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Just One Day at A Time with Miss Hokusai, A Movie Review

28 Mar

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Exotic beauty and supernatural magic grace Production IG’s animated biopic, Miss Hokusai. Based on the manga of the same name by Hinako Sugiura, this film follows the narrative style and simply offers moments of this artist’s life in Edo-period Japan. With it now on video, I can start studying it more in-depth. My only disappointment is that the home release does not come with a lot of bonus material. A feature-length documentary about the making of this film is provided. I was craving more, especially when this anime explores an important time in Japan’s art history.

This look into the life of O-Ei (Anne Watanabe), daughter of revered painter Hokusai (Yutaka Matsushige), is very gentle and bittersweet. The plot looks at much of her life from her perspective as she shows how fiercely independent she is. Though she works as an assistant in her father’s studio, she often finishes what he can not finish when he’s being drunk (which is rare) or acting irresponsibly.

For artists wanting to look at why these Ukiyo-e works are majestic, I particularly liked the dialogue (I saw the subtitled version) explaining how the brush can invoke portals to other worlds. You have to be careful when painting a work featuring demons. At least with one work O-Ei made, real spirits came to haunt the residence. No title is offered for this work, but according to the soundtrack, it’s simply known as “The Cursed Picture of Hell.” When the work is retrieved, her father observed that because Hope was not offered, that’s why they visited. A simple detail was added and the evil left. However, there’s more to life in Edo period Japan because the Shinto life is not everywhere.

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Plenty of Martial Arts Mayhem and Nostalgia Fills Cynthia Rothrock’s Fists of Fury

18 Jan

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-2-27-02-pm-thumb-430xauto-64996By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Former World Karate Champion (1981-1985) Cynthia Rothrock certainly loves the martial arts movies from the 70’s and 80’s, and in the documentary, Fists of Fury, I’m believe she hand-picked all the forgotten B-grade classics. I recall seeing a few of these on the big screen!

Of those which I have not seen, after seeing this extensive reel of trailers and montage presentations, I’m tempted to seek them out. Thankfully, YouTube is my friend because The Lucky Seven (1986) can be found. This movie came out a year after The Goonies and I’m betting the filmmakers were inspired by Spielberg’s film. Sho Kosugi’s movies, to which Revenge of the Ninja is featured, defined part of my childhood love for the genre. This product is filled with plenty of nostalgic laughs. It will become available online Jan 20 on FullMoonStreaming.com and their Amazon channel, along with a physical copy.

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Video

Zoiks! It’s a Scooby-Doo and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery Review

3 Aug

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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Gene Simmons is definitely one shrewd businessman. He knows how to market KISS and keep the band’s brand alive for more than 40 years. In that time, he’s made attempts into getting into acting (more so for himself) and for the group, comic books and various paraphernalia. Eventually that will lead into crossovers with popular characters for a particular era. Very few will remember their appearance in Marvel ComicsHoward the Duck. They made their own series with Image Comics and in some ways, they’ve returned to this realm of crossovers in their own animated special Scooby-Doo! & KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery.

This direct to DVD product is more about the band of musicians than the mystery solving gang. The in-jokes with supporting characters and objects that reference their songs are everywhere. The product placements to even fictional items are downright ridiculous. It’s hardly hilarious, but at least this one-off film does to KISS what the original 2012-13 Mystery Incorporated did to create an encompassing mythology that explains who this group is. They’re from a realm called Kissteria and they guard a mysterious Black Diamond that they carry with them on their tours. Although it doesn’t grant them powers, it is a key to a prison that must never be unlocked. The Scooby gang get involved in a mystery of a frantic Crimson Witch who looks like she should belong in a Power Rangers product. She’s looking for the gemstone so an evil Destroyer can be awakened. When Shaggy and Scooby meet her, the usual antics take place, and eventually the team will find answers to why she must have it.

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A Commentary on Justice League: Gods and Monsters

28 Jul

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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Can creators Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm do no wrong in Justice League: Gods and Monsters? If you’ve loved their work in Batman: The Animated Series or Timm’s presence with continuations in a shared universe like Justice League in the late 90s, then just maybe. When this video release comes with a disclaimer that the story takes place in an alternate universe, I’m excited at what kind of re-imaginings of the holy trinity of DC’s main heroes (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) that Timm has in mind.

I decided to purchase the steel book release that comes with an action figure of Wonder Woman as a New God, The sculpt is quite good for a mass market item, and the bonus material is worth watching first, especially the short, New Gods. Watching this first helps gets fans up to speed to this part of the DC universe that draws heavily on mythology before catching the main feature. It helps flesh out the world that the writing team will no doubt go back to look at. But before I could watch the main movie, I had to check out the sneak peek at the next DCU movie, Batman: Bad Blood.

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