Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Studio Ghibli does great movies, but what goes on in The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness?

While there is something about the history of Ghibli, this movie is mainly focused on the production of The Wind Rises (so there are sort of spoilers for that). We follow Miyazaki as he creates the storyboards, then goes through some of the other production moments. We see Miyazaki spend a lot of energy on this, so it is not shocking that this is his final movie.

I could of done with a little more reminding who people were, and their relationship to the production process, because there are many important people, and the movie introduces them once then leaves you to remember who they are. This is really about Miyazaki's current movie, so there could easily be another movie talking about Studio Ghibli itself.

If you like Ghibli and want to know more about behind the scenes, of course you are going to watch this.


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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Epic of Everest

This is one of those documentaries you go in knowing how it turns out, which isn't great. But this is the Epic of Everest.

A group of British men took on the task of climbing Mount Everest… by which this means they stand around posing, while the Sherpas do all the work. They also look really underdressed, perhaps they wore many undershirts? We start in the local village, then start climbing and filming, towards the end with the aid of long lenses. Two men die on the way, and their death is treated rather casually. More import is given to the last two gentlemen who go up but don’t come down. Nothing is known of their ultimate fate, but the movie turns philosophical and asks if this snow blanket isn't a good end? But ultimately we are left with Everest still reigning strong.

This is black and white reprocessed film, with an added soundtrack. While mostly black and white, some scenes are tinted red or blue… to give the audience a break, I presume? It is impressive that they got this footage, and now we have cleaned it up and are showing it to people. Nice.

Decent wee documentary, and shows what humanity is capable of… even if not fully capable.


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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Brony Tale

It's not all NZIFF movies. Here's a movie I missed from an earlier festival. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a phenomenon. The fans of this show are referred to as Bronies, and this is A Brony Tale.

I'm not sure if it's me projecting, but this movie comes off as rather defensive. There are a lot of interview clips with Bronies, where they are basically saying "I like MLP, but I like other stuff too, I’m still a man", which isn’t really the message they should be going for (the message is "I am a man despite linking MLP" rather than "I am a man who likes MLP"). The other part of the movie is following actress Ashleigh Bell (voice of Rainbow Dash and Applejack) as she prepares to go to her first BronyCon. (There is little footage of BronyCon, were they not allowed to film there?) She starts rather apprehensive about meeting Bronies, but soon realises they are just normal people that happen to like MLP. Although some do like MLP a LOT. Then again any fandom (and I'm gonna include sports here) has fanatics, it's in the name.

There are also some talking heads about the psychology of the people involved, but we later find out that the son of one of the researchers is a Brony, so I think we know where that interest came from.

It wasn't really what I was hoping for in a Brony movie, but it could have easily been so much worse (certainly the main publicity image does not help).


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Monday, 28 July 2014

Under the Skin

I’m not one to leap to the claim of "Pretentious", but I’m going to do so for Under the Skin.

The woman prowls the streets of London, seducing men and bringing them back to be absorbed. While there are a few men protecting her, they are unable to stop her from becoming entranced by humanity until her curiosity takes her too far…

A lot has been made of how this is filmed with real people, but considering what happens, I’m not sure that that much 'real people' footage was used. At least it shows that as a hot starlet you can still be disguised with normal clothes and (I assume) a wig.

Still, if you want to see Scarlett Johansson nude, this is the movie for you. (And, to be balanced, there are a fair few naked men as well.)

I'm sure this movie will be hyped as "indie" and Johansson's role won't hurt, but there's a large gap between "different" and "good".


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Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Great Museum

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is considered The Great Museum.

This movie focuses on the introduction of a new exhibit, whereby we see the old room cleaned out and the new pieces being prepared. Which made me think “once you are a piece of art, you are causing a lot of work for people to keep you clean”. We see quite a few pieces being cleaned, and discussion of what the museum needs to be successful, and we get up to the actual opening (and that’s when the movie ends).

It’s an interesting look behind the workings of the museum. It’s presented as just people getting on with work, and no talking heads. And it’s put together well enough that we don’t need that. I do like documentaries that let the subjects unfold without help (not all movies pull this off).

While 90 minutes feels like it could have been longer, there is a three hour museum movie on as well… I suspect I will end up preferring this.


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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Cyborg memory

So, a week ago I had a problem with my computer downloading anything... I unplugged my computer, and now it's working fine... (in that I'm now using wireless, and that works, so it was probably a problem with the cable.)

But do I need to spend a whole post on that one paragraph? No, but there is one feature I want to address. That I linked to a past post. It may not seem like much, but the point is that this blog has been going on for a while, and I can't remember everything I wrote. Some times, I can't even remember that I addressed it at all!

My memory isn't great, so this blog is a useful resource for remembering things for me... which is basically saying that I am using technology to augment my brain. Hell, I use glasses to augment my vision already. And we all use technology (especially if you are reading this) to augment our abilities to talk to people. I am already a cyborg, and so are all of us.

It's not a huge observation, but it's one to recall at times and be amazed about when people start complaining about becoming man/machines...


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Friday, 25 July 2014


I can barely remember the first one, which is what you want in a classic movie that gets a sequel.

In subplot C, the two main humans from the first film find a potential spot in the Amazon where there are lots of birds of the type Blu is. So in subplot A, Blu and family go to the Amazon to find the birds... which they do almost straight away. In subplot D, people are bulldozing the trees down. Subplot F is the blue birds are "fighting" the red birds for space. And subplot E has other birds trying to get birds from the Amazon to be in their carnival experience. Leaving subplot B to be the "evil" bird of the first film to come back and try to get Blu.

As you might be able to guess, this makes the film rather disjointed. After the first parts of each story got set up and sort out, half the movie is already over! So these aren't deep plots, and the intersect at various points along the film, but don't have a huge impact on each other. They are just things the movie can cut to when it's tired of whatever it's showing at the moment.

And, of course, there is no surprises at any point...

Sigh... I'm not talking about this any more...


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