Ghost in the Shell: Arise

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

GITS Arise 1: Ghost Pain

GITS-Arise-1“World War IV is over, but a bomb has gone off in Newport City, killing a major arms dealer who may have ties with the mysterious 501 Organization.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]

In the first episode (June 2013, 58 min.), we discover the Major when she is still in the military. As she comes back to Japan, she must do an investigation on the possible corruption of her deceased superior officer as well as on his murder. She discover that she is much more involved that she would have thought. In the course of her investi­­gation, she encounters Aramaki, who offers her a job as consultant. This episode, as well as the whole series, offer us the origin story of the Major and the Section 9. It is quite an interesting story and the animation is pretty good (not as much as the movies, of course).

GITS Arise 2: Ghost Whisperers

GITS-Arise-2“Freed of her responsibilities for the 501 Organization, Motoko must now learn how to take orders from Aramaki.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]

In the second episode (November 2013, 56 min.), we find again a story where the military are being scapegoated and seek revenge for it — but they are actually being manipulated. The Major is told to assemble a team but it might be hard to chose the members… As always, it is a nice cyberpunk story with great animation.

GITS Arise 3: Ghost Tears

GITS-Arise-3“As Motoko and Batou attempt to thwart a mysterious terrorist group, Togusa tracks the killer of a man with a prosthetic leg made by Mermaid’s Leg.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]

In the third episode (June 2014, 58 min.), the Major has assembled a team composed of her recent “adversaries”, but they are still just a bunch of mercenaries working for Section 9. And she is still missing a member to fit with Aramaki’s requirement. This a story of foreign terrorists using technology to move their ideology forward. The Logicoma (a bigger and less advanced version of the Tachicoma) are interacting more with the team. The theme of artificial intelligence is, as always, omnipresent.

This series (and this episode in particular) shows us a more personal side of the Major as she has a boyfriend. She is shown as being more vulnerable as she is getting often infected by viruses. Both in episodes one and three, she gets personally involved with the subject of her investigation. Also, having a personal relationship is a weakness that enemies can exploit. I guess, with time, she will learn from her mistake and become the more hardened, distant and cold Motoko that we know in the rest of the franchise. Your real enemy is often closer than you might think… This is a really interesting story with good animation. It is certainly a must-see for all Ghost in the Shell fans.

Strangely, this OVA series has five episodes but Netflix has been  streaming only three of them — go figure why. The two other episodes are “Ghost Stands Alone” (September 2014, see Japanese trailer) and “Pyrophoric Cult” (August 2015, see Japanese trailer). The series was also adapted into a TV series (titled GITS: Arise – Alternative Architecture) and completed by a movie (GITS: Arise – The New Movie, which concludes the plot of episode 5) and a manga (GITS: Arise ~Sleepless Eye~ which was published in Monthly Young Magazine between April 2013 and June 2016, was compiled in seven volumes and tells how Batou and the Major met during the civil war).

I suspect the series was titled “Arise” because it is about the origin story of both the Major and Section 9. All in all, it is a good cyberpunk story, compelling storytelling, full of socio-political background typical of the rest of the franchise. It is well worth watching if you are either an anime fan or a cyberpunk aficionado.

Data File

Ghost in the Shell: Arise (攻殻機動隊 ARISE / Kōkaku Kidōtai Araizu / Mobile Armored Riot Police: Arise): Japan, 2013-2015, OVA anime, 5 x 50 min.; Dir. / Char. Des.: Kazuchika Kise; Scr.: Tow Ubukata; Music: Cornelius; Studio: Production I.G. Cast: Maaya Sakamoto / Elizabeth Maxwell (Major Motoko Kusanagi), Ikyuu Jyuku / John Swasey (Aramaki), Kenichiro Matsuda / Christopher Sabat (Batou), Yoji Ueda / Jason Douglas (Paz), Tarusuke Shingaki / Alex Organ (Togusa), Takuro Nakakuni / Marcus Stimac (Saito), Mayumi Asano / Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Kurutsu), Atsushi Miyauchi / Brian Mathis (Mamuro), Masahiro Mamiya / Chris Rager (Ibachi), Kenji Nojima / Eric Vale (Tsumugi), Takanori Hoshino / David Wald (Raizo), Miyuki Sawashiro / Jad Saxton (Logicoma).stars-3-0

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNGoogleIMDbNetflixOfficialWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

© 士郎正宗・Production I.G / 講談社・「攻殻機動隊ARISE」製作委員会

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Capsules

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Ghost-in-the-Shell_SAC-2045_Main-PosterWhen sustainable war spawns a “post-human” threat, Major Kusanagi and her Section 9 team are called back into action.

