film

Bit Review: Drawn Together (2004 – 2007)

Today, animated comedies are limited to family sitcom formats meshed with random cutaways. Shows such as Family Guy and The Simpsons have adapted this type of format. However, Drawn Together is a show that attempts to subvert this typical format in every way. Years ago, I remember seeing the show Drawn Together on MTV but had only seen it once on late night TV. Lucky for me, it had come up on my Amazon Prime feed and I of course binged the first and second series.

The show itself is about eight different cartoon characters placed in a house, similar to a Big Brother format, and the show follows them and their tasks. The eight characters are all different parodies on cartoon characters in media, beginning with Captain Hero, a sociopathic, perverted, pansexual spoof of Superman. Toot Braunstein, a counterpart of Betty Boop who is seen as overweight and bipolar. Foxxy Love, a counterpart of Valerie Brown from Josie and The Pussycats, ghetto and more like a caricature of a black woman in the 70s. Princess Clara is a counterpart of any Disney princess, she’s extremely religious, racist and homophobic. Wooldoor Sackbar is a parody of both Spongebob and Stimpy, being an annoying cartoon who chameleon’s different jobs and types. Xandir, who starts off as the muscly, lack of clothes hero who wanted to save his girlfriend, similar to Zelda and Link, or Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. As the series progresses he realises he is gay and most of the jokes centre of jokes referencing this such as his lack of gag reflex due to bulimia. Ling-Ling’s counterpart is Pikachu from Pokemon, but a more psychopathic and aggressive version. His comedy is more based on Japanese stereotypes being mocked. The final cast member is Spanky Ham, an original character with no counterpart, but is a crass internet download.

The show is full of pop culture references and parodies, such as the constant appearance of cartoon characters such as Daphne from Scooby Doo and Speedy Gonzales from Looney Tunes. Donald Trump, and The Apprentice (US Version) is mocked as he is portrayed as a boy child. In the first episode, “Black Chick’s Tongue” is a musical parody of Disney Aladdin’s “A Whole New World”. It’s honestly not like any other animated comedy on TV, extremely adult even compared next to South Park, or Family Guy. It covers extremely sensitive topics and uses extreme stereotypes to highlight and satirise topics in society. The show isn’t afraid to openly mock topics that are considered taboo, such as racism and homophobia. Of course, now we have shows like Rick and Morty, but Drawn Together was outstanding. I believe the show is clever and funny, but can be crass at times which makes the show seem less intelligent that it is. The show only ended up being three seasons, as it was cancelled, but they did release a movie afterwards. It’s definitely an animated comedy that has a unique perspective, and an original take on the genre.

 

DrawnTogether_SeriesHeader_1920x540

Classic Bit Review: Ikiru (1952)

Kurosawa’s first post-Occupation film, Ikiru (1952), was released in October of that year and was a huge hit in Japan both critically and commercially and in the West too. The film follows Takeshi Shimura’s character as he finds out he has a terminal illness and how he deals with it. Ikiru is also called To Live, which highlights the overall theme of the film as it is Shimura learning how to live. The film deals with the problems of bureaucracy and inefficiency of help within a community, the decay of family life and loss of respect for elders.

The film was different to his previous films, as the lead character dies half way through the film and depicts a more contemporary reading of present Japan showing families concerned with wealth and status rather than caring for their elder relatives and giving them respect. Confucianism is a way of life that China embraced, and eventually was embodied by some in Japan. The notion of the central feature of Confucianism, which revolves almost entirely around issues related to the family, morals, and the role of the good ruler. Therefore, respect for elders and family are important within Japan, as Confucianism is very strong in Japan because it affects and was affected by Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. Kurosawa emphasises this in Ikiru, as Shimura’s character is the head of his division and yet is mocked and gossiped about as he disappears from work. The disregard for family life is shown in Ikiru, as his son and daughter in law don’t respect him and constantly refer to his retirement money. The film was a success in Japan as it touched upon present day Japanese issues such as Ozu’s Tokyo Story (1953). These past ideologies that influenced Japan would have not been able to be depicted in the Occupation, as the past was discouraged and Shintoism and East Asian religions were dissuaded.

