The Garden of Words Review: Makoto Shinkai’s Most Beautiful Film.

4 stars
Aside from Your Name, the Mokoto Shinkai film I have heard the most praise for is The Garden of Words.
And, with me quickly becoming a Shinkai fan after loving both Your Name and his most recent film, Weathering With You, I knew I had to check it out.
Now, when I started watching, I was surprised at the short runtime the film, which is only 46 minutes, but my concern about this quickly faded with the first few shots of the film.
It was at this moment when my jaw hit the literal floor.
I know that I, and many others, have said way too much that the animation of Shinkai’s films are jaw dropping but, honestly, that statement is entirely warranted when it comes to The Garden of Words.
I would go as for to say that this film is not just Shinkai’s most beautifully animated film but one of the most beautifully animated films I have ever seen.
It is so amazing that I actually mistook a shot of a branch hanging over the water to be real initially.

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Does this look real to you? Because it did for me for a couple seconds.

But enough gushing about the animation; what about the story?
Well, it could have been very easy for The Garden of Words to stumble with this.
The anime follows a 15-year-old student named Takao Akizuki (Wataru Sekine) who meets a 27-year-old teacher named Yukari Yukino (Kana Hanazawa) at a lakeside garden in the rain.
The two begin to meet in the same place whenever it rains and Takao soon begins to develop feelings for Yukari.
This could easily have made the film weird for me.
If you read my review of Violet Evergarden, you know the only problem I had was that the relationship between the titular character and her love interest, Gilbert was pretty problematic due to the fact that Violet is only 14, and Gilbert is 29.
I could have easily had the same problem with The Garden of Words, considering that Takao is both a year older than Violet and also that Yukari is a teacher at his school.
Thankfully, though, I did not find the depiction of Takao’s feelings for Yukari to be problematic because Shinkai depicted them as that, problematic.
The problems of the connection the two have is perfectly portrayed by Yukari’s sad past, which should leave those watching who support a romance between the two knowing that if that did happen it would make trouble for both of them.
As a result, The Garden of Words depicts a somewhat tragic romance story that fully realizes and plays into its complicated nature.

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The growing bond between Takao and Yukari is sweet, endearing, and (thankfully) complicated.

Coming back to the short runtime of the film, I think it would be interesting to see what the anime would be like if it had been longer.
It works fine as it is but I feel like I could have related to the characters and their struggles more if Shinkai had extended the runtime a bit more and given us more scenes between the two.
Still, The Garden of Words is another great Shinkai film, and one with such a focus on feet that it made me feel like I watching a Tarantino movie… only, you know, without the bloody violence.
And, while I do not find it as enjoyable or moving as Your Name or Weathering With You, its animation is absolutely spectacular.
If you like to analyse the standards of animation you need to watch The Garden of Words because (even though this has been said to death by this point) your jaw will hit the floor.

Violet Evergarden Review: Prepare to Cry.

4 and a half stars
Well, this left me an emotional wreck.
Seriously, I had heard what a tearjerker Kyoto Animation’s Violet Evergarden was but that in no way prepared for the multiple cry inducing episodes.
Directed by Taichi Ishidate, and based off the light novel written by Kana Akatsuki, the anime is set in the complicatedly named, fictional country of Leidenschaftlich, which is dealing with the aftermath of a war.
The story follows the titular Violet Evergarden (Yui Ishikawa, the voice of Mikasa from Attack on Titan), a child soldier who lost both her arms in the war and knows only of orders, and nothing of emotions.
After the death of her commanding officer, the only person she had feelings for, which she does not understand, Violet decides she wants to discover what “I love you” means.
To help learn this, Violet decides to use her mechanical arms to become an Auto Memory Doll, someone who ghostwrites for a person who cannot put their feelings into words.
From here the anime takes an episodic approach as Violet writes for multiple people, resulting in tear inducing episode after tear inducing episode.
Episode ten in particular is an emotional gut punch.

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You will often find yourself crying alongside the characters in Violet Evergarden.

