Category Archives: movie

Movie Review: Casa de Mi Padre

What do you get when you mix Anchorman with telenovelas, with sprinkles of SNL and Grindhouse?  You get Casa de Mi Padre (literal translation is “house of my father” but it’s easier to say “my father’s house”), produced by an  Anchorman… producer along with Well Ferrell, and directed by a former SNL writer.  The film’s budget was $6 million (really low budget compared to recent blockbusters) and only made $8 million in the box office.  So removing the lack of financial success, I’ll try to answer the most important question- is this movie good?

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Movie Review: Melancholia

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On December 21, 2012, it’s been widely depicted that the Mayans predicted the end of the world.  Whether you believe it or not is debatable, but it leaves one burning question that probably everyone has thought of at one point- what would you do if the world is going to end?

Well, Lars von Trier’s movie, Melancholia, proposes just that.  While the beginning of the movie focuses on the wedding of Justine and Michael, you don’t get the real plot of the movie until about halfway, when a newly discovered rogue planet known as Melancholia has a chance to hit the Earth.

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Movie Review: The Care Bears Movie

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Okay, okay, this review was easy for me because it’s one of my favorite movies.  I enjoy animated movies, as for the majority of my childhood, I wanted to be an animator.  Honestly, they don’t make good animated movies anymore- usually you have to rely on international to provide that- while there are good movies, they’re just not hand-drawn, and you lose that character and appreciation because it’s easier to make 3D films as opposed to hand drawn.

Anyway, let’s avoid any more ranting, and let’s dive into the review.

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Long Overdue Movie Review: The Countess

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After months long of hiatus, I have come back with a fresh movie review!  Long story short- my beloved desktop died suddenly, and my inches-away-from-death laptop is not reliable for watching movies.  Being a poor college student, I could not afford a replacement until recently, but without further ado, here is my review for The Countess.

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Tidbit Reviews: Porco Rosso, My Neighbors the Yamadas

I meant to do these movie reviews way back in August, but things happened and now too much time went by for me to clearly remember them, but…

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Movie Review: Whisper of the Heart

Warning:  this is my favorite Ghibli movie, and a top favorite in general.

Whisper of the Heart has a few nods to other other Ghibli films.  Hard to catch if you’re not familiar.

Porco Rosso is an earlier Ghibli film, about a Italian WWI pilot cursed to become a pig.  I have not seen it yet, but Rotten Tomatoes has it rated 100% so I doubt it’s anything less than impressive.

It’s a statue of Baron Humbert von Jikkingen, the hero in The Cat ReturnsWhisper of the Heart was made in 1995, while The Cat Returns was made in 2002.  People loved the Baron so much he appeared in his own movie.  Isn’t that neat?

The cat seen here is referred to as Moon or Muta.  If you recall in The Cat Returns, Baron’s second in command was also named Muta.

Whisper of the Heart is based on a Japanese manga series (like the equivalent to our comic books/graphic novels) called Mimi o Sumaseba by Aoi Hiiragi. The main character, Shizuku, is enjoying her summer break before preparing for entrance exams.  In the Japan school system, junior high students have to take exams to get their choice of high schools.  So from the age of typical of last year junior high students, we’ll assume Shizuku is 14-15.  One day, she discovers a cat in the train while bringing lunch to her father, and follows it around town.  She discovers an antique shop that will end up changing her life.

Whisper of the Heart is the only Studio Ghibli film not directed by Isao Takahata or Hayao Miyazaki- it’s directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, who unfortunately died three years after this movie was made.  It’s no different than the style of other Ghibli films, but this holds so dear to my heart because of the story.  There is a main storyline, then several smaller ones, and they all tie together naturally.  Shizuku and her relationship with a classmate, Seiji, is perfect.  I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s say it’s the true embodiment of love- love doesn’t change you, it just makes you a better version of yourself.

There’s another reason why I love this movie so much:

There’s a reason why I linked the Japanese version.  I can NOT stand the dubbed version, which is also done by Walt Disney.  I really hate being a snob about voice acting, and there’s nothing wrong with Brittany Snow (who voices Shizuku) , but something just really bugged me about her voice in this.  I always have to watch it subtitled.  I think it is just me, others probably don’t mind her voice at all.

Probably the top three Studio Ghibli movies that people know are My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.  If I had to pick JUST one for people to get into Ghibli, this would be it.  It’s not mystical, enchanting, or magical.  The realism is what makes me think so highly of this, because I can relate to Shizuku so much, as I think any girl reaching a crossroads would.  There’s a nice positive message to this, to follow your heart with your head on your shoulders.

Movie Review: Castle in the Sky

It’s about a month until I move into my new place, so screw the schedule- I’m using the most of of Netflix’s DVD service that I can get!

Without further ado..

This is the first of the major Ghibli spam I’ll be doing until late July.  I have a ton of them on list of the ones I’ve never seen.  The first is Castle in the Sky, one of the earlier Ghibli films, made in 1986.  It was released in the US by Walt Disney in the late 90’s, about the same time as Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Castle in the Sky‘s plot is like this:  Sheeta, the girl, falls from the sky.  What breaks her fall is a mysterious green stone from her pendent, which is wanted from pirates.  A boy working in the mines, Pazu, discovers her and takes her back to his place.  They originally think the pirates being the enemy, the couple escape into the city, until they discover all’s not what it seems.

Originally, I groaned about this movie being over two hours long.  In the end, I didn’t mind it.  There are some things that could have been rushed, but the story was enough to keep me interested.  It’s very clichéd, but the characters are endearing, and there are a few nice twists.  It was also nice that the villain had no redeeming quality, which is typical in a lot of movies nowadays, to humanize them.  For a movie that’s almost as old as me, it didn’t seem that aged.  The animation quality is pretty good, and the music is wonderful.  The voice acting is the only dated thing- James Van Der Beek and pre-True Blood Anna Paquin voiced the main characters, and Mark Hammil portraying the villain, Muska.  I think Andy Dick voiced a minor character.  The best thing, in my opinion, is the backgrounds.  Today, we use CGI to paint all the animation, but there’s something about handpainted animation that’s so appealing to me.

This movie fades out compared to other Ghibli films, which is a shame, because by itself Castle in the Sky is good.  However, in terms of that typical Ghibli charm and imagination that would follow in later films, it doesn’t compare.  It’s definitely worth a watch, but it’s not going to push aside other classics like My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away.  It’s like Kiki’s Delivery Service– a nice appetizer for the main course.