Anime Review (NGE)

I knew right away Neon Genesis Evangelion was gonna be special; it’s unique characters, problems, action scenes, and overall ideas were powerful in meaning. As I watched it, it got better and better and now that I finished it, it is my favorite anime and one of my favorite pieces of media ever.

The highlight of this show is the narrative and philosophical themes, but I will dive into that later. However, another reason why this show is enjoyable is because of the cinematography and art. Being experimental is something that I really value, and this show executes experimentally to a degree I have yet to see elsewhere. The animation, especially in the latter episodes, are chaotic, trippy, and overall beautiful. They really add to strange nature of show. The overall art style, wether it be in the battles or simple tasks, are really special and deliberate which enhances the provoking emotion within the show.

The relatability of the characters and the philosophical inquiring this show produces are amazing. The way it conveys the darkest of human emotions into these teenage characters come of so naturally, it’s unrivaled. It exposes so many layers to the human psyche, but actually pulls it off in a way that I found fascinating and realistic. Shinji is truly one of the best fictional characters ever created. He is relatable, and the way the show explores his deepest problems really moved me. The way it does this is through deep psychology and philosophy themes. From referencing Jung too many other thoughts and questions, it’s truly engrossing. It’s honestly hard to write this review, this show is so multilayered and amazing it’s hard to put in words. Instead, you need to watch it for yourself.

Movie Review (Full Metal Jacket)

I am a big fan of Stanley Kubrick, so it was only natural when I saw this assignment I would want to watch Full Metal Jacket. I watched Paths of Glory and enjoyed it, so I was excited to watch Kubrick take on another war film. Right away, I understood while still anti-war, this film was more serious than Paths of Glory. In addition, it was overall more accurate. My Father told me that my Uncle, a Marine Corp. verteran, described the first act, the training camp scenes, to be the most realistic portrayal he has seen in film. The Tet Offensive was also a real campaign that is seen in the movie. And the overall attitude of the film is very realistic. Whether it be the Southern Vietnam distrust of the US soldiers, or even the soldiers distrust of the American Government, the actions within this film are mostly accurate. The book itself was based on a real life account from a Vietnam Marine Corp. veteran, there is plenty of realism that translated to the movie.

In this film we follow a young, aloof Marine private, nicknamed Joker, through training camp to the real battlefield of vietnam. His time at training camp is brutal. He has an extremely harsh drill sergeant, and deals with a troubled trainee. To my surprise, when they announce roles when graduating, he gets assigned as a reporter for a Marine newspaper in Vietnam. After a few scenes of Joker reporting and running around Vietnam, he suddenly gets assigned to an infantry squad to be in the field due to a witty comment to his superior. He embarks on a surveillance mission with a former friend from training camp, only to be plunged headfirst in a world of “hell”, as they refer to Vietnam in the movie. Through these vulnerable moments however, we see Joker’s climax as a character. 

A big notion of the Vietnam war is that it was futile, dishumane, and overall stupid. Kubrick does this well by exploring it through different characters and contrasting them. We see characters attacking each other, random citizens, and overall showing how individuals react to fighting in the war. The soldiers themselves often ridicule U.S. involvement in the war. 

While this film overall is anti-war, I see it shedding notions of duality and is just deep dive into Joker’s character. Kubrick also said something similar when he commented on the movie saying “It’s not pro-war or anti-war. It’s just the way things are”. War is a strange creation of the human psyche. We all question what we fight for, why, and against who. These questions were very prominent during the war, and are seen in Joker.

Joker clearly is an example of the Jungian thing, or the duality of man, he even mentions this during a confrontation about his peace sign pin that’s paired along with the writing on his helmet reading “Born to Kill.” Kubrick creates a fascinating example of what many were thinking at the time. Wether you like it or not, humans often think of violent dark thoughts, that we repress and hide away. Instead, we put on a mask of peace, literally seen as Joker’s pin. Other characters do this as well, they put on some kind of act just to get through the war. I think Pyle’s character contradicts this, as he is willing to be vulnerable and let his dark thoughts get to him, which ends tragically. Joker’s character also can be seen as an example of duality in his difference to his fellow soldiers. He is clearly smarter, his glasses being an ode to this, and is very witty and aloof compared to the tough soldiers. But I think Kubrick wanted to destroy this notion or label of conflicting or good vs. evil thoughts, and just have them be human thoughts. This is seen in the climax of the film as Joker acts on a violent thought. He sheds his sympathetic self and becomes this animal (also a name of a character he was extremely different from) he never thought he would become. By doing this, Kubrick kills the sentiment of this movie being anti-war, and just makes it war. 