In the year 2045, after an economic disaster known as the Synchronized Global Default, rapid developments in AI propelled the world to enter a state of “Sustainable War”. However, the public is not aware of the threat that AI has towards the human race.

Full-body cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her second-in-command Batou are former members of Public Security Section 9, who are now hired mercenaries traveling hot devastated American west coast. This land is full of opportunity for the major and her team, they utilize their enhanced cyberbrains and combat skills from their time working in Section 9. However, things get complicated with the emergence of “post humans,” who have extreme intelligence and physical powers. The members of Section 9 comeback together again in order to face this new threat.

[Text from the official website]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

Anime Story

At the end of the Stand Alone Complex TV series, Section 9 is disbanded. In this series, the team has become a mercenary unit named GHOST that operated outside Japan (mostly in the United States) for the last six years. The only former member that didn’t joined GHOST was Togusa. He hesitated because of his family and later regretted the decision. He eventually divorced and found a job at a private security company. The Prime Minister asks Aramaki to reform Section 9 and Togusa is put in charge of locating his former colleagues.

After a failed mission where they were defending a one-percenter against the attack of a group of outlaws, the GHOST team is kidnapped by the NSA who want to use them in a mission to capture Patrick Huge, the rich owner of a tech company. The target reveals itself as a formidable opponent that can anticipate their move and even hack their cyberbrains. As the Major is about to be taken over, Saito terminate Huge. Smith is furious because he wanted him taken alive in order to study him. He explains that Huge was what the NSA calls a “Post-Human.” So far, humans have improved themselves with cyberbrains and cyber-implants. However, the post-humans are the opposite: A.I. which somehow have succeeded in taking over the brain of humans and therefore represent an unprecedented threat to humanity. Unfortunately, Smith consider the GHOST team as a liability and want to eliminate them. He is stopped by Aramaki who arrives in extremis with new orders from the American President. The new Section 9 mission will be to hunt post-humans.

It’s episode 8 and the real story finally begins. The team is back in Japan after six years (Batou came back a few days earlier but got entangled in a bank robbery). There are three post-humans that have been identified in Japan. One is an ex-boxer who seems to have a grudge against corrupt politicians. He kills the Prime Minister’s father-in-law and then goes after Teito himself but stops short of killing him (maybe he felt that he was a good man?). The next post-humans to be identified is a teenager that wrote a program creating mob justice. As they are investigating his story, Togusa get infected by some of his code and disappears! Will he becomes a post-human too? To be continued… in the second season (another twelve episodes, directed this time by Shinji Aramaki, but no release date has been announced yet).

>> End of Warning <<

I’ve mentioned this series recently and was eager to have a look — although I was sure that I would totally dislike its 3D animation. Yes, a few aspects of the CGI are quite awkward — the movements of the characters seem sometimes odd despite that fact that it’s motion capture animation and some character’s hair, mostly Aramaki’s and Tokusa’s — but the 3D quickly grow on you and you eventually even forget that it’s there as you focus on the action and the story. The character designs (by a Russian artist) are faithful and pleasant (the Major sure looks like a doll!) and the storytelling is excellent: well paced and captivating. My favourite part is that, as usual with Ghost in the Shell, the cyberpunk background world (socio-political setting, technology, etc.) is quite superb. 

Interestingly, the story seems inspired by the work of transhumanist Ray Kurzweils, who predicted that the A.I. singularity would occur in 2045. One element of the story that differ from the previous series, which are generally nippo-centric, is that the first half is set in the United States (which has experience some sort of civil war again). Also, when I watched the series on Netflix, no dubbed version was available yet because the coronavirus lock-down has delayed production (I am more of a subtitles guy anyway). 

