Article – Why I Love Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu)

TL;DR – Its music, story, animation, worldbuilding, and characters that you really care for even though they are all broken in some way

Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu). Image Credit: Madman.

Article

A while back I took a moment to write about Why I loved Star Trek DS9 and since it was a great time of writing I have been meaning to get back at it again. I had a couple of choices but with the announcement that Netflix is producing a ten-episode live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop, well I got instantly dragged back in time to my high school days when the show rippled through my life with every beat of those conga drums, and well I instantly knew what to do next. Why Cowboy Bebop? Well, there are a lot of reasons, the music, story, animation, characters, but more than anything, it was the way it shaped how I viewed television and animation as a medium and got me more and more interested with how it is all made. It is also one of the go-to shows, as well as Samurai Champloo (サムライチャンプル), that I recommend whenever someone want to start exploring animation. So with that in mind let us dive into the neo-noir space-western from Shinichirō Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎) all about trying to escape the past and then realising that you can’t, and then also Ed, hello Ed.

In the Cowboy Bebop world, the human race has expanded out into the Solar System when the first Astral Gate (a faster than light transport system) exploded next to The Moon raining down Luna debris on Earth. The world had one choice escape or die on Earth and so they expanded out terraforming the Moons of Jupiter, Venus, creating the crater cities of Mars, and also Asteroid outposts across the Solar System like Tijuana (TJ). By 2071, because the human race is spread out across such a large region of space it has meant that enforcing law and order has become a challenge, so the powers at be implemented a bounty system and so Cowboys spread out chasing bounties and bringing back criminals to face justice … for a fee of course. This is where we meet our crew of the Bebop the ship they travel around the Solar System catching criminals while trying not to have to spend all its bounty on repairs.  

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Movie Review – Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound & Fury (Sound & Fury)

TL;DR – A fascinating combination of animation and music, all this a real purpose and theme that made it a intriguing work of art.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound & Fury (Sound & Fury). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review


Earlier this year I mentioned that back in the day Daft Punk created this animated accompaniment to one of their albums and that it was surprising that no one else had really explored this as well. That was at the start of the year since then we have had multiple artists combine an album release with a short film accompaniment. We have had the highs of Anima,The Bash Brothers Experience, and Guava Island. Well, today we get add another to that list with the truly fascinating Sound & Fury.

While there is a story referenced though some recurring moments, it is more a work that focuses on mood and theme. If I was to label it I would say it is a meditation on a post-apocalyptic world by way of Japanese animation and heaping of Mad Max car action and sheer absurdity all put to a rock anthem. This, I hope, will give you some idea as to just how weird this music video/experience is, but also how fascinatingly interesting it is.

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Movie Review – The Flying Fish

TL;DR – An interesting experimental short film that unfortunately never graduates from allegory into something more.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Rocky Head in The Flying Fish. Image Credit: Murat Saygıner.

Review

Today we get to step back and look at something a little bit different with a film that is less a narrative exercise and more an experimental experience. This was a little bit of a new area for us so it was a nice change of pace and an interesting twenty minutes.  

The Flying Fish is a composition of a number of short films by artist/filmmaker Murat Saygıner assembled into one work of art. It is here where the strengths and weaknesses of the work come to the surface. Because it is a collection of many different works, there is always something new entering into the frame to switch things up. However, because there are many different works being combined together there is not a strong unifying force that makes it feel like this is one work.

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Movie Review – Anima (2019)

TL;DR – A 15-minute musical experiment that smashes the music of  Thom Yorke with the sensibilities of Paul Thomas Anderson   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Anima (2019). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

This has been the year of the experimental music video/film hybrid, we have gotten the narrative version with Guava Island, the absurd with Bash Brothers, and the documentary hybrid with HΘMΣCΘMING. Well, today we continue this genre with a collaboration between director Paul Thomas Anderson noted for more visually stylistic films like Phantom Thread and Thom Yorke one of the main voices behind Radiohead. If you are a fan of Thom or Paul then I assume that combination instantly got your attention, and if you are not this is only 15 minutes so check it out anyway.