P.S. It’s also interesting to note that Joker’s violent action may be seen as straight revenge, or by doing the victim. This paradox only adds more to the abstract sensation of what really is a war.

Album of the Week (Boofpaxkmooky)

I have been following underground soundcloud rapper Boofpaxkmooky for a while now, but this week he was a staple in my music rotation. While I don’t really listen to any of his full length projects, his singles on soundcloud are amazing. He has really reinvented the sub genre of rap called plug. For those who do not know, plug is a sub genre of rap music that came from different producers on soundcloud. “Plug” was a producer tag for Mexicodro, a keystone figure in this new wave of rap music. Anyway, Boofpaxkmooky really is a star in the genre. His beats are hazy, ethereal, and loaded with bass, a popular sound within the plug genre. However, his vocals and catchy bars really stand out to me. His autotuned voice is moody and emotional. It really pairs well with the slow trap beats. His lyrics are filled with fun bars and true feelings. Overall, his songs atmospheres are futuristic and great to listen to for any mood. Some of my favorite songs of his are Batman, Ta Da, and Occasions.

Book Discussion (Father and Sons)

It was only a matter of time before my love of 19th century Russian literature lead to me to read Ivan Turgenev. Honestly, even while reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, I haven’t heard of Turgenev. Father and Sons caught my eye because the title interested me; I think the psychology of a family relationship is fascinating, especially between a father and his son. And after discovering who Turgenev was, I was excited to read his most famous novel.

While and me and my father have a close relationship, the generational gap between us sometimes acts as a barrier in our mutual understanding. I think we have a close bond where we can work around this “gap” easily, but there is still some struggle to communicate unique issues that we face as we belong in different generations. I also shrug away at strong emotion from my family, much like Bazarov does with his family. But the way this novel explores this relationship has made me seen mine different. I learned that the generational gap is never going to go away, but there are ways to make it less of an obstacle. We need to learnt to realize that arguing over different values is futile, especially with ones that don’t really affect one another. We need to understand that even though one can be family, they can be very different and thats fine. In this, we can also help understand our emotion towards family. We shouldn’t be afraid to show it if we mean it, for we never know what more happen. In addition, this emotion shouldn’t be seen as an act of weakness, but as an act of strength.

This novel also explores other philosophical questions, like contrasting emotions and happiness. Arkady, the protagonist, often struggles with his thoughts and views. He once considered himself a nihilist, but learns that nihilism is not the answer to his life. Through this, I learned that philosophy is abstract and fluid. We shouldn’t be afraid to enjoy something, even if it goes against our “philosophy”. We should be more concerned about what makes us happy rather than get caught up in labels. We can also apply this understanding to our position in life. We shouldn’t get caught up in how much progress we made, as long as we have enjoyed the process. Bazarov’s father has a simple life, but finds pleasure in it, and that’s what truly matters.

Album of the Week (Crystal Castles)

Crystal Castles’ debut self-titled is one of my favorite albums ever , and despite trying to discover new electronic albums, I always come back to this one. Maybe it’s because it’s one of the first electronic albums I really liked, but I think it’s more because this is just a great album. I think Alice Glass’s raw punk style and voice mixed with Ethan Fawn’s reckless, abrasive electronic production is a match made in heaven (Disclaimer: I support and stand by Alice Glass speaking out. I’m truly glad that it seems she is doing better. My like for this duo is solely based on their music.). Alice’s powerful vocals on tracks like Alice Practice is extremely harsh and loud, but the raw emotion of it is really moving. And her overall autotuned voice combined with the crazy synths creates a super unique atmosphere. It’s dark, chaotic, but somehow all together smoothing. That’s why it’s a great listen for every mood, wether it the production to dance too, the melancholy lyrics, or the overall gloomy atmosphere. This is truly one of the the best electronic albums ever.

Movie Review (Le Samourai)

Le Samouraï is a fascinating fresh take on a mob-thriller movie. I would still call this movie a thriller even with the lack of action scenes. While there is a fair share of action, it’s the tension and acting that make this movie enjoyable. There is always an air of suspense as we get a behind the scenes look on what it takes to take down a killer.

That’s one of the things I appreciated about this movie, it’s not a traditional movie following some assassin. Things like the inventive filmmaking, narrative, and the acting in this movie make it totally captivating. Jean-Peirre Melville does a great job to bring Alain Delon’s shine. The close ups of Delon and overall visuals of him adds to the spotlight. But Delon’s acting is what makes this movie. While his character is unique in itself, Delon translates the stoic killer amazingly, and really brings it to life. In the description on Criterion, they described this movie as “cool”, and while somewhat vague, “cool” is the best word to describe this movie. I give it a 4/5, it’s beautiful to watch the shots and progression of Delon’s character, just misses the personal aspects to make it a masterpiece.

