Hey everyone, back again with the latest Club Moofie post. It was held for the first time at Renny's and my place in Sydney's north (held on dry land for the first time for me!). It's been a busy year for me so my apologies for the screwy order of my publishing this year. This one was for the August 2013 meeting and it is posted on New Years Eve! - I'm just glad that it is at least out within the calendar year when the meeting actually took place.
We reviewed three moofies this time around. The awesome PACIFIC RIM (2013), Richard Linklater's third in the series, BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013), and the animated docu-drama, WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008).PACIFIC RIM (2013)
In the near future, an interdimensional rift appears in an undersea trench and building-sized reptilian monsters, "Kaiju" keep coming through to devastate the world's seaside cities. The world's militaries group together to develop giant piloted fighting robots, "Jaegers" and for a while the battle leans humankind's way. Each monster however becomes more powerful than the last and the battle eventually turns. Lack of support from the arrogant millitary elite leads to the Jaeger fleet becoming depleted and the Kaiju start winning. The last stand takes place in Hong Kong. Washed out Jaeger pilot Raleigh Antrobus (Charlie Hunnam) is paired with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and they are assigned the old Mark-3 Jaegar, Gypsy Danger to help in a last ditch plan to close the interdimensional rift using a nuclear bomb.
A Kaiju raiding Sydney. All of North Sydney isn't worth protecting behind the sea wall apparently
A lot of people have compared Pacific Rim to Independence Day which I guess to some extent is fair enough, but I reckon it draws more from Godzilla and Japanese mecha-anime culture, in particular Neon Genesis Evangelion. Scenes of robot vs monster battles between city skyscrapers appear in NGE just like Pacific Rim. Japanime culture loves giving each hero (or in this case, Jaeger) unique fighting characteristics that we can root for. For example there is Crimson Typhoon the Mark-4 wiley three-armed Jaeger, Cherno Alpha the russian Mark-1 brute, the advanced quarterback Mark-5 Striker-Eureka piloted by the 'Aussie' father and son team, and of course, Gypsy Danger the older nuclear powered Jaeger with rocket powered elbows and sword. On the other side of the ring, the Kaiju are fantastic creations, with all their glowing bits and snotty bodily fluids.
The film does pay homage to some classic sci-fi with references to Independence Day, Star Wars ("Don't get cocky, kid"), Transformers, as well as bringing up concepts from Star Trek, i.e. 'mind-melding' and hive minds, and maybe even Inception. There isn't a great deal more to it. It was a hugely entertaining popcorn-muncher with awesome special effects. The dialogue wasn't very sophisticated, the (human) acting was mediocre (Idris Elba has some presence however. He seems to be everywhere nowadays), it was a bit cliched, but none of that seemed to matter much because it was just so visually stunning seeing these massive things in action.
It doesn't take much to please audiences. We can forgive a lot of flaws as long as the film is fun and it knows what it wants to be. The director Guillermo Del Toro is known for more nuanced stuff than this but I couldn't be happier that he decided to 'stoop to this level'. It totally kicked ass. Loved it.SCORES:
* Andy 4
* Beck 4
* Paul 4
* Sylvia 4
* Renate 3.5
* Wendy 3.5
* Clint 4MEMORABLE QUOTES:
Andy on the Kaiju: MY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M SEEING THIS!
Andy: HE'S POUNDING THEM WITH A FRICKEN ROCKET POWERED ELBOW!
Andy on the Kaiju: THE COLOURS, LOVED THE COLOURS, THE NEON, I LOVED THAT 'LEATHERBACK', THE BLUEY GLOBBY THINGS
Renny: WHOAH, I'M ALL PUMPED UP HERE!
