19 September 2016

Something Blindingly Good

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Kubo And The Two Strings begins with a mother and her young son in hiding from their family, which is something I can relate to. In this case it's because Kubo's grandfather has already plucked out one of his eyes and intends to pluck out the other. Me and my Mum genuinely once hid behind the front-room sofa because a relative we simply thought to be particularly boring was knocking on our door. Had they wanted to blind me too? Fuck that shit! Kubo is also told by his mother that he's not to go out at night because he'll be spotted and hunted down by the Moon King. My Mum also told me that when I was a child, although even then I knew that the Moon King was her euphemism for the pedophile that lived three doors down. The stuff I couldn't relate to however were the scenes in which the young boy went on a mythical adventure in which he fought giant skeletons and witches alongside his friends, the samurai beetle man, and a talking monkey. Me and my mate once found a load of beer in the woods alongside some porno mags but that's about as exciting as our adventures would get.

On the bright-side, the one thing that I look for in a movie is a talking monkey and a samurai beetle man that are fighting it off against a giant skeleton and a couple of fucking witches. I mean, how amazing does that sound for a movie?! You know what people love? Talking fucking monkeys! Now imagine a talking fucking monkey holding a sword and fighting a flying witch with a Kill Bill-like spike on a chain. I don't care what Oscars that this is eligible for but I want it to win them all right God Damn Now. “And the Oscar for best scene to feature a monkey holding a samurai sword and fighting a flying witch goes to...” Well, to be honest even that would probably somehow find itself going to Meryl Streep like they all fucking do, but.. “Kubo And The Two Strings!” Because if it's not obvious at this point I really really loved this movie. It was funny when it needed to be funny, scary when it needed to be scary, and exciting when it needed to be exciting.

Did I love the action and adventure? Yes. Talking Monkey with a sword for fuck's sake! Was I frightened by the witches? Nope but there a child in the screening that I could tell was currently developing some psychological trauma from it. Did I laugh at every joke? Nope, but there was a woman in the seat in front of me that was having a hell of time. Either she was laughing hysterically at every joke or her love eggs had just kicked in. Either way we all seemed to be having a great time throughout. Because even when things slowed down the film was still engaging, full of heart, and phenomenal to look at. Here are two questions I've always wondered about the answer to. Firstly, who the fuck can be bothered to dedicate their time to stop-motion? And secondly, who the fuck can be bothered to dedicate their time to origami? Well this film has introduced a third question which is, who the fuck can be bothered to use stop-motion to make little origami shapes? Can you even imagine the level of skill and patience that would require?! If the kettle takes thirty seconds longer to boil than I planned then I lose patience and throw my mug against the wall.. and all I'm making is a cup of fucking tea.

Kubo And The Two Strings is made by Laika Studios whose previous three efforts include the extraordinary Coraline, The Boxtrolls, and Paranorman. Which makes this film a four-for-four success, with the studio being on such a massive roll that you could confuse them with a fat person falling down the stairs. Along with Coraline, it also seems to have a weird thing about having adults attempt to rip children's eyes out. Personally I don't have a problem with what kids can see, it's the fucking noise they make that pisses me off. So I suppose this is the studio tapping into a collective fear that children have about not being able to watch television more than it being a wish fulfilment thing for people who just don't like kids. I also thought that, like Coraline, this film was admirable for having such a three dimensional female character in the lead. But then I found out a few minutes later that Kubo was actually a boy and I was reminded of a problem I'd had earlier that day whilst swiping on Tinder.

However as comparable as Kubo And The Two Strings might be to Laika's previous efforts, it also stands up completely next to the best of somebody like Zhang Yimou, Guillermo Del Toro, or even Ray Harryhausen. Sure this might look like a kids film but this is something that should appeal to everybody from a five year old child to an old person on the verge of death. In fact, if you are on the verge of death then you can probably do worse things than watch this film which has a thing about living on in peoples memories and the power of love. The Moon King might want Kubo's eyes but even he's motivated by his love of the child rather than any exclusively selfish need to have the kids peepers on his mantelpiece. All parents want to pull their children's eyes out to protect them at some-point in their lives, however it's usually less supernatural as it is an awareness of a young boys crafty need to search online for porn. The Moon King might prove to be a relatively scary villain at times but he's also one with a redeemable personality and motive. This is opposed to an unforgivable period I went through in which I thought of myself as The Moon King simply because I liked to flash my arse during photographs.

On top of all of this, it's worth noting that the film obviously has a brilliant score, which is often built into the story itself. So even if a mythical lunar monarch has pulled your eyes out, I recommend this film on the grounds of its audio alone. Although I feel gutted for you that you won't be able to see that talking Monkey holding the swords that I mentioned earlier because I fucking loved that. As we get to the last third of what has turned out to be a full on shitty year of mostly crap movies and celebrity deaths, Kubo And The Two Strings will definitely prove to be a highlight of 2016. It's a film that talks about the transformative power of storytelling that was so powerful and poignant that even when the giggling woman in front of me rested her feet on top of the chair in front of her I was able to resist the desire to jam my finger into the soft part of her skull. Kubo repeatedly states that 'if you must blink, do it now' although considering how great this film looks, I advise not even blinking then. In fact I'd say that this has got to be one of the very few films that's not only essential viewing but essential viewing that you'd ideally experience whilst sat in that weird chair that pins his eyes open in A Clockwork Orange. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time.