Month: July 2014

AKIRA_(1988_poster)

Akira (1988)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
When it received a limited release in US theatres in 1988, Akira was by no means the first exposure Americans had had to Japanese animation. Animé had a small but continuos presence on American television screens since at least Astro Boy in the early sixties. But it’s undoubtedly true that no one in the West had ever seen anything like this movie before. Shows like Astro Boy, Battle of the Planets and Kimba the White Lion were exported to the West because they were children’s shows, and they fit into Western perceptions of animation as being entertainment for the man cubs. Darker, more mature animé for adult audiences simply did not have a market outside of Japan, and in fact even Akira only received a limited release after Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas passed on it, considering it “unmarketable” to American audiences.  While there had been a fandom for Japanese animation in the States since at least the seventies, Akira was a seismic event, massively swelling the ranks of fans in the US and other Western nations and hugely increasing the genre’s visibility in mainstream pop culture. Why? Well, the animation for starters. Over a quarter of a century later and it’s still one of the greatest technical achievements in cel-animation ever drawn. It’s jaw-dropping. When fans of animé want to induct new members into the church, Akira is more often than not the movie they reach for. Now, I know I’ve already reviewed one animé movie on this blog before, but honestly Studio Ghibli are very much their own little sub-genre with very distinctive tropes and styles that don’t really hold true for the rest of animé. Akira is much closer to what people picture when they hear the word “animé”, which is not surprising given how big a role it played in shaping the genre. With that in mind, and since this is a blog usually devoted to Western animation, now is probably a good place to talk about animé in general and address some of the more common questions.
“Manga”, “Animé”, what’s the diff?
Short version: Manga is comics, Animé is animation. The two industries are much more closely linked than in the West. Many comicbook writers work in animation and vice versa, and the director of Akira was no exception, the movie actually being Katsuhiro Otomo’s adapation of his own manga series.
Why does everyone in animé look white and how guilty should I feel about it?
All animé owes a debt to the work of Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy. Tezuka’s was hugely influenced by Western animators like the Fleischer Brothers and of course Walt Disney.
"Did you really think you could escape me?"

“Did you really think you could escape me?”

The big round eyes of so many animé characters are not  as a result of some kind of ethnic inferiority complex, but because they’re drawn in a style influenced by Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse. Also, everyone has different colour hair just because it’s more interesting visually. Not all animé comforms to this however. A lot of more naturalistic animé will have characters that are more recognisably Asian (Akira for example).
So much of animé seems obsessed with huge explosions and the end of the world. What’s up with that?
Oh wow. I can’t imagine why that would be. Let’s just sit here for seven days and nights and see if we can crack this inscrutable conundrum.
Animé seems to be so full of sex and violence. Won’t somebody please think of the children? Also, the Japanese are clearly all perverts.
Thought experiment. If you sat an alien down and screened for him all the movies made in America in any given year, their first question would be “why do most of these have close up shots of dicks going into various orifices?”  See, a huge percentage of films made in North America are hardcore porn because it’s cheap as chips to make and very lucrative. But when we think of “American cinema”, My Ass is Haunted is not usually part of the conversation. We compartmentalise porn and regular cinema, while filing Japanese hentai simply under “animé”. Japan’s porn tends to be animated, but other that there’s no real difference. The Japanese are no more “weird” or “sick” than we are.
Um…tentacles?
Yeah, okay, that shit’s pretty weird and sick.
What’s good against steel-type Pokémon?
I don’t know. No one does. And anyone in the comments who says they do is a liar.
That’s the basics. Keep in mind though, I’m just a casual fan, not an animé expert by any stretch of the imagination. If you do want to go deeper down the anime rabbit hole allow me to recommend Anime Reporter. Oh, and while I usually don’t put up spoiler warnings (it’s a blog where I recap the entire plots of movies in detail what do you think is going to happen?) I should mention I’ll also be discussing plot points from the manga as well, so fair warning.

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Saudi

Check this girl out!

My friend Sahar Mohamed-Ali hai wears many hats; actor, teacher, blogger, devout Muslim and comedy writer to name a few (she also wears many actual hats. She’s a hat person). Recently she left us all the poorer by accepting a teaching gig in Saudi Arabia, an experience which she is currently documenting in her blog, Saharcasm which I am telling you to go read right now because it is made of awesome. Sahar recounts the culture shock of a sassy Irish girl dealing with life in The Kingdom in a way that is often hilarious, sometimes depressing and always, always utterly fascinating. She’s also been nominated for Best Art and Culture Blog at the Blog Awards Ireland 2014 so you know we’re talking crème de la crème.

