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media diary - may 2024

another long ass month huh???

[XX/05/2024] HISTORICAL GAMES

a lot of the month was spent stressing out over my final chunk of work for uni this year, meaning i couldn't do much except GRIND and have stuff on for background noise. in the final couple weeks i began watching butt-tons of CHRONTENDO and jeremy parish's GAME WORKS videos because there's hours and hours of both. doing so got me to look at more old games and honestly recontextualized my whole understanding of game history -- not that i knew nothing before, but seeing so many famicom games in action along with the excellent preservative context provided in the NES works gaiden series made me view the entire era with a different lens.

across this mini phase i had, i got into namco games especially, playing a bunch of the arcade archives ports i have on my switch and checking out different collections for the PS1, PSP and DS. i even streamed the original namco museum games because it was lightweight enough to be a casual breather amidst a slurry of coursework. instead of playing bigger, more recent games in my spare time, i chilled out with DIG DUG, GALAGA, TOWER OF DRUAGA and my personal favorite LIBBLE RABBLE. for the record, i also beat HYRULE WARRIORS inbetween all this. that game's fun as hell.

and if that wasn't a big enough mess, i also started HRT around the start of the month, so i've been all over the place emotionally. as of writing i'm all done and able to sit back for the summer, but this month was one of those dense months that feels like it was twice as long.

[11/05/2024] A TAXING WOMAN

took me long enough after watching SUPERMARKET WOMAN back in november, but i finally got round to watching another JUZO ITAMI film. it's just like supermarket woman, but this time with taxes!

following on from my famicom fixation, the most interesting part of A TAXING WOMAN, to me at least, is the fact it has a famicom tie-in game. tie-ins were already very much a thing, but this has the significance of being adapted as a visual adventure game which, unlike a lot of tie-in games, actually fits the movie well. i haven't played the game at all since it remains untranslated, but i can tell from the visuals and overall presentation that it's probably great. additionally, it comes from the same folks from capcom that developed the SWEET HOME tie-in game, notable for being resident evil's primary inspiration on top of the original movie's soundtrack being done by The rhythm game inventor masaya matsuura. generally, A TAXING WOMAN has a lot of cool shit going on around it.

and of course, the actual movie rules. i can't definitively say i Laughed as much as i did with SUPERMARKET WOMAN, but the unravelling story of this tax agent's investigations was super engaging. the lead, nobuko miyamoto, is also the lead in all of juzo itami's movies, so it's sort of like watching the same character in different situations and sorta adds to the silliness of the whole thing.

visually the movie is gorgeous, having the same sort of pastel palette as SUPERMARKET WOMAN and this time in a 4:3 frame. it fits this era of japan pretty well, complementing the big ol city setting really well and giving it a bunch of atmosphere in an unconventional way. also ryoko plays super mario bros 2 in one scene and it's implied she's a pro at it and i just think that's a neat detail when the rest of her personal life is pretty mysterious !!!

[12/05/2024-] DOCTOR WHO AGAIN

being out of the loop with TV means that when something like DOCTOR WHO gets new episodes it kinda takes me a moment to notice. suddenly, new episodes of this show are coming out again! wowie!

now that "RTD" returned as showrunner, the series is actually really good again -- i've seen folks get hesitant or skeptical or critical of the whole ordeal because of how this series has been fumbled before, but i've really loved it so far. except for the baby episode.

continuing on from last year's specials, the whole vibe of the show has sort of taken a sharp turn into being Very Silly. the baby episode was just ok but it aired alongside the second episode, which is all about music and a flamboyant supernatural villain who controls it, and while that alone is really fun it kind of has this meta turn? i won't spoil what happens here but even down to the shot framing it's very stage-like in a lot of moments. this being one of the first two episodes is a strong message to the audience that this season is experimental and goofy and takes advantage of the very medium, which i seriously didn't expect. it's great! if you're not caught up yet i recommend watching this season so far anyway it's been a lot of fun. except for the baby episode.

in the weeks since we've gotten a few more episodes, one even being written by the returning STEVEN MOFFAT which, since it's an individual self-contained plot, was actually really neat and made really good use of the premise to give focus to its characters and dialogue. the next episode, 73 YARDS, was a similarly enthralling concept that was taken to extremes i would not have expected. in fact most of these plots so far have worked with a singular concept that's effectively used to expand on the new leads, which i know sounds like the bare minimum, but genuinely, after the CHIBNALL era it's something i can really appreciate.

the most recent episode (which technically released in june but shh) initially seems like a stodgy black mirror type "phone bad" dystopia story, but ultimately ended up with a twist that definitively turned me over into loving the concept and really just appreciating this new season a whole lot more. i'm sorta watching this show in a box with no reference of The Audience's General Opinion but i've seriously been so into all of it and i'm looking forward to the rest. like damn!!! watch it honestly!!! just not the baby episode.

