STRANGERS ON A TRAIN [1951] review

May 6, 2006

It’s no secret that Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors (if not the favorite). About 6 or so years ago I really discovered his films. And after watching STRANGERS ON A TRAIN tonight, it becomes more apparent what pale shadows many movies are today compared to it (see some of my recent movie reviews). STRANGERS, like most of Hitchcock’s movies is almost all devoid of any kind of things we’d consider special effects today, or stylized cinematography. Yet the movie is full of style. … The low camera angles, the use of light and shadow to advance the plot, the moments of chance that come to mean so much, and the climax involving several characters and plot points all coming to one singular, tight, ingenious end.

The dialogue and cramped setting of a 1950′s train draws the viewer immediately into the story, and sets the tone for the whole film. Why does a man who doesn’t really smoke have such a special lighter on his person? It being left behind is the first moment of chance that will later play much greater in the story. Then their are small moments that establish character, like the antagonist being held-up at toy gunpoint by a small boy carrying a balloon and said antagonist turning and popping the balloon with his cigarette. Funny, scary, and I believe there is even some revenge meted out by the boy later if I’m not mistaken.

The acting is top notch by everyone, even though some characters seemed a little too British to be a U.S. senator. … Great establishing shots, like the camera mounted on the front of a train following the switching of tracks before actually showing a scene on the fateful train. The editing of the antagonist first following the ill-fated woman in glasses.

What I believed would happen was wrong, and because I used a modern movie watching mind. I expected violence, and not saying there wasn’t, just not how and whom I thought. … You can find it in movies thee days, but maybe it’s just easier to reach for one of Hitchcock’s titles on the shelf.

V FOR VENDETTA [2006] review

May 2, 2006

Uncharacteristically, I didn’t see V FOR VENDETTA on its opening day in Tokyo, due to misinformation about the true opening date. I finally saw it on a random Monday night in a theater here in Shinjuku. My expectations were doused from the extremely high end they were a few months ago. I can say now that the movie did meet my lowered expectations, but a few things kept me from really digging the movie.

One thing was basically anytime John Hurt was on the screen over-the-toply portraying the “High Chancellor.” If he had been more restrained, the whole movie would have been more resonating for me. As it was, of course someone like V would be created by a government lead by that kind of chancellor. Another thing was not understanding 20% of what Hugo Weaving mumbled through the mask, and another 20% of what the rest of the British actors mumbled.

What I liked was V’s backstory and the connections between the other major characters in the government and on TV. The greatest strength of the movie was showing how fear can be used to little by little eat away at individual freedom until all of a sudden people are locked into their own homes and creativity and difference is literally cut out of society. And of course V’s knives were totally badass.

Finally, SKIMBOARDING

May 2, 2006

Session: 1 hour 15 minutes

Waves: not so good, low tide

Sweet rides: 5+

At long last I made my 2006 skimboarding debut at Chigasaki Beach. It was the warmest day of the year so far, and sunny as well. There were very strong winds at the beach though, sand flying all over the place. I was saddened to see that Suzuki-san’s surfshop was no more. It’s a cafe now. All that remains is a surfboard locker shop at the bottom owned by someone else. The owner could speak some English and we talked a bit about surfing and stuff.

The water as expected was still arctic, but with my wetsuit on it really wasn’t that bad. Since it was dead low-tide, and with the wind, I wasn’t expecting a great session, but I did get to have a pretty good 15 minute period where I got into a good rhythm at the same time there was a break in the wind with decent waves and I had about 5 pretty-good rides.

My next session could be as soon as Thursday. It was a good start to the 2006 season.

DREAM: I knew I'd be skimboarding

May 1, 2006

Woke up this morning having dreamt of no fewer than 4 people I know in the RW en route to skimboarding. I guess knowing I’d be going skimboarding the next day for the first time this year got my subconscious going. One dream involved two male friends from Japan and I having to show two forms of picture ID to get into New Smyrna Beach on the east coast of Florida! In another part of the dream, I ran into Yuki and she walked part of the way to the beach with me, although seemingly we were in Shinagawa while she goes to school in Kanagawa and the beach is actually in Yokohama!