Posts Tagged ‘Ghibli’

  • Trailer: The Wind Rises

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    TheWindRises

    The North American trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s “Farewell Masterpiece,” The Wind Rises spends a lot of time telling you to see it, rather than truly showing you much. Images with little context, or explanation, any dialogue or spoken words silenced, instead, a pitch that will likely only appeal to folks who already know what the trailer is telling. Le Sigh.

    The film centres around Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of Japan’s World War II Zero Fighter plane. It charts and his life and dreams from education, work, some major contributions to Japanese aviation, and also the courtship and marriage to his wife of fragile health. The film spans nearly half a century and muses on when a creative artist of any stripe should step down and away, thus making the film a perfect living-elegy to the masters long manga and cinema career.

  • Where Have All the Fathers Gone? Good Dads are Rare in Cinema

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    Fathers on film get short shrift as role models. This may be that movies, or rather screenplays need drama, and drama usually spells conflict. So if it is a movie where fatherhood is a theme, Dad is portrayed as either clueless (The Ice Storm, Back To The Future, disengaged (The Incredibles) or overprotective (Finding Nemo), faltering morally (The Bicycle Thief, Catch Me If You Can), generally unsupportive or aware of who their child actually is (C.R.A.Z.Y., Paranorman, How To Train Your Dragon, The Little Mermaid, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Brave, The Croods…basically most modern American animated movies), dangerously obsessive (The Mosquito Coast), violent and abusive (The Shining, Precious, The War Zone), or simply abandon the household all together (Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Perhaps the worst ever is Daniel Plainview. As essayed by Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, he is a borderline sociopath who raises his boy as a cute, therefore effective, prop for his unfettered capitalistic ambitions and all but abandons him -twice- when that purpose is served.

    Often when the dad is an encouraging, loving role-model, they exist only in memory (see Contact, below) or are eliminated after first act of the film (Leto Atreides in Dune, The Magistrate in Sansho The Bailiff, Mustafa in The Lion King). Even more often, the best dads seen on film are surrogate fathers rather than biological ones: Pa Kent in Superman, Ben Parker in Spiderman, John Hurt in Hellboy (if comics are your thing) or the kindly projectionist in Cinema Paradiso, Robin Williams in (take your pick) Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting, Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can, and of course Bilbo Baggins to his nephew Frodo in Lord of the Rings.

    A good father increases his child’s wonder and engagement with the world, provides a safe-haven for health of spirit and body, and provides the toolset for his child to go out in the world. He offers a sense or humour, fair and calm evaluation of situations both good and bad, and hopefully a little dignity in how one goes about their business. Looking around the web amongst the terribly repetitive ‘Best of’ kind of lists for movie dads, not only do we see a scarcity of truly good paternal role models, but those cobbling together these things favour the fathers that either drowning in their good intentions with no clue at what to do, as in the Vacation films or are cloyingly overbearing as in either version of the Father of the Bride, or they choose the unending tirades of violence and revenge – take your pick: Kick-Ass (Nic Cage), Taken (Liam Neeson), The Godfather (Marlon Brando), Die Hard (Bruce Willis), Hanna (Eric Bana), In The Bedroom (Tom Wiklinson), Death Wish (Charles Bronson), Road To Perdition (Tom Hanks). These are films that showcase parenting as a means for their kids to survive by violence, enact violent revenge and retribution for harm done to their child, or commit violence as a living to raise their family and while (amazingly) are not completely bankrupt of parenting ideals, they are hardly the shining examples to hold up.

    So now that we have the bad out of the way, and have partially defined what to look for in a good cinema father, here are a few films in which the fathers represented offer some respectability to the institution.

    Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD)

    Clearly the easiest and most shining example on the list, Finch is a man of significance in his community with a very straight moral compass, and a sense of dignity about his affairs, even when stumping for one of cinema’s great movie speechs. He stands up for himself and his family under no small amount of social pressure for defending those with less privilege in a time and part of the country that under the cloud or racism. More than that, he is gentle and kind with his children without ever pampering or over-entitling him. The film was made when America was at her greatest, and Peck’s portrayal remains perhaps the most iconic movie-dad ever committed to cinema. In short, he leads by examples, means what he says and says what he means. To further underscore his parental excellence, the final shot of the film is Atticus warmly watching his son while he sleeps.

