Tokyo Revelation – This isn’t a review.

Thursday 24 January, 2013

Exactly what it says on the tin. This is something about Tokyo Revelation, but i’m not sure it really qualifies as a review. It’s certainly not intended to be a review, not like Shackleton was or the LoveFilm challenge reviews will be.

Anyway, without further ado…

I first watched Tokyo Revelation when I was fourteen, and I watched it with my fellow anime-nut friend. She was the one who got me into anime, actually, and she’d heard good things about this film. This was when the Sci-Fi Channel was spelt properly, and had anime on anytime between 11:30pm and 4am, depending on their schedule. It was very unusual for any anime to be on as early as 11:30, actually, but it happened on two occasions that I know of.

Anyway, so, this wasn’t on at 11:30 at night, it was on during the more usual hour of 2am. Like I said, she’d heard good things about it, where as I I hadn’t heard anything about it at all, so it was going to be an experience to watch it, especially because I usually taped the shows and films on that late instead of watching them as they aired.

So we watched it… And, well, we were left quite baffled, actually. I thought I’d missed something really obvious, but my friend was confused too.

If I was to give you a summary of it, it would have been “A creepy guy is part computer virus. He used to be in love with his best friend, the time line wonked for a bit and then they both died. And then there was four solid minutes of floating characters amongst cherry blossom as a woman’s voice repeats the words ‘It dies and blossoms, dies and blossoms, dies and blossoms again, blossoms and dies, dies and blossoms, blossoms and dies again.’ over and over.”

And as the years went by, the only things about it that I could remember was, first being very confused, something about a Computer Virus, and the whole “Dies and Blossoms Again” thing. That’s all. Not even the name of the it. So when I thought to myself, “Oh what was that anime that ended with Dies and Blossoms again? Maybe I should watch it again, because rewatching things has worked out well so far!” I had to google the phrase “Dies and Blossoms again” to get the name so that I could order it on LoveFilm.

After a re-watch, I wondered why I’d bothered.

I thought that the ten years that had passed by between the viewings would help me to understand the story, that maybe there was some deeper meaning I’d missed by being a shallow teenager. It didn’t, there wasn’t.

However, it would have helped the first viewing if the movie hadn’t have been edited down to 45 minutes. I remember being a bit surprised at the length back on the first watch. That extra 15 minutes isn’t a saviour filled with the essential plot device or anything, but it did help the transition of character and plot development.

I was actually able to understand it all a bit better (notice the emphasis on the bit), unfortunately that just made the Computer Virus character, called Akito Kobayashi, a hell of a lot more creepy and demonic (and gay, but that’s not technically a character flaw. He just happens to be gay as well as creepy), and the rest of the characters all that much bizarre, probably because most of them are just background characters. One thing that wasn’t included in the first viewing was the character of a young girl who carries a doll with her, and gives the main character, Kojiro Soma, a protective knife because he’ll be needing it. Another thing missed out was the motivation behind Akito’s deal with the pack of demons and subsequent killing spree, which I now understand to be a revenge spree on bullies.

Add some Phlebotinum into the mix and that’s basically the whole movie.

It didn’t make the story any better, and the four minutes of “Dies and Blossoms, Dies and Blossoms again, Blossoms and Dies, Blossoms and Dies again, Dies and Blossoms” etc etc etc is still annoying. This time even more so, because this time I was watching with the false belief that there’d be a proper conclusion before the credits came up, but no. I was still left feeling like there was something missing.

Would I watch it again? No.
Would I recommend it to anyone? Well, I would, if they asked me “What’s a really strange anime featuring demons intertwined with computer viruses? Lack of Character development preferable.” or “Do you know of any anime that has a creepy gay character in it that could put BBC’s Moriarty to shame?”. Otherwise, no. I definitely wouldn’t

Do I want my hour and 45 minutes back that I spent watching this anime, twice?

Oh god, Yes.

A Failed Review – Shackleton

Thursday 17 January, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night. The winds were howling, the rain was peltering and reverberating against the windows, and the temperature was bitterly cold.

Luckily we have central heating, so it wasn’t too long until that last point no longer bothered us.

Anyway, so, I came to add Shackleton on to my LoveFilm list through my Paul McGann catalogue. It’s obviously not part of my Classic Movie Quest, so this excuse for a review won’t be all that comprehensive.

