Tag Archives: anime

Defying Gravity: Upside Down, Patema Inverted, and The Light Princess

2 Dec

Upside Down

upside-down
Upside Down
is a 2012 film starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess that although having an intriguing science fiction premise will appeal to those who might not typically be science fiction fans.  Adam and Eden are from two different twin planets.  The upper planet is prosperous and wealthy while the lower planet lives under poor conditions.  Matter and people from each planet are affected by the planet that they come from.  Adam and Eden meet on a mountaintop between their two worlds and despite being literally drawn in two different directions find a connection.  Their sweet romance and gentle humor carries Upside Down.  Some reviews I read felt the story stayed too small with such a large concept, but I found it a refreshing change from stories about superheroes and I liked seeing how a large concept can effect two individuals.  Upside Down reminded me of the British film Ex Machina, which was released this past year and dealt with the topic of Artificial Intelligence in a way that hinted at a larger impact on the outer world, but dealt with it on a smaller psychological scale.  I loved the visually unique look of the film.  Upside Down is available from Hoopla and on DVD from BCCLS libraries.

Patema Inverted

patema-inverted
Patema Inverted is a 2013 anime (Japanese animated film) that also features two characters, Age and Patema who are affected by two gravities.  In this case though they are both from a future version of Earth where an experiment has caused an alteration of gravity where some people and matter are pulled in the opposite direction.  Now the totalitarian nation of Aiga, where Age is from feels that the “Invert” group is being punished for their past sins and seeks out to destroy Patema and the others living in hiding who they believe will destroy their current way of life.  It was interesting to see how a similar concept could be handled in a very different way; while Upside Down dealt more with the idea of social issues and ideas of economics that could be applied to the industrialized world’s relationship with developing world countries, Patema Inverted takes the idea of gravity and uses it as a metaphor for intolerance and shows how things can appear completely different from another’s perspective and the need for open-mindedness towards others. Patema Inverted is available to Hoboken and other BCCLS cardholders through Hoopla and on DVD.

The Light Princess

light-princess
The Light Princess is a Scottish fairytale by George MacDonald.  The story is similar to Sleeping Beauty with a cursed princess, but instead of falling asleep for a hundred years, the Light Princess gets her name from the fact that she is cursed with not being effected by gravity so she floats and risks being carried away by a breeze. She can only regain her gravity when she can cry, something she also has lost the ability to do.   It was adapted recently as a musical with book and lyrics by Samuel Adamson and lyrics and music by Tori Amos.  Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes is one of my favorite albums so I would have loved to see it, but since I couldn’t fly to London (antigravity powers would be an advantage sometimes) I had to be satisfied with the excellent cast recording instead.  Although you miss out on seeing the clever staging of the floating Princess, the beautiful buoyant music and dramatic story are conveyed through the recording.  Amos and Adamson gave the story a strong feminist viewpoint with a heroine whose fairytale ends with more than simply finding her Prince.  You can listen to The Light Princess and other music by Tori Amos on Hoopla or borrow the CDs and the original MacDonald fairytale from BCCLS Libraries.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Pack Up Your Native Soil: Traveling the World with Vampires

28 Oct

In Dracula, a vampire must bring boxes of his or her native soil from where they were born to be buried in to protect them from the sun during the day.  He would certainly be lugging it around a lot, if he went all of the places the vampire myth has traveled.  Here are a few films to checkout this Halloween to see how vampires have translated across the world.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

a-girl-walks-home-alone-at-night
I had been hearing a lot of buzz online about A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night from fans of horror as being one of the most original and interesting vampire movies in years.  Technically this is an American film, however, it is set in a spooky Iranian ghost town called Bad City and the film is in Farsi with English subtitles.  A sweet love story emerges between a young Iranian man, who is overwhelmed by taking care of his drug addicted father, and a mysterious young woman who glides about town in something that resembles at times a chador and other’s Dracula’s cape.  The black and white film is visually stunning.  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is available from several BCCLS libraries and online from Hoopla.  I’m interested to check out other things by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour in the future.

Let the Right One In

let-the-right-one-in
Let the Right One In is a Swedish vampire film that centers around two children who form a strong bond over their outsider status: Oskar, a boy who is bullied at school, and Eli, who needs to drink blood to survive.  Vampire children are always extra creepy.  In Anne Rice’s and Stephenie Meyer’s vampire mythologies the creation of vampire children is forbidden.  In Poppy Z. Brite’s world of born vampires they literally absorb the life from their mothers.  Yet there is something vulnerable and touching about Eli. This is another film for those looking for something a bit more unusual than the typical Dracula retread.  An English version of the film was released in 2010 with the title Let Me In and moved the setting of the film from Sweden to New Mexico.  The book by John Ajvide Lindqvist that the films are based on is available from the Hoboken Public Library (the first English translation was published under the title Let Me In, subsequent editions are titled Let the Right One In).  Both film versions, Let Me In and Let the Right One In, are available from the Hoboken Public Library and Hoopla.

Vampire Party

vampire-party
Vampire Party is a funny light French film for those looking for a bit of slap stick absurd comedy with their horror.  It is available online from Hoopla.  Three best friends Sam, Alice, and Prune think they are incredibly lucky when they manage to get invites to Medici Night a legendary party at a remote castle, but it turns out that they haven’t just been added to the guest list, they are on the menu for an elite group of vampires.  The French title for the film is Les Dents de la Nuit, which translates to teeth of the night, which alludes not only to vampires, but also to one of the silly running gags of the film that a VIP at the event is a dentist.  If you thought films like Bridesmaids and The Hangover would have been better with vampires than you should find Vampire Party a bloody good treat.

Vampire Hunter D

vampire-hunter-d
Vampire Hunter D was one of the first animes (Japanese animation) I encountered.  As someone that was used to animation that was either only aimed at children or comedic like The Simpsons for adult audiences, I was surprised and intrigued by the complex and dramatic story line.  The 1985 film was based on a series of Manga (Japanese graphic novels). D is a half vampire/half human who fights vampires in a post-apocalyptic future.  Some unique details include D’s cybernetic horse and a symbiotic hand whose wise cracks add some levity to the story.  Although I’ve seen a great deal of anime since then, this remains one of my favorite with its cool blend of gothic horror with science fiction.  A second film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was released in 2000.  Check the films and manga out from BCCLS libraries.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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