Category ArchiveMiyazaki

Miyazaki &SpornFilms 13 Jan 2006 08:44 am


This and That:

Friday the 13th. As of today we’re introducing a new page to our website. The POE Page will feature material from the long-in-development feature film that we’ve been preparing. We’ve now accumulated enough artwork and other materials that we feel it deserves its own chronicle to record development. Here you’ll find a journal which we’ll update on a weekly basis, storyboard sections from several of the Poe Tales, story reel from Tissa David’s biographical section, preliminary layouts and clips of animated color tests. All of the artwork is preliminary, nothing completed or finished. None of the film’s voice tracks are final. It’s all rough; a chance to see a film in the making.

Go to the Filmography section of our main site; click on the POE link. (Alternatively, click here.)

This page represents more excellent work by Adrian Urquidez who has been maintaining this site since it’s premiere last month. He’s done brilliant work, I think.

Last night I returned from a screening of The Libertine and turned to Miyzaki to cleanse my palate. I watched about an hour of Laputa, Castles In the Sky and taped the rest for later watching. I have the original language dvd but hadn’t seen it before.

The John Lasseter introduction was a bit over-the-top. He said, several times, that the film had the greatest opening of any film in history. The opening was evocative but one wonders if he’s seen Citizen Kane or even The Lion King.

Lasseter’s comments about Miyzaki’s storyboarding process was revealling, though. Since Miyzaki writes the screenlay and storyboards his film entirely by himself, he doesn’t always know where the film is going when he starts. He draws it out one picture at a time and allows it to develop on its own. I would suspect that’s why some of his films, such as Laputa, are little more than set-pieces building toward an end. One would guess by some of the later titles such a Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away (though that film also does have a lot of episodic adventures, albeit longer ones) that a grander scheme was planned prior to beginning the storyboard.

Again the dubbing voice work was hit and miss, but not quite as bad as Princess Mononoke. Anna Paquin brought a delicacy to the part she played. She’s turning into a very good actress. James Van Der Beek tried to match her but didn’t quite. I always felt he was trying to make his voice sound younger. Cloris Leachman tried her best with the character she had – an old hag (or at least that’s how the English dubbing director saw it). Mark Hamill has been doing some excellent voice-over work for quite some time; I’m surprised no one’s made more of it. Was Wizards his first?

Hoodwinked opens in NYC today.
Here are links to a couple of reviews (Ouch!) I’ve scanned: NY Times, NY Daily News, NY Post, Newsday. None are enormously positive.
Will it outgross King Kong or Narnia this weekend?

Miyazaki 11 Jan 2006 04:41 pm

Miyazaki on TCM

Thurs. night on TCM the Miyazaki films scheduled to air include:

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (1984)
12 Thursday 8:00 PM & 13 Friday 12:15 AM
A warrior princess fights to keep
two warring kingdoms from destroying their planet
Cast: Voices of Alison Lohman, Edward James Olmos,
Mark Hamill
C-0 mins, Letterbox Format

Laputa, Castle in the Sky (1986)
12 Thursday 10:00 PM & 13 Friday 2:15 AM
A boy and girl race pirates to find
a legendary floating castle.
Cast: Voices of James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin,
Mark Hamill
C-0 mins, Letterbox Format

Commentary &Miyazaki 06 Jan 2006 09:11 am

More Miyazaki on TCM

Last night I came into the last 2/3 of TCM’s airing of Princess Mononoke. It’s probably my favorite of the Miyazaki features. The design is different from his others in that it isn’t quite as hard edged; it feels more a transluscent medium than opaque.
Perhaps I also like the spirituality behind the whole film. As a Westerner, I don’t know a lot of the Japanese mythology, yet it seems that Miyazaki carries us along with him and carefully helps us to understand who and what these characters represent. It’s a lovely film.

