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The Bad Sleep Well: or, Welcome to the Philippines

I’ve written three drafts regarding this film, and I think all my drafts have failed. It’s so hard to put this film into words. But since summarizing the movie didn’t really help me, I’ll just write about my perceptions regarding the film and hope it’s sensible and cogent enough.

Akira Kurosawa has been known to be among the greatest film directors in the world. His greatest films are among the most imitated: Seven Samurai has been adapted into different films, and even an anime series. Yojimbo became Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name. Throne of Blood was recognized by the preeminent Harold Bloom to be one of the best Shakespearean adaptations he has seen on film. Only Yasujiro Ozu is perhaps more revered by film directors and critics, and that’s even a coin toss.

I’ve watched Kurosawa’s Dreams about ten years ago, because it was required viewing by our tasteful English professor. I didn’t think much of it, although I thought it was a good film. While I’ve intended to watch his more popular films since then, I guess I didn’t really want to, as I didn’t prepare time for those.

It’s only been recently that I’ve used great movies to bond with my father. I guess I’ve been exposed to real life and medical cases for too long that I’ve forgotten to enjoy films that pique both the mind and the heart. What I had started with Friedkin’s Sorcerer I kept up, until I eventually stumbled into Akira Kurosawa.

I’ve had Throne of Blood on my PC for about six months. I just didn’t really want to watch it. I wanted to watch a more contemporary film made by him, so I waited until I discovered that Kurosawa made a loose adaptation to Shakespeare’s Hamlet set in the 1960s.

Its title was The Bad Sleep Well. The Criterion Collection certainly made it look attractive: its front-cover picture was a white building on a black background with a prominent red X on one of its floors.

The Bad Sleep Well

The only mistake I made when watching the film was that I watched it during night-time. It’s a film that takes its time with its build-up, so one needs to pay utmost attention with its conversations and character interactions: it’s not for those who enjoy the rampant shallowness and the anti-intellectualism that pervades Philippines today. Toshiro Mifune still stars in this film (Mifune starred in all of Kurosawa’s great films except Ran) but unlike his long-haired and bearded counterparts in Kurosawa’s samurai films he is clean-shaven and quiet as Nishi. This film shows that he is a masterful actor because he is equally able to present characters who are larger-than-life and violent as he is able to show brooding, quiet, and highly intelligent ones.

Mifune ditches the dirt and the beard and replaces the kimono with a suit, yet still acts extremely well.

Toshiro TBSW

The film is subtle: in fact, to me it’s been insidious. It’s the kind of film that one nods off to at times because of its deliberate pace but grows on the viewer after the ending credits have appeared. Looking back, it’s probably one of the best films I’ve seen this year. The opening scene is well-filmed: a momentous occasion such as a wedding of the daughter of the firm’s head is sullied by the suggestion of corruption at the highest levels of the firm. The press that covers the wedding is suspicious, but powerless.

The Bad Sleep Well is a 1960’s film, but it could have been alternatively titled ‘Welcome to the Philippines.’ The viewer first questions whether Nishi is a good or bad person. He crosses the line between good and evil too many times for the viewer to figure out until the film’s latter half. One, however, ultimately discovers his motivation and his struggle to be moral. Similar to Heneral Luna, however, the film ends on a somber tone: those who will good and do good are often buried in corruption and bureaucracy. The film has very strong historical bases, too: during the time of Stalinist Russia, it wasn’t those who were morally pure or idealistically noble who survived. Those who pandered to Stalin the best became his right-hand men. The sycophants survived, while the pure and ethical were murdered. The film was also extremely timely during its release: issues of deep-seated corruption pervaded the Japanese government during the 1960s as well.

It is a film I can recommend to very few people. It’s a film that takes patience and focus, both of which are in dearth in this time and age. It is a very rewarding film, however: first, it was done by Kurosawa; second, it’s a timeless commentary on the ills of society and sycophancy; and finally, it’s a damn good film with great actors.

The cake is a lie.

The cake is a lie.

Some summer anime and their movie counterparts

I have pretty much been floating for the past few days: the days really just fly by, and since I’ve once again loosened my rein on my studies, after some time it’s already night and I haven’t done anything of value in the day. I’ve also discovered a good Japanese band because of Ryan, so thanks to him for Fujifabric: I’ve spent a significant amount of time listening to all their released music and separating music I like from the music I am indifferent to. They’re a great band, especially with some of their songs. I doubt there will be any releases in the near future, however, as their lead vocalist and lyricist died of unknown causes about a year ago. I feel that I will return to anime-watching once I filter through all their songs: I want to know all their wonderful songs so I can construct a playlist that I can to again and again.

I found this to be hilarious.

I found this to be hilarious.

I’m not really disinterested in anime, I really just haven’t watched anything lately, and even I don’t know why. I guess it’s because of the time I spend playing DotA, a game that has once again become very interesting to me. I did watch two movies in the past few days, one being Shallow Grave, and another one recently released, which is The Expendables. Because this is an anime blog, however, I think it’s apt to include Shiki in my explication of Shallow Grave.

One of the things I feel turn people away from Shiki are its characters. There’s no one particularly endearing, and as of episode three, most of them are obnoxious. The pink-haired girl was a disgusting stalker; Natsuno, on the other hand, is nothing short of a prick, and the character introduced on episode three is someone both creepy and bitter (and ugly, too). Shiki excels in creating a scary atmosphere, primarily because the people that populate the rural town are disturbing existences.

I think the series is similar to Shallow Grave: it’s a good film, but it’s also a film I will not watch again if I could. The central characters were perverse and depraved despite purportedly being educated people. The film is a wonderful snapshot of the nether parts of humanity, the darkness within every single one of us. It works well as a thriller, but it’s just difficult to empathize with selfish bastards who care for nothing but money. It was indeed ingenious and well-directed (Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire, after all, helmed the film), but it was a depressing film: redemption with the central characters was as impossible as Batman killing people. It was a simple film, but its suggestions were frankly something I don’t want to entertain as they were so bleak.

In contrast to the depth of Shallow Grave, there is The Expendables. As an action film, it was good, but as anything else it was pretty bad. There was so much that could have been done with the all-star cast that was not executed properly. It was a great time-waster for what it was worth, and I think that was all Stallone really wanted, anyway. I think that he’s the master of wasted potential after all. It was an enjoyable ride, but it was nothing more.

I don’t recall doing anything more than that. Current series don’t really invite me to watch them, although I’m trying to keep up with High School of the Dead (which is also quite similar to The Expendables).

The coruscation of Inception

Last year, when I found out that Christopher Nolan was filming a movie that dealt with dreams and the architecture of the mind, I knew I was going to see it on cinema early in its release. It’s the kind of expectant waiting that I had with Tatami Galaxy: I had faith that it was going to be something good based on the track records of its auteur. Just as I was impressed with Kemonozume and Kaiba (to a lesser extent), I was also impressed with Memento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight. My faith all the more solidified when I knew it was going to be performed by a stellar cast: what else do you expect from a group of Oscar winners and nominees? Even Tom Brady was excellent in his portrayal as Bronson, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in both his independent and blockbuster films was consistently great (I loved [500] Days of Summer).

Genius.

Genius.

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[R2] Words are greater than actions (sometimes)

I have been unusually quiet these past few days; that was primarily because I did not have an Internet connection in the first place. The wire that connected my ‘modem’ (and I encapsulate the word in quotation marks because the machine isn’t actually one yet serves a similar function) to my computer finally gave in. Try as I might to reconnect to the Internet, I was not able to.

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The tagline is indeed catchy.
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