Today I Watched: Seven Samurai (Kurosawa Akira, 1954)

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai, dir. Kurosawa Akira, 1954)

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Score: 9/10.
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Today I Watched: The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

The Lady Eve (dir. Preston Sturges, 1941)

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“If I were asked to name the single scene in all of romantic comedy that was sexiest and funniest at the same time, I would advise beginning at six seconds past the 20-minute mark in Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve, and watching as Barbara Stanwyck toys with Henry Fonda’s hair in an unbroken shot that lasts three minutes and 51 seconds.” —Roger Ebert

Score: 9− out of 10.

Today I Watched: Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002)

Adaptation (dir. Spike Jonze, 2002)

Score: 10− out of 10.

Top 40 Books I Read in 2016

40. Marcella Mariotti, La lingua giapponese, 2014

39. Film Crit Hulk, Screenwriting 101, 2013

38. Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelmark, How Not to Write a Novel, 2008

37. John Truby, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller, 2007

36. Plato, Crito, 4th century BC

35. Luciano Canepari & Francesca Miscio, Japanese Pronunciation & Accents: Geo-social Applications of the Natural Phonetics & Tonetics Method, 2016

34. Bryan Lee O’Malley, Seconds, 2014

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33. Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters: A Comedy, 1985

32. Ödön von Horváth, Youth Without God, 1937

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31. John N. Gray, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths, 2013

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Roger Ebert on What Makes a Movie Great

“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds—not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it. François Truffaut said that for a director it was an inspiring sight to walk to the front of a movie theatre, turn around, and look back at the faces of the audience, turned up to the light from the screen. If the film is any good, those faces reflect an out-of-the-body experience: The audience for a brief time is somewhere else, sometime else, concerned with lives that are not its own. […]

What happens when you see a lot of good movies is that directorial voices and styles begin to emerge. You see that some movies are made by individuals, and others by committees. Some are simply about the personalities they capture (the Marx Brothers and Astaire and Rogers). Others are about the mastery of genre, from Star Wars, which attempts to transcend swashbuckling, to Detour, which attempts to hide in the shadows of noir. Most good movies are about the style, tone and vision of their makers. A director will strike a chord in your imagination, and you will be compelled to seek out the other works. Directors become like friends. Buñuel is delighted by the shamelessness of human nature. Scorsese is charged by the lurid possibilities of Catholic guilt. Kurosawa celebrates individuals in a country that suspects them. Wilder is astonished by the things some people will do to be happy. Keaton is about the struggle of man’s spirit against the physical facts of the world. Hitchcock creates images that have the quality of guilty dreams. Sooner or later every lover of film arrives at Ozu, and understands that the movies are not about moving but about whether to move.”

Roger Ebert, The Great Movies (2002)

Enlightenment vs Romanticism and the Philosophy of Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion has villainous examples from both sides of the [Romanticism versus Enlightenment] spectrum. The artificial evolution committee Seele is Enlightenment Utilitarianism to the extreme, with their TransHumanist ideology of using science to destroy the Angels, ascend the Evolutionary Levels, and assimilate humanity into The Singularity to abolish the physical/biological/existential selfishness that exists in every individual. Seele is obsessed with the Future of Humanity, and thus they believe in a philosophy of Utopia Justifies the Means. They don’t care about the present-day harm done to the people they manipulate, as long as Utopia arrives. On the other hand, Gendō is an extreme Romanticist Anti-Hero, who only cares about his dead wife and messiah Yui; he doesn’t care if the world is destroyed, as long as he can see Yui again. Gendō symbolizes an obsession with the Past, an obsession with Yui. He lives in the Past and makes monuments to the Past, the Reis. He doesn’t care about the Present, about living with his own son, Shinji. This obsession with the past reaches its logical extreme when Rei, his monument to the Past, turns everybody into primordial DNA soup that was life four billion years ago. Whatever their philosophies are, both of them don’t appreciate the Present, and thus their obsessions reach their selfish and villainous extremes when they start ruthlessly manipulating other people, and thus in the end they are both Not So Different.

Shinji, who used to be in the extreme Romantic end of the spectrum, develops an Existentialist philosophy in The End of Evangelion. In the end he appreciates his depressing individual life in the Present despite his full knowledge that it’s a Crapsack World and individuality is painful, culminating in him deciding to reject Instrumentality, a False Utopia made of the extreme combination of both Enlightenment (as a utopian Singularity) and Romanticism (as mankind reverted to primordial soup and forcefully assimilated back into the Mother of All Mankind).”

TV Tropes, “Romanticism Versus Enlightenment”

Ghost in the Shell (2017): My Predictions

Matteo’s 2017
Ghost in the Shell Predicksions!!

Given the director’s and (credited and uncredited) screenwriters’ track record, I’m predicting a 6.8 IMDb rating, a 54% Rotten Tomatoes score, and a 58 Metascore. It’ll probably do worse, though — a total of “at least six or seven writers” (plus one) is a joke. Can Jonathan Herman save the script? Can Rupert Sanders make a good film? I don’t know. Anyway, see you in four and a half months!