Tag Archives: drinking

Raging Phoenix: Passion in Drunkeness

In one of the more visually stunning and passion filled Muay Thai martial arts films I’ve seen, Yanin Vismistananda performs far better than I could have expected. As the leading heroine in Raging Phoenix (AKA, Jeeja Due Suai Du), Yanin shows more heart and courage (with some more brutal and flashy moves) than she did in Chocolate (although I love that movie). Panna Rittikrai does it again with some amazing stunt coordination in this one.

Deu (Yanin: also spelled Dew for some reason…) is a down and out on her luck drummer in a punk band. She has scummy boyfriends and is constantly being fooled. (She’ll say this at length in the movie.) With trust issues and an appetite for the drink, Deu gets herself in some trouble. After being chased down in a parking structure, Deu

She is both pretty and deadly.

gets away by chance with the help of a devilishly good looking and bearded Thai man (He’s also in Bangkok Knockout. I didn’t know he was one of Panna’s main boys, but Pod is in this one too… Review coming much later). He turns out to be called Sanim (Kazu Patrick Tang) and he’s good at taking down thugs with bladed kangaroo legs.

Look at that handsome man. Who wouldn’t fall for that?

With bringing her back to their hideout, Sanim encounters some unexpected collateral. Deu meets Pig Shit (Nui Saendaeng) and Dog Shit (Sompong Lertwimonkaisom), two fellow fighters with an agenda. What Deu becomes so fascinated with is a drunken style of fighting (made up for the film) known as Meyraiyuth. With montage scenes and lots of drinking, Deu and the gang take on the Jaguar Gang, a bunch of thugs looking to kidnap women just like Deu for nefarious purposes.

What I liked most about this movie was the interesting new style of fighting. Called Meyraiyuth, this badass feet of fury technique is actually an infusion. Mix classically ballin’ brutal Muay Thai finishing moves with a Capoeira dancing style that allows you to outwit your enemy and you can easily evade attacks with a lot of trauma. There are some great fight locations and a lot of newly

Pretty dope, right?

invented kicks and finishing moves that always surprise me in these Muay Thai action films. When you see one of these you expect the same old stuff, but Panna Rittikrai always has something new up his sleeve.

This was news to me too.

The acting was fine in this one, with the exception of a few actors. But that’s not what these movies are about, right? It’s about the artful technique of martial arts. It’s got the word “arts” right in there. Who cares about the plot and talking if the fans aren’t there for that? There were some cheesy CG effects and one or two strange other things, but the movie held its own as a story of love, loss, and the channeling of pain into what you do with your life. Yanin “Jeeja” sold it and it all worked out in the end.

And the end is what I wanna talk about. I’m used to these Muay Thai films with the main hero busting down hundreds of guys with lethal finishing moves, one right after the other. But this movie focused on a handful of major fighters taking on their counterparts in some long, well developed fight scenes. And that’s what makes the end so brutal. In her pain and despair, Yanin channels death into her palms and  DESTROYS the main villain. She absolutely does some of the best, most lethal moves I’ve ever seen that are actually doable in the realm of physics. I was welling up with tears with the impassioned music and the fists ripping across the screen. That doesn’t happen often, but I know when I’ve found a new favorite fight scene. So, with that in mind, I give Raging Phoenix a lethal 7.6 out of 10.

That’s a beauty. Right to your face.

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The Great Happiness Space

In this documentary by Jake Clennell (a UK documentarian), the world of Ouran High School Host Club comes to life. In Osaka, Japan, the Cafe Rakkyo is a place for tired and worn down women to come and feel healed, emotionally and probably physically, by the male hosts. With lots of drinking and fake flirting, Clennell dives into the secrets and tips of being a Japanese male host.

For Jake Clennell’s first time doing a documentary, he does a great job. In a mere hour and fifteen minutes, he captures the host life through a

Not your average Ouran boys…

handful of interviews and first hand events. Centered around the owner of Cafe Rakkyo, Issei, who every girl loves and wants to be with. His animal magnetism comes from the way in which he tailors himself to what a girl wants. And what’s the endgame? Money.

