Kino Lorber and Re:Voir have partnered to release The Maya Deren Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. Maya (the mother of us all) Deren is one of the most prominent figures in American avant-garde cinema. Does this collection do her career justice? How’s the 2K restoration? Can we finally toss those Mystic Fire Video DVDs in the trash?
All of Deren’s completed films are included in this collection:
- Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
- At Land (1944)
- A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945)
- Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)
- The Private Life of a Cat (1946)
- Meditation on Violence (1948)
- The Very Eye of Night (1958)
- Divine Horsemen (1977)
I wrote a pretty deep dive into Maya Deren’s work a few years back, so I won’t go too analytical in this review. Meshes is her most well-known film and for good reason, it’s her best. Ritual in Transfigured Time is a very close second for me. Her entire filmography is important and worth watching, though many feel her earlier work is much more watchable and relatable. Her later films tend to be more academic and have very specific meanings impenetrable to those outside her inner circle.
It’s impressive that Divine Horsemen is included. The footage was shot while Maya was in Haiti between 1947 and 1951, but she was never able to finish the film. This version was completed by Teiji ito and his wife, Cherel, in 1977. While excerpts were included in previous Deren collections, this is the first time it’s been included in its entirety with her other films.
All Aboard The Galaxy Express 999 TV Series Collection 1 Blu-ray Review
The Galaxy Express 999 TV series has already had a full digital release in the US, as well as a partial DVD release in 2012 when S’more Entertainment released the first 38 episodes in a single set. Unfortunately, reviews of the first set said the video quality was awful and they never put out the rest of the series.
It took another seven years, but Discotek Media just released the Galaxy Express 999 TV Series Collection 1 on December 24, 2019. It contains episodes 1-39 and is the first time an English version of the series has been released on Blu-ray. Was this set worth the wait?
Come On, Ride The Train
Galaxy Express 999 was originally a manga series by Leiji Matsumoto. The TV series aired from 1978 to 1981, totaling 113 episodes. From the back cover:
After witnessing the death of his mother and being left for dead at the hands of Count Mecha, ten-year-old Tetsuro Hoshino is awakened by a mysterious woman, Maetel. In exchange for only his company, Maetel offers him the ride of his life on the Galaxy Express 999. It is said that those who travel aboard the legendary train to the end of the line can receive a free mechanical body and with it, immortality. Impoverished and alone, Tetsuro leaps at the opportunity and joins Maetel on a quest that will span the cosmos.
The series follows Tetsuro and Maetel as they travel to different planets aboard the 999, inching their way closer to the end of the line, and Tetsuro’s goal of immortality. Each episode generally follows the duo exploring a new planet, encountering danger, and narrowly escaping said danger to make it back to the train in the nick of time before the departure.
When I sat down to write a “best of the year” list, I realized it would have to be my top five albums of 2019. This year hit me especially hard, and I wasn’t able to catch a ton of new releases in other mediums. For better or for worse, streaming means all the new music I want for the same amount of money each month. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the top five albums of 2019!
LAMB-THE SECRET OF LETTING GO
Lamb has always been a very hit-and-miss band for me. Each of their previous albums had 2-3 tracks I absolutely loved and a lot of other tracks that I didn’t really care for. It’s with great surprise and delight that I put one of their albums in my top five this year.
This is by far their most accomplished and focused album. They’ve traded their ambient trip-hop for, well, less-ambient trip-hop. All of the songs here are catchy and memorable, even the slower and more atmospheric ones. The Secret of Letting Go sees Lamb perfecting their songwriting and highlighting their ability to evoke melancholy, all while managing to keep sight of what made their sound unique in the first place.
Look. We all would have rather had a new studio album from Apoptygma Berzerk this year. It’s been ten years since Rocket Science (does Exit Popularity Contest count as a studio album?). Anyways, if a studio album was off the table, you could do a lot worse than SDGXXV. The album is a remixed and reworked version of their very first album, Soli Deo Gloria, which came out 25 years ago this year. Get it?
Eighteen artists contributed tracks to this re-imagined version of Apop’s EBM masterpiece. As with any kind of remix album, not all the songs here are winners. However, most of them do offer fresh interpretations of songs that we’ve all had on repeat for ages. I’m just excited it didn’t take another decade to finally get some “Backdraft” remixes.
Meshikou is a ramen shop located in a strip mall on Bethel Road, sitting between a computer repair store and a poker club. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but you know what they say: don’t judge an open kitchen ramen shop by its cover.
Walking inside, I was immediately taken aback by how nice it looked. The decor has a clean and contemporary aesthetic to it. Customers can sit at snazzy wooden tables or the counter for a more authentic Japanese ramen experience. While it’s on the small side, Meshikou looks more like an upscale Short North restaurant than something you’d expect to find in a strip mall.