[24/05/2024] TAMPOPO

aieee!! JUZO ITAMI returns, and real soon!!!

after watching A TAXING WOMAN earlier on i decided to check out another more famous part of his filmography. SUPERMARKET WOMAN was about supermarkets and A TAXING WOMAN is about taxes, so TAMPOPO is about food and, relative to the other two, flips miyamoto's role to be the novice rather than the pro. unlike the others it's not really just about her -- it uses her story as the primary plot arc, but TAMPOPO is really more about the nature of food and especially the preparation of it.

throughout the movie, the main storyline is broken up with vignettes of different food-centric scenarios inbetween. some are silly, some are sexual, and some are pretty morbid, and they're all seamlessly implemented to present the world as an ongoing event that's not just in the background. it goes from just being funny to being really kinda beautiful, and makes you crave noodles by the end (not me though -- i had a whole pizza with the movie i was far from hungry lol).

generally, i've had a really pleasant time with the ITAMI FILMOGRAPHAMI so far, and while i'd love to see more i think it's also nice to let these movies set in a little. don't be surprised if there's more next month, but i don't exactly wanna rush through the whole filmography like i've done in the past!!! that's a bad idea!!!

[31/05/2024] DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA

capping off the month, and this half of the year, is a concert movie that has a hell of a lot of emotional significance at a time where i'm vulnerable to this kinda thing.

i hopefully don't need to go off about how important david byrne's work is to me, i've yammered about it loads both on this website and in my slice of life video, but AMERICAN UTOPIA is kind of the finale to the whole arc that came to me at just the right time.

i got super into this guy's stuff at the end of last year when STOP MAKING SENSE got a theater rerelease and i'd just started uni, byrne's movie TRUE STORIES and his solo work like STRANGE RITUAL really having an emotional impact on my own work in general. that stuff was made decades ago though, and i discovered it months ago now, but here at the very end of my first uni year was a screening of byrne's second and much more recent concert film, AMERICAN UTOPIA. it's from 2020, making it much more relevant not just to recent times but specifically to the weighty stress of living through an election year. i won't talk about politics too much but this movie is inherently about that and while watching i couldn't help considering the fact that we're getting both a UK and US election this year. on top of all the AI-related stress artists have been experiencing and the baffling state of the world we live in, going with my sister to see our favorite guy-shaped man take similar worries into account for a new concert film DIRECTED BY SPIKE LEE was really kind of a lot.

this very stress materialised before the movie even started, because the independent cinema's host rambled on about the message (thanks for spoiling it dum-dum) in an introductory speech, and as this guy was urging the crowd to vote in our upcoming election and listed off political party colors ("red, green, yellow") some weirdo in the audience shouted "AND BLUE!" which was real awkward. blue, if you don't know, is our country's conservative party (i.e. the one that pretty much wants me dead) so it was creepy knowing that guy was in the crowd with us but also gratifying because AMERICAN UTOPIA is pretty explicitly against common conservative ideology lol.

having spike lee's involvement as director means this carries the same kinda weight present in that guy's filmography -- i've only seen malcolm X which was a few months ago, but similar sentiments obviously carry through here. the concert's band, along with byrne, is comprised of a bunch of folks from all over the world, and them all being brought together to perform is stunning to watch play out. even though it was filmed for a movie and not live in front of me, i felt the pure ENERGY from each component of the band, which byrne makes clear is all performed in real-time on stage. it sounds real good!!!! he talks directly to the audience between numbers, which is unlike STOP MAKING SENSE but necessary to give more background to the songs being performed, and lets them bring more impact. our cinema host guide insisted that byrne is more "wise" here, and while i wouldn't disagree, it's not like he's dramatically become some old sage with mysterious ways. he's still silly! he makes the audience laugh and during the performance a lot of his dance moves retain that ever-present goofiness. while he has certainly changed, and the set design reflects that, he hasn't lost anything. it feels like a message, after going from early byrne to recent byrne, that no matter how much may change in the world, and no matter how much you may change as a person, you don't have to be jaded or harsh about it.

or i dunno. i'm still being sentimental about the HRT stuff, change is a big topic for me right now. more than anything i think the biggest message from the movie is that good people deserve to live lol. we live in a cruel world and it's important that everyone ends up ok despite it.

stay tuned..!