Fukasaku proves to be a master of the micro-story, the combinations of tiny joys and creeping terrors into one huge, fleeting, emotional whole. After decades of cultural regression, he evokes Japanese cinema’s desperate, horrific roar. It has a primal beauty, of the kind that will always be repressed, misunderstood.
The pay-off is stalled beyond normal human tolerance, as though Godzilla was a nervous groom who simply won’t commit to marriage until he has enough buildup. Even advertising the closeted meanings of such serious-contra-seriousness idioms native to the giant monster bash as nature vs man and the brutalities of war, the dialogue in “Godzilla” asserts itself to such meaning like a crowbar asserts itself to a jammed service door. This is when it remembers to have dialogue at all.
What DreamWorks have done with Ghost in the Shell, if it is a cultural invasion, is more potent than catering to an international market (or their idea of it). The new film is an inversion of its material, to an extent that its entire symbolic framework has been hacked by the virus of three-act Western superhero stories.
Gojira is all performance. Yes, the monster film’s propensity for overacting is here to some extent, but its images still reflect the power that must be innate in the language we cannot hear, which cannot be ignored any more than Serizawa can ignore the child’s prayer over the radio, calling him to fight destruction with destruction.
By remaining outside after dark, Kubo invokes the inevitable quest for three sacred pieces of armor so that he may defeat the Moon King. Kubo weaves its story with the mythologist Joseph Campbell’s pattern, which he called the “monomyth,” by telling a story about a boy and his Mother as though it represented all boys and all Mothers.