The Family Game (1983 Movie)
As much as I love the films of Yasujirou Ozu, what I admire even more are the works of those who intend to subvert his work. The Family Game is something of a less impenetrable Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai!, with the main focus being on dissecting conventional family dynamics seen as a staple within 80s Japan. The nuclear family has always been a facade. It’s as fragile as can be, and one outsider has the potential to destroy everything. That dinner scene near the end is hands-down the best food fight scene in the history of cinema. What more could you ask for?
Revue Starlight: The Movie (2021 Movie)
I’ve watched this one once every three or so months ever since I first laid my eyes on it early in 2022. I don’t particularly love Revue Starlight and honestly the first half of this theatrical follow-up doesn’t feel all too special either, but once things kick into full gear they never stop escalating. Some of the most powerful music and images I’ve ever seen. Wagamama Highway is such an amazing song, and Super Star Spectacle is one of the greatest finales the silver screen has ever been gifted with. I feel so lucky to have seen this in theaters.
A Scanner Darkly (2006 Movie)
Linklater has adapted Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly in a pretty much perfect manner. The darkly comic tone and unsettling atmosphere are captured perfectly through his crisp directing and the unique rotoscope animation. Somewhat similar to Waking Life in many regards. As a portrait of drug addiction it’s just as captivating as its source material. Pretty much everything I wanted to see.
Vertigo (1958 Movie)
I don’t think I fully admired the immense influence Vertigo had when I first watched it, nor did I completely get the incredible layers of subtext within the film itself. This is far more than just a suspenseful noir, but a film drenched in false memories and obsession. So many bits and pieces are ones that will haunt the rest of your days, with that dream sequence being a highlight. An intimidating beast and easily Hitchcock’s best work.
The Zone of Interest (2023 Movie)
What does it mean to live beside violence? Is it truly possible to ignore the suffering of other humans when they reside next to you? It may not have an answer, but The Zone of Interest does serve as a compelling meditation on a family who live out their daily lives right outside the border of the Auschwitz concentration camp. When the focus is on the family as they engage with their own squabbles and partake in mundane tasks as unspeakable horrors occur in the background, it’s incredibly unnerving and effective. Unfortunately, the last half-hour or so did lose me, and too many moments felt dramatic to an unnecessary degree. Still very much worth your time for its unique qualities, I’d say.
The Story of Perrine (1978 TV Series)
I’m incredibly glad that I didn’t skip straight to Anne of Green Gables after finishing Marco. The Story of Perrine is incredibly lovely from beginning to end, with a strong cast and an even stronger heart. Some of it can get pretty soapy (especially in the second half), but it’s far from just any soap opera. The stark sense of naturalism found in previous WMT installments is here as always, all its themes are handled with intelligence & maturity, and you can see several narrative parallels weaving their way throughout the story. Deserves so much more love than it gets, at least in the west.
Dominion Tank Police (1988-1989 OVA Series)
Silly, cute, and sadistic! Masamune Shirow has yet another hit on his hands with Dominion Tank Police. Love the cheesy english dub and over-the-top concepts. Things get super unhinged at points, meshing surprisingly well with the entertaining if shallow satirical edge. Pure OVA bliss.
Yes, this is the first time I have used a gif in the blog. I wasn’t planning on using any at all before since too many can get a bit flashy, but I couldn’t resist this once.
New Dominion Tank Police (1993-1994 OVA Series)
It’s alright. Goes on for far longer than it needs to. Some great animation and a few memorable scenes, although I can’t help but feel like it’s all been watered-down heavily.
Tank S.W.A.T. 01 (2006 Short Film)
Just an inconsequential half-hour OVA. I’m quite fond of this janky CGI, so it kept my attention. Not really anything like the earlier installments.
Shenmue (1999 Video Game)
Shenmue is incredible. I love how cramped and detailed its map is. I love all the little things you can do. I love going to the arcade. I love petting the cat. I love winning toy capsules. I love talking to the NPCs. Most of all, I just love walking around and soaking in its atmosphere. Attempting to emulate realism in art to this degree rarely works out, but there’s such a distinctive vision here. A masterpiece for sure.
Under Night In-Birth II Sys:Celes (2024 Video Game)
While Melty Blood may be further up my alley (especially as a Tsukihime fanboy), French Bread’s other well-known fighting game series is still awfully exciting. As bad as the PC port is, I loved learning the ins and outs of UNIB2. I’m no professional, but I think I’ve got a handle on the basics well enough. Astonishing presentation and music are a given. As for the story mode… it gets the job done, but I’ll be damned if anyone finds the best part of these games to be the narrative.
The Woman in the Dunes (1962 Novel)
Since I’m rewatching Teshigahara’s incredible adaptation in theaters next week, I decided to check out Koubou Abe’s original novel! There’s a certain existential dread unique to The Woman in the Dunes that I haven’t seen in even the other Abe novel I’ve read. Inner thoughts are described with meticulous detail and the characters’ psychological anguish is placed front and center. Not at all surprised about this novel’s strong cult following.
I’ve decided to stop talking about albums because of just how bad I am at discussing music. Shenmue in particular was something I’ve been anticipating for a very long time and I loved it just as much as I was hoping I would. Shenmue II coming up next week!