Beauty and the Best

Weather Report Girl Review

I seem to be in a trend lately of going back to some of the more obscure, but entertaining anime titles from my younger days, so I thought I would review Weather Report GirlWeather Report Girl has been described as yuri by some, but I consider it more of a sexual comedy, much like many of the anime during the 90's.  Weather Report Girl centers around sadistic woman named Keiko that will stop at nothing to be adored by millions, and sets her sights on doing so by becoming the weather girl of a large Japanese network.  In her pursuit of this goal, Keiko is completely ruthless and stops at nothing to become an idol of television.
I am not going to spoil how she gets her foot in the door, but when you see it, right off the bat, you realize that Keiko is a beast, and she stays on top the same way.  She uses her razor sharp intellect and sexuality to coax people to her side, or run right over them, and her fans love her for it.
The cast of characters include the network executives, which will do anything to make their network #1, her rival, and first weather girl, and a timid and homely man from her past that has been stalking Keiko for years.  I think the funniest folks are the executives, especially, the owner of the network.  They pretty much let Keiko do whatever she wants because they see yen signs in everything she does, and they are typical perverted businessmen.
The animation is decent, but what shines through is the humour.  This, and the sexuality actually made Weather Report Girl a cult favourite among many, and enabled it to be translated into live action media.  Like many of the older anime, it can be found on YouTube, so watching it should be no problem.  For some reason, I don't think it has ever been dubbed, but it is available in sub.

Bookmark and Share


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters Review

Really? Has no one here done a movie review in over a month? I'm mostly just the video game guy but let me take a look and see what movies I have that All Good Fans might like to hear about. Wait, video games, movies - I've got it! The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. So crowd around everyone while I tell you about one of, if not the most, entertaining documentary I have ever seen.

Don't just take my word for it, this film has a 96% fresh rating on 
Rotten Tomatoes but of course you come here exactly because you want my word for it it, so here it is, followed by some more. King of Kong tells the story of Steve Wiebe, a father & husband who is laid off from his job so decides to pass the time by buying a Donkey Kong arcade cabinet and attempting to break the world high score.

The film follows Wiebe after he does nearly the impossible by actually succeeding. His almost 
Asperger level dedication to the game is amazing to see. He practiced day & night, made charts to determine ways with which to rack up more points and was so unilateral towards his goal that his high score submission tape has him continuing to play while his toddler throws a tantrum for him to stop because he needed help going to the bathroom. That scene is actually a little excruciating to watch, truth be told, but it's just the beginning. 

Little did Wiebe know that doing so would bring him into a strange world of aging gamers still holding on to their glory days from the golden age of video arcades, where they achieved quasi celebrity-like status for reaching world high scores in similar games such as
Pac-Man, Frogger, Centipede, and others. And these scores are regulated by an equally strange group from the Twin Galaxies Arcade headed by the eccentric, if also lovable old enthusiast Walter Day.

Not all the members of this cabal are as lovable as Wiebe is though (the previous world record holder for Donkey Kong is a man by the name of Billy Mitchell whose claims to fame are his high scores and personally branded hot sauce). Now Billy Mitchell sells himself like he sells his hot sauce so he wasn't about to let his position slip without a fight, thus setting up the conflict of the film.

Mitchell produces questionable evidence proving that he outdid Wiebe's score and through the rest of the film, Wiebe tries to reclaim his prize while feeling stonewalled by a culture and political system that is all new to him. It's a real underdog story and while real life rarely has true villains or heroes, the film clearly sets its position on whom it thinks are which. It may not make for the most unbiased documentary film-making but it sure is fun to see unfold.

Pasted Graphic
And as documentaries go, this one also has some pretty good production values with editing tricks, animated segments, musical cues and more. It's an extra level of polish that really helps this stand above a lot of other films of the genre and adds to it's often surreal feeling. Make no mistake, however, that this is a real life story filled with more colorful characters and intrigue than a lot of fiction could ever muster. So much so that a scripted film adaptation is apparently in the works.

