Anime weekend.
January 25, 2002 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Anime weekend. Two anime movies are hitting the big screen this weekend in a handful of locations (luckily for me both are coming to Chicago). I'm not the biggest anime fan but I'm dying to see this stuff on the big screen. I don't know if this is the sign of things to come, but I really missed out when Princess Mononoke quietly snuck into town.
posted by skallas (16 comments total)
Are they playing at the Musicbox?
posted by thirteen at 3:24 PM on January 25, 2002

> I really missed out when Princess Mononoke quietly
> snuck into town.

It was here (Athens, GA) for I'd say about fifteen minutes.
I found out about it too late too. Aarrrgh.
posted by jfuller at 3:25 PM on January 25, 2002

Never mind, I see Metropolis is playing at the Century.
posted by thirteen at 3:35 PM on January 25, 2002

I saw Metroplois at the Big Apple Anime Fest, and it's good. Lush animation with more rounded, Disneyfied characters than usual. The finale of the film was a bit hard to take in New York in October, but it's certainly eye-popping.
posted by muckster at 4:00 PM on January 25, 2002

Damn Toronto theatre closings! I am not confident that these films will make it to my city. I was lucky enough to catch Mononoke here though.

This is a bit of a stretch, as it may not get a US distributor, but if you ever get a chance to see Millennium Actress (by Perfect Blue director Satoshi Kon), go do it up. It's far from a typical anime: a fantastical flashback-based trip into the life of a retired actress. It won at fantasia last year.
posted by D at 4:31 PM on January 25, 2002

I was grossly underimpressed by Princess Mononoke. Maybe it would translate better if I was on acid.
posted by tsarfan at 5:14 PM on January 25, 2002

I'm a bit wary of the Escaflowne movie. I greatly enjoyed the television series, but some of the summaries I've read of the movie indicate that the themes and elements I enjoyed from the series have been eliminated. I suppose that's what happens when thirteen hours must be condensed to two.
posted by Electric Elf at 8:46 PM on January 25, 2002

I finally saw Princess Mononoke a few months ago, after listening to friends praise the thing for years. I thought the movie lacked point, purpose and contiguity. Sometimes that's forgivable in Anime, but Mononoke just didn't have enough space battles and sweet looking guns to make up for it. Muskets, for crying out loud. Muskets.

Once the theme got established I kept waiting for some thoughtful commentary on the nature vs. man issue, but all I got were lepers. Nothing resolved. Nothing changed.

Now Cowboy Bebop, there's some good Anime.
posted by Dane at 9:54 PM on January 25, 2002

it's a good thing i live in cincinnati... oh wait, no it's not. it appears that neither movies are playing anywhere near me.... BAH!

oh well, i've got all the escaflowne episodes anyway...
posted by lotsofno at 10:18 PM on January 25, 2002

OK, somebody's gotta take it upon themselves to defend "Mononoke," so here goes -- it looks positively gorgeous, but the strongest point of the film is how balanced it addresses its complex themes. I'd be hard pressed to come up with another film, animated or not, that so stubbornly refuses to take sides -- that IS the thoughtful commentary on man vs. nature, Dane. It's a struggle without good and evil. Cowboy Bebop is fun, but it's nowhere near the heavy themes Myazaki is interested in. And the animation is far superior. I play my Mononoke DVD at least once a week, and I'm still not tired of looking at it.

Last Sunday's Times had an excellent feature on Anime, btw, including Mononoke, Ghost in the Shell, Bebop, and Metropolis. Read it before it's gone.
posted by muckster at 12:08 AM on January 26, 2002

Sorry, I accidentally linked to A.O. Scott's Metropolis review. The feature I mentioned is here.
posted by muckster at 12:10 AM on January 26, 2002

great article, muckster. thanks for the link.

oh yeah, here's some motivation for the people who're thinking of seeing escaflowne (i don't know much about metropolis though.). yoko kanno, the same person who worked on cowboy bebop's excellent soundtrack and captured the feel near-perfectly (i.e. Green Bird, The Real Folk Blues) also did escaflowne's. i hear that the dub of escaflowne's is also one of the better ones (much like cowboy bebop's, once again.).
posted by lotsofno at 6:23 AM on January 26, 2002

I'd be hard pressed to come up with another film, animated or not, that so stubbornly refuses to take sides

It seems I took for wishy-washyness what you took for balance and stubborness. I guess Mononoke is quite original in that it doesn't take sides, but I never felt pulled into the film as a result. I like to argue, either for or against, the philosophies presented in a movie as I watch it, and Mononoke didn't let me do that. It was too busy arguing against itself, and I felt it wasn't doing a particularly good job at it.

Of course, I've only seen Mononoke once, so I am not as familiar with it. It sounds like I missed something important.
posted by Dane at 8:12 AM on January 26, 2002

I'd give it another try, Dane. I can see what you mean about not being drawn in -- it can be frustrating to watch "Mononoke" when you're expecting the film to take sides (as pretty most other movies do). But once you start looking at how things are balanced out, it gets interesting: the way the Iron Town folks, who seem evil at first because they attack the wood demons, really act out of compassion and need (the lepers, the prostitutes), and how the wood demons and wolves have our sympathy but -- well, they're forces of nature and you might have to fight them to survive.

As Dave Kehr says: Remarkably, neither world is privileged above the other in Mr. Miyazaki's screenplay. Rather than presenting a simple, sentimental ecological fable, the film is profoundly engaged with complex, irresolvable issues.

...which, I agree, can make for disorienting viewing. There still is an argument here, but you'd have to argue against the irresolvability of the ecological issues the movie presents, i.e. find a way for everybody to get along. Or pick a side yourself, I suppose. That's where it gets tricky, and fascinating.
posted by muckster at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2002

Saw Metropolis this afternoon at the Century. Really enjoyed it - some great imagery and the mix of CG and traditional anime was cool. Not totally sure I understood the ending - but then again I'm the one that couldn't stop myself from renting Glitter this week (yes, it is horrendous and Mariah's acting is actually her smiling from passing gas). Gonna go see Escaflowne at General Cinema this coming week (that's where it is right, Chicago-ites?). Plus I gotta go see LoTR a third time.
posted by ao4047 at 8:43 PM on January 26, 2002

I thought the Escaflowne series was dreary, muddled melodrama. "Metropolis," though, wow. Very cool that they're letting us see early Tezuka.
posted by rodii at 9:05 PM on January 26, 2002

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