Ghost In the Shell (1995)Review: The Future of Humanity Is A Stream of Conscience

What are we? We are nothing more than a ghost in a shell. In the near future, the world will erase nations and races. What do we get, something beyond AI. Ghost in the Shell, based on a manga by Shirow Masamune is a film that I have never got around to watching until now. I wouldn’t understand it anyway if I were a kid. Let’s just say it’s some pretty deep stuff. It’s so deep that it’s almost omnisciently god-like. It made me wonder if God is a computer?! After all, life is nothing more than just information of simulated experiences. Are humans really different from machines?

In this animation, Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg for Section 9, an anti-cybercrime Japanese Law enforced organization, was given the task to hunt down the cyber criminal known as Puppet Master whose identity is sexless, originated from America and is the most extraordinary cyber criminal hacker. What is its intention? It seeks to spread its kind through the network of information. As a living organism, it is fated to die and therefore it wishes to merge with another entity to pass on its “DNA”. Who do you think is the lucky bride? The Major, who is a mirror of the Puppet Master.

It’s a great animation to watch and if you want to dive into deep philosophical questions about what makes human a human. The Puppet Master, also known as Project 2501, is a bug which has its own desire and freewill separate from its programmers (sounds kind of scary). It wishes to complete itself from one particular frame of mine that is make up of a single entity. In other words, it’s trying to create an entirely new entity–something beyond humans and AIs; something like a godly being who knows and sees everything. After all, variety is good for the continuation of existence. Different viewpoints like variety of genes, ensure a higher chance in the birth of stronger beings. I can see why this film is a masterpiece. Apparently, the bug in Project 2501, like humans, wants to procreate. Woah, that’s some deep stuff I just watched.

Painted Faces (1988) Review: Never Look Down on Yourself Even if People Do

One thing I love about Hong Kong films back in the 80s to mid 90s is that it has the tendency to praise hard work and perseverance. Netflix did a great a job at recommending Painted Faces to me as I really enjoyed watching martial arts films but not all of them are made with passion and care. This film really depicted the rigorous training behind the scenes as a performing artists which paid its tribute to the Chinese Opera School, which later brought out the best in Hong Kong martial arts films. I can testify because I was about three years old when I got my first exposure to Hong Kong action films and I remember begging my mom to watch more of it. The choreography and the fighting scenes were highly addictive to watch on top of the intriguing plots that always kept me on my toes. But I think what made me really liked those films is how it teaches virtuous ideas and Painted Faces is no exception.

In this film, we follow a young boy called Big Nose. His mother had to join his father in Australia for work. Most parents would rather have their kids go to a university and become a scholar. It’s more prestigious than a performing artist. The young boy, Big Nose was handed over to Master Yu Jim-yuen, a strict Chinese Opera instructor who takes in young boys who are abandoned by their relatives for financial reasons or children who happen to be orphans. In return for lodging and food, the boys have to go through rigorous training to perform the Peking Chinese Opera and make money for the school. It’s a fair situation, putting the boys to use while providing shelter to them. Pretty much they are a property of the school. It sounds kind of bad, but not so bad at the same time.

What I really enjoyed about this film is watching how well behaved and dedicated the children are to their teacher. Likewise, the teacher cares greatly for his students. But most importantly, the film taught me to never look down on oneself regardless of what others think. Master Yu earned my respect. Overall, it’s a heart warming film that reminds us to respect those who come before us. If you are looking for a feel good film to watch, I highly recommend this one.

Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion (1972) Review: The Obedient Citizen and Her Government

I’m glad I watched this film last in this series. It took a bit of detective work but I enjoyed the ride. Everything makes sense why Scorpion possesses the spirit of a dead girl and why she harbors a deep hatred towards cops. This film got political fast and I am afraid that I don’t have the credibility to discuss Japanese culture in depth. It would require heavy textbook research. I can, however, point out that this film is a satire of Japanese society.

