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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #274  (Vol. 6, No. 25)  This edition is for the week of June 20--26, 2005.

"Land of the Dead"
 by Mike Smith
Hayao Miyazaki and "Howl's Moving Castle"
 by Peter Card
Are You Eating It...Or Is It Eating You?...Shades of Lynch....Early TV Preview
 by Vinnie Blesi
Back....Con-Gort-U-Lations To Will Moriaty for "William Moriaty's Florida"....Dungeons & Dragons Illustrator Dies
 by Andy Lalino
Two Thumbs Down & a Bag of Doritos....Black Rednecks and White Liberals....Fuel Some Flames--Part Deaux
 by Brandon Jones
"Batman Begins"
 by John Lewis
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Cancer....On The Subject....Movie-Going in the 21st Century....Or Maybe It's Just Those Southern Baptists....Oprah, I Hardly Knew Ye....Jaws: The Story, Part 22
 by Mike Smith
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Asian Film Update by Peter Card

Hayao Miyazaki and "Howl's Moving Castle"

Today’s Asian update concerns itself with Studio Ghibli’s most recent feature, Howl’s Moving Castle. Director of Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki has done it again in his 9th film. Hayao Miyazaki for the uninitiated is probably the biggest animation director in Japan as he firmly holds a special place in the imaginations of children and adults alike, in and outside of Japan.

Miyazaki’s first directing effort was on the Castle of Cagliostro, one of the many Lupin the 3rd films made after the character’s success in manga form. It’s no surprise that Miyazaki made the most popular and renowned Lupin film. Lupin is a character that is best described that if James Bond were the best cat burglar in the world then you’d have someone like Lupin. Lupin the 3rd is a tremendously fun television series, but Castle of Cagliostro is remarkably different but somehow still true to the spirit of the character.

After Cagliostro, Miyazaki started his own studio for his next feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (reedited and dubbed for the US in the 80s as Warriors of the Wind). That studio was Studio Ghibli and it has since become the source for anime. After Nausicaa, Ghibli continued to make one box office smash after the next up to today. Studio Ghibli’s films are now widely available to us because Walt Disney has begun dubbing these films in English and distributing them in theatres and on DVD. John Lasseter of Toy Story and Pixar fame is the executive producer of these imported films. Fortunately as stipulated in the contract, Disney cannot reedit the films to their taste. Thanks to Lasseter and others, the translation process is a very precise process as is the casting and ADR. No more horrid dubs like those of the 1980s or something you’d see in a chop socky flick. On some of the DVDs to these movies, Disney animators even admit the influence these films have on their animating. I recall guys from Pixar saying that whenever they were stuck on what to do, they would pop in one of Miyazaki’s films and be inspired. A wonderful sentiment although Disney has made a name for themselves in ripping off anime, see Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and then watch Atlantis or check this and the many other websites comparing the two http://www.oldcrows.net/Atlantis/

Let’s forget Disney and address my first viewing of Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl’s Moving Castle was such a success in Japan that they are planning a sequel with the characters although not in the form of a movie but as a circus. Not much information is available yet about the circus but it sounds like something Fellini will come back from the dead to see.

I’d like to begin my review by explaining the physical state I was in when I entered the theatre. It was Friday night (6/17) and I had just come from another theatre that was playing Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt’s The Animation Show 2005 . I was rather tired and the showing time of Howl’s Moving Castle was 12:50 am. I knew I’d fall asleep during the movie but I was also sure that my desire to see the film would help me fight my sleepiness. The movie began as a typical Miyazaki film and I was coasting along in the magical world he has drawn me into and then I nodded off for a few minutes. I awoke and was immediately transfixed with the film again. I spent the whole second act probably half the time asleep and the other half completely immersed in its astounding imagery. Howl’s Moving Castle has a very simple story and like good children’s movies you can miss or not understand parts of the film but still be able to get caught up in its spirit and tone. By the third act I was awake but in the dreamy haze one goes into when one hasn’t awoken fully. Most of the film was completely dream like and in particular the film’s final moments were surreal to me. The final result of my viewing experience was that of one I had when I was 4 years old. I loved the movie but I couldn’t explain the plot to anyone. Best of all, I am unable to compare this film to his other work because I had in a way forced myself to view this film as a child.

See Howl’s Moving Castle and decide for yourself what you think of Miyazaki’s latest adventure. You won’t have to watch it the way I did because Miyazaki can make an adult feel like a kid again while watching his films. Somehow I was able to make my memory of seeing the film exactly as it would be if I were still a child. I am thankful to Miyazaki for creating yet another film that I could get lost in.

"Asian Film Update" is ©2005 by Peter Card.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.