Posts Tagged Mamoru Oshii

Fantasia Film Review: Nowhere Girl

 

(Source: Showgate)

(Source: Showgate)

Once in a while, Fantasia shows me a movie that goes over my head.

There’s a lot of elegance on Mamoru Oshii’s Nowhere Girl. The classical music, the long takes that last lifetimes. The movie does make it plain and simple that the storyline’s tempo is patient and that it will remain slow. The proverbial girl is Ai (Nana Seino), a student with a post traumatic stress disorder that is being given a wide berth by the art academy she studies and lives in. With a creepy teacher and classmates who have no empathy for her situation, she wanders the corridors trying to shut down some unknown event that happened to her.

The big question is, are we really watching what we think we’re watching? Is this what is really going on? Mamoru Oshii is the known creator of anime classic Ghost In The Shell. That, and the fact that the write up for the film mentioned the final act is of a different nature, something I’d rather not spoil for you, were the clues to expect something else… although at the very end.

I don’t want to give it away. However I feel I must warn you about something. Fantasia will usually have one or two rare movies against the traditional Fantasia-type crowd pleasers. This is definitely one of them. There’s something deeper going on here. Whether it’s all in Ai’s head or if it really matters it’s up to you.

Recommended with strict reservations. If you get pissed easily at movies that make you think, skip it. On the other hand, if you’re not above slow and meditative and are willing to put up with slow pace for a big payoff, keep this film in mind. Finally, if you are a fan, you will probably end up watching it anyhow. This is kind of the reverse of a few movies I’ve watched last week. The ending might be where it’s at, but sometimes you do have to put up with a long and lonely road before getting there. Sometimes the journey and the destination don’t have to match.

Coming next!

  • Thursday, July 23: To be announced later.
  • Friday, July 24: To be announced later.
  • Saturday, July 25 – 18:45 – Deadman Inferno (Concordia Hall Theatre)
  • Sunday, July 26 – 14:45 – Monty Python: The Meaning of Live (Concordia Hall Theatre)

That will do for now.

(Sources: Fantasia International Film Festival)

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Movie Review: Garm Wars: The Last Druid (2014)

(Source: I.G. Films)

(Source: I.G. Films)

There’s not too much to spoil here… but then again, I’m not sure.

Mamoru Oshii is a famous filmmaker specially of popular anime like Urusei Yatsura, Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor 2: The Movie. You will have to excuse me when I say, Garm Wars: The Last Druid is not going to be amongst his most memorable creations. In this film, extensive CGI worlds that still very much look like CGI worlds, are combined with live action actors. The result… is stunted at best, awkward often and jarring at its very worst.

There are three factions – Lance’s voice will actually name a lot more but only three are actually taking part in this storyline. The three surviving tribes are the Briga, the Columba and the Kumtak. Worldbuilding can be amazing when done right, that is when you introduce everything gradually. It doesn’t quite work when you throw in every convoluted name at the same time, which unfortunately is the case here.

The whole thing starts with a battle between the Briga and the Columba. Good luck telling who is who. Eventually, one faction (the Columba, I think) captures a escaping ship containing a escaped Kumtak named Wydd (Lance Henriksen, who also does the voiceovers) who escorts a masked Druid named Nascien. Then the larger ship gets boarded by the Briga and well, everything goes down in flames amidst a choir musical background.

From the chaos, one Colomba pilot named Kara (Melanie St-Pierre) escapes. As everyone else in this world, she is a clone, but she has also had the rare honor of interacting with Wydd’s beloved Gula. A Gula is dog, a basset hound. If the Gula touches you, you are blessed. Stay with me, here.

Kara tracks Wydd and Nascien to a Briga tank, operated by Skellig. Skellig and Kara fight, but Wydd stops them because… Actually, I’m not sure. Wydd wants to go to a mystical place called La La Land. Ok, ok. It wasn’t called that, sorry. At this point my memory for names kinda gave up on me, as I was giving up on the movie.

Every line feels jarring. Every dialog is short. It feels like they needed to stop every minute to switch surroundings. There’s hardly a conversation that carries over more than a couple of lines, and even when it does it hardly gives us any insight into the characters. Who is Wydd? Why is he helping Nascien? Where did he found the Druid? Why are Kara and Skellig not trying to kill each other?

Every line is serious in this film. Nothing lightens the mood, so eventually the audience switches off. Nobody is human. Nobody gives up, nobody wants food, nobody gets scared, and nobody has a joke about how many Brigas it takes to change a lightbulb. The dialogue has no depth. It’s just doing this and that.

Every face is lighted up with a different color. I don’t know if this is done to blend in the live action with the CGI, but it looks positively unnatural. The music is ok, but it’s basically choirs singing hymns to accentuate that we’re supposed to be amazed at what we’re looking at, although we know it’s CGI again.

What it looks like, is like if someone collected the entire cutscenes of a video game and put them altogether back to back to form a movie. At least in a video game, we’d eventually get to play. Here, we don’t really have any fun.

Not recommended.

Watch on YouTube

On other news, Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is scheduled from July 16 to August 4, 2o15.

Highs:

  • Looks like an anime. Nice costumes. Cute dog.

Lows:

  • Literally everything else. Stunted dialog, endless narrations, jarring all the way through. Strange lighting.
  • No depth to the characters, no hints at the characters living in this world being real, none of the characters feel human. Everything is dead serious.

That will do for now.

Coming soon:

(Source: Garm Wars: The Last Druid Official Site)

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