[EXPRESSO] Warped Kart Racers iOS | Dang it Dale, You’re A Genius!

Yep, i eventually decided to play and review this once i saw it advertised as “coming soon” on Apple Arcade’s homepage because i’m pretty sure this is the first time Hank Hill was featured in a kart racer, i do love me some King Of The Hill.

That and it’s been a while since i played a kart racer on mobile that wasn’t Mario Kart Tour… or good, for that matter. And i do understand it’s kinda hard to sell people (or investors) on idea of a lawnmower racing game with only KOTH characters.

Even if you call it Pro-Pain.

So begrudginly i have to say the game also represents Family Guy, American Dad and Solar Opposites (which i haven’t seen, btw), but i’m choosing to believe this is a KOTH only game.

Joking aside, the gameplay it’s basically Mario Kart 7, there’s even the paragliders, the virtual controls are quite good and intuitive, the right amount of complex needed for a mobile title (it also supports gamepads), there are both normal races and MK style arena battles, the IA is surprisingly competent even in the beginner tier of races.

So yeah, color me surprised because it’s actually a good kart racer, looks and runs pretty well, and already at launch it’s a complete package, with online multiplayer, a decent amount of single player content, and the various unlocks of characters, kart parts and skins are made fun since it’s not a free to play release, so you just play the darn thing. For fun. Remember that?

Yeah, there’s nothing new here in any shape or form, but it’s kinda baffling that this licensed quadriple biscuit tie-in mobile kart racer with Peter Griffin and Hank Hill it’s honestly way better than the actual, official Mario Kart game available for smarthphones.

[EXPRESSO] Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (2021) | Niku Niku Ni!

Anime cinema time!

Finally arriving here as a 3 days only event screening, Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko (based on a novel of the same name by Kanako Nishi) is the latest feature film from director Ayumu Watanabe (Children Of The Sea, Space Brothers) and once again animated by Studio 4C.

A more straightforward tale than Children Of The Sea, the movie tells the story of the titular Nikuko, an easy going, cheerful, incredibly passionate and gluttonous woman who falls for crappy men that swindle her, forcing to continuously move elsewhere with her 11 yo girl, Kikuko, whom is unsurprisingly embarassed by her mother penchant for eating, her goofy demeanours and naivetè. Despite having nothing in common, they settled in living on a boat in a small port town.

Incredible animation, realistic portrayal and characterization of kids that age, a good balance between drama and comedy, some effective emotional moments, great characterization, there’s pretty much everything that makes a good film… and this is a good film, flawed but still good.

Despite being the title character, this is the story of her child, Kikuko, while Ninuko feels like a support comic relief, as she’s animated differently for that very purpose, and while you can’t really hate her, it’s frustrating how she ultimately lacks the proper nuance as a character to be more than a butt for the many visual fat jokes.

Also, while you get invested in the events, there’s barely a plot at all, more like a collage of slice life sequences focused on character study, which is fine but there’s also not much even in terms of overarching conflicts, so it’s kinda hard to stay invested all the way through.

Even so, it’s still a good film…. you most likely will not fall in love with at first watch.

Fate EXTELLA: The Umbral Star PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay

Ah yes, the Fate musous. Yes, Plural.

One that took surprisingly long, despite being one of the more requested crossovers with the formula, according to many japanese surveys results.

And oddly wasn’t snapped up by Tecmo Koei, but by Marvelous, which is both a good and a bad thing, for reasons we’re gonna get into later. But regardless, it’s nice to be reminded that these kind of games aren’t actually a patented formula…. at least i don’t think anymore, but still, this game is another proof that you can attempt a similar formula and Koei won’t sue off the back of their old, very vague patent.

I mean, they did make a “sequel” after this, so i’d think it’s safe to say that at least you can make “musou-likes”, if you so desire. And if the company that owns Senran Kagura can have more than a crack at it, you know the “low budget” excuse doesn’t quite hold as you’d expect and/or hope.

