Tag Archives: heartfelt

Cemetery Junction: Some New British Faces

A Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant collaboration featuring Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes? And it’s not exactly a comedy? Count me in? I was sold after you said Ricky Gervais. And he even makes a cameo or two. Cemetery Junction is one of those stock idea genres that deals with a young man’s coming-of-age story. But what interested me is that I had no idea who any of the men who were coming of age. With a bunch of fresh new faces, I was slightly touched and given a few laughs with another creation from Gervais and Merchant.

In Cemetery Junction, we meet Freddie Taylor (Christian Cooke), a young man looking

Some new British faces.

to make something of himself in a part of England that doesn’t seem to let anyone escape or actually succeed. His friends Bruce (Tom Hughes) and Snork (Jack Doolan) are stuck in the same boat, but they seem to be okay with their situation. Dead end jobs and nothing of interest, Cemetery Junction is a town full of ghosts. But when Freddie is inspired by his former girlfriend Julie (Felicity Jones) to be something more, he shoots a bit higher, not trying to be sucked back into his small town.

Classic Gervais.

So I mentioned I didn’t know any of the young men actors in this film. After looking them up on IMDB, I thought I knew them, but I don’t. Christian Cooke was a standout leading actor, holding down the fort for the rest of the younger actors in the film. I thought of him as a younger version of Matthew Goode, they played off each other so well. Bruce Pearson reminded me of a rebellious and dashingly good looking Cillian Murphy. His character and his troubles gripped me quite well in this one. And Jack Doolan reminded me of a chubbier Iwan Rheon, with all the same dorkiness and charm. These three young men made a winning team.

Throw in a great secondary cast and you have yourself a swinging 70’s period piece. Ricky Gervais was going to include himself no matter what, and he had to inject some of his snarky comedy into this one. It worked well, but I can’t really picture Ricky Gervais as a dad. Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington

Lookin’ good, as per usual.

made great little cameos as well, providing a chuckle for those who know them. Matthew Goode played a great playboy d-bag boyfriend, and Ralph Fiennes is as fierce and dominating as usual. And Emily Watson was simply pleasant and stunningly caring as the captured bird of a wife in this film. I was quite happy with the results of all the acting when it all came together.

I must admit, I also enjoyed the soundtrack to this movie as well. I dunno what it is, but this and Velvet Goldmine have just gotten to me

Thanks again, boys.

with their tributes to the 70’s. I had no idea I could enjoy that type of music with my death metal background. The humor is fresh and feels like it comes from a very true place, much different from the extremely awkward style of Ricky Gervais (but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some of his in there as well). It’s refreshing to see a film like this coming from well known comedic creators and you are surprised because it has substance along with comedy. And even some heart in there. This was an interesting little film that doesn’t break the mold too much, but it is British. So watch it. 7.4 out of 10.

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Ip Man: The True Master

Ip Man, the trainer of Bruce Lee in Wing Chun martial arts style. One of the true Grandmasters that has left a legacy all martial arts film fans must appreciate. Here comes a film from Wilson Yip, a director who has brought us Donnie Yen in the forms of Dragon Tiger Gate and Flash Point. But this film has a different pace and style. More elegant than other kung fu films, this movie flows in the same Ki as Fearless with Jet Li. I think here’s a point where I’m going to list my favorite martial artists just to get it out there. Let me know what you think of this list:

1. Tony Jaa (that’s a given, he got me into martial arts)

2. Jeeja Yanin (she’s a girl who can Muay Thai kick ass)

That is a killer stare right there.

3. Donnie Yen (straight masterful ever since I saw him in Iron Monkey)

4. Jet Li (straight destructive martial artist who has made it big in American films)

5. Dan Chupong (this dude is not as well known as Tony Jaa, but his films are just as brutal as Jaa)

I want me one of those…

6. Jackie Chan (all his movies are entertaining. Me and my roommate love Rush Hour!)

7. Iko Uwais (up and comer from Thailand. He’s in the most anticipated film for me this year, The Raid: Redemption)

8. Panna Rittikrai (this guy helped teach Tony Jaa all he knows, elderly Asian master)

9. Bruce Lee (he’s gotta be on this list somewhere! He’s ballin’ hard!)

10. Kazu Patrick Tang (this dude rocked shit in Raging Phoenix and Bangkok Knockout! Most handsome Thai man in martial arts)

The single greatest scene in the film.

