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What I’ve Been Doing 15 July 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jul 15th, 2013 by Dan

Pacific Rim Locandina

Giant mechs and giant monsters. I’m all in. (Photo courtesy Domenico)

You know how the saying goes, right? When the cat’s away, go see a kaiju homage movie. It was silly stupid fun and it was awesome.

Movies

Tokyo Godfathers – Min and I were looking for something to watch during dinner and I finally convinced him to check out Satoshi Kon’s fairy tale/holiday story. I love how happy this movie is and ends. Very few mind games for a Satoshi Kon flick too.

Pacific Rim – Giant robots, somewhat hammy acting, and great special effects make Dan a happy man. Go into it with your expectations properly in place and you’ll dig it too.

TV

Mad Men – Peggy’s phone conversation with the pastor is pretty awesome/hilarious. Really the only episode of the latest season I’ve seen was the premiere, but it was fantastic and I’m excited for the rest of the season that’s just hanging out on my dvr. Just gotta find the time.

Music

I don’t really have anything for you today. Maybe next week?

Books

Not this week.

Video Games

Donkey Kong ’94 – The Game Boy remake/sequel to the arcade game is so awesome I knew I had to get it from Club Nintendo. Seriously one of the best games I’ve ever played and I’m loving getting through it again.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – I bought so many turnips…I hope I get a good price.

Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 – My Hiroshima Carp are having a surprisingly solid April. The bottom third of the lineup is an out magnet, but I’ll hopefully be able to shore it up with free agents or a trade.

The Last of Us – I thought I was in the last section of the game, but it appears that another few hours are left. Almost there…

What I’ve Been Doing 05 Sept 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 6th, 2011 by Dan

Wild Flag

Best NPR First Listen!

Movies

Tokyo Godfathers – I wrote at length about this movie here, but I just wanted to take a few words to say how truly fantastic it was. Great movie.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. – Tiffany and I were choosing between this and Our Idiot Brother (ostensibly because they were the only two “date” movies, but really because of my dual crushes on Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel), but I think this would have been the better choice. Crazy, Stupid, Love. was sweet and funny. Only real downside was the C-plot being a little creepy. Easily the best romantic movie I saw this summer (Best comedy goes to Bridesmaids).

Super – James Gunn is a sick man, haha. The movie was middling to me, but it was much better at showing how sick and ridiculous everyone involved would have to be than Kick-Ass was, so I liked it more than that. Ever wanted to see an awkward sex scene/quasi rape of Rainn Wilson by Ellen Page? This movie’s got it and it’s just as off-putting as you’d think it would be. Ellen Page does a great job playing a quasi-psychopath in this. She’s fantastic.

TV

Weeds – I can’t believe I’ve missed what’s been in front of my face this whole time. The whole season has been about Silas and Nancy’s relationship with each other after he found out who his real father was. Things are really ramping up here.

Top Gear – What a fantastic show. Makes me think stupid things like that I want to buy a BMW, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. The segment where they tried to escape that Italian town was hilarious.

Dexter – Lent my mom Seasons 1 and 2 and ended up watching part of the first episode. Always neat to watch the pilot and see how the show has changed from its inception.

Better Off Ted – An adequate way to kill a half hour while I eat or need a break. The show wasn’t gonna break any funny records, but it’s better than some of what’s out there. Just no real place for it on ABC, I guess.

Retro Game Master – The affirmation section of The Wing of Madoola was really funny. This show is at its best when the Kacho is able to make all kinds of silly jokes. Also hilarious was the part where he called the game company to see if he could still win a raffle from the 1980s.

Music

WILD FLAG – NPR’s First Listen looks like might it’s still up. Go check it out. I listened to this disc all last week and loved it.

The Civil Wars – Really got into them last week. Joy’s voice is so sweet and John Paul harmonizes well with her. Delightful to listen to.

Jonathan Coulton – His new album, Artificial Heart, came out this week. Good times, good music. I really like “Dissolve”.

Books

Collected Stories – So far Márquez is obsessed with twins and death.

(Comics from here down)
Amazing Spider-Man – Spider-Island continues! Still lots of fun.

Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu – Felt just a little too stereotypically Asian for me. Good art, but the story was kind of boring.

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye – I can’t say I’m that interested in Hawkeye as a character, but Hickman’s writing remains really cool and the consequences on the Ultimate U are huge. To have the X-gene eliminated in all but one region is a tremendous tactical advantage. Wonder if it will stick.

Video Games

Bastion – I agree with most people, the Narrator is super awesome. This game is fun, but it couldn’t tear me away from TF2 and…

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Got in the beta. Can’t say anything else or I’d violate the NDA.

