Friday, June 14, 2024

"Ender's Game" (2013)

I read the novel years ago as a child (teen?) and I did enjoy it. Orson Scott Card's intentions with the book I don't think I fully understand. But I remember being pretty floored by the "twist" at the end. I did find it unbelievable all these kids are at battle school to save the entire world, but a lot of "children's" stories have the "one" that saves everyone. But it was unusual it was in an "adult" section of the book store, i.e, science fiction. I remember really enjoying the science fiction/ fantasy section of Paperbacks Unlimited, a store in my town that had all the mass paperbacks that were so common when I was a kid. Now everything is a trade paperback that is $20 or more or some insanely priced hardcover. Back then I could get a book for $4.95 to $$6.95? I was not reading classic literature but perusing the new releases and top ten sections of Gemco or B. Dalton. (I'm dating myself here.) Back to "Ender's Game," I know it's a fraught movie/book because of the author's known homophobia. But I did enjoy the book and I do enjoy watching the movie over and over again on whatever streaming service is running it on. From the lens of today, child warriors is a horrific thought. But it is a compelling idea that is I think pretty well executed given the denseness of the book. The battle school setting, the bullying, the flying around in the zero gravity arena, it's kind of catnip to me. Also the lead Asa Butterfield I think did a good job of being Ender. To be the "One" you have to be likable and I like him. A young Hailee Steinfeld is convincing as the bad ass classmate/love interest. I think the setting the school is well done. Some of the CGI does not hold up in 2024, but for 2013 it was good. Harrison Ford phoning it in as the "Morpheus" character, but he does have the gravitas as a military leader even while phoning it in. I don't remember how the book ends so I'm not sure if it matches what the movie did. If it didn't exactly, it got the idea anyway. I remember reading "Speaker for the Dead" which I think is the sequel but not understanding it very much. I did enjoy "Ender's Game" and continue to rewatch.

Monday, December 25, 2023

"The Secret World of Arrietty"

I find myself rewatching "The Secret World of Arrietty" multiple times. The world of Arrietty is the world of the Borrowers, from books written by Mary Norton. I think I read at least one of these books from the library when I was a kid. This version of the story involves Arrietty, and Sean, a sickly child staying at an old family countryside home to prepare for heart surgery. Arrietty is a spunky Ghilbli heroine who is utterly brave and likable. Sean, the ill human "bean," is a good hearted, lonely boy who just wants to be friends. The relationship of Arrietty's family is healthy and supportive. Arriety is a bit too adventurous, which leads to being discovered by Sean. This puts the Borrowers existence in danger. I am trying to figure out why I like the story. It's not filled with fantastical creatures like in "Spirited Away" or "Princess Mononoke" (although I admit little teeny people are fantastical) but they are just little teeny humans not No-Face creatures or giant magical, trippy elks. This Ghibli movie is just so beautiful. The green colors of the garden and the design of the old, Meiji-era and modern era fusion of a house is almost another character. The Irish-ish music is really unique and is refreshing. The concept of teeny people living amongst us is fun. The difference in physical scale between Arrietty and Sean whenever they interact is perfect. The details about how the Borrowers use our everyday objects like pins and kettles is delightful. Arrietty and Sean have the whisper of a teen romance that is actually very sweet. There isn't much exposition or lore explained, and the ending is rather open ended. But I think that adds a sense of mystery and wonder to the whole story that doesn't dumb anything down. It's a movie that has the wonder of childhood where the backyard is a secret world.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

"Vinland Saga"

Just finished watching "Vinland Saga." I had started watching it earlier, but stopped in the middle. While waiting for the new winter season to start up, I picked it up again on Amazon Prime Video. I ended up finishing the show in almost one day. It's a brutal show mainly about Thorfinn, a young Viking boy, who is out for revenge for the death of his father. It's a sad story really, of a boy who grows up learning to survive on his own in order to kill the man responsible for his beloved father's death. There are many more characters who are equally or even more compelling than Thorfinn, mainly Askeladd, Thorfinn's nemesis/strange mentor. Askeladd has some issues that involve his sad boyhood as well. There is political intrigue, lots of sword fights, lots of flying limbs and blood, and two plot twists I didn't see coming. It actually all reminds me of "Game of Thrones" actually, without the nudity. The end had me hankering for another season, which looks like should be in the works. Sidenote: "Stars Align" was my favorite show last season. But, it had a terrible ending! Basically no ending because, according to Twitter, the studio had to abandon the second half of the story because the show was cancelled! But the creators didn't have time or want to wrap up the show in a rushed the end of the show is a real cliff hanger. Arrghhh! This was an original anime story, so no manga to look up for the ending. I think it would be a miracle for the show to come back, which is a real shame because it had so much potential.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Stars Align -- my favorite anime this season