So far, this new Stand Alone Complex series seems not much appreciated by the critics, considering the very average ratings that it is receiving (6.0 on IMDb, 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, and C+ on ANN). Anime fans are probably irked by the 3D animation. Too bad for them. It is an excellent anime, well worth watching. It is entertaining, an appropriate continuation of the franchise and, despite my initial misgivings, quite beautiful. A must see for any anime, cyberpunk or Ghost in the Shell fans. stars-4-0

[ Traduire ]

Continue reading

Book Club

BookClub-dvd“Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. Four lifelong friends’ lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.”

[Text of the DVD cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

Four friends of a certain age are meeting regularly for their book club. As they feel they are stuck in their life, they will find the courage to go beyond their confort zone and try new experiences after reading Fifty Shades of Grey ! It is the proof that books can change your life !

Like most rom-com the story is very simple, but quite funny and mostly dialogue-based. The acting is excellent (which is to be expected considering its strong cast), the storytelling is well knit — although it doesn’t offer many surprises. It was very successful at the box office (making about seven times its initial budget) despite very average ratings from the critics (6.1 on IMDb, 54% / 52% on Rotten Tomatoes and 53% on Metacritic). All in all, it is very entertaining. It’s a good movie to forget all your troubles for a moment. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbNetflixWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

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Capsules

Colette

colette_poster“After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is trans­­planted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-auto­­­biographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression.”

[Text of the DVD cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

It takes the British to produced an interesting bio-pic about the iconic French writer Colette! The movie is very simply made (the budget must have been small) but the sets are very nice and authentic (it was filmed in Budapest). The acting is also quite superb particularly for Keira Knightley. Like all biographical work it is certainly dramatized but it seems quite faithful to the highlight of Colette’s life. The movie focuses mainly on the period when Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (played by Knightley) was married to Henry Gauthier-Villars (aka “Willy”, played by Dominic West), the writing of the Claudine novels and her lesbian affairs, first with American socialite Georgie Raoul-Duval (played by Eleanor Tomlinson, of Poldark fame — although her attempt at an American accent is rather disappointing) and then with the aristocrat Mathilde de Morny (aka “Missy”, played by Denise Gough) — which could be considered the French Gentleman Jack. The movie ends as she separates from Willy, after his Claudine betrayal, and finally starts her prolific solo career as a writer.

Colette offers a very good cinematic experience: it is beautiful, interesting and entertaining all at once and it makes you discover who Colette really was if, like me, you don’t know much about French literature. The movie seems to have gone relatively unnoticed (small box-office of  $14.6 millions) despite a rather good critical reception (ratings of 6.7 on IMDb, 87% / 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and of 74 % on Metacritic). However, it is definitely worth watching (and it is currently streaming on Netflix). stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbNetflixOfficialWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

[ Traduire ]

Capsules

Steve Jobs

71wjwLLNYXL._AC_SL1500_“Witness the founder of Apple like never before. Steve Jobs paints an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at the epicentre of the digital revolution, backstage in the final minutes before three iconic products launches. Directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), written by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels.”

[Text of the DVD cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

This bio-pic is telling us the life of Steve Jobs [played by Michael Fassbender] and his relationships with the people close to him (his daughter Lisa, Joanna Hoffman [Kate Winslet], John Sculley [Jeff Daniels], Andy Hertzfeld [Michael Stuhlbarg], Steve Wozniak [Seth Rogen], and Chrisann Brennan [Katherine Waterston]) through only three specific events: the launch of the MacIntosh (in 1984), the launch of the Next (1988) and the launch of the iMac (1998).

