I mentioned in my last post about April Fools happening the following day, and hoping for more fun than offence for everyone who may get pranked. Well, on April first while waiting for a Fish and chips in the car, I got an e-mail that I wasn’t expecting so soon: An unconditional offer to do an Animation Degree. To add weight to the situation, I have been interested in getting on this course since July of last year. Sending the application in September, giving them my new portfolio in February (after receiving advice on how to improve it, and watching youtube videos of portfolios that other students had done), and then waiting to see if they would reply before the middle of May. They did. And literally, while life continues to be life and stuff happens – I haven’t felt this glad in a very long time.
I mention this, because I believe that blogging about my experiences on this course will be an important part to the creative process, as well as helping out anybody else who might either be doing it, or are interested in it. I acknowledge that upon entering, I will be starting at the very beginning. Deliberately entering it as if it was a new medium that I have no experience doing. To build a foundation that doesn’t collapse, and could hopefully be there for the rest of my career. And with this I say, I’m looking forward to this journey. See you along the way!
I guess I could play the game of trying to post this at twenty two past ten tonight, right on the twenty-second second. But enough of that silliness, because there is no twenty second month and this will only truly work in another two hundred years time. By then, will we still even have the Gregorian Calendar?…If only it was possible to get a computer or app to read this in Rod Serling’s voice. That would be awesome.
So this week has been an opportunity to truly get the year’s wheel rolling. Spring is around the corner, and despite the portfolio already being submitted and the wait is on – I’m still learning how to animate on the side. On top of this, I will have to develop an adaptable style, and let us be honest – Disney and Anime are good influences for that kind of thing. I’ve been studying the Nine Old Men, as well as several anime directors and Mangaka I enjoy, and hopefully I’ll be able to find “the style” that somehow gets recognised. We’ll see. Until then, here’s a sketch I did using a frame in Fantastia as reference. In particular, Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Would I recommend Luca? Yes, I would. This is a Disney Plus exclusive worth seeing and is bursting with colour, personality and character. The story is simple, but the underlying layers make it a very engaging watch, and we can walk away thinking about it afterwards.
The art style and animation are marvellous! It is Pixar in top form and has among the most beautiful uses of the colours blue and green that I have ever seen in a film. Despite their amount, the colour palette is nice and warm. The town of Portorosso is a pure overdose of nostalgia. A timeless Italy. A romantic Italy. A world of simple delights lovingly crafted by the artists. The character designs are reminisced of
The voice acting is absolutely excellent, and I enjoyed watching this film in both English and Italian. You can blame my love for anime on why I seek to view it in the language in which it is based. Saverio Raimondo, who voices the main antagonist Ercole in English and Italian, is fantastic. He perfectly creates the sound of a smarmy and arrogant young man. Everybody else is very suitable in their roles.
The characters, story, and themes are very sharp. Some would say, a literal fish-out-of-water story with considerations to be made. It is a story about the friendship between Luca and Alberto. As well as a story about the influence and love of education and exploration. You have Alberto showing Luca the vehicle. In this case, the Vespa scooter could take them anywhere they want. However, Alberto’s role is simply to get out of the boat and swim on the surface (metaphorically speaking). Then you have Guilia showing Luca a higher calling or destination through education and/or truth. She, metaphorically, encourages Luca to dive into the water and see the world underneath – something that Alberto cannot provide due to his own lack of knowledge to do so. Some could argue that Luca’s parents could have played a bigger role in this film – however, I think this would have taken away the focus. Plus, 2017’s Coco already covered the defiance-of-family-to-learn-the-truth story a few years ago. There needed to be a different story here. You will also get some obscure inspirations and parallels for reference. Such as Luca and Alberto being compared to Ariel and Scuttle in The Little Mermaid. Never mind Alberto being based on an old childhood friend of the director Enrico Casarosa.
The music in both score and soundtrack is lovely and really bring you into its world. The opening in particular, known as Un bacio a mezzanotte by Quartetto Cetra is…perfect. And hopefully, more people will find the song for themselves. Apparently, they wanted Ennio Morricone, which would have provided a wonderful touch. However, it didn’t work out (rest in peace, Ennio), and the job was given to Dan Romer, who some might know as the composer for the video game Far Cry 5. In general, it all works well.
