Like a Good Neighbor, Totoro is There! (To Prop Your 2015 Calendar up)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 10:00 am

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When it comes to calendars, I'm like a lot of married guys: I buy my wife the one that depicts "puppies, and kitties, and dey fwiends." But if you have an anime-obsessed spouse who nonetheless likes things to be cute, this Totoro calendar and diorama can't really be beaten, and you can use it as a photo holder once 2015 has run its course. Granted, "Totoro, and susuwatari, and they are friends" doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but I think if you point out that Totoro is eating a tiny watermelon, the essential squee-ness will shine through.

It's only sold in Japan, but is available for preorder now at J-List for $48. Only so many can fit into their catbus, though, so if you want it, reserve quickly.

Blu-ray Today: Sherlock Holmes, Krull and a Defense of Trans4mers

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

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Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Series - Before RDJ, before Benny C, there was Jeremy Brett, and to a boy who loved the Sherlock Holmes of the books, he was it: as accurate a Holmes as you could ever want to see onscreen. Like Heath Ledger embodying the Joker, however, Brett was so determined to get into the head of Holmes that he may have driven himself to mental illness, or at least exacerbated a propensity that was already there. Ironically, I always thought his weight gain in the last few episodes was simply him getting older and portlier, as people do; in fact, it was the medications causing him to retain water.

The thing is, as our modern interpretation has shown, Holmes would be mentally ill by today's standards, and probably quite self-destructive in many ways. That's undoubtedly why Robert Downey Jr. was cast to play him in more recent years. I had the great fortune many years ago to see Tom Baker play Holmes on the Dublin stage - it was a more satirical take, with Baker playing both Holmes and a surgically altered Moriarty, but even his spoof version was majorly bipolar.

It's hard to know if Brett could have gotten more help if he didn't insist on going so deeply method with Holmes, or if the role in fact sustained him through the craziness. We do know for certain he was damn great in it, but there'll always be a slight tinge of sadness there underlining it all.

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George Takei Narrates the Twisted Adventures of a Squirrel in "The Missing Scarf"

Monday, September 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

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Meet Albert the squirrel, a cute little cartoon woodland critter whose scarf has disappeared.

Along the way to find it, he encounters various other animals who are stymied by fear. Using philosophy and reason, Albert provides counter-arguments to ease their minds...but what if he's completely wrong? This ain't no children's book...

And George Takei goes utterly apeshit at the end - if you've ever wanted him to break the deadpan and try to out-crazy Shatner, well, you got it.

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Floatie Landspeeder Friday: Newsbits and Weekend Open Thread

Friday, September 26, 2014 at 6:37 pm

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It's just mean to taunt the people of Tatooine with all that water, when they have so much sand that's rough, and coarse, and gets everywhere. But hey, some things are soft.

More fun li'l tidbits below to get this weekend started...

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TR Review: Star Wars Rebels

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm

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So yeah, I had a chance to take a look at a handful of episodes a little while back. As they were edited together it's hard to say exactly how many - the first two or three that comprise the pilot, and then one from later on, the significance of which quickly became apparent.

If you don't want any spoilers whatsoever, I'll only say this: ever since I saw him in The Patriot, I've thought Jason Isaacs belonged in the Galactic Empire, and his role as the Inquisitor DOES. NOT. DISAPPOINT. Yes, he has the gimmicky, spinning double lightsaber Grievous had in The Clone Wars role-play toy line (if you think about it, it makes sense that non-Sith Lords would want the most action gimmicks), and he's basically calculated to be every kid's new favorite (basing the character's weapon on a toy repaint seems especially cynical). But unlike in most of the movies, where a seemingly cool new secondary villain is introduced with much fanfare and turns out to be utterly hapless when the chips are down (Grievous, the Fetts, Darth Maul, Jabba), the Inquisitor is intelligent, dangerous, and can own our heroes' asses in combat, which is useful when all you have at your disposal are Stormtroopers who die very easily.

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Second Big Hero 6 Trailer Plays up the Sentiment

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

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The interesting thing about this trailer is the way it's trying to market to both boys and girls at once, as cued by the fact that it initially touts Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Tangled. You know, because we wouldn't otherwise know/get that "the makers of" those films are DISNEY ANIMATION.

Yet why do I think their idea of marketing to girls is "sadness"? Not content to constantly bring up dead parents in its movies, Disney here focuses on a dead older brother, who was the original creator of Baymax in this telling. And then goes for a cheesy rock ballad that doesn't seem to fit the humorous tone of what we're seeing at all.

It still looks fun, but that temp music has to go. Let it go. Let it...awww shit, Disney subliminal marketing got to me, didn't it?

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Fan-Made Buffy Animated Series Intro Looks Better Than the Real Show Was

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 8:00 am

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Yeah, I admit I never cared much for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show (the movie's another story - Rutger Hauer and Pee-wee Herman should be vampires more often). That said, I would watch the shit out of animator Stephen Byrne's imagined animated show, because swinging giant monster fish around by the tail and Mega-Man-like hijinks atop a train are exactly the sorts of things more TV shows need and don't have.

Also, just like in the very best Buffy episode of all time, nobody talks. "More fish-smashing, less dialogue" ought to be the mantra for every TV show, except maybe Deadwood, where they could cuss out the fish real good and I'd totally roll with it.

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TR Review: Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart Gets No Merci in the Translation

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm

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You could be forgiven for watching Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, an animated film that feels like an Edward Scissorhands/Hugo mash-up with fairly big plotholes, and thinking something must have been lost in translation. Because if you're watching it in English, something was.

What you won't be told - because the details wouldn't mean much to a stateside audience - is that the movie is based on a rock concept album by French band Dionysos. As such, the story follows the songs, the songs don't necessarily fill in the narrative gaps, and the characters are operatic archetypes rather than real characters making rational decisions. Knowing this goes a long way towards helping the viewer appreciate the film for what it is, rather than coming out disappointed for what it was never trying to be.

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Lost Returns...in a Phineas and Ferb Cartoon

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 10:00 am

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Synergy! Just as Disney's Phineas and Ferb have helped to pimp recent corporate acquisitions Marvel and Star Wars, so now are they boosting subsidiary ABC network shows...though Lost has been off the air a few years now. Still, on the tenth anniversary of its debut, people are still talking about it, and still getting it wrong about the island being purgatory. (As everyone knows, the island in fact contained the power of Grayskull.)

In "Lost in Danville," airing Monday, the duo won't necessarily visit THE island, but they will be confronted by a mysterious hatch, a polar bear and a strange character played by Terry O'Quinn. Damon Lindelof came up with the story, so it probably won't make a lot of sense - but in a cartoon, that's okay.

Is this instant Dharma gonna get'cha?

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TMNT Twofer: Turtles Remade as CG-Retro, and as Realistic Teens

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm

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Just to prove that we Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans aren't opposed to interesting remakes - just terrible ones - here are a couple of videos that have fun with the green guys. First, a CG remake of the '80s cartoon intro, and second, an 8-bit style look at how these turtle boys would behave if they acted more like typical teenagers (let's face it, they were suprisingly mature and non-sulky in those cartoons).

I'd rather watch 90 minutes of either one than whatever Jonathan Liebesman comes up with next.

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