Monday, December 22, 2014

Moments of Korra

The Legend of Korra has ended. I don’t expect to see a lot of coverage and eulogizing on many of the mainstream sites I frequent, which I guess means I have to take up that task. Often, such eulogizing takes the form of highlighted episodes, but that approach doesn’t strike me as particularly satisfactory for Korra’s heavily serialized, seasonal shifting style. So instead, I’m going to highlight particular moments I feel capture a character, attitude, execution, storyline or theme that made the show so great.

Friday, October 31, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Ponyo (2008)

“A young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship and discovery before Ponyo’s father, a powerful sorcerer, forces her to return to her home in the sea. But Ponyo’s desire to be human upsets the delicate balance of nature and triggers a gigantic storm. Only Ponyo's mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature s balance and make Ponyo's dreams come true.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

“When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking home.”

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Spirited Away (2001)

“In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into animals; and a bathhouse for these creatures.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Princess Mononke (1997)

“On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Porco Rosso (1992)

“The adventures of ‘Porco Rosso,’ a veteran WW1 pilot in 1930s Italy, who has been cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Companions, Ranked

Misogyny, brutality, torture, Porco Rosso still hasn’t come to my mailbox, the rest of the world appears to be falling apart, and it’s nearly premiere day, time to lighten up again, and you know what that means. But this time, it means something a little different.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Top Tier Team of Badassery

The other day, a slightly buzzed textual conversation led to me considering which recent and semi-recent TV and semi-TV characters might be regarded as all-time badasses. This further led me to play that most beloved of geeky pastimes, Zombie Survival Team, which I modified to Survival Team or Shit Going Down Team. Who made the cut, and why? Read on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

“A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

“When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby.”

Monday, June 9, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Castle in the Sky (1986)

“A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle.”

Monday, May 12, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

“In the far future, man has destroyed the Earth in the 'Seven Days of Fire'. Now, there are small pockets of humanity that survive. One pocket is the Valley of Wind where a princess named Nausicaä tries to understand, rather than destroy the Toxic Jungle.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Evil is Dumb"

            While obviously the cast of character in Game of Thrones can’t be handily divided between Good and Evil, it is still a moral series, with a clear sense of and ideas about what is right and what is wrong. It may have its fair share of amoral characters, but the show is not amoral itself. Each character in the complicated ethical landscape of the series has something to say. But my favorite statement has always come from Tywin Lannister.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How Can You Hate Little Birds?

Far back in the mists of time, in the days when season 2 of Game of Thrones was drawing to a close, I was conflicted. I wanted child-murderer, rape-enthusiast, and all-around chickenshit Theon Greyjoy to meet a horrible, stabby death at the hands of the forces gathering around him. At the same time, if Theon does get gutted, who would I hope gets slapped in every scene in which they appear? Conundrum. Joffrey was still around, though, I observed, but an onlooker offered an alternative—“There’s always Sansa.”
            I was actually taken aback. Really, I was stunned. “Why the fuck would I want to see Sansa get slapped?” I asked, even though I knew any answer I got would be dumb. Because, really, there’s only one reason to hate Sansa that much.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

“Reknowned international thief Lupin III comes to the small European duchy of Cagliostro to investigate some excellently-forged money and stumbles across a national conspiracy going back some hundreds of years. Lupin and his friends must rescue the beautiful Clarice from the hands of the evil Count Cagliostro and solve the mystery of a hidden treasure dating back to the 15th century.” 

Friday, March 21, 2014

In Sea, Plain, and Sky

There’s a good chance I saw my last new Hayao Miyazaki film last week. What a sad thing to see in stark letters like that. The great man says it’s time for him to retire, and if that’s what he’s decided, so be it. Maybe we’ll get lucky, and he’ll change his mind later—after all, it’s happened before. In the meantime, I’ve decided the best way I can pay homage to a luminary of world cinema is through a survey of his works.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Speaking For: The Asylum of the Daleks

Man, I’ve been dealing in weighty, dismal topics lately. Time to downshift and have a little fun again—fun in this case being rallying in favor of a Doctor Who episode. And the episode in this case is “The Asylum of the Daleks,” the premiere of the revived show’s 7th season, or its 2012 season, however you want to measure it. Not the boldest choice, same might say. “Asylum” is pretty well regarded, after all. Well, I say it’s the third best Dalek episode of the revived series, despite some issues. How’s that for bold? Not really? Well, whatever, it’s the case.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Mountains of Madness Peak in Ourselves