    Ted Arroway (David Morse, CONTACT)

    David Morse is a curious actor, he can be play an unrequited monster (Dancer in the Dark, 12 Monkeys) or in the case of his Ted Arroway in Robert Zemeckis’s Contact, the warmest of father figures. Like Atticus Finch, he is a single parent, so is responsible for imparting both sides of the parenting equation to his young daughter. Instilling a love of communication and curiosity in his daughter both on earth and in heaven (or rather, outer space) and perhaps most important, a sense of patience and practicality (“turn the knob slower“) upon his daughter Ellie. His pride at his daughters accomplishment, and wonder at the vastness of the universe is also communicated very well to both her and the audience.

    Chef Chu (Lung Sihung, EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN)

    A third Widowed father (I am sensing a trend here), Mr. Chu maintains his relationship with his three very different daughters via a large Sunday meal prepared by his own hands. As each of his daughters push further into the modern and western model of women with corporate careers, he offers them a place for their problems at the table without (vocalized) judgement of them. While Mr. Chu is undeniably old fashioned (and reserved) China in a fast-paced and complicated globalized world, he imparts a very real sense of tradition to ground all the craziness. His daughters do not miss these meals, not because he forces them to come, but rather that its how they communicate with their father and each other. Mr. Chu exhibits a quiet dignity and that is not without charm, such as when he starts preparing elaborate lunches for a friends daughter to take to school. He may be a little more reserved than the other dads on this list, but it is clear he has found a some sort of balance in the world with his family.

    ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey/Steven Maturin (Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany as surrogate dads, MASTER AND COMMANDER)

    Young Lord Blakeney is doing his duty at sea at a very young age. While an officer, he is only 13 years old and exceptionally quite mature, is very much still a child. With his real father presumably safe on English Soil, he is on the Acheron, a military ship under the command of Jack Aubrey. Early in the film Blakeney loses his arm to infection from splinters caused by enemy canon fire. In a very powerful scene, it is clear that Jack loves the boy and content to play the role of surrogate father. The ships doctor, who indeed severs the wounded arm, also takes him under wing, and a large part of the films characterization is the push-pull of the Military – Science teachings upon the boy. There is a power to teaching the young officer wonder at the variety and mystery of the Natural world and the sacrifices to be made at the hands of leadership and duty. Ultimately one suspects that Lord Blakeney would rise to be a very great, and fulfilled man had there been any sequels to the film with such excellent role models and stand-in-dads.

    Dill (Stanley Tucci, EASY A)

    Spell it with your peas!” is the giddy suggestion from Stanley Tucci’s movie-dad, Dill, upon hearing his daughter got the boot from class for uttering foul language because he doesn’t want her to repeat the word out loud in front of her younger brother. Dill is acutely aware of his daughters adolescence, but feels he has taught her so much about being a good human being (this is of course off screen before the setting of the film, but clear in his body language) that he is willing to let her make her own mistakes. And yet it also makes it clear that while he respects her intelligence and her space, he is there if she needs him. Dill is unabashedly geeky, but clearly has a great relationship with his equally self-deprecating wife (Patricia Clarkson, also a great movie-mom) and they want to lead by the example of their love and playfulness to their children. As much as I liked Easy A, the parenting part of the film is easily my favourite part. While it is rather unabashed in its aim to be a modern John Hughes picture, Dill trumps any of the well rounded parent characters in any of Hughes’ pictures (Yes, including the excellent Harry Dean Stanton in Pretty in Pink).

    Tatsuo Kusakabe (Shigesato Itoi, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO)

    One of my favourite movie Dads in one of the best parenting movies of all time. Professer Kusakabe’s wife is sick in the hospital, and he is moving his daughters into a new house in the countryside. Wanting to make the best of the transition from city to country, without mom present, he encourages his daughters to help him make the old house livable for their family, while giving them the freedom to explore the grounds at their own pace. He assuages fears with laughter, but is never dishonest about their mothers condition (which I do not believe is fatal, but still serious.) While the littlest daughter Mei does go missing on account of his not being there, he deals with the situation, erring on the side of giving his children freedom rather than suffocating them. My Neighbor Totoro is a wonderful movie that ever parent should show their children, not only for its magic and whimsy, but also for its novel take on parenting.

