Various Media

GateCrashers #FBF – September 2021

Discover something amazing you might have missed in GateCrashers Flashback Friday!

The GateCrashers are properly obsessed with lots of things. We’re so obsessed, instead of shouting our overwhelming joy for various forms of media into the void, we’ve created this monthly column – so we can share it with you. We know you think you’ve discovered all the good stuff out there, but we’re here to remind you that you may have missed a few things!

Film: Promare

Last month was Anime August here at GateCrashers, and to celebrate, I watched dozens of hours’ worth of anime (and, well…haven’t stopped). One of the anime I ended up watching was the 2019 film Promare, a movie I’d heard about for years before finally sitting down to watch it myself, and oh boy, was it a wild ride in the best possible way. 

Promare takes place in a post-apocalyptic world 30-years after a calamity where fires caused by mass spontaneous human combustion killed half the world’s population. Certain humans, like secondary protagonist Lio Fotia (left), developed pyrokinetic powers from the fires. Others, like primary protagonist Galo Thymos (right), spend their days putting out the fires caused by the combustions. It sounds way grimmer than it is. In fact, Promare is pure fun with beautiful animation and extremely meta dialogue. It even pokes fun at action-adventure story mechanics by naming their giant battle mech (yes, I said giant battle mech) Deus Ex Machina. Because, of course, they did.

I’d definitely recommend taking the time to watch this delightful movie. I rented it off of Amazon Prime for $1.99. But it’s also now available to stream on HBO Max, and it’s coming back to theaters for a limited engagement!

TV: Regular Show

I started watching Regular Show on HBO Max, as a way to have something to put on while I do other things or in little stretches of free time I have, given how short the episodes are. But I did not expect to be so engaged and entertained by it. It’s honestly crazy how invested I am in the lives of these dumbasses and their interpersonal relationships as much as their crazy bizarre adventures. Even more, as someone who currently finds themself in that same weird phase of life, it’s so reassuring, in a way, to see them go through it; be confused, fail, feel love, sadness, excitement, and sometimes even win.

TV: A Series of Unfortunate Events

I was a completionist when it came to reading long book series growing up. Comprising thirteen novels total, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was among one of the first full series I remember reading. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the 2004 film adaptation. Flash forward to 2017, and the books finally received a worthy Netflix adaptation. I watched the first three episodes with joy but forgot to ever return for more. Finally, having graduated college now and finding myself with more time on my hands than I could have ever imagined, I consumed every episode of the completed Unfortunate Events Netflix series in about a week. The dark comedy, gothic undertones, phenomenal acting, and sharp humor captures the book series’ tone identically. I binged the show and felt my mind actively sharpening, wheels turning in my head with analysis and appreciation for the visionary media I saw on the screen. Needless to say, I’m happy I was able to revisit the show with each episode available to stream all at once. A few essays about A Series of Unfortunate Events may be on the horizon.

(Side note: Daniel Handler’s inappropriate comments and utter sexism are unacceptable. It’s unfortunate that he is entirely connected to this adaptation of his books, but I am choosing here to try and separate the work from the creator without praising the creator himself.)

Graphic Novel: are you listening? by Tillie Walden

When I was a kid growing up, my family would frequently go on long car rides. Be it down the 95 to visit my grandparents in Florida or across the state to spend a Christmas afternoon with my dad’s side of the family, I would always love going on these long car rides. Just seeing the world pass me by. The odd tourist attractions, the cold dips of snow, or even the presence of other cars. I remember this one time, we were stuck in a massive traffic jam, practically frozen in place for two hours. It got to the point where many drivers and passengers, myself included, actually left our cars to stretch our legs and see what had happened. I bring this up because reading Tillie Walden’s brilliant are you listening? brought back these memories and so many others. A story of love, healing, and the desire to get a cat home, are you listening? is a triumph of color and images. Its color pallet perfectly captures the comforting, dangerous, melancholic atmosphere of being on a multi-day car trip. It’s a feeling I will always hold dear and one I love every time I see it. Highly recommended.

