Monday, September 30, 2013

Italian horror blogathon


There are some dates on the film blogger’s calendar that are basically unmissable. The Italian horror blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies is just such an occasion. From 24 – 31 October, the blogosphere will be alive with the sound of screaming. And yours truly will be in on the act.

And on the subject of all things dark and nasty, the fourth annual 13 For Halloween season will be kicking off tomorrow right here on The Agitation of the Mind. Everyone’s welcome. Bring your own pumpkins.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Crown of Thorns by Bethany W Pope


Bethany W Pope’s new poetry collection is a tough and sinewy account of the survival of love and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of dysfunctionalism, violence and poverty.

‘Crown of Thorns’ collects four sequences utilising the sonnet form. The title sequence is an heroic crown, i.e. fifteen sonnets, the last of which is composed of the first lines of the preceding fourteen. It’s an incredibly difficult form to sustain and one that very few writers seem comfortable with, but Pope’s command of structure and poetics is superb. There is absolute confidence in her conception and execution of the piece, but the thematic depth and emotional honesty on display make this more than just a barnstorming display of technique.

‘House of Masks’ and ‘Rabbit Trap’ are shorter but distil harrowing memories and unflinching imagery to potent effect. Poetry attuned to the natural world is seldom this visceral in its realism, but it soon becomes apparent that an absolute refusal to turn her head from reality is a hallmark of Pope’s aesthetic. This is never more apparent than it ‘Bloodlines’, the emperor's crown which closes the collection. It’s here that Pope’s ambition and linguistic capabilities are given a Herculean workout.

‘Bloodlines’ consists of forty five sonnets – that’s 630 lines of poetry – and the best description I can offer is this: imagine the structural formalism of George Szirtes, the beautiful yet disturbing imagistic bravura of Cormac McCarthy and a wry observationalism of human eccentricity that you might associate with Werner Herzog. That Pope achieves this without ever sacrificing what it unmistakably her own voice as a poet is nothing short of astounding.

‘Crown of Thorns’ is a hand grenade of a book. The title is well chosen, not just for referencing Pope’s chosen poetic form. It’s a spiky, gnarly book that gets its hooks into you and doesn’t let go. It proves that poetry can be as muscular and unflinching as any other art form. It proves that poetry is, in fact, essential.


My interview with Bethany W Pope can be read on the LeftLion website.

‘Crown of Thorns’ is available from Oneiros Books, priced £5.00

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Two Faces of Fear


Tulio Demicheli’s ‘The Two Faces of Fear’ doesn’t enjoy much of a reputation, despite ticking quite a few boxes:

J&B? Check.

Spiral staircase (beleaguered heroine chased up same)? Check. 

Prowling subjective camerawork? Check.

Heavy dose of lifestyle porn? Check.

Genre stalwarts in leading roles? Check – George Hilton and Anita Strindberg.

Vastly overqualified actor slumming it? Check – Fernando Rey.

Former Bond girl in key role? Check – Luciana Paluzzi, she of ‘Thunderball’ fame.


What it doesn’t feature is a black gloved killer (the perp has a preference for surgical gloves instead) or extended operatic death scenes. ‘The Two Faces of Fear’ has the lowest body count I’ve ever seen in a giallo, a very small self-contained cluster of suspects, and a reasonably vigorous examination of motive and interrelationships rather than the usual glut of red herrings that get thrown about it these movies.

The script sets things up with commendable economy in the first seven minutes (including open credits): Professor Michele Azzini (Luis Davila), a senior member of the board at an exclusive private clinic, is considering a job offer with another institution, much to the chagrin of Elena Carli (Paluzzi), whose father founded the clinic and gave Azzini his big break. Elena’s married to the penniless Dr Roberto Carli (Hilton) and fully enjoys the lifestyle her money allows; he doesn’t want to see custom migrate with Azzini or any of Elena’s fortune dissipate in having to buy him out. Azzini’s fellow cardiac specialist Dr Paola Lombardi (Stringberg) is engaged to Azzini, used to have a thing for Carli and is lusted after by the clinic’s administrator Luisi (Eduardo Fajardo). Other titbits thrown out during these first few minutes: Elena has a heart condition which will eventually require surgery; Carli shoots pistols; and Azzini owns a parrot.

