Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Pedro Penduko (The Magical World of Pedro Penduko, Celso Ad. Castillo, 1973)

Some notes on Celso Ad. Castillo's Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Pedro Penduko (The Magical World of Pedro Penduko, 1973)

Watching Celso Ad. Castillo's fantasy epic you can't help but think the whole thing was basically thrown together, the film morphing like a doped-up lycanthrope from musical to fantasy to domestic drama to action-adventure, to epic fantasy. A coherent response, then, is difficult if not impossible--perhaps even unjust--to this bizarre, yet often compulsively entertaining, work.


Friday, March 20, 2015

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Kaguya-hime no Monogatari, Isao Takahata, 2013)

Little girl lost

Call him Hayao Miyazaki's dark elder. Where Miyazaki has earned a small but enduring popularity--not to mention a gold-plated doorstop--in the West, longtime collaborator Isao Takahata was content to toil in relative obscurity (if anything Takahata has earned the respect of a handful of Western critics despite his apparent lack of interest in drawing their attention). You see a trace of the latter's sensibility in the former's work: an awareness of larger forces--social, political, historical--swirling around the protagonists; a sense of responsibility towards more than just one's own survival. Where Takahata differs most from Miyazaki I'd say is in his pitiless regard--his tendency to bring a story to its conclusion no matter how cruel or unhappy the conclusion may be.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey, 2009)

(Reposting--maybe I can't celebrate St. Patrick's properly, but I can at least pay some kind of tribute)
Book crazy

Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey's Secret of Kells was a nominee for the 2010 Oscar for Best Animation Feature, but don't let that discourage you--this isn't some Pixar wannabe, all ingratiating characters and a storyline designed to wring tears from your eyes, done up in soulless digital animation. There's real passion here, not just directed to the heart but to the mind, and enough ravishing imagery for one's mind and heart and eye to feast on till overflowing.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Selma (Ava DuVernay); American Sniper (Clint Eastwood)

It's just a fantasy

Managed to catch two biopics, both problematic. Turned them over in my head--which one's historically accurate, which mostly invented? Which succeeds and which fails, as cinema and as genre piece? Which is the better work?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, 2014)

Time enough for love

Biopics are funny creatures--strange because they're familiar, and being familiar are often subject to feelings of disaffection, even contempt.