If you are not crying at the end of that episode, like I was, then I would wonder if you are as emotionally separated as Violet at the beginning of the series.
Speaking of Violet, I have heard some people criticize her for being completely emotionless in the first few episodes, thus, making her unable to relate to.
Personally, I found this be untrue.
While Violet does indeed appear to be lifeless in the first few episodes, with her constant deadpan expression, this ties into her inexperience with feeling emotions and, as she grows throughout the season, you see a change in her.
When you compare how Violet is from the beginning of the season to the end, the difference is like night and day.

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Violet’s journey to discover what “I love you” means takes her from being an emotionless doll to a feeling human being.

Accompanying Violet’s great character arc, through this emotional story, is the fantastic animation.
My jaw dropped on multiple occasions in the first few episodes because of how amazing it all looked.
The animators definitely deserve applause.
There is one aspect of Violet Evergarden that I did find to be problematic, though.
This was the relationship between Violet and her superior officer, Gilbert Bouganvillea (Daisuke Namikawa).
It is revealed in episode five that Violet is only 14 years old, and, concerned by this, I went to check online and, yep, Glibert is 29.

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The fact that Gilbert is 29 while Violet is 14 makes their potential relationship problematic for me.

Now, I know their relationship is not technically illegal because the legal age of consent in Japan is 13 but, for someone who comes from a country where that age is 16, I find their relationship to be slightly creepy.
It was only slightly because the relationship does not feel exploitative but rather just the writers exploring a relationship that is legal in their country.
All in all, the nature of Violet and Gilbert’s connection left me with conflicting feelings because of this.
Again, I understand it is legal but Violet’s age still bothers me, and I wish they would have made her a bit older to clear up this feeling.
However, despite my issues with the main relationship, Violet Evergarden is still a masterful work.
It has a fantastic story, with amazing characters and themes, all supported by gorgeous animation.
This all combines to create a brilliant anime that will make you cry multiple times.
Unfortunately, season two has been delayed due to the tragic Kyoto Animation arson attack but, hopefully, they can bounce back and deliver another great season in memorial for all the lives lost.

The Dark Crystal Movie Review: The Puppet Film that Traumatized Many Children.

4 stars
After watching the prequel series to Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s The Dark Crystal movie on Netflix, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, I decided to check out that original film again.
It had been a long time since I had seen the film.
I think I was about eight the first time I watched it with my dad, and I have fond memories of it giving me nightmares of melting Skeksis faces.
In any case, the fact I remembered quite a bit about it years after watching it shows how well crafted of a film The Dark Crystal is.
The story is set in the fantasy world of Thra, where a young Gelfling named Jen (voiced by Stephen Garlick), who is thought to be the last of his kind, is sent on a mission to heal the Dark Crystal and stop the Skeksis from ruling the world.

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Jen is given his quest by his old Mystic master.

Along the way, he surprisingly encounters another Gelfling, named Kira (voiced by Lisa Maxwell), who joins him on his quest.
The big thing that separates The Dark Crystal from other fantasy stories is that all of its characters are portrayed by puppets, which are amazing for the time.
Although, sometimes it can be a bit uncanny, the puppetry is great for the Skeksis, especially the Chamberlain (voiced by Barry Dennen) who has perfect facial expressions.
And, just like the prequel series, the Chamberlain is my favourite character.
He was the character I remembered the most coming into that series and there is a reason for that.
He is such a weasel in the film, being one of cinema’s greatest backstabbers, in my opinion.

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The Chamberlain’s puppetry is surprisingly expressive, highlighting his duplicitous nature perfectly.

The lore of The Dark Crystal is also great, with the connection between the Skeksis and their counterparts the Mystics being highly interesting.
That does not mean the film is flawless, however, because I did have one big issue after watching it.
That issue is Jen, who is quite a bland protagonist.
He is the typical, chosen one who does not really do all that much.
In all honesty, he pretty much gets helped the entire way and does almost nothing until the end.

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Kira has to do everything for Jen, making her the more capable character.

Still, the problems with Jen do not limit this film’s grand scale and other interesting characters, helped by the magnificent puppetry.
The Dark Crystal is a great fantasy film, with a lot of imagination behind it.
I just feel sad after watching this again, now knowing for sure that the prequel series can only end in tragedy.

Attack on Titan Chapter 121, Future Memories, Review: Eren is a Monster.

