The Mummy

L9677659I found this action movie rather average and, if they wanted to do horror, well, I wasn’t scared. It is well paced and the acting is good (although Tom Cruise is getting a little old for this, his two female co-stars, Annabelle Wallis & Sofia Boutella, are great), but the story is rather predictable — however, mixing Jekyll & Hyde (Russell Crowe) with it was a surprise! I also like the “Egyptian” designs (the flashbacks, the look of Princess Ahmanet, the tomb & sarcophagus — a little reminiscent of Giger style). It’s interesting that, just in case the movie would be successful enough, they’ve put an open ending to allow for a sequel. I hope not. This reboot of The Mummy franchise offered a nice mindless entertainment but, alas, nothing more (Rotten Tomatoes concurs with a critical rating of 15% !). What’s scary is that The Mummy is supposed to be the first movie in the reboot of Universal’s Dark Universe (Jekyll & Hyde [with Russell Crowe — now the cross-over with The Mummy makes sense!], Frankenstein [with Javier Bardem], Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Invisible Man [with Johnny Depp], etc.). The next movie in line should be Bride of Frankenstein [dir. Bill Condon, with possibly Angelina Jolie or Gal Gadot in titular role] first announced for Valentine’s Day 2019 but its release has now been delayed!  stars-2-5

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In this corner of the world

InThisCornerOfTheWorld-covAnother great animation—this time by a less known director (at least in this corner of the world, but Sunao Katabuchi has also directed the TV series Black Lagoon and the movies Princess Arete and Mai Mai Miracle). This is a very traditional Japanese animation which is not drawn in the cute style we usually associate with anime. It is soft, pastel-like, yet a little sketchy. It is also realistic in its concept but yet cute in its own way. However, despite a good dose of humour (through the awkwardness of the main character and how she sees the world through her drawings), the story is quite serious as it chronicles the life and hardships of a young bride in the pre-war and, later, the WW2-era Japanese countryside in Kure. Despite the cartoony style, it is very precise in the description of the everyday life, the clothings, the food rationing, and the military details (warships, bombings, etc.). It is really touching, beautiful, educational and entertaining (although it is a bit long at 129 mins). Like Grave of the Fireflies describes the life after the firebombing of Tokyo, this movie is painting a detailed portrait of the life of ordinary Japanese citizens in the Hiroshima area before the A-bomb and a little after. It is a must-see movie that has been nominated for and received several awards both in Japan and abroad. stars-3-5

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Your name.

your-name-movie-bd-dvd-combo_1I had forgotten how amazing it was to watch an anime that’s so great you are at loss of words, feeling awestruck, almost like it’s a religious experience. I cannot really begin to describe the complex storytelling of this animation. It’s the story of a teenage romance between a Tokyo boy and a countryside girl who swap bodies as they are linked through space and time by some sort of old Shinto god. Or was it just a dream? It’s a truly fantastical tale — as it follows more or less Todorov’s definition of the genre. And yet, it’s also science-fiction because it involves a comet, some meteorites and technology — cellphones, etc. — is instrumental in the storytelling. In that aspect, it might be an allegory on the kind of relationships people can have through social media without never even meeting in person. But the really extraordinary part is the exceptional quality of the animation. It’s so realistic, precise and beautiful that it does really feel like a dream. You want to be there, to visit this remote part of Japan in the Gifu prefecture!

I could say so much about this movie and yet I just cannot find the words to describe how I feel. You really have to see it to understand how great it is. But, of course, if you’re a fan of Makoto Shinkai, you already know all this. He really is a master animator/director. And with each new movie he surpasses himself (mostly Voices of a Distant Star in 2002, The Place Promised in Our Early Days in 2004, 5 Centimeters per Second in 2007, The Garden of Words in 2013). There’s also a light novel and a manga adaptation, both written by Shinkai. Your name. A must! stars-4-0

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