The Curator of Schlock #379 by Jeff Shuster
Three movies in one.
I was in tears when Larry, a secret agent of the Canadian government, informed me that Edwige, my kangaroo companion, would have to be transported to a kangaroo sanctuary somewhere in Gibraltar. I was allowed to ride in a truck with her to a port in Halifax. I gave her a deep hug before she was set to board a ship that would take her away from me forever. Edwige then broke from my embrace and kicked me in the face. I crashed to the ground and I could have swore Edwige was laughing at me as she hopped aboard the ship.
I’m going to wrap up Anime Month with yet another anthology movie, 1995’s Memories from directors Koji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, and Katsuhiro Otomo. I remember hearing of this movie during the early days of my access to the Internet. I was hungry for more animated anthology movies like Robot Carnival or Heavy Metal. Somehow I learned of this movie and waited patiently for it to come stateside, but a North American release would elude until about eight years later. Sony put out a fine DVD of this feature back in 2004 and Memories has recently received the Blu-ray treatment from Discotek Media.
The first short is Magnetic Rose from director Koji Morimoto. The movie features a group of space faring salvage men in the late 21st century. They receive an SOS call from an abandoned space station. Two of the ship’s engineers, Heintz and Miguel, go to investigate the abandoned facility which we learn belonged to a famous opera singer named Eva Friedel. The entire station station has lavish furnishings and art like something you’d find in an aristocrat’s house from the 19th century.
Holograms emit illusions of the Italian countryside and of a beautiful diva that enchants Miguel, a would-be lothario. Back on the ship, the crew informs Heintz and Miguel that Eva retreated to this station in the 2030s after her fiancé was murdered and she lost her voice and singing career. Eva left Earth for this station to drown in her memories and she now wants to draw in Heintz and Miguel. This is a creepy story and the idea that this ghost may be a combination of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology makes her no less terrifying. The score for this sequence comes from the opera Madame Butterfly and was covered by Yoko Kano of Cowboy Bebop fame.
The second short is Stink Bomb from director Tensai Okamura, a darkly humous tale of a biological weapon turned loose on the Japanese populace. Nobua Tanaka is a lab technician battling the flu when a coworker suggests he takes a couple of pills from a new experimental cold medicine left on his boss’s desk. The pills kill his cold and turn Tanaka into a walking bringer of death that kills anything that comes near him. His body produces a cloud of stink that wipes out anything that smells it. This story was inspired by the Gloria Ramirez incident, a cancer patient that had caused severe illness in the staff at a California hospital due to her self-administering dimethyl sulfoxide which her body converted into a deadly toxin that exposed the hospital workers (if I’m to believe Wikipedia).
The third and final short is Cannon Fodder from director Katsuhiro Otomo. This film is about a day in the life of a family whose entire purpose in life is to prepare cannons to be fired at the enemy nation of their society. In fact, the whole society’s purpose is to prepare and fire the many hundreds of cannons aimed at the enemy nation. Elementary school teaches the students about the essentials of gunpowder and correct trajectory. Class is based on what level you are on the cannon firing ladder. You want to be the one firing the cannon and not some loser cannon-loader. I have to marvel at how hideous and miserable the characters in this short look.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.