Review: Ghost In The Shell

Ghostintheshell

The most telling line in this version of Ghost in The Shell is: “Your uniqueness is a virtue. Embrace it, and you will be at peace.” Delivered here by iconic Japanese comedian, TV show host, actor, and arthouse director ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano, it is a bold statement coming from a live-action Hollywood remake of a Japanese animated film. The source material for the mid-nineties animated classic, directed by Mamoru Oshii, has spawned many direct sequels and spin-offs, and heavily influenced the 1999 mega-hit Hollywood blockbuster, The Matrix, is in fact a 1989 Manga (loosely translated, “Mobile Armoured Riot Police: The Ghost In The Shell”) which I am guessing was liberally influenced by William Gibson’s cyberpunk novel, “Neuromancer” (long has this been trying to find its way to the big screen), and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (the latter weirdly -barely- adapted from Philip K. Dick’s novella “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”)

Still with me?

The Japanese port city in Ghost in the Shell visually resembles the future Los Angeles of Blade Runner (which, again I am guessing, was inspired by Tokyo’s visually dense Shibuya’s district and Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira) commensurate with what can be realized on screen at the present moment with $100M. Even the cyber-surgery sequences seem lifted somewhat from HBO’s Westworld, itself a re-envisioning (inverting?) of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie.

(Whew.)

What can we read from this line about ‘uniqueness’ in a property that is so very much a copy of a copy of a copy? To that, I quote another line in Ghost In The Shell, “We cling to memories as if they define us, but they don’t. What we do is what defines us.”

This begs the question: What does this version do to define itself?

Would you like to know more…?

Shorts Program – One Fine Day

I‘m not going to say that my introduction to Asian cinema was with Beat Takeshi but as I’ve been watching martial arts and triad movies long before I ever ran into his sly offbeat humour with Battle Royale. After BR I started to search out his movies and I discovered an artist with a very wide range.

In 2007 Takeshi created the short One Fine Day as part of Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence (To Each His Own Cinema). While there is not a lot going on in One Fine Day it does bring a smile to my face and is a good example of Beat Takeshi’s humour.