Well, folks, April is here, it’s Good Friday, and Cherry Blossoms are already coming out for a show. And with it comes the closing of a dark chapter and the beginning of new life.
It has been a while since I’ve written some news. Unfortunately, if you like my movie reviews and were looking forward to David Lynch Month, this will probably be bad news.
The truth is, I am taking a step back from reviewing movies as a Monday Night Staple. All Movie Reviews will be Wildcard Reviews and this April will no longer be David Lynch month.
Instead, the Monday Night Review will become a Tuesday Night Review for a time. I will be reviewing new anime episodes on Tuesday and Thursday nights, starting with Joran The Princess Of Snow And Blood, which caught my eye this Tuesday passed, and hence switching days to allow non-subscribers of Crunchyroll to come along for the ride. To some of you, this may be a better way forward. But to those who disagree, I apologise for this decision. Thursday Night Reviews may also change to different days depending on the release dates of new anime.
May In Japan Movie Reviews might not happen on Mondays in May – but trust me when I say you’ll get plenty of Japan over the coming months. Until then, I will see you on Tuesday for the review of Joran Episode One. Then this Thursday for the final episode of Laid Back Camp’s second season.
We continue El Mariachi March/Robert Rodriguez Month with the continuation of the El Mariachi trilogy. Leading me to say – if you haven’t seen El Mariachi and want to see it first, I recommend going to watch it now. This review will contain spoilers. However, if you don’t care about El Mariachi, that’s okay as well because this film can stand on its own. So now that I have that out of the way: Here’s Desperado.
Set in the Modern Day (1995) in Mexico – our story starts with among the best opening ten minutes of cinema in history. Before truly beginning with our main character, El Mariachi (once played by co-producer Carlos Gallardo and now played by Antonio Banderas. Carlos plays a different Mariachi here. But not the Mariachi from the prequel). What are these ten minutes I mentioned? Steve Buscemi, more or less playing himself, walking into a bar run by Cheech Marin (from Cheech and Chong), and while drinking lukewarm beer, tells them the legend of the giant Mexican looking for the drug lord known as Bucho. The large Mexican walks into the bar, and you can’t see his face. In his hand is a familiar sight – a guitar case full of weapons. Within these few minutes, he makes these cynical, hardened Mexicans fear for everything they have while maintaining as much composure as possible. We receive everything we need to know about ‘El’ through this Mexican-Batman-Legend that has the underworld scared. We see El’s goal. To go after Bucho, who was Moco’s superior, and therefore the puppet-master behind the death of the woman he loved. Along the way, we enter what I could describe as a Gritty Mexican Alice In Wonderland, as the musician runs into some interesting circumstances.
Now to look at the guitar case to see what got the job done.
Compared to El Mariachi, this feels like a different film. For one thing, it received a $7 million budget, which is a little under one thousand times what El Mariachi cost, at $7,225. With this, we could say that Rodriguez was able to not only get the right kinds of faces for roles, but he also got some exceptional casting choices out of it. Even though he was only able to have them for a week each, Steve Buscemi and Cheech Marin were able to play very memorable and funny roles in this film as El’s ‘only friend’ and the Bartender. Antonio Banderas was already an experienced actor in Spain. His role as Armand in 1994’s Interview With The Vampire made him noticed. But this was, I think, his first starring role in America. Then, of course, Salma Hayek, who only had two Mexican film roles and a Made-For-TV film role up this point, became a star through this film (whether through her acting or her looks – I would say both). Then, of course, the legends that are Danny Trejo and Quentin Tarantino make for memorable scenes, which they both steal. Nobody has a more dangerous face than Trejo, and nobody does Tarantino-dialogue like Quentin Tarantino. Buscemi and Tarantino instantly made this film what I will call “Mid-’90s Cool”, and I might use that term more often from here on. The acting was well done and very stylised. It has the grit of a western with the fun of a comedy. Like, Die Hard with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I might also add how many El Mariachi alumni have reappeared here. Consuelo Gomez as Domino, Peter Marquardt as Moco, and Jaime de Hoyos as Bigotón all reprise their roles for a dream scene. Believe it or not, in a Spaghetti Western fashion, Reinol Martinez (Azul) appears in a “blink and miss it” moment where he tells the boy with the guitar to scram. He’s playing a different role, and hopefully, he became a Doctor as he intended three years before.
