Grave of the fireflies (Hotaru no haka)

grave-of-the-fireflies-posterJapanese animated war drama from 1988.
Starring: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi
Director: Isao Takahata
Writers: Akiyuki Nosaka, Isao Takahata
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Reactions

Contemplations

Judgement

Epilogue

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Grave of the fireflies” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

68 movies down. 297 to go.

If you want to get “Grave of the fireflies” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The seventh seal” (Det sjunde inseglet). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

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Ran

ran-posterJapanese war drama from 1985.
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: William Shakespeare, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Masato Ide
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Reactions

Contemplations

Judgement

Epilogue

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Ran” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

66 movies down. 299 to go.

If you want to get “Ran” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The rules of the game” (“La règle du jeu”). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Howl’s moving castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro)

howls-moving-castle-posterJapanese animated adventure from 2004.
Starring: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûins
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writers: Diana Wynne Jones, Hayao Miyazaki
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

Sophie works in a hat shop in the city, but one day she meets a wizard. This makes her a target for the Witch of the Waste and soon Sophie is cursed. Can the spell be lifted or must she simply live with it?

Reactions

“Howl’s moving castle” is one of Miyazaki’s many brilliant movies, and this one has lots of fun adventure on the surface and a deeper meaning to it, just as the others.

Miyazaki’s constant use of flying is present in this movie as well, but less than in many of his others. (Specially less than in “Porco Rosso”, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” and “Castle in the sky” where flying is all important parts of the plots.) The use of flying often feels freeing and adventurous, but in “Howl’s moving castle” it feels more like a burden or simply a way of moving. It offers no release, or very little.

Contemplations

The themes of the movie is strong and universal and can probably be understood quite well by the younger members of the audience. Maybe some of the ideas about female roles and stages in life will go over their heads, but still, lots to understand and contemplate for everyone.

More than anything else, the movie is an adventure, and I was immediately transported to the universe of fun and strange stories when I heard the familiar sounds of the Studio Ghibli music by Joe Hisaishi.

I love the animation in this movie specially well, because of the steampunk style of some parts. The castle itself is just wonderful, and makes me dream of living quite differently from the ordinary way I live now.

This is a movie that will stay with most viewers for a little while, I think, and in this case, I don’t mind recommending the American voice actors. I still think the Japanese version is best, but it was quite decent in English as well.

The story is fun and original, and I have decided to even read the book it is based on. If you want to do the same, here is a link to Howl’s moving castle by Diana Wynne Jones on Amazon.

Judgement

“Howl’s moving castle” is a fun adventure and I will certainly watch it again.

Epilogue

I recommend “Howl’s moving castle” to anyone for a romantic or family movie evening.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Howl’s moving castle” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

55 movies down. 310 to go.

If you want to get “Howl’s moving castle” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Star Trek”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime)

princess-mononoke-posterJapanese animated fantasy from 1997.
Starring: Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

Ashitaka’s village is attacked by a demon that infects him with a curse that will slowly kill him. The village wise woman tells him to travel to the lands in the west where he might find a cure, although that is uncertain.

Reactions

Most of the action in “Princess Mononoke” takes place during Ashitaka’s journey and after he arrives in the western lands. The time of this adventure is long ago when Gods still roamed the earth.

The music is just as enjoyable as in other Miyazaki movies and it brings out both emotions and moods. “Princess Mononoke” has more of a anime feel to it than other Miyazaki movies, with the classical overreaction faces of the characters and the sounds that go along with them. This is not something that is present often, though.

There is mostly a feel of adventure and fairy tale in “Princess Mononoke” and it has the typical moral messages of older traditional stories. The morals of the story is important and quite easy to get for young and old. Happily, this does not mean the story is simplified or boring.

Once again we see that cutting off one’s own pony tale has some kind of significance in a Japanese movie, but I still don’t exactly what.

Contemplations

The animation is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and while there is some violence, this medium allows such matters to be less graphic. The drawings are both cute and pretty, without being just an excuse for showing off nature and people.

The characters are fantastical, as they should be in a fairy tale, but still human enough for the viewers to relate and care about their fate. The strange thing is that I also came to care for the fate of the forest. Don’t get me wrong, I naturally care for nature and how it fares, but I ended up caring for the forest as if it was a person or character.

The story sits with the viewer for quite some time, and the messages can reach every member of a family. (Also the family members that more traditionally aren’t too concerned with at least some of the issues in the movie, such as feminism and environmental protection.)

“Princess Mononoke” is a fantastic animated movie, maybe the best I’ve ever seen.

Judgement

“Princess Mononoke” is a very enjoyable movie with a bit of meaning and a good adventure story. I will watch it again many times in the future.

Epilogue

I recommend everyone watch “Princess Mononoke” once in a while to get a reminder of the importance of nature and our relationships to one another.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Princess Mononoke” (“Mononoke-hime”) or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

52 movies down. 313 to go.