Azzini’s office is burgled. He almost disturbs the intruder, but an answerphone message regarding a surgical procedure summons him back to theatre. (They had answerphones in 1972! I was born in 1972. Man, I feel old.) Later, after a full and frank discussion with Elena about the future of the clinic, he finds himself looking down the barrel of a pistol. Three shots, and Professor Azzini exits the narrative.


Enter Inspector Nardi (Rey), who focuses his investigation on Elena, Carli and Paola. “One of those three must be the killer,” surmises, demanding of his sergeant, Felix (Manuel Zarzo), “don’t you agree?” With consummate ingratiation, Felix responds “I agree with everything you say.” There’s plenty of droll interplay between Nardi and Felix – Rey and Zarzo bounce off each other quite well – as well as a running joke about Nardi’s attempts to quit smoking and how irritable it makes him. “I don’t appreciate your approach,” a medico snarls at him as he lights up, prompting Nardi to respond “And I don’t like yours, either – telling the rest of us to stop smoking while you all puff away yourselves.” Demicheli immediately cuts from a roomful of suddenly abashed clinical staff, every man jack of ’em toking on a ciggie, to Felix slumped in the police car outside hastily sitting up straight and pitching his own cigarette out of the window as he sees his boss approaching.

Bucking the trend of incompetent coppers in gialli, Inspector Nardi approaches the case logically and is attentive to ostensibly minor details. With the limited number of suspects, and only so many mileage to be got out of casting aspersions of them, it was inevitable that Demicheli would give over a large chunk of screen time to Nardi and Felix. Casting-wise, he played a blinder. ‘The Two Faces of Fear’ is very talky – virtually every aspect of the power play between the three leads is worked out via dialogue – and there are only two car chases and an on-foot pursuit by way of traditional action scenes. Set design not being as baroque as the genre usually vouchsafes, and off-kilter visuals restricted to just one scene (a shot from underneath a glass topped table of the dying Azzini thrown back by the impact of the bullets), the film has a tendency to the static. The moment Nardi and Felix appear onscreen, though, things pep up immeasurably.

All in all, it would be easy to call ‘The Two Faces of Fear’ a bloodless giallo except that Demicheli saves his big, icky set piece for the final reel. Remember Elena’s heart condition? A tense pursuit by an unknown stalker, which starts on the subway and ends only as she plunges terrified through the door of her apartment, triggers an episode which sees her in intensive care and scheduled for surgery. Carli and Paola undertake the surgery. Suspicion and paranoia have been ramped up to the max. Elena is terrified that she’ll die on the operating table. Nardi, called away to examine a crucial bit of evidence, is powerless to halt the procedure. Demicheli documents the preparations for the operation and its early stages in cold-sweat-inducing detail, only cutting away when Nardi puts the last pieces of the puzzle in place.

There are only two murders in ‘The Two Faces of Fear’; both happen suddenly and aren’t lingered on. There is, however, a cardiology operation and it’s as queasy as anything Argento or Fulci put on the screen.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rush


Forget the posters and the trailers that put James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth)’s tousled hair and playboy lifestyle to the forefront – Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ arguably brings a clearer focus to its portrayal of Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Lauda is certainly the more complicated character, a man who took a shortcut into the competitive hierarchy of Formula 1 by basically buying his way in, a man who went against his family’s wishes in doing so (until he proved his dominance on the racing circuits, the name Lauda was synonymous with big business and political careerism), and a man who was basically a genius in understanding what made a car go faster and handle better. Bruhl, an actor not know for sloppy performances, does some of his absolute best work here, not only capturing the slightly shifty physicality of his subject, but brilliantly and constantly suggesting Lauda’s incessant analytical thought processes.

In some respects, Hemsworth inherits a poisoned chalice: Hunt was a maverick, a chancer, a fast-living hedonist who made his mark through a combination of louche charm and devil-may-care showmanship on the tracks. All Hemsworth has to do is flash that grin and look cool with a girl on each arm, a glass of scotch in one hand and a gram of coke in the other and that’s basically James Hunt right there. Fortunately, he’s served by a deliciously serpentine script by Peter Morgan which navigates the chicanes of some very familiar territory – Lauda’s technically brilliant craftsman eternally frustrated by the acclaim lavished on the intuitive, flamboyant and childishly irresponsible Hunt is basically the Salieri/Mozart dynamic from ‘Amadeus’ but with racing cars – and avoids for the most part the clich├ęs of opposite-sides-of-the-same-coin and rivals-who-might-have-been-comrades.