5 stars
One of the things I love about Attack on Titan is how it presents scenes with simple meanings and then expands on them years later, giving them a completely new and much more interesting context.
Such can be seen in Chapter 121, “Future Memories”, which expands on numerous moments from the series in the best way possible.
Who would have thought that the scene where Eren saw his father’s memory of killing the Reiss family, when he kissed Historia’s hand, would go on to contain one of the most pivotal reveals of the manga so far?
Well, it does because it is revealed in this chapter that the Attack Titan has the ability to interact with memories from the past and the future.
This results in Eren convincing Grisha to kill the Reiss family and then showing him a memory of a “terrifying” future, which Eren ended up seeing all the way back when he kissed Historia’s hand.
So, Eren has known for four years what will happen because of his actions.
This gives so much new meaning to not only that scene from Chapter 90 but to every other scene with Eren leading up to Chapter 121.
Remember the ocean scene where Eren talked about them killing their enemies so they can be free?
Now we know Eren said that not because he thinks he will have to do it but because he knows he will have to do it, based on what he has seen.
It has finally been revealed why Eren was such a different character post time skip.
This also basically confirms exactly what Eren is planning to do with the Founding Titan power; initiate the Rumbling to destroy the entire world so Paradis can be safe.
Although this has yet to be officially confirmed, it all adds up.
It is further supported in this chapter by Grisha saying that Eren’s dream is “such a terrifying thing.”
This, in no uncertain terms, makes Eren a monster.
Even if his reasoning behind this act is to save all of his friends, he still appears to be planning to kill literally billions of people to make that happen.
Just because his reasoning is not monstrous does not mean his actions are not.
His goal appears to be so extreme that it even got me to support Zeke over him for a second.
Let me reiterate that, Hajime Isayama actually got me to temporarily support a plan that involves sterilizing an entire race of people because it is the lesser of two evils.
That is how complex the story has become; basically showing that no matter how this story ends it will not be the happily ever after many, including myself, are desperately hoping for.
No, it will most likely end with Eren destroying the world to keep his friend safe.
Eren doing it for this reason is epitomized by him not paying attention to Zeke because he is too busy staring at the moment he wrapped his scarf around Mikasa’s neck, showing he still cares for her.
However, the best character of the chapter is not Eren or Zeke; but Grisha.
I love what Isayama has done with his character.
Grisha is dead and yet Isayama still finds ways to constantly expand on his character through his memories.
Seeing that Eren had to be the one to push him to murder the Reiss family; because he initially could not bring himself to do it, is very hard hitting.
What is the most emotional scene by far, though, is when Grisha finally sees Zeke and tearfully apologizes for the way he treated him.
He then hugs Zeke and tells him he loves him.
This moment had me in tears.
It is such an emotionally impactful scene that has been building up for a while now.
And the fact that I still sympathize enough with Grisha and Zeke to cry at their reconciliation, despite all the terrible things they have done, shows how brilliant they are as characters.
The scene even leads to Grisha begging Zeke to stop Eren from initiating his plan.
However, this is where my one potential issue with the chapter lies.
This issue is a plot hole because if Grisha wanted to stop Eren then why did he go on to give him the Founding and Attack Titan?
Granted, this is only a potential issue at the moment because it could be explained later.
After all, Eren does tell Zeke that he did not get to see the memory where he ate Grisha; so there could be something to do with this memory that explains Grisha’s actions.
Whatever the case, Zeke takes his father’s advice of stopping Eren and orders Ymir to sterilize all Eldians.
The chapter ends with Eren breaking free of his chains and running to stop her.
What this will result in is anyone’s guess but I personally think it could lead to us seeing Ymir’s memories if Eren comes into contact with her.
Given how I was completely wrong about everything else that would happen in this chapter, though, I would not be surprised if Isayama blew my mind in a completely different way.
One final thing to note before I get into my overall thoughts is that I have no idea how this series can make me laugh when so many dark things happen in it.
The moment when Zeke sees Freida talking about how they should perish, and then he talks about how he thinks they would “get along well” had me bursting with laughter… before that humor turned to horror, as expected.
Overall, Chapter 121, “Future Memories”, is another brilliant Attack on Titan manga chapter.
It provides a great twist that redefines the meaning of many prior scenes, expands on the characters of Eren, Zeke and Grisha brilliantly, and made me cry with one of the manga’s most emotional scenes.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Review. MMMMMMM!!!