And there it is. Hate me for listing Bruce Lee so low, but he’s on there. And, after watching this movie, I have gained all the more respect for Ip Man and Bruce Lee and what they do and stand for.

This film is a heartfelt one, and may bring a tear to your eye. During the Sino-Japanese War, Fo Shan is a city of prosperity until the Japanese invade and take over. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a respected martial arts master who takes people to school on a daily basis. He and his family lose everything after the invasion and it is up to Ip Man to reclaim his honor and the honor of the Chinese people in this tale of inspiration. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next one.

Shit’s about to pop off.

There were a lot of things about this movie that surprised me. Unlike the traditional shoddy acting from the martial artists in films like this, there’s none of that. Only good acting and prideful performances. Donnie Yen always surprises me as a showman first and, well, a martial arts master also first. He can perform well and with honor and dignity (as he did in this role) and kick the shit out of people. It’s really refreshing to see an aging martial arts actor gracefully enter the older years with poise and the ability to still perform at a younger level with fire and passion.

This movie also pulls back the reins on the stylistic elements of Kung Fu films. You expect the people flying from rooftop to rooftop and kicks that send people flying, but not so much in this film. In this

Breathtaking scenery.

return to reality, Donnie Yen styles down his brutal kicks and flips to hone in on a form that is more elegant, precise, and lethal. I had a jaw dropping moment when Ip Man takes on 10 Japanese martial artists at once and probably kills about half of them with these precise little blows. You have to see it to believe it.

Get on dat destruction.

Other than that, this movie has a moving soundtrack, a strangely dubbed over audio track, and fairly accurate subtitles. It’s inspirational and humbling, informing you on one of the greatest martial artists of all time. It’s one of those films you see that makes you want to know more, and reminds you why you love to watch Kung Fu films. Ip Man all the way! 8.4 out of 10.


Baccano!: You Just Have to Watch it.

I’m going to say as little as I possibly can about this show while trying to talk about this show and how interesting it was for me. Also, in this review, I’m going to attempt to talk about characters in such a vague way that I don’t reveal anything about the plot and just encourage you to watch the show. Impossible task? Challenge accepted.

This is an anime set in the Prohibition Era of America in the early 1900’s. There is an element of magic and mystery that intertwines itself in this show so that you have to accept what’s possible with the impossible. There are gangsters, and, orignally, magicians (of  a sort). The characters range from the mentally unstable to the kind and thoughtful. With inspiration from the film, The Untouchables, the gangster and his New York accent come to life in the world of the speakeasies.

There are a lot of characters...

When you first begin to watch this show, you may become frustrated. A lot of characters and events are thrown at you all at once. Told from so many perspectives, it can become overwhelming in the first couple of episodes. But have patience. In a nonlinear plotline that comes together in pieces, this show was ingeniously crafted to have the characters drive the story until the plot becomes clear. Just remember when watching that the Flying Pussyfoot (really don’t like the name though) is the central event of the series. Things occurring on the train, for the most part, are happening in the real time (I think…) while all other events of the early 1930s are flashbacks, or maybe even flashforwards. Still not entirely sure. It’s a show worth watching through more than once.

 

What's going on?

With all the gangster families, it can become hard to determine just exactly who is who and who did what and who is wanted for what purpose. With all the accents and the strange character names, (Jacuzzi Splot. Enough said.) with three different gangster mafioso families going on at once (the Gandors, the Genoards, and the Martillos) including Jacuzzi’s gang and the Russo family, toss in Isaac and Miria, and you have a lot of chaos all at once. Nothing is as it seems and nothing seems to make much sense in the Baccano! world. It’s all about the ending payoff.

A few noteworthy voice actors in the dubbed version to speak of. You have to start with Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent. J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass

Isaac and Miria. Best.

really branch their talents to their extremes with two ridiculous thieves with no care in the world and no idea what’s going on. John Burgmeier puts on an English accent as a character I can’t reveal (sorry). And R. Bruce Elliott places a mean old Russian bastard who is actually a terribly villainous magician. Joel McDonald in a surprisingly heartfelt performance gets his Brooklyn on as Jacuzzi and Nice, his eye-patched love interest and crime partner is nicely done by Colleen Clinkenbeard. Throw in a Frenchman in jail and you have the wide ranging and seductive talents of Eric Vale.  Throw in Todd Haberkorn and his always likeable goofy characters and you have a Baccano! cast.

I love this man so much.

