The two-week Studio Ghibli Film Festival in Minneapolis closes out this Thursday, and we are playing the final four films: The Cat Returns and Mimi wo Sumaseba on Monday and Tuesday, Princess Mononoke and Omohide Poro Poro on Wednesday and Thursday. It's a terrific lineup and we wish we could be there every day this week. Sadly, we're down to our final two free passes, and we have to save our money for the move to a new apartment this weekend.
Marcee and I will be there on Thursday for the final showing of Omohide Poro Poro, Isao Takahata's 1991 masterpiece. I thought it would be right for Ghibli Blog to be there at the very end.
Of the final four movies, The Cat Returns is the weakest of the bunch, and it's a good example of Ghibli's struggles to find new directors to follow Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. It does have its charms, but when you can also watch Yoshifumi Kondo's Mimi, why bother? One is a decent movie best served by home video (and best paired with the short film, Ghiblies Episode 2); the other is an animation masterpiece by a skilled veteran who built a long career with the Miya-san and Paku-san. I really wish I had money hidden under my couch cushions!
Princess Mononoke was Miyazaki's blockbuster smash that toppled E.T. from the Japanese all-time box office and brought international acclaim to Studio Ghibli. It also sparked a notorious battle between Miya-san and Disney, and especially the Weinsteins at Miramax. Now Lionsgate owns the home video rights, and it's questionable that we'll see Mononoke on US home video again. If you get a chance to see this movie in a theater...run. Don't walk, run. You may not get another chance for a long time.
Omohide Poro Poro is the perfect closer, a style and genre of filmmaking that literally does not exist in the West. Feature animation in the service of a weepy character melodrama? With a pop culture nostalgia that rivals Quentin Tarantino? And one that addresses contemporary Japan (ca.1991) as its vaunted bubble economy burst? Somewhere in the mix lies a popular Japanese manga about a woman's childhood in the 1960s, and a modern quasi-documentary about organic farming and cultivation of safflowers for dyes and cosmetics. Yes, this is a very deep movie. Yasujiro Ozu would have been amazed.
Much thanks to everyone who attended GKids' Studio Ghibli Film Festival here in Minneapolis. It's been terrific, and I really do wish it could have lasted longer. I needed more time to save up more money! Please come back!
Daniel Thomas MacInnes Categories: mimi wo sumaseba, mononoke, omohide poro poro, the cat returns, video