This entire interview/documentary is about a human’s instability. Growing up into such a business mogul the way in which Issei did has sacrificed something. Even those who have come in fresh to the game (as one host did) notice something different about themselves. The hosts can’t escape the attraction to the girls (some say love, others say connection) but in the end there is a lot of focus on materialism. Fashion designer clothes, accessories, hairstyles, it’s all about selling themselves to entice women to come to their host club. They lose the excitement of falling in love with someone and lose senses of trust, commitment, and honesty.

Some cute Asian cuddling?

From someone who doesn’t know a thing about host clubs or anything other than from anime, it comes as a culture shock. To see men in a power and control of sexuality and a socialite position in quite in contrast to America. Here, women hold all the power when it comes to sex. We pay for their drinks, we are the ones that instinctively flock towards them in clubs and bars. Men actively seek women in this country. It is up to the women to say yes or no.

But, in the world of Japan, men are the ones in these types of clubs that dictate the tempo. Women pay for privacy and one on one time with them. Women buy the men drinks in order to loosen them up and make them more friendly towards them. These women spend

Just your average host selection bar…

thousands of dollars a visit in order to woo these men. A male host starting off can make $10,000 American dollars a month. How insane!

And then comes the issue of who comes to these host clubs. More often than not, they’re call girls/prostitutes who have just gotten off work. They come to relax and enjoy time away where they’re the ones being catered to. The Osaka district in Japan is drenched in sex. Male businessmen, young impressionable females, host club employees, it’s everywhere. And to see a place that encourages social interaction other than sex is something interesting and new.

The real message to take away.

In the end, as these boys emerge from their cavernous man-den, the come out drunkenly into the sunlight, falling over, hair a bit askew, wanting a good night’s rest. And they’ll be back in a few hours to do it all over again. Issei heads back to his apartment, speculating about his future life and if he’ll ever marry. But what this documentary has delved into is that this may not be the case for this host culture. A bunch of boys jaded by love and what it means to be faithful, who knows if they’ll ever find love. All I know is that this documentary was entertaining and complex, insightful and opened a whole new culture aspect to me (being interested in Japanese culture and all). If you like pretty Asian boys or just something that will make you more aware and intelligent on Japan, you need to check this out. It’s pretty deep. 7.2 out of 10.


A Film With Me In It

Leave it to the Irish to create such a dark and twistedly funny take on Final Destination meets the saddest of all losers who has to deal with it. A Film With Me In It is the story of Mark (Mark Doherty, writer and brother of co-star David O’Doherty) and how his career as an actor is really never going to take off. This gives an ironic sense to the title of the movie, based around an actor I’ve never heard of and a lot of my readers may have never heard of. From the very beginning, Mark Doherty’s acting comes off as quiet and reclusive, mixed with a hell of a lot of timidity. Mix this with the violent actions of the film and you have one of the funniest U.K. films I’ve ever seen.

A little more about Mark, the character. He lives in a small flat with his old arsed dog, and his completely catatonic brother in a wheelchair,

Mark, the fall guy.

David (David O’Doherty, his actual brother, as I’ve already said. The O’ makes all the difference). Being an actual comedian, it’s funny to see him not be able to say a damn thing throughout the whole film. Residing with him in his small and rundown flat is his girlfriend, Sally (Amy Huberman). She’s sick of everything that needs to be repaired and basically wants to leave Mark. Living in the same building is Mark’s alcoholic and gambling addict friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). Fulfilling his role as the stereotypical Irishman, he’ll go out and drink, try and become a playwright, and end up at the races.

This may look familiar to another film…

Mark’s apartment is a deathtrap. The lights barely work. The window to the garden is a pair of slapped knuckles waiting to happen. Everything wobbles and creaks no matter what they try and do. And their landlord, Jack (Keith Allen) refuses to help repair anything until the rent is paid. With Mark being an out of work actor, there’s not a witch’s teat in Hell that he can ever scrape up enough dough to even fix the light bulb eerily flashing in the kitchen.

And that’s where things start to become a problem. A rising body count and a lot of individuals sticking their noses in where they don’t belong causes Mark and his “accomplice” Pierce to have to create a scenario in which all of  these “sequential accidents” cannot be blamed on the two of them. With a quick wit and a lot of dark comedy that comes from body removal, these two dig themselves a grave. Can they even get out?