The music and the cinematography are outstanding. and the film itself is just beautiful. Shimura stars in his best role I’ve ever seen him in, he has so much dimension as a character varying from the remorseful father to a charitable member of the community. He begins as a bureaucrat whose son, and daughter in law, only want him to retire just to give them money, not respecting or caring about him. His doctors even refuse to tell him the truth, but he soon realises that he is dying. Ironically, it’s only after his diagnosis that he actually begins to enjoy and live his life as he parties with a poet and befriends a young woman. Ikiru both lifts the human spirit whilst crushing it with heartbreaking moments, such as Takashi Shimura singing the song ‘Gondola No Uta’ which makes both the audience and the people around him suddenly sympathetic.

It is my third favourite Kurosawa film, after Drunken Angel being my first and Rashomon being my second, but it’s a film that you cannot live without. There’s not much to say but it is a masterpiece that will start with a sour taste in your mouth and end with restored faith in humanity. All I can say is Shimura is timeless, and underrated as an actor, but this film lifts him up into the lead and shows of his talents as oppose to being overshadowed by Toshiro Mifune in most of his roles. Shimura both lifts the spirits of the audience, whilst simultaneously bringing it down in perfect harmony.

Bit Review: The Resident (2011)

Have you ever felt like you were being watched in your own home? Antti Jokinen’s The Resident takes this paranoia to the next level. Part produced by the renowned Hammer Films, in an attempt at reviving the once popular company. The Resident stars Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, with a special cameo from Hammer Alumni and all round people’s favourite Christopher Lee. The film follows Juliet Devereau (Swank) as she searches for a new apartment after breaking up from her boyfriend, Lee Pace, who cheated on her, in her own bed, none the less. Soon, she meets Max (Morgan) who is renovating an apartment and she loves it immediately.

However, this film isn’t the sequel to P.S. I Love You, also starring Morgan and Swank, as it is a thriller which has clear influences from Hitchcock. Almost half way through, we soon find out that Morgan’s character isn’t all he seems and that he is a strong manipulator who is obsessed with Swank. The film should’ve been called P.S. I Stalk You, as it is clear that Swank has her own personal stalker but the main question should be of the identity of Swank’s stalker.

It is tense and you definitely feel paranoid yourself during the film. Don’t watch it by yourself in the dark, as you will start hearing noises and asking yourself if your neighbour is capable of having voyeuristic tendencies. Whilst there are moments of cringe, and just uncomfortable scenes in general, the film itself is enjoyable. It’s a fun, discount version of Rear Window combined with Psycho. It has gore, suspense, sex and everything you’d expect to enjoy a film. It may not be this decade’s best thriller, but it’s an entertaining movie. You needn’t ask for more.

 

Bit Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

There are so many different versions of Spider-Man, so many that I was almost put off by the possibility of watching another. I love Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War (2016), but I was unsure if he could pull off a solo movie. The conclusion, that he can indeed do so. Not only did he pull it off but Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) actually re-awoke my love for Marvel films.

I grew up with Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in the original trilogy (2002 – 2007) which ended ultimately when he did that horrendous dance. No matter how bad the third film was, he was still my Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) starring Andrew Garfield was admirable enough but it isn’t a film I’d want to watch again. Despite the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films not being Amazing, they are still recent enough to question why we need another Spider-Man film? I of course thought, in my cynical ways, that it’s all just for Marvel Universe to rake up more money on an unnecessary film. That of course true, the film is an excellent example of how to do a smart solo superhero movie in 2017.

