Author Topic: Bondo's Great Directors  (Read 51050 times)

zarodinu

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 4538
  • What we've got here is failure to communicate
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #100 on: May 22, 2010, 03:41:55 PM »
Glad you like Totoro.

You know, I grew up with one parent forced to take extensive leaves from the home.

Its weird, almost every single Disney movie has a protagonist from a broken family, yet these movies never do anything with this, its just some passive character trait they shove into every film.  In Totoro, despite the generally whimsical and lighthearted tone, there is a real cloud of dread and uncertainty that hovers over the family.  I remember feeling this fear of the unknown and terror of losing a parent as a little kid, I think Totoro succeeds in showing that being a kid can be wonderful but also a little scary. 
Iíve lied to men who wear belts. Iíve lied to men who wear suspenders. But Iíd never be so stupid as to lie to a man who wears both a belt and suspenders.

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 21952
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #101 on: May 23, 2010, 03:04:49 AM »
Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

Miyazaki must hate his country, the dad drives an Audi. Anyway, this film is just gorgeous, even by Miyazaki's high standards. Everything is set in just such a perfect way that I'd almost be willing to say there is cinematography here. And again, Miyazaki exceeds his own high standards in the character creation here. There are just so many memorable designs. The soot spirits carrying coal would be a charming feature on its own. Having them all drop the coal on themselves, after Chihiro helps one out, makes it a classic moment.

Spirited Away actually feels a bit less focused on any particular thematic element and the plot doesn't necessarily make sense on paper, but it works so well in practice. All the little pieces fit together to tell of personal growth, not just of Chihiro but of most of the characters as they fight off their demons or weaknesses. The most central of course is Chihiro's story. Miyazaki's continued fondness for the maturation of young girls is at its apex with this story. The stakes of Chihiro's struggle are quite significant and she turns from a scared, clumsy girl into a strong, determined, heroic figure. This evolution feels so much more than some of the others (like Kiki's).

You also see echoes of Miyazaki's other themes; environmental concerns, pacifism (in this case the attempt to show all characters as ultimately good at heart, if made to seem evil by one factor or another). These are just shadings to round out the story and the world being created here. I really do think this works as the film where everything that defines Miyazaki is distilled into its pure essence.

Rating: 5/5

Melvil

  • Godfather
  • *****
  • Posts: 9977
  • Eek
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #102 on: May 23, 2010, 02:06:06 PM »
Woohoo! So refreshing to hear you praise something I love. ;)

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 21952
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #103 on: May 23, 2010, 02:12:35 PM »
Woohoo! So refreshing to hear you praise something I love. ;)

Hehe, if I praised everything, it wouldn't mean as much. That I complain as much as I do makes the praise more potent  ;D

oldkid

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 18686
  • Hi there! Feed me worlds!
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #104 on: May 23, 2010, 04:55:15 PM »
Woohoo! So refreshing to hear you praise something I love. ;)

Hehe, if I praised everything, it wouldn't mean as much. That I complain as much as I do makes the praise more potent  ;D

Huh.  I outta try that.  See if it works.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 21952
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #105 on: May 26, 2010, 03:38:29 AM »
Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004)

This was a bit of an odd viewing. Through the first half, I was really with the film. I think this may actually have the most interesting designs of all Miyazaki's films. The various curse effects, the magnificent castle with its rotating doors. The film has all the potential in the world. But especially in the second half I was mostly unconnected from the story. It seems to take on a grander, less personal scale, that doesn't suit me. Now, full disclosure, I watched this in three 40 minute chunks with a long one before the last act, the one that didn't work. It is possible that this interruption is what broke the mood for me, but I think it was more than that.

I also have a bit of trouble sorting out themes here. It just doesn't have the layers that the best of Miyazaki does. Maybe I'm just being dense and it is too late. This was a bit of a disappointment because I really remembered liking this the first time around.

Rating: 3/5

zarodinu

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 4538
  • What we've got here is failure to communicate
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #106 on: May 27, 2010, 02:30:15 AM »
Its a lesser Miyazaki.  One thing that saves the movie for me, is the fact that there is a geriatric main character (well kinda).  Movies and culture in general are so obsessed with youth that it is nice to see a hero of the golden age demographic.
Iíve lied to men who wear belts. Iíve lied to men who wear suspenders. But Iíd never be so stupid as to lie to a man who wears both a belt and suspenders.

'Noke

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 11799
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #107 on: May 27, 2010, 06:46:19 AM »
It's not a lesser Miyazaki. but I'm gonna write about it soon, so that should be fun.
I actually consider a lot of movies to be life-changing! I take them to my heart and they melt into my personality.

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 21952
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #108 on: May 27, 2010, 07:28:25 AM »
Its a lesser Miyazaki.  One thing that saves the movie for me, is the fact that there is a geriatric main character (well kinda).  Movies and culture in general are so obsessed with youth that it is nice to see a hero of the golden age demographic.

Since the baby boomer generation is so large, I've been noticing a trend in movies that really speak to older age and aging. Up, That Evening Sun, Howl's, It's Complicated, Away From Her, Gran Turino...a lot of really good cinema meant for the 50+ audience. What it means to be an empty nester, to deal with the inevitable loss or illness of a loved one.

But yeah, the way that Sophie has kind of an old heart (even before the spell) and she serves this grandmotherly role to help the other's along their own paths is certainly interesting and is one of the features of the film that works. I think the fact I gave it a 3/5 despite feeling it falls apart in the second half is a testament to much of the quality content it does try to work with.

Bondo

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 21952
Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #109 on: May 29, 2010, 08:19:00 AM »
Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)

At least The Little Mermaid has catchy songs.

When I saw Ponyo in the theatre last year, I dubbed it the worst Miyazaki. Revisiting it this time sadly did not change my view. Whereas the two other films that have ultimately failed to capture me (Porco Rosso and Kiki's) at least have a somewhat compelling narrative, but Ponyo to me is almost so slight as to be nonexistent. Sure, there are a few lines about humans polluting and nature being out of balance that hit upon his typical environmental theme and there is quite a bit relating to Ponyo growing up and her dad's attempt to slow it down or stop it that I'm sure connects with others, continuing Miyazaki's fascination with children, particularly girls, but I just remain distant from the story.

I think it has to do with the congruence of "reality" and fantasy. Nausicaa and Mononoke exist in unique worlds where you can basically accept whatever fantastic elements develop. Even Totoro just seems to work. But in Ponyo, I don't find a way to suspend disbelief because I just don't understand how the sea level suddenly rises like 100 feet as part of a major storm and doesn't kill thousands and thousands. But the film makes these kind of things completely incidental.

Another complaint I could make, probably to some degree about most anime films and most Miyazaki, that is particularly relevant is terrible voice acting that expresses emotion through various levels of shouting one's lines, in situations where it completely fails to make sense that someone would be shouting.

So where does this leave me in this marathon. You've got two truly exceptional films, both in my top 25 of all time. You've got another quite special film. But the bulk of Miyazaki's films are fine, but not exceptional. This probably means he is eclipsed to a degree by the likes of Nolan and Linklater who also have multiple entries in my top 25, but certainly still maintains his place as a great. To me greatness is as much about potential as consistency. It is a reason M. Night (who has a very similar ratings profile for his films) gets the great term. It is probably why Fincher may not merit the term. He is fairly consistent but hits far more modest highs.

Rating: 1/5