A Few Thoughts on Shintaro Kago’s “Dementia 21”

I was picking up a book I had on hold at the library and a manga on display caught my eye. Dementia 21. What a strange name. The bright yellow letters really stood out. I decided to check it out and give it a shot.

Wow, am I glad I did. It’s the best comic I’ve read this year.

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FilmStruck Review

A thorough look at the ups and downs of FilmStruck, the movie streaming service by TCM and Criterion.

I’ve been a subscriber to the new-ish movie streaming service FilmStruck for a few months now, and I’m fairly happy with it. It’s got some issues though, and I don’t think it’s for everyone. Here are my thoughts on FilmStruck as of mid-2017.

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Dune Review

My thoughts on David Lynch’s 1984 film Dune.

Where are my feelings?

Dune is among the worst films I’ve seen.  It’s disappointing because it’s written and directed by my favorite director. It doesn’t work on any level, especially when compared to contempary sci-fi films. The story is illogical, the character development is nonexistent, the special effects have aged very poorly, and the dialogue is often laugh out loud cheesy. 

Also, Patrick Stewart’s mullet. I can’t even. 

Going in without having read the book and hearing pretty divided opinions on the film, I tried to stay open minded. Woof, a bit of a let down. 

Honestly, the best part was the pug.

Dune - Kyle - Pug
Dune - Family Pug
Dune - Patrick Stewart - Pug

Dunkirk Review

Why Christopher Nolan’s 2017 war thriller didn’t work for me.

I feel like I need a weekend at the spa after seeing Dunkirk. It’s certainly impressive, but it’s too intense for its own good. The nonlinear editing was a strange choice, and the dialogue was mostly impossible for me to understand (bad mix or bad speakers?). 

The raw carnage of the events at Dunkirk hit hard, more so than any of the characters the film invents. It’s still difficult to believe that less than a century ago the world was at war for the second time. It, at times, almost feels fictional with the current state of things. The visuals displayed in the film felt real, which is what I find most impressive.

I keep drawing comparisons between Dunkirk and Mad Max: Fury Road. Not because they both feature Tom Hardy not talking much. But because they are both non-stop intense action thrillers. Fury Road, for me, succeeds on a higher artistic level. Even though neither slow down much, Fury Road strikes a better balance for the intensity. 

To me, Dunkirk is a lesson in intensity. I appreciate quiet films and the quiet moments in loud films. It’s very hard for me to enjoy a movie where there’s a stopwatch ticking almost the whole time. It felt like I was being manipulated over and over with each scene in a way that was upsetting at a deeper level than most manipulation in film.

I didn’t enjoy Dunkirk, but I appreciate that it exists and that I got to see it in 70mm.

Okja Review

Why Bong Joon-ho’s latest film should have gone further

Okja is the latest film from Bong Joon-ho, the director Snowpiercer, Mother, and a handful of other movies. It tells the story of a girl, Mija, who raises a super pig named Okja on her grandfather’s farm in South Korea. The corporation that owns Okja comes and takes her away, leading Mija on an emotional journey across the globe.

I enjoyed Okja and the themes it presents, but it fell short for me in a few different ways.

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Chungking Express Review

My thoughts on Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 film Chungking Express.

Chungking Express is a 1994 film by Wong Kar-wai set in Hong Kong. It consists of two parts, each following a different police officer and their experiences with love. It’s visually stunning and incredibly stylish.

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Baby Driver Review

Thoughts on the masterful new film by Edgar Wright.

Baby Driver is the latest film from director Edgar Wright, who is known for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Shaun of the Dead, and a handful of other movies. The premise is simple: Baby is a getaway driver, but he’s got a hum in his ear that requires him to listen to music to drown it out. The music plays a big role in the film. Baby gets pulled into some messy work, and he eventually tries to break free from it, but isn’t quite so simple.

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Bottle Rocket Review

A look at Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket, with a focus on how it compares to his other films.

On the run from Johnny Law. It ain’t no trip to Cleveland.

Three years ago my partner and I dug into Wes Anderson’s filmography to check out the films that we had not yet seen. We started with Moonrise Kingdom, which was an absolute joy. We then moved on to Rushmore, which is brilliant and one of my favorite films. After that was The Darjeeling Limited, which was funny and visually interesting but not quite up to par with the rest of Wed Anderson’s filmography. We then decided to give Bottle Rocket a go.

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The Bad Batch Review

Thoughts on Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2017 film The Bad Batch.

I went into The Bad Batch without any prior knowledge of the film or its director, Ana Lily Amirpour. Today was a hot day for Portland, almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and nothing sounded better to me than a dark, cool theater. I browsed the playing movies and whittled out the superhero movies (just not in the mood) and big budget CGI-mess blockbusters like Transformers and The Mummy. Among what was left that I hadn’t seen and looked interested was The Bad Batch. I liked the look of the poster, so I decided to go for it.

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The End of the Tour Review

My thoughts on James Ponsoldt’s 2015 film about David Lipsky’s interview with David Foster Wallace.

The End of the Tour is a film that chronicles the interview of David Foster Wallace (DFW) by fellow author David Lipsky over the course of a handful of days for Rolling Stone right after DFW’s Infinite Jest was released in the mid-90s. It stars Jason Segel as DFW and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky.

Let me lay some groundwork before jumping into my thoughts: I’ve never read Infinite Jest, although one day I would like to. The only David Foster Wallace that I’ve read are some of his essays, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve watched and listened to a handful of interviews over the years as well. About 6 months ago I read the book this movie is based upon, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. I found it to enthralling and emotional, especially for a premise that could be very boring.

With that out of the way, let me get into my thoughts on The End of the Tour. Overall, I enjoyed watching the film. For what is mostly two men talking, the time flies by, which is a testament to DFW and David Lipsky, the editing, and the screenplay. It has an emotional arc, which if I’m remembering correctly, is present in the book.

Being somewhat familiar with DFW’s voice and visual appearance, it took me about a half hour to get over that Jason Segel simply isn’t DFW. I think Jason Segel does a good job of capturing DFW’s mannerisms, and both he and Jesse Eisenberg’s performances are good. The more tense and emotional scenes deliver, which I was surprised by.

Some of the emotional impact of the movie was lessened by my familiarity with the book. It certainly strikes similar chords, and I found the ending of the movie to be particularly poignant.

There are few anachronisms in the film, specifically cars from the 2010s being present in parking lots, but that’s a minor gripe. The End of the Tour nails the 90s aesthetic with all of the smoking, soda, movies, and fashion.

While the movie isn’t overly artistic, I appreciate its visual style. I think the cinematography is the cherry on top, as there are some beautiful shots mixed into the interior shots.

The End of the Tour didn’t knock my socks off, but I think it’s a solid adaptation and look into one of the most legendary authors of all time. I’m glad I watched the film, and if you’re interested in writing and/or DFW, you won’t be disappointed.

I think it’s time for me to finally read Infinite Jest.