The characters are all a combination of grit and charisma, and if they didn’t have anything interesting to say, they had a great face to tell you a bit about them. The villains are also much better. As significant as Moco was in El Mariachi, he doesn’t hold our interest on screen the way Bucho does. Bucho is brutal yet charming and funny. Like Top Dollar in the 1994 film The Crow…only with short hair and a white suit. We hear about Moco having a hold on the public, but he never leaves his home. Bucho on the other hand does. We see him blessing the public, and therefore he sustains them, while also being a Drug Lord…kind of like Pablo Escobar on a small scale. As part of the budget, the film has a lot more extras and fewer passers-by.
The story is a combination of fast-paced action, slowed down character moments, and manages to make small, seemingly pointless moments important. In this case, it’s the interactions between El Mariachi and the boy with the guitar. I love the urban legend route they took with the character, to the point that changing the actor almost made sense. El Mariachi is simply a tall Mexican with black clothes and a guitar case full of weapons. To some, Azul was El Mariachi, and to others it was Carlos Gallardo, and to other Antonio Banderas. Clint Eastwood changed names in the Dollars Trilogy, and El Mariachi changed faces. In a way, it’s quite brilliant. The action scenes were a lot more over the top and fun, and with the bigger budget, they managed to get a lot of cool moments in there. The plot is simple, but the dressing is a little messy – messy, but fun.
The Art style, Cinematography and Editing is a step up from El Mariachi. Focusing on what I could compare to Comic Book Violence. I’ve mentioned the fantastic action scenes. Today they live up to their flashy aesthetic and the editing decisions made for some memorable music-video style moments.
Music plays a much more significant role in this film, not only in its tone but its overall flavour. Los Lobos (famous for their cover of Richie Valen’s song La Bamba) produced much of the music, along with Tito & Tarantula (the singer, Tiro Larriva, also has a role as one of the dealers/occupants of Cheech’s bar). We’re given songs by The Latin Playboys, Link Wray, Dire Straits, Carlos Santana, Roger & The Gypsies, and Salma Hayek. I’ve had the CD of this film from over ten years ago. And while I acknowledge now that some of it is better off in the film than in my car stereo, that doesn’t take away from the importance it had on the film’s overall experience.
Would I recommend Desperado? Yes, I would. It is a step-up in quality and is a fine example of how a sequel can be better than the first film, which is rare. Robert Rodriguez had some more freedom with the much higher budget, and it’s clear that he had become more refined in his vision since last time. What is also great, as I mentioned, is that it also works as a standalone film. It has a beginning, middle and end, and addresses everything needed about El Mariachi. It leaves some room for next week’s film to be made, but we’re left with the choice to stop here.
I came across this YouTube channel while I was researching countries where it possibly snows for 5 months of the year…actually now that I think about it, it was because this guy went to Chernobyl with a local who still lives on the verge of the radiation zone (and survives on Buckwheat and vodka in a house with no electricity or running water). But this is besides the point – What we have here is one of the most unique channels that you will ever find on the internet. This is Bald and Bankrupt.
So what is it exactly? Well, it’s a vlog channel that was created in 2018 by Benjamin Rich, a presumably bald and bankrupt english-man (I doubt he’s bankrupt anymore) from Brighton who has a long history of travelling throughout his life (and is also the author of “The Burning Edge” Travelling Through Irradiated Belarus” under the pen name Arthur Chichester). Rich goes where google maps fears to tread. He functions primarily within the former USSR, but his journeys have also taken him to India, Mexico, Cuba, Burma, Bolivia, Albania and Armenia, among others. He gets buses, trains, taxis, planes and rental cars to travel around. He meets the locals (Both straight-forward and eccentric), goes to their homes, goes to their shops, stays in their hotels, and enjoys what ever food and alcohol might be available, offered or served. His fluent language skills (along with the subtitles) really bring us along for the ride, and has become a minor celebrity within the former USSR, as teenagers have approached him for an autograph or a selfie in the streets.
