His Girl Friday is a darkly comedic bullet train and your FACE is the railroad tracks!

His_Girl_Friday_still_2

So Cary Grant is cool. I remember seeing him in movies like North by Northwest, An Affair to remember, etc. And of course he’s like considered one of the classic leading men in Hollywood i.e. good looks, interesting accent, and such a likeable guy. Which is why his performance in His Girl Friday is so different from what people probably perceive a Cary Grant-role to be. In this particular film he’s more smarmy and grimy. Grant’s Walter Burns runs his newspaper with no scruples whatsoever.Walter will do absolutely anything in this movie to get the story; even if it means creating one!

His Girl Friday is about three people: A woman (Rosalind Russell) trying to leave the taxing, often cruel life of a newspaper writer so that she can settle down and start a family. The man marrying her is an honest but dopey guy hoping to put his best foot forward in this new commitment, although he’ll have to spend the first year of his marriage living with his mother. And the third person, is Walter Burns (Grant). Burns is crazy. He is literally willing to do whatever it takes to keep Rosalind Russell’s Hildy from leaving. Not to mention the two of them use to be married. The core dynamic of this picture makes this whole thing tick, as Russell and Grant wrestle over whether or not Hildy actually wants to quit the newspaper business.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the film is the depiction of the media as a pack of venomous, ravenous, and vicious wolves. The men (all men except Hildy) gang up on hot tips and hints and pound the living details out of them until they have a story provocative enough to sell as a front page headline. Seeing them on their phones; mouth running like water taps as they bully people into “coughing up the goods”. That metaphor implies making a profit off of someone else’s misery, which is exactly what the reporters (Walter and Hildy included) do.

The story the reporters are falling all over themselves over is murder case. Although the accused’s sanity went under medical evaluation, he was deemed sane when he committed the crime….or was he? The level of corruption in this city, in this story is so high I don’t even think Batman could restore the order. The case takes small twists and turns, people who seemingly have nothing to do with anything become integral parts of the story, and the dark, comedic timing of everyone involved is so flawless I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The best part is that the movie doesn’t have a ton of different scenes and backdrops. Many of the action is spoken, and the scenes with multiple conversations and multiple people arguing and fighting is often shot in one take. In a word: Masterful. And that is exactly what Howard Hawke’s work was and still is today. The man is so skilled and has such an eye for what he wants, how he wants it, and why; that His Girl Friday (while a crazy ride) feels like a very free-flowing one. It all felt real and organic. No one sounded robotic, which is what I thought would happen if one spoke this quickly for this long. The actors still manahed to inject the right amount of sass, and sarcasm; wit and shame into their lines that the movie never sags on a performance. EVERYONE WAS GREAT!

Take it from me, His Girl Friday is a must see! If not for Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell’s performances; then for the great supporting cast of character actors. If not the supporting cast, then to witness the tremendous skill and control Howard Hawkes exercises over this blistering, scorching thriller of a dark comedy. You can check it out on Amazon PRIME Instant watch like me or try to find it at your library. Netflix, Youtube, and Hulu may also have copies of the film. And by the way, this is a Classic, so try to appreciate it like one.

We go back to the movies…

After a Summer long hiatus, I’m headed back to the movies to give my personal spin on the best and worst of what films have to offer. My last big movie review project was Screened Vision[s] Movie blog in which I eventually reviewed 100 Asian films. The goal here is to maintain a steady pulse on the world of cinema, while giving you my perspective on the themes and underlying messages presented. Even if that message is a simple one. Soon  I’ll create a page here to list the movies I plan on discussing on this blog here. At some point I will erect a new podcast to join the written reviews, but I do not know when that will be. For now, know that the marathon man is BACK!

digital_cinema

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

new

 

An Cinema Classic, I can see a lot Star Wars in The Hidden Fortress

In late 2011, I attempted to do a marathon relating to some of Asia’s classic movies of old. I reviewed Tokyo Story, Onibaba, Seven Samurai, and Twilight Samurai. These films were all fantastic for different reasons, and although I had to cancel the marathon I never forgot the joy I got from watching some of the classic films that defined their respective genres. Fortunately for me, I recently found the ‘Asian Literature’ section of the library. There I discovered a load of cinema classics that were begging to be viewed and appreciated. Among them, was Akira Kurosawa’s ‘The Hidden Fortress’.

Two vagabonds stumble upon a samurai and a princess disguised as a commoner looking to cross enemy territory to safety. The Hamana are on high alert, snuffing out any remaining Akisuki soliders. And Toshiro Mifune’s ‘General Makabe Rokurota’ is tasked with getting the princess to safety.

 

There was one aspect of Hidden Fortress that greatly influenced George Lucas, the hand behind the Star Wars series. It was the way in which the story was delivered–through the point of view of ‘lowly’ characters. C3PO  and R2D2 served as the audience’s POV early on in the Star Wars series, and Kurosawa implements a similar usage in a couple of peasants. The two men are the type who cling together as a means of survival, all the while engaging petty insults and silly disputes. One reason I really enjoy this approach, is that it gives the audience a chance to marvel at the movie’s protagonists and antagonists in all their respective luster. We see how  stoic and confident Toshiro Mifune’s General Makabe Rokurota can be. We also see the princess, still a teenager as brash as her age would suggest; as well as how merciless and brutal the soldiers of the Yamana army were. Being able watch these character exude their best qualities, often in response to the two peasants, was the best part of the film. There were times where the two peasants, greedy scoundrels at their core, were so greedy that it warranted them both risking their lives for a few extra bars of gold.

