Archive for the rants Category

Dumb Cars of the Noughties

Posted in cars, rants, reviews/opinions on March 31, 2010 by reccaphoenix

Everyone’s doing their best and worst of the decade lists and whatnot, it being 2010 and such, as it were.  So I thought I’d give my thoughts on something that has really bothered me the past 10 years of my existence – ugly and stupid cars and car trends.  Now, don’t get me wrong, car aesthetics have certainly improved since the 1990s for the most part, but there are quite a few styles and models of automobile introduced in the ’00s (which is pronounced “noughties,” I believe)  that really grind my gears.  So here’s an informal list of some of the worst of the worst that come to mind.  And this is only an Continue reading

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Looking, Looking (a.k.a. not to defend Twilight or anything, but…)

Posted in advertising, cinema, rants with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by reccaphoenix

I had to read Laura Mulvey’s article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” recently.  It’s about a lot of things, but one big point it brings up deals with men and women in films and scopophilia (voyeuristic pleasure in “looking”).  It talks about how female characters are generally just a spectacle to be looked at, so male characters have to advance the plot.

Which got me thinking….

Why is it that there aren’t a lot of “displays” of male characters in films?  (Not that I’m for that or anything, this issue is just interesting to me as a film nerd).  It seems to me that many viewers get irritated by this kind of display of men when it does occur (although rarely).  Now, this could be because it usually happens in “chick flicks” or films like Troy with a sizable female (or perhaps gay male) target audience; many male viewers or those with actual taste dislike these kinds of films and so would be irritated by just one more stupid thing in the film.  Case in point – a recent internet reviewer’s take on the Twilight: New Moon trailer went something like this:

(The trailer shows a bunch of shirtless werewolves and vampires)

Reviewer: (angrily) Did I mention this film was directed by a woman?

Yeah, so what if it was?  Not to defend Twilight or anything (’cause it probably sucks) but why are you so angry with this, Internet Reviewer?  If it was women doing the stripping, would you feel the same way?
The scary thing is that I had a similar reaction.  This film seems to be about 80% what we in the anime fandom community call “fanservice,” or the insertion of gratuitous romantic-hinting, nudity, exposure, or other such things.  That kind of stuff is unnecessary; it may sell a film, but it’s gratuitous.  Fanservice has its place in the arsenal of tricks, though, and it happens.  But it seems to me that it is far more acceptable, even in supposedly-more-“artistic” films (like the recent Nine) to have women prancing about in lingerie, etc., than it is for male characters to do similar acts of fanservice.

I am a girl, yes, but I generally dislike films targeted towards me as a demographic.  I find their tactics of targeting me, as a woman, insulting for the most part.  Hollywood people, stop acting like all women like that kind of shit.  Make some decent Annie Hall-style romances instead.  And women, make better films.  About stuff other than relationships.  Seriously.  (Recent Oscar shout-out to Kathryn Bigelow, a.k.a. pretty much the only awesome female director since Leni Riefenstahl**)

But you know, it should be all right for male fanservice to happen alongside female fanservice, without reflecting on the filmmaker’s sexual preferences or gender. I don’t support it, but let’s be fair.  Next time you or someone you know gets mad about this kind of thing for EITHER gender, just ask yourself/them “would you feel the same way if it was the opposite sex?”

Jumping around again, I am guilty of gender bias, sadly.  I often complain about female filmmakers’ inability to make films about anything other than “f—ing relationships” or other girlie sh*t, but…. it’s okay for men to do this?  Well….yeah.  If they’re good at it.  Like, say, Woody Allen.  My sexism reveals itself. Le sigh.

I suppose what I should say to both genders is just “make good films.”  Yeah.  I’ll go with that.

Recca 3/11/10

**disclaimer: Nazis are not cool, but Leni was a great director despite her political views.

Review – MW (2009)

Posted in anime, cinema, manga, osamu tezuka, rants, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by reccaphoenix

News has been circulating around the internet for a while about the live-action adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s mature manga masterpiece MW (pronounced “moo,” like a cow), created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Tezuka.  I was able to see this film in an advance screening last night and have been itching to share my thoughts.

Being a huge fan of both Osamu Tezuka and MW, I was anxious to see how this film would turn out.  Not surprisingly, I found myself with a graveyard of bones to pick after seeing it.  It’s hard for me to separate this film from the manga it’s based on and review it fairly.  Rather than a straight-up review like those I usually write, I do want to bring my Tezuka knowledge to the discussion, but I’ll try not to digress into fangirlish ranting.

MW (Japan, 2009) dir. Hitoshi Iwamoto. Color, 35mm.

