The Shadow Whip

There’s a scene where the heroine Yun enters a tavern and all the patrons look up from their tea and wine and my heart sank a little. What are they seeing? What are they thinking? There’s no spark, no grin threatening on Yun’s face at the realization she’s the baddest guy in the room. The problem is that Yun is played by Cheng Pei-pei, and this is a woman who doesn’t just walk into a tavern. Her debut character, Golden Swallow in Come Drink with Me, exuded such an aura of mystique, a gravity I’m missing in The Shadow Whip. What we have, then, is a study in functional direction, and how imprecision can be ruinous. … More The Shadow Whip

Great Fight Scenes | Throne Room, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This sequence begins with the dialogue preceding the action. Supreme Leader Snoke has our heroine Rey in hand, and he’s confident that padawan Kylo Ren will strike her down (which doesn’t usually have consequences, as I understand it). The villain chatters on about destiny while Kylo surreptitiously turns the lightsaber toward him, a tense scene culminating in the shock of Snoke’s assassination. Rey and Kylo barely have time to make eyes because now the Praetorian Guard have been activated. … More Great Fight Scenes | Throne Room, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Rewaking into Dream: The Matrix Resurrections

After a second viewing of The Matrix Resurrections, special guest host Stella and I attempt to piece our feelings together. It’s a complicated story, isn’t it? A movie that shouldn’t exist but is entertaining. A good movie but maybe a bad sequel. An action movie with questionable action scenes? And this is assuming we understood it at all, which is very much up to debate. … More Rewaking into Dream: The Matrix Resurrections

Best of the Year: 2021

An annual tradition five or seven years strong is the Year End Review, in which, via podcast, I recount the ten best movies or TV shows I saw for the first time that year. Originally hosted on The Battle Beyond Planet X, it’s since migrated to Questions: We Don’t Have Answers. The three-part podcast with cohost Donovan Morgan Grant and special guest Stella Bowman is now up. The following is my individual top ten list, with Worst of the Year and Honorable Mentions thrown in for flavor. What were your picks of the year? Let me know in the comments! For once, I actually mean that. … More Best of the Year: 2021

The Princess Mononoke and I

What’s the best Hayao Miyazaki movie? You don’t know how much it drives me crazy that my answer is Spirited Away and not Princess Mononoke. Yes, the one about the little girl who gets a job at the spa, while the fantasy epic about war and gods doesn’t crack my Ghibli top five. How I wish it did! It’s the kind of movie I hope they make every time, but each successive adventure seems to shrink in scale, down to bean level. I’ve seen Princess Mononoke three times now, at different times in my life, and I’ve sat with the same conclusion each time: I just don’t like it that much. Very, very crazy. … More The Princess Mononoke and I

11/07/2021 – Gears of Metroid

Gears of War 2 remains symbolic to me of my very first friendship. My buddy and I grew up together and played co-op games like Bomberman 64: The Second Attack up through the Halo series. He was particularly fond of Gears of War, and while I liked it well enough, I came to admire his fandom — this coming from a guy who was not and likely never would be a self-described “nerd.” I’ll always remember the date Gears of War 2 was released — 11/07/08 — though I had no idea it would be our last game. Nothing tragic happened, we simply parted ways shortly into high school. … More 11/07/2021 – Gears of Metroid

Moon Over Tao: Makaraga

This is it. After the Zeiram duology and Mechanical Violator Hakaider, director Keita Amemiya turns in his final live-action feature. Three years later, Yuko Moriyama would retire from film without a word. The end of an era, and it’s bittersweet but satisfying that Moon Over Tao is the swan song. Unlike the adaptations Hakaider and Amemiya’s debut Mirai Ninja, and even the Zeirams which incited a franchise — however modest — Moon Over Tao stands alone. It is purer, and landing at the end of a directing career, it possibly commands a larger budget. Very likely, this will be our most vivid glimpse into an auteur’s mind, to which “purity” is surely the theme. Still, my favorite aspect of the Amemiya mythos is the ship between director and actress. Where usually the director’s relationship or obsession with the lead is uncomfortable (Underworld, Planet Terror, Final Fantasy XIII), Amemiya continues to lens Moriyama with the same low-angled awe as he does the giant animatronic monster. I believe she’s a wholesome muse, and the ship culminates here with three times as many Yuko Moriyamas as usual. … More Moon Over Tao: Makaraga

K-Drama Report: My Name (2021) Follow-Up

Funny story with this one; I’d checked to see, “Hey, when’s that new Korean cool girl show out?” and it was that day, Oct. 16. Two thoughts seized me, then: “Yay!” and “I should write about this.” See, I’ve been on kind of an SEO tear lately, which is partly why the last several posts have skewed entirely Korean. That seems to be the country of the week, and I’m glad there’s a country of the week at all. I just happened to see the SNL Squid Game parody, and that’s how you know you’ve made it, aside from the massive revenue. The recent post I did about Squid Game, in fact, was a cynical product, and even a bit rushed as a result — a hastily-thought-out premise effecting a strange contrarian opinion. But once I read that review of Parasite, I couldn’t let it go. And then comes My Name, yet another Netflix K-drama, and this one — unlike Squid Game — actually appealed directly to my sensibilities (which probably makes for a less compelling post, because I tend to say the same, uncomfortable thing). But because I’d checked, I had the opportunity to post something that very premiere day. … More K-Drama Report: My Name (2021) Follow-Up