Saturday, March 29, 2014

Midair Movie Marathon: Four Flights, Seven Movies

Before I get into the meaty series of posts that will be my CNY travelogue for 2014- meaty in that I've decided to split the thing into separate posts for each city/country: Munich (Germany), Vienna and Salzburg (Austria), and Budapest (Hungary), I've decided to do a bitty write-up on the movies I watched en-route to and from Europe. Hopefully this will turn out to be somewhat therapeutic for me, having finished two long, tiring, and ridiculously overdue travelogues for my solo journey across Japan in Dec-Jan (look at my previous posts). In case you're wondering- this isn't going to be much of a review, but mostly just me saying random things about each film, with some light summaries peppered in. Without any further ado, here's the first, after the break.

#1: Chuugakusei Maruyama (Maruyama, The Middle Schooler/中学生円山: 2013)
This film focuses on middle schooler Maruyama Katsuya's daily life. Most kids his age have countless silly thoughts running through their minds, but Maruyama is somewhat different in that he seems to believe (or greatly wants to) that his delusions are real. He imagines that his new neighbor is a killer, the Korean repairman is a hired assassin... The truth however is somewhat weirder, as is the rest of his neighborhood (not to mention his family).  

What I thought: 
Maruyama isn't particularly likable, with the ridiculous goal behind his nightly exercise, his silly daydreams concerning his family- but it's funny how he becomes somewhat more likeable when he grows up a bit by the end, after having his delusions smashed by a stranger (but more sensible) reality. I'm not sure what to think of his love interest though- she seemed rather flaky. It's also amazing how the makeup team made pretty boy Kusanagi Tsuyoshi from SMAP into the dorky neighbor Shimoi... (•⊙ω⊙•)

What the guy sitting beside me must have thought:
"This guy next to me must be a pedophile. Why else would he be watching a movie about a horny 14 year (I think) old boy and his erotic fantasies about his classmate. Oh look that girl's wearing a school swimsuit. Damnit I'm calling the cops on him as soon as we land... oh wait should I blame the airline instead, for screening this? Ah, I'll just down more alcohol and try to forget what I just saw..."
#2: Not Another Happy Ending (2013)
I was in the mood for something lighthearted and somewhat romantic, to fill the hole in my heart (just kidding)- and I figured that it would be interesting to watch a movie set in Scotland for a change. This one's about amateur writer Jane Lockhart, and her rocky relationship with publisher/editor Tom Duvall. Jane's main problem is that she only seems able to write well when she's utterly miserable, and the success of her first book puts both of them in a spot. Tom embarks on a plan to make her miserable, which becomes problematic for him as he begins to realize that he has fallen in love with her.

What I thought:
Sweet at times, and then painful at others, this one was quite an emotional whirlwind- and yet I felt as if Tom didn't torture Jane enough. It just wasn't long enough, and felt somewhat rushed. Tom's distress when the truth came out was hard to watch. Everything was wrapped up rather nicely in the end though. I do relate a bit to Jane though, in that I feel that I write best when at an emotional high (either cloyingly delighted or downright depressed). What about my writing at all other times, you ask? This post is your answer, then.

What the guy sitting beside me must have thought:
"What a sap, watching this girly movie... that male lead's such a wimpy pretty boy too."
#3: Escape Plan (2013)
Time to fill up the testosterone tank. This one stars Rocky and the Terminator (because I'm too lazy to type out their full names) as two guys who find themselves forming a partnership of necessity to escape (duh) from a maximum security secret prison.

What I thought:
What's there to say. It's an action movie. Fistfights, guns, explosions. Standard fare for the genre. It's not going to end up as an 'iconic' film like Rocky or Terminator. Not the kind of film that I'd pay money to watch in a cinema.

What the guy sitting beside me must have thought:
"Not bad at all! Though it would have been cooler if they had bigger guns. More explosions, less talking would have been nice. They didn't have enough cool one liners too. Too bad the prison wasn't co-ed though, would have loved to see some hot chicks in there ooh yeah babeh."
#4: Hidamari no Kanojo (Girl in the Sunny Place/陽だまりの彼女: 2013)
A well paced, sweet romance between two former classmates who reunited after years apart- salesman Okuda Kousuke and designer Watarai Mao.

