasp on how time zones work.

Seeing a “Young Lauren Bacall-type girl” in Scarlett Johansson here effortlessly makes her transition into an adult actor as she is approaching her own lost situation as the opposite end of the spectrum being newly graduated and now facing a loss of direction as her friends are grounded with kids, while her husband John (Ribishi) is so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t really notice his wife’s needs, leaving her in the hotel room were she passes the time attempting to make the room more of a home, doing her make up and casual smoking. Of course this ethereal like presence that Charlotte has is really the sort of the character that Johansson really excels at playing.

While there are more than a few critics including Coppola herself who see this as a romantic movie the film never feels like that kind of film as here we are given a film which is as much of a travelogue with Sofia working in her favourite Tokyo locations as it is just a film about two strangers finding a surprising friendship out of a chance meeting. This in turn makes it far from the easiest film to sell people on as it’s a film essentially about two people having conversations and visiting interesting places and that’s about it. There are no dramatic plot lines, villainous characters or obstacles to over come apart from the ones which have seemingly caused them to find themselves in the rut they initially find themselves in.

Reuniting with Cinematographer Lance Accord who she worked with on her first short film Lick The Star and here really helps Coppola capture the magic and spirit of Tokyo as she showcases the blending of tradition with pop culture as the film takes in shrines and panoramic views from hotel rooms which are blended with the street level view as Bob and Charlotte visit hip night clubs and karaoke bars as it feels that Coppola is trying to work in as many elements of this city she love so much. The decision to shoot on film only adds to this experience despite her father pushing her to shoot digital believing it to be the future. Here by choosing to go against his advice the film really retains that surreal like quality and warmth that digital struggles to retain.

Even now this remains a fiercely original vision and unquestionably the film which marked her out as a director of note rather than just being the daughter of her famous father. Even now it’s a film which has really been replicated despite the efforts of the Mumblecore movement.