Didn't know it existed, but thanks I'll have a look for it the next time I'm in the mood for a film. :)
Despite having seen most of its contemporaries, I had somehow never gotten around to watching Akira, a mistake I decided to rectify last night.
It's difficult to describe the experience that is watching Akira. After sleeping on it I can safely state two things: this is one of the finest films ever created and I have no desire to ever see it again. Sylvia Sensiper once said "Films are dreams that wander in the light of day". If that is the case, then Akira is a continuous nightmare. From the first shots establishing the dystopian Neo-Tokyo to the, even by modern standards, very gruesome finale every scene feels like a punch in the gut. There isn't a moment of reprieve for the characters or the viewer, no genuine happiness or comfort. Even the ending doesn't feel like an actual relief, it just leaves you in a twisted state of shock and confusion.
There are lots of horror films of course and many of them more visceral than Akira, but what makes this film so horrifiying is its technical proficiency. This is a stunningly beautiful work, but its beauty is so grotesque that it's difficult to appreciate unless viewed from a distance. Up close it simply leaves you emotionally drained and empty.
Even beyond the actual images though, there is a certain kind of psychological horror that looms over the entire film. I think any human being is familiar with the fear of the unknown. Not just fearing what we don't know, but what we couldn't possibly know and therefore what we couldn't possibly understand. Akira basically rips that fear out of you and puts it on the screen. It's digusting and fascinating alike, it's terrible and it's beautiful. Akira is the kind of art that touches you on a deeper level than you might be comfortable with. It's certainly possible to appreciate the film and the craftsmanship that went into it on an intellectual level, but ultimatively watching it is a deeply emotional experience.
I'm sorry for rambling that long, but it's been quite a while since a film has affected me the way Akira has.
I think they still manage to get some comic relief, but not much. They really went for the bleak atmosphere.
I only got started with anime recently, I only saw the biggest names (Akira, GITS, Cowboy Bebop) and found them all breathtaking. Do you have more recommendations?
If I find time I'll post a list tomorrow of films I'd consider an essential watch, either because they are historically relevant, because they are very enjoyable, or ideally both.
I just watched Black Swan, it were good. ¬_¬ I'm sleepy leave me alone.
As promised, here's a list of good Animé films worth a watch. It's not exhaustive by any means, but I think it provides a good starting point.
Studio Ghibli: I've said it before, if you talk about Animé you have to talk about Studio Ghibli. Few studios in the animation industry, both West and East, can match their creative heights. Their best films create an unparalleled sense of wonder and imagination, while stile being very human at their core. I've chosen my personal favourites here, but you could watch any of their offerings. Even their worst films are still above average and worth at least one look.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds (1984)
Nausicaä was Ghibli's first work (technically speaking it came before Ghibli was founded, but that's just nitpicking), a classic tale about the conflict between man and nature set in a postapocalyptic world. Similar to Akira it deals with war, the atomic bomb and human nature, though from a different angle. It is also one of the most influental animated films. In a way its influence in Japan is similar to what Snow White did for Western animation 50 years earlier; its success showed the possibilities of animation as a medium and allowed for the creation of highly experimental films, such as the aforementioned Akira. It was also the starting point for many important Japanese animators, among them Hideaki Anno, who went on to create Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Apart from its legacy, it's simply a wonderful film, my favourite of Ghibli's works and very nearly my favourite animated film of all time. It's postapocalyptic environments are beautifully haunting, it has a great cast of characters and its narrative flow is spectacular.