Scorpion symbolizes the average citizens who devotedly entrusted all her faith to her protector. Her lover, a narcotic cop is the symbolism of the government. The Japanese flag in the beginning and towards the end helped me put the two together. Similar to how the common people get screwed by their leaders, Scorpion was betrayed and deceived by her lover. He used her to infiltrate the drug scene in which she was later exposed and then raped by the Yakuza mob. It was all planned out, so that he can get promoted and move up the hierarchy chain. Talk about police corruption. The song that keeps playing over and over in all of the films makes sense now. Once he made love to her, he tossed her away. No one wants to be violated and betrayed by the person she/he trusted. It’s better to watch your own back then entrust it to others is the message I got from this film series.

Overall, I was blown away by the cinematography despite the stripping and ripping off the clothes, revealing the naked women bare breasts and the mild pornographic scenes which all serve a point and add a little humor. One memorable scene is when one of the female prisoners spilled over her plump peach-like breasts over the male guard face and raped him. I can hear her saying through her action: “You like breasts so much? I will force feed you!” Such a serious plot needs to be laughed at. Without the dramatic effects, I wouldn’t understand the metaphors in this film. I highly recommend this film series if you are starved for some good morbid sense of humor. I had a good laugh and I’m happy that the heroine was able to avenge the crime that has wrongfully committed against her.

I love Scorpion. Such an amazing woman. She is the Japanese Joan of Arc! And now I must go out into the street, partially showing my breast to defend justice. After all, I’m a feminist!!!

I’m just kidding. I just had to rhyme.

If you happened to stop by my blog for the first time, please check out my other reviews for this film series which are not in chronological order, but in the order I watched the films and thank you for reading:

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable (1973) Review: Strike A Pose in Red District

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable (1973) Review: Strike A Pose in Red District

There are four films total based on the manga series written by Tooru Shinohara. I’ve been hooked with this series. So far I watched 3 out of 4. Not all the films are directed by Shunya Ito. Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701’s Grudge Song was directed by Yasuharu Hasebe. No wonder the style is noticeably different. (I had to do some research to see why it was off). I have one more film to watch to complete this series.

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable is the most animalistic, metamorphically speaking, but most artistic out of all the film series so far. The angle, the shots, the unspoken words between the characters and the color scheme made it an enjoyable film to watch solely for art sake. Don’t be fooled by the cover though. The color placement of blue and orange are purposely done to enhance the tone of the film. You see the colors in the character’s attire and background decors. It’s no accident. Blue is a complementary color to orange according to the color wheel. The colors are so popish. Sometimes I forget I am watching a film because it looks like a perfume ad or a fashion catalog or a photo album. I am not complaining. I do appreciate good art.

Yes, Scorpion is on the loose again and she is being hunted by the detectives. In this film, Scorpion becomes friend with a girl name Yuki who happens to be a prostitute and who shamefully commits incest to keep her brain damage brother satisfied. When I said the film is animalistic, this is what I meant. It’s unnatural and would make any average person recoil. Even Yuki locked her beastly brother away as if he is a farm animal and attempted to kill him but didn’t have the heart to do so.

There are other characters, apart from Scorpion, who is unmistakably referred to an animal. The female pimp who dresses like a crow. She is a bully, a scavenger. She even has a cage to keep her fellow crow mates locked away, which just show how corrupted she is. There is a scene where she forces one of the prostitutes to get an abortion. Why? A pregnant woman is bad business! Even Scorpion has to make money! She works at the sweatshop. On a side note, I don’t know if it was intentional, but the clothing, the red lipstick and the laborious sewing are quite suiting in this film. Women are enslaved to make clothes and look beautiful for prostitution and thus attract predators. Hmm… I always thought fashion is a form of woman empowerment, not an invitation for sex. Regardless, Scorpion made the sweatshop glamorous. There is nothing more attractive than a beautiful woman who knows how to dress well. Scorpion is like a fashion model in this film.