Tom Holland showcased a little bit of Spider-Man in the latest Captain America film and showed only a brief part of his character. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, he shows Peter Parker, the dorky genius struggling as a young man as he grapples everyday problems with his extraordinary ones. The film shows his journey from meeting Tony Stark and the Avengers, to him becoming his own identity and learning about his true strength within. It sounds cheesy and cliche but it actually fits within the film. Michael Keaton plays the villain, who is like a Tony Stark but a more self-made street version. Robert Downey Jr makes a large appearance as Iron Man, who plays his mentor and helps him throughout the film. Of course, Downey Jr is brilliant because he is Tony Stark. Happy, played by Jon Favreau, plays a big chunk in this film as he is Parker’s link to Stark and whilst he initially acts as he always in his usual defensive manner, later on in the film we see Happy with more heart and more of an actual human and not a cardboard character. The guy who steals it for me, is Parker’s best friend, Jacob Batalon who plays Ned. He was the comic relief but he also was a great partner to helping Parker. The rest of the cast were great but nothing spectacular. I loved the cameo from Captain America himself in training videos for schools and the cameo from Pepper Potts really made the film feel like a proper Marvel movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming felt more like Iron Man (2008) rather than Iron Man 2 (2010) and 3 (2013), as it felt like a solid solo movie and not just a franchise grabber.

The initial writers of the film, were of course the writers behind Horrible Bosses (2011), therefore neither of them are generic overpaid Hollywood writers. This meant that the film began with more of an underdog beginning, but meant that the magnificence of the film is a welcome surprise. The director of the film, Jon Watts, is a fresh director who only began his career a few years ago and this is his first big film. The film feels more like a James Gunn superhero film rather than like the Russo brothers or Joss Whedon. Spider-man: Homecoming reminds me more of Super (2010) mixed with the wit of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). The soundtrack added to the almost indie superhero feeling, with punk rock and the original Spider-man theme played in a nostalgic way.

The end credits nod to the Sinister Six makes the film feel more like a Spider-Man universe rather than just a Marvel one. The end credits made me excited for another Spider-Man film, not another Avengers movie. I’m not excited for the next Avengers movie for many reasons, but seeing more of Tom Holland as Spider-Man makes the chaos of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) exciting. Reasons to see this film; infinite.

 

Classic Bit Analysis: The Most Beautiful (1944)

During the Second World War, Kurosawa made indirect propaganda films which promoted ideals for the country to help the war effort. Sanshiro Sugata, Sanshiro Sugata part II (1945) and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945) are all propaganda but less literal and direct. The use of Sanshiro defeating the American boxer in the sequel acts as a subliminal propaganda tool highlighting that Japan can defeat the Americans, and that they are superior in both spirit and force. However, this wasn’t the only type of propaganda films made by Kurosawa. His second feature was a propaganda film called The Most Beautiful, and it follows a group of female volunteers who work in an optics factory developing and perfecting the scopes on weapons for soldiers. The emphasis on the female workers and the style of film-making resulted with a film that really made the audience and public sympathise with these characters and ultimately boosted moral.

The film opens with on-screen text ‘Attack and Destroy the Enemy’, see figure 8, and directly gives out a message for the audience, specifically Japan. The Most Beautiful is unashamed propaganda; it’s also a film that attempts to lift the spirits of the Japanese people on the Homefront. The simple statement that the film is a ‘movie of the people’ is inclusive, and gives the impression to the everyday person that the movie is for them. Kurosawa’s use of inclusive messages, combined with the documentary style of filmmaking gives the impression that the film is extremely personal. The documentary style features an almost non-existent musical score, and the camera is often close and feels intrusive. The film feels very cinéma vérité, and Kurosawa uses this effect for an audience response. Cinéma vérité is a documentary style which translates from French as truthful cinema, and The Most Beautiful is paraded as such. Kurosawa could’ve used a more polished and glamorous setting for the factory, and made the actresses more primped and preened. Instead, he used a style that closely resembles documentary therefore posing as a factual story of these girls in an optics factory. The truth remains, that these girls are actresses playing fictitious parts but Kurosawa has manipulated the direction to suggest to the audience that these are in fact real and relatable.

