I have had a rough couple of days... a migraine, followed by an intense urge to sleep a lot (which I did yesterday). But I woke up this morning feeling a lot better. Now I have a bunch of things to catch up with.

I have watched 2 DVDs of the anime Gilgamesh so far, and I really don't know what to make of it. It's very slow-paced and almost comically ominous in tone, but the story itself is just interesting enough that I keep watching it. I've never been able to get through Witch Hunter Robin or Wolf's Rain, which are the two series that it reminds me of most, albeit superficially. (It also reminds me a little of Ceres and a very little of Lain.)

It's the coldest day of the year, so far, but Tom and I are still going to do a bit of running around. Can't find a single movie to see, which has been the rule for most of the last few weeks. It's true that there's stuff we've missed, but all of it has got to be so close to DVD as to make seeing it in a theater kind of pointless... it's just going to the movies for the sake of going to the movies. We're going to check out a few newer small shops this afternoon.

(ETA: a little bit of research has shown that Gilgamesh and Lain share a director. The original writer also did Cyborg 009 and Kikaider.)
I have numerous and contradictory things to write about. I think this post will have MPD.

First of all... are all of London's LJ contingent OK?
I already made contact with my only good IRL friend in the London area - actually, she lives in Kent, and happened to not need to be in London today, and feels greatly relieved. So she's fine. I hope you and yours are all fine too, UK people.

Second of all, I went to a sneak preview of The Fantastic Four tonight. Tom and I joked that we were only going out of a sense of morbid curiosity, since neither of us would actually pay to see it, not even at the dollar theater. From the ads, I was expecting it to be truly and painfully horrible, something along the lines of... I don't even know, because I don't usually watch movies that look that bad. Actually, though, while it's not exactly a "good" movie, it has some mild success as a light comedy, most of the way through. There are a lot of really bad dialogue transitions, the completion of Victor's transition to Dr. Doom is very abrupt, the action climax feels silly and rushed*, and Ben's Thing suit looks super-fake. At many moments, the whole movie looks kind of cheap. I'm not a fan of the comic AT ALL, so I had no positive expectations whatsoever.

But it's not completely terrible if seen as a "popcorn movie" for 10-to-14-year-olds, which is what it feels like in depth and pacing, and it is certainly at least as good as most of those that I can think of (for example, I thought it was far superior to Spy Kids, while vastly inferior to the more "grownup" superhero films of the last few years like both Spiderman and XMen movies, and Batman Begins). Is that damning with faint praise? Probably. Still, it's shallow and vaguely entertaining fluff to which you can take your kids or younger siblings or cousins, and which they might enjoy, and you might not be driven to gouge your eyes out with a spoon as a result of having to sit through it. The only things that even set a lower age limit are one scene in which a character dies because a hole is bloodlessly blasted through his chest, and another in which Jessica Alba is very briefly shown in her underwear. The performances are OK - Chris Evans is especially engaging and bratty as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch.

Third of all, I have been having an awful week, with a moderate CFIDS relapse. Mostly just very tired. Wearing the same denim skirt every time I go out, because nothing else is comfortable in this weather (I don't actually own any shorts). I can't handle driving myself or being out for very long at a time, but today seemed better than the rest of the week has been.

The real bright spot in my day was popping by the library to return some things and finding that my reserve copy of Yotsuba& had arrived. That's pronounced "yoht-soo-bah-toh", and is about a charmingly weird and spacey little girl named "Yotsuba"; "to" means "and" (&), so each chapter is Yotsuba's encounter with a different thing. The first is "Yotsuba & Moving", for example. It's from the creator of Azumanga Daioh, which I really like. Here's some commentary about both of them.

*How silly and rushed? Well, I got bored and started thinking about laundry that I needed to do at home, and as a result I actually lost track of what was going on.
Went to the movies for the third time in less than a week tonight (I saw Batman Begins for the second time - different group of people - on Tuesday). We saw Howl's Moving Castle, which I've been waiting for pretty anxiously ever since it was announced.

I read the book by Diana Wynne Jones in 7th grade, when I was 12 years old. I remember some basic plot outlines but nothing deep or detailed; I remember that I was reading Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams at the same time, and that I loved both books. I went to a junior high school that was right next to the high school that it fed into, and they shared a large library, or "media center", which is what they call a library to make it sound more sexy to students. And Howl's Moving Castle was the first book I got to check out once I had access to that library.

As far as the movie... I don't remember the book well enough to tell you how far it deviates from the plot, but I'm pretty sure all the basic elements are there, the most important events. I'm also pretty sure that Miyazaki added a lot, and in many ways, the movie is very derivative of Spirited Away - similar design to a lot of characters, similar concepts, a few similar events, a lot of the basic structure. However, you can say that between most of Miyazaki's movies - for example, how different does Chihiro really look from Kiki?

It's good, and it's funny, but it's a little more on the Kiki level than the Mononoke or Spirited Away level: not quite as great, but still better than most animated or family movies you'll see. I especially liked Christian Bale's voice work as Howl; Billy Crystal as Calcifer didn't bother me the way that a handful of reviews suggested he might, and I thought he was pretty good. The end is rapid and the lines at that point are a little trite. A- is about right, I think, but I'd like to see Miyazaki do something more new next time, and less something that felt like it was using leftover sets and effects from his previous film.

Still, I am VERY happy that I got to see it... and in the theater, too!

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March 2010

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