I would definitely recommend the original King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters though, not just to fans of video games but to anyone who likes good stories or learning about different subcultures. It was originally released in 2007 so there's also lots more to learn about these people, the game and all of the sagas surrounding in the years that followed but you can start by finding this either on disc or digitally from your provider of choice.

Bookmark and Share


"Zero Dark Thirty" is Gripping - Movie Review

Anyone who saw The Hurt Locker knows that Kathryn Bigelow is a no-nonsense director, and Zero Dark Thirty proves this to be true yet again. ZD30 tells the story of how the CIA tracked down and eventually killed Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The movie’s focus is on a female CIA analyst named “Maya,” who relentlessly pursued Bin Laden, even when the trail had gone cold.

This is not a fast paced movie. In fact, at nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes, it has a plodding and deliberate pace which, intentionally or not, serves to underscore the single-minded purposefulness of its heroine. If we’re fidgeting seeing the story unfold over three hours, imagine how tough it was to stay the course over a decade. This is especially true after you consider that politics, the death of team members, and hopelessness nearly brought the entire operation crumbling down. We see just how close Bin Laden, code named “Geronimo,” was to slipping away forever.

It turns out that finding Bin Laden came down to tracking down one of his top level couriers, Abu Ahmed, who was hidden away in Pakistan and believed to be dead due to misinformation. Of course, after all the research and intense, closed-door meetings, the movie comes down to the 30 minutes that recounts the night the SEAL team infiltrated Bin Laden’s compound. Interestingly, that part of the film is especially restrained and feels near documentary like. There are very few theatrics to the SEAL team’s mission, which was executed with cold, ruthless precision (note how each person killed was “engaged” multiple times, just to be sure). Having watched the fascinating 60-Minutes interview with SEAL team leader Mark Bissonette, I was especially interested to see this play out in the film. Honestly, I think his retelling might have been more gripping.

I really enjoyed this movie. I have a great admiration for the men and women who serve in the US military and this story was of interest to me. I’m also highly opposed to bullshit at this stage in my life, and this movie had a no-frills, matter-of-fact storytelling that was like a salve to my weary, reality TV embattled psyche. Having said that, the prosaic narrative eventually betrayed Bigelow’s efforts to make Maya, austerely portrayed by Jessica Chastain, seem like a bad ass. Lines like “I'm the motherfucker that found him” seem particularly corny after you’ve just shown us a brutal 10-minute segment of a suspect being broken down through water boarding torture. Chris Pratt, who plays the the commander of the SEAL team, seems to be good in just about everything he does, but his innate likability undermines his credibility as a stone cold killer. Jason Clarke as one of the lead CIA ops is highly compelling and, for me, was the real stand out in the movie.

Overall, thumbs up. I think Chastain’s performance is being overrated (although look out for her confrontation scene with Kyle Chandler - it has Oscar written all over it), but in the end ZD30 caps off an extremely good year for movies with a figurative and literal BANG.

Bookmark and Share


A Christmas Carol (1951) Review

Everyone has their own traditions around the holidays. One of the ones my family and I share is annually watching Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's a classic piece of western literature which has been adapted and retold dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of times and we all have our definitive version. Some of you may most enjoy George C. Scott, Patrick SterwartMichael CaineScrooge McDuck or even (God forbid) Jim Carrey in the starring role. In my mind however, there is only one Ebenezer Scrooge and that is Alastair Sim from the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.

Yes and I am talking about the original called "A Christmas Carol" and not that colorized BS version of the movie renamed "Scrooge". I find the original black and white adds a lot of atmosphere. That was how it was supposed to be seen and that's how I watch it. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, let me first welcome you to the planet Earth. It's really a nice place in a lot of ways despite what our news broadcasts say. And A Christmas Carol is an 1843 novel about a miserly old businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge who has lost his connection with his fellow men & women and can no longer even enjoy holidays like Christmas.