Book Discussion

Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in The City was one of the first books in recent years that I bought spontaneously. I was intrigued by the title and summary as I love New York City, and wanted to read something I chose myself. What I ended up choosing was one of the most beautifully written book ever!

The way Kazin writes created such vivid and fruitful pictures and thoughts in my head, is truly spectacular. He squeezes color and life out of even the most basic of things within his experiences of walking down a city street. The way he can recall how all of his senses were provoked produced the same experience for me just by reading his recollections. His use of language and imagery is beyond any writer I have read, and it flows so smooth. It creates lyrics rather than sentences. He really shows how he feels rather than tell it, and this alone arouses sensations from my sense that have not arisen from reading before.

While Kazin’s use of language and imagery is more than enough to read this book, I found this autobiography fascinating. I find Kazin to be relatable, but his experience as a Jew in Brownsville opened up my eyes to life there. His take and views on this life aren’t held back, and he delivers raw emotion which really evoked similar feelings he faces. Through his journey of finding himself, he helps the reader to do the same. But because of his beautiful storytelling he helps us bloom more naturally.

Album of the Week

For the past week, Kero Kero Bonito’s Time ‘n’ Place has been on repeat. This album is a fusion of some of my favorite styles of music. The heavy rock chords, electric synths and distortion, and Sarah Bonito’s harmonious voice all combine beautifully on this album. Like I said, I enjoy all of these sounds, but I have really found a great album that expands past just one of these sounds, but this album accomplishes just that. It also includes Bonito’s fun and feel good lyrics to create a really overall happy and fun sound, but with a deeper focus on hardcore electric beats. It is like if Weezer met Aphex Twin and made an album! This is definitely one of my new favorite albums.

Book Discussion (My Brothers Karamazov)

While reading this novel, I saw a quote from Tremaine Emory, founder of Denim Tears (streetwear fashion label), that encompasses his love for Fyodor Dostoevsky. Emory is inspired by Dostoevsky because of how he isn’t afraid to show the madness of people, say what many are afraid to say, but most importantly that humans share similar these contemplative, dark, morbid emotions and experiences but we often overlook that fellow men experience this. The fact that Emory loves Dostoevsky shocked me proves that I often judge and get too wrapped up in my head. And I think My Brothers Karamazov shares invaluable lesson on this.

You already I am a huge fan of Dostoevsky and his unique Russian style, which he exemplifies perfectly in this novel, but I won’t talk much about that in this discussion. I will talk about how it has moved me. As I said early, Dostoevsky’s characters are the most human ever, and this is the case in this novel. But the most important and moving aspects of his characters in this novel is how they view other characters. The three brothers themselves are all very different, a monk, conceited graduate, and a sensualist. They way they interact is beautiful to read, and really challenges how I thought about myself and others.

Judgement is something I struggle with, and it is explored like no other novel. The way Ivan and his Inquisitor view the world as pathetic is not something I particularly agree with, but I often sometimes lose faith in humanity. This has changed with Emory’s quotes as seen above but also with Dostoevsky’s view religion. I’ve always though about religion as a materialistic manual for life, but through this novel I realized that at the core it is not it’s intention. It’s about compassion, love, and most importantly: faith through one’s own conclusion without temptation. Every interaction and scene discusses these reflective and important questions that we all struggle to answer, but Dostoevsky pushes us ourselves to try out best ourselves.

Movie Review (Suspiria)

Dario Argento’s 1997 horror film Suspiria is truly a masterpiece. You know I have my vices against horror movies, but this movie great. The direction and cinematography is amazing. The shot’s are so beautiful, but there’s always a hidden layer of fear and suspense which conveys a unique feeling. The avant-garde shots create a very visually pleasing experience, but the hidden layer unveils the horror in the scene. The whole aesthetic of the cinematography is gorgeous. As said, every shot is visually pleasing, but the colors and architecture make it so. This is the best use of colors I have ever seen in a movie. The color red plays a part in the movie in itself. The architecture within the shots is also amazing, it’s Kubrick level. This movie rivals Stalker in aesthetic. The narrative is also interesting. It’s nothing amazing, but the acting and dialogue are well done, and I never though any scene was too trite. It was also very scary. It was genuine horror, and it was very much elevated through the cinematography. The score also played a role in how scary this movie is. It’s the best and scariest horror movie soundtrack I have ever heard, it truly elevates every scene. This movie earns a 5/5 from me, and is one of the best horror movies I have ever seen.