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Paripi Koumei / Ya Boy Kongming! (2022) [ANIME FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

(Impressions based upon the first 3 episodes)

I stumbled by chance into this new anime, and i feel it was meant to be, given my love for Romance Of The Three Kingdoms i’m not gonna skim over a new anime with good ol’ Zhuge Liang (AKA Kongming) as the protagonist, especially since it’s not a historical tale, but a sort of isekai-ish story where, after his death by illness in the Wuzhang Plains, sees him reincarnated as his young self in modern Shibuya during Halloween.

He gets drunk as a skunk and enjoys the party life that night, then the next day he’s helped by a young girl, an aspiring singer called Eiko, realizes what actually happened to him, and decides to help her back by serving as her “career strategist”, but first he needs a job to secure some “war funds”.

Luckily Eiko works and sings at a club run by a huge ROTTK nerd, so “ya boy” Kongming is hired as a barman.

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[EXPRESSO] C’Mon C’Mon (2021) | Kids Know

I’m not familiar with Mike Mill as a film director, but it’s shot in black and white, it stars Joaquin Phoenix? Indeed, quite the easy prey we can be.

Though, “prey” it’s honestly unfair. It’s a movie with ambition and that wants to investigate upon important themes like parenthood, family dysfunctions and all those entangle, from the constant struggle it require to the its “failings” and how it affects the children in return.

The premise for this is set as Johnny, a radio journalist famous for his interviews and documentaries, goes on a tour of the United States asking kids from varying cities and background about themselves, their fears and hopes, their outlook on the future, etc etc.

One day he gets asked from his sister to take care of his nephew Jessie for a few days, as she has to help her husband to deal with his recent bout of mental illness, so Johnny takes Jessie with him on his work days, and the two form a very special bond.

There’s the familiar dynamic of “not that mature adults with way too mature kids”, and the themes aren’t exactly unimportant, but honestly the films feels way too ponderous on the fact that “kids are people too”, and the way this dynamic works in here feels kinda contradictory in terms of responsability and parenthood, as the adult has never enough pulse to practice some of its own teachings, as Jessie never shuts up or its reprimended, but he’s overindulged even over the smallest, tiniest misunderstanding regardless.Even if it’s arguably less educative. Ops.

I don’t think this is a bad movie, but it’s a bit too cerebral, too fictitious at heart for its own sake, and bit boring at times, but its held together – despite these issues – by Joaquin Phoenix’s performance.

[EXPRESSO] CODA (2022) | Teenage Fugue

I kinda hate the context surrounding this movie, as it forces me to basically aknowledge that the Oscars still matter somewhat… as in, i usually don’t even bother to check on them, they’re mostly pointless and become even more so as time goes on, but i did know of “the slap” and that this year this film won “best movie”. And since it just hit theathers here, figured i’d take a look anyway.

CODA is about teenage girl Ruby, the only person in her deaf family being able to hear and speak (hence the titular “Child Of Deaf Adults”), that at school enters the choir club, and discovers to have quite the beatiful and powerful voice.

She eventually has to make a difficultion decision: continue her musical training, follow her dream and go to a respected music college, or keep helping her family in their struggling business of fishermen, even more as she’s the only link between their family and the rest of the world.

I’ll say this: this is a good film. It’s a coming of age story that deals with hearing disabilities, but honestly does so very well, as it treats deaf people as people, not pity patron saints, actual people, while not weaseling away from the obvious obstacles and perception they receive from others, and manages to balance the drama-comedy ratio quite well, it’s not a mopey affair at all, the characters come off as real but can be quite funny. I really liked the father, what a jolly fellow.

I’m glad i did go see CODA, i am, i do think it’s a good film, overall, but it’s honestly nothing special regardless of how you slice it, even more since it’s a remake of the 2014 french film La Famille Bélier.

Still worth a watch, anyway.

[EXPRESSO] Licorice Pizza (2021) | Arcadia Of Our Youth

About damn time.

I wondered if it was even worth making this review, as i’m not here to be contrarian for the sake of it, i love P.T. Anderson works, and this one it’s no exception.

What are you reading now it’s essentially just to tally up the word count, not that you can give a well deserved anylisis of a movie like Licorice Pizza in 300 word or less.

