zustifer: (comics: zippy ha ha incongruous)
[personal profile] zustifer
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Nagisa Oshima. Feb 10, 9pm. View count: One.
Laitakaupungin valot (AKA Lights in the Dusk, 2006), Aki Kaurismäki. Feb 11, 4pm. View count: One.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Mark Dindal. Feb 26, 3pm. View count: One.

Well, okay, this is a weird progression, from bleak awfulness to glib doofiness, but let's do it.

Merry Xmas was a rough one. Somehow I'd never seen this, despite it starring not only David Bowie but Beat Takeshi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of my favorite musicians ever since I learned about YMO in college. So I finally rectified the situation, finding that, indeed, it's not a fun movie. It's about a POW camp during WWII, and nearly everyone ends up broken, or dead, or about to be dead. The soundtrack is rather wonderful (I do love Sakamoto); it does a fantastic job of mirroring the grinding awfulness of POW life, along with small strains of defiance or prettiness.
Much is made of the mutual incomprehensibility of the Japanese and the British. A significant amount of time is expended in each trying to make the other understand.

Lights in the Dusk is, from what I understand, typical of Kaurismäki's work, in that it's about The Little Guy and how he gets screwed in daily life. It follows a security guard through his screwing-over by a rich cabal who want to pin a jewelry heist on him. I mostly enjoyed this due to its finnish quotidian details, as the plot was sort of uninterestingly predictable and, in one spot in particular, almost insulting. The interiors were nice, though.

The Emperor's New Groove is another one of those 'dude is selfish and mean and then, through the magic of friendship, learns the error of his ways and becomes Good' things that Disney loves a lot. I was surprised by the way every lead voice actor was readily recognizable, and I'm definitely sad that Eartha Kitt can't be in more movies. (I'm also sad that she didn't really get to turn on the evil, vocally, in the way that we all know that she can. She's more of a Malificent than she is one of these flashes-in-the-pan.) John Goodman also didn't really fit the visual role he was given -- his voice has too much dignity and gravitas. Patrick Warburton, was, however, the right choice, as ever. And David Spade was fine. Visually the whole thing wasn't anything monstrously spectacular, but it was pretty enough (I feel as if not enough research was done into Mayan visual motifs, though). It did, however, nag at me that everyone was so white. Very strange. At least the story seemed to be aware of itself, which is worth something.
I can't shake the feeling that this entire movie's philosophy/zeitgeist reflection can be summed up by these few seconds of video.
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Karla Z

February 2012

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