3/23/08

My Week In Film (3/17 - 3/23)

I didn't feel like watching a lot of movies this week and still I did. Not sure how that happened but it did. All Ghibli films are worth watching.



Porco Rosso (1992)
(Directed by Hayao Miyazaki)

Porco Rosso is usually regarded as a minor work when discussing Miyazaki but I don't see it that way. Or rather, I don't think there's any true minor work in Miyazaki's filmography. They all offer something extremely unique. In this film, Miyazaki brings us a war hero in the shape of a pig and thrilling dog fights. All the action elements are fine and all but what really makes this stand out is the surprising sweetness. I'm specifically thinking of a scene where Porco is having his plane fixed. Since the men of the town are all off fighting, the women are the one who fix the planes. Porco simply watches in disbelief as the women work on his plane. It's hard to describe the magic present in Miyazaki's films so I won't even try but they make his films always ridiculously watchable and, most importantly, lovable.

★★★1/2




Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
(Directed by Béla Tarr)


If you think that this is probably gonna be one of those pretentious foreign films that everyone pretends to love then watching the film probably won't change your mind. But if you're open to it, this film has a lot to offer. Consider the opening scene: a single shot spanning over 11 minutes that records a man explaining to a room full of drunks exactly what will happen during the eclipse. The scene tries for such philosophical meaning and the man's words seem so carefully prepared that we don't really know how to take it. Then the elegiac music starts playing and the scene is made even stranger and more interesting. The whole movie is sorta like that. Since the whole film is composed of barely 39 shots, we are given time to contemplate exactly what we are watching. Of course, this gives us time to remark that the film's "plot" (a traveling circus arrives in town with the world's biggest whale and a mysterious figure named The Prince in tow) is rather ridiculous but that would be missing the point. Every single shot is given a magnificent weight and the stately camera movements are some of the best I've ever seen. After it's near apocalyptic ending, you may be wondering what the hell you just saw but you also won't be able to get it out of your head.

★★★1/2



Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
(Directed by Hayao Miyazaki)

This film feels sorta slight when compared to other Miyazaki films but, of course, that's not to suggest that this is a minor work. In fact, this is one of his best. The fate of the world isn't at stake here like it is in Nausicaa or Mononoke and there isn't some task to be accomplished like in Spirited Away. This is more like Totoro than any of his other films. It simply wants you to get to know Kiki. I spoke about the magic present in Miyazaki's films but in here, it is literal. Kiki is a young witch who must leave home and live in a new town for an entire year by herself. She meets very nice people along the way and quickly makes friends. There is no goal. No real plot. And even the challenge that presents itself at the end isn't even that serious. Very few movies make you feel happy. Here's one.

★★★★1/2



5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)
(Directed by Makoto Shinkai)

It seems to me that the more I see of Makoto Shinkai's style, the more I dislike it. When I first saw Voices of a Distant Star, it was a pretty revelatory experience. Shinkai's film was beautiful but it found a nice gimmick that communicated everything that he wanted to say. Plus he made it all on his mac. His second film was once again beautiful to look at but so painfully dull in every other aspect that it made me almost give up on him. Now we have this film: broken up into three different shorts, 5cm manages to achieve the same thing his original film did. It conveys its message in a short and concise manner. So with Makoto Shinkai, shorter is better.

Makoto Shinkai films ranked:

1. Voices of a Distant Star - 25 Min ★★★1/2
2. 5 Centimeters Per Second - 63 Min ★★1/2
3. The Place Promised In Our Early Days - 91 Min ★1/2

See a pattern?
Also, his short, She and Her Cat, is probably better than all of these films and that's 5 minutes long.

If you're interested:









Pocahontas (1995)
(Directed by Mike Gabriel and Erik Goldberg)

Pocahontas is good, I guess. In the sense, that it isn't horrible. But this is probably the biggest Disney disappointment I've had in a while. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with giving the Disney treatment to this particular story. Anyway, the best moments are definitely when Pocahontas first meets John Smith. Their curiosity regarding each other is palpable and the film shows some real class letting these moments play out as you think they will. Then plot machinations come into play and the fragility of those moments is lost. If anything, this just made me excited for The New World.

★★



Live Flesh (1997)
(Directed by Pedro Almodovar)

Probably the darkest film of Almodovar's that I've seen so far. Lots of sex and lots of violence and even drugs! What does it all add up to? Who cares! It's hard to admit to having so much fun with a movie that involves so much dark things but whatever. The plot basically revolves around a love triangle which turns into a love pentagle. Much of the fun is derived from the plot twists so I won't spoil anything. What makes the melodrama even more fun is the great acting from all parties. Javier Bardem shines as a paraplegic cop, Liberto Rabal (who I swear I've seen in some telenovela) is the world's cutest stalker and Francesca Neri turns from a crackhead into a shining example of clean-cut living. All the acting is fantastic and it really sells what could've been a completely ridiculous story. Once again, Almodovar triumphs.

★★★1/2

Jhon's Film of the Week is.... Kiki's Delivery Service.

Much like Almodovar, the man cannot disappoint me.

1 comment:

Bill Thompson said...

The Miyazaki love makes me happy. :)