Paprika (Voices of Megumi Hayashibara, Tôru Furuya, Kôichi Yamadera, dir. Satoshi Kon)
I am loath to dismiss an entire genre of film because it simply doesn't appeal to me (as Mike D'Angelo also notes in his LVW review of this film, not yet online), but I have to say that I think I just don't get anime. I have made valiant efforts to appreciate, say, musicals and war movies, two genres that also generally leave me cold, and I can think of a few examples of each that I really like. But something about anime just puts me off and baffles me. Although comic book fans are often big anime fans as well, the aesthetic and the modes of storytelling in the genre have never appealed to me, and after I found Spirited Away, supposedly the pinnacle of art and emotion in Japanese animation, tedious and irritating, I figured it was futile to even try. But the idea of closing an entire film genre off to critical comment for myself bugs me, so I gave it another try with this film, since I already had the screener just sitting there next to the TV.
I will say that I enjoyed this more than Spirited Away, since all of the bizarre imagery and semi-nonsensical plotting appeared to serve a purpose and come together into a recognizable narrative, and I had a sense of who the characters were and why I should care about them. It still seems like a lot of weirdness for weirdness' sake, and even if the visual style is inventive (the movie is about dreams slowly invading reality), it gets rather repetitive after a while. I'm not sure I can confidently judge this movie with much authority, since I have a very limited frame of reference, but I can say that it made me slightly less reluctant to seek out more examples of its genre. Opened limited May 25; in Las Vegas this week
Transformers (Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel, dir. Michael Bay)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
If you genuinely liked this movie, then good for you, I'm glad you had fun at the movies over the holiday. But here's what I don't understand: the insane power of nostalgia that has both created the huge demand for this movie and seemingly blinded many people to its numerous flaws. Now, I played with Transformers toys and watched the Transformers TV show as a kid, although it was when I was very young and I don't remember it all that well. But even as much as I enjoyed that experience when I was little, I don't see how liking something at age 6 (or whatever) translates into expecting to like it again as an adult. I have a much clearer recollection of being a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (at around age 10 or 11), and although I had a twinge of nostalgic satisfaction when I heard that they were set to return to the big screen, and a certain amusement watching the resulting (rather mediocre) film, I never thought that I would have the same sort of excitement or appreciation for the Turtles' adventures now as I did when I was a kid. I don't think that this is some tragic loss of childlike innocence, but merely the acquisition of the adult ability to discern quality from crap. Apparently I'm in the minority on that, though. Wide release