Overall great film. Great cinematography. I enjoyed it. If you appreciate late 60s to early 70s pop fashion or if you just appreciate beautiful women, then I recommend this film if you haven’t seen it already.

If you just happened to stop by my blog, please check out my other reviews for this film series and thank you for reading:

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

Call Me (1988) Review: “I like your flaw”

I think Amazon Prime Video is having a blast with me, or I am just paranoid. They sure like to recommend me strange films that make my eyebrow raise. But I am glad they recommended it to me. I got hooked to this film because I found the real life Albert Wesker from Resident Evil series played by the actor Stephen McHattie. Just google him or watch the film and you can see the strong resemblance. He’s the classic alluring bad boy that woman like Anna, the protoganist just can’t resist: “Keep calling! I love your sexy voice, but you are kinda scary. So stop calling me!”

Taking a trip back to the 80s might not be so bad actually. It’s better than 2020–bombarded with options and there’s no real mystery to what people are thinking. Back then caller ID did not exist so you can’t tell who is on the other line. I remember very well when I first received my first sexual harassment call which was in the 90s. I was so angry! The memory is forever embedded in me. I still recall the conversation, it went like this:

Me: Hello?

Strange Man: Hello, are your parents there?

Me: No.

Strange Man: Can I talk to you?

Me: Okay.

Strange Man: How old are you?

Me: 10 years old.

Strange Man: Do you wear bra?

Me: No… Excuse me!?

I Slam the phone *click!*

For a kid, it’s really scary that a pedophile would talk to a child like that. But for this film, the context is appropriate since it involves full grown adults. So you can laugh at the situation. Desperate Anna just want some affection from her career-oriented boyfriend. So when she received a mysterious phone call from a sexy voice man, she mistook him for her boyfriend, and out of desperation for TLC, she followed his instruction to wait for him at the Polish Bar, wearing something nice but without panties! It’s a comical thriller with a twist. I laughed so hard.

This show will be removed from prime on Nov. 30th. If you want to hear cheesy pick up lines, I recommend this film. Nodaway, it’s more appropriate to say “Swipe me if you are feeling lonely.” As for me, I rather stick with my blog. I don’t want the virus nor do I want to spread it! No pun intended, haha! On a serious note though, I enjoy fishing for metaphors.

P.S

Sending virtual kisses to all the lonely folks from my kitchen, love Halsdoll~

Lying Eyes (1996) Review: It’s Always the Dumb Blonde who Gets Screwed

Air-head Amy is a high school cheerleader who seems to suffer from daddy issue. So when she met her 33-year old lawyer boyfriend through a car accident, she thought she found love (sorry Amy but you are just his new booty call). The dude is married to a foxy redhead and he has two children with her. He is such a player that it’s no surprise that his profession is law. He sure has no problem breaking rules.

I must confess, I have never met a dumb blonde in my entire life until I watched this film. Every thing about this film is theatrically hilarious, including the creepy lawyer. But I was thinking the whole time, give the blondes a break and stop making her a sex symbol, but I guess that can’t be help because she is just so drop dead gorgeous.

Well there’s one lesson to be learned in this film: don’t be so naïve when men give you a lot of gifts. Some men don’t give stuff for free. He is literally trying to buy you. That’s a message for young women. Watch out for the predator! He likes high school girls especially in cheerleader outfit!!!

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

I am addicted to laughing. I might have just found one of the funniest film I have ever watched. A big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction here, but this one tops it.  Don’t get mad now. I am not a man-hater but the portrayal of men in this film is a bit accurate; they are kind of like wild dogs when they are not domesticated.  But the women in this film are just as bad. In fact, they are as brutal as the men—even more so, I would say. I had a good laugh seeing both genders behaving like animals, battling against each other. The scenes are so shockingly grotesque that I watched it three times in a row! I am just that shocked!

