Monday, December 15, 2008

Movie #91 - Aliens

"This time there's more."

Great tag line. Definitely one of my favourite James Cameron films - however, nothing beats Terminator 2: Judgment Day in my books!

For a horror / action movie, this movie received a great deal of critical acclaim, for acting, directing, and special effects. For 1986 and limited CGI technology, a number of these scenes had to be created with miniatures, life-sized puppets, and innovative filming techniques.

Winner of two Oscars for visual effects and sound effects, Weaver got nominated for Best Actress for her reprisal of the Ellen Ripley character... a recurring character in the original Alien Quadrology. Add in some strong cameos from everyone's favourite Sigma Nu - Michael Biehn, cult weirdo Lance Henriksen, and of course Bill Paxton and weenie Paul Reiser. Although I like Reiser in this asshole role... which is by far better than the crap he usually appears in (see all of his television roles for examples).

Three awesome scenes in this film make this movie worthwhile. 1. Bishop impalement scene - probably the best scene involving milk as a studio prop. You'll know what I mean when you see it. 2. Bishop knife scene - yeah... let's just say thousands of 80's teenagers probably tried to do this in real life, to no avail. I tried to do it with a sharp pencil back in the day and let's just say its better than using a knife. 3. Ripley vs. Queen Alien scene - awesome use of mechanical forklifts... enough said.

If after 22 years, you still haven't seen this movie, I have no sympathies for you. Its a must see if you are a fan of the genre, the franchise, and if you enjoy a great action movie where you don't have to think, but enjoy plain violence - 80's style!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Movie #90 - White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

I watched this film back when my wife and I first got TMN. This is one of those powerful, historical documentaries that you are not watching to be entertained, but to be informed of how tragic our recent past has been and how much influence it still has for people of today.

The title says it all, but this movie is more than that. It is a full documentation of the remaining survivors of the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of the Second World War. Some of the scenes and descriptions are quite graphic, but this is real life - which is what makes it powerful than anything a Steven Spielberg or Clint Eastwood could conjure up to depict WWII.

Director Steven Okazaki should be commended for telling a story that many people have since forgotten. Generations have come and gone since the tragic bombings of Japan and many of the country's own citizens have already forgotten what these victims had to go through just over 60 years ago. This notion was captured by Okazaki after interviewing a number of teenagers and twenty-somethings in the streets of both Tokyo and Hiroshima during the 60th anniversary of the bombing. Only a handful of young people interviewed actually knew the significance of the day in question - which was both heart-wrenching and not surprising at the same time.

Without getting too preachy, many young people of our generation have forgotten the many sacrifices that previous generations did to provide for a better world for the first world countries. This includes a number of issues, not just tragedies linked to war or oppression. Its good to see that movies like this exist to wake up people like me to realize how lucky we truly are. Hopefully, more people will have the chance to see documentaries like this one to know what really happened through a first hand account of the events.

I highly recommend this film. Its definitely not for the faint at heart, but one that I believe most people my age should watch. History is sometimes retold with a great deal of bias (e.g. old World at War documentaries produced by the BBC in the 70's), however, this first-person account really shows what truly happened - all biased removed.

Movie #89 - Akira

"Neo-Tokyo is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E."

Definitely one of the weirder films that I have seen over the last decade. I had wanted to watch this movie for many years after following suggestions and advice from movie critics such as Leonard Maltin, Gene Siskel, or Roger Ebert. From my recollection, I believe this film comes from one of Ebert's picks from many years back.

Have never been a real fan of anime, although I collect comic books - primarily mainstream issues from the DC and Marvel. I rarely ventured outside of my realm of superhero books, so this movie and its artistic style was intriguing and a treat to watch for the first time.

I stumbled upon a used copy on VHS from the local Rogers video store and forced my then girlfriend at the time to watch this movie with me on a Friday or Saturday evening. I cannot speak for her, but I was impressed by the plot, the artwork, and the action sequences... which you never see in any animated feature films of Batman, Superman, etc.

However, this movie was just plain weird. Probably the inspiration of late 90's and early decade music videos of Daft Punk, Gorillaz, or Linkin' Park, Akira is the mainstream anime film that many people know and actually accept as a solid movie.

Back in high school, I tried to get into it as one of my good friends was trying to introduce this genre to me along with other science fiction type activities (collectible card games - CCG's). However, it never caught on with me - probably just weirder than I wanted to let my mind get involved in at the time. The reason behind that was because I watched Ghost in the Shell. Similar to Akira, was beautifully shot and had a great plot, but took a tremendous twist in the end - making the whole movie watching experience somewhat cheapened as the film didn't make any sense once it was over.

If you like that sort of thing and enjoy other science fiction type films, you'll enjoy Akira. Even if you are not a fan of anime, you will find entertainment value in this film. Just stop the tape or DVD in the last 10 minutes and you'll be fine!