Oh dear, did I leave this old thing lying around again? Head like a sieve, me.

Anyway, do yourselves a favor and check it out.
Mouse.

The Hangman’s Daughter-Chapter 11

CHAPTER 11- GOODBYE TO ST. ANNE

She ran through the rain, her face and arms aching from the sky’s lashing. Once her foot disappeared into a quagmire, and she sank three feet, screaming and scrabbling for solid ground. She pulled herself out again and half ran half staggered back to the cottage to where Doctor Toureil sat in the doorway, his face buried in his hands.
He looked up at her approach, and there were tears in his eyes. Great, kind tears.
For a second they simply stared at each other, the old weeping man and the tiny girl, caked in mud, her red hair plastered black to her face, her green eyes stained bloodshot red.
The Doctor simply shook his head.

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We who are about to blog salute you…

A very big and heartfelt thank you to everyone who nominated me for the Blog Awards Ireland 2014. I’m delighted to report that Unshaved Mouse has made the long list for Best Humour Blog and Best Art & Culture Blog. This means three things;

1) As people now think this is an Art and Culture Blog, we need to class up this joint. No more cussin’ in the comments section and you all need to start spittin’ in the spittoon like I asked ye.

And not ON the spitoon. IN the spitoon.

And not ON the spittoon. IN the spittoon.

2) As with last year, all nominated blogs are eligible for the Best Blog Post award, which is decided by popular vote. In the coming weeks I’ll be asking you all to vote for me whenever you can which of course means…

3) Weekly updates. Not weekly reviews unfortunately (guys, I’m only flesh and blood) but I do have some articles lined up to go in between the regular reviews. And of course, The Hangman’s Daughter will now be going up a chapter a week, starting tonight.

Thanks a million guys, you’re amazing.

Mouse out.

 

Missing chapter of the Hangman’s Daughter (which will now be weekly)

Aaaaaaaaargh and so on.

So it seems I’ve made a bit of a clanger. For the last few months I’ve been updating the blog fortnightly with chapters from my novel The Hangman’s Daughter which many of you have been very kindly reading and critiquing. It was pointed out to me, however, that I’ve actually been updating with excerpts from my original draft, not the newer one. This is not really a big deal as both drafts start out pretty much identical but there is a fairly substantial chunk in Chapter 5  that acts as the first bit of foreshadowing of the book’s main villain that I left out. I’ve put it back in now (it’s everything after “silent acrimony”) so if you want to go and read that you should be up to speed. Also, it’s been pointed out to me that my habit of posting short chapters that typically end in cliff-hangers once every two weeks is the kind  of thing that gets you dragged before the Hague (and also would have us finishing the first book sometime in mid-2016) so I’ve decided from now on there’s going to be a new chapter every week, updating on Saturdays.

Oh, and if you wanna get caught up? Got your back, bro.

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

Single White Rodent seeks Video Editor for Internet Adventures (and maybe more…)

Hello peoples of the net!

Erik’s audio reviews for Melody Time and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad are now up, so be sure to give them a listen. To anyone who’s recently followed the blog, Erik Copper has been doing audio versions of my Disney reviews. We’re now getting to the point where the blog stopped being “movie reviews” and became more me deciding that I didn’t need no goddam anti-psychotic medication and we’ve started to realise that a lot of the comedy from this period kind of needs a visual element (Erik’s fantastic vocal skills notwithstanding). Now, we used to have a guy who did video versions of Erik’s audio versions of my text reviews (keep up damn it) but he betrayed us and turned to evil he unfortunately had to give it up for study commitments. So we’re now looking for someone with editing skills to adapt the reviews into a video form. Now before you say “no”, let me assure you: Yes, the work is hard. But on the other hand, there is no money.

However, if you’re someone who’s wants to hone their editing skills before an enthusiastic and always growing audience (cough cough freshly pressed cough cough)…eh, you could do worse. Here’s a link to Mauricio’s videos to give you an idea of what’s gone before and if you think it’s something you’d enjoy send me an email at unshavedmouse@gmail.com and we’ll take it from there.