4 and a half stars
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal pretty much traumatized me as a child.
I remember seeing a Skeksis crumble to dust in the opening minutes of the film and being absolutely terrified.
Now, years later, the Jim Henson Company and Netflix have released a prequel series to the original creepy, puppet, fantasy movie, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Directed by Louis Leterrier, I came into this series with a vague sense of the original movie, since I think I was 12 the last time I watched it.
Well, Age of Resistance made me want to go back and watch that film because the Netflix series is fantastic, delivering a riveting story with great characters, music and puppetry.

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The puppetry in Age of Resistance is often top notch, with very few moments of an uncanny valley.

The Dark Crystal movie came out in 1982 so a lot of time has passed and this has given the creators the chance to improve on the puppetry and CGI.
The way the practical effects merge with computer generated effects is perfect, giving Age of Resistance a grand sense of scope.
The story follows three Gelflings; castle guard Rian (Taron Edgerton), the cave dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Princess Brea (Anya Taylor Joy), learning that their lords, the Skeksis, are not so benevolent as they thought.
Realizing the threat the Skeksis pose to the world of Thra, the three Gelflings set out on their own individual journeys to stop the Skeksis and the Darkening they have caused by abusing the Dark Crystal.

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Rian, Deet and Brea’s journey to stop the Skesis results in numerous moments of high tension, fear, and sometimes laughter.

I came to care about all three of these Gelfling, who are all magnificently voice acted, with my favourite probably being Deet.
I liked her arc from beginning to end and also really enjoyed her friendship with the Podling Hup (Victor Yerrid).
Another thing I surprisingly enjoyed was the Skeksis themselves, who are over the top evil in the best of ways.
The Emperor (Jason Isaacs) is a commanding overlord, and The Scientist (Mark Hamill) uses his genius in cruelly malevolent ways.
By far the most investing Skeksis is Simon Pegg’s backstabbing Chamberlain.
With his constant “MMMMMMMs!”, he is as delightfully two-faced as I remember him being in the original movie.

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Describing The Chamberlain as a weasel is probably the most accurate way to describe his backstabbing nature.

As for the music, it further highlights the majesty of the world of Thra, and the danger whenever the characters’ lives are at risk.
Speaking of, there are a lot of deaths.
I have heard some describe this series as Game of Thrones with puppets and that is fairly accurate; although this should have been expected, given where the original movie starts off.
However, there are a few things that stop Age of Resistance from being perfect.
One is the fact that it is sometimes hard to take certain dramatic scenes seriously because, well, the characters are puppets.
Granted, these moments are few and bar between but they still happen.
By far the biggest problem, though, is that many of the characters seem to have changes in motivation at the drop of a hat.
Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a prime example of this; but easily the biggest instance of this is in episode four where at least four characters’ motivations seem to change almost instantaneously with no buildup.
Still, these issues do not ruin the experience as The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a well made show with a great story and characters, and brilliant effects, both practical and computer generated.
I highly recommend it, especially for fans of The Dark Crystal movie.

 

Weathering With You Review: A Beautiful Anime, Even if it is a Bit too Similar to Your Name.

4 and a half stars
After seeing Makoto Shinkai’s fantastic Your Name, I immediately bought a ticket to his next film Weathering With You, which I had the pleasure of watching last night.
And, yes, I said pleasure because Weathering With You is another great film from Shinkai.
While I did not feel as emotionally involved as I did when watching Your Name, I still cannot deny that Weathering With You is a mesmerizing film with amazing animation, relatable characters, and an intriguing story.

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Mokoto Shinkai has done it again, delivering another great anime film with Weathering With You. 