I find his videos to be very informative and interesting. And while his video titles are designed to be eye catching or borderline clickbait (such as “The Cuba they don’t want you to see” or “Eating Cow Brains with Albanians” or “Avoid This Man In Mexico”), regardless of what they’re called, you finish watching them with a broader scope of the world, whether it be through a history lesson or the exploration of abandoned buildings or watching Rich having fun and getting plastered with the locals – either way, his approach is very neutral and respectful (With some exceptions, such as accidentally using a certain word in Chechnya that didn’t go down well. Like us, he never stops learning).
It’s also a blessing that he is still able to do what he does, as a survivor of double pneumonia that was triggered by COVID-19 back in July, which left his channel quiet for about 3 months. But he got back on track eventually.
So, I would highly recommend his channel. Very interesting, fun, and informative.
It’s Thursday! You know what that means. It means if you haven’t seen the last three episodes of Laid Back Camp, plus this one. I would recommend spending the next ninety minutes watching them, and then returning, because here we have spoilers. You have been warned. But if you have seen them already, welcome! This is episode four.
We start with what looks like a five minute long episode of Room Camp (excluding the show’s intro); Chiaki, Aoi and Nadeshiko are back in the narrow clubroom, where Aoi gives Nadeshiko a recap on what she did on New Years Eve. Nadeshiko does the same, and they both bring up what Rin was doing, based on Nadeshiko’s time with her, and the photos she posted. Meanwhile, Chiaki guzzles the snacks everybody brought back as souvenirs (Behaviour we normally associate with Nadeshiko, but obviously not this time). They then start experimenting with a new Tarp Tent that Chiaki bought for 6000 Yen, but then realise that she forgot to bring poles, so Nadeshiko filled in the role, before both sides finally came to their senses. From here on, we receive the goal of the episode: The girls start talking about how they are going to spend the money they earned during the winter holiday. For Aoi, a chair like Rin’s, for Chiaki, a Hammock, and for Nadeshiko…the vintage night light that she has been wanting to buy since Season One…however she won’t receive her pay check until the following week.
Rin and Ena’s presence is minimal this week. They’re in the school library, and Ena mentions that she spent her money on a Doggy Tent for Chikuwa (With the poor attempts by Rin to look disinterested). We also see Minami Toba (Miss Chug) being appreciated for her work with the Girls by receiving some of the souvenirs (and a note) at her desk.
We also experience a very interesting moment with Nadeshiko, which involves her running to the train station in Minobu, and then waiting there (all while pondering on what to eat with the gang later). In the last episode, Rin mentions how much she appreciates aloneness/loneliness through her group camps…and here, Nadeshiko is truly alone for the first time in the show (with nothing to do but to wait for the train). Having never done a solo camp before, it becomes an opportunity to choose growth…and be more like Rin for a change. After this, she starts looking for a new job within the Minobu area (however they all appear to be in Kofu). It manages to touch on a very real world problem – that sometimes the work will not be there, and any possible positions have fierce competition. Despite the lack of success by this point, Nadeshiko starts to research what she needs to make Solo Winter Camping a reality.
Nadeshiko’s older sister, Sakura, ends up being the character who drives the story forward in this episode. From her problem being the lack of disposable hand warmers, to helping Nadeshiko find work in Minobu. In the process, Nadeshiko repays the favour by buying her reusable hand warmers (which is seen in the credits), it was a great sequence that allows the sunrise to happen with the ending theme playing.
The animation was especially humorous in this episode – in particular reactions and facial expressions from both Chiaki and Nadeshiko.
In general, this episode was enjoyable with more focus on the little things that will create the traction towards the Summer Camp-Out that may or may not include Nadeshiko’s childhood friend Ayano Toki.
So, after taking a bit of time to ponder and plan, I’ve decided to make at least one change to everything that is happening in this site’s year to come. We’ll start with a preview of the full line up for 2021 on Monday:
January: Jean Pierre Jeunet Month – Four films directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I have already written about his 2001 film Amelie (1 of my favourite films of all time), so I’ll be covering some of his other directorial works for this month coming.
February: Fevrier Français – Four French Films. This will include at least two animated films, and two films that involve the work of Band Desiree (Comic Strip) creator Jacques Tardi.
March: Robert Rodriguez Month – For this I will be covering the whole of the El Mariachi Trilogy, and two other films by the Director. I will not be covering Spy Kids though. That should narrow it down.