Here’s what I was expecting:

An early 20th century voyage told with accuracy and finesse fit for such a true story. A tightly executed narrative and quality acting the directors of Master and Commander would be envious of. And Paul McGann.

Here’s what I found:

An early 20th century voyage told with some accuracy and embellishments fit for a dramatic reading. A decently executed narrative that was somewhat spoiled by subplots, quality acting from very good but not very high billed actors. And no Paul McGann.

There’d been a mix up on the LoveFilm site. Paul McGann was listed in the credits instead of his brother Mark, who played Second Officer Tom Crean.

My biggest problem with this “film”, is that it’s actually split into two parts, in the same way the Hallmark miniseries version of The Titanic is. The acting is very good, a very high standard from all of them. The budget must have been a brilliant one because the camera work was excellent, the quality of the film was excellent, the scenic shots were amazing and I’m not actually sure the actors didn’t end up stranded in the south pole for real. I’ve seen a lot worse when it comes to mini series.

But the subplots and slow beginning almost made me give up before it really got started. I understand there must have been a back story to show how Shackleton got established again, what exactly drove him to go on a second expedition… but at the same time, I was hoping for something a bit more like Master and Commander (I don’t know why and I blame myself for the notion) where we’d get the backstory as the movie went on, rather than see half of the backstory on screen and build up from there. Because that took up about a good 50 minutes at the beginning, and the film overall is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, approximately.

And then there’s the affair. I didn’t know much beyond the basics of Shackleton before watching this film, but I didn’t know anything about an affair with an “up and coming” actress. A bit of a google later, and I can’t find anything about an affair outside of this production. If that was a way to show that his home life was in shambles, I feel like it’s a bit of a cheap shot. We saw glimpses of his home life, was that really needed to drive the point home? Or was it put in for a bit of a dramatic flair? To give it a bit more of a hollywood feel, maybe?

The last twenty minutes, though, that’s where I was sat on the metaphorical edge of my proverbial seat. The men were split up into three groups, their desperation was believable. All that they went through in the latter half of the film, especially those last 20 minutes, was what I imagine a failed expedition to be like. But they didn’t give up, as is historically accurate.

Shackleton didn’t give up, and the rest of the men had no choice but to survive one day at a time whilst they waited. And the film showed that brilliantly. The actors really did the real men justice.

Which is why I’d recommend this film/mini series. Because it is good, when it comes to the important parts.

It’s just got a few parts that are superfluous in the long run that people might want to fast forward through.

Getting on my Soapbox – Wait, where’s the ramp?

Tuesday 8 January, 2013

There’s many things that are annoying about being disabled. There’s the actual disability, the constant need for medication, the inevitable situation of being dependent on someone when you’re quite happy to be independent, the assessments, the doctors, the hospitals, the decisions between priorities and having to defend yourself against the masses because they live in wilful ignorance…

But there’s one thing about being disabled which annoys me, and the fact that it annoys me causes inner conflict within myself.

And it’s that, because I’m disabled, I’m automatically seen as some sort of expert on all disabilities and the issues everybody with a disability must face, and so it’s been left to me to educate everybody who lacks the knowledge.

On one hand, admittedly, I do know my stuff when it comes to demanding equal rights, wheelchair access, access to social care, and how various disabilities can negatively impact someone’s life style. I might know it because i live it, but I also know it because it’s bloody common sense.

On the other hand, because it is bloody common sense, I don’t see why I should have to spell it out for everyone else when so many issues should be obvious to everyone else.

When I was in 6th Form College, I did a course about the business side of the travel and tourism industry. It was always expected of me to bring up the disabled access and equal rights issue. Nobody else ever thought of it, nobody else gave it much attention. If the subject was brought to the table, everyone else would go “of course there should be disabled access” and never go into the specifics. Some people would even say “It’s a shame there’s no disabled access, but they can’t expect it everywhere…”

There are so many disabled people who turn into advocates for disabled rights. Most of us disabled people know that it’s because if we don’t do it, nobody else will. They’ll try, but they get things wrong.

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

At one of the local hospitals I attend, they had new wheelchair accessible bathrooms put in, because the old wheelchair accessible bathrooms didn’t have much room in them, making them rather pointless. They had two phases of assessment: One person going through all the common demands of access and declaring them reasonable, and then another person assessing the access from the view point as someone in a wheelchair.

