Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May 15th Log

1989, Hayao Miyazaki, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Hayao Miyazaki is one of my favorite filmmakers (be it of animated films or otherwise). Each of his films hold a special quality, as they capture such a wondrous artistic beauty and vision of imagination. Perhaps his most underrated film is 1989's Kiki’s Delivery Service. Kiki’s Delivery Service is rather minor in terms of artistic and technical depth of Miyazaki’s films, but the sheer childlike cuteness and warmth of the film is irresistible and deeply entertaining. In terms of style and approach it recalls much of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which was released in the US the same year. The story is simple in following a young girl (who’s a witch) dealing with living under her own responsibility. It's also a film about finding yourself (and that includes being a witch or young girl), and finding your gifts (which may include flying- a Miyazaki trademark!). The focus is obviously for children, but it’s intelligent, and the themes are so universal that all audiences can enjoy it. It also has a timeless quality to it's story and surroundings. Aside from the lovely visuals and wonderful characters, the films greatest strength lies within it's simplicity. Miyazaki is not focused on plot as much as he is with the simple experiences of living, and Kiki's Delivery Service displays it with sheer truth, magic, and beauty.

2006, Peyton Reed, United States
Repeat Viewing, HBO

I like Peyton Reed's films. The Break-Up is his third theatrical release and it shares some similarities with his previous (and best) film Down With Love, in it's themes of living and relationships, as well as in it's wacky comedic style and tone. Reed creates a strong visual presence that expresses some of the films emotional conflicts. The film is strange and occasionally neurotic and sad, and while not everything flows as one, The Breakup is a delightful quirky comedy. Even if it doesn't always work, Vince Vaughn (who collaborated on the writing) is charismatic enough to keep it funny and endearing. Vaughn is best when in improv mode and he again displays his comedic gifts here. Aniston conveys a much less interesting charm, but she is aided nicely alongside Vaughn. Jon Brion composed the musical score, but his versatile talents are highly underused and the music is much less memorable and complex then Brion's masterful previous work (I Heart Huckabees, Eternal Sunshine, Punch Drunk Love). The Breakup is a refreshing yet really a rather sad romantic comedy that does offer audiences something new. Reed is a gifted filmmaker, and The Breakup is an intelligent film.

1932, Jen Renoir, France
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Jean Renoir was a filmmaker far ahead of his time. One of the great humanist filmmakers, his films capture the essence of human behavior through inventive visuals and complex character depth over plot development. Everything is handled with effortless ease, blending humor and energy of the characterizations with the complexity of the dialogue and visual style. One of Renoir’s quintessential films is the 1932 masterpiece Boudu Saved from Drowning. Here Renoir masterfully changes tones while adding some innovative visual techniques. The film is timeless, mostly because of it’s wonderful lead character Boudu. The film is at once funny and compassionate, and sad and poetic. Boudu Saved from Drowning is a simplistic masterpiece achievement from one of cinema’s most influential filmmakers.


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