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Your Name Punched Me in the Face and I liked it

Annedey

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So, I thought my last piece was going to be it for my Japanese animation phase here. But I saw Your Name 3 weeks ago and I really want to talk about it.

Your Name is the new movie by Makoto Shinkai (actually it’s also based on his book, and he wrote the screen play). It is the first animated movie that wasn’t produced by Studio Ghibli to win back 10 billion yens in the first 28 days in Japan only. It is the highest-grossing movie of 2016 in Japan, and the 4th movie in the history of the country in term of entries and it won 16 awards between 2016 and 2017. It is an undeniable box-office and critical success, both in Japan and in the world. Yet this is what the director/writer has to say about it:

“There are things we could not do, Masashi Ando [Director of animation] wanted to keep working [on] but had to stop us for lack of money … For me it’s incomplete, unbalanced. The plot is fine but the film is not at all perfect. Two years was not enough.”

Don’t try. You can’t be more Japanese than him, because Your Name is great, really really great.

What is it about?

Well…here’s the IMDB synopsis:

“Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart?”

Deal with it children, I guess.

The story centers around Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, two 17-years-old teenagers. Taki is living in Tokyo with his father and Mitsuha is living in the Countryside™ with her grandmother and sister. Mitsuha’s family is the traditional keeper of the shintoist shrine of her city, which carries on the Musubi (thread weaving) tradition. She sometimes takes the role of Miko. One day they wake-up in each other’s body. The body-switch continues to happen with what seems to be a random frequency, but they start getting used to it. They learn about each other and bring positive changes to their lives, until the day where the switching stops and Taki doesn’t manage to reach Mitsuha anymore…

Why is it so good?

Story and Japanese tradition:

This type of story isn’t unknown to Japanese culture aficionados, but Your Name brings it to an all new level. It isn’t only a romantic story, but also a coming of age which occurs by the characters both learning to standing up for themselves (especially for Mitsuha), and finding true friends.

There is also the confrontation with the adult world with the ending (Taki you are going to find a job…we have all been here), as well as with the relationships that the heroes have with their parents. Taki father’s seems absent (sorry if it’s not entirely the case; I missed the first 10 minutes of the movie thanks to rain). Mitsuha’s father is a strait-up corrupt politician who has abandoned his two daughters. Speaking of which, it is great to see a mainstream Japanese film which is not a yakuza movie tackling the subject of corruption in Japan. Especially in the countryside.

Finally, one of the last things that make the story so good is the fact that the narrative relies a lot on Japanese tradition/legend. The movie makes us question ourselves on why things happen in life and on destiny. So it’s no surprise to see the red string of fate being such a important theme in the movie. It’s not the only one featured, either. The afterlife/underworld, kuchikamizake, and what is the soul made of, are present too. And none of these are hammered in. Everything feels quite natural to the story.

Not linked to their little finger but who cares?

Characters and relationships:

The characters are really endearing too. The voice actors of Mitsuha and Taki did an incredible job. Even if you are barely capable of understanding Japanese, you really can hear the differences between their performances.

Mitsuha, while being unsure of herself and prone to melancholia, is also very energetic. Taki is maybe a bit less engaging, but still he is determined while being full of doubt. I really connected with the young man trying to find his way in life at the end.

The secondary characters are also multidimensional, and, at least for the other teenagers, really funny too. They are supporters or inhibitors of the heroes’s quest but you can see that there is more to them that their role for the heroes.

You go Sayaka, you are the best.

The friendship in this movie is very well done. We see teenagers truly caring for, and taking care of, each other. Extra points for the relationship between real Taki and Miki; having any relationship between a man and a woman that begins with infatuation, yet finishes in deep meaningful platonic friendship is great and refreshing. It deserves even more props when Mitsuha is actually way better at flirting with Miki that Taki is (I like to head-canon Miki as a bisexual or a repressed lesbian).

My beautiful girl-loving daughter.