It is an interesting movie, cleverly written and superbly acted. However, because it is compressing all the story into those three events, it ends up overly dramatized. Also, if it expresses well the spirit and mentality of Jobs (without caring whether Fassbender looks like him or not), it is doubtful that the plots elements of the movie really happened the way it is depicted. At first, I was annoyed by this but, after all, it is based on Walter Isaacson’s biography and received the blessing of Wozniak, so it most have some sort of accuracy. I think it explains well the genesis of Apple and its very innovative products. If it barely broke-even at the box-office, it was very well received by the critics (with ratings of 7.2 on IMDb, 86% / 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and 82% on Metacritic). All in all, I think it is an interesting, well-made and entertaining movie. It’s worth seeing. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbNetflixWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

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Capsules

The Trip to Spain

TripToSpain-cov“After jaunts through northern England and Italy, Academy Award®-nominee* Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon (Cinderella) embark on another deliciously deadpan culinary road trip. This time around, the guys head to Spain to sample the best of the country’s gastronomic offerings in between rounds of their hilariously off-the-cuff banter. Over plates of pintxos and paella, the pair exchange barbs and their patented celebrity impressions, as well as more serious reflections on what it means to settle into middle age. As always, the locales are breathtaking, the cuisine to die for, and the humor delightfully devilish.”

[Text from the DVD cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

Michael Winterbottom continues the cinematographic adaptation of his TV series The Trip (first season in 2010 was set in England). After the movie The Trip to Italy (2014) our travellers now goes to Spain (in 2017 — and in 2020 they also went to Greece!). Two comedians (Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) reunite for a trip to Spain (Cantabria, the Basque region, Aragon, Rioja, Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia), where one is writing restaurant reviews and the other a book about their trip that mirror a journey he took  when he was younger and was inspired by the book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. This movie offers more of the same: we get similar improvisations, jokes, voice imitations and movies references than previously. However, it is also a great occasion to showcase the nice Spanish food, landscapes and historic sites. It was well-liked by the critics (ratings of 6.6 on IMDb, 83% / 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 66% on Metacritic), but personally I found it beautiful but only mildly amusing. stars-2-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

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Capsules

The empire of corpses (anime)

EmpireOfCOrpses-dvd-covFrom the studio that produced Attack on Titan comes a captivating historical action thriller based on an award-winning novel by Project Itoh. In an alternate version of 19th century London, the world has been revolutionized by “corpse reanimation technology” creating armies of undead who serve the living as laborers across the globe.

In an attempt to revive his dearly departed friend, young medical student John Watson becomes obsessed with replicating the work of Dr. Victor Frankenstein—the legendary corpse engineer whose research produced the only re-animated corpse to possess a soul. But when his illegal experiments put him at odds with the British government, Watson is drafted into a worldwide race to find the lost research notes of Victor Frankenstein before the secrets of the human soul fall into the wrong hands.”  [Text from Funimation website]

This anime movie is based on a novel by Itō Satoshi (left unfinished after his death it was completed by his friend Enjō Tō) published in August 2012 by Kawade Shobo Shinsha. It was also adapted into a manga by Tomoyuki Hino (I have recently commented on it).

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

EmpireOfCOrpses-illo1In 1878, young Doctor Watson illegally resurrects his dear friend Friday. When caught he is sent by M, the head of the British secret service, on a mission to Afghanistan via India. With the help of Frederick Burnaby and Nikolai Krasotkin, he must recover the Notes of Victor Frankenstein which have been found by Alexei  Karamazov. Until now, corpse technology can reanimate people only as soulless zombie apt to perform only basic menial tasks. However Frankenstein was able to produce a corpse with a soul, free-will and speech — known as “The One”. His Notes would allow to tremendously improve corpse technology and are coveted by all the great powers of the world.

EmpireOfCOrpses-illo3He finds Karamazov and discovers with horror that his new technique to improve corpses rely on live subjects ! He also learns that Karamazov is no longer in possession of Victor’s Notes as he left them in Japan. One year later, Watson, Friday and Burnaby are in Tokyo and, with the help of Seigo Yamazawa, break into Osato Chemicals (Friday hacks into the security system!). Unfortunately, they are too late, “The One” is already there and, after a fierce battle, escapes with his creator’s Notes. The team is again saved by Ulysses Grant and Hadaly who bring them to the United States on the steamship USS Richmond.