Here’s why that didn’t work:

The first person looked at the bathrooms from a carer’s point of view:

Can I help the person in the wheelchair into the bathroom?

Can they safely sit on the toilet?

Can I help them safely get back into their wheelchairs?

Is there enough room for us both to wash our hands?

Are any of the bins/sink/dispensers in the way?

The second person, who was able bodied (The old “We got someone to go around in a wheelchair” palava) saw it from the view point of a perfectly able bodied person being helped by a carer, rather than someone with a disability. There is a distinction, there’s a very big difference and these aren’t taken into account properly.

The second example is frustrating. I’ll give you anecdotal evidence:

When I was trying to travel and needed a hotel, I had to ask every hotel and Bed and Breakfast about access, and most of them would say say “We’ve got good access, yeah!” which would be great if it was as easy as that. If you are ever travelling with a disabled person, or you’re disabled yourself, never take them at their face value. Always go into the specifics of what you might need and see if what they have will be good enough.

One place that was in the best location for the journey went on to say, “Yeah, we’ve got a two bed room downstairs and a wheelchair accessible bathroom. There’s a couple of steps outside, and the doorways are narrow, but we had one of the employees go around in a wheelchair, and he didn’t have no problems!” or words to that affect.”

I asked some more questions, and from what I can remember, the accessible bathroom was little more than a toilet with a lever-grip bar,  a low level sink, and for a shower, you could ask at reception for the shower stool. It didn’t sound wide enough for both a disabled person and their carer, nor did it sound wide enough for a wheelchair to fit, so I’m not exactly sure how they expected a disabled person, independent or not, be able to actually get in the shower. And shower stools are hit and miss when it comes to safety in the shower, as there are various shower stools and it depend’s on the range of mobility on if they’re a help or a dangerous hindrence.

Some people don’t have carers, because they don’t need carers. (I used to be one of these people.) Some people have complex disorders that affect range of mobility, grip and space perception, but still don’t need carers.

For someone with those kind of conditions, taking away the option to be independent is more disabling than the disability itself. Because it assumes a carer will be there to do all the hard work, when the disabled person would be able to do it all for themselves.

But this is derailing, and yet at the same time precisely my point.

As a disabled person, I just want to be a person who coincidentally has a disability. I don’t want to be looked upon as some sort of teaching disciple, telling everyone how wrong they are when it comes to these issues. Mainly because it’s a stereotype I don’t want to conform to, partly because even I might get it wrong. I am just one disabled person with one type of rare condition. What might be accessible or inaccessible to me might not be all that reasonable or unreasonable to others with different types of disabilities, conditions and impairments.

But, like I said, I’ve often found that if we don’t speak up and point out the problems, nobody else will.

I think the latest thing that got my goat, which is fairly obvious and common sense living with a disability, is hospital appointments and the need for a carer. I’m alright, I have my family, but it was a very real possibility some time last year that I’d need a carer assistant to go with me to my hospital appointments.

I asked the social services about that, and they said that the only way to gaurantee a carer on days of hospital appointments, would be to get assessed as needing a carer on a daily basis, and then cancelling the days where I don’t have hospital appointments.

It was all either/or, and no way to call up, say a week before the appointment, and ask whether I could have an extra call for this one off appointment. Now I have many hospital appointments, and a direct payment system, so not only does that system not sound too barmy, but also options have opened up a bit. But there’d still be the issue of accessing more money from social services to cover the call. Social care and home help isn’t cheap, after all.

But it just kind of baffled me. Why so black and white? There must be other people who only need a carer on a “as demanded” basis, rather than either scheduled time limited calls, or a full time carer.

Maybe there are, maybe they went to Direct Payments ages ago, and employed a PA directly for those very reasons. This could very well be another one of those things that they overlook due to their main demographic of clients and service users.

Which brings my point back around, really. People concentrate so often on issues disabled people face, from the outside view of not being disabled, or not having that particular disability. They often tell us what we need and what we want, and they don’t listen to common sense.

Which is why, begrudgingly, we need advocates and spokespeople to tell them they’re wrong.

And out of all the disabled loud mouths I know, I appear to be perfect for the job.

(Because I’m the only disabled loud mouth that I know personally…)