That silly O’Doherty doesn’t get to say a thing.

I sincerely loved this movie. I was laughing constantly at Dylan Moran’s lines of sarcastic pessimism and Mark’s inability to respond in any way. There are a lot of tragic things that happen in this movie, and its almost hard to laugh at some of them. The measures these two have to go to is well beyond absurd. It comes up to the point of downright cruel. But what the two get out of it is a great script and some ideas that could potentially make them criminals for life.

And there was such an eclectic cast in this film! There are the Doherty/O’Doherty brothers, one of whom is a comedian. The other, more of a sick joke comedian. Even Dylan Moran is a comedian. Keith Allen has done everything from music to movies, stand up, and writing. Aisling O’Sullivan is a renowned Irish actress that takes the part of the sweet small town policewoman (AKA Garda). Round that out with a sneak appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you have yourself a wonderful little cast of simple comedy.

There’s some serious criminal activity going down.

This movie is dark. And I’m talking pitch black. There’s death, dismemberment, and not a heavy tear shed for anyone but the dog. A man down on his luck and it gets so much worse is hard to watch onscreen, especially when he just takes it. You need some sort of silver lining for a character like that. Well don’t you fret, there is one. And it may be the best little shiny cloud you’ll see all year. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this movie and its characters to the point where I would give anything for them to get away with it. If you wanna know what happens, you should definitely watch this film. You might find yourself loving it as much as I did. Although, this movie wasn’t one with me in it. 9.7 out of 10.

 

 

 

And here’s a little taste of what you’re getting into.

 


Clannad: The Wonderful Beginnings of an Anime

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed an anime, and this is the perfect one to come back to. Clannad is the wonderfully touching story of a group of high schoolers and their lives as they grow with one another. Focusing primarily on the central relationship between Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa, these two lead tragic lives that have become better because they found each other. It all started one day at the bottom of the hill to the high school with “anpan”, and blooms into a wonderfully dynamic and free flowing friend group. The main plot behind this first series is that Nagisa wishes to create a drama club at her school. It is used indirectly to raise her self esteem and confidence.

Where should I start when talking about this anime? This has the elements of a slice of life anime, thrown in with a bit of humor and comedy from Fuko Ibuki, the starfish obsessed wonder. The anime flows over a few arcs focusing on secondary characters that attend the high school, ranging from freshmen to seniors. All of the main characters are mostly seniors, and this transitions into their graduation and life around the town. It is good to see that, although this anime has the beginnings of a harem with only one true central male character, but it is happily thwarted by Youhei Sunohara, the blond haired foil

The starfish and the Dangos!

character to Tomoya’s passive aggressive antics. Their dialogue and chemistry onscreen is infectiously hilarious and comes across as amazingly absurd and out there. It’s perfect to offset the harrowing topics of the anime.

Not to ruin anything about the plot, but the characters focused on are all tragically tainted. Tomoya is an out there delinquent bad boy who was maliciously beaten by his drunken dad in a fight one day. He lost his mother and the two had been drifting apart for years. His dad coped with drinking, and Tomoya did with bad behavior. This doesn’t really seem to ruin his reputation at school, but it ruined his arm and his chances at playing basketball. Damn. For Nagisa, her debilitating health has kept her back a year in school, losing friends, yet allowing her to meet Tomoya. And, for the others, it’s about watching the show to discover what’s so sad with each character. If you don’t cry at least once, where’s your soul?

The dynamic duo, Tomoya and Youhei!

It wasn’t really a decision at the beginning on whether to watch subbed or dubbed. As a rule of thumb, if it’s a show with a lot of crying or sadness, it’s better portrayed in Japanese. Tears=subbed, comedy=dubbed. Remember that. I was surprised to find this show was based on an interactive text video game (one of those simulated dating things, but a manga followed the game soon after, giving a structure and not choices to the anime in the direction the plot would take. The voice acting is really well done and will make you laugh and cry (tears of some sort) and it’s worth watching the first half in order to reach the even better Clannad: After Story. In order to love and care about the characters, you watch Clannad, but once you’re established in that love, then comes the After Story tears. They will flow.