Morgan also gifts Hemsworth with a final act that sees Hunt increasingly under pressure during the final stages of the 1976 world championship, his nerves as shredded as the wreckage of his personal relationship, guilt eating away at him for his role in swinging a vote as to whether to race in inclement weather conditions at the notoriously dangerous Nurburgring course; Lauda’s crash when mechanical problems are compounded by track conditions, resulting in a blaze that leaves him disfigured, is one of the film’s two big set-pieces (the other is the equally rain-swept Japanese Grand Prix race at the foot of Mount Fuji) and as a fully immersive visual and aural experience, it left me braced against my seat and remembering why I love cinema.

I titled this blog after Werner Herzog’s dictum that “film is not analysis, it is the agitation of the mind”. ‘Rush’ certainly agitates. In the two big race sequences, Anthony Dod Mantle’s camera records the bounce of rain off the track, the gouts of spray kicked up by the tyres, the rivulets blurring the drivers’ visors, the blurred hammering of pistons, and the very infrastructures of the cars themselves, speed and vibration in a constant battle against stability. It’s visceral and tactile stuff, ramped up by Hans Zimmer’s predictably Wagnerian score (although ‘Rush’ is one of the few films that benefits from Zimmer’s sturm-und-drang rather than being overwhelmed by it).

It’s easy to forget just how regular F1 fatalities and near-fatalities were in the 70s. Morgan and Howard make no bones about the almost suicidal risks the likes of Hunt and Lauda took. Even Lauda’s repeatedly delineated rationale that he would accept 20% risk on the track and no more (rather than Hunt’s fuck-it-live-for-the-moment 100% risk taking) sounds more like a manta than a certainty, particularly when you stop to think how much of a numbers man Lauda was. 20% is still a one-in-five chance.

Where Morgan’s script slips is the ever-so-slightly moralistic portrayal of Hunt’s drinking, partying and womanising as empty pleasures, particularly in a post-world-champion sequence that reduces his celebrity to a three-ring circus of talk shows, commercials and threesomes with air hostesses. Not that this wasn’t how Hunt rolled, but I have absolutely no doubt that, while his live-it-to-the-max attitude was self-destructive (he died of a heart attack in his mid-40s), the dude had a fucking great time. (Morgan does at least give Hunt one moment where he parries Lauda’s lecture on professionalism and clean living by asking what the point is if there’s no enjoyment.) There’s also a narratively redundant scene that indulges in the worst kind of racial stereotyping (comedy Italians as much as saying “mamma mia, it’s-a Niki Lauda and he’s-a driving my car”) that you really don’t expect from such an accomplished scripter, while female roles – albeit essayed by such capable talents as Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara and Natalie Dormer – are functional at best.

But it’s easy to let these criticisms slide. ‘Rush’ lives up to its title and then some. It gave me the best two hours in a cinema that I’ve had in ages. Howard, a director whose work I’ve never really engaged with beyond ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Frost/Nixon’ (another Morgan script), comes out all guns blazing on this movie, nicely capturing what I can only describe (as one who remembers it) as the drab glamour of the 70s, the life-and-death obsession of the career sportsman (it’s no coincidence that Morgan also adapted David Peace’s novel ‘The Damned United’), and finding a momentum that never falters. ‘Rush’ is as propulsive and unsubtle (in the best possible way) as the sport it depicts.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rachel Ward


Happy 56th birthday to Rachel Ward.

I saw ‘Against All Odds’ at a very impressionable age. I got over the red Porsche and AOR thing a long time ago. I realised just as quickly that ‘Build My Gallows High’ did it first and did it best. But I’ve always had a soft spot for the elegant and beguiling Ms Ward.

