All posts filed under: Movies

Ekostories in film and animation.

spirited-away-dreamscape

The Ecological Imagination of Hayao Miyazaki, Orion Magazine

It’s not every day that you get to work on a dream project with a dream publication. I’m excited to share that I have a new piece up online at Orion magazine, exploring the ecological imagination of Hayao Miyazaki. Where the word for forest is silence A tree and troll to watch over me Carrying on through a wayward world Reading the wind, mending the earth An introduction to the work of the venerated Japanese animator/filmmaker (who happened to turn 80 this year), the piece is also a retrospective on four movies dearest to my heart: Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Miyazaki tales were major sources of inspiration for me starting Ekostories—you can read everything I’ve written over the years in the archives HERE. And when you’re done, don’t forget to check out the rest of Orion’s latest issue (and hopefully subscribe!) It’s seriously fantastic both in terms of production value and in-depth content that explores the connections between people and nature. Here’s a snippet: …

Only Yesterday Isao Takahata

Only Yesterday Comes To North America

One of my favourite films of all time, Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday, is getting a North American release after 25 years. Finally! What I love more than this news might be Daisy Ridley, who will voice Taeko in the English version, speaking about the film, along with related topics like representation in Hollywood and the universal appeal of Ghibli films. If you’re looking for more information about Only Yesterday, which is set to release in February, check out my take on it. There are minor spoilers, but it may help you figure out whether the movie is something you’ll enjoy.

Cloud Atlas Robert Frobisher

Change, Choice, Connection: Cloud Atlas

“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” – Sonmi 451 Thus sums up the core premise of Cloud Atlas, one of the more polarizing movies in recent memory and my personal favourite film for 2012. Spanning six stories over five centuries, many people found the movie slow, jarring, and difficult to follow. While I understand and accept some of these criticisms, they in no way diminish the sheer vision and ambition of this sprawling and profoundly human epic. If there ever was a film where the sum experience becomes more than its parts, Cloud Atlas is it. Before I begin, I want to share this short clip featuring directors Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer as they speak about their motivations for adapting David Mitchell’s novel for the big screen:

Finding the Middle Ground: Pixar’s Wall-E

More than a year of Ekostories and not a single mention of Wall-E? You must think I hold some sort of vindictive grudge against cute robots. The truth is that I love Wall-E. It is a lovingly crafted tale that hits all the right notes, a rare gem that effortlessly exudes charm to audiences young and old, and represents Pixar at the height of their craft as storytellers.But Wall-E’s broad appeal makes an analysis tricky. It’s easy to see the film as simply “a kid’s movie” and to dismiss any merits its narrative may contain. It’s also easy to view it as just an “issues movie”, a pointed critique of the obesity epidemic or of consumerist culture. Such a superficial examination reduces the movie to bite-size messages: Don’t trash the world. Technology is bad. People are lazy. If that was a fair assessment of Wall-E, there would be no point in exploring it. I am not interested in narratives with such shallow roots that they can be summarized into tidy little statements; these types of parables preach …

Ghibli Only Yesterday Safflower

Nostalgia Distilled: Ghibli’s Only Yesterday

I came across Studio Ghibli’s Only Yesterday (titled Omohide Poro Poro in Japan) at a time of transition in my life. Having just having graduated from school and secured a job in my field, I had hoped that the path forward was secure, certain. The hours were nice and the pay was good, but as time went on I felt a growing dissatisfaction I could not dismiss but could not articulate. Catching the film by chance on television one late night, I connected with the protagonist’s own yearning for something more in life. This resonance spanned the gulf between gender, culture, and life experience; her fictional journey of self-discovery inspired me to reflect honestly on my own life. How does the past shape my present identity? Am I satisfied with the course of my life? Am I courageous enough to pursue what makes me genuinely happy? After seeing the film again this year, I believe Only Yesterday is one of the finest animated films ever made. Quiet, intimate, and poignant, Isao Takahata’s masterpiece contains elements Studio Ghibli …