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Looking Closer at In This Corner of the World & Its Canadian Release

11 Aug

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

To my knowledge, few Japanese animated movies exist which looks at a part of history from World War II with a perspective not overdone. Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies is the granddaddy of the genre because it’s so depressingly sad, and Barefoot Gen somewhere on the vein of being positive while it looks at the aftermath. With In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に), the point of view is from innocent bystanders. The atomic destruction of Hiroshima has not happened yet. This particular fact is not dwelled upon. Nobody is aware except for the viewer. Most of the characters are blissfully unaware.

This film looks at the life of an idyllic young girl, Suzu (Rena Nōnen), living her life through a veil. She wants to be an artist and she describes herself as a daydreamer. A significant part of her life is portrayed and it has a Studio Ghibli like quality during this innocent time. This fact is of no surprise as Director Sunao Katabuchi worked on Kiki’s Delivery Service.

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You Can’t Shake Atomic Blonde

31 Jul

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

I’m fairly sure the producers and directors behind Atomic Blonde wanted to avoid a huge cliche when selecting the music for this film. When I first read about how well this film is doing in the festival circuit, I wondered if Blondie’s song, “Atomic” might get used. Thankfully, it was not and much of the soundtrack is focused on bringing to life the atmosphere of a war-weary Berlin. Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” is certainly indicative of that spirit and even Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” (heard in German no less!) hits the point when communication is cut between what’s going on in Germany with the rest of the world.

The cold war is coming to an end, but for Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), a top level agent for M16, there’s still one more mission. She has to retrieve a microfiche containing a list of double-agents smuggled to the West, but things go awry when there’s an individual who has memorized it and the KGB will stop at nothing to get it.

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Valérian & the City of a 1000 Planets Flounders in Space

21 Jul

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

* Spoiler Alert

Luc Bresson is a filmmaker with a fantastic range of movies under his belt. He can craft incredible material, namely The Fifth Element, and provide quality children’s entertainment in Arthur and the Invisibles. I particularly enjoyed his adaptation of the comic book The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec to film but with Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets, something got lost in the translation. His latest film had an exciting start and was off to the races with its two prologues.

Sadly, it loses steam by the third act and I found myself not caring for the hero, Valérian (Dane DeHaan), saving the day. He has to prevent an alien race from going extinct and show to Laureline (Cara Delevingne) that he’s serious about pursuing a relationship with her. Val is a philanderer, and Laureline wants nothing to do with him. They are a meant to be a crime busting duo of time-agents who should implicitly trust each other much like how Mulder and Scully have to in The X-Files. The trust needs to be earned if she is to accept his proposition to marry. This early plot reveal could have defined the entire movie, but it gets ignored during massive set pieces which communicate a different story.

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Hopes for Where Spider-Man: Homecoming Will Go Next

17 Jul

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

To restart the Spider-Man movie franchise for the third time may seem to some industry observers a crazy attempt by Sony Pictures to keep a hold of this Marvel Comics property. Much like how 20th Century Fox does not want to let go of the Fantastic Four, eventually some give and take must be reached. Thankfully an agreement was reached to bring the hero back to where he truly belongs (perhaps, why the title Homecoming is used). At the same time, to see this character come alive in a recognizable manner reveals plenty of wholehearted fun akin to the race to get home in Ferris Bueller into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

After seeing this movie for the second time, I had to make sure my feelings for this film does not change. Further viewings are needed to pick up on some nuances I noticed in this movie. A few scenes deliberately mimicked moments from another familiar character. The personalities between Spidey and Deadpool are different, but to see these two white spectacled hooligans trying to save the day does need mentioning.

Most of the laughs come from how Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is hoping for another chance to work with the Avengers. After his introduction in Captain America: Civil War, dealing with neighbourhood crime is not the same. When he finds weapons powered by powerful alien tech illegally trafficked, nobody at Avengers Headquarters seems to care. Spider-Man has to investigate and put the criminal ring down himself.

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