The film follows the girls of the optics factory, and their story begins with their director who releases a broadcast to the factory workers. All the workers of the factory are standing in the courtyard in a militaristic style, with their hands straight and their heads high. His message spreads that the quotas for the workers are increasing hundred percent for the men, but only fifty for the women. Naturally, the girls are upset that they are only given half of the men’s quota. Therefore, they demand a higher one and the film follows them trying to reach it. The girls go through emotional and physical exhaustion, but pull through with determination and comradery which is emphasised. The characteristics of the girls are inspirational models towards the intended audience of wartime Japan. The use of propaganda is to boost moral but also provides a source of inspiration and an ideal for the audience to aspire to be.

Instead of featuring a love interest for the female; the women are devoted to their country and Japan becomes their love interest. The female workers are highlighted as sexless, and their devotion to Japan is the key love interest and acts as a suggestion that this should be the norm for everyone during this period. Their devotion to the war effort and Japan means more than personal problems; injuries, illnesses and even the death of a close family member can’t stop any of the girls from wanting to work. Kurosawa’s use of characterising the girls as relatable to the public, and the documentary style of film-making both combine as a tool of propaganda. Instead of showing soldiers fighting against the Americans, and showing brutality and the soldiers on battlefront. Kurosawa decides against showing propaganda to encourage enlistees, as the workers on the Homefront are more likely to need a boost in moral and national pride. Therefore, the film revolves around the workers in Japan to emphasise what audience members should be striving to.

Propaganda most effectively “works on an emotional level by showing soldiers suffering and making sacrifices for the emperor and his national community” (Tezuka, 2011). By showing the workers constantly striving for excellence in making the lenses perfect, suggests the suffering the soldiers would experience if any of them slacked. The emotional response that is provoked from the audience is driven from the sacrifices that the girls make for the emperor and Japan. The women could easily be in education or be married with a family, but instead they sacrifice their lives to work for a higher cause for the country and emperor. Most of the people who had access to the movies in Japan were civilians, therefore any of these girls in the film could be their sisters, daughters or even the audience member themselves. The morals are shown as aspirational, therefore emphasises what every wartime Japanese girl should be like by the standards of the propaganda office. The relationship between the girls in the factory is something that is shown as desirable as the girls form their own family in their dorms, and their matron and the directors of the family are shown as caring parental figures in this pseudo family. The comradery is also shown as friendship as the girls plays volleyball, laugh and have fun together almost like a type of summer camp. The film doesn’t show the factory as an unpleasant place but more like a desirable place which young girls should go to and not because they are forced due to a war and their obligations.

The closest comparison to Kurosawa’s The Most Beautiful, would be the British propaganda film called Millions Like Us (1943) directed by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. Millions Like Us follows British female factory workers and shows the friendship and loyalty that develops amongst the workers, but the film also shows a love story and how the Nazi Germans destroyed their happiness whilst Kurosawa’s film shows their devotion to their country and to their friends rather than a romance. The Most Beautiful was an obvious success for the propaganda office as it portrayed what they believed workers should be like during the war. The Most Beautiful is an anomaly in Kurosawa’s work as it feels unlike his style or signature such as the use of frequent axial cuts or fast editing techniques such as the wipe. Kurosawa’s usual themes such as heroic champion and weather to show a change in the scene are not present in this film which make it seem not at all like his style. The film isn’t fun to watch in the sense that it criticises the West and specifically Britain and America, but the film-making techniques and the comradry from the girls makes it interesting to watch. If you’re a Kurosawa fan, maybe give it a watch, but if you’re a film fan in general then definitely watch it.

 

Classic Bit Review: Sanshiro Sugata Pt I (1943)

Akira Kurosawa’s debut picture, Sanshiro Sugata, debuted during the Second World War. Sanshiro Sugata was Kurosawa’s first feature film that was greenlit to shoot and did not have any immediate cuts to the script. Prior to even starting with the idea of Sanshiro Sugata, Kurosawa had written another script a few years’ prior and he had trouble with the Japanese film industry itself. By 1943, Kurosawa was established as a credible screenwriter and assistant director thereforeif he himself had trouble trying to find a script for his directorial debut, as the strict censorship due to the war  already affected his decisions as a filmmaker.

