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FILM REVIEW: The Wind Rises (Miyazaki, 2013): Japan

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed during AFI Filmfest 2013.

The Wind Rises, is a new animated, full-length, feature film from legendary Japanese animation director, Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki announced at this year’s Venice Film Festival this will be his last film. In 1997 his Princess Mononoke, was the highest revenue grossing film in the history of Japan at the time of its release and it also received the Japanese equivalent of an Academy Award for Best Film. Miyazaki is also well known for the films Spirited Away, (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle, (2004) In 2003 Miyazaki received an Oscar for Best Animated Feature for the film Spirited Away.

His films have garnered international acclaim from critics and have provided Miyazaki public recognition within Japan. His films are known for compelling characters, engaging plots and eye-catching animation. Remarkable by today’s standards his films allow no more than 10% of the footage to come from computer animation.

In The Wind Rises, Miyazaki tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, a real-life aeronautical engineer who designed fighter aircraft in Japan during WWII. The film opens with the young Jiro fantasizing of his plane flying above his hometown. As I watched the scene unfold, a rather powerful ominous feeling surfaced as I was reminded of Leni Riefenstahl’s opening scene from the Nazi propaganda documentary, Triumph of the Will. Nevertheless the early moments of the film are very heartwarming as Miyazaki chooses to highlight Jiro’s youth as an older brother to a delightfully spirited younger sister in a single parented household run by their kind and caring mother.

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Jiro’s passion throughout the film is making good airplanes. Jiro’s daydreaming, which he does a few times during the story’s arc. Admittedly, several of my favorite moments are Jiro’s imaginings with Count Caproni, a larger-than-life mustachioed Italian airplane designer who mentors Jiro with playful and good-natured ribbing, that provide insight into  Jiro’s creative passion. Jiro finds his inspiration through such moments and Miyazaki makes space for them throughout the film.

The story is partially based on Tatsuo Hori’s 1938 novelette, “The Wind Has Risen.” Miyazaki’s animation provides beautiful plush scenery with Monet-like backdrops and landscapes providing striking visuals while creating a powerful nostalgia for a simpler time lightly brushing over the complications of war and economic depression. With such a breathtaking mise-en-scene it’s no wonder a young Jiro falls in love with the  young woman he saved during a traumatic, historic earthquake a few years before (the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake).

In direct juxtaposition to this frantic and rather manic scenario in the aftermath of the earthquake, young Jiro finds himself vacationing in a rural setting enjoying the greenery and the soft “rising” winds complete with majestic and billowing, flowery clouds when he coincidentally crosses paths with the beautiful girl he saved from the earthquake as she paints poetically on a hillside overlooking the spectacular countryside.

The Wind Rises, is a very light-hearted, entertaining film. The film focuses pretty much exclusively on the protagonist, Jiro, as an idealistic engineer whose primary purpose in life is to make planes. Granted, he falls in love and rubs elbows with German plane builders during WWII. Yet, WWII and the social unrest after the  Great Kanto Earthquake are left virtually untouched. Tellingly, Jiro’s concern at the end of the war was over the planes that didn’t come back. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly recommend the film for children and for adults with a penchant for Monet-esque visuals.

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La La Land ‘Dreamers’ trailer released

If there’s only one movie you can see this year make it La La Land. With an early limited release scheduled for December 9th in Los Angeles and New York followed up by a nation-wide roll-out, put on your seat belts for this emotional roller-coaster.

Brilliantly conceptualized from the Damien Chazelle team, La La Land tells the story of two young Los Angeleans, Mia and Sebastian seeking fulfillment through the entertainment industry. Mia is an aspiring actress and Sebastian is a classical jazz pianist who doesn’t believe in compromising his convictions for anyone or anything. Mia, on the other hand, can’t seem to finish an audition without being interrupted. It’s only when their paths cross and the stars align do these two traverse the path of fulfillment.

As performances go, Emma Stone as Mia delivers an all-encompassing performance delicately balancing the drama of her personal life with an expressiveness she’s honed over the last twelve years as an actress in Hollywood.  Ryan Gosling as Sebastian delivers an understated performance that matches his character. Together, the two have made cinematic magic in the spirit and image of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair, Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.

La La Land is a film for the ages. Exceptional camera work, ardent choreography, exquisite production design, catchy, melodic musical score, strong direction and over-the-top performances catapult La La Land to the top of the year’s best films. La La Land is the stuff dreams are made of.

 

PATRIOTS DAY Will Close AFI FEST 2016

AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi will close with the Special Closing Night Gala Presentation of CBS Films and Lionsgate’s PATRIOTS DAY, directed by Peter Berg and starring Academy Award® nominee Mark Wahlberg. The Closing Night Gala will take place on November 17, 2016, at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Watch the film’s trailer below.

An account of the Boston Marathon bombing, PATRIOTS DAY is the powerful story of a community’s courage in the face of terror. In the aftermath of an unspeakable attack, Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again. Weaving together the stories of Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (Academy Award® winner J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan), this visceral and unflinching chronicle captures the suspense of one of the most sophisticated manhunts in law enforcement history and celebrates the strength of the people of Boston.

Patron Packages can include access to Galas and other high-demand films and events. Individual tickets will be available on AFI.com/AFIFEST beginning November 1.

(Source:www.blog.afi.com)

29th Tokyo International Film Festival Unveils Full Lineup

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) held a press conference to announce lineups in the all sections, jury members, and this year’s topics and highlights at Toranomon Hills Forum in Tokyo.

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From left: Daigo MATSUI, Yu AOI, Munetaka AOKI, and Mamoru HOSODA ©2016 TIFF

Yasushi SHIINA, Director General of TIFF & TIFFCOM, made opening remarks and announced that the festival muse for this year is Haru KUROKI, one of the most accomplished actresses in Japan. TIFF’s programing directors then took the stage to introduce the lineup for each section of the 29th edition, as well as to reiterate the prior announcements of the Opening film, Stephen Frears’ Florence Foster Jenkins and the Closing film, Yoshitaka MORI’s Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow.

In the Competition section, 16 films were selected from among 1,502 titles from 98 countries and regions. Representing the two Japanese titles in this main competitive section, director Daigo MATSUI and actress Yu AOI from Japanese Girls Never Die, and actor Munetaka AOKI from Snow Woman were welcomed on the stage and made remarks.

Click here for the Full Competition Lineup.

Acclaimed director Mamoru HOSODA, who is being honored this year with “The World of Mamoru Hosoda” in the Animation Focus section, greeted the audience after the retrospective lineup was announced. He will appear for stage talks during TIFF with such special guests as director Hirokazu KORE-EDA and filmmaker Daisuke “Dice” TSUTSUMI.

This year’s International Competition Jury members were also announced. French director/writer/producer Jean-Jacques BEINEIX will serve as President, working with director Hideyuki HIRAYAMA, actor Valerio MASTANDREA, producer Nicole ROCKLIN, and director Mabel CHEUNG.

During the 10-day celebration, more than 200 films will be screened and there will be unique film-related events every day at the festival venues, including stage appearances, Q&A sessions and symposia featuring celebrated guests from around the world.

The 29th TIFF will take place October 25 to November 3, 2016 at Roppongi Hills, EX Theater Roppongi (Minato City) and other theaters, halls and facilities in Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

(Source:www.tiff-jp.net)

 

BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM AND BOOK FESTIVAL 2016

 

Coming this Fall, the 41st Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival from October 29 through November 6 – nine days bursting with stories of profound journeys, unexpected adventures and ground breaking expeditions told by renowned authors, photographers, adventurers and filmmakers from around the globe. The schedule will be announced and tickets on sale Wed, August 3 at 12 p.m.

 

 

 2016 Film Competition is now open! Enter your film into the Banff Mountain Film Competition and bring the magic of mountain places and cultures, and the adrenaline of exploration and adventure to an appreciative, international audience.

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival features a number of different competitions which garner hundreds of entries from around the world, each and every year. Genres include filmmaking, writing, photography, and others.

 

For more information CLICK HERE