Tag Archives: curse

Howl’s Moving Castle: My First Miyazaki

Oh, woe is me for not having seen a Miyazaki film sooner. I’m back again for a few reviews (after vacation back home) and I thought I’d start with a film that, for me, was a revelation and fan-creating film. If only Disney hadn’t have put its grimy paws all over this film and let Studio Ghibli find English voice actors, this movie could’ve surpassed even my expectations. (But Disney is all about them big bones.) But it had Christian Bale, so it’s all good. This wonderful film about growing up

A house with a view.

and finding what you believe in is a more mature answer to the childish wonder we all find in cartoons and fantasy.

In this steampunk-like adventure story, we come across Sophie (Emily Mortimer), a young woman and local hatter in a town ruled by an aristocracy and the army. Magic is an agreed upon phenomenon and witches and wizards roam the countryside. After an encounter with a young, dashing, magical man named Howl (Christian Bale), Sophie finds herself swept away by the man’s charm. After encountering another witch later that night, The Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), Sophie is turned into an old woman (voiced by Jean Simmons) and is not allowed to speak of her curse.

After this terrible twist of “Big”-like events, Sophie travels off into the countryside to escape her mother and what people would think of her. She encounters a wonderfully fun and lovable scarecrow on a stick, and, eventually, Howl and his Moving Castle. Accompanying Howl are his associated fire demon, Calcifer (Billy Crystal), and his apprentice in waiting, Markl (Josh Hutcherson). Acting as a makeshift nanny/homekeep, Sophie attempts to gain everyone’s trust, all the while searching for some way to reverse her curse. It ends up being one wild ride, indeed.

Look at that redonk detail.

I was overall impressed with this film. Like I said, I’ve never seen a Miyazaki film before and my girlfriend owned this one and wanted me to watch it. She was totally right and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a great film. Miyazaki’s style for me is completely original, unusual and quirky. His plot may have been taken from a book of the same name, but it was such a unique and off kilter movie/story/plotline that I loved what was going to happen next. It wasn’t action packed, it wasn’t magic performance filled or anything like that. It was what it was. And I appreciated that immensely.

For the most part, the voices in the film were accurately matched to each of the characters. Christian

Cosplays waiting to happen.

Bale, for the kind of frail character Howl was, was a bit of a stretch. And he wasn’t even allowed to use his British accent! What kind of crap is that when a decent percentage of the rest of the cast was British? Oh Christian Bale, will you ever be able to use your own voice? I enjoyed Billy Crystal and his comedic portrayal of Calcifer. And I was spot on again at recognizing voices when I heard both Josh Hutcherson and Crispin Freeman’s guest voicing of Turnip Head towards the end. Some of the supporting cast and background voices were a bit iffy, but overall I wasn’t disappointed.

Masterful Miyazaki.

I loved the overall feel and message of this film. The style it was going for was just right for the way this movie presented itself. The music was whimsical and the animation is above and beyond a lot of cartoon films that are done here. Why? That’s because of the attention to detail and colorful style that Miyazaki and his animation crew have created with all their projects. The film is beautiful to look at and is a visual journey in itself. Hell, this movie didn’t even need much dialogue did it? I would’ve watched it just as a silent film and enjoyed it just as much. The creative ways in which Miyazaki created a world with unique aspects and inventions left me awestruck. I’m definitely in for some treats with the rest of Miyazaki’s films. I’ll give Howl’s Moving Castle a 8.7 out of 10.

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The Ricky Gervais Show: Animated Series

After having watched and loved bother series of Karl Pilkington’s An Idiot Abroad, I went off in search of more material featuring Karl. I stumbled upon this show on HBO in a hotel room one night, and I had to check out the rest of it. Watching the progress of Karl from his pre-Idiot days to his post was quite the experience. He’ll always be a bit of a buffoon, but he’s a lovable guy with his own ideas. Leave it to Gervais and Merchant to make him look like one of the biggest raving lunatics on the face of the planet.

So there’s a basic progress to this show. Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais, and Karl Pilkington all sit around a table,

His head is rather round…

having “pointless conversations” about whatever seems to come to mind. The filtered through hours of audio and found these sections to be the best. This was thus turned into an animated series, after having been the world’s most downloaded podcast. I’d call that a pretty damn successful feat.

Wassup?

The first series was rather good, seeing Karl as this idiotic manc (I don’t know exactly what that means…) trying to get his ideas across to Stephen and Ricky. Through the use of literal cartoons, Karl’s ravings are turned into stylized representations with the voices supplied by the three of them. Most of the time Karl is interrupted by the other two for being just too stupid, but when Stephen lets Karl roll with an idea, you have animated magic. I can’t even handle it sometimes.

There’s Monkey News (always supplied with a jingle from Ricky), Karl’s Diary (the written down ravings of a lunatic), and a bunch of other topics that take us throughout the mind of Karl and just what Merchant and Gervais think of him. Gervais considers Karl to be his gift (or curse, either way…) to the

Animated comedic timing. Gotta appreciate that.

world and just what a twat he is. His words, not mine.

I think it is only after An Idiot Abroad that Karl actually came into himself. You can tell that he has more of an opinion and more to say more often in the third series. You feel bad for him (if you have any background on him) but you wonder why there is someone in the world that is as boring as Karl. It really is unbelievable. This show proves it, and it’s just great to listen and laugh to. (Nice to look at sometimes as well.)

Every episode ends with Ricky and the last laugh.

So, if you have the opportunity to catch this show (HBO, HBO Go, etc.) then you should. If not, catch clips of it on Youtube for a true taste of the idiocy. Karl Pilkington will truly make you think in a whole different way. I guarantee it. He’s not far off from having actual revelations and epiphanies, but he damn well says what he wants to say. He is a man of the people. And I still wanna meet him. 8.2 out of 10.


The Red Shoes: Korea’s Hans Christian Andersen

First of all, this movie should be renamed the pink shoes, because clearly (unless I’m colorblind) those shoes were pink. Not that color matters, but it came off as weird… Anyways, this was a pretty satisfactory horror film from South Korea about the old fairy tale about the crazy broad who couldn’t stop shindigging in her red pumps. In this take, a curse is placed on the shoes and you should probably make sure to watch your ankles, cause you’ll get cut off by the shin.

The story centers around Sun-jae (Kim Hye-su) a working wife who is semi-happy with her life. Her husband doles on their daughter, Tae-su (Park Yeoh-ah) and leaves very little love for his wife. One day Sun-jae comes home a little too early from stalking their daughter on her way to dance class. She finds her husband cheating on her and

That’s how the movie kicks off. Bang.

promptly leaves with Tae-su in search of a happier life (a little Pursuit of Happiness, but completely different).

In a run down apartment opposite of the subway, Sun-jae is struggling to start up her eye clinic with the help of hipster before it was called hipster contractor, In-cheol (Kim Sung-chu). With a jealous daughter who misses her father and wishes he mother was gone instead, Sun-jae takes solace in her fancy shoe collection. And then, on the subway, the perfect pair comes along… of… pink, shoes.

A mother and daughter, on a mission… for shoes.

Things start going wrong, horrific visions, her daughter is becoming jealous of a pair of shoes she can’t even fit into, and life is just becoming stressful in general. The perfect elements for a gory psychological thriller. Except for the ending. When a movie has 3 different endings (2 short of LOTR: ROTK) then you know you have a problem. It means the writers second guessed themselves and thought the movie needed more closure/explanation than it actually needed. And that is exactly what happened. You’ll see once you watch the movie, it’s not that bad up until a bit of a struggle with the end. It was 20 minutes too long.

But I loved the way this movie delivered the horror. A lot of it dealt with the wait and spook (jumpy scenes) but the music really dictated the tempo. There were screeching violins, nails on a chalkboard, offbeat music rhythms that really made you feel unsettled. There were some of those psychological scenes that dealt with disturbing images (i.e., one example – not a ruiner – but bird in a bloodbath sink) and a lot of tensions between

Beautiful and tragic.

family members on some adult levels. The director and the cast/crew had a good sense of what creeps people out and what works in a classical sense, and they nailed all the major points.

This is one of those horror movies though that brings in a whole lot more than just horror. This movie tackles family relations, materialism and consumerism (with the shoes and all that, even an ad agency), a woman’s self image and outer appearance, and even feet fetishes. It was done in a very deliberately symbolic manner, and my analytical film mind actually picked up on those cues. This film ended up being a more intelligent horror movie than I thought it could be. That’s worth applauding. The acting was creepily good, special shout out to Kim Hye-su, the star, and a little girl who had to take on more than she probably bargained for, being yelled at by adults (proud of you, Park Yeoh-ah). Overall it was a very visually disturbing movie with an underlying message and too long of an ending. That all adds up to movie you should view for yourself and decide whether you like it or not. Have fun! 6.3 out of 10.

Is it over yet? Who knows…

 


Another: Ball Jointed Anime? Creepy…

Here’s another (different use) anime that I watched extremely quickly! (I have some free time on my hands and this is how I spend it. Time well spent.) Another is an anime based on a novel of the same title written by Yukito Ayatsuji. It’s a creepy story about ghosts and, what’s worse, ball jointed dolls. A popular thing in Japan and popular among people who like Japanese culture here, it is the freakiest thing to come out of Japan. Those things bleed evil and look like the devil himself. And that’s why this anime scared me, because they kept doing flash images of those creepy dolls…

So that’s where this story/anime is coming from. Another is the story of a death that happened wayyyy back in 1972. A high school kid died in some strange way and it was tragic. But as life moved on, people in the class said that they could see the student was still there. Even the teacher went along with it. They took the desk to

Those creepy dolls… Ugh.

graduation, and the student even showed up in the final class picture. Creepy, right? It’s another year and it’s been 26 to be exact. With a new transfer student coming in to Yomiyama North from Toyko, Koichi Sakakibara is about to discover what true horror is. In true Final Destination fashion people start dropping like flies from what appears to be the Class 3 curse.

The freaky students of Class 3.

When a show/anime/movie is based on a book, you hope it can be just as good as the original. Never having seen an anime based on anything other than a manga, I don’t have any basis for grading this anime. But I thought it was rather well done. Based around a small town with a secret, the whole story is about finding skeletons in the closet. There are a few twists and a supernatural element that isn’t too over the top as to believe in a situation like this. The animation style is creepy enough with all the characters drawn like human ball jointed dolls. It has plenty of shocking deaths and blood, and everything in the show (probably due to the dolls) has a frail quality feeling to it.

The Eye, anyone?

This anime deals a lot with conversations that happen between characters, and what is said is what matters. There isn’t a whole lot of action until the end, but that was okay with me. It seemed like a new change of pace to watch a show that didn’t focus all around motion, but took it slower and dealt more with the dialogue than what people actually did. It has its creepy elements and would do just fine if it was adapted into a horror movie. But that is what’s surprising seeing this as an anime. It takes a cartoon medium and turns it into something more adult, more Victorian (it’s the only word coming to mind). If you wanna watch an anime without all the bells and whistles, this is probably the show for you. A creepy look into dolls and the dead, this show gets a 6.5 out of 10.