It’s been so long since I’ve last made a blog entry that I can barely work my way around wordpress’ newfangled layout. Stupid changes. No one likes change. And, I’d like, at this point, to be able to cite a multitude of reasons for not posting a review in months, but, the honest truth is, I’ve worked up such a vast list of films to write reviews for I ended up not writing a single one and just vegged out on episodes of Community instead. It’s also became painfully clear that someone is parodying my life in the form of Abed, except that I’m not Asian and I have better taste in movies than him. Although Kickpuncher is a classic, no doubt.
<Chest slap/hi five>
Anyway, that’s enough of my standard deviating-away-from-a-film-review-to-write-nonsense spiel and onto the review. Huzzah. So, you all remember back at the turn of the 21st century when everyone was into Asian movies again, right? Well Takashi Miike was making some of the best/coolest/weirdist shit around then. There was Visitor Q made for no money on DV-cam and painfully disturbing – lactating breasts being spayed all over the place, anyone? – The tone-perfect The Happiness of the Katakuris, a full-on Zombie musical with appropriate comedy gore and faux cheerfulness. And, of course, the, well, how to put this? The twisted, fucked up genius of Ichi the Killer. I’ve yet to see a credit sequence that can top cum being dispelled from the main character’s dick and thus subsequently morphing into the title of the movie. Beat that Michael Bay. (No pun intended) And the list goes on and on with strange, strange movies. So anyone familiar with Miike’s work wouldn’t expect the beauty and humility of 13 Assassins. Not to diss Miike work at all, but this film doesn’t need any of the weird or controversial gimmicks of previous movies because it’s just so amazingly fantastic. Akira Kurosawa was one of the first of a small bunch of directors who I became completely obsessed by. He made some of the great Samurai films; Yojimbo, Sanjuro and, the brilliant, Seven Samurai. And I wouldn’t hesitate to put 13 Assassins in that company. It has everything a great Samurai movie needs. From fantastic acting and interesting characters, right up to great storytelling- storytelling that starts with a slow pace and builds into a climatic and mesmerizing final battle. It’s a genre film with little faults to no faults at all. If you like Samurai movies you will love this.
Marks out of ten – Nine
Anyone who knows me will attest to my love of William James Murray, or just plain Bill to his friends. I could watch any film with him in, I even saw Garfield at the cinema as is my love for the great man (I didn’t see Garfield 2. That would’ve just been plain silly) So, and I can remember this quite clearly even though it was released here back in January 2004, I was standing on a platform waiting to catch the tube to some charming place and there, in front of my eyes, was a poster for Lost in Translation. It was magnificent. Okay, it was just Bill Murray sitting on a bed, but I was in love. I later found out that it also starred Scarlett Johansson, whom I had thought was fantastic in Ghost World, and so I started counting down the days until it’s release. Praying it didn’t disappoint. Hint; it doesn’t.
The story revolves around Bill and Scarlett being alone in Tokyo at the same period of time, and, in a somewhat unlikely fashion, they become friends, and possibly more. I could gush on about the wonderful direction, the beautiful photography and great soundtrack for an age, but I’ll try not to. Sofia Coppola, who had just the one previous film on her CV before this, The Virgin Suicides, does a remarkable job of allowing us to believe the relationship Bill and Scarlett are forming is real and not manufactured for a film. It seems entirely natural. The pair have great chemistry and Bill gets to show off some of his typically wonderful dead pan stylings. Everything in this movie works for me, it’s exactly the type of movie I love; it’s fairly minimalistic in it’s approach and it doesn’t get bogged down trying to tell a complex story, it’s just about a bunch of different people occupying a city at the same time & this is what happened. And, of course, there’s the ending, ah the ending, I wonder what was said….
See this movie if you haven’t already. It’s one of the best from the 21st century.
Marks out of ten – Nine
Reason to live number one; all the unwatched Ozu films. I don’t need to write any more.
Marks out of ten – Nine
One needs to view this movie in the same way you would handle a precious flower, with great tenderness, care and attention. It’s perfectly possible for one to allow this picture to be destroyed by expecting too much. It’s an incredibly subtle, and ultimately sad, depiction of family life and the human condition. It doesn’t need to be repeated that this is one of the finest movies ever made, but, in case of any confusion, it really is magnificent. It’s the kind of movie that cannot date, it’s subject will still be relevant in any period of time and herein lies it’s greatness.
Marks out of ten – Ten