Tag Archives: black and white

The Great Dictator: A Nazi Slap to Hitler

In another vein, for a different class, I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. I gotta tell ya, this is a completely different pace in comparison to the movies I usually watch. I’m all about movies after 1970, the color films, the 100 minute movies. I’m not usually up for the 2 hour black and white snore fests. But this one was at least a bit different. Hey dad, looks like I’m growing up a bit with a little taste of cultured film.

The Great Dictator is the story of a note so great dictator, Adolph Hitler. Cleverly renamed as Adenoid Hynkel, Charlie Chaplin mirrors the rise of Hitler into power and his subsequent actions in his self appointed office. Parallel to this is an image of Chaplin’s Tramp character, the

It’s just too uncanny…

Jewish barber. After having served during World War I, the barber lost his memory and didn’t realize the war had been lost or that Hynkel had been put into power. The persecution of the Jews is underplayed in this movie (it seems as if they’re not treated that poorly), and Chaplin later apologized after finding out about the concentration camps. A depressing issue indeed.

The parts that make this movie funny is only about half of the film. There’s Chaplin’s speech as Hynkel, accurately mimicking Hitler’s wimpy return salute, and the German language and Hitler’s oratory style is dead on. The short English retorts are perfect and simply explain just what Hitler was up to. The bumbling idiots of Hynkel’s cabinet, characterized by Henry Daniell as “Garbage” and Billy Gilbert as “Herring”, strongly insinuate Himmler and

Too legit.

Goebbels (maybe some Goreing thrown in there). The floating globe is amazing and the slapstick is always good. I had no idea how much of a comedic genius Charlie Chaplin was.

The other half of the movie contains the plot. And I found it to be a very uninteresting one. The Jewish barber falls in love with a Jewish washing woman, and the Nazi Gestapo harass her and the barber all day long. After finding the man whose life he saved in the war, the barber befriends Schultz (Reginald Gardiner) and sets about a coup in order to kill Hynkel (if only they had…). Things go wrong, identities are mistaken, and Chaplin (the barber) gives a profound speech at the end, one I felt was directed right at Hitler. Coming out in 1940, this movie, viewed twice by Hitler, was a plea to stop the war. If only it had succeeded.

A lot of the stuff in older movies like this feel the same to me. The long credits at the beginning, the old time music, the higher pitched male voices and long shots, it’s all a constant. I have to admit I was a bit sleepy after this one. But the subject matter and slapstick are what really saved it for me. It was an

A love made in boredom?

extremely clever spoof of Hitler’s Nazi regime and spoke a lot to the things I’ve been learning about in my Holocaust class. I would recommend this one to history buffs and fans of old films, because this one is one of those classics (if you can’t get a hold of an actual copy, check out YouTube for the whole film). Not exactly my style, but I still appreciate it. 7.3 out of 10.

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Mirai Nikki: Future Diary

Mirai Nikki, Future Diary.

From the get go I’m gonna call this the standout anime for 2012. Although it was done back in October through April, it’s the show that got me excited and entertained for hours. I pretty much watched this show in a few days. I haven’t done that since Death Note. And Death Note is my favorite anime, so you can see what that says about this one. Mirai Nikki (known in English as Future Diary) has an interesting concept, a wide array of characters (one for everyone to choose and root for), and great animation. I don’t know where the Japanese come up with ideas for shows like this, but these intricate plot anime are where it’s at.

Mirai Nikki is the story of Yukiteru Amano (Yukki for short) and his apathetic life of recording things around them. He never hangs out with anyone or does anything remotely social. I guess you could

You crazy, ninth…

count hiding under his blanket and speaking with Deus, the god of this world. One day Yukki visits Deus and Deus decides to give him a new phone diary, one that can tell the future of things around Yukki. Using this to his advantage over the next several days, Yukki finds himself being chased down by a serial killer. In the course of running away, Yukki runs into somebody he didn’t expect. Yuno Gasai, his obsessive stalker. Learning that there are other participants in this “game” with future diaries, Yukki must fight against others, even kill, in order to become the next god of this world. The game is on.

Some of the other characters of Mirai Nikki (they’re kinda better…)

Just from that last paragraph’s description of the story, don’t you want to watch this intricate plot to figure out what happens? And, for me, it’s all about exploring and discovering the world of this wide ranging cast of diary owners. I have to say something right here to speak to that. This show is about “dead ending”/killing the other owners of the diaries. Every owner has their own reason for participating, and, I’ll say, to a fault, Yukiteru doesn’t. It seems, throughout the entire show, that Yukiteru is only playing this game to not die. He had no aspirations of becoming god, and I guess that’s a reason for playing. But that is a faulted reason. Yuno on the other hand… is a bit more complicated.

But this is the first anime I’ve ever watched where I liked all of the other supporting characters, and absolutely hated the two main characters from start to finish. Yukiteru is apathetic and weak. He has nothing to fight for and no way to fight for it. Minene Uryu (the 9th diary owner) is a terrorist, and although she may want to make the world better, she goes about it all wrong. Every character I did like and I thought had a good

This is what Yukki sees under his blanket fantasy world.

reason for winning isn’t given enough time to do so or the means to do so. This constantly was thrown in my face and was quite frustrating. Yuno is manipulative and never allows Yukki to decide if he loves her or not. With such flawed main characters, I guess it’s okay to hate them to an extent. They have to redeem themselves after all.