After working late on Christmas Eve and retiring home for the night, he is met by the ghost his former business partner Jacob Marley. Marley tells him that his selfish and callous deeds will lead Scrooge to eternal torment in the thereafter but that there is still hope. Scrooge would then be visited upon by three more spirits of Christmas who would take him to his past, the present and future in order to show the folly of his ways. In the extremely off chance you haven't experienced the story before, I won't give away what happens next but instead talk about what makes this version so special.

As I touched upon before, this movie has great atmosphere. The old film grain and contrast really works to this film's advantage because frankly 19th century England was a pretty depressing place and it genuinely makes certain scenes frightening.
Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley is terrifying as he wails about how mankind was his business. And that brings me to the performances. The supporting cast ranges from competent to excellent. Tiny Tim seems a little spry for a dying child but others like Bob Cratchet, or Old Joe or Scrooge's business associates all add their own layer of personality to this film.

But it all hinges on the performance of Alastair Sim. He does a wonderful performance that gives the slightest hint that even though he really doesn't like Christmas that he says such over the top things (like how people who celebrate Christmas should be boiled in their own pudding) more-so because it amuses him to annoy them as they have him. He excellently portrays resentment, fear, contrition and glee and you do believe it's all coming form the same character, the same person.

That's why of all the versions to see, this is the one. But most of all, A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption. Afterwards "it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us".  And that's something that all people could learn from every day of the year, not just Christmas. I would most of all recommend reading the original novel but If you haven't seen this 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, do so. It's currently available on DVD or if you leave your television on long enough over the next week or so, it will definitely be on at some point. In any event, have happy holidays from all of us - at All Good Things.

Bookmark and Share


Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review


December 4th marks the release of the third Christopher Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises for home release. It was a film met with mixed reactions from viewers though I don't think anyone would say that this was the best Batman movie ever. So then which one is? Many would reply its prequel The Dark Knight or Tim Burton's 1989 Batman as their answer and while both are very well made & enjoyable films I would have a different answer. Instead, I would say the often overlooked Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is in fact, the best Batman movie ever.

Released in 1993, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is part of the Batman: The Animated Series canon, which was already known for its mature storytelling, unique art design that painted on black paper instead of white paper to give the art deco Gotham City's night the long shadows it was known for, as well as its excellent voice work from actors like Kevin Conroy as Batman or Star Wars' Mark Hamill as The Joker. These two actor's performances proved to be so iconic that they both continued to provide their interpretations up until most recently 2011's hit game Batman: Arkham City and thankfully both are cast in this film.

All the elements that made the TV series so great are kept in place for this movie and it uses every moment of its running time to tell an excellent tale about Batman's origins as the Batman, a mysterious new vigilante called The Phantasm who is killing criminals for which Batman is being blamed and even some parts revealing of the enigmatic Joker's history before he became The Joker.

Also I should mention the incredible score composed by Shirley Walker who not only did a great job emulating the style set by Danny Elfman for the 1989 film but in many ways surpasses even him in setting the tone for Batman. Both epic and melancholy, her music will echo in the back of your head for hours or days after hearing it.  I find it leagues more appropriate than Hans Zimmer's frenetic drums used in the most recent films.

So why may have you not heard of this film if it's so great? Unfortunately it was released around the same time as Tim Burton's sequel 
Batman Returns so many people maligned this as the child friendly version of Batman. I assure you that is not true in the slightest. This is in every way the superior Batman movie and there are several ways for you to now watch it for yourself. It has been released to DVD both on its own and as part of a combo pack with the straight to video Batman & Mr. Freeze SubZero, along with your usual digital distribution services. For all you Batman lovers and especially those disappointed by The Dark Knight Rises, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is definitely something to see.

Bookmark and Share

Site logo
© 2012 All Good Things Privacy Policy and Terms and conditions Contact Me