26 Jul 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 91 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Chie The Brat”


Chie the Brat

Japan, 1981

Directed by Isao Takahata

Chie the Brat isn’t available in the west and that’s a damn shame because this is precisely the kind of thing Japanese animation (and Japanese cinema) does so well. It isn’t a story about fighters with wacky hairdos talking endlessly about power levels, nor is it a boob and gore fest, and there are no giant robots involved in a psycho-religious plot to alter the course of humanity. It is a simple, lucid, comical story about a broken family’s attempts at reconciliation.

Studio Ghibli was still several years away when Takahata brought the comic Jarinko Chie to the screen but it is the first proto-Ghibli film to live up to that studio’s mammoth reputation and it is the first Takahata project to fully exhibit his characteristic approach to making films — “embellished reality” you might call it. Takahata’s films are episodic, often of the “slice of life” variety. Think of Yasujiro Ozu’s silent comedy I Was Born But as an animated feature and you’re on the right track. Instead of a plot with an apparent trajectory, we are given discrete scenes of everyday life: for instance, a Parent Day at school that blends the very real dread of embarrassment with the absurdist humor of misunderstanding, the private concealed visits between Chie and her mother in which Chie shares what she cannot with her father, or the briefly reunited family’s trip to an amusement park, where life momentarily brightens before old scars surface again.

Great animation breathes new life into even the most ordinary parts of real life. but it’s undervalued – nearly non-existent – here in the states where the profane, sexual, and violent are misconstrued as “mature.” Chie the Brat sees life as it is and attempts to find perspective in it – genuine maturity.

– Jonas Erickson

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26 Jul 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 2. Weekday "ARGH!", 105 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Chie The Brat”


Chie the Brat

Japan, 1981

Directed by Isao Takahata

Chie the Brat isn’t available in the west and that’s a damn shame because this is precisely the kind of thing Japanese animation (and Japanese cinema) does so well…

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05 Jul 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Die Nibelungen”


Die Nibelungen

Germany, 1924

Directed by Fritz Lang

Is Die Nibelungen a fascist film? No.

“But isn’t it based on the Nibelungenlied, the German national epic?” Yes.

“Didn’t Hitler and Goebbles exalt the film?” Sure.

“Wasn’t Fritz Lang’s then wife and co-writer Thea von Harbou later a member of the NSDAP?” Yes.

“Did Lang and Harbou not dedicate the flm to the German people?” They did.

“So…fascist!” Not at all.

The nationalist and potentially fascist qualities of the Nibelungenlied are essentially the same as any other set of myths and legends around the world. Showings of Die Nibelungen during the Nazi era were often restricted to part 1 – this is a significant point. The dedication attached to the film is vague and could mean any number of things – what’s certain is that the complete film cannot rationally be considered fascist.

Die Nibelungen is divided into halves, Siegfried and Kriemhild’s Revenge. Siegfried alone seems by the numbers, the source material merely fodder to make an epic film, albeit a phenomenal one. It is this detachment from circumstance, time, and its second half that enabled Siegfried to be redefined along the lines of the nationalist zeitgeist overtaking Europe. All of the images in Siegfried are stately, refined, perfectly balanced, correct, superior. Formally, it is presentational, lacking much in the way of editorial commentary. One gets the sense of the pre-ordained, the justly right, its grandeur shaped of the great German ideals. Siegfried is absolutely reminiscent of the great romantic tradition.

Kriemhild’s Revenge lacks all of these qualities. Where part 1 is full of lush forests and the lavish architecture of the Burgundians, part 2 is consigned to the dirt and fire of the desert and the nomadic presence of the Huns. Where part 1 is carefully designed and controlled, pleasant to take in and enjoy, part 2 is emotionally unhinged and nihilistic, almost maddening in its obsessive grind towards destruction. Every shot seems fixed on some misbegotten notion of honor and loyalty. The incessant juxtaposition between the burning castle and Kriemhild’s vengeful gaze is nearly unbearable. Far from symbolizing the pure (German) corrupted by the unclean (Hun), the arc of the two films demonstrate the misplaced loyalties and corrupt philosophy that had become ingrained in German thought.

In light of Kriemhild’s Revenge, Siegfried now appears devoid of heroes; its characters cheat, lie, and manipulate their way to power, they are arrogant and malicious, others are weak willed and led on, no one is superhuman, only human, and dangerously so.

– Jonas Erickson

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31 May 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Good Men, Good Women”


Good Men, Good Women

Taiwan, 1995

Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

History and national identity have long been present in the films of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, but between 1989 and 1995 he made a series of films dealing explicitly with the subject of the past, focusing his camera eye on the nature of recreating history…

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