Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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Yesterday: The trailer for this looked interesting, and one of us was very hyped about seeing it. It's basically a romantic comedy with a science-fiction premise.

To wit: Our hero, one Jack Malik, is a mediocre, struggling singer-songwriter whose No. 1 fan is his childhood friend and long-suffering manager, Ellie. After a disappointing gig, Jack resolves to pack it in and find a regular nine-to-five. 

Then a global blackout strikes. Unfortunately for Jack, it strikes while he's riding his bike and passing in front of a bus.

After he wakes up, Jack celebrates his discharge from the hospital by playing "Yesterday," to the delight of his friends ... who marvel at "his" new song. Not only are they unaware that he didn't write it, they have no knowledge of who did. A Google search for "Beatles" turns up insects and Volkswagens.

Jack spends some time transcribing all the Beatles tunes he can remember and starts playing them in his act and makes a demo CD which gets him notices. Soon, he's invited to be Ed Sheeran's opening act on his tour of Moscow, and attracts the notice of a devilishly charming agent, played by that charming devil, Kate McKinnon. Seeing a global superstar in the making, McKinnon offers Jack more fame and riches than he can handle. But what good is it without the love of a good woman -- that is, Ellie, who is afraid of being left behind and wonders why she never got out of The Friend Zone.™

The movie works to the extent that you believe The Beatles were The Greatest Band EVER(!). I do not believe this. I could just as well watch, and almost would prefer, a movie based on the notion that nobody remembers Stevie Wonder, a loss I would find a greater threat to all existence.

Thinking back on it, the romance in the movie is a little undercooked, as more attention is given to Jack's growing discomfort with being a 21st century Milli Vanilli.

Oddly, the movie posits that singer-songwriters are the kings of the entertainment world , which is hardly true. There are lots of songwriters and songwriting teams, like Irving Berlin or Holland-Dozier-Holland, who wrote lots of songs that were performed by others. And there are numerous singing stars who never wrote a note of music. 

Plus, whatever you might think of the music of The Beatles, their songs alone didn't make them fondly remembered talents. Their charm and cheeky wit had a whole lot to do with it, too. These qualities were something Jack Malik did not have. Himesh Patel was an okay actor as Jack, but Jack definitely needed the makeover his record label wanted to impose on him.

Which is not to say I didn't like the movie. It was entertaining. There's a running gag of Jack looking up things on Google and not finding the obvious answers because they're missing in this alternate universe. Kate McKinnon, I'm sure, left the set each day in handcuffs because she effortlessly stole every scene she was in.

And, yeah, there is all that Beatles music, which is pretty good. I read a Q and A with director Danny Boyle, who said he was a Beatles fan -- but not the superfan scriptwriter Richard Curtis is -- and found that the key to making the movie work was to find a lead actor who could sing music everybody knows in a fresh way, and he found that in Himesh Patel. So you might like this movie even if you aren't the greatest Beatles fan in the world. 

The advertising for Breakthrough and Yesterday don't inspire me to see either.

If you're going to make a movie about heavenly intervention, the incident in Breakthrough isn't unique. Many people, especially children, have come back from near-drowning in icy water. The heartbeat slows down and brain damage is usually none or almost none.

As for Yesterday, like you I think the success of the Beatles' songs depends upon their capturing peoples' imagination by building upon previous hits and their personalities. If the songs came from some guy nobody ever heard of, it's unlikely they would have been anywhere near as successful. Sadly, his being  a guy from India would have counted against him with the record companies.

Richard Willis said:

The advertising for Breakthrough and Yesterday don't inspire me to see either.

If you're going to make a movie about heavenly intervention, the incident in Breakthrough isn't unique. Many people, especially children, have come back from near-drowning in icy water. The heartbeat slows down and brain damage is usually none or almost none.

Yeah. ER did it a lot better more than 20 years ago.

Richard Willis said:

As for Yesterday, like you I think the success of the Beatles' songs depends upon their capturing peoples' imagination by building upon previous hits and their personalities. If the songs came from some guy nobody ever heard of, it's unlikely they would have been anywhere near as successful. Sadly, his being  a guy from India would have counted against him with the record companies.

It's far more likely the record companies would have bought the songs from Jack and parceled them out to artists already on their rosters. Not only is he some guy nobody ever heard of, and from India, he didn't have the kind of pop-star good looks or bubbly personality that the marketing machine would get behind -- but in this movie they do it anyway.

(There is a funny moment in which Jack has a meeting with the record label, at a gigantic conference table surrounded by yes men and yes women. At the head is a label exec babbling marketspeak, saying how they needed to tweak some elements. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"? Lovely song, but too many words in the title. "The White Album"? Racist. That kind of thing.)

Good point. Even if they liked all of the songs, a song writer gets the writer treatment, not the star treatment.

I am a Beatles fan, and the premise of Yesterday didn't appeal to me. That supports the point being made by you guys, that it was more than the music that made them superstars.

OTOH, I didn't watch Across the Universe, or any other post-Beatles homage/celebration. I like the music, I listen to it when I'm nostalgic (or want to be), because it takes me back to a long-gone era when the world was young and the future unlimited. But I have to live in today,. not (ahem) Yesterday.

OK, so "Johnny Comes Late to the Ball" went to see "Godzilla, King of the Monsters". There may be spoilers, so if you haven't seen it but want to, beware.

In another post, I noted that my faith in the giant monster venue had been shattered after seeing the first (in this series) Godzilla film (you know, the one with the MUTOs). I had truly believed that the time in my life when giant monsters duking it out would hold my interest had indeed, gone. But then, I added, "Kong, Skull Island" filled me with hope that my youth had not entirely fled me. "Kong" was an enjoyable film. The trailers for "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" only bolstered that hope. Naturally, I finally got around to seeing it; and, I was happy I did.

