Last night I saw Tron Legacy in IMAX and was pleasantly surprised.
Most everyone else has already commented on the look of the film (dazzling, if gloomy — is our own world gonna look this bleak soon?) and the Daft Punk score (downloading it from Amazon as we speak). I liked both, and the audience I was with clapped when Bangalter & Cie. appeared briefly in the club sequence.
The plot isn't groundbreaking, but there is a nice, heartfelt father-and-son story at the core — not just about the father inadvertently losing a son, but gaining another and being betrayed by him (although, in the father's mind, he was the traitor). That part of it, I think, will help it stand up when people come back to it later and some of the backlash/hype has burnt itself out.
Plus there are some intriguing elements about the presence or absence of a creator god, the spontaneous evolution of life, etc. — and while they're not developed as far as they could be, this is a Disney movie. I imagine they were not crazy or bold enough to give the helm to, say, Werner Herzog or Alejandro Jodorowsky and see what turned up. But oh man, just thinking about those ...
Re: 3D — I'm not a fan of it but it was used quite effectively in this picture, with only a couple moments of overload. The contrast between the movie itself and the overwhelmingly cardboard-y looking trailers — most of which I suspect were post-processed 3D — was pretty striking. But on the whole I'm more appreciative of flat IMAX or even classic 70mm than I am of 3D.
The end of the year has been far, far busier than I ever dreamed, which means a lot less time to look at or talk about anything in detail. Much of that has been due to my regular, paying job(s), but the rest of it is me being the new Guide at Anime.About.com and having my hands super-full. Still, a couple of things have fallen into my hands that are worth commenting on. Rather than do full-blown writeups, I'll just nod as I go down the list.
The Gundam novels by Tomino — the three-in-one published by Stone Bridge Press earlier — made for an interesting read. Not just because they were written by the director himself, but because they are at least as much about the insides of all the character's heads as they are about the story, and I was fond of that. I'm dismayed by it being out of print, and grateful that my local library system had a copy (which was, uh, unexpected to say the least). The original series is up on Crunchyroll right now although I hope it doesn't vanish before I get to see it, as I understand there were some key differences between the TV series and the novels — not least of which were a couple of racier portions that you couldn't show as a prime-time anime! (Nod.)
Another curious item I found in the local library: Jinsei Annai ("Life's Guide"): Glimpses of Japan through a Popular Advice Column. As the title implies, it looks at various installments of a popular newspaper advice column and makes various sociological observations via both the questions asked and the answers given. It's probably dated a bit since it was published in 1991, right as the bubble burst, but I imagine many of the notes about family life or society in general are still on the mark. (Nod-nod.)
I also picked up for cheap a book I couldn't get through my library system: Murder Most Modern: Detective Fiction and Japanese Culture. It's another scholarly work, one that does a lot of extrapolation and theorizing, so it's not so much a general history of the subject. That said, there's some interesting material in here about folks like Rampo and a number of other undertranslated (or completely untranslated) authors. (Noddy.)
And on a totally unrelated note, a wonderful little movie about Zen-style three-bowl eating! Everything served there — the rice, the pickles, the soup — are all things I eat quite happily, but the presentation and the atmosphere of the whole thing make me muse that much more about life in a monastery. People talk about "austerity" but to me it's not that at all — it's having the good sense to not take more than you need, and to know your limits. Those are skills which our society doesn't seem to be in the habit of teaching.
... Yep, I think I'm adding "attend a Zen retreat" to my bucket list. I don't think I'd be able to handle a three-month break in my current lifestyle, but a week or so would be about right.
As part of my general budget-cutting measures, I've taken a good hard look at my book-buying habits — especially from online venues — and decided I needed to make more use of my local library system. I was pretty surprised when many of the books I'd been considering buying were in fact available through inter-library loan, or were in the local branch. It's one of those "durr, right under my nose!" moments that needed to happen.Read more