Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Himizu (5 Stars)

This epic film tells the tale of a 14-year-old boy struggling to find himself in a world where everyone is against him. At least, he thinks everyone is against him. He's so convinced that everyone is against him that he rejects acts of kindness from those who love him. He sees evil intentions in everyone.

So who is Sumida? Is he a mole? Or is he the Messiah?

God creates. God destroys. People dance.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Wie Feuer und Flamme (5 Stars)

I've watched this film a few times, but today is the first time that it made me cry. I don't even know why I was crying. I shed my first tears less than five minutes into the film as I watched the scene where the Berlin Wall was opened. I dried my eyes to carry on watching, but I sobbed repeatedly, right up to the final scene where Captain has abandoned his life as a punk. I'm a sentimental fool.

However, it does make me sad to see a devoted punk move on and lead a normal life just because he's older. The older I get, the more important it is for me to cling to the ideals that meant a lot to me when I was young.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Off-Topic: Internet Censorship

This is my third post on this topic this month. No, it's nothing to do with ASA this time. Now it's all about Facebook's censorship.

A 17-year-old girl at a school in Iceland, Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, who was the leader of her school's feminist society, announced that March 26th would be her school's Free The Nipple Day, to protest against the sexualisation of women's breasts. On this day all the girls in her school were encouraged to come to school topless or wearing see-through tops; at the very least they should wear no bras. Last weekend, March 21st and 22nd, there were a series of Twitter posts on the subject which turned viral and made it a national debate. First Adda's boyfriend posted on Twitter mocking her. Then she posted a topless photo of herself which led to a rash of sexist abuse. In shame she removed the photo, but her friends encouraged her to repost it. What was intended to be a local school event became a national protest: Free The Nipple Day was celebrated throughout Iceland. (Not that that means much, because only a small area of Iceland is populated). The highlight of the protest was a march of topless schoolgirls to Iceland's parliament.

Now Facebook steps in. On the evening of March 26th many of the girls involved in the protest posted photos of themselves to social media sites. Twitter, which is usually restrictive, recognised the photos as part of a genuine political protest and allowed them. Facebook, on the other hand, reacted heavy-handedly, either removing individual photos or deleting user accounts altogether. The action was defended by referring to clauses in their "Community Standards" policy, but that was just an excuse. The truth of the matter is that Facebook is a company ruled by men which intends to suppress women's rights at all costs.

A lot of the protesters say that female nipples are just the same as male nipples. Male nipples aren't sexual objects, so female nipples shouldn't be sexual objects either. I have to disagree on this. There's a big difference between male and female nipples. Female nipples are part of the breasts, and breasts do have a sexual effect on men. But all the other arguments of the feminists are valid. For centuries men have decided when women are allowed to show their breasts and when they aren't. Men are afraid of the power that women's breasts have and the effects that they have on men. For this reason men restrict the times and places where women are allowed to expose their breasts. Women are allowed to show their breasts in strip clubs, men's magazines and pornographic films, but they aren't allowed to reveal their breasts at the workplace or on the street. That would scare men, so men forbid it.

But why should men have the exclusive right over women's bodies, to say when they can and can't reveal their breasts? (I realise that I'm talking about breasts, not nipples, but that's the real issue here). Women should have a free choice. If a woman wants to cover her body, that's her choice. But if she wants to expose her breasts, or even walk completely naked, that should also be her own choice. No man should dictate to her what she can and can't do. If men feel threatened by naked breasts, they should learn to deal with it, either by looking away or by avoiding them altogether. For instance, imagine an office where one or more of the female employees sit at their desk with naked breasts. This might make it difficult for some men to concentrate on their work. The traditional patriarchal solution is to tell the women to cover themselves up. The correct way to deal with it would be to tell the men to look for another job.

A small example from my own life. A few years ago I was at a funeral wake. We were sitting in a restaurant having a meal. At some point the woman opposite me decided that her baby needed breast feeding and opened her top. This was extremely embarrassing for me. The shock of seeing a young woman bare her breasts at a funeral wake, of all places, was too much for me. But I didn't complain. I knew it was my problem, not hers. I just sat silent, blushing furiously and trying my best to look in other directions. It would have been immoral if I had told the woman to stop, as if she were to blame for my personal problems.

But this is exactly what Facebook is doing. On one day there were hundreds of photos of schoolgirls exposing their breasts. Out of embarrassment they decided to stop them. They made feeble excuses about it being illegal to show topless pictures of young girls, who were definitely under the age of 18, and maybe even younger than 16 in some cases. This wasn't about paedophiles exploiting girls by publishing under-age photos. This was about young girls exposing their nipples and saying, "This is my body. Deal with it".

