REVIEW: 借りぐらしのアリエッティ[Kari-gurashi no Arietti] [The Secret World of Arrietty] [2010]

Sometimes it’s best not to go looking for danger. The day has finally arrived for Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler) to become a “borrower.” Just being a four-inch-tall humanoid living in secret under the floorboards and inside the walls of an unsuspecting “human bean’s” house isn’t enough to earn the title. One must embrace bravery and ingenuity to venture out and take that which the family needs to survive without also earning any unwanted attention for what went missing. Would Arrietty love to take a “real’ dresser from the dollhouse upstairs to…

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REVIEW: アーヤと魔女 [Âya to majo] [Earwig and the Witch] [2020]

I shall give you the worms. Those familiar with Diana Wynne Jones‘ children’s book Âya to majo [Earwig and the Witch] will be surprised to find Gorô Miyazaki‘s cinematic adaptation beginning with a chase scene pitting a red-headed woman on a motorcycle against a yellow Citroën on her tail. They weave in and out of traffic with impossible speed and maneuvering before we see the first bit of magic used to create some extra distance. That’s when a cut occurs for us to watch the unknown redhead walk through a…

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REVIEW: 魔女の宅急便 [Majo no takkyûbin] [Kiki’s Delivery Service] [1989]

Just follow your heart and keep smiling. Every witch upon her thirteenth birthday must leave home for a year abroad to hone her witchcraft skills. She must find a community without witches and establish herself within it via a career based in the magic she provides—through whatever form is unique to her. It’s a time for excitement and trepidation as she’s forced to advance towards adulthood extremely early with no support system but the one she hopes to uncover wherever she lands. While some surely feel a bit of both…

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REVIEW: ハウルの動く城 [Hauru no ugoku shiro] [Howl’s Moving Castle] [2004]

He’s just throwing a tantrum. At one point during Hayao Miyazaki‘s Hauru no Ugoku Shiro [Howl’s Moving Castle], as adapted from Diana Wynne Jones‘ 1986 novel, Sophie (Emily Mortimer in youth; Jean Simmons in cursed old age) asks Howl (Christian Bale) if the large warship in the sky above their serene field of flowers is “on their side or ours.” His resigned response, “What difference does it make?” In his mind no side of this or any war has a righteous claim when the result is an indiscriminate amount of…

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REVIEW: 思い出のマーニー [Omoide no Mânî] [When Marnie Was There] [2014]

“I wish for a normal life everyday” If Studio Ghibli ends up closing shop as announced, we can be glad their final film is a winner with the heart and soul we’ve come to love from Hayao Miyazaki and the team. I’m surely in the minority, but I’d even say Hiromasa Yonebayaski‘s When Marnie Was There is better than last year’s Oscar nominee The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. While bringing the aesthetic back to the studio’s customary style a la Spirited Away does remove some of the awe Isao…

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REVIEW: Song of the Sea [2014]

“You’re going to be the best big brother in the world” Writer/director Tomm Moore received the okay to contemporize his peoples’ folklore from the seanachai he listened to while growing up in Ireland, Eddie Lenihan. A traditional storyteller known for modernizing these same archetypes, Lenihan explained to Moore that adapting them to our time might be the only way for us to keep them alive now that new technology has forced the oral custom of passing down history moot. He’s right too as the two films Moore has thus crafted…

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Posterized Propaganda February 2014: ‘RoboCop’, ‘The LEGO Movie’, ‘Non-Stop’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. February is here, January dump month is over, and 2014 is officially ready to take control with only a few more festival holdovers from last Fall. A couple summer-caliber flicks…

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Posterized Propaganda March 2013: ‘Stoker,’ ‘Place Beyond the Pines,’ ‘Spring Breakers’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. I’m honestly not sure if it is possible to cram more movies in one 31-day period (five Fridays!). Let’s just say the dump month doldrums have ceased and we’ve moved…

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REVIEW: L’illusionniste [The Illusionist] [2010]

“Magicians don’t exist” There are three names in animation today: Pixar, Miyazaki, and Sylvain Chomet. The first is a major branch of Disney and the second is a Japanese staple, always making its way stateside with help from the Mouse House too. The Frenchman, Chomet, could be the most intriguing and quite possibly the best of the group. With only two feature length films to his name—and a live action segment in Paris, je t’aime, disappointing only because it wasn’t animated—too much praise may be premature, but if you saw…

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REVIEW: Gake no ue no Ponyo [Ponyo] [2008]

“Is he an evil wizard?” Being in Toronto for a convention that deals with anime meant I couldn’t leave the city without actually seeing an anime film, right? Lucky for us, the new Hayao Miyazaki film Gake no ue no Ponyo was playing at the local multiplex just minutes from our hotel. Distributed like his previous few films in the United States by Disney, from its Japanese Studio Ghibli origins, Ponyo ports the vision of its creator in beautiful animation and color with the inclusion of new Hollywood actors to…

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REVIEW: Ratatouille [2007]

“He calls it his Tiny Chef” Brad Bird is by far the best writer/director of animated films coming out of America in a long time. Besides Hayao Miyazaki, there is no one else with the track record that this guy has. From The Iron Giant to The Incredibles to now Ratatouille, Bird just gets better and better with each new move. This new Pixar installment is definitely the most intellectually stimulating yet, but really which of his films haven’t been intelligent first, kiddie-catering second? Ratatouille is by all means cinematic…

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