The Black Adder: Appetizer?

[Screenshot]Even when it’s not terribly inspired, British comed tends to do OK in my book. Maybe it’s the accents, like they sounds like they should be funnier than Americans. Anyays, I have it on good authority that the first Black Adder is actually the weakest of the lot. Be that as it may, it lays the groundwork, I guess, for the entire series. It’s good enough for my taste: not howlingly funny, but good enough to get at least a few chuckles per episode. Rowan Atkinson is deliciously weaselly, disgusting enough and stupid enough that you wish he’d hurry up and die. I understand his character changes a lot in the next few series, which is fine, since I’m not too attached to this particular waste of humanity. I do like the historical conceit of the series, thoguh, the sort of peculiar alternate history it inhabits, and Brian Blessed does a lot to enliven it, so I liked this one despite its flaws, certainly enough to take a gander at its more highly esteemed sequels.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

彼氏彼女の事情 (episodes 1–6): Something new

[Screenshot]Well, this is one of the most adventurous things I’ve seen for a while. Boiling it down to two words (and two words incomprehensible to those not into anime), I’d sum this series up as “Shoujo FLCL“. But that fixates on the visual style rather than the content, and the content’s pretty good. It’s set in a high school, which earns a cliché point right there, but the characters acquire a depth and realism which makes this forgivable. Pretty much nobody is likeable as initially presented, but they come to be lovable despite their glaring personality flaws. This is really brought to life by, as I mentioned (although in anime-geek code) before, a frenetic and fluid style, where characters are expressed in a range from pencil-stroke insubstantiality to super-deformed to a manga staticity, and these chocies of styles are meaningful. Souichiro looks a good five years older when he’s actually being thoughtful and mature. So, uh, yeah, I find myself liking it a lot. I had two worries early on, both of which have been resolved although not entirely to my satisfaction. By Episode 3 it seemed like Souichiro and Yukino would spend long episodes on end unable to express their love and pining in inner monologue: we’ve still got some of that, but they got things out into the open refreshingly quickly. The other thing that bugged me was how few outside characters there were: the high-school anime protagonist usually wanders in a cloud of secondary characters, and I wasn’t seeing very many here except for Yukino’s sisters. Enter Asaba, presumably the first of a couple of classmates we’ll get to know. But Asaba bugs me; he’s kind of a third wheel, and certainly a distraction from the story’s focus. There’s no pleasing me, I guess.

Thanks to for the heads-up on this one. Also, Netflix doesn’t have the second disc, for some reason, so it may be a while before I say anything more about this one.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia, Anime News Network, AniDB.

Macskafogó: Not the epitome of awesome

[Screenshot]This one seemed like it had a lot of things I should like. It’s Hungarian. I like Hungarian films. It’s animated. I like animation. But somehow this turned out not to be an inriguingly Eastern-European attempt at animation with meat on its bones, but an ultimately forgettable cartoon.

I have nothing against cartoons, as such: I certainly watch a bunch of them, but they need a certain something. Humor, perhaps. Macskafogó is reminiscent of early American animation, as if the mere act of animating anthropomorphic animals is inherantly funny. Part of this may be the American release: it’s full, I’m given to understand, of culturally-signficant wordplay, and the American release unwisely chose to include an English dub only (hey, at least it’s a new rape of Hungarian cinema). But even the non-linguistic elements seemed ill-chosen: rave reviews indicate it’s meant to be a spoof, and apparently of, among other things, the James Bond archetype, but the lead mouse agent really doesn’t resemble Bond in any way: he dresses casually, has bionic limbs, and only connects closely with one woman.

So, uh, yeah, I got nothing particular to say. It really didn’t inspire comment in any way; it was just a mediocre low-tech animation.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

Primer: Convolutions

[Screenshot]So, I watched the movie, and I didn’t get it. I discussed it with folks online, and was still confused. I read the extremely complicated explanation Wikipedia gives and looked at a visual representation of that same information (which I now seem to be unable to load). I am still confused. Presumably repeating these steps over and over again, maybe with the director’s commentary on, would allay my confusion, but who has time for that?

This movie is a hideous mess. It’s a puzzle-box, but not one which a reasonably intelligent person could be expected to solve, which makes it, in my estimation, a bad puzzle (rule of thumb: if a puzzle’s answer doesn’t make sense to an intelligent person, they’re never going to come up with it on their own). Take out that central gimmick, and there’s no much to the story. The pacing and dialogue is terrible: they spent half an hour nattering, frequently unintelligably, about superconductors before there’s any time travl at all. On technical details, well, shoestring budget and not cuttin any takes makes for an awful lot of shoddy work. It’s adventurous, I’ll give it that, but, uh, can we stick to adventurous films which people actually enjoy?

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

A Passage to India: Between two stools

[Screenshot]It’s the return of the dynamic duo in a sort of unhappy position. David Lean does grand dramas, and Sir Alec Guinness does strong character roles, for the most part. While the decline of the British raj may well be the material of epics, the particular Forster story being told here is not exactly an epic. Merchant-Ivory get this, and would probably have done a better job on this film. Nonetheless, this is a pretty servicable adaptation of the novel, if not an extraordinary movie in its own right. Technically, it’s good—one expects nothing less of Lean—and the acting’s even pretty good, particularly by Victor Banerjee and Dame Peggy Ashcroft. But I can’t help but wish Sir Alec Guinness had a better role than Godbole.

One final word of strong praise for this film: it is a long film, but at no point in watching it did I become impatient or bored. That’s a hard thing to achieve.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.