 Sanshiro Sugata is a combination of two different genres, jidaigeki and gendaigeki. Both genres are considered safe choices for filmmakers during this time as they promote nationalistic Japanese views and are anti-western films. Film censors in Japan during this time are more likely to accept films that promote Japanese ideals rather than Western morals, therefore a film that highlights Japan’s history would correct the influence from films that aren’t Japanese. Sanshiro Sugata follows a Japanese protagonist, with the same name, who already has strength and power butlearn to become patient, honourable and make sacrifices for the greater good. Sanshiro isn’t a rich man, and has flaws and traits that make an everyday character for the Japanese public. He begins as an everyday man who goes to a respectable Judo Dojo to learn to train to be the greatest, but upon joining they are suddenly defeated in battle by Gennosuke Higaki. Selfishly, he leaves his Dojo to follow the man. He eventually returns to the Dojo and the Dojo master reprimands him. 

Sanshiro (played by Susumu Fujita), who is determined to prove that he is honourable, jumps into a pond and only has a stake to keep him above the icy water. It’s during this time that he begins to transition into the character he needs to be. As he stares at a single pure blossom, he begins to realise that he has been selfish and there is more to life than becoming a champion. He finally leaves the pond, and begins his repentance and punishment. The film ends with Sanshiro finally battling Higaki, and he demands a battle to the death, but Sanshiro refuses to kill him and moves on.

The film features a lot of characteristics deemed desirable for people during the war to serve as propaganda. However, the film still features some of Kurosawa’s traits such as the use of weather and editing techniques such as cut on motion and wipes. Despite it being short, and the lighting is off in most of the exterior shots, the film is enjoyable and fun to watch. The loyalty and honour that Sanshiro develops feels deserved as the audience goes along with him, and the budding romance between Sanshiro and Sayo (Yukiko Todoroki) is subtle but adorable. 

The film was cut almost twenty minutes therefore it is safe to assume that the lost footage was part of Kurosawa’s creativity and hindered his work. Kurosawa had many restrictions before and after filming Sanshiro Sugata, but the film was a success and he was approached to do a propaganda film for the war effort, The Most Beautiful. If you like martial arts movies, or are a fan of Kurosawa, then definitely watch this as it’s a treat. 

Diana Dors: Britain’s Answer to Marilyn Monroe?

Diana Dors is not a name that you hear quite often, unless you divulge into Britain’s film industry from the 50s to the 60s. Marilyn Monroe, however is a name that almost everyone on the planet would know and even more so recognise. So, why do people know of Monroe and not Dors? Dors had a passion for acting, and even enrolled in Ranks “Charm School” in which he perfected her image and talent into an alternative to challenge Hollywood. 

Despite being a natural brunette, Dors dyed her hair blonde and started acting after the Second World War. Whilst she wanted to be known by her talent, her husband’s choice of roles and overall image projected of Dors led her roles to consist of mainly sex comedies, or simply comedies in which she plays the sexualised woman. During her time at LAMDA, she excelled herself and tried to challenge her acting style. Even auditioning for Powell/Pressburger’s Black Narcissus, she didn’t get the part as it went to Jean Simmons but this showed that she had mind-set and ambition to become a great actress. In regards to her comparison to Monroe which would hurt her career as many would only see her as a comparison to Monroe instead of an individual. The comparison itself hurt her career vastly, but there is an argued other factor into why Dors has been slightly forgotten by present day audiences.

