Welcome, and apologies for the long absence. With a TEFL starting soon and jobs prepared for the summer, I've had time to sit through some crazy films. So I'm back again to inform you of some notable viewing experiences. Its great to log in after an 8 month period to see this blog gets 5-10 page views a day. At the beginning it was 5-10 views a week, so I'm thankful for the attention. So without further waiting, please enjoy.
Tag is one of 5 films being released in 2015 by master director Shion Sono. The trailer advertises Tag as a government controlled massacre of teenage girls, when it actually is a biopic of an amnesiac girl, where outbursts of violence is followed by time jumps in the plot. The film opens with the wind acting as a scythe and slices an entire school bus in half. The opening 10 minutes are terrifying, with Sono going insane with creativity and blood. Sadly, the terror and awesome blood-spraying killing, gradually decline as the film continues towards its baffling climax. The film is similar to Strange Circus, as the story seems to make no sense at all until the conclusion, resulting in an explanation that is far-fetched and baffling. I think its worth watching, but it is likely to bore audiences expecting a film similar to Battle Royale or Lesson of Evil.
Attack on Titan: Series 1 (2013)
Hands down, Attack on Titan is the most well-known anime. It's also many people's first anime, with a fanbase that is largely casual but rabid. It was genuinely irritating how much my friends pestered me to see this. So I thought why not?
The series is about Eren Jaeger, a boy who aspires to fight titans. Titans are towering, freakish giants that like to eat humans by picking them up and biting their heads off. Eren and his friends Amin and Mikasa attempt to protect their wall-enclosed city, by joining the titan defender group.
As cool an idea as this sounds, it is let down for two reasons. The first is the uninteresting main characters that constantly shout and whimper their way through dialogue. Eren is focused entirely on destroying titans, making him a protagonist I find hard to sympathize with. The second would be how the series constantly attempts to keep the viewer's attention by killing off main characters, and leaving each episode on cliffhangers. Many episodes are nothing but build-up to the end-of-episode cliffhanger.
In general, I found the series barely kept my attention. Despite its fantastic set-up, setting and art design, the series can't get past mediocre characters and poor plot. I know the vocal majority enjoy the series so I would recommend any readers that are curious to make their own decision about the series.
Juvenile Court (1974)
Wiseman has directed 43 documentaries over a 48 year period, and all the documentaries have two things in common. The first is that they are studies on institutions, such as zoos or high schools. The second is they are unobtainable. I feel like Wiseman would be more respected and acknowledged if his films were available outside film festivals and his foreigner-unfriendly website, although its a shame he doesn't as his films are extraordinary.
Juvenile Court is a 144 minute documentary, documenting the processes of a Juvenile Court in 1970s America. The court is a judgement limbo for young offenders, and the film follows the judges, prosecutors, lawyers and the young offenders, as cases come and go. Examples would include: a case where a teenager sold LSD to an undercover cop, a rebellious teen refusing to wear a bra, a child who was whipped by her stepfather and another child who's father (allegedly) dropped burning grease on him.
Two cases, for me, stand out from the rest. The first would be a boy accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Early in the film, Wiseman shows the boy denying the act, before returning later in the film to show the mother and her two kids sharing their version of events. The film is predominantly about ethics and morality. Who is right? What is the right course of action? And this first case is a perfect example of Wiseman asking these questions. The second case is the final case and I'd rather keep it unspoilt for you. I will say it is the best example of raw humanity I've seen in a documentary.
All of the cases Wiseman documents in this film, show raw emotions of humanity in its subjects. After the film finishes, it is clear the Juvenile Court continues in the same way. Similar to all of his films, 'Juvenile Court shows the daily work of the institution over a period of time. Its a snapshot into a time and place that is far gone. Its an alarming documentary that I would recommend you hunt down!
Song of Freedom (1995)
Catherine and Tareque Masud
Song of Freedom is a little known Bangladeshi film set during the Liberation War in 1971, where the people of Bangladesh fought for independence from Pakistan. The film is told in a documentary style and follows a group of travelling musicians/entertainers as they raise the spirits and morale of freedom fighters around the area.
The best thing about Song of Freedom would be its ability of portraying the power and force of the liberation army and showing how devoted people can be once they fight for a willing and necessary cause. Song of Freedom is about an era and a people fighting for their country, and the Masud's do an excellent job of conveying this message to the viewer. So excellent that it will have you shouting Joy Bangla (translates to Victory to Bengal) long into the week. However the power may not be there for non-Bangladeshi viewers like myself.
The runtime is filled with constant singing with the occasional exchange of war-related stories. There is little in the way of characters, instead focusing entirely on the valiant cause and the positive effect the entertainment has on the freedom fighters. Song of Freedom is definitely a significant film, and I'd recommend watching if you are know about the Liberation war.
The Eye of the Day (2001)
Leonard Retel Helmrich
The Eye of the Day is an Indonesian documentary telling the story of a family at the close of the 1990s. The film weaves together politics, revolution and religion to give an accurate representation of Indonesia during the turn of the century. The family Sjamsuddin is a typical family of sons, daughters and a mother. They're the average low-income family, and the film does a good job of showing their everyday lives. As mundane as it sounds, the film is told in a visionary way with flowing and colourful cinematography from start to end. It's a beautiful piece of work, with culture infused into every new scene, making it a wonder to behold. Helmrich shows a personalized and breath-taking view of a beautiful yet troubled country at an important moment of their history. Track this down if you can,