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NobĂ´ no shiro

Interesting, fun, unfortunate
Honestly, I really enjoyed this film. I liked the characters, it was VERY funny at times, it told a fascinating story. Nobou is about as fun and well-developed a character as one would tend to find in this kind of movie. At the same time, the battle scenes were bloody and fairly realistic, and exhilarating to watch.

But while all of that is good, it's not what stuck with me after the movie.

I live in Iwate, one of the three prefectures that were badly hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on 11 March, 2011.

Given that I imagine most theatres in Japan that are showing this film probably have the same warning stamped on the posters as the one I went to had, I don't think it qualifies as a spoiler to point out that the reason this film's release was delayed over a year is that there is one particular scene in which a village gets flooded in a rather graphic manner that for me (and probably for most Japanese audiences) was reminiscent of the tragedy that struck these shores last March. (Also, a similar attack happens in the first 5 minutes of the film, with Mitsunari saying, effectively, "I'm gonna do that too someday!". It's not a spoiler.)

The film is basically a comedy throughout, and when I watched it the theatre was packed and many other audience members were audibly laughing. Then when that scene hit, the theatre went silent. I can't help but imagine the film probably originally had more jokes punctuating that sequence, but they were cut in the aftermath of the tsunami because of obvious inappropriateness.

Still, even in light of how depressed the film made me with that one scene, I highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity see this film. It is still highly entertaining. :-)


Not a good film...
I was dragged to this film by a Gaelic-Irish fanatic friend of mine. He described it as "an Irish film", and I expected an English-language one. (I'm Irish, and have lived here in Dublin my whole life, and like most Irish people, haven't the foggiest interest in the Gaelic language now that I am done in school.) I may have brought some of my anti-Gaelic bias into the film with me, but it must be borne in mind that when I saw "Yu Ming is Ainm Dom" I was trapped in the Irish education system, and inherently resented the language more than I do now, but I still really loved that short film.

This film, however, is sorely lacking.

For starters, it is technically poor. I am used to seeing hand-held camera work (I assume that's what it was...) in war films and the like, when it has a purpose, but it seemed that this film's crew really didn't know how to hold the thing steady. The subtitles, given that this film was made primarily for a "foreign" (Anglophone) audience, left much to be desired: there were at least one or two misprints, and a number of instances of the word "I" simply being replaced with an apostrophe.

The plot is trite - a man has died, and his friends and father come together to mourn him. (Well, honestly it's a little more complicated than that, but it's still not very enthralling.) The filming locations (according to IMDb and my friend's research) were a complete waste of money. There was absolutely nothing in the film that could not have been shot just about anywhere in Ireland to the same effect, but they apparently had no qualms (even on what was obviously a modest budget) shipping every member of a substantial enough cast and crew over to London.

To touch upon the sociological implications of a film that obviously considers itself to be very politically charged, I will make but two points. I have heard many Irish people complain about stereotypes of the drunken Irish, but I really don't think the people who expect this film to be seen abroad have any right to complain, given the image they apparently don't mind promoting. Secondly, how long is it going to take watching British television and spending large amounts of time in England for nationalists in this country to realize that not every last English person is that villainous (at least not anymore). In my experience, most young Britons have no problem acknowledging some of the bad things their soldiers did abroad back in the day. (I'd say they will always regard "Once Upon a Time in China" or "Fearless" more highly than this film...) But the way the bartender effectively bans the characters from speaking Irish-Gaelic at her bar shows the kind of bias the writers had.

Lastly, I should point out the fact that the "Micil" character doesn't seem to age much in the 30 years separating the main story from the flashback, and in the main story he seems to be not all that much older than his son's friends. Maybe that's what all that alcohol did to them...

Anyway, to sum up, a politically controversial film, with little going for it in terms of either plot or imagery. Avoid like the plague (unless your teacher forces you to see it).

Dating: Do's and Don'ts

Bad, but worth watching...
...you know, the way "Jude Suss", "The Birth of a Nation" and "Hero" ( ;) ) are worth watching just to fully understand the evil motives that drove these people. Awfully conservative (none of Woody's dating options are black, Asian or in any other way different from the WASP norms of the time), but its corniness makes it good for a laugh. It's the kind of movie you should watch, but not pay for. Since it's a US "instructional" film, it's in the public domain, and quite easy to find on the Internet.

(It's also fun to watch it with friends and find lots of hidden messages and things that were probably deliberately planted in there to brainwash innocent students...)

The Long and Short of It

A charming little flick
It was a typical weekend in Wellington, New Zealand when Sean Astin borrowed a camera or two from the "Lord of the Rings" set to shoot a short film he had written.

This is hardly on the scale of "The Lord of the Rings" - especially when one considers that it was made with some materials borrowed from the epic for one afternoon. Nevertheless, it is a very nice short film that is well worth five minutes of anyone's time.

I found the making of documentary to be quite humorous, with Andy Serkis describing his plot - even more insidiously evil than Gollum's plan to steal the One Ring - to rise through the ranks of the production crew :).

I would give this film four out of five, with the fifth star always being reserved for the films that are unspeakably wondrous, so there's no shame in not getting it, especially as small a picture as this.

Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale II

This Game Rocks!!!
For a very long time now have I waited for a game like this: It's made with the Bioware Infinity Engine. It's based on the 3rd Edition D&D rules. You get to create a party all your own and go around destroying entire armies of goblins, orcs, and other such misfits.

With the exceptions of Baldur's Gate and Shadows of Amn (both extremely hard to top), this is the best Infinity Engine game around, and I would strongly recommend that you buy it now and start playing it.

Behind all the action, there is a very good plot, in which two demon twins are insulted by the people of the town of Bryn Shander, and wage war on the entire confederation of Icewind Dale, with their monstrous horde of outcasts and misfits known as the Legion of the Chimera.

10 out of 10! This game is an enormous adventure and I think everyone should play it!

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

George Luceas has stitched up all the plotholes cut open by Qui-Gon Jinn
This film is really good! The acting is superb. George Lucas' almost unrivaled writing & directing has really cleared up all that crap left on the story by "Jar-Jar Binks" & "Qui-Gon Jinn"! Industrial Light and Magic, THX, and Skywalker Sound have all really outdone themselves with the superior sound and special effects of "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones"!

R.A. Salvatore has written a novel based on it which I haven't gotten around to reading yet, but I assume, because of the story he's got and some of his previous work, that it will be a very good book.

I have to get off the Internet now but don't worry; I'll be back...

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