Celebrating the Top Movies we Enjoyed in 2017

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Oct 012018
 

A year ends come so fast and often we forget to pause and think back at the great movies we enjoyed. It is this thought that takes us back to the best film releases in 2017. Last year was one filled with great documentaries and outstanding blockbusters proving that producers find many new innovative ways to entertain moviegoers.

Dunkirk


When it comes dramatic films about WWII, Dunkirk is the best as Christopher Nolan get moviegoers to relive the evacuation of France’s beaches back in 1941. Fissured between three interwoven perspectives air, sea and land and different time frames, shot in 70mm IMAX, it is the ideal format that offers every viewer an overwhelming experience. Nolan’s portrayal of the war gives little care to the detail of the contextual background or even the characters. Instead, he plunges filmgoers into the chaos submerging several infantrymen including Harry Styles and Fionn Whitehead. Tom Hardy led fighter pilots and commanders such as Kenneth Branagh as well as boatmen. All, of whose cowardice, selfishness and sacrifice, as well as heroism, are shattered into relief by Christopher Nolan’s grand set pieces. Through Dunkirk’s inventive structure, superb staging and towering scale the film melds the macro and micro with a formal daring that is breath-taking, along the way emphasizing the unmatched power of experiencing an epic film.

Lady Macbeth


An adaptation of the 1865 novel by Nikolai Leskov, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and it is clear that “hell hath no fury like a woman beleaguered”. The coiled intensity and a breakout performance of ruthless cunningness, Katherine played by Florence Pugh, is a young woman forced into marriage with the older landlord. His nastiness is only exceeded by that of his authoritarian father played by Christopher Fairbank.

This unwanted union she finds herself in is ubiquitous with problems right from the start, and even though the film uses Shakespeare’s referencing title, its path is not only original but also horrifying. It is a twisted drama based on gender-warfare-issues, rooted in contentious racial issues, employing a meticulous formalism recounting the merciless tale of Katherine’s attempts to attain liberation. The film is refined and placid on the inside yet pitiless and ferocious on the inside.

Wormwood


Wormwood is Errol Morris’s revolutionary hybrid of fictional and non-fiction story-telling-modes, no matter how you look at it, classify it or categorise it, it is 2017s towering cinematic success. It is the second release of 2017 and follows the B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography, a film recounting the twisted Frank Olson saga in 1953. Out of a hotel room in New York City’s window, a biochemist’s death first seen as suicide becomes the side-effect of a mind control program of the CIA.

Wormwood is built out of a penetrating collage. It is a psychologically, hallucinatory, psychologically that plays like a damning indictment of malfeasance, a pulse-pounding thriller, and a chilling portrait of both elusiveness of the truth and a self-destructive obsession. Wormwood is a masterpiece breathing new life into documentaries while it also further confirms the superior greatness of Morris.

Koukaku no Pandora #1 & Sekkou Boys #1

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Jan 272016
 

Okay, so this post is a tad late. I wanted to do one post per day so I held off of reviewing these, but stuff came up and I simply haven’t had time to watch any anime.

I just tried watching Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R #1 before making this post, but got interrupted halfway, right before we’re getting to the meat of the story. So I only saw the boring setup part and not the hook. Bleh.

So, just a quickie review for Koukaku and Sekkou, since I’m short on time. They’re both okay. Koukaku has a vibe like it’s based on a manga from the late 90s/early 00s. It’s pretty okay but perhaps a tad underwhelming. I saw half of the second episode, which looked pretty good.

Sekkou Boys, same deal. Kinda good but not quite hooking me with the first episode.

It’ a shame. This season looks like there’s a lot of possibly visually decent though somewhat mediocre series and well, real life just ain’t letting me see if there’s any gems. Bummer.

Haruchika #1

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Jan 142016
 

It seems my time away from anime has built up my tolerances and I’m now able to watch entire episodes even if I’m not instantly hooked.

Haruchika opens seemingly like it might be yet another boring K-On!! wannabe but quickly becomes intriguing by hinting at stuff actually happening.