But, I could never forget the big standout in the show. In a very underrated voice actor comes one of the best performances of his career. Ladd Russo, a highly skilled and highly delusional killer is voiced by Bryan Massey. His questioning and highly energetic character from My Bride is a Mermaid, Shark, returns as another kind of inhuman being. Ladd is vulgar, he is brutal, and he is one of the most likeable and sinister characters in the series. Any guy who can walk into a room and say, “I like you! F%*k you!” deserves respect.

Let's get to pokin'.

And for the rest, AKA the amazing plot, you have to watch it for yourself. In the same vein of shows as Durarara! (interesting, both are marked with exclamation points…) comes a character driven show with a great payoff. Watch it for the characters and voice acting. Watch it for the interesting non-linear plot. Watch it just to watch it. It’s well worth a shot. You just might find what you’re looking for in a show in this 16 episode anime, Baccano!


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I don’t know how long this review may turn out to be, but I have so much to say on the topic of Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In what I would consider, and what others would consider to be one of the greatest and most well known anime of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist delivers on so many levels. It has so much going on and so many characters to follow and love that it’s going to be quite hard in keeping this short (that’s what she said).

All that being said, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (And its original show I’ve watched as well, and own) is the story of Edward (Vic Mignogna) and

Too many great characters to count.

Alphonse (Aaron Dismuke/Maxey Whitehead) Elric. These two brothers are into alchemy, the mystic version of what we today call science. In a world apart from our own, Ed and Al delve into the inner workings of things like equivalent exchange (In order for something to be gained, something must be lost of equal value.) and alchemic circles. Seeming to be something of the occult, these two delve into what is common practice of the early 1900s.

Living happily with their mother and father (for a time, until he leaves) Ed and Al become engrossed in the world of Alchemy. Taking every opportunity they can to learn about its secrets, the two become formidable alchemists in their own right at a very young age. And then, tragedy strikes.

Ed and Al, two brothers on an adventure.

Struck down by some unexplained illness, Ed and Al’s mother dies at an unexpected and early time in her life. While the two of them are still young (7 and 9), they attempt the taboo. The attempt to perform human transmutation. With what appears to be a straighforward procedure, the two attempt to create life from the makings of a human (i.e. water, carbon, trace elements, etc.). What they don’t account for is what costs them. Taking Ed’s right arm and left leg and Al’s entire body, Ed barely saves Al’s soul by attaching it to a suit of armor in the corner of the room. Debilitated and with no family left except some loving family friends, Winry Rockbell and her grandmother, Pinako, these two burn down their family home and leave Risembool.

This leads Ed and Al to pursue the only other alchemic object that readers of Harry Potter will be familiar with. The Philosopher’s Stone. This magical object, in the context of FMA, can circumvent the need for equivalent

Always leaving Winry behind to cry...

exchange. This object, they believe, will allow them to get their bodies back and return to a life of normalcy. But with the heavy prices and hardships in store, it won’t be that easy. Providing his services to the military state of Amestris as a “dog of the military”, a state alchemist. With Al along, the two must discover just what it means to put it all on the line for the Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy. It's hip.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the later workings of the plots that go down in FMA and FMAB. After a certain amount of episodes, the two diverge in plot. Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t follow the original plot of the manga, while Brotherhood follows it exactly. Never having read the manga (I’m an anime person, sorry.) I didn’t have a problem with either. There is some big debate and divisive opinions on the matter, but I feel the two shows stand apart, despite being about the same things. Both are quite satisfying in the end.

Great characters, old and new.

In any case, the characters in this show are wonderful. So is the voice acting. Actually, if I may be so bold, the English voice actors are just as popular with this show as the Japanese ones. Funimation did things right when they got the rights to this show and casted accordingly. But enough about that for now. We have to talk characters. I guess I’ll have to talk about characters without revealing anything about the plot. Hard to do, but I’ll manage.

Well, there’s Ed and Al, of course. These two drive the plot and give

Armstrong. Always good for a shirt rip.

wonderfully heartfelt and considerate characters to the show. Ed can be a bit hotheaded (and therein lies the comedy) but his stubborn attitude and realistic view of the world really shape our view into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. With Al, who’s just as important, comes the caring and gentle giant (because of the suit of armor) character that I secretly admire greatly. His only flaw and greatest strength is that he cares too much. Winry comes across as the weeping damsel in distress,  one of the only female characters in the show to do so. Functioning as a sort of love interest in what is collectively called a shounen, this girl can pack a punch… comedically, whenever she needs to.

Kimblee. Badass. All in white.

