Back in New York. Watched two in-flight movies on the way over:
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms - A beautiful animated fairytale reminiscent of Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children. The young (relatively-speaking), naive title character belongs to an elf-like race of near-immortals; when violence and tragedy force her to flee her homeland, she impulsively adopts a recently-orphaned human infant, desperate for any kind of companionship in her new, unfamiliar (and decidedly hostile) surroundings. But as both the boy and the love she feels towards him grow, she must confront the brevity and fragility of life and meditate on the true meaning of motherhood. I wasn’t ready to have my heart ripped open in such a public setting, but that hardly dampened my enjoyment of this bittersweet fantasy yarn.
Mumon: The Land of Stealth - A martial arts extravaganza for the ages! Tearing a page out of Quentin Tarantino’s playbook, this tongue-in-cheek chanbara epic exaggerates, dissects, and otherwise deconstructs the worn-out tropes commonly associated with the ninja sub-genre—only to ultimately reassemble them, cutting to the core of what makes those old, cheesy movies so beloved and enduring in the first place. Even the tone is evocative of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, gleefully jumping between bloody slapstick and genuinely engrossing melodrama without diminishing the effectiveness of either. I missed this one when it played at last year’s Japan Cuts; glad I finally had the opportunity to see it (though the venue wasn’t exactly ideal).
[Originally written September 3, 2018.]