One of the main reasons into why Dors is more compared to Monroe and not a distinguished actress by her own talent, is her taste in men. In her movies, she was often the victim of men in either a physical or psychological way and that resonated in her personal life as well. It’s renowned by the British media and people who knew Dors, that her husband and that he heavily influenced her choices and often hindered her career. After her tremendous part in Yield to the Night, in which she plays the role incredibly and is without a doubt highlighting her talent; she did go to the US and had the potential to make it big. Diana was offered a Hollywood contract but turned down the executives advances, showing that she either had internal integrity or the iron thumb of her husband Hamilton had a major stronghold on her. Despite the fact that She pre-dated Monroe as an actress in The Shop At Sly Corner, by 1955 Monroe was a star. From this point onwards Britain looked towards Dors as their own Monroe. Dors wowed audiences in Yield To The Night but never managed to get passed her roles as a blonde bombshell or femme fatale. She had a starring role in the US film The Unholy Wife but again finds herself in a similar role as the previous film as she again is a femme fatale type character who kills in a crime of passion and ultimately gets justice thrust upon her.

In David Miller’s Hammerhead in 1968, whilst Dors was still an actress and in a serious film; her role was minor and the part of a mistress. Her role in 1952 in Terrance Fisher’s The Last Page was a more serious and important role despite her being not the leading lady; it was a distinctive improvement from her later role in Hammerhead. Despite the fact her role was more significant in The Last Page, in both films she ultimately is a character that is easily killed off. In the US, The Last Page is called Man Bait instead and leads the audience to believe that she is cause of mayhem and that she is more of a sex object rather than an incidental accomplice. The tag line on the post states that “the cards are stacked against any man who falls for her kind” implying that she is a woman who just devours men for her own gain, when in actual fact she is more or less being used by men herself. Her manager makes advances to her, and her lover makes her blackmail her manager. It’s easier to observe that she herself is more a victim in this film, yet this film is more progress for her than Hammerhead.

Dors had a billing role by 1950 in Charles Crichton’s Dance Hole whilst Monroe still had small uncredited role in Right Cross. Yet, today people are more interested in the iconography on Monroe instead of Dors. Monroe is seen as an icon in society and is a figure many know. It can be concluded that there are many reasons into why Dors hasn’t reached that status, especially overseas. From her choice in men to her integrity, or even that Britain themselves didn’t have the system that Hollywood had. The rank system tried, but was not as effective. One thing is definitely for certain, that her lack of talent was definitely not a problem. Hopefully, there shall be a resurgence in today’s culture watching more British films and Dors, and many other great British talents shall be admired to the status they deserve.

Yield-to-the-Night-6.jpg

Classic Bit Review: I Live In Fear (1955)

Perhaps regarded as the worst Kurosawa film in his impressive catalogue, and also known as Record of a Living Being or 生きものの記録. The film follows the family patriarch, played by Toshiro Mifune, who suffers a mental breakdown post World War II and post Atomic Bombings. In efforts to save his family from the catastrophic effects of the bombs, he attempts to move his family, both his legitimate family and his mistress, to Brazil. However, his family take him to a family court in which Takashi Shimura plays the mediator who must decide if Mifune is really crazy or just being cautionary.

The film is not an enjoyable experience, it feels unpolished and not at all in line with Kurosawa’s style. The use of Mifune in makeup, and his acting as an older man is comedic but it doesn’t fit into the setting. He seems like a caricature in a dramatic piece. Perhaps with Shimura in this role, as he is a more mature and a better fit in the role. The film feels unfinished and almost rushed, this combined with the date of its release doesn’t give much for audiences. The film was released only ten years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and people hadn’t had a chance to properly grieve or even process the trauma of those events due to censorship from the US Occupation. The film was later praised for this, but it was a lost sentiment as the film didn’t eloquently present this emotion as much as it should.

The film was originally supposed to be a comedy, but due to the death of Kurosawa’s friend and collaborator, Fumio Hayasaka, it was changed to a drama. As a huge Kurosawa fan, I appreciate the message and sentiment but the film doesn’t reflect his genius or style. The most memorable part of the film is the pondering of whether or not the people who are pretending that they aren’t afraid are the crazy ones or perhaps the patriarch who openly proclaims his fears. Definitely watch if you are a Kurosawa fan, but be prepared.