Other than that, I don’t have many complaints with a show that has come out in the last ten years. Animation was crisp and clean, the plot moved along at a reasonable pace, and there’s a character for everyone to connect to. It’s the story of growing up, of high school, of conquering your fears and finding love. It’s a true humanistic story of discovery. I think it’s good for people of all interests and (being the secure man I am) found it rather heartwarming. So leave yourself a few weeks to savor the flavor of the Dangos, and enjoy this 7.7 out of 10 anime.

A possible couple? You’ll see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is the song that’ll make you cry.

 


The Change-Up: Surprisingly Heartwarming

From the producers and directors of The Hangover and Wedding Crashers, I expected something a bit different from this movie. I expected the ridiculous situations and grossout comedy duo that has been spewing out of Hollywood since Judd Apatow took up The 40 Year Old Virgin. Something a bit different was sent my way. An outrageous comedy… with a sentimental side. As shocking as that may sound, this 2 hour film had the time to flesh out a relationship to the characters and the concern for the well being of their lives. And coming from a pair of true gold comedy actors (that have the capacity for more than comedy), this movie does deliver well. More so on plot and acting than lines and delivery.

So Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is a married man. He married young and

Two men. Two varying lives.

has a beautiful young daughter and a strange pair of infant twins. Meanwhile, Dave’s friend Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) is a single man, banging all he sees and loving living in his own filth and depravity. Although the two remain friends, they have grown apart somewhat since their lifestyles have taken them away from each other. Dave is a successful lawyer at a major corporation and Mitch is a semi-successful actor. The two’s lives aren’t close to perfect, but they enjoy their situations.

Until one day.

 

So who's who?

Dave and Mitch get together, breaking their routines to catch up on old times and catch a baseball game at a local bar. While there, the two get a little more wasted than ususal. Things are talked about and emotions run high. And then, BAM. Freaky Friday hits like a storm as the two piss into a fountain. By the plot Gods, this seems all too familiar. And yet, it’s the male perspective on the idea of taking a walk in another’s shoes. Word, I can dig that. With the fountain moved (classic Big situation), the two have to live each other’s lives for a while, and re-discover themselves through each other’s eyes.

What really stood out to me about this film was how well Jason Bateman

They play each other. To a tee.

played Ryan Reynolds and how well Ryan Reynolds played Jason Bateman. It’s more the generational issue in Freaky Friday, but in this one it’s more of a body swap of men of the same age. Different habits and personalities are mirrored in this comedy down to, what I would say, is a tee. The anal-retentiveness of Bateman pairs off with the ridiculously callous antics of Reynolds. Having to talk to yourself as the other person was pretty key in this movie, and it was pulled off with a-bomb. (Niceeee.)

Word.

In classic fashion, this movie starts off with some poop jokes and some strange combinations of swear words. (F-knuckles? Are you kidding me?) I’ve started to dislike the invention of swear-catch-phrases as I’ll call them, and this needs to be remedied with some great pop culture references and such, a-la Workaholics (can’t wait to rave about that shizz). The movie moves along with some classic situations and works along with quite a few nudie shots for the guy audience. I watched the unrated version. And yet, I was surprised that, despite not being directed by Judd Apatow, his wife, Leslie Mann, played a part in this movie anddd showed off the goods. It was as strange as it was comical.

And then you get hit with the friend moving along in life montage, followed by, BAM. 45 minutes of touching connection. Did you see this coming? Nope. Could you imagine Ryan Reynolds in Jason Bateman’s body pulling off

This movie will get touching.

pretending to be a lawyer by watching Law & Order? Not at all. But this all happens. And, in the realm of strange, quirky fantasy, it works. For the first time ever, I connected with Leslie Mann as a decent actress. Coming from a woman who always plays the comical stuck up bitch, this was refeshing. Some “true” tears were shed and the perfect balance of drama and comedy was achieved. From a movie made by The Hangover and Wedding Crasher guys. Weird…

Sorry guys, just for the eye candy. Don't know about that substance...