And then there are some of my favorite characters. There’s Zolf J. Kimblee, the most badass villain and coolest alchemist to grace the series. With the power to alchemically turn anything into a bomb at his whim, he lays waste to everything in his paste. His nonchalant attitude about life and the love he holds for chaos is something I find to legit to quit in villainous characters. There’s Scar, the Ishballan priest turned freedom fighter. After his people were destroyed in a civil war, Scar ditches his name and uses the powers granted him by his brother in order to kill those alchemists who wronged him. He’s a bit of a conflicted character who really jumps around in the series, but he’s well worth rooting for. Roy Mustang and his surly crew of officers. Mustang is a high ranking officer among the military and effectively rules it with his ability to set anything on fire. Mirrored in his fiery attitude, he has the ambition to rule the country as Furher someday. (Amestris is basically Germany in the early 1900s. Almost hard to swallow that they’re reflecting Nazisms in this show, but it’s a choice.)

This was legit.

Then there are these creatures in the world known as Homunculi. I can’t say anything more about the topic (it’s too damn important), but I can say that they’re named after the 7 deadly sins. Their powers and personalities reflect that, and look out for Greed, Gluttony, and Pride, three of my favorites. Wrath used to be one of my favorites, but he/she is two different characters in FMA and FMAB. All of the Homunculi are key in the plot and well worth picking your favorite for how diverse and interesting their characters are. With two different explanations as to their origins, you can pick your favorite.

I enjoy this.

Now that I’m thinking about all the things that FMA/FMAB has to offer, I am starting to wish I had done a separate blog on Fullmetal Alchemist. These shows are two worlds apart, and similar in so many ways. There’s just so much to go into in detail and scope, and just not enough time to discuss it in. I don’t want to bore anyone with a long winded review, but if you do have questions you’d like answered or a specific topic I should review on my blog, let me know via comment or something. I’d love to talk about it!

Oh, all the characters and the plot I can’t get into and all that good shit. I’m now seeing this review as more of a teaser than anything. The intricate plot and reveals of both versions are well worth it. The dialogue and emotions will enrapture you in joy and sorrow. I can’t talk this up enough, can I? Well I wanna mention voice actors in English before I give this show the 10 out of 10 it deserves.

Can't even explain what's going on here.

Vic Mignogna is as iconic and well known for his voice as Edward Elric as the Japanese voice actor. Loved by many, he may always be recognized as Ed. Aaron Dismuke, one of the youngest voice actors to grace Funimation, got his start from a very young age as Alphonse Elric. With a voice that began to change as the show went on, it was all too unfortunate that Aaron could no longer fulfill the part. Maxey Whitehead did a good job in her own right, but there was

Here's a little throwback Greed.

a distinct difference in Al’s soft spoken voice. Travis Willingham delivers well as Roy Mustang, the fiery commander of the Amestris military. In what I would consider an improved performance from the original FMA, he really allowed his character to come out in Brotherhood.

Caitlin Glass does a phenomenal job as the constantly emotional Winry at all the right points. I must say though that I liked Dameon Clarke far more as Scar than J Michael Tatum. The gruff demeanor of Scar, I feel, leans more towards a man of few words than a gruff sounding religious freak. Just saying.

You beat them back, Scar, you religious freak you.

Both good, just drastically different. Who else should I mention… Eric Vale was badass as Kimblee with his, “I don’t care, I’m nuckin’ futs crazy. I’ll kill you.” attitude. Enough said there. Laura Bailey is as sexy as ever as Lust, the sexiest of the Homunculi. Troy Baker, more than Chris Patton, in the original, provides a great “I want the world and I’ll do anything to get it” voice as Greed. And, exclusively to Brotherhood comes Lin Yao, a prince from Xing with one of the best scenes and deliveries in the entire show, done by Todd Haberkorn. The goofiness of Todd disappears behind the character of Lin Yao and become something entirely different. And, of course, Christopher R. Sabat is amazing as with everything he does as Alex Louis Armstrong, the Strongarm Alchemist.

So with all these great things all in one amazing anime, why haven’t you already seen this/are watching it now? There’s no need to read this review when all I could have said is watch this show. Watch Fullmetal Alchemist and tell your friends about it. Subbed or dubbed, it doesn’t matter. Watch both versions and compare, let me know which one’s your favorite. Bask in the glory that is FMA/FMAB. It’s all good so trust The Abyss and jump right in. It’s worth it. 10 out of 10.

It all comes full circle. Full alchemy circle.