Tuesday, April 30, 2002

The Movie I Watched Last Night XVII
Sunday, April 14: The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson's most-recent film is no Rushmore, but it's not entirely fair to hold him to his past work, especially when the Royal Tenenbaums is such a good film. There's just something about this new wave of ensemble casts. When you put Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Bill Murray, and Gene Hackman in the same room -- and give them the same script -- magic will naturally happen. Add to that Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Glover, and Anjelica Huston's delightfully understated -- and underscripted -- roles, and you've got quite a story. For the most part, the movie reminded of J.D. Salinger's stories about the Glass family, and I'm quite curious how much of Salinger's work inspired Anderson and Wilson. I need to see this again because I watched it on a little seat-back monitor on a flight to France. Sure I missed quite a bit. Props to the soundtrack, too. Worth seeing.

Friday: Boogiepop Phantom
Alex and I braved one of the MIT Anime Club's unofficial showings to catch several episodes of this mysterious anime, and we weren't disappointed. The three eps we saw -- seemingly the last three (Vol. 10 Poom Poom, Vol. 11 Under the Gravity's Rainbow, and Vol. 12 A Requiem: Sleep ends everything) -- didn't really help us understand who the characters were, what was happening, or why, but that's part of the appeal of anime like this and Serial Experiments: Lain, which also confuses me to no end. Apparently, the anime is about a bunch of people trying to cope with and process a series of murders that occurred five years before the anime actually begins. The process of self-discovery is represented and the story progresses as formerly repressed memories become uncovered -- quick-cut flashback sequences abound -- usually in the presence of a "Boogiepop," which appears to be a kind of vengeful phantom. The little interstitial musical bit -- where commercials must have aired originally -- is awesome, especially the stilted robotic voiceover. All that said, Alex and I also did a little people watching. I love going to the MIT Anime Club screenings, but occasionally I'm a little thrown by American otaku. One fellow, upon arrival, changed his shirt right in front of everyone, applied underarm deoderant, and proceeded to comb his hair agressively. He later left a couple of pizza crusts on the seat next to him. You don't see that everyday. Just as you don't see surreal, impressionistic anime like Boogiepop Phantom all the time.

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