Emotional Impact:

This movie will make you feel, for real. It is not going to toy with you—you are going to be straight up emotionally engaged. I have never said “Holy Fuck!” more genuinely while watching a movie before. When I said that this movie punched me in the face, I was as honest as you can be with figurative speech.

You will laugh because there are genuinely funny moments. You will worry about our heroes’ fate. Will they manage to do it? Will everything be for nothing? I was on the edge of my seat until the very last scene, completely unsure about the outcome.

And you will probably cry. I know that more than once I was really close to it, and I don’t cry easily. Speaking of crying, for those who have already seen the movie, let me just put this here to make you feel again:

Ugly french sobbing.

Your Name is beautiful:

I kept this for the end because..Oh boy! Go watch this movie in the theater. It is worth it.

The animation is objectively very good, but it is more than that. It is beautiful and artistically ingenious. I caught myself on multiple time saying to myself, “yes, this is what animation is made for.” The movie gives you poetic scenes, and then gives you shots bigger than life. Shots that can only be done with animation.

I absolutely adore the scenes after Taki has been to the god’s heart. It is ingenious, beautiful, powerful and emotional. At the end of this moment, I wanted to cry, and I still don’t know if it’s because of the story it told or because of the beauty of how it was done.

Look at this, isn’t it just superb?

The treatment of light is probably one of my favorite in recent years. And all of this was done through animation. I say yes, more of this please. More animation movies that tap into its incredibly potential rather than give a predictable product.

(This movie will also make you really hungry… Damn animated food, why must you look so good?!)

Conclusion

Your Name is one of the most beautiful, emotional roller-coasters of 2016. It is unpredictable and touching. The music might not be your jam, in fairness—I was a bit bothered by it at times. But it is definitively worth the money of a cinema ticket. Hopefully we will have more of this kind of animated movie in the years to come.


All Images Courtesy Of CoMix Wave Films.

 

Annedey is a (French) writer and college student in social sciences and chemistry who has a high predisposition to do something else than her actual college work. Theater/movie/book/Tv-show-enthusiast, she can sometimes become over-attached to cultural productions leading to the unfortunate creation of bitterness that mixes quite badly with a clear tendency to swear.

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Watch the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailer and You’ve Basically Seen the Movie

Bo

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Everyone knows the tendency for trailers to give away the entire plot to a movie. This final trailer for the new Jurassic World not only gives away too much of the plot, it basically gives away the entire plot. As a Reddit user commented this morning, you’ve seen about 3 different movies from these trailers at this point. I suppose that’s not a huge issue. I doubt many people expect huge surprises from this movie.

After the new Jurassic World park failed (shocker, I know), the dinosaurs left there face extinction four years later because of an impending volcanic eruption. Our heroes team up with a totally not shady company to help evacuate the dinosaurs. Surprise, surprise, the company is actually shady and looks like they’re going to use the evacuated dinosaurs for profit. Profit involving selling them, experimenting on them, you know the deal. And if you watch the trailer, you’ll see exactly how the heroes will stop them.

Here’s hoping there’s a twist at the end. Maybe the dinosaurs can actually take over? They kind of deserve it with how stupid humanity acts in these movies. How many times does messing around with dinosaurs have to blow up in their faces before they learn their lesson?

I know we’ve mentioned this problem with previous movie trailers, but this one honestly strikes me as a bit more ridiculous than usual. What exactly have we not seen of this movie now? We’ve seen the threat to the dinosaurs and how they are rescued. We’ve seen the bad guy betrayal. The actual motive, the hero’s plan, probably every cool scene, we’ve seen it all. Maybe people love trailers like this and I’m out of touch? I can’t imagine why. Who wants to go into a movie knowing every cool scene before it happens?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrives in theaters on June 22. You know, if you want to watch the unabridged version of this trailer.


Video and Images Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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Comics

Will Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey Cure the Testosterone-Poisoned DCEU?