In any case, while I was afraid it was going to be a pure “comfy” series like K-On!! and its ilk, it turned out to be pretty heavy on the mystery-slash-puzzle solving side of things. On the other hand, the mystery it deals with lacks “bite”. The result is that it’s not quite comfy nor mysterious, but more of an abominable hybrid, a crime against nature called… “comfy mystery”.

The show’s not bad if you’re into comfiness. In fact, it’s a bit better in that sense because it offers a little bite. But in you’re into “bite”, then it’s possibly a tad too dull (in terms of bite, but the show’s hardly super exciting either).

There are worst comfy shows out there, but at least this one has the best cat. We first see the cat whilst licking its balls and then walking off before it could be petted… so yeah, like a real cat, as opposed to the idealized/romanticized cat, which is basically a less hyper puppy.

2014: A Year Where Anime Didn’t Suck (But Kinda Did)

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Jan 032015
 

Hell, everything kinda sucked in 2014– on an anime level– on a personal level– on a cosmic level. Everything was coming up barftastic. Nerd culture pulled off its cheesy latex mask and revealed the serial killer dwelling within that anyone with half a brain knew was there the whole time. The world kept being as shitty as it always has been, but it seemed like more people were getting fed up with current shitty trends. My trivial personal matters (mostly work-related) sank me into the depths of Charlie Brown-like existential apathy.

2014 seemed to give everyone the proverbial rock in the Halloween bag, and it can go fuck itself in the abstract concept hellhole that’s its grave.

But there were a few anime things worth talking about. A few. Maybe half a dozen? Maybe a couple more than that. Sure wasn’t enough to make a full-on Top 10 this year.

Actually, I lied. There’s enough to make a Top 10. The year still sucked. Fuck 2014.

11. Akuma no Riddle

Bad people doing bad things to each other. Said bad people happen to be assassins of the female variety. I’d rather they be adult females, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to this sort of thing. Akuma no Riddle’s exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for, and for long stretches it was kinda perfect in that regard (DAMN that Romeo and Juliet episode was perfect.), but it botches it all with an atrocious ending that ruins all of the sacrifice and drama that went down. I ranted about that shit here, so there’s no need to repeat it. If you ignore that epilogue, this is all time favorite material. With it, it’s just another also-ran that could have found a place in my black heart, but will forever be pushed aside.

10. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis

The first two episodes of this series are nigh-perfect. They distill a lot of the action-adventure stuff you see in good Hollywood productions and turn it into 20-something minute masterpieces. Had the entire series been like these two episodes, with their riffs on things like Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones and spaghetti westerns, it’d likely be up in the top three. Unfortunately, this thing’s based on some mobile phone collectible card game or whatever, and said game is all about gods and demons and JRPG stuff, and said stuff ends up dominating most of the series. When it’s about the two dudes duking it out over misunderstandings and desires for revenge and whatnot, it’s awesome. When it’s about bad appropriations of Jeanne d’Arc and androgynous angels of all alignments, it’s just as tedious and dull as the video games it’s aping. There’s enough of the former to make this show worthwhile. And then there’s that god duck thing. And the awesome horse. They need to tag team it up and show those god dorks what’s up.

9. Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls

Sega’s most (in)famous home console systems are anthropomorphized, sent to high school, and make passive-aggressive threats at one another. When it’s working, it’s pretty zany and absurd and cute. When it isn’t working, it has Sonic the Hedgehog stinking up the place with his vile presence (I really hate that thing.). Sega Girls works due to the way the three voice actresses riff off one another. Apparently this is done by (some of?) the same peeps who did that gdgd Fairies thing that I need to check out, and that was that series’ shtick, so they’ve had some practice with this sort of thing. Like the previous two shows on this list, not everything works about the series, but Sonic aside there’s nothing really egregious that turns me off totally. They really should have done more old school games. Less Phantasy Star Mobile Online Pay To Win XZ23 and more Space Harrier and Golden Axe next time. Also, the ending to this thing is strange and kinda morbid if you understand the history of these game systems and the general route Sega’s gone as far as consoles go. They’re going for bittersweet melancholy, but the context turns it more into a death march.

