It was less than fifteen years ago that Toy Story debuted for the Holiday season of 1995. At the time Disney was taking a chance with an entirely computer animated film, especially after their amazing resurgence and recent run of cel animated films – they were only a year off of The Lion King. Now, Pixar essentially runs Disney animation and cel animation is the experiment – completely out of fashion in part due to Disney ruining the brand name (and to some extent DreamWorks making equally mediocre films). But you can’t blame Pixar for being good, and it was the wild success of the Toy Story films that helped cement their legacy. They tell the story of Woody (Tom Hanks), a cowboy doll who is ousted from his position as the sole favorite toy by Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and how the two go on an adventure in the real world. The sequel has the duo facing a toy kidnapper (Wayne Knight), who wants to send Woody to Japan with the toy line he originally came from while Woody confronts his own mortality. My review of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on Blu-ray after the jump.
Deceptively simple and sweet, Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service has still managed to linger in the hearts of movie lovers, and now it’s finally gotten the proper DVD treatment it deserves from Disney and Studio Ghibli.
Kiki, voiced by a young Kirsten Dunst in this Western version of the story, is a 13-year-old witch who – as is the custom – is sent to live away from her parents for a year to figure out what her talent is. Kiki eventually settles on Koriko, which resembles a seaside European village in the 1950s, and sets up her titular delivery service.
Hit the jump to find out why I still think the first Ghibli/Disney collaboration is the best one, and what kind of extras make this special edition worth buying.
In a movie world in which it seems like everything we see will be in 3-D (and I’m not exaggerating one bit there), there are really very few better reminders of how beautiful old-fashioned storytelling can be than in the still extremely charming films of Hayao Miyazaki.
Out now on DVD from Disney and Studio Ghibli are special editions of Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky and My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro, more than any Miyazaki movie, just perfectly captures his ability to view the world through the eyes of mischievous children, and Totoro himself gave the studio its signature mascot.
Hit the jump for a review of the special edition DVD release of My Neighbor Totoro.
It’s hard not to describe Hayao Miyazaki’s films as anything but magical. To be critical (when you’re dealing with a master it’s going to skew positive), one can only compare his best work against his minor work. But then there’s minor like Princess Monoke, which is still an epic pro-environment film, or maybe Howl’s Moving Castle, which was slightly disappointing… still great, only suffering in comparison to Spirited Away. Ponyo is one of his better films, one of the best films of last year, and another in his chain of masterpieces. What Ponyo has over his other films right now is minor: it’s the only one of his films on Blu-ray. My review of Ponyo after the jump.
Studio Ghibli has long been synonymous with its co-founders, the famed Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies). Starting this summer, audiences will be introduced to Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a first time director, looking to make his own mark on the Ghibli name. His film, Karigurashi no Arrietty (lit. The Borrower Arrietty) is based off Mary Norton’s popular The Borrowers series of children’s books. For more on the new project, as well as the first teaser trailer, hit the jump.
Studio Ghibli will announced their next project on December 16th, but some of you may not know why that’s a big deal. For those who don’t know, Ghibli is the animation studio founded by Hayao Miyazaki and behind such classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies (the saddest movie ever made), and Spirited Away, which is the only anime to ever win the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
On the Ghibli Asemamire radio program [via Anime News Network via Nausicaa.com], producer and former Studio Ghibli head Toshio Suzuki announced that they’ll be revealing their next film on the 16th. Now before you go nuts and think this is Miyazaki’s next film, Suzuki explained that this project is from a new director and that they plan to debut the movie in theaters next year. As for the brilliant Miyazaki, he’s already at work on a different film which might open in four years. However, Miyazaki is currently animating a television commercial. The TV commercial will most likely be the greatest one ever made.
If you know the work of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, you don’t need to guess my reaction when Disney offered me an interview with the legendary filmmaker here in Los Angeles last week. As one of Japan’s greatest animation directors, his work is known the world over and his films have inspired millions. “Howl’s Moving Castle”, “Spirited Away”, and “Princess Mononoke” are some of his most recent films in an artistically rich and prolific career. Hayao Miyazaki is a living legend and it was a dream for me to sit down and ask him some questions.
Here’s what you need to know: Since Hayao had limited time, Disney offered Alex from FirstShowing and I a combined interview, so it was just the two of us taking turns asking questions. While we were given 15 minutes, Miyazaki uses a translator, so the interview isn’t as long as a typical 15-minute interview. I didn’t care. Just getting a few minutes was an amazing experience and one I will never forget.
Finally, since Hayao Miyazaki went to Comic-Con and has been doing a lot of press recently, Alex and I agreed to try and ask some questions that we hadn’t read online or heard him already answer. If you want to read about why he wanted to make Ponyo or the standard Q&A, there’s plenty of places to find it elsewhere. For questions you haven’t read or heard anywhere else, you’re in the right place. Read our conversation after the jump:
Every generation has but a few filmmakers who change the very nature of the medium. People like Orson Wells, Robert Altman, and Francis Ford Coppola are far and few between. Today, I was lucky enough to meet not just one, but two filmmakers in this rarified field. After the jump is the complete transcript of my interview with John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki.
Walt Disney Studios has just announced their 2009 Comic-Con plans and it’s filled with “firsts”. That’s because Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Robert Zemeckis and Tim Burton will take part in their first ever Comic-Con. If you’re a fan of any of these guys, it should be a hell of a presentation.
Also, with the abundance of great projects at Disney right now, their footage is going to be some of the highlights of the convention. According to the press release, they’re showing footage from “Ponyo”, all the “Toy Story” movies, “A Christmas Carol”, “The Princess and the Frog”, “Beauty and the Beast in 3D”, “Alice in Wonderland”, and “TRON”! If you thought last year’s “Tron” footage was cool, I promise you this year is going to blow you away.
For more details on what Disney is planning on doing, the full press release is after the jump:
American fans of the legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki have been waiting patiently for the translated version of his latest animated effort, “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea”, to finally make it to a theatre near them. Released in Japan almost one year ago, the film about a young fish who dreams of becoming a human girl has already been saddled with the superlative Miyazaki is most associated with – “Masterpiece”. Thanks to Studio Ghibli’s pact with Disney, the English-language version of the film (now called simply “Ponyo”) is set to arrive stateside this August and – unless this trailer is wildly misleading – the term masterpiece probably does apply. “Ponyo” features the voice talents of Cate Blanchett, Tina Fey, Matt Damon. Liam Neeson and Betty White and will hit theatres on August 14th.
Catch the official trailer after the jump.