Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ern's Monthly Visual Victuals (June 2010 / Part 2)


The continuation of my movie reviews for the month of June!

あばしり一家 「Abashiri Ikka」- Also released with the English title of “Abashiri Family”. This is based on Go Nagai’s comic (creator of “Devilman” and “Cutey Honey”) of the same name. This stars Erika Tonooka (member of the idol group Idoling) with a bunch of other character actors such as Yakan Nabe, Ijirii Okada, and Mai Endo (another member of Idoling as well). I haven’t read the original manga so I couldn’t give you an opinion on how well the characters of the live-action matched. Anyway, its more low-budget fun. Of course I doubt that you will find this in your foreign film section, but what they hey! Also gotta love the cover of the package.

YEAR ONE (2009) – Another Jack Black vehicle along with Michael Cera and directed by Harold Ramis. Very silly, but what they hey, I love silly movies. Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) are members of a tribe of hunter/gatherers. Unfortunately, Zed is a lousy hunter and Oh is a shy, meek gatherer who has his eyes on one of the babes of his tribe. One day, Zed eats the Forbidden fruit of a tree, is caught and then exiled. This being a Jack Black flick, he mouths off that he’s going to start his own tribe. A bigger and better one, and that anybody is welcome to join him. Of course nobody does. Well, Oh follows him and they meet a bunch of people from Biblical times such as Kane and Abel. But Zed and Oh find that there tribe has been captured and their women made slaves. Being the manly men they are, they decide to save the women they love from the clutches of some evil priest (played by Oliver Platt). “Life of Brian” this is not, but still quite entertaining.

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (2009) – This is based on the children’s book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett. Flint Lockwood has always been a little different from the other kids. It is his desire to invent something useful to become famous. With the support of his mother, he invents all sorts of gadgets but none of them ever seem to work the way he wants. Then his mother passes away and his father says he should give up his dream and help out at the bait shop his father owns. You see, on their island of Swallow Falls, the main source of income is herring and the herring cannery. But the factory has closed and now the island is in an economic slump. Flint wants to help the community by creating invention which can turn water into food. His experiment goes awry and his machine flies up into the atmosphere. But what do you know, the following day it starts raining hamburgers and such. The mayor sees this as an opportunity. However, when Flint notices that there is something wrong with the machine, the Mayor convinces him otherwise and this results in a even worse calamity than the economic slump.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007) - This got so much hype in Japan even before it was released that I just had to check it out to see what all the fuss was about. After watching it, I feel the need to express my opinion as William Shakespeare would have said, “Much Ado about Nothing”. This is another film that follows the “Blair Witch” filming stye. A regular couple are being haunted in their newly bought home. Hubby thinks it would be great to get some of this paranormal activity on film and buys a video camera and sets it up in their bedroom. Wifey doesn’t really like the idea and tells hubbie she’s been bothered by some malevolent spirit since she was eight years old (uh, did she not bother to tell hubby this before getting married). Oh, and it seems the spirit has been following her around ever since. Hubby being Mr. Skeptic doesn’t take his wife fears seriously. Anyway, we get to watch what the video captures while the couple are asleep. Nothing much happens until sometime around 2am. It had some good points. But to claim this is one of the scariest events of the year is saying a bit much. The video includes an alternate ending as well. Good thing they stuck with the original.

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY (2007) – I saw a preview of this on another DVD I rented and it looked like it might be very funny. After all, it does star Adam Sandler and the guy that was in “Paul Blart : Mall Cop”. This time Sandler takes on the theme of Gay Rights. Chuck and Larry are a couple of New York City firefighters. Chuck is a playboy who seems to get any woman he wants (a bit over the top even for Sandler but heck, this is the movies), while Larry plays a single parent whose wife had passed away three years ago. But not revising his insurance policy right away, Larry has run into a bit of problem as his insurance won’t cover his kids. But a lawyer friend says there is a loophole in the system. He could marry a guy and receive “domestic partner” benefits. As Larry had once saved Chuck’s life, he asks him to be his “domestic partner” for his kids sake. Chuck reluctantly agrees, but “domestic partner” investigator (Steve Buscemi) thinks they are running a scam is out to prove that the partnership is a sham.

