The Red Spectacles (1987, Mamoru Oshii)

Overlong, not particularly good, comics-influenced live-action movie. It manages some pretty cool monochrome images, but holds them for ages, static frames as the actors deliver dialogue like captions. It tries to be an art film with its patience and imaginative camera, but counteracted by fight scenes, poop jokes and silly-ass sound effects. I watched this (and kept watching after it put me to sleep every night) because I read somewhere that it was inspired by La Jetee. An IMDB plot summary also reminds me of the text in Mishima’s Patriotism: “about a man who can not let go of his past not matter how painful and dangerous it was because he never felt more alive that when he was facing death.” But when the big ending finally rolled around, I couldn’t be bothered to give it my full attention. I think maybe he dreamed the whole thing before/while taking a bullet to the head.

A glum Koichi, being forced at gunpoint to watch this movie:

This is part of a trilogy including Stray Dog and Jin-Roh – I have no memory of watching Jin-Roh but IMDB says I rated it a 6. I also don’t much remember watching Oshii’s CG-blur Avalon, which also is supposed to have Chris Marker references.

The most La Jetee-like image I could find:

In a prologue, Koichi (the lead actors are all best known for voice acting in cartoon series – Koichi is a 22-year vet of Dragonball) and his red-spectacled elite government “Kerberos” soldiers Midori and Ao/Soichiroh have gone rogue. K escapes, promising to return for the others. Either three or six years later, he’s back, trying to find his friends and figure out who’s still on his side, but mostly bumbling it. There’s some long-winded business about fast-food noodle joints being banned because too many spies used them as meeting spots. Toilet humor follows. An army of mimes is slain. And Koichi is put on the trail of his former comrades.

He’s captured by some pudgy government fellow, escapes, is captured again, escapes. He meets Ao, then Midori, finds out they’ve sold out and turned against him, but then they save his life, but then they turn on him again, etc. The final scene implies that the armor and weapons Koichi escaped with were more important than his own life – a smiling Midori slowly regains her color saturation, so I guess she’s got the weapons. Co-written with the guy who wrote the 1990’s Gamera trilogy

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