Monday, September 09, 2013

You're Next


Trailered as a vicious, aggressive home invasion thriller, yet talked up by many commentators as a whipsmart horror-comedy, Adam Wingard’s ‘You’re Next’ is an awkward and frustrating piece of work that wouldn’t, in the normal scheme of things, earn an Agitation of the Mind recommendation, but scores big for one reason and one reason only.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Wingard, who directed the framing story in ‘V/H/S’ (look out for a review during the November/December Winter of Discontent season) is part of a loose collective of low-budget filmmakers generically known as the “mumblegore” movement. Four of the principle cast members are fellow directors: Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Margaret Laney (under the pseudonym Sarah Myers) and Ti West. There’s a scene where Swanberg, playing a prissy shit-stirring little twerp, suggests to West, playing a wannabe indie filmmaker, that he might be better off making commercials. This – and a couple of scenes that edge in wilful absurdity – is the only evidence Wingard offers that his film is in any way, shape or form a comedy. 

Here’s the basic set-up, which the trailer communicates in about five seconds while the film itself takes a good quarter of an hour: retired defence contractor Paul (Rob Moran) and his perennially nervous wife Aubrey (Barbara Crampton), gather their children – smug git Drake (Swanberg), rumpled academic Crispian (A.J. Bowen), moody younger brother Felix (Nicholas Tucci), and helium voiced daddy’s girl Aimee (Seimetz) – for their 35th anniversary. Quite apart from the fact that Moran and Crampton look barely a decade older than their supposed offspring, the unfeasibility factor is ramped up by the fact that Drake, Crispian and Felix (who sound like they should be characters in an animated series about pastel coloured super-cats and their amazing adventures in the kingdom of pussies) all turn up with ridiculously attractive women on their arm: respectively, model-like Kelly (Laney), badass chick Erin (Sharni Vinson) and unsmiling vamp Zee (Wendy Glenn), while Aimee is showing off her artsy and equally unconvincing other half Tariq (West).

(That gratuitous bit of detail I threw in about Paul’s former profession: if you’re expecting a ‘Severance’-style satire, all I’ll say is don’t get your hopes up.)

Anyway, our cast of expendables sit down to the traditional family meal – they pour some nice wine, say grace, and get stuck into a big fucking argument – when three psychos in animal masks crash the par-tay and save them the hassle of killing each other by doing it for them. Tariq is the first casualty, courtesy of an arrow in the head. I can only assume this was Wingard and co.’s revenge on West for showing the rest of them up by actually making decent movies. Yeah, that’s for ‘House of the Devil’, you talented bastard!

More murder, maiming and mayhem ensues, until it becomes apparent – and this is only a spoiler if you haven’t seen the trailer or read even the most careful review – that Erin is a final girl in the way that Oliver Reed was moderately fond of the odd pint. Which brings us back to that “one reason and one reason only” caveat. Take Vinson’s performance out of the equation and ‘You’re Next’ is basically crap. As a horror-comedy it’s stultifyingly devoid of humour, be it outright comedy or genre-bending satire. As a straight-up horror, it’s massively derivative and often sloppily executed. (Horror and comedy are, after all, the two genres where you absolutely have to establish and maintain a tone throughout and time every gag or scare utterly to perfection; if either of them slip, the result is tedium.) Case in point: psychos in animal masks are scary as long as they remain anonymous under their masks, the same way that their motivations are scary as long as they’re unrevealed. So guess what Wingard and scripter Simon Barrett do? They take the masks off and establish motive. Yawn.

The script is bland, the cinematography unremarkable and the performances are generally uninspiring, with two exceptions: Moran, who is just terrible; and Vinson, who is utterly and wonderfully magnificent. “One reason and one reason only”: Sharni Vinson, who deserves to be the next big thing on this showing. She transcends a script which would have rendered Erin, never mind her resilience and capacity for righteously fucking up the collective shit of those who wish her ill, as one- or even non-dimensional as the rest of the characters if the hands of a lesser actress.

Vinson single-handedly raises the film’s game: the second half, driven by her charisma and athleticism, propels Erin into the upper echelons of the all-great final girl league tables. It’s a damned shame she wasn’t served by better writing and directing, but I’m immensely grateful to her for bootstrapping ‘You’re Next’ into the realms of watchability. Wingard owes her a “thank you” note etched in gold.

O blogger, what art thou?

When the [expletive] deleted hosting software decides it wants to allow me to upload some [expletive deleted] visual material and not [expletive deleted] around with the formatting anymore, then some new content will appear on Agitation.