April: David Lynch Month Part 1 – Four Films by David Lynch. He has directed many that I would love to cover, so this will be Part 1. Part 2 will happen in 2022 I’d say. Depending on the circumstances. I would also love to cover Twin Peaks, so we’ll see if that happens this year or next.
May: May In Japan Part 1 – All Japanese films, all live-action, possibly set in May, but definitely made in Japan. There will be at least one Akira Kurosawa film here…Or it could end up being an Akira Kurosawa month. Who knows…? Either way, there are too many to cover, so this is a part 1.
.June: Jim Marmusch Month Part 1 – Four Films by Jim Jarmusch that are difficult to narrow down, because like Lynch, he has a fair catalog. I’ve already covered Night On Earth, and despite this, there is still plenty of black coffee and cigarettes to get through here. So he too will have a Part 2, possibly in 2022. Once again, depending on circumstances.
July: Sergio Leone Month – All Spaghetti Westerns. All Month. All Ennio Morricone as well.
August: Martial Arts Movie August (or MAMA) – For this month, I’ll be watching and reviewing five Martial Arts movies. Probably all of them were made in Hong Kong, but we’ll see.
September: Sci-Fi Month – I have a friend who loves Sci-Fi Movies. Especially those that were made in the 1970s. So for September I’m going to cover some of the films he loves.
October: South Korean Month – All of them are South Korean movies, and also all of them are South Korean movies of the Thriller and/or Horror Genre. It will be a different Halloween lineup this year.
November: Matrix NoVember – You might be thinking “What about doing this in May as part of ‘May-trix’?”. It is because I can cover The Matrix Trilogy and the Animatrix in 4 Mondays, but I have nothing for the 5th Monday of that month, and The Matrix 4 is not out until December…and I am not covering the PS2 Matrix games. I might even call it “Nothing-Is-What-It-Seems-November” just to be annoying. However it’s mostly because The Wachowskis wrote all of these films. Anyway, we will start that month with V For Vendetta as the 5th of November draws closely after that. Then the Matrix Trilogy and The Animatrix will follow it. Because let us be honest, these films are probably more important now than when they came out.
December: Christmas Movies – The title says it all.
So with that said, I will now talk about the Thursday At 6 Reviews by saying that I will be changing the subject from January 14th onwards, and doing one last scheduled review of a Youtube Channel/s on January 7th before focusing on the new topic. What is the new topic? Anime! I will start this new lineup with the first episode of the second season of Laid Back Camp (or Yuru Camp), and continue writing about it every week until its conclusion, before moving onto another show or movie in that slot. I think Season 2 technically starts on January 7th, but as a Crunchyroll member I want to give those watching it for free a chance to see it themselves and follow along. I’m aware that this could change though, due to the purchase of CR by Sony/Funimation. But we’ll look at the bridge when it’s in front of us.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be more YouTube Channels reviews. It is only when they are scheduled. Instead they will be part of what I’m calling a Wild Card Review, which is a random Review that happens anytime and about anything from Books to Movies to TV Shows to Games to Youtube to Locations to Theatre…Similar to what I did before (Then became more organised). I’m doing this for good reason…There are too many Anime and Disney movies and shows that I wouldn’t mind covering. And the more writing I do, the better.
Anyway, I hope we can all have a tremendous 2021, and may you all be blessed.
After a bit of turbulence when it came to writing reviews again, I started to create the “Monday At 6” Review, which is a Weekly Review at 6pm UK Time on Mondays, and consists of anything I either watched or played in time to write about it, and occasionally sticking to a theme (such as horror for Halloween and Christmas for…well, Christmas). However, I plan to expand upon that. To go beyond just posting on Monday and to write about other things as well. So here is a Schedule (or Preview) of what is to be expected within the year 2021, starting this December in 2020:
Monday: The Monday At 6 Review: Movies, TV Shows, Anime and Video Games. Old and New, Loved, Hated, and just okay. From time to time, I will also include some kind of artwork or fan art to compliment or coincide with it.
