Tag Archives: old woman

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 Others: A Childhood Nightmare

I have a great respect for Spanish directors and their films. J.A. Bayona and The Orphanage, Guillermo del Toro and Pan’s Labryinth, Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza and REC (U.S. version – Quarantine). And now I can say Alejandro Amenabar and The Others. This film has a chilling take on demons/poltergeists/ghosts and the like. Set back in a time period where ghosts would have been an issue (WWII), this movie artfully uses fog as an extension of ghosts and beings that are not of this world. Transported through this fog, we find an ethereal feel and place where ghosts would most likely dwell.

But I was afraid to watch this movie for a long time. Do you wanna know why?

That is exactly why. The last few seconds of that trailer frightened me back when I was 11. And I know I was a young ‘un, but this movie chilled me somehow. I hadn’t seen that many horror movies and I was naive in the horror department in general. That young girl’s voice and ancient figure beneath the veil haunted my dreams for years. And now, I sat down and forced myself to watch it. Conquering fears and writing blogs. I should mark that off my bucket list.

The Others is a story about a secluded English family and their hardships without a father figure during the end of WWII. Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) is a strict and God fearing mother who feels it is necessary for her children to strictly follow the word of God. But there’s a problem. Her children cannot be exposed to natural light. (If that’s a real disease… didn’t check.) Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) are

They’re like cute vampires. They can’t see light.

two sick children who have no hopes of seeing the outside world. But the otherworld has come to them. In the form of haunting ghosts.

With a new cleaning and housekeeping staff hired, Grace hopes to make things easier on the children with such a trying lifestyle. Bertha Mills (Fionnulla Flanagan) runs the house with her mute charge, Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), and the elderly garden keeper, Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes). With strange occurrences and Anne constantly seeing a young boy and old woman, Grace fears for her own children and wishes her husband were back and knew what to do.

A desperate mother.

What I found interesting that characterizes this movie is a sense/loss of innocence. The children are quite ignorant and innocent in their knowledge of the outside world, especially during a time of war. Their mother’s faith doesn’t waiver while their own teachings are questioned by themselves at all times. This movie seems to question God at the same time that it affirms ghosts and another plane of existence. The whole movie itself is an early 2000’s examination of religion and whether or not it is a viable means of explanation. It prodded it (to an exhausted point I found to be too overzealous) and wouldn’t leave it alone, even at the end.

Nicole Kidman gives a very mean and zealous performance as the mother in this film, a character who would do anything to protect her children from a heathen and sinful world. She escalates at quite a nice and even pace into hysteria (as I’m sure was intended) and leaves you questioning her merit and faith by the end. I also enjoyed Christopher Eccleston (the crazed military leader in 28 Days Later) and his role as the crestfallen husband returned from war. His haunting performance toned the film in a very depressing way that

Haunts. My. Dreams.

characterized a lot of soldier’s feelings after WWII. He wasn’t in it for much, but it was just enough. And Fionnula Flanagan was a fantastic caring/aloof housekeeper who comes off as creepy and nurturing at the same time.

I know you’re there…

After all was said and done in the film, and a lot was, I was overall impressed with the movie. It was done in a very minimal way with one location and a very haunting house. Old style houses like the one in the film from the early 1900’s (or earlier, I wasn’t sure) give me the creeps. The old pictures, the old furniture and dusty feel always have given me the creeps, just knowing someone had to have died in the house. That’s another thing. I really enjoyed the mention of photographing the dead and how that used to be a common practice in order to capture the soul of the person so they may live on. The overall old feel and simplistic nature of horror in the film came from a very human place. Dying and the afterlife, ghosts and hauntings in old houses in something we all are unsure about. And something we can’t explain. Very well done for a Spanish film with no Spanish spoken. 7.7 out of 10.

Jesus is always over your shoulder.

 


The Room: Greatest Comedic Failure Ever Made

Let me paint you a tale of the worst movie ever made. Or would it be the greatest? Either way, Tommy Wiseau went there. In The Room, (Directed, Produced, Written, Starring Tommy Wiseau) we are given Tommy Wiseau’s greatest masterpiece. The Room, a story of a love triangle between a frumpy woman, a up and coming porn star, and a deranged mental patient escaped from Croatia. In actuality, the means to the end of one of the greatest dramadies ever created. And it’s so heart wrenching and inspiring that I can’t stand it.

But really, Tommy Wiseau released this film in the high hopes it would become an example of a great drama or, as he claims, a dark comedy with the humor as intentional. Let me tell you, anybody who saw that movie, in theaters, really was in for a treat. And I wish I had been one of them. This movie, in all respects, utterly fails. Whatever thought Tommy Wiseau had in his mind about this film, any idea of it as a

"Youre tearing me apart Lisa!"

respectable film at all, should have been thrown out the window the second he spoke. Or rather didn’t speak. Almost every single one of Tommy Wiseau’s lines was dubbed after the film was shot. It makes for one of the funniest aspects of the film.