Documentary: The Last Dance

On a chilly November morning in 1996, my father and I witnessed a young rookie Allen Iverson play against the greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan. Growing up in the 90s meant one of three things: you owned a pair of Air Jordan’s, you had a #23 Bulls jersey, or you had seen Space Jam more times than you would brave to admit. You didn’t want to just play basketball like Mike, but rather as his famous slogan stated, you wanted to BE like Mike. Flash forward to this soul-crushing pandemic, and the basketball gods had gifted us an enlightening documentary called The Last Dance, a never-before-seen / behind-the-scenes look at the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s. I’ll admit, my first watch took place only hours after its release in early 2020, and yes, I even participated in the memes of Michael Jordan “taking things personally.” But like all things new, they are consumed so quickly, that sometimes a second look gives more depth than what was originally thought. Each of the 10 episodes carries you through the meteoric rise of Michael Jordan, while also capturing something that is ever-present with our current idolization of everyone in front of a camera, as well as a realization that Michael Jordan is human. He was an insatiable gambler, he smoked cigars, drank beers after games, he harassed and bullied teammates. Jordan was all those things, and yet he’s still known as an Olympic hero who literally lifted the NBA into a worldwide phenomenon. If you are not a basketball fan, this documentary might not give you quite the satisfaction, but you can still enjoy it as a time-capsule of the 1990s and a reflective piece on one of the greatest sports players of all-time. My wife, who is admittedly not a basketball fan herself, watched along-side me, which is a testament to the documentary’s appeal. Jordan’s basketball legacy remains untarnished, but as he walked away a hero, perhaps we have lived long enough to see him turn villain.

The Last Dance can be seen on Netflix, Prime Video, and for purchase on Apple TV.

Video Game: The World Ends With You

I’ve been on a The World Ends With You kick lately. I’ve always loved this game, but when the anime adaptation premiered earlier this year, a single gorgeous episode wasn’t enough to sate my appetite. So I downloaded the Nintendo Switch remake, and while I originally started playing it to kill time until the (excellent) sequel came out, it quickly sucked me in all over again with its phenomenally vibrant visual style and incredibly creative combat system. 

The sequel is out, and so far, it’s fulfilling its promise as the successor of one of the most legendary JRPGs of the Nintendo DS. But from time to time, I keep coming back to the original. With an incredible post-game experience that lets you travel back in time to uncover the machinations that were happening offscreen, that’s to be expected. It also doesn’t hurt that there are over 300 incredible abilities to collect and combo together, a killer story full of immensely satisfying twists and turns, or a cast of characters that will live in my brain for decades to come. It’s a singularly unique experience, and I can’t recommend it enough.

But don’t take my word for it; try out the (stand-alone) sequel’s extensive demo, or watch the anime adaptation on Hulu. Chances are, you won’t regret it.

Film: Cure

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure might be the best horror film I’ll watch all year. A bold claim to make given there are plenty of other horror films on the way, and yet I doubt any of them will hit in the same way Cure does. While many horror films work with overly familiar tropes and unearned jump scares with zero impact, Cure feels like an original work that aims to disarm you more than it wants to make you scream. The less said, the better; the film follows a police detective as he attempts to solve a series of violent and random murders. The only signifying clue that ties them all together is that each victim carries an X carved into them, and the murderer on the scene has no memory of committing the crime. What starts out as a curious police procedural quickly unravels into a commentary about the facade humanity puts on to hide away the potential for violence brewing underneath; the truth that any one of us may carry a desire to cause harm, one that is completely out of our control. Making excellent use of long takes, an editing style that calls to mind The Exorcist III, and imagery that sticks with you, Cure just might be the film that captures the pressure that comes with living during a post-pandemic (if we ever get there) mindset. There simply is nothing else like it. 

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