The Hangman’s Daughter- Chapter 10

CHAPTER 10: THE SHADE

She lay there in the mud for a few minutes, not quite sure if she had gone mad. After all, she had seen some incredible things when she had had the fever. But the figure in front of her was real. She was seeing it before her eyes, not in her head. Slowly, she clambered to her feet, rivers of muddy water running off her now thoroughly soiled white night-dress. She took five steps, and stood at the right hand side of the figure. From where she was, she could just about see the tip of an elegant chin, the end of a nose, but everything else hidden by the folds of the hood.
“Hello.” said Marie quietly.
The figure started, and Marie realised that she had taken him by surprise. If this person was what she thought he was, then how was that possible?

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The_Princess_and_the_Frog_poster

Disney Reviews the Unshaved Mouse #49: The Princess and the Frog

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

God I hate when this happens.
See, here’s the thing. I already knew what I was going to say about Princess and the Frog months ago. I had my arguments prepared, I’d done my research, the only thing remaining to do was to sit down and watch it again before actually writing the review. And then, of course, my opinion of the movie changed pretty substantially and now I’m back to square one. Alright, a lot of you have been asking me my opinion on the Princess and the Frog, and until very, very recently it was this:
Don’t like it. Hugely disappointing. Major flaws. Disney screwed the pooch. To get traditional animation back in contention they needed a perfect ten and we got a five. Mouse not happy.
But then…yeah, I watched it again and it’s safe to say that my opinion has mellowed quite a bit. Not totally. The problems I thought were there are still there. What problems you ask? Three are the problems, and the number of the problems is three.
  1. Tiana
You know, given Disney’s sterling record of diversity it’s kind of amazing that it’s taken this long for us to have an African American princess.
"Ha! Good one!"

“Ha! Good one!”

I’m actually not being sarcastic. Think about it, since Little Mermaid in 1987, of the seventeen canon movies featuring humans we’ve had Arab protaganoists, Asian protagonists, Native American protagonists, gypsy protagonists, Hawaiian protagonists, Mayan protagonists and even that most reviled and loathed of all minorities…
belle-and-the-beast-in-beauty-and-the-beast-disney-couples-25378817-1280-720

The French.

So, why has it taken them this long? Well, seeing as you’re on the internet you probably aren’t aware of this, but race can be something of a sticky wicket. By which I mean, Disney knew that if they fucked up on this they would be eaten alive so it’s probably not surprising that they took this one nice and slow. And, in my opinion at least, they succeeded. There is nothing problematic about the character of Tiana. She is as positive and progressive a depiction of an African American woman as you could hope to find. On a possibly not unrelated note, she is also really, really, really, really, really boring. Who do I blame for that? The writers? The animators? Voice actor Anika Noni Rose? No. At the risk of being unpopular, I place the blame solely on…
You
Yes you, people on the internet.
This movie came under an insane amount of scrutiny long, long, before it was even released, with Disney making many changes in response to every new backlash and charge of racism. Now, some of the criticism may have been fair, but honestly some of it just strikes me as petty. For example, the heroine’s name was originally “Maddy” which was changed to Tiana because “Maddy” rhymes with “Mammy”. So, yeah, I know right? Wasn’t that a bullet narrowly dodged? Now I, for one, was unaware that names that happen coincidentally to rhyme with racist slurs are racist by association but I’ll certainly keep that in mind in fut…OH MY GOD!!!
GET HIM THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!!

GET HIM THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!!

So, it’s understandable that the script for this thing feels like it was written by someone walking on eggshells. And yes, obviously writers have to treat the issue of race carefully and with sensitivity, but I think a certain degree of good faith is required on behalf of the audience as well. It’s just the problem with living in a world where any blowhard can get on his virtual soap box and complain about a movie that hasn’t even been released yet and why are you all looking at me like that? But there is another problem with Tiana that goes beyond all of that. Alright, the simplest, most basic story you can tell goes like this. Character A (the protagonist), wants something, and we want to see him get that thing. Character B (the antagonist) wants something that is mutually exclusive to what character A wants, and we don’t want to see him get that. The characters struggle against each other, and from this we get conflict, drama and finally resolution. Now, you can alter and flip and rearrange and deconstruct or just flat out ignore this model in literally an infinite number of different ways but most of the time that’s what it boils down to. The central conflict is the heart of the story. And Tiana exists almost entirely outside the central conflict. She’s essentially an onlooker in her own story. The conflict is between Naveen and Facilier. You could conceivably have a movie just about those two. What is the relationship between Tiana and Facilier? What’s the personal stake? As the old lady once said, where’s the beef?
  1. The Script
Not bad, but really needed to be funnier. And from Clements and Musker we had a right to expect better.
  1. Randy Goddamn Newman
Fine in small doses, don’t get me wrong. But to write a musical you need versatility almost as much as you need raw songwriting talent. Your songs need to be versatile enough to convey an entire emotional spectrum and Newman just can’t do that. There’s an unmistakeable saminess to his songs that make them less emotional beats in the story set to music, and more mere musical intervals (with the exception of Friends on the Other Side, which is awesome.) This is the single biggest problem with the movie in my opinion. There’s enough good in the rest of the movie that a Howard Ashman or Sherman Brothers or Kristen Anderson Lopez could have lifted this up to the realm of the all-time greats.
Well okay, enough about what they got wrong. Let’s take a look at what they got right.