    Pod (Tomokazu Miura (or Will Arnett/Mark Strong if you prefer the USA/UK Dubs) THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY)

    Yes, there are two Studio Ghibli movies on this list, most likely because, unlike their American equivalent, Disney, Ghibli tends to craft their tales around unbroken family units and incorporates their precocious young heroes into the greater social fabric, instead of constantly rebelling or subsuming it. So, I will happily include the often overlooked (or outright dismissed) animated adaptation of The Borrowers because indeed, the dad in this one is magnificent. The movie’s first chief incident is Pod, the father, taking his daughter on her first ‘borrowing’ mission. He gently guides her up the lengthy route from their tiny abode below the floor boards into the vast and intimidating world above. He helps her, but gives her space. The image of Pod quietly holding the light and waiting for his daughter to complete her climb is a powerful one. Further, when Arrietty gets entangled with a ‘big person’ in the form of the visting boy who is at the house to convalesce from physical ailment and prepare for heart surgery, her father calmly makes decisions while never outright belittling his daughter for her discoveries. The man is an ocean of calm, but you can see the care and the love painted in the margins. The whole film is that way, there is a lot of depth underneath those quiet, serene surfaces.

    The Man (Viggo Mortensen, THE ROAD)

    OK, this is the toughest one on the list, because unlike most of the other entries here, the main characters are in constant danger, and the world is not full of wonders or promise, but rather a post apocalyptic wasteland where death comes in many forms and life is a living hell. Dad here is also a widower – but 99% of the worlds population is, gone, so there is that – but feels more importantly than he and his son surviving in this world of ash, is that they survive together. While this is ultimate not meant to be (as death comes to us all in the end,) I imagine that the soul of the father watching down might be comforted that they boy is picked up by a potentially complete family near the end of the film, one of the very few positive notes in an otherwise soul-crushing downer of a film. Nevertheless, while travelling to some vague destination over the course (coarse?) of the film, and the Cormac McCarthy novel it was based upon, the father instills what is left, under the circumstances, of a moral code upon his son (i.e. no unnecessary killing and definitely no cannibalism) along with a number of survival skills and a fair bit of kindness and love. Sometimes that is what matters most.

  • The Future is Female – 2012 is the Year of the Empowered Girl

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    In 2006 Joss Whedon (certainly the mainstream man of the hour in light of Avengers‘ rip-roaring success) expressed his exasperation with the question “Why do you write all these strong female characters?” His pithy, Whedonesque answer of course was “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

    Five years later in 2011, his words and frustration still rang true. The list of top ten box office hits includes only one film with a female lead – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, and Bella’s status as a “strong female character” is questionable (more on Twilight in a minute…) and the audience for the film adaptations of Stephanie Meyer’s novels is female-dominant. Last year’s box office champ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows does have a strong female character in Hermione Granger, but the lead of that film is obviously the Potter himself, everyone else more or less orbits his journey. Meanwhile, Transformers 3, The Hangover Part II, Fast Five, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and on down the list are male-centric to say the least.

    But 2012 may be the year of the empowered girl.

    The ongoing box office (and to a degree, critical) success of The Hunger Games seems to support that idea. But it is not just Katniss leading the charge: smart and strong women are leading many films this year. Films that seem utterly poised to be blockbuster hits and critical darlings feature women in the lead.

    In the past 30 years of western pop culture (we’ll get to Studio Ghibli in a moment too…) we have Wonder Woman, Lt. Ellen Ripley, Buffy Summers and Foxy Brown.

