With rumours about Studio Ghibli’s hiatus, and even possible closure, it seems all the more relevant to appreciate the quality of their films. While Disney was certainly the game-changer, Ghibli has films that only become more complex and insightful as one gets older. In The Tales of Princess Kaguya, not only do we get the Japanese flavour of a Disney Princess, but also, after nearly 15 years, we see Isao Takahata, finish his next animated splendour. Takahata is often considered the number 2 to Hayao Miyazaki, but whereas the head Ghibli honcho has retired after The Wind Rises, this director is still at the drawing board at 79 as he revives Japan’s oldest fairy tale yet.
Theatre these days appears to not be on the stages of the Globe or the National, but before the comfy screens of an Odeon or a Curzon. All big West End blockbusters eventually settles in select screenings across the UK now: I know I can miss any Hamlet or Cumberbatch because I can catch up on the action in a month or two at my local Odeon. But does that cheapen the experience? I know people who have paid up to a hundred pounds to see some plays in London, yet I could eventually get them for under a twenty. I have been wondering if this digital embrace from the arts has broadened the demographic horizon, or if, in reality, it’s encouraged regular theatregoers from switching to the more affordable option.
Back in 2009, Neill Blomkampp directed a film about shrimps, South Africa, and cat food. Six years on, if you swap the shrimp aliens with robots (and the cat food with a rubber chicken) you have Blomkamp’s inferior successor, Chappie. Some of the parts may work, but the whole piece is a clunky contraption, much like its titular tin-can.
Let’s be honest here: space is pretty dang awesome. If we had the technology, we would boldly go where no man has gone before; whether it be in a galaxy far, far away or on some distant forbidden planet. For a director with such a hit streak as Nolan’s, his first proper science fiction exploit comes with high expectations to say the least. While there may be some turbulence along the ride, I am confident in writing that Interstellar blasts off into the science-fiction world marvellously in what is one of the director’s most emotionally striking films yet.
Mike Leigh’s biopic Mr Turner is something of a gorgeous gargoyle. Much like Timothy Spall’s portrayal, the film dances between the binaries of a Dickensian period piece: sure there’s the sense of class and quaint Britishness we love in these types of films, but there’s also this breath of fresh air when all the warts of Turner and his time are exposed to see. I’ve seen similar British biographical films before, which, while enjoyable for the most part, all share a sense of idealising their figures. You can’t help but see them as a bit too picturesque to be all true. Leigh may also paint Turner’s life as beautifully as the artist’s own landscapes, but he isn’t afraid to show the blemishes in the portrait.
The original 300 was a film drowning in as much cheesy splendour as there was blood. Seven years on and 300: Rise of an Empire is the unnecessary sequel, or “sidequal”, that tries to deliver that same ham-fisted entertainment as its original, albeit without the same director, cast or Zack Snyderisms that forged the first one. From the same creators as Sin City (another film with an unwanted sequel this year), this battle-bonanza depicts everything that happened off-screen in the first film with the Athenians. What Noam Murro fails to realise however is that the Athenians were off-screen in 300 for a reason. (more…)
The Lego Movie is out, and it seems to have the building blocks for success – both with the critics and the box office. But is this really such a big surprise? Last year, out of the top three highest grossing films worldwide, Despicable Me 2 and Frozen took both 2nd and 3rd place. So it’s pretty clear that the animation medium is a popular choice nowadays, and judging by the box office numbers, it’ll just get bigger and better. Everyone has a favourite animated movie, and in order to mark the release of The Lego Movie (and I guess Mr Peabody and Sherman…) I’ve decided to compose a list of my favourite cartoon gems on the silver screen. So without further ado, here are my personal top 15 animated films of all time!