Tag Archives: insightful

The Air I Breathe

Every time I watch this movie, I’m surprised at how simplistic it is. It follows a very simple storyline between four characters and never veers from that path. Focusing on human emotions and the tribulations we all face (although the cases may be extreme in this case) it’s a movie where the acting and humanistic side aren’t far off. Add elements that make it a worthwhile plot, and you have the makings of a film debut by Jieho Lee in his first film.

The entire film is based on an ancient Chinese proverb. Life itself is made up of four emotions. Happiness (Forest Whitaker), Pleasure (Brendan Frasier), Sorrow (Sarah

A well known cast with a bit of heart.

Michelle Gellar), and Love (Kevin Bacon). Each of these characters are represented on a hand, all connected by fingers (Andy Garcia). Through four separate “mini-stories” played out in an intertwining fashion, we gain insight into what the Chinese proverb means.

Hey may look friendly here, but he seems always frightening in his films.

Here’s something I don’t get though. Most critics gave this a bad review. They said that the all-star cast didn’t give enough of a boost to the film. I don’t think the cast or any of that hullabaloo had anything to do with this movie and how it did. This movie focuses on the plot. Seeing as its a character driven plot, the characters fuel and progress the story by their emotions and actions (finally discovering the emotion they represent by their part’s end). People say Brendan Frasier is a terrible actor (excluding The Mummy Series, of course. If you think those are bad, you have no idea what a good action movie is.) but I think this movie proves that theory wrong. Brendan Frasier plays an atypical character to what he normally plays. He’s not a muscled buffoon or frozen caveman come to life. He plays a thug, sure. But he plays an introspective thug who thinks before he acts. He has emotions and feelings you don’t normally see in a Brendan Frasier vehicle,

Give her the nod for this one.

something I’m proud to say he did very well.

There are other reasons this movie is good. Andy Garcia, how can you ever go wrong with that? He’s a frightening mobster man in whatever he does, and I’d personally never want to cross him. Forest Whitaker plays outside of what I think his normal roles are with his timid and almost asthmatic accountant position. Sarah Michelle Gellar was at least applauded for this movie, which I think was justly deserved. Kevin Bacon, well, he’s just Kevin Bacon. Combine interesting roles with an uncanny cadre of actors and you have yourself an interrelated plot about the human extremes of emotion.

Kevin Bacon. He’s footloose in this one.

This movie isn’t flashy. It’s not presumptuous or too intellectual. It shows you that it is what it is and that’s it. An emotional rollercoaster with a happy ending. Not everything that leads up to the ending is happy, but we must all go through trials and tribulations before we see the silver lining (or get to reach it). I think this is an understated film. It’s one of those films you should own in your collection as a little bit of a “life check” for when things are bad, or even good. So I would recommend at least giving The Air I Breathe a try. It’s thought provoking. 8.2 out of 10.

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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.


Black Lagoon: Viewers, Meet Your Maker

Oh, the wonderful women of Black Lagoon.

In a bust out and mind expanding experience, this show kicked my ass and said, “We won’t apologize for that.” Black Lagoon, in its entirety and breadth, covers Western cowboy shootouts, Piracy and the high seas, and in-your-face American splendour violence with guns and swords. There’s nowhere this show won’t go, and all of the women have big boobs, just how male viewers want it. I don’t care that the show jumps from arc to arc like a pogo-ing hoodlum. This show delivers heaps of entertainment and doesn’t give a single damn for it. With anime like this that can take a modern action movie

Sexy Lara Croft anyone? Thank God for you, Two Hands.

and slap it with their Desert Eagles, I get behind that anime 100%.

With this dazzling introduction, I had better “WOW” my readers, right? Well strap into your El Camino there, Wild Bill. This show will clash cars in the air, and unleash more shells than the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans combined. More carnage, more elite killings than anything I’ve seen since Christian Bale unlocked the gates of Hell in Equilibrium. And its done more graphically. As I’ve always said, what a cartoon can depict, when done maturely, can be more gruesome than any movie can depict. And you don’t need stunt actors or movie make-up special effects. This show depicts mass carnage on a monumental scale, and the main character has the mouth to back up the high content rating.

The crew of Black Lagoon (minus Benny).

Who is the main character, you may ask this post? Well, Revy (Maryke Hendrikse) provides the tomboyish, action star who looks quite similar to Lara Croft in this rollercoaster ride. Hendrikse provides an unlikeable, demeaning voice to Revy that let’s you know she wasn’t brought up by any Chinese American tycoons. She was backstreet, cat alley, chopshop material from day one. And she has the backstory and sailor’s mouth to prove it. She has a soft spot like any action star needs for the audience to connect with her, but it’s a small one at that. For her character in particular though, you may wanna check out the subbed version, her dubbed is a little bit harsh.

But be sure to check out the dub in general for everyone else! This Canadian dubbing team has worked on Gundams, Death Note, and various other anime worth checking in on. Hell, Ocean even did

The wonderfully frightening and sexy Roberta.

the original Dragonball dubbing! For a lot of the lines and attitudes to come across as cool, I was happy to see that the dub shows that. Even a lot of the lines in the original and in the manga were written in Japanese/English, showing that it was always meant to be transferred into an English context. And with all its praise for spaghetti Westerns and American action films with its references, it was only a matter of time.

As gritty as it gets for Rock.

So, yes! The dubbed version. You have Brad Swaile as Rock, the male lead of the show. Used in contrast to the rest of the characters in the novel, Rock is dropped in to a world he would never survive in. As chronicler of this tale, Rock acts as a moral compass in this show that has no meaning or need for direction. His white collar lifestyle and good guy attitude should’ve gotten him killed at this point, but the port town of Roanapur is amused with what he has to offer. He’s determined to change things, and this is an interesting role for a main character whom you’d expect to be pissing himself 90% of the show (the other 10%, would involve the other end).