Dan

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Are men canceled? The jury is still out. But it may be that their once assured grip on all things comics has finally slipped. And one can look no further than what has happened at Warner Bros. and DC with the DC cinematic universe. The dark and gloomy film nerd pandering schlock of Zach Snyder seems to have finally run out of steam after the failure of Justice League, and not even the outdated comic geek quips of Joss Whedon couldn’t save them. Finally taking cues from the success of Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman, DC has added, of all things, women to their creative teams. First, Ava DuVernay was placed in charge of Jack Kirby’s New Gods, then Batgirl replaced Whedon with Christine Hodson. Now, Deadline has announced that Cathy Yan will be directing the upcoming Harley Quinn vehicle Birds of Prey. Not only will she be the second female director in the DCEU (Birds of Prey will precede New Gods) but will be the first Asian woman to direct a superhero movie.

Yan is a relative newcomer to the film world, but she’s not unaccomplished.  Born in China and raised in Hong Kong and the US, Yan has studied at Princeton and NYU, where she got an MFA from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Before getting into film-making, she wrote for the Wall Street Journal. She wrote and directed multiple shorts before making her debut with Dead Pigs, which received rave reviews at Sundance.

Birds of Prey, which will use Christine Hodson’s script, has been a long-awaited addition to the DC canon. Long tied closely to writer Gail Simone, who made her name writing for it in 2003, Birds of Prey has stood out as a mostly-female team of heroes operating adjacent to the hyper-masculine Batman family of books. Its membership has revolved around Oracle (Barbara Gordon), who finally found her footing post-Killing Joke as a hyper-competent hacker and information broker, and Black Canary, who gets a break from Oliver Queen by acting as Oracle’s main operative. Other major members include former “mafia princess”  Huntress and the time-displaced Blackhawk, who acts as the team’s pilot. Many of the biggest female heroes in the DCU have passed through the ranks of the Birds of Prey, including Big Barda, Vixen, and Katana (her katana traps the souls of its victims.)

Margot Robbie’s production company LuckyChap is co-producing the film as a feature for Margot’s Harley Quinn. While Harley herself has never been a member of the Birds, her girlfriend Poison Ivy has (albeit as a ploy), and the team acts as a foil to Quinn and Ivy’s Gotham City Sirens as women in the Bat-universe.

This won’t be the first foray onto the screen for the Birds of Prey. It comes after a short-lived WB series starring Dina Meyer, and a disappointing (as always) attempt by Arrow to base an episode on the series. The film adaptation will be produced by Robbie, Sue Kroll, and Brian Unkeles and their respective production companies. Robbie was instrumental in Yan’s selection, as she was firm in her conviction that woman should direct the film. Other Quinn-centric films in the pipeline include an Ayer-free sequel to Suicide Squad, some unfortunate “rom-com” called Harley vs. The Joker, and Gotham City Sirens. Birds of Prey will enter production this year, as soon as Robbie finishes work on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.


Image via DC Comics

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Simon Pegg Confirms Star Trek Sequel, Downplays Tarantino Involvement

Bo

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News recently made the rounds about Quentin Tarantino possibly directing the next Star Trek film, to obviously mixed reactions. Fan reaction grew even more hesitant at the possibility of the film being rated R. Don’t get me wrong, Tarantino has made some terrific movies over the years. Star Trek, though? Let’s just say he may not be the right guy for the job. His style is pretty far from what draws fans to this franchise.

Simon Pegg, who stars as Montgomery Scott in 2009’s Star Trek and its two sequels, has said the chances of Tarantino directing the next Star Trek are unlikely.

“I don’t think Quentin is going to direct it, because he’s got his California movie [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] to do and then I think [he’s] only doing one more film after that.

In the same article, he also confirms there will be another Star Trek sequel, though he feels continuing after the tragic death of co-star Anton Yelchin will be tough. Yelchin starred alongside Pegg as Pavel Chekov.

So what do you think? Were you excited about the possibilities of a Tarantino Star Trek? Or are you massively relieved? Whatever the case, it looks like there will be a fourth film coming.


Image courtesy of Paramount and CBS

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