So to set the scene, we are on a train and a lady (Dajana Roncione) leaves her lunchbox behind and a man (Thom Yorke) takes it for himself only for things to get weird. Well, that is about it, as it is only 15 minutes there is not a whole lot more to say other than it is quite a ride.

The first thing I want to talk about is the choreography from Damien Jalet which is one of the three core things that makes this one of the most interesting things I have seen so far this year. There is a flow to the movement, but also a precision that is a really interesting blend. There is a lot of group performances that gives this an organic feel, but also the sharp movements are also otherworldly. Which does sort of fit the theme as anima is referring to the soul. To be honest, I am also always a sucker for the movement that lines up with the beat of the music.

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Movie Review – Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

TL;DR – An interesting juxtaposition of the past and present, through music, Bob Dylan, and a very particular look at the 1970s.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Recently I’ve been listing in to a weekly Twitch podcast about music, exploring all the different genres that had no experience with. This has gotten me more interested in exploring the world behind music and Hollywood’s recent biopic spree has helped a bit in this regard. But when you find that a film about Bob Dylan has dropped on Netflix, by Martin Scorsese no less, you stop what you are doing and jump back to the 1970s.

So to set the scene, Rolling Thunder Revue tells the story of Bob Dylan and friends tour across New England and beyond during 1975. This was a year where America was at crossroads, Nixon had just resigned, the Vietnam War debacle was still in everyone’s mind, and economic recession had started in places of the Rust Belt. All in all, it is a time very similar to the one we find ourselves in right now. It is at this moment of flux that Bob decided to get a group of folk/rock pals and do a tour, something he had not done in a while, and we get to see it all.

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Movie Review – The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience

TL;DR – If you ever wanted a visual representation of the descent into madness brought on by parental sports obsession and copious amounts of steroids, then this would be it.     

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Have you ever opened up a piece of media and have 100% no idea about what you are about to watch and then also a pretty good idea about what you are about to watch. It is an odd juxtaposition that I have never felt before, well that is before today. For you see, today we are exploring the fever dream of 1980s baseball culture by way of cocaine that is The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience, the latest thing from The Lonely Island.

So to set the scene, it is the late 1980s, an era of big hair, Madonna, and baseball. We open in on the titular Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco (Andy Samberg) and Mark McGwire (Akiva Schaffer). They were two of baseball’s greatest players, but they have a deep secret that no one knows about, they both did a rap video.

This is such an odd piece of media, that I was not actually sure how to classify it, I eventually went with movie just because that is where I put Guava Island from earlier in the year. I bring up Guava Island because structurally there are a lot of similarities even if they are both widely different in style and tone. What we have is a number of songs from The Lonely Island which have been brought together and strung together with a narrative. Though The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience is less on the revolutionary takedown of capitalist forms of oppression and more a drug fever dream about the pressures to take steroids.   

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Article – Masters of Cinematic Music: Ramin Djawadi

TL;DR – We explore the wonders of Ramin Djawadi’s musical score through the lens of Light of the Seven

Masters of Cinematic Music: Ramin Djawadi. Image Credit: HBO.

Article

Today we are starting out the first entry in a series about modern cinematic composers. For me at least, one of the factors that emotionally connects me to a piece of visual media, whether that be, a video game, a television show, or a film is the music. The right musical choice can make or break scenes and can be one of the factors that make these moments resonate across the media landscape. We all remember that first time we heard the Imperial March or The Avengers theme explodes onto the screen. They help us get lost on the high seas, traverse galaxies far, far away, or in our first example help us delve into a world of fire and ice. Because this is an article about music, I have added links to the songs in question so you can listen along.

Ramin Djawadi is a German/Iranian composer and the key musical voice of Game of Thrones, the hugely successful HBO series based of George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series. As a composer, Ramin has been working for a long time in the musical world starting first as an assistant and then creating addition music for films such as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Ned Kelly, working under one of the defining voices in modern composition Hans Zimmer. Before moving onto working on his own films like Iron Man and Pacific Rim.

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