Putting the manga it was based on aside, MW is overall a standard action film, about on par with most of Hollywood’s recent offerings, but nothing special.  A little lacking in the CG department, but a worthy effort nonetheless.  Hiroshi Tamaki, the actor who plays the main villain Michio Yuki, did a great job with the material he was given.  He lost quite a lot of weight for the role to give Yuki a skeletal and hollow appearance, and the effect is quite powerful.  The characters in the film are not all that well-developed or interesting, and as little as that matters in an action film, the action alone here doesn’t make up for everything else that is lacking.  I believe I might have enjoyed this film more were it not “based on” MW and given the same title.  But alas, it is, and comparisons are almost unavoidable.

That being said, I’d like to give my opinion on many of the changes in the movie.  *Cue disorganized rant*

The film character of Yuki comes nowhere near the complexities of manga Yuki.  Yes, he is “pure evil,” but he does not have the dualities and childlike moments of Yuki in the manga.  Part of what made Yuki so interesting was his total lack of remorse juxtaposed with his playful side.  Film Yuki comes off as more of a typical “evil” villain – cunning and remorseless, but also without emotion.
The same can be said of Garai and the other characters adapted from the manga.  A female reporter character added for the film comes off as uninteresting and completely useless.  Many characters are missing, which is not a bad thing on its own, but the characters which ARE there lack good characterization.

Characters’ actions and other things don’t make much sense.  The reporter and Garai help Yuki find MW on the island for no apparent reason.  Why were they helping him?
Garai’s inner struggle is almost nonexistent as well.
The backstory is drastically simplified.  In the film, Garai and Yuki are boys who grew up together on the island and escaped together when the military was killing off the survivors of the MW incident.  This makes Garai’s later “repentance” less dramatic and once again, downplays the relationship between the two.
The film basically turns into a straight action film.  Superficial suspense and chases make up the first half-hour.  It was exciting, I have to admit.  But MW the manga was already full of suspense that would have come across just fine in the film – were all these big-budget action scenes really necessary?
The sexual content is also completely absent.  This is not a bad thing, either, but extends to a ridiculous extent in the fact that the relationship between Garai and Yuki is barely even a subtext.

Sorry for the ranting.  I could go on forever about what’s different in the manga, but when it comes down to it, the film dilutes the manga’s plot and characters to fit an action-movie mold and adds its own ineffectual material.
It’s not that I’m against deviation from source material.  In fact, it can often be a good thing (why make a film if it’s the exact same story?  Use the medium!).  Take, for example, the Metropolis anime – though it went against Tezuka’s wishes and fundamentally altered much of the manga, it did so well and in the spirit of a Tezuka work (the extra characters mainly came from other Tezuka works).  Most importantly, it held up brilliantly on its own.  Though I still prefer the manga, I like the film.  It’s an original work.  With MW, however, I felt that the film was using a Tezuka name to sell a generic, uninspired action movie; it succeeds as neither a good action film nor a Tezuka film.

In one sentence: I’m disappointed.
In another sentence: They could have done so much better, even with half the budget.

Rating: 4/10

Trailer: http://mw.gyao.jp/ (official site)

P.S.: A tie-in MW TV drama (oneshot) is going to air on TV in 4 days.  I’ll try my best to watch it and post my thoughts if I find anything worth mentioning.

P.P.S.: I was so utterly disappointed with the film I had no interest in watching the tie-in drama.

OWN THE QUADROPHENIA SCOOTER! / ’79 Quadrophenia movie rant.

Posted in cinema, merchandise, mod, music, rants, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by reccaphoenix

I ride a GS Scooter with my haircut neat...

"I ride a GS Scooter with my haircut neat..."

Up for auction for an estimated 32,000-40,000 U.S. dollars…. Jimmy’s Lambretta scooter from the 1979 Quadrophenia movie!  A must-buy for any hardcore mod!

For those of you who are unenlightened, Quadrophenia is a 1973 rock opera album by my #1 favourite band, The Who.  It’s about the tail end of the mod movement in the UK.

I’m not too big a fan of the Quadrophenia film, actually.  I prefer the album much better, and I think the “Quadrophenia Live” DVD actually does a better job of telling the original album’s story better than the film does.  While the Quadrophenia film wasn’t nearly as much of a bastardization as the Tommy movie was, it still just doesn’t do it for me.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Somehow, having Jimmy drive his scooter off a cliff to “I’ve Had Enough” (which comes in the MIDDLE of the album) at the end of the film doesn’t work as well as ending with “Love Reign O’er Me” which is a much more poignant ending.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  That Jimmy can in the end overcome the desperation of youth rather than submit to its pressure and commit suicide (or trash his scooter…we don’t actually *see* him “die”).