However, “The One” arrives in San Francisco first and takes over the Paul Bunyan, a super-computer working on steam and electricity. Using ultra-sound, he sends a wireless command to all corpses, turning them into berserks who attack people (typical zombies like in The Walking Dead). This also affects Friday, who needs to be sedated. “The One” is finally captured by M who transports him to the Tower of London. So far, the storytelling has been quite excellent. Unfortunately, from that point, the story gets muddled and confusing…

EmpireOfCOrpses-illo4Hadaly has her own agenda. Like Watson, who wants to give a soul to Friday, she is seeking a soul for herself — as she is revealed to be a mechanical automaton created by Thomas Edison. With her help, the team leave for London aboard the submarine Nautilus. They crashes the Tower Traitor’s Gate to discover that M has nefarious intents. After analyzing the Notes, he uses the Babbage analytical engine and Victor’s brain to send another wireless code that transform Britain’s corpses into berserks but also takes control of the humans! His motivation for doing that are not very clear: he wants to bring peace to the world (?!)…

However, “The One” escapes and kills M. As he plays music on a giant organ, he takes control of the Babbage engine. He is motivated by hatred and revenge against humanity, but also wants to give a soul to Hadaly, who he calls Lilith, to make her into the bride that Frankenstein refused him. He also wants to take over Friday’s body to form the perfect couple. Of course, after a long battle, Watson succeeds to stop him, causing the destruction of the Babbage engine and of the Tower, and restoring to the people their souls and wills. In the end, with the help of Friday, Watson experiments on himself. Then, after very long ending credits, we finds Watson four years later with a new adventure partner named Holmes and Hadaly now goes by the name of Irene Adler!

>> End of warning <<

This anime movie is a superb example of steampunk story — a type of alternate history (or uchronia) set in a more technologically advanced Victorian era. I like the idea to create “necroware” to program the dead (in a way slightly reminiscent of Westworld) using a neural plug, a modified typewriter and punch-cards or Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine! The retrofuture world that the story depicts looks quite fascinating.

The premisses of the story are also quite innovative. While historical fiction often uses real historical people as characters, this story interestingly uses illustrious fictional characters. If some of the characters have really existed (Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick Burnaby, Thomas Edison), most of them come from the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Watson, Holmes, Irene Adler, “M” could also possibly be for Moriarty or Mycroft), Ian Fleming (M, MoneyPenny, Osato Chemicals), Fiodor Dostoïevski (Alexei  Karamazov, Nikolai Krasotkin), Mary Shelley (Victor Frankenstein and his creature), Daniel Defoe (Friday from Robinson Crusoe), Jules Verne (the Nautilus submarine), or even Auguste de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam (Hadaly, the android from The Future Eve). This shows a great literary culture from the writer.

EmpireOfCOrpses-illo2For the most part of the movie the storytelling is excellent. Unfortunately, in the end (the last third of the movie), the story gets overly mystical (crystals?) and too many parts of the plot are left without any explanations. The whole part with Alexei Karamazov is not very clear: what are his motivations and end-game? Same thing with “M”: what does he want to accomplish? The conclusion of the story is rather confusing and disappointing. However, the greatest assets of the movie is its really beautiful animation (particularly the background art which is quite superb). The battle scenes are also very well executed.

The animated movie is much better than the manga. It’s more beautiful, the story is better organized and more fluid, the action scenes are easier to understand. I like the Russian exploding corpses — explosions are much more fun when animated! Also (and I rarely say this) the English dubbed version is very good. The movie was less appreciated by the general audience (6.0 on IMDb, 42% on Rotten Tomatoes) than by anime fans (A- on ANN, 7 on MyANimeList). All in all, it is a very good movie, worth watching, particularly if you are a steampunk fan.