Now, at this point, I had to wonder why a genre that I felt I had outgrown was beginning to again peak my interest. The answer was this: Both "Kong" and the "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" were as much about the human characters as they were about the stars themselves. "Kong" without John C. Reilly (who seemed to be an anachronism rather than a WW2 era soldier) and Samuel Jackson (who seemed right on cue for the time period Kong was set in) would have been nothing more than a WWE slug fest with CGI characters. Likewise, "King of the Monsters" without the man who lost his world, the woman who misguidedly wanted that world back, her lackey, and the voice of reason, her daughter, would have been the same. But, it wasn't. During both films, I took a genuine interest in the human component, without feeling as if the "stars" undercut. Human and monster had a connection, which made for a balanced blend in each story line. And, oh yeah, it was awesome to see my childhood favorite monsters in glorious CGI, finally looking like something that actually could be real.

Godzilla has always been a cautionary tale: "Stop screwing with the Earth or the Earth will screw back"; but, and it may just be me, "King" seemed to have a twist to the traditional message. I was left feeling as if I were told "Stop trying to fix it, you'll only make it worse". Not very re-assuring, but comforting in a strange way.

In summation, I enjoyed this film, although, it did seem longer than it needed to be. Towards the end I found myself thinking, "I know how this ends, just get on with it" (was the car chase really needed? You knew justice would be served). More importantly, it left me looking forward to a blending of the two best films in this series (forget the first Godzilla film, really). Although, I can't help but think the ending has already been revealed. "Kong" has yet to be called "King Kong"; and, I'm afraid that's the direction that may be taken. Of course, the film makers could always take the original route taken, filming two different endings to suite two different audiences. In Japan, Godzilla will reign as "King of the Monsters". Here in the US, "Kong" will be "King".  

I agree with many of your comments, though you do revive a partial urban legend. It's true the Japanese and American versions of King Kong vs Godzilla differ, the endings don't really show different victors, though one version nudges a tiny amount towards Kong, sort of kinda. Apart from the obligatory (and accurate, as far as I can tell) wiki article, this account explains the differences fairly well.

JohnD said:

In summation, I enjoyed this film, although, it did seem longer than it needed to be. Towards the end I found myself thinking, "I know how this ends, just get on with it" (was the car chase really needed? You knew justice would be served). More importantly, it left me looking forward to a blending of the two best films in this series (forget the first Godzilla film, really). Although, I can't help but think the ending has already been revealed. "Kong" has yet to be called "King Kong"; and, I'm afraid that's the direction that may be taken. Of course, the film makers could always take the original route taken, filming two different endings to suite two different audiences. In Japan, Godzilla will reign as "King of the Monsters". Here in the US, "Kong" will be "King".  

Yeah, I have copies of both the English and Japanese versions, and the endings are basically the same.

EASY RIDER: After Electra Glide in Blue a couple of weeks ago I just had to re-watch Easy Rider again. (I watched it for the first time in junior high scool, I re-watched it in college, and I re-watched it again over the weekend.) I read the Mad magazine adaptation long before seeing the movie, so I knew to expect some good music. It must have been shown over Thanksgiving one year because I remember watching it late at night in the company of my brother-in-law. He told me that Jimi Hendrix was considered to be the greatest guitar player of all time. I bought the soundtrack album shoertly after that, and I bought Are You Experienced? shortly after that. The second time I saw it I was going through a “Jack Nicholson phase,” but I didn’t really appreciate it until this past weekend. It shuld always be shown on a double bill with Electra Glide in Blue.

Another one I've never seen.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

EASY RIDER: After Electra Glide in Blue a couple of weeks ago I just had to re-watch Easy Rider again. (I watched it for the first time in junior high scool, I re-watched it in college, and I re-watched it again over the weekend.) I read the Mad magazine adaptation long before seeing the movie, so I knew to expect some good music. It must have been shown over Thanksgiving one year because I remember watching it late at night in the company of my brother-in-law. He told me that Jimi Hendrix was considered to be the greatest guitar player of all time. I bought the soundtrack album shoertly after that, and I bought Are You Experienced? shortly after that. The second time I saw it I was going through a “Jack Nicholson phase,” but I didn’t really appreciate it until this past weekend. It shuld always be shown on a double bill with Electra Glide in Blue.

Another one I've never seen.”

It’s very counter-culture. I guess you know it stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (as “Captain America” and Billy), and is directed by Hopper. Hopper utilizes an annoying method to switch between scenes throughout, otherwise it’s a respectable directorial debut. The two score big on a drug deal, then bike across the southwest from Mexico to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, picking up Jack Nicholson along the way. I honestly don’t think you’d care for it much… unless you’re simply curious about its reputation. (I can see you watching it for that reason.) I didn’t care for it too much the first two times I watched it, yet I watched it a third. After seeing it for the first time, Tracy said that she gets to pick the movies for a while.

Oh, man, Easy Rider. I liked it more than I expected to, knowing the ending beforehand. And frankly, any chance to visit New Orleans -- even tripping out in St. Louis Cemetery -- is well worth it for me. 

My most recent movie was Under the Silver Lake, a 2019 LA noir starring Andrew Garfield as a pretty repulsive layabout who starts obsessing over the mysterious disappearance of a girl in his apartment complex. Don't expect coherence -- or rather, expect to be required to build your own from the plethora of clues and breadcrumbs in the film, or reject the idea of coherence altogether. Worth watching once, to determine whether you want to watch it a hundred times or never want to see it again. I'm... on the fence. Available to stream free on Amazon Prime if you've got that.

ETA: Comics content: Garfield's character at one point puts his hand onto some sticky goo someone smeared on his car door; he later wakes up with his hand stuck to an issue of Amazing Spider-Man. 

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