*END OF SPOILERS*

Another issue I had with the film was casting: I don’t really think Sting makes a good Ace Face/Bellboy.  This character is supposed to be the KING of all mods, the moddest of all of them.  Sting just isn’t mod enough.  Okay, I know that they had to put at least one well-known person in the film so that it could sell more tickets.  Fair enough.  But they threw this popular ’80s…er…late ’70s guy in there who just isn’t that mod.  I totally felt the whole late ’70s thing more than I should have, especially with regards to some of the girls’ hairstyles in the film.

I realize I’m being exceedingly picky here.  These little things don’t affect my total appreciation of the film.  That has more to do with plot/music choices and pacing.  Seriously, Sting and curly-hair girl wouldn’t have taken away from it if it was a better film in the first place.

I appreciate the fact that the Who learned from their mistake in the Tommy film and switched to using the album versions of the songs in Quadrophenia.  However, using the songs as background and not having the characters sing them like they would in a musical really takes away from the film.  Ideally, the casters should have picked actors who can sing and act, and not put too too much of their own weird spin on the songs (I love Eric Clapton, but his rendition of ‘Eyesight to the Blind’ in the Tommy movie just pales in comparison to the Who’s…bluesy doesn’t work for it).  You know, like they did in Across the Universe….make it different, but the same…..if that makes any sense 😛

And what’s more, the film doesn’t even use all of the songs on the album, but uses other Who songs and mod favorites (like “Da Doo Ron Ron”)….and takes far too long to actually start using the songs from Quadrophenia everyone wanted to hear!  And it goes for a linear plot, unlike the album, which totally ruins the order of songs/events, and makes everything way less poignant.  How are we to experience the awesomeness of “The story begins ON A ROCK….*dramatic pause*,” as Pete Townshend said in Largo, Maryland back in seventy-whatever, if the story doesn’t start from “the end”?  And while it is educational to see Jimmy and his buddies participating in all their mod antics (such as breaking into the Chemist…er….Pharmacy to steal uppers), we want to see the STORY.  Anyone could make just “a film about mods,” what I wanted was a film OF QUADROPHENIA.

So….. to cut this long-winded and heavily disorganized rant short and come back to the point…..

It’s still a pretty sweet scooter.  Snatch it up.  Even if the movie pretty much sucked, the scooter is quite appropriate for mods and part-time-mods of all sizes, shapes, and persuasions, so snatch it up if you’ve got a couple thousand dollars lying around.

This important newsflash came to my attention via ModCulture.co.uk, as always your #1 source for mod happenings in Europe and mod information of all types.

Oh, Textbook Cover Art! Part I – language textbooks

Posted in advertising, artwork, japan, rants, reviews/opinions, shameless parody, textbooks on January 14, 2008 by reccaphoenix

Foreign language textbook covers to me seem to consist of three main types:

  1. A collage of various positive stereotypes, landscapes, traditional costumes of the country, etc. (These books’ titles are usually “Hello!” or “Friends!” or something in the language…)

2. A more modern (yet usually 10 years out-of-date) photo of modern, hip, smiling kids/adults from the country in question. (Your typical high school language book…) And they’re usually from a variety of ethnicities. Biggest stretch: My friend’s Swedish textbook had a black man and an East Asian woman on the cover. Sweden is almost entirely white. I can’t find a picture of it, though….so you’ll have to use your imagination 😛 Continue reading

Textbook Mishaps, or, “Wiener Coffee.” TV gaijin.

Posted in artwork, comix, japan, rants, television, textbooks with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2007 by reccaphoenix

reccaspriteI’ve come across some interesting textbooks in my day. Yep. I’ll save my rants about textbook cover art for another post, though. Today I’m talking about mistakes and odd illustrations and other nifty stuff.

A Japanese book I once had featured a fake sample menu from a cafe. One of the items was something called “Vienna Coffee” which in Japanese is Uinna Koohii ウィンナコーヒー. This Vienna Coffee was on the menu twice, once as hot and once as ice. But a printing mistake had been made….the second time it was mentioned it was written Uinnaa Koohii (Wiener Coffee, or Hot Dog Coffee) ウィンナーコーヒー.  Note that the first one does not have a longer-held “na” while the second one does. Continue reading

Halloween Report and New Theme Banners

Posted in artwork, cinema, clockwork orange, rants, site news/maintenance on October 31, 2007 by reccaphoenix

The actual run of my much-discussed Clockwork Orange costume went fairly well.

But I digress…  now that Halloween is over  , I needed a new theme header. So I made a winter one of me wearing my favorite crochet project, my kitty-ears hat.

Yes, I like winter because it means legwarmers/scarves/crocheted things/hats season, all of which are some of my favorite clothing items. Look forward to an upcoming December header for everyone’s favorite invented winter non-religious holiday, 47 RONIN DAY.

All artwork (c) 2007 Recca Phoenix Co.