Thursday, August 17, 2017

Phil sees GHOST IN THE SHELL from Paramount Pictures - August 17, 2017

In 1995, the anime film GHOST IN THE SHELL was released to theaters and home video to world wide acclaim. It was the most visually stunning and complex anime to be released at that time. It has gone on to become one of the greatest anime films of all time, often times being compared to AKIRA in some conversations. Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, "The Ghost in the Shell," the anime eventually caught the attention of Hollywood. Last year it was announced that Paramount Pictures were planning a big budget live adaptation of the classic property. The end result is GHOST IN THE SHELL, which was released to theaters this past spring and yours truly finally got around to seeing it.

The film's official synopsis: In the near future, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible terrorist attack, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major Kusanagi is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major Kusanagi discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others.

So......yeah, this film. While I thoroughly enjoyed the cinematography and the special effects were gorgeous, I felt that it was just another lifeless, bloated Hollywood shit show.

Now I love Scarlett Johansson and I think she's a talented actress, but I felt like she was miscast in the role. Her performance felt flat for me and she didn't show a lot of range as Motoko. Granted, she was the subject of enormous controversy due to her being cast as the lead instead of casting an Japanese actress, which there is some merit in it. The source material is all Japanese based; the manga, the anime, which is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential anime film of all time. The only Japanese actor in the film is the legendary actor Takeshi Kitano and he doesn't speak of word of English in the film! That's how badass he is!

Director Rubert Sanders' previous film was the 2012 SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, which I didn't like very much. Now he is a really good director; his set-ups and compositions are nice looking, his storytelling is fluid and smooth, but as to why he picks these type of film projects is beyond me. So far his resume includes three short films and two Hollywood duds. Seriously Rubert, find something more worth while to do with your time.

GHOST IN THE SHELL is another dull, boring, lifeless, soulless, typical Hollywood schlockbuster that's easy on the eyes but is unquestionably forgettable! Not even Johansson and her skin colored outfit can save this film from being another shitty attempt of another Hollywood remake of a beloved Japanese film! 2 out of 5 stars! It's a rental at best!

GHOST IN THE SHELL is currently playing in theaters nationwide. Check your local listings to see if it's playing at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends a special screening of TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK at the Camera 3 Cinemas - August 10, 2017

Guess who's back? That's right! After being away for over two years, I have come back home to San Jose! And what better way to celebrate my return than seeing a movie at my favorite theater: The Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! But this wasn't your ordinary film, oh no. This was a documentary about the East Bay Punk scene that would transform music history forever. So let me tell you all about TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK and why I loved it so much!

The film's official synopsis: Narrated by Iggy Pop, Turn it Around: The Story of East Bay Punk spans over 30 years of the California Bay Area’s punk music history with a central focus on the emergence of Berkeley's inspiring 924 Gilman Street music collective. The film is the definitive telling of this vibrant story, drawing from a wide variety of voices, featuring exclusive interviews with and the music of the most famous and infamous rock and punk bands in history, including Green Day, Metallica, Rancid, Dead Kennedys, and over 100 more interviews with artists and musicians from California’s East Bay punk music scene.

The film was nostalgic for me. I was there when the events in the film were unfolding. I remember hanging out with my friends listening to Operation Ivy's album. I was a huge fan of Lookout! Records and their bands like The Mr. T Experience, Groovie Ghoulies, The Donnas and The Queers. The label was also the home of a little band called Green Day, who would bring the East Bay Sound to the mainstream with their 1994 major label debut "Dookie."

It was interesting to reflect and look back while I was watching the documentary. The first thing that popped in my head first was, "Holy crap I'm old! I remember when all this was brand new!" Then I was thinking of all the young college kids that were in the theater with me. To them this is a history lesson. For me, we didn't know that this was going to become as big as did. We were just a bunch of dumb kids looking for something to do with our time. Forming bands, playing shows, starting fanzines, nobody thought that we were going to make history. None of my punk friends thought that we were going to become anything. In hindsight, we were doing something special and the filmmakers captured that youthful D.I.Y. spirit that drove us in creating this extraordinary scene.

The documentary was produced and directed by Corbett Redford and co-written by Redford and Anthony Marchitiello. These two gentlemen did their homework as they dug deep to bring to light the roots of the East Bay Punk scene, the rise of 924 Gilman Street and how it all came to be. Interviewing those who were their like Tim Armstrong, Larry Livermore, Matt Freeman, Dave Edwardson, Michelle Gonzales, Kamala Parks and the guys from Green Day (who helped executive produce the film along with Pat Magnarella), the film is so in-depth that its total running time is an astounding 157 minutes! And to have the legendary Iggy Pop to narrate the film, that's a punk rock rocker's dream come true right there!

Taking it one step further, the archival footage was amazing! To witness Operation Ivy in their glory days, to see a young Frank Portman front the Mr. T Experience and to see those Green Day kids playing to a backyard party made me scream for joy! It was wonderful to see all of this still exist and to have it the film was the icing on the cake! I was so happy I was grinning from ear to ear!

TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK is a punk fueled, groundbreaking and informative documentary that captures a magical period of time in music history; a lesson for those who wish to create their own scene and do something for themselves. I feel privileged to have witnessed it all first hand. I reflect on that period as the greatest time of my life. This scene, this world I was living in was new and open and anything was possible! This is one documentary that the whole world needs to see! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK is playing one more time at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose on Thursday, August 17th at 7:30pm. For tickets, visit the Camera 3's website at To learn more about the film and to see if it will be playing at a theater near you, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!