East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Lunch break with the ninja

Back in the early ’90s, I was part of a growing number of fans of Japanese animation in my country. In Italy we had been hit by a wave of anime since the second half of the ’70s, and then a decade later the floodgates opened with OAVs and movies. fanzines were printed, clubs were formed.
I said “in the early ’90s”, but it was actually in 1993 that I dropped out of that community, as I was starting to see things I did not like. What had been a passion, born of an interest for wild and wonderful stories and great art, was turning into a playing field for little Hitlers, people that wanted to dictate what people should or should not see – “why are you reading Marvel comics? You are supposed to be an Otaku!” – and a few individuals were starting to make an awful lot of money fleecing the fans.

I know I turned and walked away in 1993, because that was the year Ninja Scroll hit the screens.
And today at lunch break I watched it again for the first time in 28 years.

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Kingdom of Heaven, the director’s cut (2005)

There’s been a lot of talk about a director’s cut of a superhero film, recently. Everybody’s going on about it. The problem is, I am rarely interested in superhero movies – let’s say I still love the old Christopher Reeve/Margot Kidder Superman movies (well, the first two, at least) and after that … yeah, OK, Michael Keaton as Batman, maybe a few others. But I am not a big superhero fan to start with, and so I am not at all invested in this latest release.
But there are other movies that have come out in a Director’s Cut, and that I would be interested in catching.
So, why not today?

And when one talks about director’s cuts, Ridley Scott must be the world championship holder in the category. How many times did he recut Blade Runner?
And in 2005, his Crusader epic Kingdom of Heaven was distributed with 45 minutes cut after some test audiences groaned, and later re-released as a Director’s Cut.
I saw the theatrical release, and found it boring and unsatisfactory. But up until today, I had missed the Director’s Cut.
So today I watched it.

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Learn about the films you like, and those are film noir

Today I was talking to a friend about learning the basics of film language in order to write reviews that do not suck. She’s a very serious, thorough person, and so she was looking for a basic primer on film language.
This made me think about a long time ago, the late ’80s, when I started reading books about movies, and those books were about film noir.

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School of hard knocks: Monster Hunter (2020)

I did not have great expectations when I started watching Monster Hunter, the 2020 movie based on a popular videogame property by Capcom. I never played the videogames, and I had a very sketchy idea of the setup. All I knew was there is Milla Jovovich in it – and I quite like her – and that it was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, a man that should be hanged and quartered for what he did to the Three Musketeers.
So, you get an idea of what I was expecting.

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