Andy on the Aussie pilot: NO AUSTRALIAN WAS EVER CALLED "CHUCK"
Sylvia: IT WAS IN-BETWEEN TRANSFORMERS AND HELLBOYPURE ESCAPISM
Paul: THE TRAILERS LOOKED REALLY 'TRANSFORMERS' AND I HATE 'TRANSFORMERS'
Beck: MY BRAIN COULDN'T GET AROUND THAT THIS ISN'T REAL - TOTALLY CONVINCINGBEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013)
It's a bit like Seven-Up, except in this series we meet Jesse and Celine every nine years. So just to recap, in BEFORE SUNRISE (1995) they were young single backpackers who met on a train and wandered the night around Vienna together. Then in BEFORE SUNSET (2004) they met again in Paris. Jesse was married and has a young son. Celine had a partner. Neither were happy in their relationships and there was a possibility that they would hook up. In BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013) you find that they have indeed gotten together. Jesse left his wife, married Celine and have twins together. I think they are meant to be 41 yrs old, which means in Sunrise they were 23 yrs and in Sunset they were 32 yrs old. Like the previous two films, they still wander around, talking a lot about various topics. They still love each other but life isn't easy.
Before Midnight differs from Sunrise and Sunset because those were about idealistic romantic fantasies, especially Sunrise. In Midnight, Jesse and Celine are in their forties so the issues are now about family, responsibilities, sharing the house work, cheating. Reality is more biting as they enter mid-life. They still love each other but it is hard to keep that youthful excitement when daily stresses continue to wear them down.
These films distinguish themselves because there are no villains and heroes. These are 'normal' people, and their problems are real everyday issues. In theory, it should be something audiences can empathise with. Of course, it is highly debateable whether people actually want to take the time and money to experience a bunch of people whining about their life issues. Perhaps people react badly to this series because it is a little disturbing to watch. The subject matter a little too real for comfort, getting under people's skins?
Richard Linklater says, "the absolute banality of that interests me". For those that find these films *actually* banal, and the protagonists annoying, I'm sure that Linklater comment just confirms everything they've been thinking. I can see how this series is an acquired taste and I have a lot of sympathy for those who just cannot take it. I feel lucky however to have been quite taken by the small charms of the first film. I think my positive reaction to Before Sunrise sustains my interest in how Jesse and Celine are now faring in their forties. It does take patience and a certain mindset to watch these but if you happen to be in that zone, you could find it quite a sweet little set of films which take you back to your own teenage years.
As for Midnight, I can say it is true to form for this series. If you found something you liked in Sunrise and Sunset, then you won't be dissapointed in Midnight. If you hated Sunrise and Sunset then you'll probably hate Midnight too.SCORES:
* Clint 3
* Wendy 2.5
* Renate 3.5MEMORABLE QUOTES:
Renny: I KIND OF LIKED IT BECAUSE FROM WHAT I SAW IN THE TRAILER, I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST GOING TO BE ARGUING, BUT IT WASN'T.
Wendy: THEY HAD A BIG FIGHT IN THE HOTEL ROOM THAT THEY HAD BEEN GIVEN AS A GIFT
SYLVIA: AH!, THAT WAS BAD WHEN THAT HAPPENED IN BLUE VALENTINE
Wendy: I DIDN'T ENJOY IT AT ALL. I THOUGHT IT WAS A LOT OF BICKERING. THEY KNEW EACH OTHER WELL SO WHEN THEY HAD A FIGHT, THEY KNEW HOW TO HURT EACH OTHER WELL
Wendy: SOME OF THE CONVERSATION WAS MEANDERING
Wendy: THE BOOBIES SCENE - IT WAS A REALLY LONG SCENE WITH THE BOOBIES
Paul:... SO DO YOU KNOW IF IT'S STILL SHOWING?
Andy:SOME WOULD SAY MORE 'REALISTIC'WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008)
This is an Israeli animated film, or "animated documentary" about an Israeli soldier, Ari Folman and his search for his lost memories of a massacre of Palestinian refugees which he witnessed in the towns of Sabra and Shatila during the 1982 Lebanon War. This film depicts strong images of war, as well as surreal dreamlike sequences all in its unique animated visual style. It won a Golden Globe, a Cesar and got nominated for Academy Awards and BAFTA awards for best foreign language film. While highly decorated, it is banned in some Arab countries including Lebanon.
