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Arrested Development Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Charlize Theron

Arrested Development (Season 3): Michael Bluth is still trying to keep his dysfunctional family together – and they’re doing their best to screw everything up. This series coasts a little more on the established gags like the Bluth lessons (why you should always leave a note!), rather than creating new ones; some old plot-lines and characters are also written back in to beef up the story. Because it was the last scheduled season, the final few episodes felt obligated to tie-up the loose ends like the Iraq “light treason” court case, cousin love etc – which was good to see, but feels more forced than the usual completely unrelated antics. Once again the two stars of the show are the cast and the writers – you just don’t get it this good on both sides very often. As you’d expect, Season 3 is still great TV, but it doesn’t feel as fresh or funny as the first two series – the episodes aren’t quite as tight, or packed with jokes, and some of the bigger laughs stoop down to things like rude language (pussy/fags) and retards; which previous seasons didn’t need to fall back on. However, those niggles are minor, and Season 3 ensures that the show remains one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Score: 7.5/10

Arrested Development Season 1 Review

Arrested Development Season 2 Review

Arrested Development Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Charlize TheronJason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Charlize Theron, Scott Baio

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Having just booked a trip to Japan for this summer I’ve decided to use  it as the perfect opportunity to watch the huge pile of Japanese movies I’ve been slinging into my cupboard for the past 10 years.

Japan’s culture has always been absolutely fascinating to me, particularly their cinematic output – or at least what we can get our hands on in the West. Many of the Japanese films I’ve seen are easily among the most eclectic I’ve seen when it comes to both style and subject matter, and it’s probably the only country where Yakuza, Ninjas, Robots, Monsters, Samurai and Martial Artists appear to be fairly ‘mainstream’ movies.

For the next 6 months I’ll be consuming and reviewing all of the major genres and themes that have defined Japanese cinema on the world stage: 1950s Samurai Epics, J-Horror of the 2000s, 80s/90s Sci-Fi & Cyberpunk, 4 decades of Yakuza flicks, Monster Movies and some of the most bizarre and unique one-off films the country has to offer. The viewing list is fairly big, but a list as varied as: Branded to Kill, Wild Zero, Zatochi, Babycart (Lone Wolf and Cub), Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Ichi the Killer, Seven Samurai, Tokyo Story, Tetsuo: Iron Man, Tokyo Gore Police, Tokyo Decadence, Lady Snowblood, Godzilla – to name but a few.

I’ll also take a look at how Japan (and East Asia) has been portrayed in Western movies over the years, which hasn’t always been positive; bringing to mind things like the fairly racist stereotypes like Mr Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (played by a caucasian – not uncommon), everyone as a Yakuza (Black Rain), student nerds (almost every high-school film), exotic and erotic females and so on. I can barely think of a single Japanese character in a major Hollywood film that wasn’t nerdy / socially inept / over-disciplined / tech savvy / submissive etc.

As always, I’m happy to take on any film suggestions providing I can get my hands on it easily enough. Also happy to team up with other bloggers, publish some guest reviews, collaborations etc – so please get in touch if you’re interested!

Cheers, and I hope you enjoy it.

/Paul

Current reading: Battle Royale13 AssassinsSukiyaki Western DjangoGozuThe Machine GirlSurvive Style 5+Tokyo Zombie20th Century BoysHana-BiVersus

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The Hangover: (Blu Ray) a trio of buddies waken up after a stag night, minus the stag and all memory of the evening. It’s pretty entertaining as the details unfold but you get the feeling the writer polled a thousand guys and put the best ‘crazy nights out’ tales together to make a story. The brother Alan was probably the best part of the movie and although other guys were funny in parts the ‘one-man wolf pack’ totally stole the show. In saying that the overall humour hit home with me, but isn’t for everyone and is probably more for guys than girls – it’s pretty much Superbad for men. Mike Tyson must be skint at the moment, there’s also an outlandish Asian and maths montage worth noting. The picture’s brilliantly detailed but the surround mix is disappointing, with little action in back speakers. Despite being let down by the cheesiest of endings this is definitely worth a watch.

Score: 7.5/10

Godzilla: 60% mega monster destruction and 40% bittersweet romance between two of the mains. It has the tried and tested 90’s mix of epic action and silly fun that you don’t often find these days. The one thing that struck me when re-watching this was that it has a lot of memorable scenes; Godzilla’s entrance at the pier, streets ‘jumping’ with his footsteps, ‘zilla on the Brooklyn Bridge, ‘zilla taking out the choppers – too many to name! The opening scene with a-bomb test footage and epic orchestrated score is pretty chilling. There’s a load of cheeky reptile references throughout which is a nice touch, and the stereotypical sneaky French guys (fronted by Reno) are good fun to watch. There’s also a lot of subtle product placement, the likes of which hadn’t been done again until I-Robot: although not quite as subtly! unfortunately, the beast hasn’t aged too well, with a shed-load of dated cultural references and naff CGI / mini-models. Despite this, it’s still a classic, and great fun to watch. Entertaining big buck blockbuster.

Score: 6/10

Persepolis: animation following an Iranian girl growing up in Teheran and Austria. Although the obvious attraction to this film is its amazing aesthetics – and from the start to finish it’s nothing but amazing – it’s easy to forget that the actual story is so remarkable. Above this the film is quite informative, giving a good background of the modern history of Iran, yet there are so many funny bits to balance out the tragedies and shocks. I’ve not seen anything like this, and was mesmerised for the full 90 minutes. I’d suggest watching this with the French audio and subtitles (unless you won’t be affected by Sean Penn and Iggy Pop doing the English audio… WTF?!?!?) Would recommend this to most people.

Score: 8/10