Bit Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

A Wonder Woman movie is something that seemed impossible a few years ago. The era of female superheroes movies such as Elektra (2005) and Catwoman (2004) stumped the progression of female superhero movies. Wonder Women (2017), perhaps the most famous female superhero of all time only has had success in comics and animated movies, and the only live action adaption that was remotely successful was the TV series, of the same name, (1975 – 1979) starring Linda Carter. A failed pilot a few years ago, and a script by Joss Whedon seemed to be the closest that fans would get to a movie.
 
That was until Patty Jenkins had found the perfect Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot. The film which initially faced criticism before even being released from audience members both DC and Marvel fans. However, Wonder Woman is unlike any other DC film before it. The film has something for everyone, it has the historical aspect of the First World War for history buffs, the mythological and fantasy bits, the smart wit and power of females for feminist and female empowerment and the use of equal representation in the film to provide inspiration for everyone.
 
I was unsure of Gal Gadot’s casting when it was first announced as I believed Wonder Woman, Aka Diana of Themyscira, was supposed to be a more athletic and taller woman. However, after her cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) I was suddenly turned around and excited for the film. She is the perfect casting, beautiful, smart and bad-ass. Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor and he is just as incredible as her, making me question who is the best American Soldier named Steve, Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers (Captain America) and Steve Trevor. The ensemble are fantastic too, as the comic sidekicks are bad-ass in their own right, and the love and comradery from their group of misfits is heartwarming and shows that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, that in the end we are humans and should stand together.
 
I found myself wanting more as I finished, during the two hour run I was not bored once and found myself at a loss when it ended. I was devastated their wasn’t a post credit scene, but that just left me wanting more. I hope that their will be an extended director’s cut when the film is released. The main Wonder Woman theme by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL is just perfect and encapsulates everything of Wonder Woman. I cannot wait for the sequel, and The Justice League movie and I hope this is a start for female superhero films. With Joss Whedon’s own Batgirl predicted to start pre-production soon it raises hope for fans of the comics and and a source of inspiration for young woman who want a role model in the form of a superhero. Now, let’s hope the Gotham Sirens is gonna happen. It’s time for a trio of hardcore and cool women from Gotham city to take over the screens. I think we’re overdue for a sultry Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn possible romance.

Bit Analysis: Rashomon (1950)

Rashōmon, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is a Japanese film made in 1950 and it was also “Based on a 1921 story by Ryunosuke Aakutagawa entitled ‘In a Grove'” (Pramaggiore and Wallis, 2005). The film follows an enquiry into the murder of a Samurai and the rape of his wife. The story is told by a Priest and a Woodcutter as they recount the testimonies given by the Bandit (who raped and killed the Samurai), the Wife, the Samurai (through the use of a medium as he is deceased) and the Woodcutter. Despite being praised in the West, it was not received entirely well by its native home of Japan as Kurosawa wrote in his autobiography in 1982 “I did not even know that Rashomon had been submitted to the Venice Film Festival … It was like pouring water into the sleeping ears of the Japanese film industry…Why is it that Japanese people have no confidence in the worth of Japan?”, in which Kurosawa questions Japanese people and their own view of home grown talent.

 

The film opens with a sign in Japanese highlighting the title of the film, cutting to different images of the bridge with opening credits over them. As the film begins we are given the story of the film which is that three men are stuck in an abandoned bridge during a rain storm as they recount a murder trial and the crime that led up to that. The plot of the film is the outline of the story but in more extensive detail and development; therefore the plot is that these men are recollecting a trial from earlier in the day about the murder of a Samurai and the rape of his wife. Furthermore, there are three key witnesses in the trial and the Woodcutter’s own testimony which has been extended after the trial itself.

