Friday, January 27, 2006

Anime - JA-PAN

JA-PAN - the title itself is a play on words. The Spanish word "pan" is also the same word Japanese use to say bread. This anime is a cooking show and it is all about bread! Battles of cooking prowess, ingenuity, things like Sun Hands, and Sun gauntlet, battle royal in the kitchen.

The show does not take itself too seriously yet at the same time it does. There's all sorts of bread making tips to discover and angst involved with some of the characters lives and how they came to be involved in bread making. The story follows Azuma Kazuma who has come to the big city to get a job at the top bakery in the country called Pantasia. For his dream, which he got from a local baker, is to make a bread that will be called Ja-Pan. For other countries have breads named after them and there's no reason Japan should be an exception.

The funniest part of this show are some of the reactions of the people when they try some of the bread, especially the innovative ones Kazuma normally makes. You've never seen folks in such throes of ecstasy! lol. My favorite so far was the turtle bread that when eaten by the judge made sounds of Gamera echo in the soundtrack, had him spinning like the giant turtle, and we got to see it fly across the screen as they went head to head with the original theme music in the background. This show is a total hoot!

Movie of the Week - Underworld 2

For those who saw Underworld 1, you will be thrilled to know it picks up only minutes from the end of the first film. I should have gone and watched #1 first to refresh the old nogging but... :)

Lots of action, back story on the vampires and werewolves as a race, finally find out how and why the heroines parents were killed and how she was adopted by the head vampire.

Did have the weirdest love scene as there was no way it could work with how they showed them. What's truly funny is that obviously no one editing the film thought it looked funny. lol

A couple of nice twists, but nothing too surprising. But that's not why we go see these so it was all good! lol. Nice adventure romp!


Movie of the Week - Dick and Jane

Dick and Jane is the new Jim Carey film. It was funny and poignant all at once.
It's about Dick and Jane (which they relate to the children's books--so it was a funky thing as they kept using phrases from the kids books like "Run, Dick, run."--who end up losing their jobs and not being able to get others jobs for months and what they do as their lives slowly get more and more desperate. Then they find out that Dick's company was embezzled and they come up with a way to get the money back for all the people left without jobs from that old company. Was a lot of fun though some of the things they went through were both hilarious and disturbing. All the things one fears when losing their job taken to extremes. Brrrr.

One other point that I just kept rolling in the aisle about was their little boy. Both parents obviously worked late hours and so their son spent most of his time with his Spanish Nany. So he spoke in Spanish, had a Spanish accent, and watched Spanish TV. It was too darn funny! At the end of the film he's teaching his parents the language. :P


(Yes I know, I seem to grade just about everything a ***1/2 but it's the "!" that make the difference.) :P

Friday, January 13, 2006

Movie of the Week - Casanova

Casanova stars - Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin, and Oliver Platt

It involves a story Casanova did not include in his memoirs. The story of his one true love.
A fun farce with cases of mistaken identity left and right. Gorgeous settings and costumes, witty dialogue, and fun! Nothing is sacred and no one is spared. Even Casanova gets to see a puppet show and a play where he is the main cast and not always the winner.

A couple of things are a little over the top on the believebility scales, but barring that it's a good old romp which anyone can enjoy.

Anime - Gankutsuou

I utterly loved this anime. For one thing, they use some rather unique texturing and CGI to create some truly stunning visuals. But the most important thing is that it is a retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo but in the future!

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of those books that I have not only read, but watched every film incarnation that has probably come across the airwaves including the latest theatrical rendition a few years ago. So I was quite excited when I heard about this anime and was not disappointed.

Unlike the book, you do not meet Edouard Dantes before his troubles started. Instead the story begins and ends with Albert, a young aristocrat who meets the count on Luna. Like an onion, the story peels back to show what is going on, the reasons for the count and the step by step ways in which he is setting up to enact his revenge upon those who wronged him so long ago.

There are some nice twists and turns, one which is how Dantes was able to escape the prison and become a thing not quite living, but not quite dead.

A definite must for lovers of the story of the Count of Monte Cristo as well as anime fans.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Movie of the Week - The Producers

Mel Brooks had a film staring Gene Wilder in 1968 by the same name. In 2001, the concept was revived as a musical (strangely apt in a way), and has been so incredibly popular it has now been taken to the screen, staring several of the original Broadway cast. (Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick)

The additions to the musical from the original have improved an already too funny concept. (The blankie is my absolute favorite! You'll know it when you see it.) The songs are fun, and some, especially "Springtime for Hitler" will stick in your mind for a long, long time!

I saw the musical this past summer here at the Dallas Music Hall and was very eager to see it on screen. All the main points were kept. I think my only objection was that the camera would pan in too often, cutting out the full effect of some of the dance sequences. This was a true pity, as otherwise the film was hilarious.

If you want to see something that will have you rolling in the isles - go check this one out! ***3/4!!

Book Review - Ile-Rien Trilogy by Martha Wells

I've seen Martha Wells at several of the conventions I have attended. So, as I have been telling myself I should do, I picked up one of her books to see what she was about, so to speak. I ended up picking up The Wizard Hunters, book 1 of the Il-Rein trilogy, and was quickly hooked.

Book 1 begins with the best line I've seen yet. From there I was hooked and couldn't let go. By the middle of the book, I was in love with all the characters I'd met and wanted to know everything about them.

Tremaine is thinking about commiting suicide, but wants to make it look like an accident, so she won't inconvinience anyone. Her past has been anything but typical, and she's just had enough. Yet when her guardian comes seeking Arisilde's sphere so they can continue experiments in the one hope they have in the current war, she goes along with him and becomes embroiled despite herself in the efforts to save their world.

Books 2 and 3 are called The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods. Sped through them with wild abandon. The writing was smooth, and really gets the reader involved. The characters are alive.

She's now on my "must" read list. :)

Moovie of the Week - Memoirs of A Geisha

Based on the highly acclaimed book, the film sticks pretty much to it throughout. Hightened with a new score by John Williams, the movie was absolutely wonderful!

The story centers around a young girl sold into a geisha house in the 1930's . The movie follows her life and the one love which gave her the strength to endure and survive all that was thrown in her path.

An American film about Japan, staring, strangely enough, some top Chinesse actresses, it is still totally Japanese. A wonderfully excecuted tale! ****!!!
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