Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ern's Monthly Visual Victuals (November 2010)


Well, as you can plainly see, I didn't watch a lot of movies in the month of November. My first choice isn't even a movie. It's a collection of original Looney Tunes cartoons. However, the two movies I did watch were both Japanese productions. No Hollywood blockbusters, no artsy foreign films and no mini theater choices either. That's because I spent most of this month reading fiction. Yes, books! Another one of my pleasures. But books take more time to read than it does to watch movies. But have no fear, I plan on renting a lot of movies next month, including Hollywood blockbusters that I have yet to see - Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland", "Iron Man 2", "Sherlock Holmes" - they're all waiting for me to watch them!! I did watch one other movie this month but as it was broadcast on network television and I think I may have reviewed it previously, I decided not to include it. Just for the curious, it was "The Bucket List" with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

LOONEY TUNES (2009) – A Japanese company called Takarajimasha has been releasing DVD box sets of old American cartoons! Classic ones at that. This “Looney Tunes” box consists of two DVDs with 30 cartoons on each disc. As these are the original classics, they will still make you laugh and bring a smile to your face. All your favorite Warner Brothers characters – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, etc. by some of the greatest animation directors – Chuck Jones, Virgil Ross, Robert McKimson. And how can you not mention the voice characterizations of Mel Blanc and the music of Carl Stalling? These are some of the best cartoons you may remember from your childhood! “Wabbit Twouble”, “Rabbit of Seville”, “What’s Up Doc?” which are featured on the first disc. The second disc includes great classics such as “Rabbit Seasoning”, “Duck Amuck”, and the award winning “Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century”!! “That’s All Folks!”

RAILWAYS ~49歳で電車の運転士になった男の物語~ (2010) – This is one of those feel good movies I like to be entertained by every now and then.  To be honest, I don’t think the original Japanese title really needed a subtitle, but it translates to “The Story of a 49yr old Man who Becomes a Railway Conductor” which pretty much gives away the plot of the movie. Quite simply, an elite salaryman Hajime Tsutui (Kiichi Nakai) working in Tokyo who is so focused on his job that he works long hours and goes on frequent business trips doesn’t realize that he is drifting away from his wife and daughter. When he gets news that his mother has collapsed, he goes back to his home town in Shimane Prefecture. At the same time, one of his friends who entered the company at the same time dies in an accident. With those two events, Hajime begins to reconsider his life. When he was a little boy, it was his dream to become a train conductor on the local line in his home town. So, at the age of 49, Hajime makes a life-changing decision. He decides that he will follow his childhood dream. He gives up his high paying job and applies to become a train conductor. And as you can tell from the subtitle, we know Hajime will have his dream come true. Very predictable but still enjoyable and great cinematography of Shimane Prefecture.

ダーリンは外国人 [Darlin wa Gaikokujin] [My Darling is a Foreigner] (2010) – This movie is based on the graphic novel of the same title which was originally published in 2001. It is the story of an aspiring manga artist, Saori Oguri (played my Mao Inoue) who marries American, Tony Laszlo (played by Jonathan Sherr) and their ups and downs of being in an intercultural marriage. I attempted reading the manga when it first came out but my Japanese reading abilities were not yet up to par. And being a product of a cross-cultural marriage as well as being in one myself, there was no doubt that I would eventually watch this. As the movie is told mostly through the eyes of Saori and edited for the silver screen, the courtship between Saori and Tony seems to take place at excessive speed, but hey, it’s the movies. It’s a nice little romantic film depicting the ups and downs of a cross-cultural marriage between an American and a Japanese. The film features other couples as well speaking to the audience (a la “When Harry Met Sally”) of some compromises one or the other had to make. The language differences, the traditions. All in all, it’s just a cute movie. And now that the first book in the manga series is available in a bilingual edition, I may have to try reading it again (even though I'm sure I can manage the Japanese this time around).

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