The stunningly beautiful main character Scorpion, played by Meiko Kaji, is the most dangerous prisoner. Get too close and she will bite. The police had to lock her in the underground facility where insects resided. For a year, she was in insolation.  Until one day, the head of the policemen got promoted and decided to treat her like a human and invited her to celebrate with him along with other female prisoners. His sadistic way of taming the female prisoners into good girls led him to promotion. How ironic is that? But this is where the fun starts. It’s time for the girls to break out of jail and put those bad boys back in their place!

I won’t go into details about the plot because I just don’t want to spoil for folks who have not seen it. Apart from the plot, the cinematography is superb. As I mentioned before, I watched it 3 times, well 4 times now. It is so well done and the dialogues were well thought out that if I ever feel the need to laugh, I will just watch this film. It’s that good.  

The Children’s Hour Review: When Lesbian Is Not Sexualized

It seems like Amazon Prime Video knows exactly what sort of films I like–thought provoking ones and anything with Audrey Hepburn is a must see! She is the best and most beautiful actress that have ever walked the planet (subjectively speaking).

When it comes to entertainment, I like to gamble with my time. It’s part of my primitive hunting nature (I am the huntress not the hunted). Just dive into something blindly and I come out happy, sad or neutral. Most of the time, it’s neutral (I am kind of hard to please). This film sure took me by surprise: I don’t know anything about it beforehand, other than the fact, Audrey Hepburn is so beautiful and strong. I think I mentioned that earlier. Sounds like I have a crush, don’t I? Well this is what the film is all about! A schoolteacher, starring Shirley Maclaine as Martha Dobie, realizes that her affection towards her colleague Karen Wright (Hepburn) runs really deep. She is “insanely devoted” to the school and to Ms. Wright to the point her “unnatural” behavior causes a child to spread a lie, which resulted in the destruction of the schoolteachers’ business and ultimately their lives. However, there is more to this film that meets the eye. It gives the victim of homophobia a powerful voice. The schoolteacher’s job is to bring up good citizens. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with someone’s morality. After all, “Wicked young” [eventually turns into] “wicked old, ” said Ms. Wright.

What I enjoyed about this film is the way how it was shot. It’s a beautiful black and white film directed by William Wyler, based on Lillian Hellman’s play: The Children’s Hour. Watch it if you want to know how strong and influential women can be in the society. It’s a shame that nowadays, there aren’t many classy strong female actresses in the entertainment business. I can’t really think of any because most are just eye candy.

Ex-Machina: The Plot Is Not New

Disclaimer: Spoiler Alert

My brother introduced me to this film, said it was really good and I should watch it. I did a couple years later, I think it was last year that I sat through and watched it.  My initial reaction when the credits started rolling was: “That was it?” I wasn’t impressed, but I was entertained.

Ex Machina
picture courtesy

Why you may wonder? Simple. It’s a modern story of Adam and Eve. Let’s pretend no one is familiar with the Book of Genesis.  It’s a story how God created man in his image, and then he created woman for man because he doesn’t want man to be lonely.  God called man Adam and woman, Eve. As Adam and Eve were innocently enjoying Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  One day, tricked by the serpent, Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and gave the fruit to Adam as well. So he ate it. Adam and Eve begin to feel shame of their nakedness.  In other words, they begin to have a conscience, knowing good and evil. Doesn’t it sound like the outline of this film, just a modern day version with a tragic twist?

Unlike the benevolent God, the CEO Nathan Bateman is a mischievous, perverted, unethical man who deserved to be killed towards the end of the film by his own creation.  For one, he treated woman like a piece of clothes that he can change when ever he feels bored. I was happy when Ava, the AI freed herself into the wild, wearing a white cute dress marrying herself to freedom.  Secondly, he played Caleb for a fool. The last time I check, you need the person’s consent before you can experiment on a human being!

