Monday, November 24, 2014

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

With its meandering pace and frequent cutaways to plants or animals, Mami Sunada’s documentary about Japan’s Studio Ghibli in some ways mirrors the studio’s animated features. But while there’s greatness in the nonsense and nonsequiturs of soulful films like Spirited Away and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which touch on nearly everything that really matters in human existence, Sunada’s goals seem far more modest. Providing a fan’s-eye view of the studio with an emphasis on director Hayao Miyazaki, she shadows Miyazaki as he goes about his daily routines and films business meetings and press conferences. And, in voiceovers she reads in a girlishly enthusiastic tone of voice, she fills in details about Miyazaki’s long, often complicated relationships with director and cofounder Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, the two other main creative forces behind Studio Ghibli. Read the rest on Slant Magazine.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Getting On Season 2

Unlike the American version of The Office, which turned the original BBC show's odious main character into a loveable goofball, Getting On closely follows its British progenitor's lead. The series features cringe-inducingly self-deluded, insensitive characters, focusing on their awkward relationships and borderline incompetent care in a farcical depiction of the frustration, stagnation, and unlikely moments of grace at a hospital geriatric ward. But like the American Office, its take on its characters is ultimately forgiving, a kind of bemused acceptance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

100 Words On... The Man Who Came to Dinner

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, who wrote the play this film was adapted from, set a whole cupboardful of plates spinning in this madcap comedy. Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley), a razor-tongued metrosexual writer, falls during a visit to a bourgeois Midwestern couple and commandeers their home for the Christmas holidays while he recovers. Holding court in their parlor while his exiled hosts cower upstairs, Sherry receives famous visitors and outrĂ© gifts, hatches convoluted plots, and issues outrageous orders with the blithe assurance that they’ll be followed to the letter.