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“The last two weeks I’ve written a beginners guide to Asian cinema, I originally planned to include this but thought it would perhaps suit it’s own standalone place. More next week though!”

Hayao Miyazaki and chums over at Studio Ghibli have shown the world that Japanese animation can be ultra stylish and stories don’t have to involve underage hareems and panty shots. However Studio Ghibli to your every day anime is more like comparing Walt Disney Pictures to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Movies are a different world compared to their TV counterparts.

The problem with anime is that it has a bad image. There is a sea of almost perverted stories or tales of a boy so strong he fights with other… strong people or equally ridiculous ordeals. However these are stories from another culture, a whole other style of life, style of thinking and most of all a whole other style ir story telling, it just takes a little thought to find something that wont make you vomit.

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Wasted Orient is a pretty raw film. Kevin Fritz’ only directorial venture to date, Wasted Orient documents the first tour of struggling Chinese punk rock band Joyside. Struggling is an understatement, although they have a growing fanbase, a manager and the ‘punk’ attitude, the members of Joyside live in a poor section of Beijing, after moving there to start a band.

Lives riddled with alcohol, tobacco and a violent temperament Bian, Yang, Fan, Liu and Xin board a train and travel to various provinces of China in their break-through tour. We are given snippets about their life, their thoughts and their punk dreams along the way. It is often confusing whether what we are seeing is deluded wannabes playing up to the camera or a group of people hellbent on their dreams and pressing through regardless of their hardships.

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Shane Power. Kevin May. Mick Lynch.Three men from Dublin, who combined create the wonderful, and strangely named “Guggenheim Grotto”.

L-R: Shane, Kevin and Mick.

Shane, Kevin and Mick.

I first came across these guys when I went to a gig of theirs in my local theatre (120 people max). Although I was only a young lad of 17 at the time, I knew that this band were precious. Having blown my mind, I quickly bought their album “…Waltzing Alone”. (more…)

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What do you get when you combine the talents of a director now known for his fondness of Russian Literature, a composer best known for his minimalist and ethereal scoring, a cast of unknowns and source material from professional horror weirdo Clive Barker?

The answer is one of the great Horror films of the 1990s. Between Freddy and Jason’s last hurrah and Wes Craven’s ironic revitalisation of the genre Horror cinema was in an odd place. The Franchises which had made the genre such a juggernaut in the 1980s had all reached their nadir and nothing was coming to fill their place. There would be some truly great films made in this Horror hinterland, but none of them would really impact the market in the way that the Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Streets film had. (more…)

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The film begins, clinical in its depiction of a clever and perfect bank robbery. The camera hovers closer and closer to the side of a skyscraper, its windows and interiors indistinguishable from each other until one of them cracks, exploding outward. It jumps back and forth between several sets of goons in clownish latex masks, garish and iconic in their simplicity. They go about their business, assured and confident in their work, chatting curiously about their mysterious employer, The Joker. He makes his appearance, sating our own burgeoning curiosity and anticipation for this moment. Briefly, after intimidating a vigilante bank manager, the camera closes in on his face so intimately that the frame is nothing but a mixture of red, chalk-white, and a sickly oil-soaked green. “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you…. stranger,” his mouth contorting into a rictus of pleasure and satisfaction. The film manages to embody this quote wonderfully. (more…)

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One of the problems with Batman is that he is a character who is hard to relate too. Compared to the more blue collared heroes of Marvel the DC heroes have always strayed away from the common man angle. Superman is a deity, Wonder Woman is an Amazon, the Green Lantern is an interstellar cop and Batman is a playboy billionaire driven to the point of madness by the murder of his parents. Having his parents be killed in cold blood at such a young age not only distances the character from his readers but limits how you can tell the story of Batman. The character is essentially going through long term post-traumatic stress, raging against the world which disrupted his life and as such you can either write the character as a cipher or a mad man.

The live action Batman films all seemed to realise this with Burton’s first film portraying Batman and Bruce Wayne as a barely contained psychopath. The following films would marginalise Batman’s role in the story until he was little more than a supporting character in his own movies. Whilst the previous films would contain brief flashbacks to the murder of Wayne’s parents they never took the time to look at the origins of the character with even Tim Burton’s first Batman film showcasing a fully formed crime fighter. (more…)

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