8. Tonari no Seki-kun

Dude slacks off in class by playing with toys and shit. Dude doesn’t realize there’s a girl who obsessively watches him. Dude is a complete dumbass. It’s funny stuff. It’s also my high school years in animated form. Most relatable anime of the year, man. Doesn’t quite “stick” for whatever reason. I had to remind myself a few times it aired this year.

7. Ai Mai Mi: Mousou Catastrophe

This year’s best short anime (that I finished). It’s something of a soul sister to the brilliance of Teekyu, but it doesn’t quite have the same manic bite of its superior sibling. Still, this is some madcap insanity with its own brand of twisted, high-strung humor. I totally wanna play those 8-bit mash-ups from the credit sequence.

6. Witch Craft Works

There’s a lot going on in this thing. You got some neat stuff with gender role reversals, where the dude is the “princess” and the girl’s the cold, stoic protector. You have some neat magical battle stuff. You have cool characters with cool gimmicks and visual quirks. It’s the sort of fluffy, generic “high school is important because of magic” thing you expect from modern anime, but it’s elevated beyond such triviality by being damn good at what it does. I’d call it the best of its type since the likes of season one of Haruhi. It also has a llama being burned at the stake in one of its episodes and an end credit sequence all about fantastical witch torture, so it makes me all warm and giggly inside.

5. Sabagebu

It’s everything Akuma no Riddle should have been without actually being everything Akuma no Riddle should have been.

4. Psycho-Pass 2 3

I swear, there’s an actual season 2 of Psycho-Pass hidden away in some vault that details everything we needed for the actual season that exists to make sense for the masses. There’s something that helps set up the relationships between these characters, like Akane and her grandmother and the team with that new super-bonkers dude that does super secret but not really stuff to screw them over. As it is, the season we got is something of a disjointed mess of emotions and ideas that don’t really mesh, but make for some kind of perfect procedural spectacle all about competing abstract manifestations of collective consciousness and the judgement of groups and the death of the individual as a viable concept. It’s some real fucked up shit that hits you over the head with its unwieldy concepts with a proverbial sledgehammer, and if you survive the blow you’re rewarded with some of the craziest, most worthwhile nonsense I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

3. Lupin the Third: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone

This is exactly what I wanted to see post-Fujiko. It keeps the same vibe of that series while going off and having fun with a typical Lupin story. Jigen being targeted by a swanky hitman while in the middle of a jewel heist is classic Lupin stuff. Fujiko being forced to fight a giant robot with a drill for its crotch for the amusement of rich millionaire sickos is the sort of stuff straight out of the new series. A whole series like this would be perfection. Shame it’s just a two part OVA thing.

2. Garo

It ain’t over yet, but what we’ve seen of Garo so far is pretty damn great. It’s basically a tokusatsu show taking place in a medieval setting, complete with transformations and crazy cg martial arts combat. There’s also a lot of stuff going on about parents and parent figures letting down their kids and how said kids struggle to live up to their expectations. The world is going to shit, and these people just might save us all, but they ain’t gonna save themselves, and that’s alright. We’ll see if the second half lives up to the first half, but so far it looks to be a real keeper. Right on the verge of being a personal favorite. Hopefully they jump off that ledge and go full on crazy with their ideas.

1. Space Dandy

Pure animated storytelling bliss. Second half better than the first. Everything I want out of this cartoon shit and more. We aren’t good enough for Space Dandy.

Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girl #2 does what Landon’t

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Oct 162014
 

God-effing-dammit! I knew that joke was coming. I knew it! It was dumb. It was predictable. And it induced in me, a bout of involuntary, real life… laughter.

I refer to the headbutt, naturally. I tried to mask it as a sneeze but man, when it predictably happened at the end there, I laughed for realz-yo.

Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girl 4 Anime of the Year for no other reason than elliciting an involuntary positive response from me. I remember only laughing for realz a couple times in the last few years. This is one of ‘em.

As for the episode itself, it’s your classic case of repeating a joke until it becomes funny. And it pulls it off.