    Perhaps in 2012 we will have new names to add to that list. Mallory Kane. Katniss Everdeen. Lisbeth Salander (admittedly Fincher’s polished update of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo was at 2011′s in extremis, but we’re counting her in the vanguard). Snow White. Princess Merida. The fact is, this shouldn’t be notable. But it is, because we are still asking writers, the majority of which are men, why they write strong women characters. But there are now many more writers to ask (admittedly still predominantly male!). Allow the Row Three staff to offer a survey of this years fem-powered offerings, starting with the resurrection of the Alien franchise.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Cinecast Episode 252 – Objectively Speaking

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    Super, extra special thanks to Patrick Ripoll of The Director’s Club Podcast for helping out with our spoiler(!) review of The Hunger Games in this episode. We get into a little bit of Ewan McGregor channeling Indiana Jones as he goes fly fishing and Kurt just reads books. We kick it old school this week though with a massive tangent right off the bat on the nature of the “it’s so bad it’s good” theory of many a cult film. Also the term, “objectively bad or good” has been kicked around lately on the site so we dive into that as well. In-house business doesn’t kick in until about the thirty minute mark, so you kind of know what you’re getting into here. Also special thanks to Jim Laczkowski (also of The Director’s Club Podcast) for providing us with this week’s opening theme music; Wayne Newton, eat your heart out! At any rate, enjoy the tangential David Lynch retrospective, the marvel of 80s robotics and of course quicksand in space.

    As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


     
     

     

    To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
    http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_252.mp3

     
     
    Full show notes are under the seats…
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  • Cinecast Episode 251 – Formaldehyde Rain

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    With not much going on, there sure is a lot going on. We go gaga over the new Prometheus trailer. We have (row)three theatrical reviews to cover today and we touch down in Iran before cruising over to Jump Street and then we get our ass to Mars. We take our time, so bear with us and feel free to skip around the show but beware the full spoiler-discussion of A Separation – see the well deserved Oscar winning film before listening to that segment.

    Kurt waxes ecstatically about the packaging and presentation of the new Special Edition BATTLE ROYALE DVD/BLU set. Hunger Games looms on the horizon.

    Technically there was no show last week and the side effect of doing an Anniversary Clip-Show is that this week we have a lengthy Watch List to dive into. Watch out for the quick sand, subway squatters, slimey lawyers, Nick Cage as an Atlantic City Cop and Dennis Hopper’s chainsaw wielding antics! With this much off-beat violence, the show could be hazardous to your health. But feel free to indulge in your (Miami)vices and jump in feet first. You. Are. Invited.

    As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


     
     

     

    To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
    http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_251.mp3

     
     
    Full show notes are under the seats…
    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Cinecast Episode 247 – That’s Just The Kind of Pretentious Twaddle I like!

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    Here we are a week before Oscars and there is so little to talk about on that front other than that there is so little to talk about. Gamble gives a run-down on the Best Animated Shorts which are always worth a look. Kurt gives a sparkling review of the latest Studio Ghibli animated feature; a Japanese spin on the classic British children’s novel The Borrowers. Re-titled The Secret World of Arrietty, the film is surprisingly adult in tone and theme and worth looking at on the big screen. We spend a tangent-driven span of time grading the homework assignments (criminal clowns) before diving into The Watch List: Wil Wheaton, Elliot Gould, Alain Delon, Brian DePalma, Michelangelo Antonioni, Billy Bob Thorton and Anna Faris! Andrew goes to town on smashing Tiny Furniture. Matt goes to town on pummeling the seven-year-delayed Margaret (and in the pejorative sense thinks Kurt and Rot will love it).

    As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


     
     

     

    To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
    http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_247.mp3

     
     
    Full show notes are under the seats…
    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Trailer: The Secret World of Arrietty

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    Disney released the first trailer for the North American dub of Studio Ghibli’s adaptation of The Borrowers, The Secret World of Arrietty. While the American voice cast (Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler) is not as high profile as the UK one (Saorise Ronan, Tom Holland, Olivia Colman, and Mark Strong), this new trailer gives a lot of more plotting and visual information than the previous UK trailer, but by some accounts, it is entirely misleading in tone. Nevertheless, things look like classic Ghibli to me. Hayao Miyazaki is not directing this one, but he did co-write the screenplay.

    The full trailer is tucked under the seat.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Two Trailers from Studio Ghibli: Arrietty and Kokurikozaka kara

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    Being gone for the Canada Day long weekend, into cottage country and fantastic weather, these two items got by me. I will bundle them into a single post:

    Pixar or Ghibli? For my money, Studio Ghibli is putting out better films (even if both studios have their duds), if only because they rely less on the sense of humour and slapstick (even the two Brad Bird Pixars rely heavily on this crutch) The Japanese studio often focuses on on sweeping epics from the point of young folks who are thrust into the world of danger and maturity and consequences with little life-lines. Yes, there are exceptions, such as bonafide classic My Neighbor Totoro, arguably the most pure children’s film ever made, which has no plot to speak of, yet still builds interesting characters and a compelling story of discovery.