It uses an animation style similar to rotoscoping (as Wikipedia puts it, "Adobe Flash cutouts and classic animation. Each drawing was sliced into hundreds of pieces which were moved in relation to one another, thus creating the illusion of movement. The film was first shot in a sound studio as a 90-minute video and then transferred to a storyboard. From there 2,300 original illustrations were drawn based on the storyboard, which together formed the actual film scenes using Flash animation, classic animation, and 3D technologies").
I spent a long time discussing, and pondering why exactly I'm unwilling to praise this film to the rafters like everyone else but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. Then I came upon this critics review which summed it all up a lot better than I could so why not just take a read of this:
Just in case that URL disappears, I'll paraphrase a few key points which I would whole-heartedly agree with.
In order to get round to the facts of what happened, one must sit through an hour and half of this guy, Ari, in conversations with various friends, muttering, smoking, watching cartoony pornos, pontificating on life, etc before the puzzle pieces of the massacre fall into place in Folman's mind. That's all very interesting if you are Ari Folman or his buddies but it got rather long for me who just wanted to know what happened in the massacre.
We eventually find out that Folman did indeed witness a traumatising massacre, but he wasn't really there. He was, maybe, back a bit firing off flares, which lit up the night sky so that another militia could do the dirty work. But he didn't know that was what the flares were for so he couldn't really take any blame for participating in the massacre. So why is he the one making the film and why would we be interested in his relatively insignificant role in this? This is not his story to tell.
Meanwhile, there was a journalist who was interviewed within this film, Ron Ben-Yishai who actually was there. Who wrote actual eyewitness accounts of the massacre at the time. So why are we interested in Ari's story over Ron's?
This film seems rather too preoccupied with the therapeutic pursuits of Ari, rather than being the vehicle that it should be (i.e. a vehicle to convey the outrage one feels about the crimes committed). Not to say one doesn't feel it, but the balance between the Ari's story, and the wider story (the story we're all actually there to see) seems a bit off kilter. The use of the real-life documentary footage of dead bodies at the end is somewhat obscene when used for that purpose.
The choice of animation seems a little distancing from the topic at hand. It is visually interesting and the animation style allows some very surreal, haunting dreamlike sequences to be realised - I'll give it that. It just doesn't seem like the most appropriate subject matter for all this artsy crap.
I might be one of the harshest critics in Moofie Club about this film. Clearly, some others in the club did not have these issues. Oh well, I'm the one writing this piece so I can only say what I feel. If anyone thinks different, there is the comments section at the bottom of this post to voice your opinion.SCORES:
* Renny 3
* Andy 3.5
* Paul 3
* Wendy 4.5
* Beck 4
* Sylvia 5
* Clint 3MEMORABLE QUOTES:
Beck to Wendy (on why Wendy chose this film): JUST WANTED SOME LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT?
Andy: ISRAEL, ITSELF COULD BE LIKE NAZIS. ISRAEL CAN BE SUCH A BULLY
Sylvia: USING THE REAL IMAGERY AT THE END WAS SUCH A SHOCK. MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE THAN IF THAT PART WAS ANIMATED AS WELL
Renny on the ending real-life footage: I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED IT NOT BEING THERE
Sylvia: IT COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN AS NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY
Andy: I THINK THAT IS WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT . , I'VE GOT THIS FOOTAGE AND I'M GOING TO WORK BACK FROM THAT.My apologies once again for the lateness of this post!
The Club Moofie session following this one was the November one where we reviewed RUN LOLA RUN and the really cool Sandra Bollocks spacey moofie, GRAVITY so please scroll DOWN and have a read!
For now, adios amigos