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Entries in Asian cinema (60)

Friday
Aug292014

Tim's Toons: In praise of the long-dead Osamu Tezuka

Tim here. Bear with me for a moment: we’re just about done with our month-long look at 1989 in cinema, about which I already had my say. But one of the other things that happened in animation that year was that the great Japanese animator and illustrator Osamu Tezuka passed away in February of that year, at age 60. Which is absolutely no legitimate pretext for anything, but Tezuka is an artist I’ve wanted to talk about in this space for ages, and there’s never been anything remotely resembling a good excuse to do so. So this shall have to do. It’s no fun having a bully pulpit if you can’t spread the Good News with it.

And oh, what very Good News the career of Tezuka is. You might not have ever heard his name, but you know his work: he’s largely regarded as the godfather of both manga and anime, two media with a shared stylistic backbone that’s still mostly intact a full 62 years after Tezuka began drawing the original comic book version of Astro Boy.

Which is all very important and impressive, of course – that one man’s innovations could trickle down in a readily-detected lineage to things as diverse as the nuanced fantasy epic/family drama Spirited Away to the internet’s favorite whipping post, tentacle porn...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug202014

Yes, No, Maybe So: Rudderless & Revenge of the Green Dragons

Deborah here, with a double-entry of Yes, No, Maybe So. First up, Rudderless from actor turned director William H Macy. (He's up for an Emmy Monday night for Shameless)

Yes

  • Directorial debut of William H. Macy. I'm a fan.
  • He's using his wife, the awesome Felicity Huffman. Also Billy Crudup.
  • There's a sweet naturalism to the trailer.
  • It looks like Begin Again, except with more death and less money. I loved Begin Again.

No

  • It looks like Begin Again, except with more death and less money. How about a new movie?

More after the jump including the trailers themselves...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug042014

Studio Ghibli is taking a break

Tim here. The story over the weekend as far as popcorn movies go might have been the monstrous over-performance of Guardians of the Galaxy, but for those of us who like a little more personal artistry and a little less big-budget sizzle out of our movies, Sunday's biggest news was the apparent revelation by Toshio Suzuki, general manager of Japan's Studio Ghibli, that the company is ceasing to produce animated films.

Or maybe not. The internet, in its glorious need for news, News, NEWS, has perhaps jumped the gun on some ambiguous words that have slightly different weight in Japanese than in English. They're merely talking about restructuring and re-evaluating their business and production strategies in the wake of Hayao Miyazaki's retirement. That certainly could mean that they're going to close; it doesn't mean they've closed yet (though that "yet" might well be nothing but diplomacy talking). What is certainly the case is that following the newly-released in Japan When Marnie Was There, Ghibli has no future plans involving animated features. So even if it's not The End, it's not a very good day for lovers of animation or just top-quality world cinema.

While we stew and wait for more news on the Ghibli front, I'd like to invite everyone to share their favorite movies from the studio. I'll start off: if I wanted to showcase to a newbie the breadth of Studio Ghibli's artistry (and today of all days, that's exactly what I want to do), these would be the five movies I'd pick:

  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - a generous children's fable filled with a love of nature
  • Grave of the Fireflies (1988) - a deadly serious examination of the human cost of war
  • Porco Rosso (1992) - a clever spin on an animal fable and loving tribute to the beauty of flight
  • Whisper of the Heart (1995) - a quiet, beautiful story of adolescent curiosity and self-knowledge
  • Spirited Away (2002) - the perfect gateway drug: bold visions, fearless storytelling, impeccably clear characters

What are your favorite Studio Ghibli films? And how sad are you going to be if this really is the end?

Monday
Jul282014

Podcast: Charming Musicians, Frosty Survivors, Talking Apes

It's one-on-one podcast time this week. Nathaniel and Nick discuss two movies they're sympatico on (Begin Again and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and one which halfway divides them (Snowpiercer). 

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

Index
00:01 Intro & Scene Stealing
01:30 Begin Again: rough starts, Mark Ruffalo's abrasiveness, Keira Knightley overall excellence, how it compares to Once.
14:00 Why we're not talking Boyhood. Plus the difficulty of grading ambitious movies.
20:00 Snowpiercer: allegory, structure, and the fight over the final cut, Tilda Swinton of course. Plus Bong Joon-ho and Korean cinema.
35:00 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: highlight scenes, amazing imagery, franchise politics, Jason Clarke, and Caesar vs. Koba.
45:00 "Lost Stars" 


What is this picture doing here?
You'll have to listen to find out.

 

Begin Again Snowpiercer Dawn of...

Saturday
May172014

Cannes Tidbits: Deals, Toons, and Oscar Futures

I haven't organized my thoughts. I'm warning you up front. I am just collecting them like dead leaves and throwing them at you in chunks with links to related articles. I'm doing my meager part to engage with Cannes from my Harlem apartment across the ocean...

COMPETITION & UN CERTAIN REGARD
After that much maligned Monaco kick-off, not uncommon with festival openers, Cannes competition films have been collecting more fans. Well, not Atom Egoyan's Captive (which was booed) but the others. And frankly no film festival ever wins consensus "that was awesome" reviews anyway. It's part of the ritual this 'it's a terrible year for the fest!' hand-wringing.

Diana chimed in earlier today on the African film Timbuktu and Mike Leigh's artist biopic Mr. Turner which we can safely suspect will win plentiful Oscar talk. There's a ceiling for Leigh films with Oscar but the Academy adores him nonetheless. Since his mainstream breakthrough Secrets and Lies (5 nominations / 0 wins) all but 2 of his pictures have won at least a screenplay nomination with Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake (period pieces like Mr Turner) proving most popular. To date Topsy Turvy is the only Mike Leigh picture to win any Oscar statues and Mike Leigh himself, though a 7 time nominee, is still Oscar-less. That's probably good news for Mr. Turner on both the 'overdue' front and the 'it takes a period piece and a genre they love' (in this case the biopic) truth about awards bodies. If you're interested in Mike Leigh's process (and many are since it's so unusual) there's an article in the LA Times where he explains why they still do the same character creation groundwork for months before shooting even though the actors are playing real people rather than fictional ones. I think Mr Turner is also inspiring some interesting reviews (including this one from David Poland who compares it to the Grand Budapest Hotel of all things) 

More Oscar hopefuls, deals, and animated buzz after the jump...

Click to read more ...