If you want to get “Princess Mononoke” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Stagecoach”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Seven samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)

seven-samurai-posterJapanese adventure from 1954
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Bechdel-test: Fail

Exposition

In a somewhat lawless time in Japan during the 16th century, a village is threatened by bandits. In order to survive they must stand up to the villains, and they employ seven samurai to fight for their own and the village’s survival.

Reactions

I have not seen this or any other of Kurosawa’s movies before, and I find it a little difficult to put into words what I think about it.

First; it is very long, three and a half hours. And yet, the plot is quite simple – some warriors defend a poor village. Even so, it held my attention the whole way through, mostly by the way the characters are shown. We get to know them in depth and it seems to be honest portrayals of real people. Afterwards it seems like I have really gotten to know these men, and I could even give characteristics of them. “Oh, yeah but that is what Shimada is like. He always cracks a smile at a good joke.”

seven-samurai-old-man

Kokuten Kôdô as Old Man Gisaku is just one of the faces to fall in love with in “Seven samurai”.

One of the most pleasing visuals in the movie is the faces of some of the older people in the village. Those are faces with a lot of character and life.

Contemplations

Both sound and picture is of a quality that you would expect from such a long time ago; a little iffy or crackling here and there, but still very well shot and some of the scenery would probably have been amazing in color. I did find it a little difficult to tell daylight from darkest night in black and white.

The acting was quite a bit over the top in many scenes. There was a lot of jumping and screaming and sometimes people flocked together like gaggles in a kind of hysteria. Other times a scene could be more quiet and understated, more controlled in a way. This change was a part of keeping my interest and attention for so long.

The story was, as mentioned, quite simple, but it was full of both imagery, and characters with depth and a journey through the story. A full analysis of the story is hardly the point of this little log, but there was more than enough to keep me engaged and attentive throughout.

It was also a fascinating look at strange hierarchy between people and some very unusual gender roles.

Judgement

I don’t think I will watch this movie again, but I’m glad that I’ve seen it once. I see many online reviews of this movie has titles like “The best movie ever” or “It changed my life”, and while it was good, that is taking it a bit far.

Epilogue

I think “Seven Samurai” is a movie for the specially interested. Maybe if you want to see the movie that “The magnificent seven” was based on, or if you are specially interested in Japanese history, this might be a good fit for you. However, generally speaking, I would not recommend this movie to most people. Regardless, I think this movie is best viewed by an adult audience. I also suggest that if you choose to see this movie, you brake it up into two sessions of viewing at about the halfway mark.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Seven samurai” (Shichinin no Samurai) or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

Nine movies down. 356 to go.


If you want to get “Seven samurai” (Shichinin no Samurai) from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The Avengers“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)

my-neighbor-totoro-posterJapanese animated fantasy adventure from 1988.
Starring: Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto (American voice over version: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Frank Welker)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Bechdel-test: Pass

Exposition

Two young sisters, Mei and Satsuki, and their father move into a new house while their mother is in the hospital. One of their new neighbors is the amazing Totoro.

Reactions

I have seen “My neighbor Totoro” many times before, and I have loved it every time. With each viewing I notice a few new things, sometimes I see a big new thing, and sometimes, like today, it’s something small. The new find this time was a goat and just how scary it was.

This is the first time I have seen the American dubbed version of the film, and the voice actors were good and convincing as these characters that I love so much. Sadly I was put off by the way they pronounced Totoro, where the second “t” became a “d”. Also the song at the beginning and end didn’t quite fit with the American accents. For the rest of the movie I didn’t notice anything off-putting with the voices.

The animation was just as fun and beautiful as I always find in Miyazaki’s movies.

Contemplations

The story isn’t very complex, but rather it is sweet and innocent. It focuses on the little things in life, and the pacing of the storytelling makes it fun and entertaining throughout. Maybe part of what captivates with this story is the unexpected and unusual elements.

Most important in this movie are the characters and setting. “My neighbor Totoro” is set in countryside in Japan in the 1950’s, and is as such, an adventure in a different time and place for a westerner like myself. The characters are true and whole people, each and every one. More than I’ve seen in most other movies, if not in all other movies.

The amazing thing about this movie is how the children are depicted just as I remember children to be from my own childhood. Not that I experienced any events like those in the movie, but still, the emotions and reactions seems utterly real, and I don’t think I’m used to seeing children so realistically depicted in movies.

The movie leaves me with the image of what it is to be a child, the fears, the joys, the little explorations of the closest world. And maybe I am also reminded of how it feels to be a parent and how one might relive childhood through parenthood.

Judgement

Still loved the movie, but I prefer the Japanese and the earlier British version. “My neighbor Todoro” was not right for me.

Epilogue

I recommend this movie to absolutely anyone. For Americans maybe any voice version is fine, but for most others I would recommend the British or Japanese version.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

Eight movies down. 357 to go.

If you want to get “My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Seven Samurai” (Shichinin no samurai). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.