Thursday, June 22, 2017


Last night, I watched Belladonna of Sadness at the Art Theater. It turns out that watching it on the big screen is quite a different experience than watching it on Youtube. The disturbing scenes are a lot more disturbing, and the erotic scenes (which are more prominent than I'd remembered)[1] are a lot more in-your-face. In fact, in the erotic scenes and elsewhere, the style itself is disturbingly grotesque: it somehow taps deeply into primal anxieties about bodies. And I have to admit the film's treatment of the heroine's body is exploitative at times. Still, and despite the apparently predominantly negative reaction of the audience, I maintain that the film is brilliant.

Another reason to watch the film is its psychedelic soundtrack by Masahiko Satoh, a major figure in Japanese underground psychedelic rock.

Incidentally, one of the trailers before the film was, to my astonishment, Funeral Parade of Roses. Has somebody been reading this blog? It's not on the schedule yet, but if you're a fan of the 1960s New Wave, don't miss it.

[1] As I was leaving the theater, I heard someone remark that the film was "all sex, sex, sex." He had a point.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017


Speaking of anime on the big screen, Belladonna of Sadness will be playing at the Art Theater on July 21 and 22 at 10:00 PM. If you live in the Champaign area, save the date. In fact, save both dates.

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Monday, June 05, 2017


A few days ago I saw Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, Your Name [Kimi no Na wa], on the big screen. I was so affected by it that I decided to see it again two days later. I’ve seen all of Shinkai’s full-length movies as well as Voices of a Distant Star, the short anime which put him on the map, but Your Name is his best so far. You may see it described as a body-swap anime, but it’s much more than that, and it manages to be both heartbreaking and heartwarming. An important motif of the film is the braided cords which are a specialty of the small town in which one of its main characters lives; the movie itself is like these cords in its craftsmanship and its intricate construction (which can be appreciated better on a second viewing).

If you happen to live in the Champaign, IL area, the film is playing at the Art Theater through Thursday, June 8. If you’re at all interested in anime and somehow haven’t seen it yet, do so.

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