I started the meal with an iced water and a genmaicha hot tea. Going against the current Columbus trends, I was served a glass of water with ice actually inside of it. I didn’t have to pour my own room temperature water from a salvaged milk bottle into a small iceless glass. While I’m not usually a tea person, the genmaicha was some of the most delicious tea I have ever had and became an instant favorite.
For appetizers, I went with the Enoki Bacon Wrap and the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wing. The bacon wraps were just okay. They didn’t have much flavor and the portion size was sparse for the price. I’m swiping left on the Enoki Bacon Wrap.
The Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings, on the other hand, were amazing. These large wings were seasoned and fried perfectly and then tossed with fresh pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic. They were seriously yummy and I had to stop myself from eating all of them to save room for the actual ramen.
The Fireball Miso Ramen I ordered consists of chicken chintan broth infused with miso paste and a ball of spicy garlic paste, served with wavy noodles. It’s topped with kikurage mushrooms, corn, white scallions, and a marinated soft boiled egg. You can choose to finish it off with pork belly or pork tenderloin. I opted for the pork belly.
My ramen was absolutely incredible. After mixing everything together a bit, I alternated between chopsticks and spoon to greedily devour the contents of my giant bowl. The noodles and pork belly were cooked to perfection. Something bold and heavenly was created as all of the flavors came together. Before I knew it, I had tipped the remaining contents of the bowl into my mouth. It was over far too soon.
Whether you’re a ramen aficionado or a first-timer looking to try something different, Meshikou won’t disappoint. It has some of the best ramen Columbus had to offer. Seriously. Check it out.
The first Blu-ray disc of the fifth OVA series of the anime series Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, which was popular mainly in the 1990s, will be released on February 28, 2020 in Japan. The fifth OVA will be six episodes long. If you pre-order all six volumes, you’ll get the pilot novel as a pre-order bonus (just like they did with OVA 4).
The Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki series started when Masaki Tenchi released a “demon” that was sealed away in his grandfather’s shrine. It’s a sci-fi comedy that revolves around the antics of aliens who have come to the Earth for various reasons. In addition to OVA (original video animation) and movie versions, the TV versions also gained popularity. Tenchi Muyo OVA 5 will be directed by Keitaro Motonaga, who also directed Digimon Adventure Tri.
General Director: Masaki Kajishima ▽ Director: Keitaro Motonaga ▽ Series Composition / Screenplay: Hideki Shirane ▽ Character Draft: Masaki Kajishima ▽ Character Design / Overall Director: Sayuri Sakimoto ▽ Art Setting: Miki Miyamoto ▽ Art Director: Miki Miyamoto ▽ Color Setting: Takuya Kawami ▽ Acoustic director: Yasunori Honda ▽ Ending Theme Song: Kaori Oda ▽ Sound Production: Pony Canyon Enterprise ▽ Animation Production: AIC ▽ Animation Production Cooperation: A-Line
News translated and adapted from MANTANWEB.
Since my time working in the out-of-home industry was recently put to an end, I thought I’d answer one of the most common questions I’d get: what can’t you put on a billboard? The answer is almost as nebulous as the question itself. Let’s take a look at a billboard that was recently taken down.
This controversial billboard (pictured above) was recently taken down in Columbus, Ohio. It features an elderly woman in a spacesuit, holding a helmet in one hand and a gun in the other. The text on the billboards reads, “It’s my birthday, b*tch.”
It was purchased by social media and viral video star, Ross Smith. The woman on the billboard is Ross’s grandmother, who frequently appears in his videos. According to Ross, the billboard was supposed to be a birthday present for his grandma and its intent was to mock the “Storm Area 51” movement.
After the mass shootings in El Paso on Aug. 3rd and Dayton on Aug. 4th, the billboard company received several complaints about the billboard. It was removed immediately.
There are a lot of opinions about removing this billboard, both for and against. Many people can’t believe it ever went up in the first place. What actually is and isn’t allowed on a billboard, anyhow? Previously, buying a billboard meant you bought from an advertising expert, so knowing content regulations wasn’t necessary. Technology now allows anyone to buy a billboard online, so it’s more important for media buyers and marketers to understand the rules and regulations.
Although he’s a famous manga artist in Japan, there’s a good chance you’ve probably never heard of Masakazu Katsura – and if you have, it probably wasn’t until very recently. He’s the character designer for Astral Chain, the latest action title from PlatinumGames. In anticipation of Astral Chain’s release, we’re taking a tour through some of his previous work so you can become better acquainted with his output (if you’re not one of the lucky people who’s already a fan, of course).
Masakazu Katsura was born in Japan in 1962. Growing up, he was always good at drawing, though amazingly, he never wanted to be a manga artist and had little interest in the medium, preferring movies and novels. He entered a manga contest when he was in high school purely so he could raise the funds to buy a stereo with the prize money; fame was not at the forefront of his mind at that time. As it turned out, he ended up winning the award and it launched his career.
