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74. Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro) – Anime April 2018 (#137)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Graham Day and Marianne Cassidy, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This year, we are proud to announce Anime April, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. We hope to make this an annual event. This year, we watched a double feature of Isao Takahata’s Hotaru no haka and Hayao Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of their original release in April 1988. This week, the second part of the double bill, Tonari no Totoro.

Introducing perhaps the most iconic character in Japanese animation, and perhaps one of the most iconic characters in all animation, My Neighbour Totoro is the story of two young children who move to the Japanese countryside in the aftermath of the Second World War and befriend the mysterious eponymous creature who serves as a guardian of the local environment.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 137th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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73. Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) – Anime April 2018 (#57)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guests Graham Day and Marianne Cassidy, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This year, we are proud to announce Anime April, a fortnight looking at two of the animated Japanese films on the list. We hope to make this an annual event. This year, we watched a double feature of Isao Takahata’s Hotaru no haka and Hayao Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of their original release in April 1988. This week, the first part of the double bill, Hotaru no haka.

Regarded as one of the most affecting animated films ever made, Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of two children caught in the middle of the United States’ firebombing of Japan. Adapted from Akiyuki Nosaka’s semi-autobiographical novella of the same name, Grave of the Fireflies is a harrowing portrayal of the consequences of war, particularly upon those in need of society’s protection.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 57th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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70. Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai) (#19)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and this week with special guest Chris Lavery, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode thrown in.

This time, Akira Kurosawa’s Shichinin no Samurai.

In feudal Japan, a small village finds itself threatened by an army of bandits. In a desperate attempt to protect their barley crop from the marauding menace, the villages decide to hire a samurai to the protect the village. Inevitably, they end up with more than they bargained for.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 19th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Iron Fist – The Blessing of Many Fractures (Review)

As “The Last Defender”, Iron Fist bears the burden of tying most heavily into The Defenders.

This is not a surprise. This has been a large part of the Marvel Studios model, with productions teasing concepts and characters that will not arrive for quite some time. By the time that Thanos moves against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers: Infinity War, it will have been more than half a decade since the stinger at the end of The Avengers teased his looming threat. Even since Samuel L. Jackson appeared at the end of Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. dropped by the stinger in The Incredible Hulk, these teases have been a way of doing business.

Glowing yellow peril.

As such, it makes sense that the company would put a lot of groundwork into setting up the summer’s big-ticket crossover between the four different Marvel Netflix shows. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage had largely been their own thing, while Daredevil had devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to introducing concepts and ideas that would pay off down the line. However, as the last of the shows to be released before the big summer event series, Iron Fist carries a heavier burden than any of its predecessors.

Unfortunately, Marvel and Netflix seem to have wholeheartedly committed to the idea of the Hand as the enemy of choice for this eight-part crossover miniseries. And so Iron Fist gets burdened with the Hand.

“Time for snooping.”

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Non-Review Review: Unbroken

The true story of Louis Zamperini is absolutely fascinating. It lends itself to this sort of big spectacle. It has everything you need for a movie that might clean up during awards season: a historical setting; a war; a sporting story about triumph of adversity; incredible physical transformations from the cast; a character enduring incredible hardship and coming out the other side. These are the sorts of ingredients that make a Best Picture contender. Unbroken just heaps more and more on top of these already alluring elements.

It isn’t the terrible and messy script that ultimately defeats Unbroken, with beloved filmmakers Joel and Ethan Cohen at the top of the bill. It isn’t the pedestrian unchallenging direction, either. It isn’t Alexandre Desplat’s condescending and patronising score, that doesn’t trust the audience to determine what they should be feeling from one moment to the next. It is not even the cynical Coldplay song playing over the closing credits, to put a pleasant life-affirming spin on events.

The Oscar race is on...

The Oscar race is on…

The detail that really shatter Unbroken is the fact that all of this has been very carefully and meticulously calibrated to check off the requisite items on the big Oscar check list. Unbroken is just as mechanical and lifeless a production as Transformers 4, but it happens to be built for a different purpose. There is no energy here, no enthusiasm, no emotion. It is just a bunch of things that have been successful in other stories heaped on top of one another, hoping to hit the high score on that fateful morning in January 2015.

Despite managing to eat up an incredible amount of attention and discussion in the larger Oscar race – taking attention off far more deserving contenders – Unbroken is a complete and utter misfire.

"This is what happens to anybody who suggests Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence is a better Japanese prisoner of war film."

“This is what happens to anybody who suggests Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence is a better Japanese prisoner of war film.”

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The X-Files – Nisei (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

The most interesting aspect of Nisei and 731 is the fact that there’s very little forward movement by the end of it.

The previous multi-part conspiracy episodes typically featured big hooks and shock revelations. Duane Barry and Ascension demonstrated that the government was officially responsible for alien abductions, to the point where they could arrange Scully’s abduction. Colony and End Game featured shape-shifting aliens and confirmation that Samantha Mulder was a big part of this. Anasazi, The Blessing Way and Paper Clip revealed that Mulder’s father was part of a conspiracy involving Second World War criminals working on American soil to create an alien-human hybrid.

The only way its getting off this planet is in a bodybag...

The only way its getting off this planet is in a bodybag…

Nisei and 731 don’t contain any truly seismic revelations. The biggest moments here – the reveal that Japanese war criminals have been experimenting on Americans with the assistance of the government, and that the bodies in the box car in Anasazi were probably originally human – all build on what Paper Clip already established. There’s nothing as significant as the reveal of the Bill Mulder’s complicity in the conspiracy from Paper Clip, or the first appearance of the Black Oil in Piper Maru.

Nisei and 731 really seem to be about taking stock of what has happened so far in the show – as close to a “breather” mythology episode as the show could manage at this point. Of course, this being The X-Files, this “breather” episode still moves a break-neck pace and climaxes with a death-defying leap on to a moving train. As you do.

The doctors are in...

The doctors are in…

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Non-Review Review: Godzilla (2014)

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla remake exhumes the classic movie monster for one more epic city-destroying brawl. Appropriately enough, the film feels like something of a relic itself – albeit a relic from an era more recent than the prime of its featured monster. Opening with the excavation of a giant skeleton in the Philippines, and with the revelation that the titular creature was first awakened in 1954, there’s a sense of coy self-awareness to Gareth Edwards’ monster movie tribute.

This wry self-awareness only extends the film so much leeway. At the heart, Godzilla feels like a nineties blockbuster created with modern technology. If the film had a sense of humour, it would look a lot more like Godzilla-by-the-way-of-Roland Emmerich than the 1998 attempt to reintroduce the character to American audiences.

Who says Godzilla is washed up?

Who says Godzilla is washed up?

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