I have had many blog posts floating around in my head but none of them have really come to fruition. At the same time, though, I have been coming across many great films that I always want to recommend. That’s what I’m doing now. All of these can be found on Netflix (which is also where the descriptions come from) so check them out. My own comments are below in blue.
Marjane (voiced by Chiara Mastroianni) just wants to be an ordinary kid, but that isn’t easy in 1978 Iran. This profound animated film follows Marjane’s childhood in a repressive society, her adolescence in France and her return to Tehran as an adult. Based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, this Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film also features the vocal talents of Catherine Deneuve and Simon Abkarian.
I just saw this the other night. It’s not only a very interesting story of this one woman’s life but also will help to explain just how Iran got the way it is today.
God Grew Tired of Us
After raising themselves in the desert along with thousands of other “lost boys,” Sudanese refugees John, Daniel and Panther have found their way to America, where they experience electricity, running water and supermarkets for the first time. Capturing their wonder at things Westerners take for granted, this documentary, an award winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, paints an intimate portrait of strangers in a strange land.
A fascinating documentary that tells about the experiences of these refugees in America. I like how it didn’t simply parade a cause before the audience but instead simply looked into a few peoples’ lives on a personal and honest level.
Director Kihachi Okamoto’s inky action-comedy (based on the same novel as Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro, Kill!) pokes fun at samurai flicks and Italian giallos. When two swordsmen roll into a new town — one a former farmer and the other a retired samurai warrior — they intend to lead normal lives. But the troubles of a band of rebels fighting the vile local clan leader convince the pair to pick up their weapons again.
Sadly, I couldn’t track down a trailer for this one. This film wears all the vestments of an old samurai flick while also displaying a cheeky and subtle sense of humor.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Inspired by author Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel, this anime follows the adventures of Makoto Konno, a seemingly ordinary high school student who makes a startling revelation when she learns that she’s been endowed with the ability to travel back in time. Following a series of frivolous “time leaps,” Makoto learns that her powers have a negative impact on the people around her and sets out to correct the effects of her actions.
It’s an old premise that’s been done many times over but this film manages to keep it fresh with beautiful animation, believable and likable characters, and a surprisingly down-to-earth message.
Death Note and Death Note II
When he discovers a mystical notebook that grants him the power to kill anyone he wants by merely writing their name, a brilliant student named Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara) develops a god complex and attempts to create utopia. Now, it’s up to ingenious detective “L” (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) to stop the supernatural vigilante. Directed by Shusuke Kaneko, this eerie thriller also stars Asaka Seto, Erika Toda and Shigeki Hosokawa.
Like Kill Bill, this is a story split between two films. Even with it’s supernatural premise, this is a detective thriller at it’s core. The dynamic battle of wits between the genius detective and the genius vigilante is both fantastic and believable.
Linda Linda Linda
It’s three days before the big school talent show and Kyoto, Kei and Nozumi are in a fix when their lead singer quits over artistic differences. Their only candidate to fill the spot is a Korean foreign exchange student who can barely speak any Japanese. Time for some all-night rehearsals! Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita and featuring a score by former Smashing Pumpkins member James Iha, this lighthearted comedy stars Du-na Bae and Yu Kashii.
This is one of my old standby favorites. A quirky slice-of-life comedy of the kind that always relaxes me and makes me smile.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
When he’s not busy breaking the law or trying to get close to his secret crush, Penny (Felicia Day), supervillain wannabe Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) boasts about his exploits via his Internet video blog and dreams of defeating his nemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Conceived during the 2008 Hollywood writers’ strike, Joss Whedon’s quirky musical comedy originally debuted as an online miniseries.
A hilarious musical send up of all the superhero/super-villain tropes. I still get songs from this stuck in my head on a regular basis.
The Taste of Tea
Director Katsuhito Ishii’s whimsical episodic tale chronicles a summer in the lives of the quirky Haruno clan, who passes the unhurried days trying to realize their ambitions. As Mom (Satomi Tezuka) attempts to revive her career, her hypnotherapist hubby (Tomokazu Miura) practices on the family. Meanwhile, their pubescent son (Takahiro Sato) feels the pangs of love, and their 6-year-old daughter (Maya Banno) grapples with a pesky dopplegänger.
Weird, quirky, and oddly relaxing. This is another slow-moving slice-of-life comedy that I leaves me with a relaxed smile on my face.
That’s enough for now. Let me know your own recommendations in the comments.