 

Look familiar?

There’s Dutch (Dean Redman) and Benny (Brian Drummond), respectively, the leader and muscle of the squad with his big black attitude, and the brains behind the operations with his American ideals and his Jewishness (which I didn’t get at all in this show). Dutch is a fantastic leader and motivator for the team, staying neutral at all times so as not to jeopardize his crew and endeavors. Benny lays low like Rock does, leaving the crew to 50/50 on manpower and gun control. With the rest of the cast of Roanapur’s finest, there’s bound to be bloodshed, booze, and boobs galore.

The tag says “She’s back.” Perfect.

What this show follows is an erratic plot of gigs and tradings that the Lagoon Company gets themselves into. At first, it was just Dutch, Revy, and Benny. But after a botched job that lands Rock in their laps, the Japanese get involved and that’s where the show turns into a Japanese man’s perspective on the seedy underbelly of the Southeastern area of Asia. There are heists, Nazis, shipments of drugs and guns, and fights between the clans. I don’t want to give too much away, but every clan becomes involved at some point in the show, with one of Black Lagoon’s dealings or another. There’s a great secondary cast of mercenaries who always populate Roanopur, but there’s one character you have to look out for.

That character is Roberta, the maid. This Columbian maid has come to find her charge in one of the arcs. After that, she becomes one of the most badass characters in the show. She’s calm, cool, and collected, and never leaves anything to chance. She won’t die, and there’s so much more I could be telling you that I’m leaving out. Let’s just say she’s so amazing that they made an OVA storyline about her. Get some of that Columbian underground.

One of the great secondary characters!

I can’t talk highly enough of this show. It has everything an adrenaline junky is looking for, and then some. Action fans of the world unite and check out this anime, especially if you have no idea what an anime is. The plot and dialogue is insightful enough for a gun toting anime, and there are some unbelievable things that will surprise you. Entertaining to the end, Black Lagoon is one of those few shows that I watched everything related to it. Even those cute and funny little omake episodes they made that’re on Youtube. Everything about this show screams badass. And it should make you scream too. So check out this pumped up gun ride on the high seas. It was never more f#$%ing cool to be a pirate. A 9.5 out of 10. 


Rise of the Planet of the Apes

So the second I saw that this movie was coming out, I became instantly pumped to see it. I thought the Planet of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg (and Tim Roth mind you) was fantastic, although it didn’t receive the best of reviews. I thought, “Hey, if they’re willing to take a chance on another one, going back to tell the origins of the rise of the apes, then I gotta see this.” And see this I did. And I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t the fuel-injected adrenaline ride you expect from the trailers, it delivers a more insightful, sensitive side to Caesar and his rise to intelligence.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes all starts with a cure for Alzheimer’s. With the AZ-112 cure, Will Rodman

Oh hey Andy Serkis, didn't realize you were Caesar.

(James Franco) has found, through ape testing, that it does in fact, reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. With this amazing breakthrough, all those affected across the world could be cured of this fatal disease. But in a horrible accident, it appears as if the cure is not yet ready for human testing. But, as its discovered, it is sort of ready for human testing (hard to explain). But one of the apes who was tested with the AZ-112 is in fact, hyper-intelligent. Accelerating through intelligence at an incredible rate, Caesar as he is come to be known lives with Will and learns like an overly strong young boy.

Caesar and the cause of destruction, AZ-113.

Over the years, Caesar comes to resent his entrapment indoors and wishes for a more stimulating environment. But when he acts out, he is punished and taken to a wildlife “reserve” for apes. Horribly mistreated, Caesar uses his intelligence to begin the fall of mankind. I shouldn’t divulge anymore, but its well worth the watch. One thing I gotta say is that the 3-D animated apes in this film are phenomenal. The use of intelligent sign language, the movements and natural positions and actions of the apes implies that the makers of this movie really put in the effort to study apes. This build-up and framework of the apes and their rise to dominance really creates a background for an incredible plot.

And no, this movie isn’t completely unbelievable. At first, the apes’ goal are to find their own home and live there peacefully without abuse. Using their new found intelligence, they do so. But there are adverse effects to the AZ-113 (new Alzheimer’s drug) this time. And this creates a problem that causes the destruction of the humans of this world. So no, to all you out there that may say, we’d destroy those damn, dirty apes. We destroyed ourself.

With a few notable actors, this movie really brings together a good cast to tell a good story. With James Franco as the research scientist in search of a cure for

A touching, powerful film.

his father (John Lithgow), I feel the pain that losing a father could cause in this situation. It pains Franco to see his father in such a situation where he is no longer himself. And so does Caesar. Freida Pinto gives a good supporting performance for James Franco as his fellow ape lover and wife, Caroline Arahna. Tom Felton, as I’m sure most H.P. fans would agree, comes out of left field in this movie as a jerky daddy’s boy who just doesn’t like those not like himself (AKA Apes). I did enjoy his character and am happy to see he’s getting work after the H.P.’s are over. And David Oyelwo gives a good performance as the greedy exec, Steven Jacobs (Sounds like Steven Jobs… JK.)

So, all in all, this film delivered. Even Andy Serkis got in on the action as the voice of Caesar. It’s no wonder that Weta Workshops was the creation force behind the apes. With the fluidity of the story and the focus on the apes, this movie itself even became taken over by the apes. I also found it very interesting that I could identify certain apes in this film with their counterparts in the Planet of the Apes (aka, Tim Roth as Caesar, Korba as Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s ape Krull, and Buck the gorilla as Michael Clarke Duncan in the film as well.) With this connection and the set up for two more films from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, this could be a promising trilogy. 9.2 out of 10.