Let’s just go through how this movie fails, and in that way, how it succeeds. First of all, Tommy himself stars in this film as Johnny. He’s the man who’s being cheated on by his fiance with his best friend. His best friend. But Mark (Greg Sestero) is his best friend. This point will be driven home about every 10 minutes. Juliette Danielle plays Lisa, Johnny’s disgusting wife. Really, I don’t know why either guy in this film wants to bang her. And speaking of banging, the first 40 minutes of this film is a softcore porno. And, to make things worse, Tommy Wiseau jumped on Danielle within the first day of shooting. She really would’ve been better off trying to start her career in porn and failing miserably.

But the first 40 minutes is wherein lies the beauty of the film. The soundtrack. You will be serenaded to a handful of tracks as both Johnny and Mark mount

Whats going on here... Possible sex scene?

Lisa from the side and the top, in that awkward angle where all you see is Tommy Wiseau’s tanned and wrinkling buttocks. It’s quite strange. I really hope that he never intended for those sex scenes to come off as anything more than some twisted ego trip to force people to stare at his glorious body naked, on screen. But yes, we are given Boyz II Men quality R&B love ballads as Tommy does his thing all over Lisa, and then he does it again, and then Mark, and then Mark again. You really don’t know what direction this movie is taking within the first half an hour.

The rest of the film is fantastic. We are introduced to Michelle and Mike (Robyn Paris & Mike Holmes. Wow.) the couple who love to perform chocolate oral sex in other people’s living rooms, and then get caught by an old woman. And that old woman? Claudette, the breast cancer ridden nagger who is relentlessly trying to convince Lisa, her daughter, to stay with Johnny forever. If only for money. And from the looks of their apartment and how retarded Tommy Wiseau is, I would say there is no financial security in that man. She comes over, from I don’t know how far away, to have 3 minute talks in Johnny’s apartment. What kind of a mother is that.

Favorite character hands down? Denny (Philip Haldiman) This kid really brings the film together. Denny is the financial egg and complete dependent of Johnny and Lisa and makes it a point to come over. All the time. For no

Look at Denny, that creep.

reason. He’ll just pop his head in with a football. Break in and make his way to the roof. All sorts of creepy shit. It’s really bothersome. And he has a thing for Lisa. AND Johnny. He wants them to both have sex in front of him, just for the pure pleasure of watching. And he doesn’t even look young enough to play a high school/college student. There’s just something not right with that weirdo.

And you can tell this movie wasn’t good. A ton of anonymous members of The Room came out and said terrible things about the movie. Another great part of the movie was when Peter miraculously and inexplicably becomes Steven. Peter (Kyle Vogt) dropped out of the film and was replaced by Steven (Greg Ellery). And there are no attempts to explain why some random guy comes over and tries to help Lisa with her relationship problems. This film has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. And smells worse when its grown mold. Just hilariously awful.

I mean, what else is there to say about The Room? Terrible actors. Covered. Terrible director/producer/writer/actor. Check. The bad Boyz II Men tribute soundtrack. The actors that fall of the face of the earth like the Rock of Gibraltar. The sets. OH THE SETS. This movie takes place in 3 locations. Bedroom, apartment roof, living room. That’s it. And you can tell that thoser sets haven’t been used since the 70’s. You can tell that they’re sets! As Johnny and Denny throw the ball around like 3 year old girls, you know they aren’t ballin’ it up on a roof. They’re ballin’ it up right next to the set of Full House. Pathetic.

And therein lies the genius of this film. If you can call what Tommy Wiseau egotistically calls a tour de force of drama. But let’s imagine, if you will, for a second. What if Tommy Wiseau released this film, with the hidden intention of solidifying his film as the worst movie ever made? Just 8 short years ago, good ole Tommy got the idea to break the boundaries of what is considered a film and put together the worst one possibly conceivable. Then what a genius he would be. Every critics review would turn into amazing praise for the God that is Wiseau. He would be winning Oscars left and right, for years past 2003. That, in truth, would be the work of a true film aficionado. Sadly, I feel that this mentally deficient, psychotically narcissistic sociopath could not have concocted such a brilliant plan. If he did, 10 out of 10.

Really. Enough said.

But he didn’t. 0.1 out of 10 (Although for humorous purposes, I would give it a 6.3 out of 10.)

And here’s the best scene. You’re my favorite customer.