I gotta say, if this is in the original version and not the edited, there are some great comedy scenes in this movie. Watch out for the twins, that’s a great bit. And Ryan Reynolds’ acting career as it were? That’s what I’m talking about. Every time he pops up, whether it be Cinderella Man or Scary Movie 4, Craig Bierko delivers. This time as a Russian porn star director. What’s good. There are some great lines from Jason Bateman (while being possessed by Ryan Reynolds) and quite a few attractive women in this movie. Not a big fan of Olivia Wilde’s acting though… she’s just an eye candy actress… (Sorry if that offends…)

So, if you’re into dramatic movies, this one will surprise you. If you’re into comedies of the outlandish sort, this movie will please and appease you. With such a satisfying mix with only a few big name actors putting their names on the bill, this really delivers. And yes, this is the Year of the Bateman. Jason Bateman. Solid 8.6 out of 10.

Can you handle the Bateman?


The Roommate: Crap or Subtle Genius?

No, I’m just kidding. There was no genius to this movie. It was crap. If there was anything good about this, it was that it was so absurd it was funny. But what’s awesome is that it beat James Cameron’s piece of crap Sanctum (3-D, already indication of crap). I strongly dislike James Cameron and I feel the defeat of his work is a step in the right direction for humanity. (Avatar= Pocahontas= Took title from The Last Airbender, completely equaling a cinematic failure.) Anyways, time for the plot summary. And don’t tell me, “NO, NO NO, I DON’T WANT A PLOT SUMMARY, I WANT TO BE SURPRISED.” There’s nothing to ruin here, except your evening if you waste your time seeing this in theaters.

Okay, so obviously, Sara Matthews’ (Minka Kelly) roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester) is a psycho. This girl, (big twist) simply doesn’t take her pills. Quite a hilarious part, might I add, filled fantastically by Frances Fisher, one of two Titantic (Damn it, Cameron) actors. The other one, of course, being the homosexually (?) married (?) art design (?) teacher, Billy Zane. I know, no need for the question marks, but just based on his title, his sexual orientation comes into question. True, I love Billy Zane. Come on, he was The Phantom. (Anybody feel me on that?) But more on the minors… never.

This girl Rebecca, Sara’s insane roommate, who, by the way, they never clarify how old they are or which year they are in college. They don’t even hint at it. Come on. Yes, they may go out to a frat house, but who wouldn’t drink while making this movie? I’m sorry, tangents. But yes, this girl does some insane stuff. She draws pictures. She fries kitty cats. She pierces her own ears on the fly. She wears designer clothing. But most importantly, and most endearingly, she cares about when her roommate comes home. Yes, she cares. Maybe too much? You decide. (But DVD time, not theater time.)

Some other notable appearances in this movie come from Cam Gigandet, Twilight movie heartthrob (James) and apparent comedian. As Sara’s boyfriend Stephen, he delivers line after line of comedic genius, as he sits in as the frat band’s “drummer” (very weak). I find that ever since Twilight and his subsequent work, The Unborn, Cam’s gonna be stuck as the horror movie bf for a while. Another newcomer to horror movies is Disney Channel star, Alyson Michalka. Used to her days on Disney as a duo pop sensation with her sis A.J., this horror movie was a real breakout and quite ironic that the tweens that watched her on Disney are now old enough to see her become a slut who takes her top off quite a few times.

So yes, this movie, oddly structured around fashion and trying to psychotically become your roommate’s best friend falls short of expectations. I felt hey, this’ll be another Orphan. Orphan is a great horror movie. This on the other hand, is crap. Complete and utter comedic horror. The whole theater laughed. Besides this angst ridden teen who felt this movies poetic drama would better prepare her for her college years. But yes, I was a bit worried I’d be scared, and when I left, I felt lighthearted and happy. So thank you, Christian E. Christiansen, Denmark movie extraordinaire, you made my weekend. I feel sorry to inform you that your debut in American horror cinema will be received as a joke. I know, you were trying for something new, but I don’t feel that a psychotic phone sex killer who loves her girlies is really gonna do it. I give it 2.2 out of 10. But by all means, if you want to see this for yourself, don’t wait, see this in theaters. Bring the whole family, it’ll be a blast.