« Comic Books Are Burning In Hell: Violencia! | Main | Comic Books Are Burning In Hell: Dal Tokyo »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hey Tucker, I share your aversion to anime but I like Cowboy Bebop. The movie is a straightforward action movie, but the show is not- every episode was a different genre. Watch the episode Pierrot Le Fou. Some of the best comic book fighting set to motion I've ever seen, with basically no explanation given as to why it's happening. Plus it's just an episode, so it's pretty short!

I liked this one a whole lot, even though Sean and Tucker both hate everything I love! But nah, let's do this:

-Cowboy Bebop has a few Japanese references, but they're kind of like how Invincible and Static were Spider-Man riffs -- you only get it if you're in it, I think? Bebop is something of a Lupin the 3rd riff. Spike's clothes, shoes, and gait are based on Lupin himself, Faye Valentine's kind of another take on Fujiko Mine... you can even see it in their lackadaisical approach to bounty-hunting but undeniable ability to always come out ahead in the end, even if it hurts. A lot of the comedy and how people end up wrapped up in bandages, feels Lupin-y. The jetsetting (though I guess it's... spaceshipsetting?) world tour stuff is straight outta Lupin, too, though I guess that's more broad.

But yeah, past that, it's worldly as heck. I didn't know that Godard's Pierrot Le Fou was a thing before Bebop, and I love how it pulls from basically every genre, from John Woo to SNL to Sergio Leone to Dudley Do Right... I think it's worldly, but from the POV of American pop culture. That's the feeling I get, anyway.

I liked the show and the movie, the show maybe more than most of the movie for sheer variety's sake. I dig the dub way more than the subtitled version, and I'm not sure that Spike's supposed to be sleazy like Tucker was saying so much as... permanently relaxed? He's dead, which is one thing that the movie leaves out/glosses over. He escaped his criminal past by faking his death (or surviving being killed, I forget which), and he's adrift. It's the Bruce Lee thing. He's going with the flow. He also uses Jeet Kune Do, which is cool.

-There's a dub of Man From Nowhere? Cripes, that sounds awful. I dug that one a lot and disliked I Saw The Devil. I thought Nowhere nailed the Cool Violence side of things, while Devil botched the Horrible Violence Hurts People side of things. Tucker's right in that Nowhere is basically Die Hard in its approach to violence, and there are a few standout things in there that really got to me. I think him running with the axe, the bathroom fight, and listening while he racks the slide were all on point. I loved the hair cutting, too, but I couldn't say why. I don't have actually human reasons for that one. Nowhere felt like a cliche story done well, if that makes sense, like The Viral Factor. You've seen it all before, but they do it better than Johnny Jerkface.

Devil tries to be this moral story at the end, to deliver some message about the futility of violence, but I didn't buy it at all, because the rest of the movie is shot with a sleazy eye and slow pans over cut tendons or whatever.

-Y'all seen Punished? I liked that one a lot. It has my main man Anthony Wong in it and was directed by one of Johnnie To's associate (assistant?) directors. A tycoon's daughter gets kidnapped, ransomed, and killed and he wants to find out how and why, even if he has to have his flunky torture and murder his way to the truth. It has echoes of High & Low at times, but maybe that's just me.

-Hara-Kiri I saw at home on VOD I think, and I kept trying to figure out what was in 3D. I liked it otherwise, though. It felt like a counterpoint to 13 Assassins. 13 was Miike going big, and this one was Miike going tiny and personal and kind of uncomfortable, too. It was a pretty effective drama, I thought, but not exceptional like 13 Assassins. No TOTAL MASSACRE, but still worth watching. Ryuichi Sakamoto did the soundtrack, which I think is a big part of why that movie was enjoyable.

-I forget which show, but I swear one of you talked about Exiled, the Johnnie To western homage, in passing. I watched it and it was an interesting experiment, but awkward and weird in all the wrong ways. I liked the shootout in the apartment and that moment where you think the guy's wife is dead, but the western trappings got distracting after a while.

-While I'm talking Johnnie To -- I watched Life Without Principle the other night. Netflix sold it to me as a bank heist. In actuality, it was an economic/bank drama. 30 minutes of a lady forcing predatory loans on people and worrying about her job, then 30 minutes of a crappy mobster earning money to bail out his buddy, and then 30 minutes of things going wrong. They got real deep into the economic factors, like textbook deep, bore me to sleep deep, and then the movie ended with a vague conclusion that they totally didn't earn. It was like the banking equivalent of Rampart, only better acted.

-Y'all definitely fast-tracked me rewatching Bebop and the movie, though. I've been putting it off for some reason.

Great episode, guys!

You almost lost me with your anime hatin', but then you won me back with the well-deserved praise for Hara-Kiri. That movie is one of the saddest things I have seen all year, but so incredibly well made and moving that I need to see it again. The first 15 minutes are completely gut wrenching. I watched it in 3D at the IFC Center, and it was pretty neat, but didn't add a ton to the experience. I'd put it just below 13 Assassins in terms of impact and overall quality. Regardless, it's thrilling to see the recent revival of good samurai flicks coming out of Japan.

One of the interesting things about Cowboy Bebop is how it was intentionally made and marketed to succeed in the US market, as well as in the Japanese. Like David wrote above, it's so worldly in its sources of inspiration that it is almost bound to hit a bunch of different nodes for most audience members. It is basically an homage to all of the entertainment that Shinichirō Watanabe grew up with in Japan of the 1970s and '80s (Bruce Lee, John Woo, Blaxploitation, caper movies, pulp noir, jazz, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and, of course, Lupin III), with a dose of pop philosophy thrown in for good measure. I like it well enough, but it definitely feels more "Western" (for lack of a better term) than most any other Anime I've seen.

I'd love to hear both of your thoughts on I Saw The Devil, as I've really liked everything Jee Woon Kim has put out thus far. But if you only have time to talk about ONE of his films, then just wait until next month when his American directorial debut comes out, an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Johnny Knoxville buddy-action flick (The Last Stand). I'm not even sure what to think about that.

As for Robert Wise, it seems he's mostly known for either his big budget musicals, the boring Star Trek movie, and for being the person who edited Citizen Kane, and yet he made two of the best movies of their type in The Set Up and The Haunting (and some might put The Day The Earth Stood Still in there as well, though it doesn't hold up quite as well as the other two mentioned). It's not surprising he cut his teeth with Val Lewton, another person who was able to add his own personal style to studio mandated projects.

The story of the guy in the car, where Cowboy Bebop was the only show he could fully watch, I would say that's really overselling it. I think there's problems with that guy.

That said it's very entertaining and I think the show itself was great. I thought the movie was kind of a letdown though, because the tone and the action and the characterization I thought was done so much better in the show.


The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo