May 16, 2013 | 3:58 p.m.
Two classic Studio Ghibli films are getting the Blu-ray treatment. Disney is releasing Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” on May 21. This year marks the 25th anniversary for “My Neighbor Totoro,” which follows sisters Satsuki and Mei (voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning, respectively, in the Blu-ray’s 2005 Disney dubbing) as they move to the countryside and discover their new neighbor, a furry forest spirit named Totoro. Only children can see the strange animal ghost — “a seven-foot forest spirit who looks like an outsized cross between a bunny rabbit and a fuzzy throw pillow,” critic and historian Charles Solomon wrote in his 1993 Times review of the film. “Guided by their supernatural friend, the sisters share a series of adventures, soaring over the landscape while Totoro’s roars make the winds blow,” Solomon wrote. “But the story […]
Feb. 05, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.
Studio Ghibli fans can get a glimpse of the Japanese animation studio’s latest film ”From Up on Poppy Hill” in a new trailer released Monday. “Poppy Hill” follows high school students Umi (voiced by “Once Upon a Time” actress Sarah Bolger in the English-language version) and Shun (“Star Trek Into Darkness” actor Anton Yelchin), who find love when they team up to save a historic building from demolition in 1963 Yokohama. The film deals with nostalgia for a bygone era and hope for a modern future, as the country heals after World War II and prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. The film is based on a 1980s manga by Tetsuo Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi. Studio Ghibli’s co-founder Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and his son, Goro, directed. “Poppy Hill” was a box office hit in Japan and went on to win […]
Jan. 21, 2013 | 1:17 p.m.
Some of Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular films — including “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Princess Mononoke” — are returning to the big screen as part of a Studio Ghibli retrospective hosted by the American Cinematheque. It’s a return engagement after last year’s series at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica enjoyed sold-out screenings. The retrospective begins Friday at the Egyptian with a double feature of the Academy Award-winning “Spirited Away” and the tanuki tale “Pom Poko” — two of 11 films being showcased through Feb. 10. Miyazaki could be considered Japan’s answer to Walt Disney. Studio Ghibli — founded in 1985 by Miyazaki, his mentor Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki — releases films that are immensely popular in Japan and have been growing in recognition in the United States. The films are known […]
Feb. 09, 2012 | 1:43 p.m.
BATFILMS OF THE FUTURE? The end is near — when the credits roll on “The Dark Knight Rises” this July, it will mark the close of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the final adventure for Christian Bale as the caped crusader of Gotham City. Warner Bros. executives have made it clear they won’t leave the iconic property sitting on a shelf, however, and a new director and star tandem could be inhabiting Wayne Manor by 2014. But how on earth will any filmmaker follow the work of Nolan and company? Working together, Hero Complex lead writer Geoff Boucher and graphic artist Sean Hartter came up with 15 imaginary Batman reboots — and, yes, they did it with tongue in cheek. Martin Scorsese’s “Caped Fear”: The acclaimed director delivers a “Shutter Island”-style thriller as Batman (Jim Caviezel) is trapped in a Gothic castle by […]
Feb. 03, 2012 | 1:14 p.m.
Gary Rydstrom is a wizard with sound. In the last three decades, he’s worked with James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Pixar, racking up seven Oscars and nine more nominations for his contributions to such films as “Titanic,” “Minority Report,” “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” and “Finding Nemo,” among others. Although the new film “The Secret World of Arrietty,” the latest production from Japan’s revered animation house Studio Ghibli, finds Rydstrom in the director’s chair for the second time, he’s sticking close to his field of expertise — he directed the actors as they recorded the audio portion of the English-language release of the film, which Disney is opening in the U.S. on Feb. 17. Hayao Miyazaki co-wrote the Japanese screenplay for the film, which is based on “The Borrowers,” Mary Norton’s 1952 children’s book about […]
Jan. 25, 2012 | 7:22 p.m.
Disney and Pixar Chief John Lasseter has called Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Japan’s revered Studio Ghibli, one of the greatest animators of all time. Starting Thursday, the American Cinematheque is showing 14 examples of his studio’s genre-defying works, including the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” the children’s fantasy “My Neighbor Totoro” and the more adult fantasy “Princess Mononoke” (featuring an English-language adaptation by fantasy heavyweight Neil Gaiman) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. “There’s a humanity in these films,” said Eric Beckman, whose company GKids put together the current touring retrospective. “Even the fantasy films are based on a real sense of magic and wonder in everyday things. Every tree or blade of grass or rock or animal has this spiritual essence of life.” Founded in 1985 by Miyazaki, his mentor Isao Takahata […]
Dec. 15, 2011 | 5:00 a.m.
Edgy, violent South Korean films have been making waves internationally for years, but the country’s animation sector has remained relatively narrow, devoted mostly to Disney-like fare — children’s fairy tales with substantial budgets and corporate backing. But at this fall’s Busan International Film Festival, 33-year-old director Yeun Sang-ho drew attention with his first feature-length project: an animated, cold-blooded adult tale called “The King of Pigs” that explores the underside of human nature at an all-boys middle school in Seoul. The school is a microcosm of society, a harsh environment where there is no escape from constant bullying and violence. “Life is unfair, and that’s the reality,” said Yeun, a chain-smoker with oversized glasses whose previous short films focused on life’s gloomier moments. “I just wanted to show what the current society is like.” The director funded the $150,000 project himself, […]
Oct. 27, 2011 | 2:09 p.m.
American fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” and “Ponyo” will have an opportunity to see another hand-drawn, anime-style movie from Miyazaki’s Tokyo-based animation company, Studio Ghibli, in U.S. theaters in February when the Walt Disney Co. releases “The Secret World of Arrietty.” Based on Mary Norton’s fantasy novel “The Borrowers,” “Arrietty” is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and written by Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. The film tells the story of a family of tiny people who live in a mysterious world beneath the floorboards, sneaking away with sugar cubes and flakes of soap from their human hosts. When a 12-year-old human boy comes to stay at their home, he develops a secret — and potentially dangerous — friendship with their daughter, Arrietty. In Japan, “Arrietty” was the third-highest-grossing movie of 2010, after “Alice in Wonderland” and “Toy Story 3.” In the […]
April 26, 2011 | 11:01 a.m.
NEW ON BLU-RAY Although Hayao Miyazaki is best known as a filmmaker, he gained widespread attention in Japan for his complex ecological manga, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” which he began in 1982 and continued off and on for 12 years. In 1984, he adapted it to the screen in his first personal film, which has just been released on Blu-ray. One thousand years after a savage war devastated much of the Earth, humanity clings to existence at the fringes of a vast, polluted wasteland inhabited by monstrous insects. Nausicaä, the princess of the tiny realm of the Valley of the Wind, discovers that the forest, which people regard as a toxic threat, is actually purifying the environment, creating breathable air and uncontaminated soil. Her insights enable her to see beyond petty power struggles and national rivalries to […]
Aug. 16, 2009 | 1:32 p.m.
Kenny Turan, the lead film critic of the Los Angeles Times, was swept away by “Ponyo,” which is lighting it up with critics everywhere. Here’s a bit of Turan’s review: You’ll be planning to see “Ponyo” twice before you’ve finished seeing it once. Five minutes into this magical film you’ll be making lists of the individuals of every age you can expose to the very special mixture of fantasy and folklore, adventure and affection, that make up the enchanted vision of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. The great genius of contemporary animation, who won the 2002 Oscar for best animated feature (for “ But though he got a rare standing ovation at the recent Comic-Con International, Miyazaki’s work has never made the kind of impact in the mainstream American market it deserves. Plans, however, are afoot to change all that with this remarkable story […]