The short version: absolutely recommended, without a doubt in my heart, excellent work, might even be a new masterpiece. GO SEE IT NOW.

Soldiering on with the “facade”, it’s very typical in many ways for the director: the San Fernando Valley circa mid-1970s’ scenario, the ensemble cast, etc.

And compared to his previous movie, The Phantom Thread, Licorice Pizza goes for a much simpler set up, as in a coming of age love story, girls meets boy, but aside from the shared trait of the notable age gap between the two, this stands as a complete opposite, as love it’s not sweet poison laced prison of the desire, but it’s the youthful, energic love of life itself.

Of course there is more to the plot than “girl meets boy, they fall in love”, as the high school aged boy, Gary Valentine, it’s actually a very young actor meet this far older girl, Alana Kane, with the two forming a strong friendship, to the point she becomes involved with Gary’s new water bed selling business, among other odd adventures.

It also confirms P.T. Anderson ability to craft a very different movie than its usual output, going for a very energetic, loving, positive tale of youth and love that packs a lot of laughs, incredible writing, excellent performances, while also not compromising on the director’s vision, style or substance for that matter.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season One) (2022) | Ragtime Round

Unlike many videogames to animated series adaptations, Cuphead having his own Netflix show makes some sense, given its aesthetic molded after the style of 1930s cartoons, why not make a cartoon using the characters and the retro-aesthetic?

I’m gonna say this now so we can move on from it, but yes, i really wanted the team to opt for a full proper rubberhose style animation, but that would have required a fuckton more time and money, and honestly the animation is pretty good, with some episodes even mixing live-action sets, and overall i gotta say it delivers on the presentation.

The voice acting is on spot in terms of accents and lingo too, the character designs and mannerism are perfect but in terms of content it’s a bit uneven because it doesn’t really go all the way to imitate the source material, i mean, you expect a lot more in terms of guns, cigars and gambling, but nope, it’s kinda mild and forgettable.

It also basically ignores the plot of the videogame it’s based off, instead going for mostly episodical…. mundane adventures. Yeah, Cuphead owns the Devil its soul… but that goes ultimately nowhere, and the writing it’s uneven, as some episodes do manage to work in a musical number, some good jokes and a good rhytm to the slapstick, others feel like they exist to waste time and deliver cheapo jokes that come off as too modern.

The Cuphead Show it’s an odd case of a series stuck in between a cheapish low effort animated comedy and a tribute to 30s style cartoons, so ultimately it’s just kinda there, inoffensive, fairly short and easy to binge, cute but just with not much of substance going on under its “borrowed” aesthetic.

A second season has already been greenlit, regardless. Mh.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #12: Journey To The Beginning Of Time (1955)

It’s the final day of the 12 Days Of Dino Dicember, so let’s end it with a proper obscure gem, the Czech movie Journey To The Beginning Of Time. As in the original, not the re-cut, re-filmed version that reached US territories in 1966 under the same name.

Today thankfully you can watch it as it was released on a region-free Blu Ray by Second Run, which also includes the English version, but i’m not gonna bother with that for now. Sorry, but i simply can’t afford the time to watch that as well and compare the two.

This comes from Karel Zeman (no, not the soccer manager), nicknamed the “Czech Melies”, famous for his fantasy films combining live action and animation, and hugely influential, not surprising to fellow czech Jan Svankmajer (you can’t imagine how happy i am by just having the occasion of nominating him in any of these reviews, retrospectives, but beloved by many american directors, like Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton, and serving as inspiration to Jurassic Park itself.

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Revisiting Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfathers & the legacy of Keiko Nobumoto

Since Netflix is adding the movie to its catalogue in time for the season, i figured it was an excuse good as any to rewatch it, and yes, i’m totally gonna say you’re doing yourself a disservice by NOT watching it, especially since it’s available on the biggest streaming service worlwide.

You’ve got no excuse, so just go and watch/rewatch it, i’m not here trying to convince you if you should or should not do that. After all, this isn’t a review.

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