Saturday, 1 April 2017

"What a beauty you are..."

Spoilers, bitches.
Looks like the higher the Rotten Tomatoes score of an American movie lately, the less I like it. Doctor Strange and John Wick 2 were both in the 90s and they were terrible. No idea what the critics are thinking. But Ghost in The Shell was badly reviewed all across the board, even by Jeremy, so I guess my expectations were extremely low going in. Still I ended up truly liking it. I liked it for all the right reasons – stuff that, it seems, critics no longer bother to comprehend or even appreciate. I doubt they as much as bothered to look into the lore of this adaptation. No matter. As Asia Argento would put it, when her own directorial debut was torn to bits: these are the people who think Shakespeare in Love is a great movie.
              First the bad stuff. The story/script was weak as fuck and the voiceover in the end was cringe-worthy. Like they screened it for a bunch of random viewers and they were like ‘whaaa? I didn’t get it!’ and the studio said: Okay, dumb it down 80%.
               Now for the stuff I liked.
              I was truly worried what they’re going to make of the villain(s), since in the original, the PRESENCE of the villain is monumental, whereas physically he never truly manifests, especially not as a tormented hottie who looks like an offspring of Ultron and a derelict billboard underwear model. They went for two – The Puppet Master and corporations, and they did it rather well half the time, all things considered. Though the former’s motives were paltry and petty and personal (and he can't shoot for shit), brushed away by his aggressive temperament, and highlighted by the splendid visuals, he was ultimately just a crooked cog in the wheels of ambitious money-makers. The corporate asshole hardly compared and was unfortunately too cardboard-cut to be believable. In a sense he was cut of the same cloth as Sephiroth: designed to be a super soldier for a private organisation under government contract, but psychologically unstable.
              The role of Major was well supported by a lot of nice roles around her – the brotherly role of Batou, a man three times her size, smart and calm; the father figure boss played by an old but ever awesome Kitano; the mother figure scientist, played by Binoche, and Motoko’s actual biological mother, played very briefly but extremely memorably by the amazing Kaori Momoi. The role of Kuze, played by Pitt, whom I never particularly cared much (maybe in The Dreamers, MAYBE), whom I am SO writing a fuck fiction as soon as I am done with this review, was well enough written, well played, well stripped and well lit – the way he comes in and out of the shadows was the best bit about his performance. You can really tell they spent a lot of effort on some bits and others, nah, not so much. The end fight? Not so much.
Both of the two robots have such a cool mating dance going on, which I could watch for two hours longer. (You can tell with the editing they cut out A LOT.) The way they talk, hug, have a past, have a future, the way they kept standing so deliciously close, as if personal space was entirely unknown to them, as if they want to kiss but can’t remember what kissing is for, or as a childish sense of gravity towards one another. Even as they are dying, he crawls up to her to be close, although they could perfectly easily communicate via the network. In a sense he is physically closer to her than other ‘normals’ are allowed to come.
It makes me wonder how designed was she: they seemed to need to breathe, but they could not feel, at least not pain. Did they feel touch, pleasure? Could they GIVE pleasure? Were their genitals included, were there nerves connected to their brains that would enable them sexual gratification at all, just for the fun of it? Like with all robots, the brain was in the head and not the chest, and all the time Major is reminded she can be and act and be perceived as human, if she wants to, but she very rarely bothers to. Half the time she is so resentful of her condition she takes unnecessary chances.
             As for the eye candy Ms. Johansson, I do appreciate her effort to do some acting for a change, at least to step away from her usual routine when her tremendous looks and her deep voice do most of the acting for her. I love the way she walks and stands in this movie – she walks like she’s retarded and she stands leaning forth as if she was constantly thinking: is this what I’m seeing what I am supposed to see or do others see something totally different and I’m being weird?
               I thought her blend of a human girl vagrant-activist runaway and the perfect machine body was surprisingly well played out. Especially in her scenes with ‘Hideo’ (Is that how that name is pronounced? Hee-deYOUh? I thought it was ‘Hiddy’o’. As if in ‘hideous’. Ah.) and her true mom. Though the scene with the hooker is kind of sweet, also. How many go for human contact, I wonder. With a prostitute who considers her human body to be a disadvantage in the biz.
             And then there’s the world-building. HOLY. SHIT. How I wish to live to see it. All of the Neuromancer, Blade Runner, Black Mirror, Immortel Ad Vitam and the original manga shown insofar come to surface here. It’s fantastic. I loved that world. I hope to live to see it, though of course I would neither allow the General to ever have an implant or use one myself, I’d probably be an activist myself. Certainly gotsta borrow from such world more. I’m sure I can come up with a scene in Goose where a world like that would be acceptable.
And steal the villain.

PS           I have to find one of my old wigs and cut it into this mess Major pulls off. I would so care to have a haircut like this, though unfortunately I do not have the face for fringe.

PPS        LOL. Found it. The black one was borrowed to someone for Hallowe’en the last time and a large plastic spider was still clipped in. As I was brushing the wig out, I left the spider on the washing machine. Nearly killed the teenager. I forget that normal people are not afraid of abstract existential inconsistencies as they are of a minute insect.