And that’s why I was okay with liking this show, despite hating the characters who got 80% of the screen time. I don’t think any show has to adhere to the good/bad dichotomy between protagonists and antagonists. And they don’t have to be a good person to be a hero either. So that’s well done in itself. Nothing in life is black and white.

Pretty PC for 9th Graders…

But the plot! The plot, the plot, the plot! Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, you have no idea where the story is going or when it will end! The intricacy of everyone involved in the Future Diary game is complex and not so easy to decipher. No one is safe and everyone is at risk, even those people outside the game. Betrayal, complex love stories, murder, this show has it all (and not without a bit of sexuality and boobs you wouldn’t expect on 9TH GRADERS). Everyone is out for themselves and it is up to you to side with who you think is right. This show would function perfectly as a choose your own ending game (point and click, preferably) in which you take each character to their limits. And praise Jeebus that Funimation got ahold of this show for dubbing, although I think a Death Note cast would’ve worked just as well.

So watch this show if it’s the last thing you do. It is well worth it and brings a whole lot of genres of anime together into one storyline. Anyone who enjoys good adrenaline pumping television, great character driven stories, and an all around game of cat and mouse with human lives at stake, watch this. You won’t regret it. And I stand firm in this being one of the best anime of 2012, maybe the last few years. Mirai Nikki, I may not like Ninth, but this deserves a 9th out of 10.

Beware the love triangles…


13 Assassins: The Eerie 7 Samurai Brother

Brought to the international market by the famous producer of Departures, a famous film talked about in my household, Toshiaki Nakazawa, and given to me by the power of Netflix, comes 13 Assassins. I know I just did a review on a movie called Bodyguards and Assassins, but this movie comes from a similar historical (loosely based) standpoint with a lot of no nonsense action to it. And I mean a lot of no nonsense, balls to the walls action. There’s not a lot interspersed, as with B&A, but it delivers in the end with a huge ass scene of carnage.

Set in the 1840s Japan during the era of the feudal Shogun, a young political rapscallion, Matsudaira Naritsugu is running train all over the place. Son of the former Shogun and bound to rise in his political standing, this evil young man thinks he cannot die and is above the law. He even made a nugget sex slave out of a poor little Japanese woman. Hard to watch and hard to

Quite a bit of violence in this movie. Good costumes too.

stomache, some have even committed  seppuku, the ritualistic Japanese honorable suicide. Shown twice in the movie, it is an unpleasant act that, I have to say was tastefully done with the pull away shot that just suggests at the horror of slitting open your own stomach forcefully.

So this young man must be stopped. An aged samurai and political figure, Shinzaemon is planning on doing so. After seeing the injustices done on other family houses, no longer will those under the power of the Shogun stand for his little brother’s insolence. So, in true 7 Samurai fashion, this guy goes out and finds 13 samurai, the last of a dying occupation, in order to do the job. These guys range widely in status and character, but they all plan on fufilling their duty with conviction and honor.

Can you tell who's who?

After some awful background on this political Shogun relative bastard, the training montage begins. Not really a training montage, but a recruitment scene and subsequent honing of the skills. Followed closely by a planning stage and execution of said plan, we get a little trip to the site of the final (and really only) big battle. There are ambushes, strategies of true intellect, and dire tragedy. With no one safe and everyone’s honor on the line, who will come out victorious?

I must say the overall feel of this movie was true to its 1963 original. I’m also sure there has to be some influence from Kurosawa’s classic of 7 Samurai. I wouldn’t have put it in the title otherwise. A bunch of tough guns coming

They're really going at it...

together to stop a greater evil in a big showdown? Not many survive and evil must be thwarted at all costs? Yeah, I got that vibe from this movie. I wouldn’t have minded if this movie was in black and white either. The grainy quality of the film and the guerilla style of the landscape and shooting really gave it that end of an era, last action of a dying and barbaric peoples feel. That’s what I enjoyed, and the true suggestion of violence without entirely showing it that you get from horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. A true classic approach to film.

This has a true 7 Samurai feel to it.

What I didn’t like about it was the confusing nature of the characters. I can’t help it, but I gotta be a bit racist. Coming from an American, white person perspective, there were a lot of Asians running around who held very little difference in stature and character to me. You can attempt to pick out your favorites, but the movie made no effort in order to discern one person from another. Maybe this was done to show the collective resolve of the characters, but it became tedious towards the end.

Another thing that I hated/loved at the same time in this film (and I mean those terms lightly) is the action in the film. For those who like a bit more stylized violence in their viewing experience, you may not find that here. For those who love the chaos and the brutality of a film that just takes one massive battle and puts it into a gigantic perspective, this may be more your style. Coming from a priviledge era of spurting blood and close ups on decapitations, this movie pulls away from that. Focusing more on the feel of battle and not the gruesome details, you may not see more than some red hacks and slashes on bodies. And at the same time that that is happening, I’m not exactly sure how true to the Samurai Way that this film is. These guys, despite their training, seemed to just go out and wave their swords around like 13 year old tweens wanting to defeat Darth Maul in their backyards. I guess I’ll leave that up to people who actually know true sword technique.

Pretty damn cinematic.

With a bit of a lackluster acting chops cast, some of the more emotional scenes were lost on me. Maybe not towards the beginning with the injustices done by the evil Shogunate, maybe not even the death scenes that abound in this movie, but surely on the delivery of lines. This detracted from the period piece I felt this movie could have been, but if you’re a fan of Samurai 7, you need to check this movie out. Kurosawa would be proud. A decent 6.5 out of 10.