Monday, August 18, 2014

Attack and Beware

I just found out today that the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Toonami will be airing a block of Attack on Titan, episodes 1 - 12 coming August 30th, Labor Day Weekend.  I'll be setting my VCR for that.  In a lot of ways, the series reminds me of The Walking Dead, though the zombies are giants.  But I find it interesting enough so far, and I missed many of the previous episodes setting up the series, so it will be fun to watch.  This past weekend they also premiered the first of a new series called Gurren Lagann, which was also fairly interesting.  I guess I'm getting a better feel for some of this newer anime.

Over the weekend I watched the documentary, Beware of Mr. Baker,  on Ginger Baker, probably one of the angriest old rockers alive.  You get a taste of that right at the beginning of the video.  I find his demeanor somewhat appalling, but I guess it is what it is.  A lot of artist don't look good when put under the lens of a documentary.  The comic artist, Robert Crumb, in his documentary Crumb, appeared as a cranky, cynical, old man too. That said though, I could agree on some of what they were saying about art, and found both documentaries to be engrossing.  Plus I wondered if this is how they really are, personally I think so, as I've seen Crumb at comic conventions, granted it might  be an assumed persona he wears, but I think that's basically them warts and all. Reality is a cruel mistress.

I became aware of Ginger Baker from his short stint as rock drummer (a signifier he hates) so I better just say musician, in the British band, Cream.  He'd been in some other British band before that, but that's when I first became aware of him, like a lot of the youth of the 60's.  After that he played in Blind Faith, and that quickly faded away, although, being a member of the Columbia Record Club or some other record club back in the day, they spotlight a new band he was in called Air Force.  I eventually acquired their first two-record effort interested in what it might be like. 
The album cover appealed to me looking rather surreal or psychedelic.  It had to be good, right?  Well, you can't judge a book by its cover or an album of music either.  But to be fair, I just wasn't ready to hear something like that sort of music.  It was sort of big band-ish, and sprawling in scope. It had overtones of ethnic music embedded in it along with some vanguard jazz and big band, it just flew over my head.  So somewhere along the way, I eventually got rid of it, probably trading it in for store credit at a used media store, however, I'd like to hear it again, just to see if I find it worthwhile.  I at least think my taste in music now has matured so I could judge it a bit more evenhandedly.

At any rate the movie, Beware Mr. Baker, is worth watching if you are inclined toward rock documentaries, music, or the 60's era.  There are many different interviews with other musicians from that era as well like Eric Clapton,  Jack Bruce, Denny Laine, Steve Winwood, and so forth.  I think part of Ginger's attitude comes from his past, and his lifelong struggle with heroin addiction.   He didn't have a father figure growing up and I'm very grateful to my father's guiding hand and presence throughout my life.  I can see where that absence might be a detriment to a young person growing up and not having it.  A father's guidance can be invaluable, generally speaking, or was for me.

Parts of the documentary where he appears angry and confrontational, actually, I found amusing, I don't know why.  He certainly doesn't try to whitewash any of his past, which isn't exactly a model of self discipline or sterling goodness.  But I'll admit he's a good drummer, and the movie was interesting to watch.


At 9:05 AM, Blogger SFF said...

What did you think of Attack On Titan?

I've only watched the first twelve.

I liked it but it did start going in a direction I didn't expect (which is a good thing I suppose) but my interest in it began to wane.

I should probably finish the series.

Gurren is a good many years old now but well done.

Take care

At 10:16 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

From what I've seen of Attack on Titan it's fine so far. I'll watch and tape the first season? twelve episodes when they show with the upcoming Labor Day weekend marathon. I missed out on the beginning of it, so that way I can catch up.

It's fun, and I like the art & action scenes. As I said though it reminds me a bit of The Walking Dead, which was influenced by Romero's The Night of Living Dead set of zombie film(s), which is fine. I always enjoyed those horror films. The zombies or monsters in Attack are giants, however, though the premise seems similar. They are even enclosed inside a fortress like the country farm house or shopping mall, etc.

