Sunday, November 04, 2018

For the Love of Toho III: SHIN GODZILLA (2016)

I realized, in the midst of my Toho viewings, that I have been remiss in buying Hideaki Anno's SHIN GODZILLA on Blu-ray. I had seen it once before and liked it, but evidently it was the English version I saw. The Japanese version, which I watched on Funimation's Blu-ray this evening, is a far sharper, more intricate piece of work.

I've told a friend of mine, who knows the film well, that he ought to write an "Annotated SHIN GODZILLA" and he's replied that one already exists - it's the subtitles of the film. This made me laugh, but now that I've seen the version he loves, I understand absolutely what he means.  It would take numerous viewings to grasp and absorb all that is going on, who everyone is, who they are named after, etc. This is a monster spectacle but in the truest sense; Godzilla's scenes inspire awe and constant surprise. He is not here to entertain us. He is like a mysterious, ever-changing spindle around which world events are suddenly obliged to revolve.

The movie has its faults, like the casting of Satomi Ishihara as the slinky Asian-American with her eye on becoming POTUS someday (in live audio Japanese, she is unconvincing as someone raised in America and hardly articulate enough in English to have attained political clout), but its narrative intricacies encompass so much else that such missteps are mere annoyances. Watching its hectic, intricate design speed past, I was reminded - oddly enough - of the movie I saw last night, Orson Welles' THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, which also has crazy, whirling, unstoppable energy and a sly political side, but it tells a far more primitive story and, I would have to say, a more narcissistic one. SHIN GODZILLA has a kaleidoscopic complexion too, but it represents different nations and individuals of all classes while organizing a meticulous, faceted sense of strategy, all to a noble purpose - while at the same time satirizing ossified political structures and an over-informed, media-driven world that basically still doesn't have a clue.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this, but SHIN GODZILLA is the DR. STRANGELOVE of the 21st century and one of the most impressive feats of filmmaking in the last two decades. It is also genuinely awesome and frightening and, we realize as the end credits roll, humble.

If IshirĊ Honda saw this film, on his best day, I believe he would stand up and applaud.

(c) 2018 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

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