The empire of corpses (屍者の帝国 / Shisha no Teikoku): Japan, anime, 2015, 120 mins; Dir.: Ryoutarou Makihara; Scr.: Hiroshi Seko, Kōji Yamamoto, Midori Gotou (based on the novel by Project Itoh & Toh Enjoe); Char. Des.: redjuice, Takaaki Chiba; Art Dir.: Yūsuke Takeda; Chief Anim. Dir.: Hirotaka Katō, Takaaki Chiba; Mecha Des.: Gorou Murata, Hitoshi Fukuchi, Junya Ishigaki, Shinobu Tsuneki; CGI Dir.: Emiko Nishida; Music: Yoshihiro Ike; Studio: Wit; Prod.: George Wada, Noriko Ozaki, Takashi Yoshizawa; Cast: Yoshimasa Hosoya / Jason Liebrecht (Watson), Ayumu Murase / Todd Haberkorn (Friday), Kana Hanazawa / Morgan Garrett (Hadaly), Taiten Kusunoki / J. Michael Tatum (Burnaby), Akio Ohtsuka / Sean Hennigan (M), Daiki Yamashita / Micah Solusod (Krasotkin), Jiro Saito / Kenny Green (Yamazawa), Kōji Ishii / Greg Dulcie (Grant), Shinichiro Miki / Mike McFarland (Alexei Karamazov), Takayuki Sugo / R Bruce Elliott (The One). Available on bilingual Blu-ray/DVD from FUNimation ($34.98 US). stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

©Project Itoh & Toh EnJoe / THE EMPIRE OF CORPSES Licensed by Fuji TV through FCC to Funimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

[ Traduire ]

Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran

MonsieurIbrahim-covA Paris, dans les années soixante, Momo, un garçon de treize ans, se retrouve livré à lui-même. Il a un seul ami, Monsieur Ibrahim, l’épicier arabe et philosophe de la rue Bleue. Celui-ci va lui faire découvrir la vie, les femmes, l’amour et quelques grands principes.

[Texte de la jaquette du DVD]

(Attention, lire l’avertissement de possible divulgacheurs)

Monsieur Ibrahim est un vieux film de 2003 réalisé par François Dupeyron, avec Omar Sharif et basé sur un roman de Éric-Émmanuel Schmitt. C’est une histoire simple et méditative où un jeune adolescent juif (joué par Pierre Boulanger), un peu laissé à lui-même par un père dépressif, découvre la vie et prend un peu de maturité grâce au soutien de l’épicier d’en face d’origine turque. Étrangement cela me rappel un peu la BD Le chat du rabbin de Joann Sfar. 

L’histoire, d’abord écrite pour le théâtre, est inspirée de l’enfance à Paris de Bruno Abraham Kremer (et sa relation avec son grand-père), un ami de Éric-Émmanuel Schmitt. On y retrouve aussi plusieurs similitudes avec le roman “La Vie devant soi  de Romain Gary. Schmitt en a réécrit l’histoire en 2001 sous forme d’un court roman qui constitue la deuxième partie de son “Cycle de l’Invisible” où il consacre chacun des huit romans à une croyance différente. Ainsi Schmitt nous fait un peu découvrir le soufisme au travers du personnage d’Ibrahim. L’existence transcende les religions et il faut vivre en se foutant un peu des règles mais tout en restant fidèle à soi-même.

C’est un film lent et un peu morne — mais plutôt beau — et qui montre malheu­­reuse­­ment son âge par la qualité de l’image très moyenne (la version que j’ai vu sur TFO n’était pas restaurée). C’est toutefois un film qui a été apprécié du public (coté 7.3 sur IMDb et 85% / 86% sur Rotten Tomatoes) et qui vaut la peine d’être vu surtout pour la prestation d’Omar Sharif. stars-3-0

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

Vous pouvez aussi regarder la bande-annonce sur Youtube:

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The Garden of Words

GardenOfWords-dvd-cov“When Takao, a young high school student who dreams of becoming a shoe designer, decides to skip school one day in favour of sketching in a rainy garden, he has no idea how much his life will change when he encounters Yukino. Older, but perhaps not as much wiser, she seems adrift in the world. Despite the difference in their ages, they strike up an unusual relationship that unexpectedly continues and evolves, without planning, with random meetings that always occur in the same garden on each rainy day. But the rainy season is coming to a close, and there are so many things still left unsaid and undone between them. Will there be time left for Takao to put his feelings into actions and words? Between the raindrops, between the calms in the storm, what will blossom in the garden of words?”

