Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Mostly Miyazaki Kick

Tonari no Totoro

Probably my very favorite of Miyazki movies b/c I loved it as a kid and also b/c it's just a really great movie. It's magical (but more in a Shintu spirit/more spiritualistic form) and whimsical and ultimately quite melancholy. Rewatching it this time, I felt particularly affected- quite saddened in general about these two girls growing up w/o their mom and especially at Satsuki (SPOILER) breaking down completely to the grandmotherly neighbor after the telegram b/c she's just been so strong and so put together. And despite how ultimately short Totoro's appearances are in the film, he makes such a lasting, lasting impact.

Hot Fuzz

[Doris knocks down a female shop assistant with a yellow "Slippery floor" sign]
DS Andy Wainwright: Nice one, Doris.
PC Doris Thatcher: Nothing like a bit of girl on girl!
Through a good deal of the movie, I thought that the who-did-it question was so very obvious, as expected, b/c this is a parody movie and parody movies don't generally need a very good, logically thought out plot with non-obvious answers.


Oh how very wrong I was. The majority of the movie is pretty funny, full of ironic British wit and general slapstick. Eg. b/c I can't have a post about Hot Fuzz w/o quoting the protagonist, Nicholas Angel- it just seems wrong.

[Nicholas Angel is having a crackdown on underage drinkers in the pub]
Nicholas Angel: Oy! When's your birthday?
Underage Drinker #1: 22nd of February.
Nicholas Angel: What year?
Underage Drinker #1: Every year!

But wow, the last 30 minutes or so of the movie, after Nicholas walks in on the townspeople were epic. Purely epic and from then on I understood why this movie got the amount of good buzz that it did. So yes, I highly recommend the last 30 minutes of the movie, especially if you're someone who likes movies that mislead you. Often.

Kiki's Delivery Service It's always tricky watching a dubbed version of a movie. I wish I'd been able to watch the subbed version b/c I can imagine that in a lot of ways, it'd be more subtle and less direct than the dub. The English dub of Kiki's isn't bad per say, but there were definitely moments when I'm sure that in the original, everything wasn't quite as spelled out. Eg. Kiki voicing at one point that she really felt like an outsider.

This wasn't ever really one of my favorite Miyazaki movies growing up (probably due to the fact that I had a subbed version in Mandarin and I can't/couldn't read it very well) but I do like it a lot. The scenery is beautiful- a quaint European city by the ocean. Kiki works in a bakery with lots of tasty looking bread...there are no monsters or demons, just a little witch delivering various items. One thing I love about Kiki's world is how nonchalant everyone is about magic and while it wasn't in the scope of the movie, I'd be curious to learn about the backstory of witches and their training- if they left the towns after their one year of training when they were 13, if they stayed, if they had more training away from home, etc.

It goes to show how great a director Miyazaki is when the movie effortlessly shifts tones. It's generally a very episodic, leisurely paced movie, but in the final sequence with the dirigible- there's such great tension. And then of course there's the ending...which is just very beautiful and gives the story such a great sense of completion and finality.

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