The story follows Hodaka Morishima (Kotara Daigo), a high school student who runs away to live in Tokyo, which is experiencing an unusually long sequence of rainfall and storms.
It is there that he meets Hina Amano (Nana Mori), a girl with the power to make the sun come out through prayer.
What follows is a moving romance between the pair as they work together to bring sunshine to the people of Tokyo.
The first thing I have to praise about Weathering With You is, of course, its incredible animation.
Shinkai is an absolute artist when it comes to animating his films and Weathering With You is no exception, having numerous jaw dropping shots of animation.
The way the rain and sun look in this anime is just gorgeous, which serves to bring the audience into the story a lot more.

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The animation of Weathering With You is fantastic and needs to be seen in theaters.

As for the story itself, the romance of Hodaka and Hina being wrapped up in this supernatural plot provides numerous interesting and moral questions about climate change that I found to be quite compelling.
The movie is also pretty funny as well, with probably my favourite gag being the cat Rain’s constant judgmental looks.
The side characters of the film are also likeable and you understand where a lot of them are coming from.
For example, a man that Hodaka meets upon arriving in Tokyo, named Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri), had an interesting motivation by the film’s third act that, while never outright stated, was heavily implied, making his involvement more interesting.

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The implied nature of Suga’s arc in the third act made his role in the story work perfectly.

The music is also great with the song “Grand Escape”, which played in the trailer, being particularly special.
There are even appear a few Your Name cameos for fans of that film as well.
Speaking of Your Name, though, this is where I have a problem with Weathering With You because it follows a lot of the same story beats as Shinkai’s previous film.
I remember sitting in the theater and thinking, this is just like Your Name!
This did not ruin the experience but it was pretty noticeable by the film’s third act and ending.
Still, I found Weathering With You to be another great Shinkai film, and is one I would highly suggest watching in theaters so you can see the gorgeous animation on the big screen.
It is my favourite animated film of the year so far.

Mindhunter Season Two Review: The Terror Continues.

4 stars
I loved the first season of Mindhunter.
Created by Joe Penhall, and with many episodes directed by David Fincher, The Netflix series hooked me right off with its disturbingly realistic portrayal of actual serial killers.
I was eagerly anticipating the second season, and we finally got it now, two years later.
The second season picks up with Holden Ford (Jonathon Groff) recovering from his encounter with Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton) at the end of the first season.
After getting released from a mental hospital by Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), Holden meets back up with the team, consisting of Tench, Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) and Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle), in their studies of serial killers.
What follows is a season that sees the characters interviewing a wide ranger of terrifying murderers, like David Berkowitz (Oliver Cooper), and those who manipulate others to kill, like Charles Manson (Damon Herriman).

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Many of the killers interviewed look just like they do in real life, with Manson and Berkowitz looking particularly true to life.

Most terrifying of all are the investigations into the BTK killer, Dennis Rader (Sonny Valicenti), and the Atlanta child murders, which eventually becomes the main focus of the season.
Just like the first season, what makes Mindhunter season two so scary is its horrifying realism.
Again, no murders are shown but the aftermath of these crimes, and the way they are explained by both the killers and surviving victims is horrifying.
This leads to one particularly disturbing scene when Tench is interviewing Kevin Bright (Andrew Yackel) a survivor of the BTK killer.
The way this scene is shot is so particular, the acting from Yackel so tragic, and the sound design so unnerving, that is makes the scene horrifying to watch, even though no violence is taking place.

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The interview scene with BTK survivor David Bright is probably one of the most chilling scenes in Mindhunter season two.

It is particularly disheartening to hear Tench make assumptions about BTK, only for us to know he is completely wrong, meaning they are further away from stopping him.
Speaking of Tench, he has the best story this season, with a tragic family event that makes his interactions with the killers even more personal.
A scene where a confrontation takes place between Tench and Manson is particularly illuminating to Tench’s character.
It is not all great, though, because compared to last season Mindhunter season two does fall short.
There are quite a few plot lines that are dropped like Ford’s panic attacks, which are quickly forgotten about, and the cat Carr was feeding last season, which is oddly left out of entirely.

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The first episode acts like Holden’s panic attacks are going to be a major plot line only for them to be dropped pretty quickly.

As for Carr, herself, she does not have much of a role in the back-half of the season, and a romance storyline she has feels a bit too similar to Ford’s relationship from the previous season as well.
However, these problems do not diminish how great Mindhunter is.
It is still a creepy show, with great fictional characters and terrifying real killers.
I am already looking forward to season three.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review: A Bloody, Slice of Life, Love Letter.

