Sunday, 30 June 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 195: Sun Jul 14

My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988) & Grave of Fireflies (Takahata, 1988)
Rio Cinema, 2.15pm

Chicago Reader review of My Neighbour Totoro:
Sheer enchantment, this 1989 animated feature is a key early work by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). A man and his two daughters move into an old house in the countryside and encounter Totoro, a giant slothlike (and slothful) creature who arranges for the girls to visit their ailing mother, riding in a phantom Cheshire-cat bus. Like much of Miyazaki's work, the film has an ecological bent that recalls the Shinto reverence for animal spirits and reflects quintessential Asian values like respect for one's parents and community in the face of crisis. It exemplifies Ghibli's style of fanciful realism, paying close attention to minute details as well-drawn figures move across a fluid backdrop. It also deals straightforwardly with substantial emotions like fear of death, though at times it veers toward the heart-tugging cuteness of the Pokemon series.
Ted Shen

Here is the trailer.


Time Out review of Grave of the Fireflies:
Grave of the Fireflies’ is perhaps unique in that the medium of animation in no way softens the events of story. In fact, the opposite is true. Animation allows Takahata to draw performances from his children that no human of equal age could or should be expected to give. His treatment of little Setsuko results in arguably the most realistic four-year-old in cinema, simultaneously curious and wary, playful and serious, exploring her place in the world just as that world is beginning to fall apart. The older Seita feels withdrawn by comparison, though this decision feels wholly intentional and appropriate. This is a boy torn between childhood selfishness and societally imposed feelings of obligation, whose only point of focus becomes the sister he cannot save. And the scenes of Setsuko’s gradual decline would be simply impossible in a live-action context as it would be unwatchable, and with good reason. Visually, the film hews close to the established Ghibli palette, with motionless, often rather crude backgrounds and blurred upfront action. Takahata makes the most of these limitations – often focusing on characters faces in moments of grief or stillness, using the stillness of his backdrops to suggest a blank, unknowable world beyond their grasp – but they remain limitations.
‘Grave of the Fireflies’ is not a film to be taken lightly. It is not even a film to be enjoyed. It is a film which demands – and deserves – total concentration and emotional surrender. The reward is an experience unlike any other: exhausting, tragic and utterly bleak, but also somehow monumental.

Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer.

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