However, those voices! Minnie Driver is a magnificent voice actor. Her readings have been consistently good, from Tarzan to South Park and ending here – in a very different characterization. It doesn’t seem to matter that she is trying to loop the mouth actions; she still gives us a character. Billy Crudup doesn’t fare quite as well. He is hit and miss in his readings, though his voice quality is perfect. Clair Danes is a poor choice for the character. She’s a good actress, but her voice doesn’t work well when separated from her body. This is just poor casting. Her name wasn’t enough to help the film. She also shouldn’t be playing the wild Princess Mononoke. Billy Bob Thornton, however, is completely miscast. His acting sounds as if he’s concentrating on the lip movements. Couldn’t the director have asked for a second reading from him? Many of the incidental characters are also pathetic. The voice dubbing constantly keeps us out of the film; viewers watching a badly dubbed movie. It’s too bad; this is such an enormous epic of a film.

Miyazaki 05 Jan 2006 08:02 am

Miyazaki on TV

As has been noted on other animation sites, Miyazaki films have been scheduled to appear on the Turner Classic Movies on Thursdays (repeated Fridays) during January. All versions screened are the newly dubbed English language versions. Airing tonight:

Spirited Away (2002)
4 Thursday, 8:00 PM & 6 Friday, 1:00 AM
A young girl escapes her family to a world of witches and monsters.
Cast: Voices of Michael Chiklis, Lauren Holly, Suzanne Pleshette
C-124 mins, Letterbox Format

Princess Mononoke (1999)
4 Thursday 10:15 PM & 6 Friday 3:15 AM
A woman raised by wolves leads forest animals in a fight to save their homes.
Cast: Voices of Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver.

Commentary &Miyazaki 26 Dec 2005 10:49 am


I thought I might add to all the year end “Best of . . .” lists this week by calling some attention to my five favorite animation stand-outs for the last year: films, sites, books or works of art that inspired me or caused me to at least think in a new way about the animation I was doing.

#5 on the list is HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE.

I’m an ardent fan of Miyazaki‘s work, but this most recent feature is not one of my favorites, but there was a lot that still got me and my animation motivated in a positive direction.

The film, for me, like most of Miyazaki’s films, is too long. 15 minutes would have made the film tighter and more exciting.

I thought the acting by the English-speaking actors who dubbed the film was generally good. In most of this director’s films the actors seem to shout their lines rather than speak them. (This is true even in the Japanese versions; perhaps the dubbing directors try to match the mouths which are opening wide.) This problem was handled better than usual here. Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner were exceptional. Billy Crystal was the comedian hired, and I guess he felt he had to be funny even though his lines weren’t. His over-the-top performance came off as annoying. A speechless scarecrow has more heart than any character in many other recent chatty animated features.

Graphically the film felt like all of Miyazaki’s others. The background artists seem to create a wonderful sense of place. Despite the fact that this style has been used in a number of films, it’s amazing how versatile the artists make it seem. I wish I felt the same about the characters. They felt particularly generic in their Anime look (see still). This look wasn’t quite so severe and obvious in SPIRTED AWAY, but it was a major problem for me in this film.

HOWL’S MOVING SPIRIT is an adaptation of a best-selling children’s book by British
author, Diana Wynne Jones. I suspect this may have had an effect on the director. Part of what I like about the best of his films was absent here. Miyazaki’s films are usually imbued with a spirituality which rides under every decision made. Of course, the spirits and gods of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are alien to me, but I never feel at a loss for this. I am carried away by their mystery, and I enjoy their company. The source for Howl’s Moving Castle is European, though it now seems set in a Neverland. The “place” created by the director had its own reality, and I always knew where I was within that “place”. It’s just that I never felt the substantial reality of that setting – it didn’t feel real. Again, this wasn’t at all the problem in Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away.

The combined use of 2D and 3D graphics is brilliantly executed. It’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. The “Castle,” itself, is cgi and has a character of its own. There’s a density to this film that is almost tiring, but there are elements that are stunning in their simple beauty.

The film is directed with a clarity that other simpler films could have used.

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