[Text from the dvd cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

In an ode to the rain, Makoto Shinkai is offering us an exquisitely beautiful anime telling the story of the infatuation of a teenager for a woman nearly twice his age. Together, somehow, they will find a way — in their innocent and platonic relationship — to heal each other of their sentiments of alienation and doubt that is plaguing them. At the beginning of his life, he is uncertain of the path to follow. She is a young teacher bullied by her students to the point of having health problems. 

They are brought together in a park by the rain and by poetry. In the beginning, Yukari recite a Waka / Tanka from Man’yōshū (Book 11, verse 2,513): “A faint clap of thunder / Clouded skies /  Perhaps rain comes / If so, will you stay here with me?” Later, finally understanding was she said, Takao respond with the following verse (Book 11, verse 2,514): “A faint clap of thunder / Even if rain comes not / I will stay here / Together with you”…

It is impossible not to like a Makoto Shinkai movie. Beside a storytelling that is cute, nostalgic, thoughtful and poetic, we finds nice music and, above all, superb CG animation. The background art is so realistic that, in contrast, the standard animation of the character seems a little odd. It is a short movie but all the more excellent. Highly recommended.

The anime was adapted into a manga (illustrated by Midori Motohashi) serialized in Monthly Afternoon (June-December 2013) and published in Japan as a single volume by Kodansha, in English by Vertical (Oct. 2014, 220 pages, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-939130-83-9) and in French by Kazé (Déc. 2014, 208 pages, ISBN 978-2-82031-879-4). It was also adapted into a light novel serialized in Da Vinci (September 2013 – April 2014) and published in Japan by Media Factory (Kadokawa Shoten) and in France by Kazé (2014, 380 pages, ISBN 978-2-82031-880-0).

The Garden of Words (言の葉の庭 / Kotonoha no Niwa), Japan, 2013, 46 mins; Dir./Scr./Ed.: Makoto Shinkai; Char. Des.: Kenichi Tsuchiya; Art dir.: Hiroshi Takiguchi; Studio: CoMix Wave Films; Prod.: Noritaka Kawaguchi; Cast: Kana Hanazawa / Maggie Flecknoe (Yukari Yukino), Miyu Irino / Blake Shepard (Takao Akizuki), Fumi Hirano / Shelley Calene-Black (Takao’s mother), Takeshi Maeda / Crash Buist (Shōta, Takao’s brother), Yuka Terasaki / Brittney Karbowski (Rika, Shōta’s girlfriend), Suguru Inoue / Mike Yager (Matsumoto), Megumi Han / Allison Sumrall (Satō), Mikako Komatsu / Hilary Haag (Aizawa). Available on bilingual Dvd/Blu-Ray from Sentai Filmworks and currently streaming on Netflix. stars-4-0

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Crazy Rich Asians

CrazyRichAsians-dvd-cov“Crazy Rich Asians follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore and meets Nick’s family for the first time. It soon becomes clear that the only thing crazier than love is family.  [Text from the DVD cover]

(…) Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors. Being on Nick’s arm puts a target on Rachel’s back, with jealous socialites and, worse, Nick’s own disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh) taking aim. And it soon becomes clear that while money can’t buy love, it can definitely complicate things.  [Text from the official website]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

This Rom com, based on the best-seller by Kevin Kwan, is a very funny — but still touching — movie about how unhealthily rich some Chinese have become and how some of them like to rub it in your face! It also has all the romantic imbroglio very typical of the genre.

The storytelling is fluid, it has a great cast (Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno and Michelle Yeoh), and a superb photography (mostly showcasing the landscapes of the city-state Singapore and of Malaysia). It is a real festival of colours. It is very entertaining and, above all, very beautiful! 

Despite being a rare Hollywood movie with an all-Asian cast (and directed by Jon M. Chu, a dance-loving chinese-american), it was criticized for selecting bi-racial actors or actors from other Asian origins to portray Chineses or for not including actors from non-Chinese Singaporean ethnic groups (like from Malay or Indian origins). Who cares? It was a great box office success (earning eight time its budget) and received favourable reviews (ratings of 6.9 on IMDb, 91% / 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and 74% on Metacritic). For my part, I greatly enjoyed it. It is a must see. stars-3-5

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