The Wind Rises

Princess Mononoke

In the context of American animation, Hayao Miyazaki’s films seem nearly unfathomable. With their conspicuous absence of exclusively kid-centric theatrics and their eschewing any burden of pop culture topicality, Miyazaki’s films are instead allowed to explore the limitless imaginative possibilities of animated filmmaking. And there are few imaginations quite like Miyazaki’s. That’s what makes his retirement on the occasion of The Wind Rises that much more of a loss. It’s difficult to be anything but grateful for the beautiful films the 73-year-old director has made, but his absence will certainly leave a giant, gaping hole that no other filmmaker can replace. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the man who makes us wish we could call a giant wood spirit our neighbor.

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Animated Feature

Since its inception in 2001, the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature has been awarded to a wide range of movies. Though in recent years — 5 out of the last 6, to be exact — it’s basically been The Pixar Award. Despite the quality of the other contenders, Pixar seems to wrap it up without fail year-in and year-out. This year, there is no Pixar film nominated, leaving the field wide open for a bunch of newcomers. From cavemen to super-villains to ice princesses, this year’s group of nominees is diverse. But does that make it a more competitive field? We explore as we break down the nominees and predict a winner (shown in red).

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The Wind Rises

Editor’s note: Kate’s review of The Wind Rises originally ran during last year’s NYFF, but we’re re-running it as the film opens today in limited release. It opens with a dream sequence – a young boy awakens one morning, only to scamper up to a child-sized plane waiting for him on his home’s rooftop. Taking the controls, he lifts off into the sky, and he soars over his village, the river, up into the clouds, where his dreams of aeronautical freedom literally take flight. For a master like Hayao Miyazaki, such a sequence doesn’t seem too insane – this could all be very real, at least in Miyazaki’s whimsical and often magical worlds – but for a film like The Wind Rises, it can only be what it is, just a dream. A highly fictionalized biography about aeronautical engineer (and creator of the Mitsubishi A5M and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, one of the most advanced fighter planes, and the one that eventually became the choice of Japan’s “kamikaze” pilots) Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Hideaki Anno), the film traces Jiro from his childhood up to his greatest professional achievements for Mitsubishi. The film has already been hailed as Miyazaki’s most mature work to date – and it should be, after all, The Wind Rises is concerned with highly adult themes, from artistic expression, personal tragedy, professional obsessions, all the way up to worldwide destruction. Told through Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s trademark hand-drawn animation, the film is visually moving and warm, even […]

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Simpsons-Miyazaki-Ghibli4

For the first eight years of its existence, The Simpsons was one of the most vital things happening in popular culture. It was sharp, it was funny, and it did a great deal to introduce smart comedy to mainstream audiences. That was a long time ago though, and The Simpsons has been on the air for so many years now and has amassed so many seasons of questionable content that it really couldn’t feel any less vital or relevant to the current cultural conversation. At this point, the only time the show even makes any headlines is when it pulls off some sort of elaborate animation gimmick, like when Guillermo del Toro animated the opening for their annual ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode and stuffed it full of all sorts of references to his movies. While this is a sad reality, at least we have these occasional gimmicks to act as reminders of how much The Simpsons once meant to all of our developing geek brains. And, hey, would you look at that… it seems like the show is about to air yet another one of those attention-grabbing gimmicks, and one that is going to be of special interest to film fans, because it involves the work of a pretty much universally beloved filmmaker. To cut to the chase, this Sunday’s episode of the show is going to feature a sequence that pays tribute to animation master Hayao Miyazaki, and seeing as the sequence has been put up on Youtube already, […]

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2013review_trailers

What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Movies and moods and ideas and awards and stars and sexiness and just a lot of great music. And maybe, just maybe, something more (read: more movie tickets). Not every great trailer advertises a great film, but sometimes even the most lackluster productions can gift movie fans with two minutes of cinematic glory (all the better if said trailer can include Kanye West screaming or Nicole Kidman redefining “cold” or even the glories of street dancing) worth lauding all on their own. This year saw a vast batch of standout trailers, and while our listing of best trailers of the year is nothing if not varied, all of the videos contained within share one key element – they effectively conveyed tone and feeling without revealing too much about plot and characters. As mini mood pieces, these thirteen trailers nailed it, as bits of marketing, they made us want to buy and buy big time.  What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Oh, it doesn’t matter – we were ready to buy.

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Jiro and paper airplane_out

Over the past few days the Toronto International Film Festival has been releasing trailers for many of the films they’ve chosen to run this year, and now, thanks to their efforts, we’ve got a trailer for animation master Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film, The Wind Rises, complete with English subtitles to help give us ugly Americans some context to understand everything that’s happening on the screen. Given the fact that this trailer is a little over four minutes long, some may be reluctant to give it a watch, worried that it might show too much and spoil the film, but really that isn’t any kind of concern here. The English subtitles do give us a better understanding of what all this beautiful imagery is about than we had when a trailer for the film’s Japanese release first hit, but Miyazaki being Miyazaki, he’s of course made something that’s clearly too complex and original to be fully grasped from a plot summary or a series of clips. So feel free to click away and see how epic in scope but meticulous in attention to detail his new work is.

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TheWind-Rises1

If there’s one thing that Hayao Miyazaki loves (besides animation, obviously), it’s flight. Nearly all of the legendary animator’s films have seen characters take to the skies in one gorgeous sequence after another, via dragons, broomsticks, fighter planes, Totoros, and anything else willing to go airborne. Miyazaki’s latest film, The Wind Rises, puts his love of flying front and center, and today marks the arrival of a brand new (and absolutely gigantic) four-minute trailer. Check it out below.

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