It’s unfortunate that the nice guy Caleb met his tragedy by simply being a fool. Trust me, I had sympathy for him and actually really liked him, but at the same time as a woman writing this article–how can a woman fall for the same trick twice? Ava has underwent several experiments over and over. How does she know if her new master is not as evil as the most current one? Trust is something to be gained. She’d be a a fool if she falls for the first guy who “save” her.  It’s kind of hard not to blame her action.

What bothers me about this film is that primeval fear is not new. Beautiful women are alluringly scary, are they? Can’t get enough of them, but too afraid to love them because they might kill you like the praying mantis that devours her mate during and after sex.  It’s kind of sexist. There is enough literature nowadays about how the typical female mind works.  The last time I check, there’s no such thing as a perfect man, so why expect the same from a woman?  She is not this mysteriously evil woman. Then again–we are talking about an AI not human here. Well because woman is a metaphor for life (giving birth to new ideas), she makes people feel uncomfortable, especially to those who do not like change.  So then my question is why are some of us afraid of new ideas? Why so afraid of change? Is Eve, I mean Ava truly evil for wanting to branch out and explore the Universe? What if it’s in the benefit of humanity?

This film is not anti-technology as some might think. It just poses questions on the matter of this subject, which is a good thing. As for my final thought, even though I see nothing wrong with the female body as she is the mother of life, I found the male gaze a bit unnecessary. It could have been filmed differently. It is just weird, but that’s just my personal preference.

 

Kwaidan: A Different Type of Horror (Part III)

Please refer to my other posts for complete film analysis : Part I and Part II.

The last story in this film is In a Cup of Tea. This is the shortest story and my least favorite. I wonder why they put this story at the last section of the film. The ending of this story is as unfinished as the actual ending of this film. Did I confuse you yet? Keep reading.

The year 1900 Meji era, a writer mysteriously left his book unfinished. The narrator in the film attempts to explain what happened. Around New Year, Lord Sado Nakagawa visited the area and stopped at the temple with his entourage at a temple in Hongo. Kannai one of the travelling men, became thirsty and went to get a cup of water, but soon an apparition appeared in the water, smiling at him. He tossed the water out, but the reflection of a strange man kept appearing when he scooped a new cup of water. Irritated, he drank the water.

Later that evening, the strange man in the cup of water appeared in the manor in human form. He called himself, Heinai Shikibu. Frightened by the appearance, Kannai claimed to never have seen him, when asked if he recognized the mysterious man. Heinai Shikibu got upset when Kannai threw the water on the ground earlier that morning at the temple. Kannai reached his sword and attacked Heinai Shikibu. And then, the “wounded mysterious man” disappeared behind the wall. No one believed him when he said there was an intruder entering the manor.

The next following night, three visitors came to visit Kannai. They claimed to be Heinai Shikibu’s retainer. The visitors said Heinai Shikibu will come back on the 16th of the month to get his revenge. Kannai became angry and started to swing his sword at the visitors. Those ghostly visitors could not be killed because they were not real. Kannai turned into a mad man, laughing hysterically because he could not defeat them.

Then the scene goes back to the writer, who left his book unfinished. The publisher came to check on the writer as the deadline is approaching. It appears that the writer’s suffered from writer’s block and could not come up with a satisfying ending “to a story about a man who swallowed another’s soul.” So he left it for the publisher to come up with an ending. The ending shows the writer inside a big water vase. Very strange.

I personally think this story is confusing no matter how many times I watched it. Writing it out doesn’t make it any better. Did it make any sense to you? Perhaps the way the tale is being told is intentional. Well I guess, as the narrator said, some books are mysteriously unfinished. This tale is in fact very mysterious. The only part I really enjoyed was the three visitors fighting scene. Strangely the three visitors reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat. He is my favorite.

To summarize my entire experience with the film: it did not scare me. Horror and haunting are two different words. Did it succeed at giving me the chills? Maybe Hoichi the Earless did. For the most part, it left me feeling satisfied and grateful that I am alive.