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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Kubo and The Two Strings: Movie Review

I finally watched Kubo And The Two Strings, and American animated flick that tackles the world of Japanese folk story.

I have, in the past, typed out and presented damn near every Japanese folk story I have ever seen or heard about… and most of them are pretty darn good.

Although Kubo And The Two Strings is not a “real” Japanese folk story/fairy tale, it is a fairy tale about Japan.

Visually stunning, Kubo And The Two Strings is entertaining… scary… funny… thoughtful… and it even made me tear up at the end, though that may have something to do with the lunar cycle… okay… it kindda got me.

The story revolves around Kubo… a young boy who has had one eye taken from him by his evil grandfather.

Kubo seems to have some sort of magical powers… the ability to create and manipulate (give life to) origami (art of folded paper), that he initially uses to make a few pennies (yen) performing stories he has learned from his mother out at the local village. The ability seems to be triggered whenever he plays his three-stringed shamisen… a type of guitar instrument whose strings are plucked with a plectrum (bachi, in Japanese).

Obviously, with his ability to make origami move, his stories are the height of entertainment at the village—and no one there seems frightened or put out that he has such an ability.

His mother and he live far from the village upon a small mountain in a cave. Mom seems to have some sort of brain injury, but shares his origami/shamisen powers.

She fades in and out of the real world because of her injury… shown in the movie… and ”hearing” it
made me sick.

Watching some with her memory damage et al… well… it’s not funny nor is it fun.

She has only one rule for Kubo… to always be back at their cave before sunset. We don’t know why.

No…  this isn’t a movie for young kids.

Obviously, one day Kubo fails to make it home in time… and that’s where all hell breaks loose.

The story involves a quest for Kubo… to find the samurai katana the Sword Unbreakable; his father’s armor The Armor Impenetrable, and The Helmet Invulnerable.

Not a simple quest, Kubo is hunted by his twin aunts… film critic oger Ebert describes them as such: “Imagine the twins from “The Shining,” floating above the ground in black hats and capes and Japanese Noh masks.” Ebert is a genius. 

The aunts are scary… especially that initial; time you see them, because until then, after the opening, the movie kind of lulls you into a sense of security.

Helping him out are two protectors, Monkey and Beetle, voiced by Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, respectively. Oh… and I didn’t even mention Kubo’s grandfather. And I won’t again.

The movie came out earlier this year… and while I wanted to see it, I couldn’t find anyone else whom I thought would want to go. Not even my son… and I sat through the Angry Birds movie for him.
One very funny scene, and the trailers spoiled it.

I won’t spoil Kubo And The Two Strings for you.

Okay... here's something cool... The Kubo family crest is a Beetle... and the music at the movie's closing is written by The Beatles.

I recommend this movie 100% for those of you who like Japan… who enjoy being entertained and scared who like laughing and yes, crying.  There’s nothing wrong with a good cry to moisten one’s eyes.

The whole movie—and I think this is what got to me—is about what purpose we have in life. I like to believe that regardless of how smart we are or aren't, or famous we are or aren't, that we all have a purpose in life... even if that purpose isn't evident to that person. It's to affect others around them.

Haven't you ever met someone, made an impact, and then once the impact has been fulfilled moved on? Isn't that why friends come and go in our life? Why some remain? Because the cross-purpose hasn't been fulfilled.

I had thought decades ago as a child... what happens when I die? Sure my kids would remember me... grand kids, too perhaps, though their view would be skewed by age difference. But what about great grand kids... who might never have met me... would they care? Why should they? Why would anyone remember me? If no one remembered me, did my life truly matter?

Grown up a bit, I realize that we matter in ever moment that we interact with anyone or anything. It just sounds zen.

We interact on others... they interact on others... and on others... and dammit we better make it a positive interaction... so you hope the kids learn from you and so on.

But what if you don't have any kids? At the time I wanted to be a writer, I was a near-26-year-old virgin about to embark on a trip to Japan.

Writing some 50+ letters back and forth to my mentor Doug McIntosh (a cab driver in Toronto - Dear Cabbie) now passed... we discussed how immortality could be achieved though art: painters, musicians, and even writers.

Shakespeare lives on centuries later, so too does Edvard Munch and George Harrison... I wanted to live forever... except I'm one good EMP (electromagnetic pulse) away from oblivion.

Believe it or not... all of these feelings stung me again while watching Kubo And The Two Strings. That's what it meant to me. Maybe it will mean something different to you.

Maybe after watching the movie you will see why I felt what I felt all over again. Maybe you won't. Maybe I'm too introspective.

The movie made US$69 million and cost $60 million… so it made $9 million… still considered to be a box office flop…I wish I had a flop.

To me I think it’s one of those movies that isn’t aimed for the right audience. Adults typically don’t want to watch an animated flick unless it has a Miyazaki Hayao (surname first) name attached to it… and I never saw a commercial for it that would have appealed to a kid.

Just as well… I don’t think it’s the type of movie that would appeal to a kid. But it does appeal to the kid in the adult.

Watch it. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Andrew Joseph

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