"Stars Align" is a show I did not expect to enjoy so much. It's about a high school boys soft tennis club (had to look up what soft tennis is). The team basically sucks and the student body president threatens to disband the club if they don't start winning. The captain, Toma, gets his old acquaintance, Maki, who is naturally athletic, to join the team to inject some needed mojo. Maki revitalizes the team with his natural talent at the game and some much needed shaming of the heretofore lazy team members. The tennis is not the most interesting part. It's the backstories of all the team members who all have some type of family situation going on, even delving into some serious issues like child abuse. The animation is really fluid and all the characters are cutely drawn. Although I did find it hard to tell the boys on the team apart since they all have such round faces, but after watching for five episodes I can tell them apart now. It is heartening to see the relationships between the club members blossom as they confide in each other. The subtle expressions and mannerisms that are animated really take this show to another level. Don't forget to watch after the ending credits, there is always an shocking scene. Also, the ending credits have had some press because it turns out some the dancing was "copied" from some dancers on Youtube. The dancers are now credited. I still enjoy watching the ending credits even so. Hope all the show ends well because I look forward to watching this every week.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"The Poe Clan" by Moto Hagio

Just got this in the mail! I love Moto Hagio's style of drawing and bought her other manga available at Fantagraphics.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Utada Hikaru on Netflix!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Natsume Yujin-cho the Movie: Ephemeral Bond Extended Trailer

Hope to see this soon as I can. US premiere at Anime NYC on November 16, 2018 according to the video info.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"Run with the Wind" anime

"Run with the Wind" is an anime about a group of guys at a college "forced" to enter the track and field team and race a prestigious marathon in Hakone. Fourth year Haiji is scrambling to create a track and field team so he can fulfill his dream to run the Hakone Ekiden which is a two day relay marathon. He needs ten members to make a team and he uses free room and board and some psychological pressure to convince the reluctant students to join. One man is especially hard to recruit, Kurahara, who is extremely talented, but carries some type of baggage from his high school track days. It's refreshing to see a show about people older than high school age. The banter between the guys is funny and the character design looks like the guys from "Haikyuu!" It is well animated and at the end of episode four I was hooked on the show. Give it a try.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Off Topic: "Crazy Rich Asians" and other Hollywood Asian movies

Just saw this movie yesterday.  I remember watching "Joy Luck Club" in the theater (so long ago, the theater is demolished now) and crying my eyes out at the end and being embarrassed because I ran into an old high school teacher all red-eyed walking out.  That was the last big Hollywood "Asian" movie with an all Asian cast except for one guy, the guy from "Pretty In Pink."  I remember my mom talking about "Flower Drum Song" and "Sayonara" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" which are other Hollywood "Asian" themed movies.  I don't think Jennifer Jones qualifies as Asian though.  "World of Susie Wong" is a movie I never saw.  I did watch "Better Luck Tomorrow" which was great and "Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift" (lol) also made by the same director Justin Lin.  I know Justin Lin directed one of the new "Star Trek" movies.  I also remember watching "Dim Sum" in a super tiny theater in San Francisco when indie movies were a thing.  Oh yeah I remember watching "Wedding Banquet" in a small SF arthouse theater as well back in the day.  I miss all those indie movies that the old "Siskel and Ebert" movie review show would recommend.  Anyway, I don't know how to process watching this movie.  It was an entertaining rom com which is a genre in a bit of a decline in the age of Marvel movies.  Everyone is gorgeous.  Michelle Yeoh is a queen.  I do admit crying twice in the movie a little bit.  The theater had quite a few Asians in it who laughed and responded at the correct times when you have lived as an Asian in America.  That was a nice experience.  It's not a deep movie, but it doesn't have to be.  It's a fun romance and it doesn't have to be THE ASIAN movie that describes every facet of being Asian American.  Need more Michelle Yeoh though in SOMETHING.   Hmm, do i HAVE to shell out for CBS streaming to watch the new "Star Trek?" Jeez I already have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll, Funimation...

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Off topic: "Jane Eyre" 1983 BBC miniseries

I ran across this little gem on Amazon Prime video.  I recall watching bits of this version while I was a kid in the 80s on PBS but never catching the whole thing.  "Jane Eyre" is one book I had to read in school that I genuinely enjoyed reading (besides "Pride and Prejudice").  I am one of those people that is a big fan of the "Pride and Prejudice" miniseries that ran on A&E channel back in the day with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.  I think this miniseries ranks close to that in my enjoyment of viewing.  The actress who plays the young Jane, Sian Pattenden, is fabulous in her outrage and passion.  She reminded me of Eleven from "Stranger Things" in her looks and acting.  It took me a while to warm up to the quiet acting of Zelah Clarke who plays adult Jane, but when she is onscreen with Timothy Dalton, the quintessential Mr. Rochester, she really lights up the screen.  I think Timothy Dalton nails playing Rochester.  He may be too "good looking" but that doesn't bother me a bit (haha).  He burns up the screen when he rants about his "secret" hidden upstairs when the jig is up and when he tries to convince Jane not to leave at a pivotal moment.  They actually have a popping chemistry together.  Jane's interlude with her cousin St. John Rivers (well played by Andrew Bicknell) and her long consideration and answer to his proposal is also a well done segment of acting.  Anyway, this was an eleven episode (just 30 minutes each) series was a joy to watch.  It may not be in widescreen or high definition, but the acting and writing is a must see for any fan of "Jane Eyre."  Now to watch that adaptation of "A Little Princess" from the 80s...