Hello fellow bloggers. My reviews will be of Black Lagoon, an action anime created in 2006, and The Celluloid Closet, a film made in 1995 dealing with gay portrayal in movies.
Before I delve into my reviews, I thought I’d give honorable mention to Downton Abbey. I just started watching (I know, late to the party) and I am extremely impressed. The setting is quite fun but the true gem is the wonderful acting. Every single character is portrayed outstandingly by a cast that includes Maggie Smith (a personal favorite of mine). I look forward to seeing more of the show.
Also, I am a little under halfway through Prisoner of Azkaban. The re-read is going relatively quickly. I am enjoying it quite a bit. The twins are starting to endear themselves to me all over again. I don’t want to say too much else as I will save my main comments until the actual review. However, it should be noting that at this point I truly believe Peeves needed to be in the movies. I see no reason why the school’s favorite trickster couldn’t make a few cameos.
To the reviews! Black Lagoon is possibly one of the most complete anime series I have ever watched, and I have seen quite a bit over the years. I would put the story right up there with an Evangelion or a Cowboy Bebop. It is about a group of mercenaries called The Lagoon Company. They take up jobs with many clients but their primary is Hotel Moscow, a Russian crime syndicate who they are quite friendly with. As I stated, the story is very well done. You follow The Lagoon Company around and witness not only missions but character growth. It reminds me a lot of Firefly because as a viewer, you are actually cheering on guns for hire. Voice acting is very important to this series because without a connection to the characters, even this great story would be meaningless. Within the first episode I was shocked. The voice casting was perfect. This is now two anime series in a row that have impressed me with their English voice actors.
Another important note is that the animation is very well done. I really cannot express how happy it makes me to be able to own anime on Blu-Ray. The format just does wonders for the genre. So with all these positives you would expect the series to get an A+ right? It was actually planned until a character within the show ruined it for me. This will be a bit of a spoiler, so if you have not watched the show yet please skip over these next lines. At end of the story, there is a confrontation between Rock/Revy and Yukio/Ginji. In a fit of anger, Yukio berates Rock and explains that his judgement of other people is disgusting, as he has not chosen an actual side for his life, he is stuck in the twilight. This puts him in an awkward position due to the fact that he is neither hero, nor anti-hero, nor even villain, Rock basically is just nothing. This would normally not be an issue because it gives him a moment of self-reflection and then he gets to resolve it, only HE NEVER DOES! At the very end of the show Rock states that he will continue to be in the twilight. AND IT ENDS! What? You rip apart the character and then he is cool with it? How does that even make sense?? It was such a disappointment. So even though 99% of the show is outstanding, I cannot give this the highest mark possible all because of a stupid mistake on the part of the writing.
The Black Lagoon ends up being an A-.
My next and last review is of The Celluloid Closet. This was actually a follow-up to a documentary I recently watched about Vito Russo, a gay activist who unfortunately passed. The movie had a lot of great interviews of Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Curtis and many others. The film explained the history of gays in movies and how during many years they disguised their presence. They included numerous film clips, some of which I had seen before but had no idea there were hidden meanings of words spoken or movements given. The Celluloid Closet treats the topic with the respect it deserves. The reason for this is it was based on lectures that Vito Russo himself used to give around the USA. There are years of painstaking research put into this film. Russo went through hundreds of hours of movies trying to find scenes he could use and there are so many you almost lose track. Unfortunately, Vito Russo never got to see this movie. He passed away due to AIDS in 1990.
I want my readers to know how important this subject is to me. I have gay friends and I also have gay family members. Even today, there is still so much hate in the world for people who are just being themselves. There has been quite a bit of progress which is wonderful but there is still hate and ignorance in the world. I believe that documentaries and films like this were the first real step towards understanding and visibility. The next step I do believe is Glee, and yes, The New Normal. One of the greatest things shown in The New Normal is how David and Bryan act with each other. How when they kiss it is just part of their daily lives. The show makes it a point to never give those scenes extra focus. I cannot recall that in another broadcast show. Yes they have passion in their relationship but it is primarily pure love and caring that we see as the audience. To me, that is real progress. However I just went way off track. My apologies.
The Celluloid Closet gets an A+. How could I give it anything less?
I hope you check out both. Neither is very expensive and both are worth multiple viewings. Now if you will excuse me, I have to water my tree. Yes, I finally have a Christmas tree!
My family will be having a rough time this Christmas because of a loss we had at the beginning of the year. I know others have suffered as well. My advice is to read and watch all the books, films, and television you can handle. No matter how bad things get, they have the ability to give us an escape and make life just a little easier.