5 stars
Coming into Quentin Tarintino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I had no idea what the runtime was.
After watching the film, and enjoying it immeasurably, I checked my watch to see how much time had past and was shocked to see that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had gone for two hours and forty minutes.
When you watch a long film but it feels like its over in minutes, that is when you know you have just seen a great movie.
It happened when I watched Avengers: Endgame earlier this year and it happened again with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as struggling actor Rick Dalton and his stuntman Cliff Booth respectively, as Dalton dwells on his failing career in the 60s with Booth for support.

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The friendship of Dalton and Booth is natural and often hilarious, with DiCaprio and Pitt doing amazing jobs.

Parallel to their story, we get Sharon Tate’s (Margot Robbie) as well in the build up to the infamous murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson (Damon Herriman).
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been described as a “love letter to ’60’s L.A” by the Hollywood Reporter, and this is certainly the case.
You can tell just from watching the film that Tarintino is someone who loves movies.
My favourite scenes of the film are the ones where aspects of cinema come into play.
The scenes where we are presented with Dalton acting as a villain on a show with a young costar Trudi (Julia Butters), and one where Tate goes to watch one of her own movies, The Wrecking Crew, are particular highlights.

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The interactions between Dalton and Trudi are probably my favourite part of the film with the TV show homages and insights into Dalton’s character. 

The film also has a lot of tension as well, due to the creepy nature of the Manson family, resulting in an almost nail biting scene about half way through.
It is the friendship between Dalton and Booth that is the true heart of the film, though.
Both DiCaprio and Pitt give incredible performances as these characters, allowing us to relate to them despite their less than admirable qualities.
And they are a part of a very large ensemble cast that includes Kurt Russel, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino.
With such a large cast and runtime it will make some wonder where the film is going… until the ending.
Honestly, I did not expect this kind of ending but, given that this is Tarintino we are talking about, I definitely should have.
All I can say about it is that it was a blast to watch.
I was laughing so hard at what was happening and, after a few minutes, I really began to question my mental state in doing so.
One thing I especially loved about the ending is its final seconds.
The final moments of the film really highlight the message that Tarantino is trying to sell, not just about Hollywood and the fate of Dalton and Booth but also the, sadly, very real life Tate murders as well.
It feels like a reflective ending that made me feel incredibly sad.
Overall, I absolutely loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
It has fantastic acting and amazing direction with all its movie homages, and a story that builds towards a darkly humorous, yet reflective, ending.
If you love movies then you should definitely see this in theaters.

Your Name Review: The Most Gorgeous Animated Film I Have Ever Seen.

5 stars
When I reviewed A Silent Voice a few weeks ago, I said that it was probably my favourite anime.
Well, after seeing Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, I can now say it has some serious competition for that title.
Like A Silent Voice, I had heard a lot about Your Name before I finally watched it.
I knew it was a body swap anime with romance but that is all I knew about it.
And you know what?
I am so glad that I did not know anything else about it because Your Name absolutely blew me away with its brilliant story twists.

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The shocking twists and turns in Your Name goes beyond its simple sounding, body swap story, and I love that.

This was surprising to me because, from what I heard of the plot, I thought I would find the anime a little too sappy and cliche for my tastes.
Thankfully, this was far from the case.
The anime follows two high schoolers, Mitsuha Miyamizu (Mone Kamishiraishi) who lives in the small town of Itomori, and Taki Tachibana (Ryunosuke Kamiki) who loves in Tokyo.
Both lead normal lives until the two begin to mysteriously switch bodies every so often.
As they struggle to deal with this strange situation, they gradually learn more about one another and start to develop feelings for each other.
And that is all I will say about the film because, as I said, I love the direction the story takes and I do not want to spoil it for you.
The twists are engaging and add so much tension to the story, which is supported by the buildup of Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship.
I do not often enjoy romance films but this one was so moving I just could not help but get invested.
There were quite a few times towards the anime’s ending that I ended up crying.

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You will probably find yourself shedding tears a lot in Your Name‘s third act.

