“The relatively simple changewar plot of The Adam Project thinly disguises a much deeper and more heartfelt investigation of family ties, grief and generational friction, to which the genre elements play second fiddle.”
“This is the story of a girl / Who cried a river and drowned the whole world.” Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the delightfully absurdist Everything Everywhere All At Once, which repeatedly quotes the Nine Days song “Absolutely (About A Girl)”, but also comes loaded with references steeped in the Chinese language.
“The film subtly celebrates its liminal place between cultures, specifically those of Anglo movie-goers and bilingual Asian-Americans, each a wainscot society of the other. Its alternative title, displayed onscreen in untranslated Chinese, is Ma de duochong yuzhou, literally “The Multiverses of Mother”, but also a Mandarin pun meaning “F*cking Multiverses.”
“Whereas The Muppets was garlanded with awards, including an Oscar for Best Song, The Happytime Murders was only recognized by the Houston Film Critics Society as ‘Best Worst Film’, while at the Golden Raspberries it was nominated for, among others, Worst Director, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay. Considering that much of the film’s raison d’être was to disrupt the imagery and memes of viewers’ childhoods… such brickbats seem somewhat over-compensatory and possibly vengeful. The Golden Raspberry dished out to Melissa McCarthy as Worst Actress seems particularly unjust, since whatever one may think of the sullying of puppet icons, her deadpan and dedicated performance throughout is a lynchpin that anchors the ludicrous and revolting images onscreen.”
“Echoing the rhetoric and “cancel culture” of the 2010s, with such disruptions to the status quo as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, Amstell offers a conceptual breakthrough: that it is not veganism that is odd, trendy or cranky, but ‘carnism’ – a shared delusion of humanity that meat-eating was acceptable, with no consideration of the ethical implications.”
“Consistently, Uehashi’s works display a respect for native traditions and pre-modern beliefs, not as rivals to science and medicine, but as systems that similarly seek to make sense of the world, sometimes inefficiently, sometimes with a greater degree of success for incorporating spiritual (or in some fantasy settings, magical) elements outside the purview of modern understanding.”
“He remains an immensely influential but highly problematic thinker, with some ideas, such as the abolition of private property, that helped inform some of the strategies of the Communist Party, but others, such as a deep interest in Eugenics, that impart a shadow of sinister Social Darwinism to his starry-eyed pronouncements of global unity: a paradise that requires the destruction of all diversity.”
“Among the glimpses Kang offered of his future world, he foresaw liquidized food, flying houses, high-speed trains, dirigibles and self-driving cars, air conditioning and central heating. Kang’s utopia comes with daily medical check-ups, in a world in which doctors are more highly respected than soldiers. At the culmination of the ‘Great Concord,’ Kang hoped for a further uplift, in which a sufficiently enlightened humanity, lifespans already extended into centuries by medical care and diet, might seek immortality and travel through astral projection.”
“As with the anti-heroes of Chuck Palahniuk‘s Fight Club… to which Catfight might be regarded as a feminist response, the aggression of the belligerent leads derives from the crushing weight of the System, which turns each into an unhappy collaborator when times are good, and a resentful rebel when times are not.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write a little entry on Sandra Oh and Anne Heche and their near-future parable Catfight, currently airing on Netflix.
“Her most representative work in this mode is surely ‘Talisman’ …, in which an outsider in a European city muses on the reason, presumed religious or magical, why so many women have mutilated their earlobes in order to wear earrings.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the author Mamare Touno, whose work is catnip to any reader who enjoys watching attractive redheads enact policies of social reform.
“Maōyū… begins where most stories end with the confrontation of a human hero and a demon overlord at the culmination of a fifteen-year war. The characters, however, recognize that they have more in common than a simplified account of their conflict might allow, and join forces in to remove the inequalities that led their peoples to fight in the first place.”
Here in Glasgow for the first leg of Scotland Loves Anime, which kicked off for me last night by talking myself hoarse at the Hogwarts-like university, detailing some of the gossip and scandal from the Japanese fantasy scene. For those who were there and interested in following up some of the strands discussed, I spoke about some of the machinations at Studio Ghibli, the very different careers of Motoko Arai and Hiroshi Yamamoto, the uses and abuses of the work of Kenji Miyazawa, as well as the Persian diversion of Yoshiki Tanaka, the Martian sidequels of Hitoshi Yoshioka, and Tomihiko Morimi‘s love of Kyoto.
Thank you to Rob Maslen of the School of Critical Studies for inviting me along, and for all those students who laughed along with me at some of the misfortunes of Japanese authors, particularly as regarding discovering that all their characters had been turned into cats. And for those of you in the audience who wanted to look at my doctoral thesis, you can read it here.