Film #291: Girl Goned (2017)

directors: Yukiro Dravarious & Duncan Whom
language: English, some Japanese, couple of sentences of German and French
length: actually not sure but about 2 hours
watched on: 4 May 2017

This is that rare review which I know will be read by the creators, since they’re my friends making an amateur project last year. I’ll try to be nice…

I got a sneak preview from Duncan about a month before watching this, and then went to the second screening on the premiere night – in a BDSM dungeon, of all places, with cages and strange-looking seats. (By the way, I just grabbed this image from a google search, as I usually do, managing to somehow filter out images from Gone Girl – I think it’s from Remiko’s blog. If you’d like me not to use the image, or have a better thumbnail image, please let me know)

The movie is set in Tokyo’s underground drag scene, so it features a few people I know from going to their shows. The plot, insofar as there is one, follows an American private detective who travels to Japan in search of a missing girl, somehow involved in the drag scene. Meanwhile, the drag queens conspire to set about armageddon. Or something. The film deliberately eschews plot at many moments, but it was more coherent than I’d expected from the previews I’d had. It has a deliberate B-movie aesthetic, and a lot of ridiculous gore, with fake blood spattered everywhere.

The main problem with it is that it’s probably incomprehensible to people outside our social group – I think there are too many in-jokes. A lot of the drag queen characters especially weren’t fully introduced. Also, it does have a bit of an episodic feel, and might be too ambitious. But I enjoyed it, and I think it’d stand a second viewing, to help me better understand it.

The other thing, although I think this is part of the aesthetic of amateur B-movies, and not necessarily a big problem, is that the sound and image were sometimes unbalanced. But I think this could be fixed.

It was long-awaited by all, so it was great to finally see it, and I enjoyed the sensation of recognizing quite a lot of the cameos. Thumbs up!

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Film #46: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Language: English, with bits of French, German and maybe Romany thrown in
Length: 129 minutes
Watched on: 30 Dec 2011 (the last of 2011!)

Out of copyright works are always interesting because there can be multiple active adaptations of the work concurrently, as is essentially happening here: we have Ritchie’s Hollywood adaptation of Sherlock Holmes and the BBC’s iPhone adaptation with the man who really doesn’t look like a fucking otter. So I can now compare them directly. To be honest, I reckon Cumberbatch does a better job of the role than Downey – mainly because he exaggerates all the sociopathic characteristics that exemplify Sherlock Holmes – but since this film is actually set in the Victorian era, Downey actually looks the part. Also, compared to the BBC adaptation, this doesn’t involve nearly enough detective work – in fact, Holmes seems to use some kind of super bullet time sense to work out what’s going to happen in a fight more often than he looks around a room to determine what the fuck happened at the scene of a crime.

The relationship between Holmes and Watson, however, is just as homoerotic as it ever is in the BBC adaptation, though. Here Downey and Law are at least as much of a bickering married couple as Cumberbatch and Freeman ever were, and it’s one of the few elements that is kept alive throughout the entire film, as unfortunately the rest of it starts to unravel.

I will start here by noting that I can’t remember almost anything from what happened in the first iteration of this franchise (there was something involving Tower Bridge, I guess, but that’s about it), although I’m not sure you need to know the plot of the first movie to understand the plot of the second. That said, I’m not sure what you do need to understand the plot of the second movie, because I had a pretty hard time of it. For some reason, Holmes and Watson embark on some kind of romp around Europe chasing Moriarty, barely taking in the sights of one locale before being ushered onto the next by some contrivance. It’s tiresome, and it culminates in them ending up in Switzerland atop the Reichenbach Falls in some ridiculous castle that seems to defy all possible laws of gravity and physics by attaching itself to the side of a mountain. It was there, I guess, that the film passed out of the realms of believability for me.

I got bored during the film, anyway; it wasn’t as exciting as what I’d been expecting. Noomi Rapace’s role (as a gypsy) was completely wasted, too; she’s proved in the past that’s she’s an incredibly capable actress, and here she’s presented as some kind of romantic foil for Holmes and/or Watson when their relationship turns sour, and just isn’t that interesting altogether. I also reckon that the plot, while it gives knowing nods to the plot of the Sherlock Holmes canon (eg, the Reichenbach Falls), wasn’t as good because it was a largely original story; and the writers just weren’t as good at pulling together something coherent and interesting as Conan Doyle ever was.

Anyway, we’re still in Christmas viewing, even though I’m actually posting this in April. But I’ll catch up eventually. It’s funny that around the time when I watched this, I was essentially alternating between Sherlock Holmes and Futurama, right up until February, with a couple of blips inbetween. I also read the first Conan Doyle-written book, “A Study in Scarlet”, so that’ll be a blog post for another day. And I can compare it to the similar story in the BBC adaptation.