Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sukeban Boy - Not Power Rangers, not by a long shot

This post originally appeared on my friend's blog on Monday, August 17, 2009. Mark had watched the movie on his beach vacation, after seeing the DVD cover in his photos, my friend, husband and I were intrigued and decided we would watch it too. After much hemming and hawing, I reviewed it and Mark agreed to post it to his blog. Just now getting around to posting it on mine.

It could easily have been created by the same folks responsible for the Power Rangers TV show for kids, but I really hope it wasn’t. My BFF insisted I watch it, so what could I say but, okay?

"It's pretty weird," she said. "It's not anime, but it's kind of like anime."

"Martial arts?" I asked.

"Well, huh...not really. Just watch it. You'll see. "

So I watched it last night with Eric, and now I have to wonder: Is this really the kind of movie you want to tell others you’ve watched? The back of the DVD mentions the guilty pleasure of Sukeban Boy. What if others judge me guilty for watching it?

Because they might.


Because they would be accurate.

If you watch it, you, like I, might be guilty in the same way that you get when someone persuades you to eat a dish that you insist you do not like--and then you decide you like it and are embarrassed to admit that fact because you don’t know anyone else who would. Like a peanut butter and mayonnaise sammy on Wonderbread.

Just what kind of sandwich is this movie? Sukeban is a bad boy with gender identity issues, a strange father, and a bunch of crazy women after him. Here’s some of what you and he experience:

* heinous thong underwear worn under the blue and red pantyhose, an oddly fascinating and mesmerizing combination

* high school girl uniforms

* other terrible costuming

* girl fighting

* bad boob jobs

* a lot of butts, most of them wearing sumo diapers (Maybe that's a cultural thing, but ick!)

* fakey gore scenes

* strange fight clubs with stranger bosses

* gangs with names like "full frontal women," "monk women," "the braless women," and the "Bang Bang Bang, half naked women"

* bad martial arts with such fight moves as "Can Can dance of doom" and the "high kick of death"

Did I mention fart jokes?

In spite of the constant bad acting, I ended up liking Sukeban and cheering when he triumphs over the baddies. Mochico/Full Frontal Woman is also cool, whether she’s practicing humility after school or hatcheting off a bad girl’s legs (oops: spoiler alert).

Did I sense a bit of a Quentin Tarentino vibe? This may be worthy of further research.

Is this a fetish movie? Well, yes. But what kinds of fetishes? I'm sure I could not list them all. Eric thinks perhaps some of them might have to do with repetition and OCD.

Each individual element of this movie is so very wrong. Put them all together, though, and the film works. I loved its uniqueness, and I loved that something so weird made me laugh for an hour.

As the box said: It is a guilty pleasure. It is Sukeban Boy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Convince me...

There are some movies that just do it for me. I watch them, I like them, I talk about them with my friends, I feel somehow enhanced by having seen them. Then there are the other ones...I'm always extra gratified by the ones that I wasn't sure about that someone eventually talked me into watching. Not that I'm super picky about what I will watch, actually I'm quite easy. But there are some films that, for whatever reason, I just kind of chose to ignore. Movies that I saw on the shelf or in the bins and thought not for me; was then persuaded to watch only to be thrilled by someone else's discovery. It's all about finding that thing you didn't even know you needed. Here's a few and in no particular order that I might not have given a second look unless some wonderful person hadn't said "really, you haven't seen this? Well, you should."

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - Tommy Lee Jones doing his finest work in my humble opinion. Thank you to Eric for making me see this the first time
and following on that No Country for Old Men

The Red Violin

The Ghost and Mrs. Minniver - wow, Greer Garson! Thanks Mom

Howl's Moving Castle - Thank you Ticia

My Friend Totoro - with subtitles - my brother - this was the beginning of my quest for Japanese Anime

Bruce Lee Movies - Not recommended by Mrs. K (only using her initial only as I value my life) but she gave me the idea. How many homes in Piedmont, California do you think you might see with a huge Bruce Lee Poster glued to the front door of their Victorian house? Well, only one (and last time I drove by the poster seemed to be gone) and this was accented by the nunchucks hanging in the front windows and I heard from reliable sources that she drove with a machete in her glove box and could be heard yelling "I cut off the head". I. Kid. You. Not. Okay, more of a cautionary tale but when I went to her house the first time and saw for myself, I knew I had to see Enter the Dragon and find out what the fixation was. My love for martial arts and Hong Kong cinema was born. I have since found that my favorite Martial Arts movies are the more humorous ones and these take me to the Jackie Chan flicks. But were there no Bruce Lee, perhaps no Jackie Chan or Jet Li. So, Thank you Mrs. K

Pan's Labyrinth - Thank you Ticia and Corrie


Tommy - Recommended by Sheryl Daughters when we were in 4th or 5th grade - although I didn't see it until about 1990 or so. Her description was dead on even after all those years I still remember vividly her relating the bit about the beans. Ergghhhh!

Heavy Metal Bhagdad - thanks to Eric...probably the documentary which I have most advocated for. The young men in this movie are inspiring and scary and sad and sweet as they leave everything and everyone in pursuit of their musical dreams and the lure of freedom. Eric and I cried when we saw this the first time.

Jackie Chan Movies - by way of Bruce Lee and I guess another thank you to Mrs. K

Rutger Hauer Movies - first one I saw was LadyHawke...and I still love it. The rest of his movies, I don't know why...I just like them...another thank you to Eric

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - never thought I'd like the movie after the book and then the PBS show but I did

This is Spinal Tap - I cannot remember who told me about it but whomever it was, I love you man!
Best in Show and pretty much all the rest of the Richard Guest movies - can he pick a cast or what?

Brazil - love that Robert Di Niro plays a revolutionary HVAC guy and of course there is the Schiaparelli hat.
Adventures of Baron Munchausen - Hilary

Evil Dead II and Tank Girl - thank you old Bookpeople Comrade

Bubba Ho Tep - Amy Willis

Dead Snow - never would have seen this one and definitely not in the theater, thanks Ticia and more on this movie when I get to #4 favorite Zombie movie in a future post

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Harvey, Arsenic and Old Lace, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, To Sir with Love and all Peter Sellers movies - courtesy of Mom - god I love watching movies with her - she's one of those kind of people who will try just about any movie if it seems as though it's got a good plot

and there are so many more, but this is just a taste. I look at my list lovingly and am glad that I listened to my friends and family and watched each and every one of them

Part two, Night of the Living Dead

Right before Halloween one year when my daughter was still in high school, I bought a copy of Night of the Living Dead on video. We'd watch it Halloween night - Caitlyn didn't plan to go trick-or-treating that year and we had no plans for celebration except...the movie. We settled in with the dogs, the neighborhood kids had stopped ringing the doorbell, the candy was mostly gone and we were ready to watch what was for me the holy grail of zombie movies. Right away my daughter mentioned that she couldn't believe we thought this movie was scary or even a little bit creepy and how could we think this was such a great movie? I tried to explain the feelings a movie like Night of the Living Dead invoked in me and she gave me the blank fish look and left the room to talk on the phone to her friends. My husband and I were could she?....did you hear what she said?...can you believe anyone not being captivated? In my opinion, my daughter's generation may be victims of so much everyday violence in their everyday world that the intensity of Night of the Living Dead is completely lost for them. Her comment was, "this is nothing compared to what I've seen on the news". And perhaps it's true, but to allow yourself to be captured by the Night of the Living Dead is to watch amazing cinematic history and I was not going to be bummed out by her media-saturated and jaded view. I was going be transported for an hour and a half to that cemetery, to that abandoned farm house, to the zombies of the Night of the Living Dead.

"They're coming to get you Barbara". Ahhhhh! I just watched it again and am still, I'm happy to say, enthralled by the movie. Poor Barbara, I feel so unsympathetic towards her, she's this mousy church girl who becomes completely unhinged as events unfold...she's perfect. Apparently the actress Judith O'Dea was so convincing that the previously intended strong woman character was changed once George A. Romero saw Judith in action as Barbara. She manages to avoid shambling zombie number one, but ultimately her weakness and hysteria makes you want her to be THE FIRST to go. It really does.

According to IMDB: "The social commentary on racism some have seen in this film was never intended (an African-American man holing up in a house with a white woman, a posse of whites shooting a black man in the head without first checking to see if he was a zombie). According to the filmmakers, 'Duane Jones (I)' was simply the best actor for the part of Ben". Poor Ben, he's the only one of the humans that the viewer can feel remotely sympathetic with. He's the only voice of reason, the only "still living" with any kind of a plan. You want him to succeed, you want him to survive. I didn't see this movie for the first time until probably the late 70's and wasn't in the least aware of the significance that the protagonist was played by a person of color. This wouldn't have seemed unique to me at the time and it wasn't until much later that I understood how (although unintentional) historically groundbreaking this was.

George A Romero's use of still photography as the credits roll at the end of the film run are some of the most powerful and truly creepy aspects of the whole movie for me. Originally premiered in Pittsburgh, PA in 1968, Night of the Living Dead will always be one of my favorites. The word Zombie is never mentioned once in the entire movie but it will forever remain my #2 favorite Zombie movie and worth watching again and again.

I still hold on to the hope that Caitlyn some day will grow to have an appreciation of this film.