One of the similar themes I find in some of these anime is that they deal with the coming of age of the heroic character. He starts out as the average joe or teenager, a bit reluctant, and blossoms into a savior type hero. And that's fine, it's all in the handling, world building, and characterization. But you see that theme again and again from Dune to Spider-Man, and so forth.

Ive's just been catching it on the weekends from Cartoon Networks so it's parceled out in thirty minute increments. Lately though, I've gotten to where on Saturday nights, I'll switch over there unless I have a movie on hand. Space Dandy has been fun too. Gurren just started so I only got a taste of it.

But gradually I've been warming up to anime, though I've been familiar with it for a while. Albeit, mostly the one shot movies like: Grave of the Fireflies, Hayao Miyazak, Osamu Tezuka, Robotech (which is one of the earliest series I remember latching onto, but I also watch Gigantor). Vampire Hunter D, Robot Carnival, The Lensmen anime, which comes from the E.E. "Doc" Smith series (also sometimes known as father of space opera). At any rate he wrote a series of space opera books--Triplanetart, First Lensman, Galactic Patrol, etc. At any rate, the anime comes from that series of books. It's an early hand drawn anime, but I like those.

I've got some other stuff around the house, I've yet to look at that I taped off the Sci-Fi Channel many years ago back in the mid-80's. Stuff like 8 Man After, Twilight of the Cockroaches, Demon City Shinjuku, Lily C.A.T, The Dagger of Kamui, and a few other things. It's just a matter of getting around to it. :)

Lately, however, I've switched gears, and have gotten on this kaiju kick and I've been watching some of the older Godzilla films. I found a used copy of Godzilla vs. Biollante on DVD at a pawn shop the other day, and that sort of got me in the mood. I can get pretty singular-minded. After that I watched Godzilla 2000 on Hulu, which I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Now I want more!! I guess that's how I roll, but it makes life fun. See ya, SFF.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Oh man, the "Lensman" anime... I ran into that in high school. A friend of mine had managed to get a sub titled version of that movie. It was a complete blast. Nothing really like the books (which I ended up reading a couple of years later). In fact it was like a weird mash up of "Star Wars", "Tron" and a crazy anime space saga. At that time, I wasn't into anime much, so it was like this odd movie we just loved watching.

I found it on YouTube last year and watched the whole thing again (dubbed this time). It was still fun, and with some amazing settings and creature design. But the plot is soooo predictable.

The books by Smith are a lot of fun, but so hard to find these days. I read "Galactic Patrol" a few years ago and loved it. It has so many crazy aliens, intense action scenes and huge scope. Lots of fun all the way around.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I understand what you mean about predictable Roman. I tried to watch an early anime yesterday, and couldn't finish it for that reason. I think it was called There Were Eleven, or something like that. Although I enjoyed the art, the story just drug, and the characters were pretty cliched. I think anime has definitely improved over the years.

Lensman though was at least one of (or only?) anime that came from a SF book/story that I know of. I have it on an old VHS copy I found years ago.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Drew said...

To be fair to Ginger (who I'm a big fan of, mainly for his work in Cream and Blind Faith), IIRC, that was NOT an authorized documentary and the guy who made the film really pestered and baited him throughout the whole thing. That being said, I agree that he (Ginger_ could certainly be a lot nicer in how he deals with people!

At 10:30 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Drew, I don't know really whether it was an authorized film or not. I haven't read anything saying it was unauthorized. I figured since iirc, the director was the same person that wrote the book on Baker, perhaps it was authorized.

Also what leads me to think that way is that Mr. Baker helped promote the film as seen in the Q & A below. I also felt that the director was actually trying to help Baker's finances in making the film, which hopefully he did, so there was a bit of altruism to the effort.

But I can't verify any of that one way or the other. At any rate, it's film worth watching for sure.

Here's a Q & A with Baker along with the director in promoting the film:

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Drew said...

I've seen that Q&A, the fellow seems to bait Ginger quite a lot...again, Baker could be a nicer guy but it's not like it's completely unwarranted! He's always been known for his cranky demeanor, although several of his friends (Clapton, Moon, Ringo, etc) speak/spoke highly of him. I guess the answer is, who knows? :)


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