What I thought:
That's the shortest summary I've wrote in this post (up to this point, at least). It's hard to say anything else about the plot without spoiling anything. Having said that, that's not something to hold against Hidamari, and I'm glad that I chose to watch this film. The budding relationship between the two was just beautiful and delightful to watch, and the challenge they faced in the end had me tearing up. It was especially intense for me as the in-flight entertainment system was turned off for landing, and I had to wait for some two or three hours for the connecting flight, not knowing if this film would be on the playlist or not. Luckily, it was- back to trying to hold in my tears. I correctly guessed what the twist would be, but it was still shocking nonetheless. Out of all the films on this list, this would be the first one that I'd recommend.

What the guy sitting beside me must have thought:
He didn't have time to think much. I slapped him before he could say anything to put down this film. He complained to the stewardesses, but they gave him the cold shoulder, and gave me tissue and a drink to rehydrate. 
#5: Machete Kills (2013)
An absolutely ridiculous 'action/comedy' movie about a super(violent)man called "Machete" and his quest to save the world from a rich psychopath with the ability to see into the future.

What I thought:
I'll be honest. I only watched this movie because I noticed that Lady Gaga has a role in it, and I was mildly curious as to what role she would play in it. She didn't have to do anything much beyond looking sexy. As for the rest of the show- Machete (Danny Trejo) shoots and decapitates his way through an army of drug dealers, super soldier clones, and spacemen, partly to avenge his murdered partner, and to obtain American citizenship. The film was nothing but extreme violence and gore, accompanied by boobs (both the clothed, and intellectually challenged types). What annoyed me most was that after sitting through all that nonsense, the film upped the ante by increasing the nonsense level by turning it into a Star Wars clone- and then saying "TO BE CONTINUED". I'd be surprised if they actually get to make a sequel.

What the guy sitting beside me must have thought:
- he sobs- "Ah, a work of art! Trejo puts Arnold and Sylvester to shame. This is how it's done! Don't you see, my boy, this is the pinnacle of film-making!"
#6: Gravity (2013)
Astronauts Ryan (Sandra Bullock) and Matt (George Clooney) fight for their lives as their mission goes awry after the Russians irresponsibly blow up one of their old satellites.

What I thought:
I suppose this movie should really be watched on a larger screen, and not on the back of someone's head (technically speaking). That being said, I suppose squinting helped to even out the ratio. I'm not convinced as to how Gravity could win so many Oscars. Why does Sandra Bullock's character have such a misleading name? On the other hand I'm completely convinced that the snide comment I read prior to watching the film, that Clooney let go because he couldn't bear to be with Bullock any longer, is entirely true. I'd have told her to shut up instead of drift off, but hey.

What the guy sitting beside me must have thought:
He got bored 10 minutes in and watched Sharknado instead, mumbling something about revenge, minced shark pie, and fly fishing in the Indies.
#7: Shazai no Ousama (The Apology King/謝罪の王様: 2013)
Kurojima Ryoro runs the Tokyo Apology Center, a business aimed at helping people get out of sticky situations by apologizing. His cases are fairly run of the mill, but everything starts to escalate after a case where he helps a lady who just returned from overseas to apologize to the Yakuza.

What I thought:
Hilarious, crazy, nonsensical. This is one of those shows where all the loose ends start to tie up in the end, but it does a good job in concealing it, unlike other shows where you see the loose ends heading for the center point like driver-less incoming trains. It comes as a surprise, and is neatly done- each case that Kurojima takes up turns out to be one part of the puzzle.

What the guy beside me must have thought:
"Wimpy apologist Japanese, apologizing for every little thing. If you can't sue, shoot!"

fin. And that's it. In case you're wondering, although there was a 'guy beside me', his thoughts and my violent action toward him are completely fictional. He is based on my stereotypical image of a gwailo redneck fresh out of a Texas State Penitentiary. No offence was meant to any rednecks/Texans/ex-convicts, and no actual physical harm was done either. This is probably my first time conjuring up a fictional character to, ah, engage in dialogue with- it was definitely an amusing experience. Maybe I should bring him back as a recurring character, and give him a name at that...

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