Category: Movies & Television Page 1 of 4

Fuck it, let’s do it

Alright, fuck it. I’m doing it. That thing I mentioned a while back? I’m gonna do it. And to that end, I’m gonna devote March to it. So, to fulfill my self-imposed quota of at least two articles per month, before going off to work on this other project I’m gonna leave you readers with a quick mini-review of The Green Knight, which I saw last night.

I think the best way to describe this movie is as an attempt to reintroduce seriousness to Arthurian fantasy. Like, in recent years Arthurian retellings have become clogged with the same Theme Park Fantasy crud that has plagued all fantasy fiction. Hell, the most recent Guy Ritchie movie is just a straight up attempt to turn the Arthurian legends into the next MCU. But The Green Knight takes everything deathly seriously, and expects you to do the same.

It’s difficult, when a kid on their computer can with CGI make a sight more spectacular than anything any scroll illustrator in the Middle Ages could draw, to show audiences something truly fantastic. Something that you can feel in your bones from looking at it that it’s powerful and terrifying and beyond our mortal comprehension. But the movie reminds us that these fantastic creatures and beings in Arthurian tales were not meant to be video game grunts, but genuinely otherworldly entities, and everything we see in The Green Knight is steeped in this sense of ethereal uneasiness.

This ties into the main change from the source material, and the ultimate journey of its protagonist. While Gawain in the poem manages to pass all the tests to his honor with relative ease, “Garwin” (no I don’t know why he’s called that) in the film just barely scrapes by, sometimes even passing on only a technicality, before he finally confronts his test with the titular Knight. But with each test, Garwin grows, before finally learning and turning into the kind of knight he’s always dreamt of becoming.

The film is very slow and moody, and spends most of its time focusing on singular, powerful images to convey emotions, while still having enough sex and violence to never get boring. I think the best way to describe it would be “Baby’s First Andrei Tarkovsky”, and if you’re having trouble getting your friends and family into Tarkovsky films, this might make good material to wean them on before they take the plunge with something like Stalker or Solaris.

Dev Patel makes a phenomenal knight. David Lowery made a phenomenal movie. Please, go and watch The Green Knight. Go off, with your head.

Marlowe’s Last Bow

When it comes to the private detective archetype, the most archetypical of them all is Philip Marlowe. Sure, there’s Sam Spade, but he’s really only famous for one book, The Maltese Falcon, with Dashiel Hammett’s other famous works involving other, less famous detectives. Also, Hammett incorporated boring shit like “personal experience” and “actual brass tacks of detective work” into his stories, while Chandler, not being from those streets, went for a flashier style, and prioritized things like “action” and “sexiness”. It’s little wonder then that while Hammett’s work is the more accurate of the two, Chandler’s is the one with the more lasting impact. I mean, does Hammett have a trope named after him? I think not. But Chandler has two! (Okay, okay, Hammett has an award named after his Glass Key novel, but the protagonist in that isn’t a private detective, even if he undertakes a murder investigation)

My point is, given how important and influential Philip Marlowe is to the genre of hardboiled or noir or whatever you want to call that specific brand of mystery stories, you’d expect his legacy to be secure well after his death. However, only fifteen years after Chandler’s last Marlowe novel was published, people were starting to reassess Marlowe’s place in the cultural zeitgeist.

The Long Goodbye (1973)

This is the film that was supposed to kill the noir genre. With the help of Leigh Brackett, who had also adapted The Big Sleep for Bogie and Bacall, Robert Altman set about with this movie to systematically deconstruct and destroy Philip Marlowe, and leave the festering corpse of his archetype in the gutter.

The lesson I take from all this? Cutting out author inserts makes everything better.

I’ve been on a weird 90s Chicago kick recently, and gobbled down two films that put that time and place lovingly on display, so I thought I’d share them all with you to fill my article quota before April kicks off. Here ya go!

The Relic (1997)

Watching this after I threw away the source material angrily in disgust, the film version of Relic thankfully excises the book’s central flaw and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Reading the Relic novel is sort of like watching one of the poorer SNL sketch spinoff movies, where about half-an-hour in you suddenly realize “Oh my god… they don’t have a movie!” There’s a maybe 200-page plot crammed into an almost 500-page book, and so to pad out pages Preston and Child will just repeat information over and over again.

So, to give an example, first we’ll have a scene where some schmuck wanders off and gets killed. Then we’ll have a scene where someone finds the body and goes “Omigod! Someone got killed!” Then we’ll have a scene where the police are cordoning off the crime scene and gabbing to one another “Hey, you see that someone got killed? Poor schmuck.” Then we’ll have a scene where the rubberneckers are gabbing “Did you hear? Someone got killed!” Then we’ll have a scene where the investigator characters show up and discuss how someone got killed. Then we’ll start banging our heads against the table as we realize that about a hundred pages have passed and nothing has been established that we didn’t already know from the god-damn back cover.

Let the Dream Stay a Dream

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers and discusses rape and sexual assault. Seriously, you have been warned.

I Dream of Mimi is an OVA that, while not exactly a big hit in the West, has gained a cult status due to it producing a lot of GIFs which have wound up on various corners of the internet. Even if you’ve never seen an episode or read the original manga, you’ve probably seen one of the GIFs if you hang out in anime-friendly online spaces. I found it while listening to Future Funk, similar to how I found Call Me Tonight. And from the GIFs I gathered that Mimi had that goldilocks combination of cuteness and lewdness that I love so much in my adult anime. Given this, I quickly tracked the OVA down and gave it a watch.

So how was it? Awful. The answer is awful, but it wasn’t awful in the sense of making me uncomfortable. While there were certainly some eyebrow-raising moments in Mimi, it’s free of sexual violence and maintains a whimsical, charming tone. No, I Dream of Mimi made me angry. Angry to the point where whatever charm and cuteness the series had only made things more irritating. Angry to the point where I wanted to reach into my phone and strangle the protagonist. Angry to the point where when I was finished, I thought to myself “What was even the point of that?” But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cthulhuan Cuteness

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers and discusses rape and sexual assault. And also tentacles. Seriously, you have been warned.

Wicked City was my first proper exposure to adult anime, but it was also unintentional. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I watched it, and while I was old enough and mature enough to not freak out at what I saw, I wasn’t honest enough with myself yet to seek out more adult anime. That would come later, well after I’d left college. During this time I had discovered Future Funk, and through my favorite Future Funk Youtube channel, Artzie Music, I’d found one song in particular that I loved: “Confessions” by Sixtroke. Like most Artzie Music videos, the music came with a classic 80s anime GIF, but with this video I didn’t recognize where the GIF came from. Curious, I looked up the anime and found that it was a hentai horror short film named Call Me Tonight.

Maybe years before I would have left things at that, but then, at that time and place, there was something inside me that was curious, a side of me that was only just starting to bloom now that I was living and working on my own. So I watched Call Me Tonight, and I loved it! This would mark the start of my full and proper exploration into kinky anime, and as such, Call Me Tonight still holds a special place in my heart. However, given how my opinion of Wicked City soured since my first viewing, I had to wonder if Call Me Tonight would still hold up. I had to see it again.

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