Team Fortress 2 – TF2 remains awesome. Playing with Dave and Lee this weekend was a lot of fun. Got a lot of new achievements, but Sentry Gunner continues to elude me. I will have it one day. Oh yeah, I also played with KENDRA. Killed her once too. She did not get me back…yet.

Dragon Age 2 – Still working on that second playthrough as a Templar supporter this time. Reminds me that I’ve gotta go back and fix my ME2 playthrough for ME3 in March.

Tokyo Godfathers [FB]
Aug 30th, 2011 by Dan

We three kings

I’m shocked at how much I liked Tokyo Godfathers. By all accounts I shouldn’t be surprised. I knew I liked Satoshi Kon and I knew the basic outline of the movie, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

Tokyo Godfathers is a modern-day fairy tale. Like many fairy tales, it’s almost entirely predicated on coincidence and luck, but like the best of them it ends up not feeling like contrivance. It begins with the nativity story, the salvation story of God “giving away” his only child, and ends with a reunion between father and child. Kiyoko is implied to be under God’s protection and things get implausible quick, but without seeming improbable or like the viewer is being cheated.

At this point it’s hard for me to separate my love for Satoshi Kon and how well the movie does what it does, but I do believe that the characters he creates are charismatic enough that I found myself loving all three by the end of the movie despite not expecting to. Even the random supporting roles, the taxi driver, the older bum, and the Latina housewife are all fleshed out in great ways.

Speaking of the Latina woman, that was a nice little bonus there. My ability to understand Spanish allowed me to understand what was going on there. I don’t know if the subtitlers were following the implication that a Japanese viewer wouldn’t understand Spanish either, but they didn’t subtitle her lines and I was still able to understand the communication. It’s bold when a movie does this. Just flat out tells you that you don’t get to know what a person is saying. I liked it.

It’s weird how this, the tamest and least mindscrew-y of Satoshi Kon’s works might end up my favorite of the bunch. I found myself genuinely caught up in the films moments, getting emotional at the right times, freaking out during the action scenes, and just really rolling with it. In fact, the worst part about the movie was the realization at the end that I was done. I’ve now seen all of Satoshi Kon’s movies/tv series. I do really hope that funding is found to finish his last work posthumously, but, for now, I’m glad that he did what he did. My life has been enriched by all five of his productions.

Paprika [FB]
Aug 23rd, 2011 by Dan

Paprika 720p Trailer

The titular character

I take great joy in watching the arc of an auteur’s style and career. Take Satoshi Kon. He’s had a relatively sparse directorial career that was tragically cut short due to pancreatic cancer, but there is a clear thread running through his work that I can trace from Perfect Blue all the way to Paprika (I’ve still yet to see Perfect Blue or Tokyo Godfathers, but they’re high on my list). Like Paranoia Agent before it, Paprika deals heavily with the subconscious/unconscious mind while also tying in the cinema history/construction of Millennium Actress. Dreams, reality, and obsession were also major themes of Perfect Blue, but I can’t speak to that without having seen it.

So there’s this master arc that traces through of cinematic quirks and decisions that point to one man making all the decisions and I adore that. Movies can easily become mass market-appealing drivel with too many chefs in the kitchen, but not Kon’s work. There’s style here.

From the surreal dreamscape of the opening that transitions into my favorite opening credit sequence in an anime movie ever, this movie just never stops. Set in a world where technology allows therapists to share dreams with patients for treatment, our main character, Chiba, whose alter ego in dream therapy is Paprika, discovers that the dream hardware has been hacked, giving a malicious terrorist access to the fragile minds of any patient in therapy. The action begins after one of her coworkers minds is hijacked into the dream, causing a near-suicidal leap and plunge from a window.

I don’t want to spoil the arc this movie takes, but I will say that it’s reluctance to really get super disturbing was a shock to me. Don’t get me wrong, it still gets weird, uncomfortable, weird, and kind of scary, but it doesn’t go quite as deep as you’d expect, which was semi-disappointing to me after the way darker Paranoia Agent. I wanted to find myself unable to sleep last night, but the movie didn’t quite deliver there. Shonen Bat was a scarier villain, for sure, but I’m ok with trading him off for deep symbolism and subtle character revelation through dreams.

The rental I watched was the blu-ray release and it is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t usually fawn over the visual beauty of anime, so you know I’m being serious here. The lines are so sharp you could cut yourself while the color palette is especially varied and beautiful. If you can get your hands on a high definition cut of this film, pretend no other version exists.

Paprika is not a perfect movie. It can get a little confusing and it fails to deliver on the truly horrifying, settling for pretty damn horrifying and unsettling, but this is a movie that you should watch. Find it, watch it, and hope that Dreaming Machine finds enough financial backing to get released posthumously.

Paprika 720p Trailer

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