 

The Screen Duration of Rashōmon is relatively short to the standard of movies today as it is 88 minutes long, however it also is short in relation to films during this time as Kurosawa’s The Idiot (which is his next film after Rashōmon) is 166 minutes long which is over 2 hours. Despite that the duration of Rashōmon is just over an hour; both story and plot duration are between 3 days. The film therefore successfully manages to manipulate film techniques in relation to storytelling as 88 minutes is turned into 3 days with the use of editing techniques to represent flashbacks. The plot and story duration take place over 3 days as the film begins on the evening of the trial; the characters recount the story to 3 days ago to how the Woodcutter and the Priest both saw the victims beforehand. After these two tell how they found the body of the Samurai; they move time back to the morning of the present day as the trial was this day. During the trial the Bandit, the Wife and the Samurai (through a medium) recount back to 3 days ago to how event of the crime itself. Once all these accounts have been told by the Woodcutter to the Commoner; he has a further recount himself which ago goes back to 3 days ago. The film ends back in the present day of the film as each story has been told and nothing more has to be recounted. The use of manipulation to enhance the story and plot duration is extremely effective as it leaves the audience in the dark and having to follow the film to see how the plot unravels. The audience know as much as the Commoner, therefore the discovery of each story in accordance to flashbacks during recounting is valuable as it is an innovative way of revealing information.

 

Despite the use of flashbacks which are clearly non-chronological; the order of flashbacks follow some chronological order as each recount is given in order of who gave it at the trial. Of course, the events are shuffled as they are not shown in chronological order as if it was formatted this way then the film would start with the Priest seeing the characters before-hand. Then, the film would show the actual events that happened at the crime scene followed by the trial and the men discussing it. The effect of this would not be as effective as the way Kurosawa presented Rashōmon, the film would not only be shorter and less intriguing but also not present such factors as morality and the effect of self-preservation. The style in which Kurosawa used highlights the film to be more captivating and fascinating as this style leads audiences to be piece together the result of the end of the trial and more specifically suggests that audiences are more intelligent than perceived. Kurosawa treats his audience as equal intelligence by his smart use of storytelling via flashbacks.

 

The film recount is from the Bandit and his recounted enactment explains that he captured the Samurai, seduced his wife and she persuaded him to kill the Samurai after an honourable and brave battle between the two. Then we are given another perspective in the form of the wife and victim of the rape. She expresses herself as weak and that the Bandit raped her, she then tried to kill herself but helplessly fainted only to find her husband dead. The third account is given through a medium expressing the deceased Samurai’s account. He explains that his wife was seduced by the Bandit, afterwards neither the Bandit nor Samurai wanted her therefore he was set free and killed himself due to shame. This is where the audience believe the trial ends and there are no more enacted recounts; this is not true as the Woodcutter was secretly there and he begins to tell his perspective. The final recollection of the same event explains that the Bandit raped the woman yet begged her to run away with him and to try and honour her. The wife in the Woodcutter’s story is more manipulative as she manages to make the Bandit and the Samurai fight despite their initial protests and detestation of her. When the fight is recounted by the Woodcutter, he explains that the fight was not noble or brave as both men seemed afraid of each other and the Samurai even begged for his life. Another thing seen through the Woodcutter’s recollection is that the wife was initially manipulative but turned into fear as the men began to fight and the Bandit was soft towards the woman after his act of horror and not as vicious as the legends thought he was. These highlight that multiple recounted enactments were crucial into not only getting to understand the crime more but also in suggesting more in-depth discussions about humans themselves.

 

Rashōmon is beyond a doubt an incredible film. The obvious reasoning behind this was not only the revolutionary editing techniques but the innovative use of focalization and manipulation of narrative time. Kurosawa was one of the pioneers to truly use this technique and the film was so monumental itself that it even developed the Rashōmon effect in which explains that there are more than one different accounts for one single event. Rashōmon was also remade by the USA with their own version again emphasising the use of focalization and manipulation of time. One thing that is clear from this film that it was clearly ahead of its time and is now regarded as one of the most creative and most influential films due to the genius of Kurosawa. Rashōmon is a must see for film fans, and if you haven’t had chance to begin your Kurosawa viewing, start with this.

 

unspecified-1468621109-726x388