RUSH HOUR 3 (2007) – I had been planning on renting this for the longest time, but as luck seemed to be on my side, it was aired on network television. Result – good thing I did not waste any money renting this worthless piece of Hollywood trash that even Jackie should be ashamed of. Chris Tucker is still annoying as hell (his character that is) and should be shot and hung out to dry. Okay, so here in the “cashing in on the sequel” flick takes our two heroes to France. This film is just so bad in so many ways I can’t even begin to write what I really think of it. I would have to use a lot of expletives and such. This is one sequel to avoid at all costs, even if you are a Jackie Chan or Chris Tucker fan. Do yourself a favor and go rent some of Jackie’s Hong Kong action films.

リアル鬼ごっこ 「Real Onigokko」 (2008) – I saw the preview of this on another DVD and wasn’t expecting anything special. It seemed like a fairly decent B-movie. The English title is “The Chasing World”. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this flick. I think it’s a grade above B but not quite an A movie. The plot centers around the theme of parallel worlds. Our protagonist is transported to a parallel world where people with the family name of Sato are being hunted down by the tyrannical government in power. Of course our protagonist’s name is Tsubasa Sato! We learn that his mother and sister had the power of travelling through both worlds and that his mother conceived Tsubasa in the world he is in now. But Mom took him back to the normal world to escape his father – who turns out to be the head of the totalitarian government (played by Akira Emoto). So, in the totalitarian world, once a Sato is captured, his/her parallel in the normal world dies of unknown circumstances. You see, if one of your parallels die, then so do you (or something like that). Still, I found this rather entertaining and one of the better low-budget movies to rent.

曲がれ!スプーン 「Magare! Spoon」 (2009) – A cute movie starring Masami Nagasawa. Nagasawa portrays an assistant director for a television program that goes in search of real psychics. In fact, the English title of this movie is “Go Find a Psychic”. The show features two panelists, one who believes in all sorts of psychic phenomena while the other debunks the mysteries. But all the people the AD finds, turn out to be frauds. The producer says to the AD, don’t come back until you find some real psychics! So, off the AD travels around the country going in search of people who claim to have special powers. One of the people she interviews tells her that he can sustain the poison of a venomous spider. But of course, after dude is bit, he needs to be rushed to the hospital. Before heading back to Tokyo, she is to meet one more person. But unknown to her, the café where they are to meet is a haven for real psychics! This is just silly, feel good movie and you really can’t go wrong with having Masami Nagasawa star in it.

サイドウェイズ 「Sideways」 (2009) – Here is a surprise treat I found. A Japanese remake of a Hollywood film. You don’t find too much of those around. I had seen the original and had enjoyed it, but I think this Japanese treatment is even better. The plot is similar, a blend of midlife crisis and one last fling before getting married. In the Japanese flick, which stars Fumiyo Kohinata and Katsuhisa Namase, Michio (Kohinata) is an aspiring screenplay writer who also teaches writing at a college. His friend Daisuke (Namase) who currently lives in the States and was the star of Children’s program is about to be married and wants to have one last fling in Vegas before heading down the aisle. Of course, plans don’t work out the way you want, and the two embark on a journey through Napa Valley. The two almost meet their old classmate and Madonna Mayuko (Kyoka Suzuki), along with her friend Mina (a Japanese American played by Rinko Kikuchi). Daisuke and Mina really hit it off, much to the annoyance of Michio who keeps reminding that Daisuke is going to be married the following week. Gotta love the red Mustang though.

VAN HELSING (2004) – It was on television. The first time I rented it, my television was on the fritz so I watched the entire flick in different shades of blue. So, I was kind of happy to watch it in living color. Van Helsing is a monster hunter, hunting all those creatures from vampires and werewolves and befriending Frankenstein’s monster as well. Van Helsing is no Wolverine, but is portrayed by Hugh Jackman. In this flick Van Helsing is sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who has plans of his own to rid the world of humans.

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