September 03, 2004
Two Movies

I've seen a few movies recently and I thought I should write up my reviews. Of course, no one really cares to check my reviews before going to a movie, but I'll do it anyway.

Zatoichi, The Blind Swordsman - Zatoitchi is to Japan what James Bond is to Great Britain and America, the story of a cultural hero that lives on in movies with various actors and directors. Takeshi Kitano, actor/writer/director of many films including Battle Royale and Brother, takes the reins of the franchise. Finally being released in the US, Zatoichi is on the screen in it's full glory instead relegated to the DVD route that many international films suffer.

Now, I'm a huge fan of Akira Kuroswa, and all other samurai movies are measured against the Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, perhaps the two greatest action films ever made. Zatoichi is good even in compairison to these films. Takeshi is limited by the bounds of the pre-existing 20+ films that came before and can't really stretch himself.

The action is good, the villians are evil, the innocents are innocent, and Zatoichi is one serious ass-kicker. You won't be disappointed. The ronin samurai and his woman are the most intriguing characters in the film. Poised on the edge between a desire to escape ever present violence and their need to survive they have the most interesting story. I sure I missed a ton of the subtle nuances since that Japanese would find culturally obvious, but that simply means I'll have to buy the DVD for the commentary when it is released.

The one thing I didn't understand was the closing dance number. Can anyone explain that?

Napoleon Dynamite - When I saw the previews for Napoleon Dynamite I was hoping for a huge blockbuster comedy with plenty of lines to put into casual conversation like Ghostbusters. Alas, it is not to be.

The film is hilarious and well made, but the humor is in the context of the film. The director shot the film at a deliberately slow pace. Compared to the MTV style of many films these days, it was quite nice to have extended scenes with locked camera shots.

The story takes place in present day Idaho, but has the look of an older film. The themes though are universal; feeling like an outsider and the desire to be popular.

For anyone that was not in the popular crowd in high school (meaning most of the Cruft faithful) this movie will resonate.

Posted by michael at September 03, 2004 07:46 AM