September 25, 2009

Surrogates (2009)

2.5 meh's on the heh scale. Coulda used more mannequin sex. Creepy Bruce Willisequin still looks like he's just dying to yippie kai yay motherfucker all over thems puppet's asses. Also the hot blonde that ends up being a fat unshaved duded with 'his dick in his hand' was priceless.

Memories (2004)

This collection of shorts from writer Katsuhiro Otomo, of Akira fame, is widely considered uneven, with the first part, 'Magnetic Rose' generally considered the best out of the three. With a script by Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika), it is easy to understand why Magnetic Rose would be considered the strongest part. It has all the characteristics of a Studio 4°C / Satoshi Kon work, complete with descent into madness and confusion towards the end. While I liked Magnetic Rose, I also enjoyed the 2 other parts, finding them a good balance to the somber oneirism of the first part. Stink Bomb, which can only be described as a whimsical holocaust ride across Japan, is eerily political and light-hearted at once, while Canon Fodder, an Orwellian 1984esque piece that is designed to look like 1 long take, makes for some great steampunk material. So while Magnetic Rose and Stink Bomb work well at their current lengths, I find I would have enjoyed a full length feature of Canon Fodder, especially since there is so little plot that is revealed in the short, and since I enjoyed the animation style (which is distinct than the other two works) so much. Overall another great Studio 4°C work.

Arīte Hime (Princess Arete) (2001)

Princess Arete starts off as a pretty standard princess-in-a-tower-waiting-for-suitors-type story, but promptly delves into a non-classical plot, involving the economics and political balance of keeping her in the tower, the psychological effects this has on her and her ways of dealing with it and ultimately, the feminist aspects of her captivity as she is being released from the tower only to be put in a dungeon. Overall the film is imbued with meaning, and while it might not be the most entertaining work (on the surface it seems like a lesser Miyazaki immitation), it certainly is successful in making some well aimed comments about society's treatment and perception of women. The 'princess-in-a-tower' framework gives it a familiar feel that can appeal to young and adult audiences, and the ultimately optimistic outcome without a traditional 'defeat of evil' ending (but rather a 'compassion with evil and understanding of their situation') serves to make it a work that makes us think about the stereotypical boilerplate stories that we've grown with. As always, the Studio 4°C animation fits well with the subject matter, and nicely integrates aesthetic with idea to create one cohesive whole.

Spriggan (1998)

A relatively early work from Studio 4°C but nevertheless one that shows off their skill in adapting the source material to the screen. Overall a rather standard anime plot that develops into a supernatural/metaphysical/(religious?) ordeal. The animation is gorgeous, with exciting action/chase scenes through the streets of Istanbul and the Ararat mountainside which give it a sense of a fast paced Hollywood work in the vein of the Borne movies, especially with the good amount of blood and casualties. Overall enjoyable although at times it seemed the ending was a bit forced, crossing over into the realm of fantasy and abstract whereas for the most part the film was more of an action/adventure fare. Still some good early work from Studio 4°C.