Let’s face it, when I’m not posting episodic reviews, my blog is already a roulette of unpatterned content. But today, I have something deliberately, meticulously random for you…and it’s not about anime (for the most part).
You see, I don’t actually watch all that many non-anime movies or TV shows. Actually, I haven’t actually seen that many anime either – I’m too embarrassed to even link my MAL here! But the point is, I’m trying to improve all of that, and on a certain weekend, I thought I’d start with movies.
The Story Behind it
Exactly a month ago, I promised my dear movie blogger friend K at the Movies to watch stuff that he reviewed by randomly generating my selections from his entire pool of posts. Funny how he thought that was a joke, hehe.
As someone with an unhealthy obsession with random number generators, it was not much of a chore at all. I counted all of his posts and generated five random ones, eliminating only titles that I didn’t have access to and posts that didn’t refer to any movie/TV show. Since some of the posts reviewed more than one title, I randomly generated the options within the posts to narrow it down to one per post. I was initially going to do just movies, but I ended up with an interesting variety of things, and decided to try them all out anyway. It was a fun time, and now I present to you 5 mini reviews of 5 random pieces of media, in the order in which I watched them.
The Circle (TV Series)
This is, I believe, the first reality TV show I’ve ever seen! For this review, I watched a third of the season, which amounted to 4 episodes. According to K, it is something that “every blogger should watch,” so as a blogger, I was pretty excited to check it out!
8 players compete at one time in a popularity contest among themselves to win $10,000, but can only interact with each other through a social media simulation called “The Circle,” which allows you to curate your image through photos and descriptions, and message each other privately or in groups.
I was well-entertained by the four episodes I watched, but also, this show sure knows how to get the cringe going. The thing about reality TV is that it’s very much not reality, and either The Circle draws attention to the artifice of it on a meta level, or I’m one of the people who really has trouble with immersion. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a bit of both here.
The Circle markets itself as a “social experiment,” and it’s certainly quite successful at drawing out some interesting social attitudes and group dynamics. Some players are downright catfishing each other, while others attempt to present more authentic versions of themselves, but I feel like the glimpses of authenticity I was served were too cheaply dispensed to feel like something.
So do I relate to The Circle? I want to say “not really,” but naturally, sometimes. I tweak my messaging style depending on the style of the person I’m messaging, from vocabulary and emoji use to message length and response time. These are subtle choices that I wouldn’t consciously spend time deliberating, but they are made all the time. But displaying different behaviours around different people applies to real life too, and since I’m sure nobody around here has $10k as a social incentive, I don’t really see authenticity as an issue in my online life.
Overall, an awkwardly entertaining watch! K’s review here.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
This was one of K’s reviews that left an impression on me long before I saw the movie, and K did recommend that I check out Charlie Kaufman when I said I enjoyed dream-inspired narratives, so it worked out. Um, how do I even begin to review this.
This film was two hours of exquisite distress and I liked it. The oppressiveness of the first half, the incomprehensibility of the second, and the bombardment of visual and literary metaphors that my mind lapped up but couldn’t entirely digest. I feel like it may take a rewatch, or reading the novel on which it was based, for me to get a better picture of what it has to offer, but as things are, I enjoyed this surreal experience.
The first 20 minutes of dread in the car resonated with me the most, probably followed by the family dinner that “awkward” or “horrific” can’t even begin to encapsulate. There’s much turmoil in the stillness and pauses. Near the end, I must admit that the film lost me a bit. So much was going on in rapid, disconnected succession that my mind shut down and stopped being able to process things. The ambitiousness of the fever dream sequences might have costed the film a bit of audience connection.
I wonder how many break-ups this film inspired; I’m sure it has contributed to a few, and would probably have contributed to my last one had it been around a year earlier. Check out K’s review, which captured the style of the film in the best way possible.
A Silent Voice
Guess what…it landed on an anime. Well, I never actually got around to seeing this one, and K, like most of our peers, had almost nothing but praise for it, so now’s as good of a chance as ever. Did I fall in love with it like everyone else? I sure did!