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The Hangman’s Daughter: Chapter 9

                                                                                                      CHAPTER 9: ANGEL IN THE RAIN

The front door was bashed open with a thunder clap, and Marie shot upright in bed.
From behind her bedroom door she could hear raised voices, something heavy being carried, grunts and curses, and she felt a stab of ice in her as she thought the cottage was being robbed. Then, her door swung open and she screamed as the grizzled face of Sylvie’s father, the blacksmith D’Arbe, shot into her room like a jack from a box.
She screamed and he shouted in fright before realising who she was. Then he muttered to himself “Wrong room…” and was gone as suddenly as he had entered, leaving the door to slowly close of its own inertia.
But right before it closed, Marie could see through the rapidly shrinking opening a mob of townsmen carrying her father into his bedroom, behind the, Toureil barking orders “Lay him down on the bed! Careful! Careful you asses! He’s not a sack of potatoes!” And she had just enough time to see her father’s face, white as marble save for the hideous red scar running down his nose and his blue eyes lolling sightlessly, and although she did not actually hear herself, she screamed at the sight of him. And then, with malicious relish, the door clicked shut, cutting her off from the kitchen, and leaving her in the darkness again.

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

“Man, I’m beat. That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought. I think I’ll just relax with some internet browsing. Just log on to www.fishfistingandfuckingforfun.com...”

“Man, I’m beat. That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought. I think I’ll just relax with some internet browsing. Just log on to www.fishfistingandfuckingforfun.com…”

“What ya doin'?"

“What ya doin’?”

“Argh!”

“Aaaaaah!”

“Aaaah!"

“Aaaah!”

“Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Baby Mouse, the mental projection of my inner child.”

“Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Baby Mouse, the mental projection of my inner child.”

“And a clunky, exposition-filled “hello” to you too.”

“And a clunky, exposition-filled “hello” to you too.”

“What are you doing back? I thought you’d returned to the deepest recesses of my psyche?”

“What are you doing back? I thought you’d returned to the deepest recesses of my psyche?”

“Hate to break it to you dude, but after all the messing around Disney and the Horned King did to your brain, escaping the deepest recesses of your psyche is about as difficult as busting out of Arkham.”

“Hate to break it to you dude, but after all the messing around Disney and the Horned King did to your brain, escaping the deepest recesses of your psyche is about as difficult as busting out of Arkham.”

“Well what do you want?”

“Well what do you want?”

“I’m bored, I want to watch another movie.”

“I’m bored, I want to watch another movie.”

“Okay fine, which one?”

“Okay fine, which one?”

mmpr-poster
“No! No, no, no. I’m putting my foot down. Not only is it terrible, it’s not even an animated movie. It’s cartoon’s only on this blog, buster.”

“No! No, no, no. I’m putting my foot down. Not only is it terrible, it’s not even an animated movie. It’s cartoon’s only on this blog, buster.”

“Oh c’mon! It’s the BEST MOVE EVER!”

“Oh c’mon! It’s the BEST MOVE EVER!”

“That’s what you said about Transformers!”

“That’s what you said about Transformers!

“I may have been overly hasty in my appraisal. I’m impetuous, it’s part of my charm. Now review the movie before I start telling people about all your weird fetishes.”

“I may have been overly hasty in my appraisal. I’m impetuous, it’s part of my charm. Now review the movie before I start telling people about all your weird fetishes.”

“Okay! Okay! Be cool!"

“Okay! Okay! Be cool!”

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