It’s widely understood that Akira Kurosawa was heavily influenced by legendary director John Ford. As I listened to the commentary of George Lucas comparing the two directors, the similarities in the type of shots and long takes is well noted. Kurosawa uses it very effectively here, and the scenes in which many soldiers or villagers are on screen always seemed to be framed in the perfect shot for viewers to get an idea of scope. I also think the action scenes are thrilling and intense–as quickly as a large-scale battle would occur–like a flash in a pan, the oppressed roll over the oppressors and rumble away toward freedom. Toshiro Mifune’s gruff, fierce stare reminds me of the ‘fighting spirit’ that is often visible in classic anime series such as Ruroni Kenshin or Dragonball Z. Watching his General slash, stab, and slice his way through the opposition was ferocious. It pairs well with his poised, self-assured demeanor; and I never really felt worried about the state of the mission.

To sum it all up, this one is a classic, but for whatever reason it’s often placed after some of Kurosawa’s works. I enjoyed the experience so much so, that it really inspired me to wanna go back through the local library to see if I could find anymore classics from Kurosawa or his contemporaries. The good thing about the availability of The Hidden Fortress is that you can most definitely find it on websites like Hulu.com, Netflix, Amazon, and also (most likely) at your local library.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Updated: New SVRadio in late April, network full of relaunches and premieres

Alright so I’m already prepping for the next release of SVRadio for toward the end of the month. I need to figure out what the name of this marathon awards episode is going to be titled too. One thing I am sure about, is that the award show will be broadcasting at a later date. The month of May looks to feature about three movie reviews–from hulu.com too, but they won’t be following any particular theme.

The network as a whole has been super busy, so I’m going to take this paragraph to shop every single BIG thing that has gone on since I last updated:

Alright, AfterDark Radio recently ended it’s run on our airwaves–only to rise from the ashes as NexusGen Radio. Check out the brand-spanking new premiere by clicking here. The ladies discuss Summer Wars, Captain America 2, and even introduce a new member of the NexusGen team.

Wiseguy Jukebox has some big news to announce, as the show will taking on a very hot issue within the music community–The death of Hip-Hop. Or perhaps the ‘poor’ state that so many seem to think it’s in. More on what the official word on what’s to come soon. In the meantime, Dj Horus has a new episode out centered around Electronic music. Click here to listen to that episode now.

Bobbo’s Block, after a sudden hiatus, is experiencing a little reboot of sorts as it slowly positions itself as the headlining program for the network. Tonight (April 16, 2014) the show releases a Toonami tribute. If you’re interested in hearing older episodes, click here to jump to their podomatic page.

And last but not least–Project Zion has kicked off it’s first radio drama series titled G-Diffuser 01. The series follows Fox McCloud and team Starfox’s adventures. The show is written, directed, and starring Johnny Balsa. Click here to hear episodes 0-3, and here for episode 4.

Alright guys, that wraps it up for this post–I will catch you guys on the next SVRadio, will be chatting about the latest, greatest, and/or most hated topics floating about the movie world. Until then!

new

 

 

 

UPDATE: 92 and counting…

We’re in the middle of our Late Night, Date Night movie marathon but I wanted to bring attention the fact that this blog is nearly over 100 written reviews. I’m elated that this project has turned into what it has, and cannot wait to see what other movies get added to the list. Of course the idea behind this blog was for me to have fun with Asian cinema. And I have, but I’ve also learned so much. Movies tell stories, sure–but they also convey some very heartfelt messages.

There is a new episode of SVRadio coming up on the latter half of April, and of course 2 more movies in our marathon! There may also be a special debut from Project Zion coming in the future as well. For those that don’t know, Project Zion Studios is OtaKast Radio Network’s special department that produces radio plays and dramas.

At any rate, I’m already looking forward to the month of May in terms of new movies to watch and review! Look for an upcoming post in the future, and I’d like to thank all 529 of my subscribers for sticking with me!

 

new

The Latest Anime Excursion: ‘Sword of the Stranger, Summer Wars, Detective Conan, Monster

new

The sheer amount of animation that runs through our household on a regular basis is astonishing at times, but in a good way. Nothing quite like catching a samurai epic, a suspenseful medical drama, a detective serial, and a family feature all within the same two weeks. Sword of the Stranger, even after some years, remains a classic. Monster is a tale of one doctor’s struggle to remain true to his heart. Whether Dr. Tenma is facing the ethical and political pressure of his fellow peers, or dealing with the consequences of his past, Monster is truly an engaging series to watch. If you don’t know me by now you never will: Detective Conan gets played more than any other series in our collection. Why? Because it’s a clever, silly little series about a genius detective who doesn’t allow his shortcomings to slow him down. Shinichi Kudo has been poisoned and shrunk down into a kid and yet he still spends his time solving crimes. So what if he’s a little arrogant, right? And lastly, Summer Wars deals with a family as one of it’s members brings home a young friend. And by friend I mean her future husband. Well, at least that’s what she tells her folks. Anyhow, the story let’s us sit with these people and see how they live. How they interact with their highly technologically advanced society and the risks that come with that. They also deal with death in the family, and it is interesting to see how the different members of the family “grieve”. Some mourn the loss, and lose touch with reality while others lash out at society as a way to somehow avenge the fallen. All in all, there wasn’t a single animated endeavor that I regret here within the last couple of weeks. And that’s something that I, nor Saki take for granted–especially in the world of Japanese animation.