            Serial killer shows are, by my reckoning, the stupidest goddamn things. While I believe their nadir was last year’s The Following, my favorite example of their stupidity was sometime earlier, in some show called “Chase” or “The Chase” or “Chaser” or something, about a marshal doubtless named Chase. Anyway. I watched it because it featured The Wire’s own Mr. Prezbo for an episode as some manner of badass criminal, a sight too hilarious to pass up. He was, of course, a serial killer, which according to the modern paradigm means he is the very pinnacle of danger, physically and mentally unstoppable. Despite being a former English teacher who attacked 16 year old girls, his compulsion for murder gave him the fighting prowess of the Predator and the calculating brilliance of Lex Luthor. In the opening moments, he beat two armed marshals to submission while shackled and escaped. Later, he breaks into an empty home. “He has a knife now,” one of the desperate marshals on the hunt intones. By the next scene, the pursuing marshals are armed for Ragnarok. Kevlar. Bandoleers of flash bang grenades. Assault rifles with nightvision scopes, forward grips, and double magazines for fast reloading. Such were the tools needed to take down this elemental force of murder now that he had a kitchen knife. Moronic.
            But that’s the power our cop dramas usually attribute to serial killers. They’re the boogey men. We don’t believe in goblins, witches, and ogres anymore, so we have serial killers. And that’s just one stupid patch in the deep, stupid quilt of stupidity that goes into the serial killer show. That matter of taste should be kept in mind when I say Hannibal is one of the best shows on right now. It goes to show that a little artfulness goes a long way.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Known Things

I generally read reviews after I’ve watched a film, which might seem odd, but is a natural part of my assessment process, seeing what others have to say. Obviously, this time of year, as I catch up with the prestigious and high-minded films catching awards heat, what others have to say gets more diffuse, specific and hair-splity, since in general such films have at least a base level of competence. Usually. Anyways. Two such films I made sure to catch are 12 Years a Slave and Fruitvale Station, which respectively have aggregate review scores of 96% and 94%, and one criticism I saw levied at both, from professionals and cinephiles, hinged on matters of existence. Specifically that they didn’t “say anything [the speaker] didn’t already know.” Looking at the posters for both, you might see something else they have in common. Further, if you’re familiar with the backstory of each, you might see yet another.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Don’t Know, I Wasn’t There, But I’m a Human Being with a Brain, so I Have Suspicions Based on the Information I Have Gathered

The human brain is, surely, the most wondrous thing currently known to mankind. Right now, I just opened a bottle of my favorite beer. My brain coordinated not only the entire mechanical process (while keeping me upright the whole time), it managed the impulses that drove me to get one, while retaining all the information required to acquire said beer, where I left it, where I could find more, the process by which I could get more, roughly how much more I could get balance with how much more I should, the qualities that make it my favorite, how it compares to all the other beers I have ever had, and many, many memories surrounding this beer, and it has resolved the philosophical conundrum that while I have never had this specific, individual beer before, it is my favorite, and it continued to regulate the rest of my body’s functions that ensure my continued survival, with plenty of room for a myriad of other thoughts, plans, wishes, memories, instincts, feelings, and so on. All of this, it did, while only weighing about 3 pounds. By way of contrast, the laptop I am composing this upon weighs about 3.3 pounds, and it sometimes runs at 33% capacity with just a document and a web browser running. Yet, this laptop was also designed by a brain, as was the beer, the bottle it came in, the car I drove to get it, the store I bought it in, and the economy that allowed me to buy it. I love my brain, and thus I have little patience for those who pretend theirs don’t work.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Speaking For: The Rings of Akhaten

Very rarely has it been said of me that my tastes are expected, and obviously, there is never total agreement on quality. Still, in the hype leading up to the 50th anniversary of The Doctor, I was aghast to see the two part “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” mentioned in a positive context. This culminated in a ranking of every single Doctor Who story that placed this bit of idiocy where the Doctor finds the Devil in a black hole and shouts at him at 27 of 241. Twenty-fucking-seven! He meets Satan! Twenty-fucking-seven! According to the list-makers, that was firmly among what were dubbed “Classics,” and above…well, just about every story I’ve seen, except for the girl who draws squiggles and the one with the ass monster—admittedly, it does introduce the Ood and does very little with them. Still, I can’t exactly judge—I really like “The Rings of Akhaten.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Watched Stuff in 2013

In the days since I began my YLT Project, I’ve been asked with some regularity about my current viewing habits. Sometimes, I even get asked what my top five shows are in a given year, and lover of sharing that I am, I share. I’ll even share them here! After all, as many problems as lists can have, it’s always a good idea to inventory yourself.