I also laughed a lot too, and I do not think there is a single joke that does not land.
One of the things I find interesting about Your Name is the Japanese elements that I missed on the first viewing, like the Red String of Fate.
When I researched this it made the themes of the film even more engaging.
Along with this, and the engaging story and romance, one of the big things that stuck out about Your Name to me was its absolutely gorgeous animation.
My jaw dropped multiple times in the first few minutes because I was astonished at how beautiful it all looked.
From viewing this film, and looking up his prior works, it is clear that Shinkai is an artist when it comes to animating his films.
With its beautiful animation, great story telling, and investing romance, Your Name is another anime film that should have been nominated for an Oscar, however, (aggravatingly but predictably) it was denied this.

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The fact that Your Name did not get nominated for its animation alone is a crime in my mind.

One interesting thing to note, though, is that Shinkai did not want Your Name to win an Oscar and actually advised people to stop watching it.
This is because the film is “incomplete” according to him since they ran out of money.
But, I think Shinkai is being too hard on himself.
From what I hear about what was supposed to be in the finished product, I actually think Your Name works better without these scenes, for the most part.
The one thing about the film that I think could have been done better is the relationship between Mitsuha and her father, which does not get a resolution.
However, the rest of the movie is so engaging and moving that it overshadows this one issue by a wide margin.
Want to know how much I loved Your Name?
I loved it so much that, after finishing it, I immediately bought a ticket to see Shinkai’s next film Weathering With You, which I will be seeing on August 22.
Your Name is a fantastic anime film.
It has jaw dropping animation, a thrilling story, and a romance that will make you tear up by the end.

The End of Evangelion Review: What did I just Watch!?

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The only explanation I can think of for what I just saw watching The End of Evangelion movie is that someone spiked my food halfway through, resulting in me having a weird, hallucinogenic drug trip.
Seriously, this movie seems like normal Neon Genesis Evangelion at the beggining, only for the third act to evolve into one of the craziest endings I have ever seen that needs to be seen to be believed.

Ending crazy
When the third act of The End of Evangelion began I was pretty sure I had been drugged because of how crazy it got.

Hideaki Anno made this film after many were left unsatisfied with the ending of his anime, to the point that some of them even sent him death threats.
However, rather than The End of Evangelion appeasing many of these cruel people it only made them angrier.
Having watched the film I can see why this would result in such anger, although sending death threats is never acceptable.
And, personally, I actually enjoyed The End of Evangelion, even though it left me thoroughly confused.
It is certainly a better ending that what we got in Neon Genesis Evangelion because it actually has a narrative.
But I do not just enjoy it because it is better than the original anime’s ending.
I also enjoy it because of the obvious thematic weight it has, with a lot of complex and often disturbing symbolism that left me quite creeped out.
Even before the shocking third act, the film had plenty of jaw dropping moments.
One moment came with one of my favourite parts of the movie, which is a brilliantly animated fight sequence involving Asuka (Yuko Miyamura).
This fight was thrilling, horrifying, and brought a conclusion to Asuka’s character arc, which I felt was left unfinished in the original anime.

Asuka
Asuka’s fight is the best in the entire Neon Genesis Evangelion series.

However, not every character is done well compared to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
A prime example of this is Shinji (Megumi Otaga) who I found to be quite unlikable compared to the original anime’s version of him.
This is because of his refusal to act, despite people dying around him, but also mostly because of something he does at the start of the film involving Asuka.
He is shown to regret his actions later on in the movie but this does not excuse that what he did is pretty deplorable.
Despite Shinji’s unlikability, though, I still found many of the characters to be well done and have fitting conclusions to their arcs this time around.
But the main thing that will come to mind whenever I think of The End of Evangelion will be that absolutely insane third act and ending that left me speechless and unsure of what to think.
It is bold, symbolic, and can only have been thought up by somebody in the middle of a mental breakdown, which I have heard Anno was when writing this.

third impact.jpg
It is interesting to wonder what Hideaki Anno’s mental state was when he was writing this.

Whether he was having problems or not, Anno’s The End of Evangelion provides a better ending to the original ending, although not one that is particularly happy.
The insane nature of this third act makes it worth a watch.
The End of Evangelion is a movie that got me thinking, although I am not exactly sure what about.