Thursday: The Youtube Review at 6, where I talk about a channel that either catches my eye or has taught, fascinated or entertained me to a great extent and would want to share the love and give them an even bigger audience. These channels could range from storytellers, to art tutorials, cooking tutorials, musicians, Photographers, cartoonists, documenters, other reviewers, explorers, urban legend documentary channels, Ghost Hunters, History Teachers and maybe even detectives (if there are any).
Lastly, here are some themes to be abided by within the year to come, with more updates on the way:
December 2020: A Video Game set at Christmas, Two Christmas movies, and a TV show with 2020 in its title.
February 2021: Février Français: Four Monday Night Reviews of Movies or TV Shows that were originally recorded in the French language (and may continue to be so when distributed internationally).
June 2021: June Jarmusch: Four Monday Night Reviews of movies by film director Jim Jarmusch.
It’s good to be back doing this. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you on Thursday!
Right…now to talk about a highly anticipated, yet polarising piece of modern cinema that gets the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rolling, while also being a 1st in 2 ways. We’ll begin with the elephant in the room – Stan Lee. Stan Lee’s passing in November 2018 makes this the 1st Marvel film that he will never get to see (Unless eternity allowed it). It is also the 1st Marvel movie to have a heroine in both the title name and the lead role in this series. So lets get busy. This is Captain Marvel.
Our story begins on Hala, the Capital planet of the Kree, where Vers (played by Brie Larson), a member of the super-villain team called Starforce, keeps waking up to reoccurring nightmares involving an older woman and a mass of chaos (Might hit close to home for some in that description). The Kree are at war with the Skrulls, who end up incapacitating Vers during an infiltration, and trying to pry her memories open. Vers eventually escapes, and ends up in Los Angeles, USA…The year is 1995. It is then that Vers goes on an investigation – who is this woman in her dreams, and what are these memories? Did I mention that she meets Nick Fury and Phil Coulson from SHIELD? No? Well, she does.
Now onto the building blocks.
Compared to other Marvel movies that I’ve seen, the acting for the most part is very solid. But it doesn’t make me too invested in what I’m witnessing. Nobody is bad, and the performances of returning characters are what you expect. It’s also nice to see Clark Gregg return to Marvel Movies, even though it meant that Agents Of SHIELD Season 6 ended up only doing 12 episodes instead of 22 with his appearance here.
The characters for the most part are a little bland outside of Nick Fury, Carol Danvers (Vers), and of course the unofficial star of the movie…Goose The Cat. Goose is likeable to the point that I want to see this character expand into later movies.
The story is a little all over the place at times, but it hits all of the cues at the right times. Although the issue that some people might have is that there isn’t really a struggle. In other movies you look at the struggles of these heroes; For instance, Tony Stark has the magnet near his heart, his alcohol dependence, his reliance on a suit to fight crime, and his moral obligation to have a superhero register. Although these themes have been covered over many movies, Carol’s struggle involves coming to terms with being lied to and trying to overcome gender disadvantage, in which her struggle is mostly in the past, when she was growing up in the 1970s and 80s…and yes, Boys are and were prone to being pricks in this area when such behaviour was endorsed.
The art design comes across as slightly uninspired outside of how Hala looked at the beginning and the presentation of 1995.
The music is quite awesome, with the likes of Happy When It Rains by Garbage, Come As You Are by Nirvana and Whatta Man by Salt N Pepa as part of the soundtrack – along with a really well placed song by No Doubt. As a fan of 90s music, this is among my favourite soundtracks in the MCU.
The special effects and CGI are evident, but still well done. I can’t say much else that hasn’t already been said about other Marvel movies that I’ve covered.
The Cinematography is strong, and if you’re more interested in the type of cinematography where good cinematography doesn’t get talked about, then it’s great. However it doesn’t have too many shots that would make me stop the movie to look at…Unless it’s Goose The Cat.
Would I recommend Captain Marvel? If you are a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then yes – because within the context of that universe, it is essential viewing. It is not in the same league as numerous other Marvel movies (such as Avengers Assemble, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy). But it is better than some other Marvel movies. In particular, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World (Although to be fair, most movies in general are better than The Incredible Hulk). If you compare it to the other recent ‘1st Female Superhero’ Title movie, Wonder Woman, there is no comparison – Wonder Woman is absolutely the better movie. If you’re not into the Marvel Movies, at least watch it for the Cat Humour, the ’90s nostalgia and the explosions.