This is girl power on display on the streets of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. Do you accept it? Then stand and support the girls. Are you afraid? Then crawl back into your house and let the girls take over your country. The one thing you shouldn't do is try to suppress the female revolution by using your patriarchal position of authority to suppress the girls. That's what Facebook is doing. Facebook's bans are undermining women's rights in the vilest of ways.

On an unrelated topic, due to moving house my Internet is going to be cut off today. I'm not sure what time.This will mean that I'll be absent from my blog for a few days. If I watch any films in this time, as I almost certainly will, I'll write my reviews off-line and post them when I'm reconnnected. I'll backdate the reviews to the day I watched the films, so only my regular readers who check out my blog daily will notice that I was even gone.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Scorned (2013) (2 Stars)

"Scorned" seems to be a popular name for films. According to IMDB, five films have been released with this name: one in 1994, one in 2005, two in 2010 and finally this film in 2013.

Sadie finds out that her boyfriend Kevin is cheating on her with her best friend, so she drugs him, and when he wakes up he finds himself tied to the bed. For me that was the most exciting part of the film. From then on it went downhill. Sadie sends a text from Kevin's phone to her friend to invite her round, and when she arrives she overpowers her and ties her up as well. Sadie tortures the two in the most horrible sadistic ways. I won't even begin to describe what she does. I'll just say one thing: out of all the things she does, she doesn't use scissors. So why does the English DVD box, shown above, use that picture? So strange.

I didn't actually watch the film on DVD. I saw it on Netflix today. I've been subscribing to Netflix for a few months, and mostly I use it to watch television series, but this film was recommended to me. I admit that the picture above is what attracted me to the film. It's obvious what it suggests. But as I said, there were no scissors used in the film, and I was disappointed. The torture scenes were horrific, forcing me turn away more than once.

I have a request for my readers. If you're a Netflix customer, please do a little test for me. Write down the names of your 10 favourite films. Then check how many of them are available on Netflix. Whatever the total is, between 0 and 10, write it in a comment. I don't want to know what the films are, just the result. Oh, and write what country you live in, because Netflix has different films in different countries. I'll convert the totals into a percentage, which will be Netflix's rating. To start things off, out of my top 10 films only two are available on Netflix, which gives Netflix UK a 20% rating so far.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Final Examination (3½ Stars)

Shane Newman is a good cop. He catches the bad guys, whatever it takes. Unfortunately, that sometimes means high speed car chases through the middle of Los Angeles, resulting in millions of dollars of damage. So he's transferred to Hawaii, where he can do less harm.

However quiet Hawaii might be when he arrives, murder can happen anywhere. A group of sorority sisters is celebrating their five year reunion at a luxury resort hotel, and one of them is killed on the day of their arrival. The next day a second girl is killed. Linking their deaths is an exam paper left at the scenes, stamped with the word "Failed".
I wonder what happened with Brent Huff, the actor who plays Shane Newman. This is only the second film that I've seen him in. The first was "The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak", made in 1984. I saw it in the cinema , and I was amazed by Brent's performance as the adventurer Willard. I was sure that he would become a big star. "Final Examination" was made 19 years later in 2003. What had he been doing all that time? 27 low budget films. He had the lead role in many of them, but somehow he never managed the leap into the big time. That's unfair for a man with so much talent. Since 2003 he's made another dozen films, but he's still an obscure actor. "Brent Huff? Who's that?" Sometimes I think that success in Hollywood is just a lottery.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Princess Raccoon (3 Stars)

Emperor Azuchi, who considers himself to be the world's most beautiful man, is jealous of his son Amechiyo's good looks, so he banishes him to the Kairasu mountain. The mountain is the home of shape-shifting raccoons, and when Amechiyo sees the princess of the raccoons in human form he falls in love with her. Romance is forbidden between humans and raccoons, so there is opposition from both their families.

This is a musical that is based on traditional Japanese kabuki theatre, but it incorporates modern western elements such as tap dancing and rap music. It's strange watching women in kimonos twerking. The princess is played by Zhang Ziyi, who doesn't speak Japanese, so she must have learnt her lines for the film phonetically.

It's a weird film. I don't know what to make of it. Both the story and the style are completely alien to me. I need to watch it again to make up my mind about it.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Zombie Chronicles (2 Stars)

Tara Woodley is a reporter looking for a remote town called Scopesborough which is the home to many ghost stories. She gets lost, but she picks up an old hitchhiker, Ebenezer Jackson, who promises to show her the way. They make a stop at an abandoned hut, and he tells her tales about the woodlands surrounding the town that involve zombies.

This is a low budget short film (69:19) that doesn't have a sufficiently good plot or good acting to make it worth watching. If you love zombie films it might interest you. Otherwise forget it. I was happy to see that this was one of the first films made by Beverly Lynne, but after she was killed in the first half of the film I lost interest.