    I’m not pitting east vs. west on this one. I’m glad both studios exist. I’m glad that Pixar is really looking to take the Ghibli road with Brave. In the mean time, however, Ghibli has two films in the can that have put out recent trailers.

    The first, Arrietty (The Borrower) feels like the sort of classic golden age Disney film from source material; vaguely resembling brothers Grimm tale or other such folklore out of Europe. Note the tone of the trailer plays like a bed-time story. Actually, it is adapted from Mary Norton’s classic 1950s novel which has has several film and TV adaptations to date. Arrietty is not actually directed by either of the studios venerable directors (Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata); this one is helmed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who has been one of the studios key animators for the past 15 years. I’ve got the UK trailer which features a solid voice cast from the British Isles (apparently the US version will have an different, American, dub) featuring Saorise Ronan, Mark Strong, Tom Holland and Olivia Coleman.

    14-year-old Arrietty and the rest of the Clock family – people sized no larger than a mouse – live in peaceful anonymity as they make their own home from items “borrowed” from the house’s full sized human inhabitants. Life changes for the Clocks when a human boy discovers Arrietty.

    The second film, Kokurikozaka Kara, is directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro who made the disastrous Tales from Earthsea (Bob’s Review) but appears to have gone back to the traditional old-school nostalgia of his father with this one. In fact the teaser trailer tells nothing of the actual story, but evokes the sort of emotions and images that the studio is known for.

    A group of Yokohama teens look to save their school’s clubhouse from the wrecking ball in preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

    Both the trailer for Arietty and teaser for Kokurikozaka kara are tucked under the seat.
    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Sunday Bookmarks – March 28 – April Fools Day

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    • C.H.U.D. goes to the The Criterion Collection (NOT)
      Criterion’s April Fools Day joke, may actually piss a few of the fans of that film off. I never looked to see if the website, Cinematic Happenings Under Development was miffed by this one, but either way, well played Criterion. Well played.
    • Pixar’s full length feature, Totoro (NOT)
      A well executed April Fools Day prank designed to get Ghibli fans and fanboys up in arms, especially on the heels of the bafflingly awful-looking Cars sequel that they actually went out and made. I may be the only one that would rather see Pixar take a stab at something like Totoro than churn out DTV-looking sequels.
    • Slash and Earn: The Blood-Soaked Rise of South Korean Cinema
      So why is it that such gory stories of vengeance have become – to western eyes at least – the dominant feature of Korean cinema? Kim himself contributed to the genre in 2005 with A Bittersweet Life, and there’s Park Chan-wook’s phenomenal revenge trilogy (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Lady Vengeance and Oldboy); and, though they’re not driven at their cores by revenge, it would be foolish to disregard the baroque bloodletting of films like Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide and Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser.
    • The Toronto Star gives TIFF Lightbox its six month Check-up
      “That’s close to six months, so we should be on target for somewhere between 600,000 to 700,000 admissions for the full year because, obviously, during TIFF we’ll have a lot of people coming in over the 10 days. That figure will spike. It will only get stronger.” Besides TIFF, the Lightbox will also be home this year for the first time for the Sprockets and Hot Docs festivals.”
    • Capture the Flag (A Canadian’s take on Americanism in Film)
      The Mad Hatter continues his thoughts on Saving Private Ryan and extrapolates to odd moments of patriotism in American Cinema. And gets a lively and stimulating comments section to (a)boot. “The direct culprit that rekindled this position is SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Remember? The film I love that I was praising just seven days ago? In that post I left one thing out, the detail of the film that has always bugged me: the core story of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN – one of heroism, sacrifice, duty, and honour – is a universal story. It speaks to all of us in the west who live with the freedoms that we do. However for Spielberg, the core story needed to be more direct…it had to be specifically American. Thus the film begins and ends with that faded shot of the flag, and we pause after the opening act to take the whole story back to the homefront.”

     
     

    You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this: