AMV of the Day: Otaku Paradise


maxresdefault

It’s the 4th of July Weekend and one of the things I’ve gotten used to these past couple years is that it means Anime Expo has come around once more. While I don’t have the anime convention experience as pantsukudasai56 it is still a event that I’ve gotten used to attending once a year when possible.

The latest “AMV of the Day” arrives just in time for the largest North American anime convention held every 4th of July weekend in Los Angeles. Not to say that the other anime conventions around the country are nothing to sneeze at, but Anime Expo is a whole different animal that every otaku in North America needs to experience at least once in their life. It’s a video that comes courtesy by the very talented video editor who goes by the handle of BecauseImBored1.

A video that combines scenes from anime and real-life footage of cosplayers and anime con-goers into one timely video that celebrates the positive nature of the word “otaku”. It’s a word that has a negative reputation in Japan, but one that’s seen as a celebration of anime and Japanese pop-culture fandom worldwide. It’s a label taken on proudly.

“Otaku Paradise” has such a huge number of anime referenced yet barely scratches the surface of what “otaku” watches and follows year in and year out. I love the fact that the video intersperses these anime scenes with real-life people in cosplay of those very same anime characters. Not everyone cosplays, but every otaku appreciates and admires those who do. Yet, cosplayers and non-cosplayer otaku both have one thing in common and that is their acceptance of the label of “otaku”.

One thing this video made me do while I watched it for the first time and the many times since was put such a huge, happy smile on my face. It’s small consolation for having to miss this weekend’s Anime Expo 2014.

Anime: Another, Attack On Titan, Baccano!, Baka And Test – Summon The Beasts, Bakuman, Black Lagoon, CANAAN, Clannad, Code Geass – Lelouch Of The Rebellion, D.Gray-Man, DragonBall Z, Durarara!!, Fate/Stay Night, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Genshiken, Genshiken Nidaime, Haikyuu, Hellsing Ultimate, Howl’s Moving Castle, Idolmaster, K, K-ON!, Kampfer, Kanon, Kara No Kyoukai – The Garden Of Sinners, Kill La Kill, Kuroko’s Basketball, Kyoukai No Kanata, Kyousougiga, Little Witch Academia, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, Lucky Star, Macross Frontier MUSIC CLIP Collection – Nyankuri, Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya, MM!, Munto, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, My Neighbor Totoro, Naruto, Ookami-San To Shichinin No Nakama-Tachi, Ore No Kanojo To Osananajimi Ga Shuraba Sugiru, Ouran High School Host Club, Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, Persona 4: The Animation, Pokemon : White, Pokémon: Movie 2, Pokemon 2000, The Power Of One, Princess Jellyfish, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Romeo × Juliet, Sailor Moon, Sakura Trick, School Rumble, School Rumble 2, Shugo Chara!, Soul Eater, Soul Eater Not, Summer Wars, Super Smash Bros, Sword Art Online, Tales Of Xillia, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, Toradora!, Trigun, Uta No Prince Sama, Welcome To The NHK, Yu Yu Hakusho

Song: “Raging Fire” by Phillip Phillips

Creator: BecauseImBored1

Past AMVs of the Day

Embracing the Melodrama #16: A Summer Place (dir by Delmer Daves)


A Summer Place

Judging from the films I’ve seen from the decade, the 50s were a time when everyone was obsessed with sex but nobody felt comfortable talking about it.  Boys were, of course, allowed to do whatever they wanted, as long as they kept their hair perfectly straight and went out for a school team or two.  Girls, meanwhile, were divided into “good girls” and “bad girls.”  The most important thing in the world was to remain a good girl and to understand that the bad girls really weren’t having as much fun as they appeared to be having.  As for adults, their lives apparently revolved around sheltering their daughters and encouraging their sons to go get laid.  Now, to be honest, the culture really hasn’t changed that much.  I guess what distinguished 50s hypocrisy from the hypocrisy of today is that people in the 50s were apparently so much more sincere about that hypocrisy.

Case in point: 1959’s A Summer Place.  A Summer Place is one of those films where everyone is obsessed with sex but nobody can ever come right out and admit it.  It’s a film where people seem to exclusively speak in the language of euphemism.  It’s a film, about sex, in which you never see anyone actually having sex though, of course, there is an unplanned pregnancy towards the end of it.  That was the 50s for you.  Have sex outside of marriage once and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get knocked up.  You just better hope that the father is played by Troy Donahue.

(Has ever an actor has a more appropriate name than Troy Donahue?  The name itself just resonates a certain handsome blandness.)

In A Summer Place, Troy Donahue plays all-American boy Johnny Hunter.  Johnny’s father (played by Arthur Kennedy) is an alcoholic.  Johnny’s mother, Sylvia (Dorothy McGuire), is frustrated with her perpetually drunk husband and spends her days dreaming of a lifeguard that she once knew.  The Hunters own an inn, located on beautiful Pine Island off the coast of Maine.

One summer, Ken (Richard Egan) and his cold wife Helen (Constance Ford) come to stay at the inn.  Accompanying them is their teenage daughter, Molly (Sandra Dee).  Helen insists on trying to control every aspect of Molly’s life.  Ken, on the other hand, takes a much more relaxed attitude towards his daughter.  When Molly complains that Helen forces her to wear a bra and a girdle, Ken grabs his daughter’s underwear and tosses it all into the ocean.

(Uhmmm …. yeah, that’s more than a little creepy…)

Molly meets Johnny and, despite the fact that the stiff Troy Donahue generates absolutely zero romantic  sparks, the two of them soon fall in love. (It probably has something to do with the Theme From A Summer Place, a hypnotic piece of music that plays on the soundtrack whenever the two of them so much as even glance in each other’s direction.)  Helen, however, doesn’t want Molly to have anything to do with Johnny.  When Molly and Johnny spend a day stranded on an island together, Helen forcefully checks to make sure that Molly’s virginity is still intact while Molly repeatedly shouts, “I WANT MY FADDAH!  I WANT MY  FADDAH!”

However, her father is not there because he’s too busy having an affair of his own.  It turns out that Ken is the former lifeguard who Sylvia Hunter once loved…

And through all of the complications and the melodrama (and believe me, there’s a lot), the Theme From A Summer Place keeps on playing in the background.

Apparently, A Summer Place was considered to be incredibly risqué back in 1959.  Watched today, it all seems to be rather quaint and, in its way, oddly likable.  It’s not necessarily a good film but it’s an agreeable enough offering if you’re looking to waste two hours with whatever happens to be on TCM.  As opposed to some of the other regular directors of 50s melodrama —  like Douglas Sirk and Nicholas Ray — director Delmer Daves made films where the only subtext was unintentional.   As a result of Daves’s direction and Donahue’s “nice young man” blandness, A Summer Place is a pleasant film that never quite becomes a memorable one.

Still, just try to get that music out of your head…

a summer place, sandra dee, troy donahue

 

Embracing The Melodrama #15: You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! (dir by R. John Hugh)


Patty and EddieFilmed down in Florida and originally released in 1959, You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! was originally known as Touch of Flesh.  Of the two titles, I prefer You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie!  While I’m sure that Touch of Flesh, as a title, was good for convincing horny teenager boys at Southern drive-ins to contribute to the film’s the box office, it’s also a rather boring title.  You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie!, however, is properly histrionic and over-the-top.  It’s the perfect title for a perfectly pulpy film.

You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! takes place in Dentonville, Florida, which is one of those small Southern towns where you can sit out on your porch and watch the mist hang over the bayous while you attempt to survive both the humidity and the crazy rednecks who apparently make up the entire population of the town.  Dentonville is the home of the wealthy Dr. Denton (Charles Martin), a casually corrupt man who rules with the help of a dim-witted sheriff.

Dr. Denton has a daughter named Joan (Jeanne Rainer), a spoiled and promiscuous hedonist who spends all of her spare time seducing boys from the wrong side of the tracks.  When Joan gets together with the dumb but decent Eddie (Ted Marshall), the end result is that Joan gets pregnant.  Joan announces that she’s going to get an abortion but guess who wants to both be a father and have an oppurtunity to become a part of the most powerful family in town?  Even after Joan tells him that she has no interest in getting “fat and sick and ugly,” Eddie demands that she not abort her child.

Dr. Denton reacts by having Eddie framed for a crime and thrown in jail.  However, Eddie’s friend Vicky (Sue Ellis) knows a lawyer who can get Eddie out of jail.  So, what choice does Joan have but to grab a gun and chase Eddie through the swamps while shooting at him?

