Madhouse Shuts Down Production on Satoshi Kon's Final Movie

Satoshi Don's The Dreaming Machine

This is very sad news.  Satoshi Kon died last year while working on his latest film, "The Dreaming Machine."  After his passing, members of the production staff bravely promised to continue work, and insisted that Kon's final work would be realized according to his wishes.  Unfortunately, Madhouse has recently announced that they are scuttling production of The Dreaming Machine, with no future plans of what will become of the film project.

According to Twitch and J-Film Pow-Wow, the movie was much further to completion than initially realized, and this may have been the deciding factor:

Despite character designer Yoshimi Itazu taking detailed instructions left for him by Kon to helm the project production on "The Dreaming Machine" has been halted. As revealed by Madhouse president Masao Maruyama recently, this decision was made after the animation studio faced hard financial times. While 600 completed shots for the film have been completed that is still less than half of the 1,500 that is needed to see the film finished.

At this point, the fate of The Dreaming Machine is unclear.  Personally, I doubt that it will become lost forever.  Sooner or later, someone will come along and attempt to complete the production.  All of this depends on the status of Satoshi Kon's pre-production work, the image boards and the script and whatever instructions he had left.  Such an undertaking, however, would almost certainly be a labor of love, and would probably require a benefactor who doesn't expect to get their investment money back.  Kon may be a cult hero to movie lovers and anime fans, but in the movie marketplace, 3D CGI cartoons-slash-toy-commercials rule the roost.

I hope somebody steps up and finishes Dreaming Machine.  I'm a great fan of Kon's movies, and he had a wonderfully singular vision, futuristic and surreal, skeptical when needed, but never grim nor cynical, and wonderfully humane at the core.  He really was unique, and when I see the formulaic schlock playing at the multiplex, and read of Ridley Scott's plans for a Blade Runner sequel - Play the Happy Meal!  Eat the Video Game! - my heart sinks with despair.  We need true artists to emerge in these times.

Poppy Hill to Premier at Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced that Studio Ghibli's latest film, From Up On Poppy Hill, will make its debut on the international stage.  This is a surprising coup, as Ghibli's international premiers have occured at the Venice Film Festival.  Excellent news for Toronto!

The 38th Annual Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8-18.  Passes are currently available, and individual tickets will be available on September 3.


Howl, Earthsea and Ponyo: Studio Ghibli's Next Blu-Ray Discs

Studio Ghibli has announced their next pair of Blu-Ray discs: Howl's Moving Castle, and Tales From Earthsea.  Both titles will be released on November 16, and include all the standard features we've come to expect.  And, yes, that means English subtitles and Disney's English-language soundtrack.

In addition, Ponyo will be reissued with a new packaging, in keeping with Ghibli's BD library.  This is, in fact, the same package design as the German BD release, so it's really no surprise at all.  This new release will finally include the US Disney soundtrack, something that was missing from the original Japanese release.

Below the fold are the official specs and features of Ghibli's upcoming Blu-Ray films.  Thanks to Anime Maki and muhootsaver for providing these specs:


Fantasia at Minneapolis Uptown Theater Tonite!

Minneapolis' Uptown Theater is showing Disney's classic Fantasia for this weekend's "midnight movie" showcase.  This is a rare opportunity to see this animated masterpiece on the big screen.  If you live in the Twin Cities, be sure to head to Uptown and catch the movie.

Oh, and to whoever's in charge of scheduling at the Uptown Theater: Enough with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, already!  Show a different movie for a change!  And, for that matter, why are you playing Fantasia at midnight instead of the early afternoon?  Don't you think families would want to attend?  Think, McFly, think!


"Hayao Miyazaki: The World's Greatest Animator"

CNN has a terrific news feature on Hayao Miyazaki, and it's a rare appearance on US media. I've noticed that whenever Miyazaki-san travels to the US in support of his films, he is very polite and cautious, almost shy.  In his native Japan, however, the fierce warrior emerges, and you see the artist's strong-willed side.  This is a terrific interview and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

I'd be happy if more Westerners saw Miyazaki's stronger, Shogun-like side; it would go a great distance to retire that tired cliche, "Walt Disney of Japan."  I'm not saying this as a criticism of Walt Disney, of course (even Disney himself wasn't quite the "Disney" archetype we imagine).  But these two great visionary filmmakers, while sharing a profession, are quite different in temperament and style.  By forcing everything into the Disney paradigm, we are losing much of what makes Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli great.

Anyway, click on the link to CNN's site to read the article (essentially a transcript of the video).

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