Naoko Yamada’s directing already left an impression on me in Liz and the Blue Bird. The subtle attention to body language is familiar and welcoming, especially in a narrative that very much relies on it for expression. I love my subtitles in everything, but this is one of the rare instances where I’m perfectly happy to be deprived of their security at times for the full experience with sign language communication.
I’m also a big sucker for humanizing stories – stories that see the good in people and things without compromising complex individualities and glossing over the ugly. The flaws of the characters came out natural, and so did their charms.
A Silent Voice has a gentle heart and is a film that’s impossible to dislike. In addition to having a phenomenal narrative, it is also visually spectacular. If you haven’t seen it, you really should! Read K’s review here.
A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale
Now here’s something else! Filed under K’s “Bad Movies” section, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale didn’t sound like the most promising watch, but at least it was a timely dose of holiday spirit.
For the record, I am neither partial to dogs nor rom-com as a genre – they’re like guacamole on a taco to me, optional, and preferably not overpowering. This movie was…watchable! I’m sorry for recycling K’s verdict here, but it’s a movie that doesn’t strive for a lot, and achieves pretty much what it set out to do (*spoilers that hardly spoil the experience: save a dog park and get the leads together). I, at least, got from it exactly what I expected to get.
The protagonist is rather obnoxious, the love interest is, well, a guy, but at least the dogs are cute, which I’m sure is all that matters to many people! The funniest part of the movie is probably the miraculous relationship between the protagonist’s property-managing employers, which should be at the brink of collapse but is somehow featured as dotingly sweet. Your stereotypical alpha corporate villain is secretly a…simp, but what’s with his wife casually comparing husbands to dogs whenever she gets to speak? To remind me that I’m watching a dog movie, I bet.
I got bored enough that I started simultaneously farming on FGO two-thirds into the film, but I don’t think I missed too much with the diminished attention. I enjoyed being able to write this review more than the movie itself, which is how some movies be, I suppose. If you like dogs and Christmas though, K’s review has more to suggest!
This enchanted me very much! As I did with The Circle, I watched 4 episodes of it to write this review. So far, Hilda is an animated series about a young girl who makes friends with fantasy creatures finding her footing in a more urban setting. As someone who moved a lot as a kid and was markedly eccentric, I’m sure my young self would have found solace in such a series.
I love the matter-of-fact incorporation of fantasy elements, and find the gentle humour to be pleasant and refreshing. I also have a lot of respect for how sincerely central themes are explored in the episodes. Here in Canada at least, indigenous reconciliation and the right to settle on land is a hugely sensitive topic that is usually carefully averted or hammer-fistedly moralized. Over the four episodes I’ve seen, Hilda has explored such territorial disagreements twice distinctly, and has given each side a candid voice, complemented by mild but on-point political satire.
It’s a charming show and I look forward to watching more, especially since Season 2 apparently just came out! Check out K’s review here.
Well, this was fun! The RNG was awfully kind to me by generating such a balanced selection of things (and not landing on one of many spooky films). I swear I didn’t rig it. Perhaps this isn’t the most representative of the K at the Movies experience, since the titles aren’t exactly all that obscure (4/5 on Netflix? hmm…), but I did have to settle with what was available to me. For movie recommendations that are more out there, do pay K’s blog a visit!
As for the big question: which title did I enjoy the most? You might think this is disappointingly predictable given the nature of my blog, but the honour has to go to A Silent Voice. I don’t think I inherently favour anime over other mediums, but A Silent Voice is a real gem that delivered and inspired, and is just my type of story.
There was something to enjoy in every one of these watches, so thank you, K, for the recommendations that you didn’t actually give. I had so much fun that I might even RNG someone else’s blog next, so if you don’t mind me nosing through your ancient posts, you’re welcome to recommend your own blog in the comments. No guarantees that I’ll get to more of these anytime soon, but I’m always interested in an RNG project.
Have you seen any of these titles? Got movie/TV show recommendations for me? Feel free to drop a comment below!