Castle in the Sky (1986)
Castle in the Sky is a very straightforward film, there's no complex characterization or psychological subtext to be found here. It is however a great adventure story. Imagine Indiana Jones mixed with some fantasy elements and you have Castle in the Sky. And, as with all of Ghibli's works, it looks incredible. Even before you reach the titular castle you are treated to some of the most beautiful locations ever animated. It's often forgotten between the more complex Nausicaä and the more human Totoro, but I think it stands very well on its own.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Totoro is a very different film to those that came before it. It has an incredibly simple plot (in fact, pretty much nothing happens in it) and it lacks the bombastic vision that characterized Nausicaä and Castle in the Sky. It is however such a lovingly crafted portrait of family that I can't not recommend it. If ever there was a film designed to make you feel happy, it's Totoro. Its beauty lies in its humanity and its keen eye for the wonders of life. There is a sense of genuine joy in this movie that you find in few other works. Watch this if you ever feel depressed.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
At the time of its release, Mononoke was the most expensive animated film ever made. And it shows. Almost every scene in it is breathtaking. In terms of plot this is a return to the human vs. nature theme from Naucisaä, but in an even more complex manner. There's not right or wrong here, it's a film full of moral ambiguity and characters trying to survive. The medieval village and its inhabitants feels very believabke, and the forest surrounding it, inhabited by mythological creatures, is fantastic, one of the most gorgeous locations in animation history I'd say. The film moves at a slow pace, but very deliberately so and your patience is well rewarded by the end. It's a stunning picture and truly shows what animation can be capable of.
Spirited Away (2002)
The first (and to my knowledge only) Animé to ever win an Oscar, deservedly so. Spirited Away feels a bit like Alice in Wonderland, a little girl trapped in a fantasy world. And what a world it is. Beautiful and haunting alike, exotic and yet still very recognizable. And wrapped around all that is a very human story about finding your place in the world. Definitely watch this at least once, if only to marvel and the sheer creative genius behind it.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Technically this wasn't made by Studio Ghibli, but they did the animation for it so I'm including it here anyway. Fireflies is the story of two siblings living in Japan during the Second World War. This is another one of those films I think is fantastic, but probably will never watch again. It's genuinely the most depressing film I've ever see and it was basically made to make you cry at every moment. Words really can't do it justice, you have to see it for yourself to appreciate just how gut-wrenching it can be. Originally this was released as a double feature with My Neighbor Totoro and I can see why. You pretty much need something like Totoro to cheer you up after experiencing this.
That's it for Studio Ghibli. Here's a few unrelated suggestions:
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Compared to most animated works this is a very down-to-earth film, so much so that it could easily have worked as live-action. It's the story of three social outcasts finding a baby and trying to return it to its parents. It's basically the plot of Ice Age, but instead of using it as a stepping stool for wacky antics, Godfather takes its premise to examine human nature and modern Japanese society. I don't know how much of it is lost on me due to cultural differences, but I found it a gripping tale nevertheless. It was also written by Keiko Nobumoto, who wrote the screenplay for the Cowboy Bebop movie and for some episodes of the TV series, so it has that going for it.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
I caught this film by complete accident when I was flipping trough channels a few months ago and I was seriously impressed by it, so now I'm on a mission to make it more well-known. As the title implies it's about a high-school girl who discovers she can travel through time and uses this to fix past mistakes. Despite its premise, this is another fairly humble story, more slice-of-life than grand adventure. But don't let that turn you off. It's funny, it's quirky, it has a relatable cast of characters and damnit, more people should see it.
The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Time for a trip down nostalgia-lane. Cagliostro was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, founder and creative figurehead of Studio Ghibli. It's an adaptation of the animé series Lunpin III, but you don't really need any previous knowledge to enjoy this film. It centers around master thief Arsčne Lupin III who, together with his accomplices, seeks to destroy a counterfeit operation in the Grand Duchy of Cagliastro while being chased by the police. It's definitely an old-fashioned film, both when looking at the narrative and the animation. It's also fairly light-hearted compared to the heavier works from the 80s and 90s. But sometimes this is exactly what you want. If you can get in the right mood, Cagliostro is very entertaining. It's the perfect film for that rainy Sunday afternoon where you have nothing else to do.
Joke suggestion: Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)
When I was in primary school Pokémon was pretty much the greatest thing imaginable. So of course I had to see The First Movie when it came out. Fourteen years later I remember nothing about it other than that I liked it and that it featured Mewtwo. I should rewatch it one of these days and see how well it actually holds up (not very well, I imagine). If nothing else, it was hugely influential; in its wake followed a whole bunch of bad cash-ins to popular children shows (lika that terrible Digimon movie, ugh).
That's pretty much it. I'm by no means an expert on Animé (American animation is more my forte), so I hope other posters chime in and list their own recommendations. There's a lot of hidden gems that few people ever talk about and I feel animation as a whole deserves a lot more recognition than it generally gets.
