"Your Name." is this week's recommendation.
- Another show set in the "Game of Thrones" universe is coming to HBO. The company is in early development on the series, according to Variety, which will be based on the "Tales of Dunk and Egg" novellas written by George R. R. Martin. HBO is already in development on "House of the Dragon," a prequel series focused on the events leading up to the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. That one's scheduled to premiere next year. In other words, if you grew tired of the "Thrones" discourse before, get ready for a whole lot more of it!
- Guillermo del Toro's next film, "Nightmare Alley," will release on Dec. 3. It will be the filmmaker's first feature since Best Picture winner "The Shape of Water" was released in 2017. The "Nightmare Alley" cast reportedly includes (*deep breath*) Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Paul Anderson, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Tim Blake Nelson and Ron Perlman, among others. Yowza. Cannot wait for this one.
- This is from last week, but in case you missed it: Noah Baumbach will be directing an adaptation of Don DeLillo's "White Noise," to star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. The scope of "White Noise" seems to be beyond anything Baumbach has done before, and maybe borderline unfilmable, but I'm excited to watch him try to make something coherent out of it.
- This is less news than it is a complaint, but IMDb changed its movie page layout this week, and I'm not sure I'll ever get over it.
Only one recommendation this week. You know what that means: I went far too long on something, so it must be pretty great.
"Your Name." (2016)
VOD ($2.99 most places), rated PG, 107 minutes
After a brief introductory scene that will only make sense later, Makoto Shinkai's "Your Name." starts like any good body swap movie between a boy and a girl: with jokes about body parts.
They're funny, but you'll feel like you know where this is going, and I think that's the point — because you don't.
We first watch Tokyo boy Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) wake up in mountain town girl Mitsuha's (Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) body first, unaware of where he is or whose body he's inhabiting. He drops his bottoms in front of the mirror and screams. But then the camera cuts to black, and when we return to action, Mitsuha is herself again. At school, though, her friends ask her if she's OK — she had been acting strange the day before, acting unlike herself. And the next day, it's Mitsuha who is waking up in Taki's body. She believes it to be a dream at first, but as it keeps happening and her friends continue to point out the irregularities in her behavior, it becomes clear that something else is happening.
What's happening is this: Taki and Mitsuha switch bodies while they sleep, seemingly on random days but usually a few times a week. They start leaving notes for each other to find the next morning, with instructions on how to live their lives, so things don't get even more messed up than they already are. Of course, being teenagers, they hardly take each other's advice. Taki makes Mitsuha, naturally a shy person, a basketball star and one of the most popular kids at school, while Mitsuha sets Taki up on a date with a coworker at his part-time restaurant job, someone he's crushing on but too embarrassed to do anything about on his own.
If this was all the movie was — teens living cities apart, swapping lives and becoming close in the process — it would still be great. But "Your Name." has far greater ambitions than that. Without getting into spoiler territory, something happens that changes everything you (and they) know about Taki and Mitsuha's strange connection. The movie becomes a full-on race against time to preserve not just what they have, but what they have had.
How many people do you think you've met and now forgotten? Not just people you met once, briefly, but people you spent an entire evening chatting up at a bar? People you attended school with? Had sleepovers with? Vacationed with? We say we have one life to live, but that's not really true. I spent six months studying abroad in Italy in college. All the English-speaking study abroad students at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan were grouped together for classes, so we did the majority of our non-class activities together, too. It was a large group, made up of people from around the world. And aside from like, three people, I can't tell you any of their names. My memories of those sixth months from six years ago — of that life — are hazy at best now. There are moments I remember, if I concentrate on them. But that's not the life I live now, so it fades. I sometimes have to remind myself that it happened at all.
"Your Name." grapples with this loss of memory, this loss of lives lived. How many great times I've had, how many faces of people I cherished, are now memory-holed forever? Literally, I will never know. That thought has been rattling around my brain since I watched "Your Name." a few weeks ago. It might never leave.
But I digress; as existential as all this sounds, "Your Name." is uplifting in its commitment to never letting go.
The voice acting is astounding (I'm team "subs not dubs," so I can't speak to the English version). The score, done by Japanese band RADWIMPS, is unabashed pop-punk that immediately lets you know the level of drama that awaits you. It rules. And the visuals, man. Again, no spoilers, but at one point, a character has a borderline-hallucinatory experience, and the way the film changes from its (already gorgeous) original style to a more dream-like style is breathtaking. In fact, most things about this film are breathtaking.
Time often feels like its coming apart at the seams; would you rebuild it if you could? Or would you rush forward, waiting to see what this newly created timeline has in store for your life?
"Your Name." will make you think about your answer. It'll also make you laugh, gasp and a hundred other things. I've never seen a film quite like it.
Alright that's all I've got this week, but … listen. I can't recommend that you watch "Wild Mountain Thyme," the new romance (?) movie (?) from John Patrick Shanley starring Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt and Fleeting Irish Accents, but I would be remiss to not mention that this movie has the batshittiest twist this side of "Serenity." If you're the type of movie viewer who appreciates such things as their own mangled form of high art, well, you can't miss this one. Oh, honey, it would sure sting if you did. (Wink, wink.)
Anyway, that's on VOD, too. But mostly I want you to watch "Your Name." All right, bye!