Grab a box of tissues and get ready to nurse those broken hearts as we take a look back at some of Katsura’s career-defining titles.
I wrote this paper on Christina Kubisch and her electrical walks back in grad school. Reading through it again, I think the “finding narrative” section perhaps needs a revamp. That being said, I did a decent amount of research on both Kubisch’s work and the foundations of sound walks in general, so I thought it was worth posting. Enjoy!
Electrical Walks and the Living Narratives of Cities
In her electrical walks, Christina Kubisch provides walkers with a pair of headphones and asks them to explore the city. The headphones are not normal headphones. These headphones plug into the stories of the city. They are custom made headphones that convert the electromagnetic fields given off by any electronic device into sounds. Each walker explores the city, making choices and discovering the hidden sounds of the city. Each electrical walk produces a personal mix of the city created by the walker, who plays both spectator and artist in the context of the walk. By participating in the project, each walker is exposed to and asked to express the stories of the city in whatever way they deem fit. What, if any, meaning is behind these electrical walks? What does the living, breathing narrative of the city sound like?
This paper is divided into several sections. Since these electrical walks are a deviation from the more traditional soundwalks, the first section takes a look at the basic purpose and theory behind them. The second part gives a history of how Kubisch’s work as well as how she developed her electrical walks and describes what the experience is like. The next section defines these electrical walks in the context of participatory art and explains how the walkers can manipulate the sounds and how and why this makes this participatory. Finally, the last section will put everything together and attempt to answer questions of narrative and meaning related to the electrical walks.
Nozomi have announced that they’re rescuing the El-Hazard franchise from licensing limbo. While they had already rescued El-Hazard The Wanderers series years ago, they’re bringing over El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, El Hazard 2: The Magnificent World, and El-Hazard: The Alternative World to DVD and Blu-ray in 2020.
All of these were originally localized by Geneon/Pioneer decades ago. The original OVA series — Magnificent World — is a classic and still holds up really well. It’s sequel OVA — Magnificent World 2 — is pretty bad. The TV series retelling of the original OVA — The Wanderers — is also pretty bad. The other TV series — Alternative World — takes place in the OVA canon and while it’s decent, I’ve never successfully watched the whole thing.
Kudos to Nozomi for giving me the opportunity to pick up the original OVA on Blu-ray without having to import from Japan. I can’t say the other series would be worth upgrading to Blu-ray versions, but if you haven’t seen the original, it’s definitely worth checking out. Maybe this will get people excited for that gritty El-Hazard reboot that’s in the works.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at Beth B’s Stigmata. Before we can do that, we need to talk about a bit about Structuralism. The Structural film movement seemed to be a response to the seemingly complex experimental films that came shortly before it. Those working within the movement wanted to return to a simpler film form. The filmmakers considered to be part of the Cinema of Transgression were responding to the Structural movement. They found Structuralism to be boring and even elitist. According to Nick Zedd’s manifesto, they wanted film to be dangerous again.
In terms of imagery, the film is very simple. Most of the film features six persons, centered, at medium close-up. On top of that, there are some different shots used sparingly throughout the film: a bird flying in a building, a POV shot of someone looking out of a window, a horse pulling a carriage, older people sitting on a bench.
The film begins with the six interviewees talking about their horrible childhoods and the great pain they felt inside of them. They all begin talking about how they dealt with that pain, eventually leading to the fact that they were all drug addicts. As the film goes on they all talk about their experience with abusing drugs and then how they all eventually decided to get treatment. The use of the talking heads and the almost non-existence of an interviewer immediately reminded me of Errol Morris. I find it really interesting to just sit back and listen to people talk in this manner.
Looking at the film in formal terms, I was almost surprised to read afterward that Cinema of Transgression was a response to what people didn’t like about Structural film. I liked this film, but in terms of form, I wouldn’t exactly call it exciting or dangerous. In fact, a lot of Structural films probably contained more camera movement.
The main difference would be the content. In Structural film, the form tends to be (or is valued more than) the content. The strength of this film is the content. Based on the title, I actually thought the interviewees would all claim to have experienced stigmata. As it went on it, I thought it would be about suicide attempts. By the time I figured out it was about drug addiction, I was so interested in them and their stories, I wasn’t even thinking about what the film was about. It also fits into the Cinema of Transgression because the film is about drug addiction and as Peterson points out that Postmodernist films of this kind tend to seek out kinds of impurity.
While I liked the film I do have mixed feelings on the run time. Part of me feels like it was just a little too long and another part feels that that thirty-eight minutes wasn’t nearly enough time to learn about these people and their struggles. I mentioned how Errol Morris uses a similar kind of interview technique (I’m guessing Beth B. didn’t use an interrotron) and part of the reason his films are great because of the way he blends music, re-enactments, and graphics with the interviews. I don’t believe the simplicity hurts the film, but if this is supposed to be a kind of attack on Structuralism, I expected just a little more excitement.