You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! is a wonderfully odd and sordid piece of Southern gothic.  Along with featuring everything that you might expect from a film like this — overheated dialogue, unapologetic overacting, and over-the-top plotting, You Ruined Me, Eddie! is distinguished by Jeanne Rainer’s ferocious performance as Joan.  Whether she’s taunting Eddie or dancing around her bedroom in her underwear or demanding that her father help her find the best abolitionist in Tampa, Jeanne Rainer turns Joan into such a determined force of nature that she becomes the unexpected heroine of the film.  By the end of it, you can’t blame her for wanting to get boring old Eddie out of her life.  He would only slow her down.

You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! is not an easy film to find.  However, it has been released on DVD by Something Weird Video as a double feature with The Shame of Patty Smith, a film that will be reviewed in a future installment of this melodramatic series.

Joan

Embracing the Melodrama #14: Bigger Than Life (dir by Nicholas Ray)


Bigger Than Life 2

Today, we continue to embrace the melodrama by taking a look at Nicholas Ray’s 1956 Hell-In-The-Suburbs masterpiece, Bigger Than Life.  Unfortunately for some of you, this review is going to contain minor spoilers because there’s no way you can talk about Bigger Than Life without talking about that ending.

Bigger Than Life is a film about deception.

English teacher Ed Avery (James Mason, who not only gives a brilliant lead performance but produced the film as well) pretends to be happy with his safe and dull life but it only takes a few minutes of looking at his strained smile and listening to him wearily  make perfunctory conversation to realize that Ed is a deeply disappointed man.  He decorates his house with travel posters for locations that he’s never visited and spends too much time thinking about when he played football in high school, the one time in life when he truly stood out from the crowd.

Ed doesn’t want his wife Louise (Barbara Rush) to know that they’re in financial trouble so he gets a job working as a taxi dispatcher without telling her.  While Louise fears that he’s actually having an affair, Ed spends his time coming up with excuses for why he can never come straight home from school.

Ed doesn’t want either Lou or his son Richie (Christopher Olsen) to know that he’s been feeling pain and dizziness.  It’s only after he faints at home that he finally agrees to go to the hospital.

The doctors who inform Ed that he has a life threatening condition don’t want Ed to know how dangerous the medicine that they’ve prescribed for him can truly be.  They tell him that cortisone can save his life but they don’t tell him about the side effects.  It’s up to his friend Wally (Walter Matthau) to research the drug and, by the time he does, it’s already too late.

Ed doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s becoming a drug addict.  However, as he takes more and more of the pills, his personality starts to change.  The once meek Ed is now demanding perfect service at stores and restaurants.  At a PTA meeting, Ed has no problem announcing that most of his students are stupid.  (“You should make that young man principal!” one parent shouts, apparently relieved to hear that a teacher thinks of little of his children as he does.)  At home, Ed pushes his son to become a football great and announces that he no longer loves his wife.

Richie doesn’t want his father to know that he now hates him.  Lou doesn’t want her husband to know how much she is growing to fear him.

Ed doesn’t want Richie to know that, after reading the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, Ed has decided that he has to murder his son.  When Lou points out that God kept Abraham from killing Isaac, Ed replies, “God was wrong.”

And finally, the film itself deceives you into thinking that it has a happy ending with Lou and Richie hugging a now recovered Ed.  Everyone laughs and the happy music swells but there’s prominent shadow cast on the wall close to the family, a reminder that the darkness that Ed has unleashed on his family will not be so easily contained or forgotten.

bigger than life

Bigger Than Life is famous for being one of those films that flopped when it was originally released, just to eventually be rediscovered and acclaimed decades later when it was released as part of the Criterion Collection.  It’s easy to understand why the film flopped because the power of Bigger Than Life is almost entirely to be found in the film’s subtext.  On the surface, Bigger Than Life is a typical social problem film.  In this case, that problem would appear to be drug abuse.

However, as you watch the film, it becomes obvious that, for director Nicholas Ray, the real problem is the conformist and repressed society that the Avery family finds themselves living in.  When Ed’s personality changes, all he is really doing is achieving an extreme version of the ideal suburban existence.  The suburban ideal is that the man should be the king of his castle.  Ed becomes a king but he’s one of those kings who would behead his subjects on a whim.  In telling this tale of American exceptionalism gone mad, Nicholas Ray uses the techniques of European expressionism, using skewed camera angles and creating a world that is full of shadows.  Even before Ed takes his first pill, his world is a dark and threatening one.

By the end of the film, Ed may be off the drugs and he may be recovering but, as Nicholas Ray makes clear, the real problem remains.

Bigger Than Life