The Joneses, starred by David Duchovny (the truth is out there~) and Demi Moore (still as sexy as usual, but time isn't kind on humans, she's over 50 already), and others.
Just like any usual sunny day in this unspecified suburb town in North America populated by middle class, the Jones family moved in. This charming and sunny family appeared just like any usual prosperous US family: two parents with two teens, one boy and one girl. Seems like a great addition to the town, except that truth is out there: this actually was not a family, but a business unit, led by Kate Jones playing mother, with Steve Jones playing father, Jennifer Jones playing daughter, and Mick Jones playing son. This business unit was actually sent in by a marketing agency with one mission: to stealthily promote consumer products for the agency's clients. To do so, this unit, pretending to be an unsuspicious neighboring household, demonstrated a luxurious lifestyle and made it desirable for the others, spread the words, and bingo, sales for promoted products up. Those XXX Jones were of course not their real name, at least the family name Jones was fake. Problem of this unit was with Steve Jones, because he, even though a previously successful car salesman, was a rookie to this unconventional marketing practice. While other members generally achieved something like 15-18% boost of sales for their targeted products in the first review of the unit, he achieved only 3-4%. The manager thought it might be too risky to keep him in the team for him to be too ignorant in this new field of business, but Kate promised that she would lead Steve to achieve high. So, how would this business unit achieve?
This is a movie in 2009. The production year is very critical for this film, because the movie was produced after the 2008 Financial Burst. This is some kinda remorse of wrong, wasting lifestyle of the society before the economic crisis.
This is supposed to be a comedy but with a somewhat sad ending.
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise. This is a superb movie, but maybe an acquired taste. Probably my second most favorite "film" after Brazil. It's a mature, rich, slow burning epic. The technical visuals and musical score are incredibly good, and the original English dub is also great. I don't know if you'll like it, but I can't recommend anything more highly. Wonderful stuff.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
I would second this suggestion, it has a surprising amount of punch for something that looks and feels breezy. And also all the studio ghibli!
Thanks for the suggestions. I filled my Watchlist and now it's a matter of time before I see them all.
I'll share my thoughts here, as time goes by...
Speaking about animations, go watch some Jan Svankmajer movies. He is goddamn genius when it comes to stop-motion animation blended with live action. I would suggest to start with his Alice in Wonderland adaptation (the best one ever, trust me) called "Something from Alice".
Just look at it.
Despite of its rather "omg so gritty and grimdark" look it really captures the mood and wonder of book while it's not beign exact copy of it.
His other few full length movies and dozens of shorts are awesome too. If you want to watch some top-notch surreal stuff you will not find a better movies than these.
Pacific Rim. Enjoyable. Completely devoid of any surprises, but it didn't really hurt the movie (although maybe the bit with Ron Perlman during the credits was overdoing the no-surprises-at-all thing a tad). It did make me want a first person giant robot game, so I guess it hit some spots.
Crawlspace (2012). Sort of the same as above, except for the giant robot game, and Ron Perlman.
So the Event Horizon blu-ray turned up. There isn't much in the way of bonus features, but what is there is quite interesting.
There was a scene that was never filmed for the beginning of the movie that would have introduced the Lewis and Clarke crew while they rescued miners from an accident site. It's presented as a storyboard sequence with commentary by Paul Anderson.
At some point when Paramount were testing various versions of the ending with different audiences and not all of the effects work was completed, the placeholder image they used for the explosion of the drive section in Neptunes' atmosphere is very clearly the Praxis wave from Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country. It's not even slightly altered, even at the same exact angle as in ST6.
One of the (few) deleted scenes clears up something that always bugged me about the end of the film when Stark hallucinates Weir in the rescue suit after she comes out of the grav-couch. I kept wondering why she'd be seeing him as the slitted-up, proto-Scorpius looking Weir when up to that point in the film she'd only seen him as sn-seyes Weir, Captain Miller being the only one to see the slitted-up version. In the deleted scene, Stark and Cooper are running from that tsunami of blood when slitted-up Weir comes crawling down a ladder upside-down like a creepy naked human spider.
Paul Anderson mentions in the commentary that for some reason the film was being stored in a salt mine in Transylvania. Is that a standard film practice?
love the combo Oppenheimer + Ligetti
Pacific Rim - Medicore movie.