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Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat

Danger 5 (Season 1): a team of Allied super-spies are tasked with stopping Hitler’s various advances in a 1960s interpretation of WWII. With a premise like that, you’d expect the show to be a little bit mental… and it is. The plot lines and characters are insane: it’s a show where a jazz improv band of white-suited apes fighting Nazi dinosaurs & reptiles isn’t just normal, but somehow funny. About half of the major characters have massive animal heads, and nobody seems to speak the same language… but you just roll with it. It has a very unique ‘tapey’ aesthetic, with grain, bad dubbing, Gerry Anderson style miniature sets (locations & action set pieces) and a 60s style surf rock soundtrack – it’s 100% kitsch and kampf. On a comedy level it’s very strong, with good loads of one-off belly laughs, and some cracking running gags like cocktail recipes, Hitler jumping through windows, bad food analogies and bizarre product placement. Although the first few episodes are the strongest the show is consistently funny. Danger 5 is what happens when you draw from a bunch of great TV Shows like Archer, Thunderbirds, The Young Ones (and throw in a pinch of Iron Sky). If you’re after a raunchy, risqué, alternative / subversive comedy packed with b-movie gore, sexy damsels, and – most importantly – laughs by the truckload, look no Führer than this. Pure cult TV that will undoubtedly snowball for years to come.

Score: 9/10

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,2 Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,3

Episode Titles

I Danced For Hitler

Lizard Soldiers Of The Third Reich

Kill-Men Of The Rising Sun

Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace

Fresh Meat For Hitler’s Sex Kitchen

Final Victory

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,4

This gallery contains 51 photos.

Konichiwa! Brief interruption from regular film reviewing schedule here. As mentioned earlier in the year, the ongoing JAPAN-O-RAMA feature I’ve been running – in conjunction with some of my favourite movie bloggers – was brought around after I booked a trip from Scotland to Japan. It’s been and gone, and I’m not even going to …

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JAPANORAMA - Kat Scratch BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMAThe Wolverine 01 - Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Famke JanssenThe Wolverine: In a way, Wolverine epitomises everything about Japan that you see through Hollywood films: there’s ninjas everywhere, and everyone knows Katrate; crazy districts full of neon lights and big billboards (Shinjuku and Akihabara); old-fashioned houses with sliding shoji walls and tatami floors; technology and Robots everywhere (in this case a 10ft tall mecha-Samurai!!); temples, on every corner; Yakuza interference – obviously; love hotels, The Bullet Train (Shinkansen); and the Tokyo Tower is in the back of every city shot. Yet, whilst it’s using and abusing all of the lazy ‘This is Japan’ stuff we know, it doesn’t feel like it’s exploiting the culture – there’s a lot of nice touches, from the undestractable pachinko players, salarymen in Osaka looking for hostesses, and things like upright chopsticks in food.

THE WOLVERINEAs for the film itself, it feels like three completely separate movies. The first third is a rock solid, well-executed set-up starting in WWII, and laying the ground for the rest of the film. The middle feels like a dip into a tired and clichéd mystery/conspiracy storyline, and the finale – well that just feels like something from a spazzy sci-fi movie, with bald snake-women, giant robots with flaming swords and a whole lot of gratuitous OTT action. I’m surprised at the 12A rating in the UK, as it feels slanted towards a more mature audience than most comic adaptations – including a nice thread of Logan’s dry humour. The Jean Gray plot device is a little hammy, although never going to turn down Famke Yansen in a silky nightgown! Jackman’s on fire, he is the embodiment of Wolverine – down to his permanently-exposed torso – wouldn’t want to be the guy that will inevitably have to re-boot the franchise in 5-10 years as the new Logan. The Japanese cast are also all on form. Overall, The Wolverine is a pretty satisfying comic book movie, but the ever-changing story and tone prevent you from becoming fully immersed in the movie.

Score: 6.5/10

The Wolverine 03 - Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Famke Janssen

JAPANORAMA - SF WASABI RICE BANNERJAPANORAMA Jiro Dreams of Sushi,  Sukiyabashi Jiro, JAPANORAMA Jiro Dreams of Sushi - Sushi Pieces, Roppongi Hills, Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono

Jiro dreams of Sushi: documentary exploring the life of 85-year-old sushi master and his modest, Michelin 3-star restaurant. Being the titular character, it is mostly centered around Jiro, who is an intriguing person with an admirable lifelong passion & pursuit to continually improve and create sushi dishes that get as close to perfection as possible. It’s interesting that his suppliers also had an emphasis on mastering their craft and techniques. We see Jiro as a worker, businessman and parent – although you couldn’t help but feel for the elder son, having such a great legacy towering over him, and such large geta shoes to fill! Some of the shots are absolutely sushi-porn, if you have a taste for the stuff there’s no way you’ll survive this without an appetite by the end – more generally, the whole film’s well shot with some nice use of tilt-shift/time-lapse etc to break up the indoor interviews. What’s more interesting than the sushi aspect is the insight into Japanese traditions (like eldest son stepping up to father’s job) and general work ethic and wisdom of someone with a lifetime of experience. We see a lot of scaling, peeling, slicing, gutting, massaging, pasting… for something that simple, it’s intriguing to see how much work, thought and preparation goes in to it. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a really good documentary, but it never really goes anywhere due to he micro nature of the subject – he opens talking about striving for perfection, and closes in a similar manner.

Score: 7/10

JAPANORAMA Jiro Dreams of Sushi - Sushi Pieces, Roppongi Hills, Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono

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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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Anvil! The Story of Anvil: follows two friends who have been gigging together since 1978, and their continual struggle to re-emerge on the global rock scene. Don’t be fooled – or put off – by the heavy meal angle; the documentary is focused on their heart-warming dedication to the band, and mostly behind the scenes. Front man ‘Lips’ is an absolute legend of a personality; such a nice guy (running around the festivals meeting his heroes) – and sounds uncannily like Paul Giamatti. You end up feeling a bit sorry for his bandmate Rob who gets a raw deal and winds up as a punch bag / door mat. What Anvil! does best is capture the trials and tribs of a DIY tour – and band life in general – very well; the festivals, crummy venues, playing live, disappointing crowds, pay squabbles, transport chaos, emotions, recording… it’s all there, and it’s all raw – down to the drunk guy drinking beer through his nose. The only minor point from me is that some shots and scenes feel played just for documentary; although only the initial setup, there’s clearly no script. I didn’t realise how engaged I was until the very end, where I wept a few tears of joy… like a totally non-rock ‘n’ roll pussy. The Story of Anvil is the most upbeat of tragedies: you see these guys grinding away at shitty day jobs only to fund their gigs and albums; and in that way, this is one of the most universally inspirational stories you’ll ever see. Must-see documentary.

Score: 9/10