First of all, that’s highly recommended, even if I actually didn’t get to relax much with my time away thanks to family commitments1You can read about that <a href=”https://www.beaucoupkevin.com/blog/real-life-is-no-cool-parental-care/”>here</a>., vet visits2Which kind of counts as a family commitment, right?, and a visit to an auto body shop to repair some stupid damage I inflicted on our Subaru Outback.
However, I did go see some superheroes in the cinema.
We went to a screening of Shin Kamen Rider on Wednesday night and while I thought it was better than okay, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the two films that preceded it in this Hideki Anno-helmed reboot series. As I said in my Letterboxd review, I am not sure that I needed 10% more or 10% less stuff in my reboots of kid-friendly properties from the Showa era, but this just generally felt that less balanced than Shin Godzilla or Shin Ultraman. I do know that my tolerance for scenes where people face each other and emotionlessly spout philosophy is about 35% lower than the average otaku, though, which is definitely a problem I had with this one that I’m sure will make the eventual Shin Evangelion a real struggle.
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is a technical wonder with great voice acting, crisp dialogue, and a real commitment to its themes. It’s also about 20 minutes too long and it actually made me appreciate how the Russos successfully delivered the climax of Avengers: Infinity War. I’m going to hide a spoilery thought behind this footnote here.3I think that if the movie had ended with Gwen being sent back, having the heart-to-heart with her dad, and then opening the box to reveal Hobie’s bracelet, we’d have perfect closure that would still leave the audience ridiculously ready for the next movie. Instead, we kept cutting to a sequence with Miles that defanged that emotional high.
I also spent time with Johnnie To and Bruce Lee.
I’m the sort of person that has a region-free blu-ray player, which means I immediately preordered Chameleon Films’ new set collecting Johnnie To’s Election and Election 2. To’s work during the early 00s feels distinct from the rest of the Hong Kong film scene. While studios were pushing filmmakers to create more polished, commercial works, To intently focused on character-heavy genre pictures (even comedies!) that made the audience challenge their preconceptions and actually think for themselves. Each of these two films expose the men in the triads for what they are: violent thugs who use honor as a cudgel. The end of the first film in particular serves as a definitive statement about the hypocrisies of the genre.
Speaking of Hong Kong filmmaking, I’ve been absolutely devouring Matthew Polly’s 2017 biography, Bruce Lee: A Life. Much like Brian Jay Jones’s excellent look at the life George Lucas, this is a brisk, eminently readable tome that gives the audience as complete a picture of the Little Dragon as they could want, with impeccable sourcing and lots of pictures I’d never seen before. My favorite bit so far: Lee’s famous quote about being water that shows up in every documentary and YouTube video about him is taken completely out of context. In that clip, from the one English-language interview that’s still available, Lee is quoting from a script written by Stirling Silliphant for the TV show Longstreet. This is going to be my go-to example for how much context matters.