All posts filed under: Movies

Ekostories in film and animation.

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:

Wall-E and Eve

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 …

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 …

Brazil Wordle 1

Escape to Happiness and Insanity: Gilliam’s Brazil

Brazil is a mess of a movie in the best possible way. Terry Gilliam’s creation is wildly original and incredibly chaotic, blending elements of comedy and drama into an unforgettable piece of cinema. Visually extravagant and thematically dense, Brazil rewards observant and repeat viewers with a barrage of imagery and subtext ripe for speculation and analysis. A story with almost too much to say, I regard Brazil as one of the most memorable explorations into the absurdities and perils of modern society, and worthy of becoming an Ekostory.

Princess Mononoke Hayao Miyazaki's environmental epic

Before Cameron’s Avatar: Princess Mononoke

“In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed. Those that remained were guarded by gigantic beasts who owed their allegiances to the Great Forest Spirit, for those were the days of gods and of demons…” – Introduction of Princess Mononoke I consider Princess Mononoke, a film by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, to be one of the best environmental movie in history. Inspired by the tumultuous Muromachi era in Japanese history, Princess Mononoke explores the relationship between humans and nature in all its complex and tragic facets. Unlike many other environmental films but like so many of Miyazaki’s works, Mononoke does away with clear-cut dichotomies of good and bad; characters act with understandable motivations. Most of them are capable of change and in some cases, even redemption. The film’s unusual conclusion stresses the need for acceptance, integration, and reconciliation, even in the face of horrifying, …

The Man Who Planted Trees

L’homme qui plantait des arbres: The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees is one of my wife’s favourite stories. I was fortunate enough to see the Oscar-winning animated short film with her last year at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival; I was immediately swept away by the beauty of both movie and message. Although it is a work of fiction, The Man Who Planted Trees is a testament to one man’s ability to bring about hope and happiness for himself and to the world around him.