Japan's Studio Gibli has been responsible for some of the finest animated movies in recent decades, from 2003's Oscar-winning Spirited Away to last year's beautiful The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Now adapted by Disney with a starry Western voice cast, their films are reaching a wider audience. And this remarkably moving drama shows how complex an animated movie should be, skilfully grappling with grown-up themes through a child's perspective.
The story comes from the Joan G. Robinson novel about Anna (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld in the English-language version), a 12-year-old who lives in Sapporo with her foster mother Yoriko (Geena Davis). But Anna isn't like the other giggly girls at school, and after an asthma attack, she moves to the countryside to live with Aunt Setsu and Uncle Kiyomasa (Grey Griffin and John C. Reilly). They give her plenty of space to explore the area, and when she spots an abandoned seaside mansion, she is unexpectedly drawn to it, befriending Marnie (Kiernan Skipka), the free-spirited girl who lives there. Anna understands that Marnie is an imaginary friend, then is surprised to find Marnie's diary hidden behind a bookshelf in the rambling house.
The twisty plot incorporates a range of elements that keep the audience off-balance: Is this a ghost story? Is Anna mentally unstable because of her difficult background? But the film is much deeper than that, and as Anna takes a fiercely original journey to self-discovery, the film touches on all kinds of resonant themes. For example, Anna struggles with her self-image, never believing that she's a talented artist, although she clearly is. This has left her feeling like no one else likes her either. So it's both fascinating and moving to watch her blossoming relationships with both the young girl Sayaka (Ava Acres) and the older woman Hisako (Vanessa Williams) who paints by the seaside. Both offer emotional insight into Anna's story.
Continue reading: When Marnie Was There Review
Bo Welch and Catherine O'Hara - A host of stars were photographed as they attended the Vanity Fair Oscar Party which was held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and The Beverly Hills City Hall in Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 22nd February 2015
Leo Palamino is a failed writer trying to earn a living as a dishwasher while his marriage to Julie rapidly wanes. Things get even more complicated when she tells him that she's writing an online blog about him entitled Why You Suck. Though he's sceptical at first, he starts to get worried when he sees the amount of views the posts have been receiving and then discovers that it's been published as a novel. Wifeless and with his flaws out there for everyone to see, Leo tries to move on but he doesn't do himself any favours when he supposedly finds the woman of his dreams across the street - at her own wedding! Always one to chase after his dreams, he attempts to woo the bride after the ceremony after bonding with her mother who believes she's made a mistake. Will Leo's flaws prove a virtue for once?
Continue: The Right Kind Of Wrong Trailer
With a snappy sense of childish curiosity and lavishly skilled animation, Tim Burton makes one of his most endearing and enjoyably offbeat movies in years. It's actually a remake of a half-hour short he shot in 1984, fleshed out with terrific side characters and a much grander plot. But it's also been painstakingly made with detailed stop-motion animation that's both artistic and witty.
Set in what looks like the suburb from Edward Scissorhands, it's about lonely teen Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Tahan), whose best friend is his dog Sparky. When Sparky dies suddenly, Victor gets an idea from his science professor (Landau) to reanimate him. And it works! Victor hides this from his parents (O'Hara and Short) and the nice girl (Ryder) next door, but chatterbox classmate Edgar (Shaffer) blabs to some other kids in school, who decide they need to make their own science projects a lot more interesting. Suddenly the whole town is under siege by undead pets.
The film looks like a classic monster movie, shot in black and white with deep shadows and expressive faces, plus a hilariously entertaining attention to detail that will make you want to see the film over and over again. It's also packed with gags about the genre, including the names of characters, sudden sight gags (like the Bride of Frankenstein hair of the zapped poodle next door), and more witty references such as Gremlin-like sea-monkeys and a Godzilla-like reanimated tortoise (named, of course, Shelley). There's even an old Christopher Lee Dracula film showing on the TV. But the best thing about this film is the way it never relies on us getting the jokes: Burton has created his own classic too.
Continue reading: Frankenweenie Review
With the 56th BFI London Film Festival up and running, it's red carpet night every night in Leicester Square. And it all kicked off earlier this week with the European premiere of Frankenweenie, which was attended by director Tim Burton and his partner Helena Bonham Carter, as well as voice cast members Martin Landau, Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara. Later in the festival, Burton and Bonham Carter will receive the BFI Fellowship for their contributions to cinema.
The big movie release in non-festival UK cinemas this week is Walter Salles' adaptation of the iconic 1957 novel On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. The film stars Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Kristin Dunst in a hip, rambling journey through America. It opens in the USA in December.
Continue reading: A Week In Movies - 12th October 2012
Victor Frankenstein is a young fanatic of science and loves making home movies with his pet bull terrier and best friend, Sparky. On discovering that his dog has died, he is devastated and will do anything to bring him back. His mother tries to offer comfort, telling Victor that Sparky will always be in his heart, but nothing she says makes him feel any better; that is, until, she says, 'If we could bring him back, we would' which triggers an idea in Victor's head - even more so after a science class at school shows how you can use electricity to stimulate muscle movement in deceased animals. He takes a trip to the cemetery and sets up a makeshift laboratory in which he attempts to rouse Sparky using various pieces of scientific equipment. When there is no movement from the dog, Victor is disappointed but, suddenly, Sparky starts moving and leaps off the table to his owner's utter delight. Victor has to hide him away in the attic of his house to avoid suspicion from his parents. However, Sparky escapes into the streets terrifying the neighbours and revealing secrets to the world that are probably best left undiscovered.
Continue: Frankenweenie Trailer
Paris, 1910. Delivery guy Raoul, and his friend, ladies' man Emile, are accidentally let loose in a laboratory belonging to a professor. Their monkey friend, Charles, spills various potions everywhere and the result is a mutant sized flea! Don't worry though, the newly christened Franc, wouldn't hurt, well, a fly. He's a gentle soul with a huge musical talent.
Continue: Vanessa Paradis - Trailer And Clip
Every perfect and picturesque neighborhood - at least in the movies - has one: that creepy old house that fuels the nightmares and serves as the centerpiece of the double-dog dares for the local kids.
DJ (Mitchel Musso) has made the house his mission. He's set his bedroom up as home base to watch old Mr. Nebbercracker across the street, an irate curmudgeon (voiced by Steve Buscemi) who steals any balls or bikes that find their way into his yard, chases after kids to keep off his lawn, and, presumably, thinks the music kids listen to today is nothing but noise. Within an hour of DJ's parents leaving for the weekend, Nebbercracker is dead (from a heart attack during an apoplectic moment at finding DJ on his lawn) and DJ is finding out that the old coot might not have been the most dangerous part of the creepy old house, because the house itself is starting to... eat people.
Continue reading: Monster House Review
Strange then: Nicholson isn't funny at all, and only the quirky charms of Meryl Streep make Heartburn remotely palatable. Heartburn is Nora Ephron's first comedy, based on her novel of the same name -- a thinly veiled expose about her life with journalist Carl Bernstein. The film casts Streep as a New York food writer and Nicholson as a Washington columnist. They meet, fall in love, decide to marry, have kids. Unfortunately, Nicholson can't keep it in his pants -- and all manner of trouble ensues.
Continue reading: Heartburn Review
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