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 […]
July 25, 2009 | 1:11 a.m.
Hayao Miyazaki breaks his U.S. boycott to attend Comic-Con. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times. In 2003, Hayao Miyazaki decided not to attend the Academy Awards, even though his film, “Spirited Away,” was up for Best Animated Feature. He did not give a reason at the time, and it was conjectured that the Japanese animator’s absence was related to President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq that year. Miyazaki, who has not spoken publicly of the subject, today explained his reasons in an interview with The Times at Comic-Con. “The reason I wasn’t here for the Academy Award was because I didn’t want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq,” he said. “At the time, my producer shut me up and did not allow me to say that, but I don’t see him around today. By the way, my […]
June 27, 2009 | 9:02 p.m.
Susan King has a report on the U.S. life of “Ponyo,” the latest masterpiece from the dreams of Hayao Miyazaki. — G.B. Walt Disney Pictures has achieved great critical success distributing the fanciful, inventive works of the legendary Japanese anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. His “Spirited Away,” which was released in the U.S. in 2002, earned the Academy Award for best animated feature — Miyazaki is the only anime filmmaker to have won the animation Oscar — and 2005′s “Howl’s Moving Castle” received an Oscar nomination in that category as well. But financially, the films have fizzled. Though “Spirited Away” made $264.9 million internationally, the hand-drawn 2-D animated film barely made $10 million in America. “Howl’s Moving Castle” did even worse domestically, with just $4.7 million, as opposed to the $230.5 million it grossed internationally. Veteran producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy […]
May 27, 2009 | 7:51 p.m.
There’s a new anime exhibit underway and longtime film-scene writer Susan King sent over this preview for readers of Hero Complex. Anime is for kids of all ages — well, except for all the adult-only material. That’s why there are some carefully curtained areas at Anime! High Art-Pop Culture, the exhbition now underway at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills. The erotic is a “huge component of anime,” according to academy programmer Ellen Harrington, which is why strategic steps were taken with the exhibit in the academy’s grand lobby and the fourth-floor galleries. “We expect this is going to be very popular with families and we want to make sure that no one is put into an uncomfortable position. So it is curtained off with warning signs.” Originating at the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main in Germany, the exhibition traveled […]
Sept. 01, 2008 | 5:28 p.m.
Brace yourself for a new wave of clichéd Bat headlines like "Holy Box Office, Batman!" and "Holy Half-Billion, Batman!" The reason is "The Dark Knight" has broken the $500-million mark at the U.S. box office. The AP story has the numbers: “The Dark Knight” on Sunday became the second movie in Hollywood history to top $500 million at the domestic box office, raising its total to $502.4 million, according to estimates from distributor Warner Bros. The film hit that mark in just over six weeks, half the time it took “Titanic,” which reached $500 million in a little more than three months. “Titanic,” the biggest modern blockbuster, remains No. 1 on the domestic charts with $600.8 million. Despite its brisk pace, “The Dark Knight” is not expected to approach the total for “Titanic,” which put up smaller numbers week after […]