Right now, though, Wordpress is starting to seem like a valid option ...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Dario Argento


Happy 73rd birthday to Dario Argento. I’ll be featuring three of his films as part of next month’s 13 For Halloween season.



Thursday, September 05, 2013

Werner Herzog


I’m celebrating Werner Herzog’s 71st birthday here at Agitation Towers with a large glass of wine and my well-thumbed copy of ‘Herzog on Herzog’. Some favourite quotes:

“I remember having a public discussion with the diminutive Agnes Varda, who seemed to take offence at my postulation that a filmmaker, rather than having this or that quality, should be able to clear his or her own height. She didn’t like that very much.”

“Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared with a good kung-fu film.”

“I never had a choice about becoming a director. This became clear to me within a few dramatic weeks at the age of fourteen when I began to travel on foot and converted to the Catholic faith. After a long series of failures it was only a short step into filmmaking, even though to this day I have problems seeing it as a real profession.”

“Maybe the most important piece of advice I can give those of you heading into the world of film is that as long as you are able-bodied, as long as you can make money yourself, do not go looking for office jobs to pay the rent … Go out to where the real world is, go work as a bouncer in a sex club, a warden in a lunatic asylum or in a slaughterhouse. Walk on foot, learn languages, learn a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking must have experience of life at its foundation.”

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Vampyres

I was saving this review for the November – December Winter of Discontent season, hence the slightly jokey style it’s written in and pseudo-comedic captions on the screengrabs. Today, however, I offer it earlier than intended in memory of Jose Larraz.

Exterior. Night. A gothic mansion house. Quick cut to:

Interior. Night. A bedroom, two women lying in Sapphic embrace. Sans chemise. Yup, we’re ten seconds in and ‘Vampyres’ has already earned its Winter of Discontent stripes. Anyway, these two ladies are indulging in a nice hazy make-out session when the door opens, a shadow throws itself on the wall, a gun is drawn and several shots ring out. Essentially spoiling their fun. And the viewer’s.

The credits play out over footage of bats flitting around in the dark. Some horrible pseudo prog-rock assaults the earns. Next thing, a middle aged guy with a briefcase checks into a hotel. The establishment looks kind of like the gothic mansion from the previous scene. The proprietor thinks he knows middle aged guy from way when (although middle aged guy denies this) and some meaningful glances get thrown around.

Next up, a young(ish) couple are driving along a country road when they see a voluptuous woman in a long cape who looks like she’s just wandered in from the set of ‘Fascination’; another woman, similarly garbed, is hiding behind a tree. The couple debate whether they saw one or two women by the side of the road. It’s a moot point since they don’t stop to offer a lift, but they’re still arguing the toss come nightfall when they’ve steered down a beaten track and parked their caravan in a field next to the gothic mansion house where the two naked ladies were doing the hazy Sapphic thing in the opening scene before some bastard eighty-sixed them.

By this point (roughly seven minutes in), I wasn’t bothered by the shrugging absence of character introduction – I don’t watch these kind of movies for their finely honed approach to characterisation, and besides if Haruki Murakami can write a whole novel in which not a single character is given a name then a 1200 word review ought to be a cinch – but I was scratching my head at where all of this was supposed to be taking place. You see a shot like this …

… and it can’t be anywhere but England. On the outskirts, probably, of some dainty little village with a name like Upper Ponceywhipple. Then you get a scene when Mr Young(ish) Couple says “We’ve certainly covered a good distance in the last few days” and it occurs that you can probably drive the length of Britain in two days if you take turns behind the wheel and don’t stop for too many toilet breaks. So maybe it’s England standing in for a particularly unscenic part of Europe.

Anyway, a scream from the gothic mansion pierces the night and Ms Young(ish) Couple comes suddenly awake. Helluva loud scream apparently, since there’s a storm raging and an establishing shot just a minute or so earlier has their caravan several hundred yards from the mansion with a Hampton Court maze-size hedge delineating the edge of the field. But still, we’re not here to engage in semantic debates or insist on sonic verisimilitude, not when there’s a better than average chance that the next 80 minutes will hove back into naked-ladies-making-out territory. ANYWAY, Ms Young(ish) couple is further startled by a bloody hand thudding against the window and she shriekingly wakes her partner, who hustles outside and sweeps the area with a torch (for which there is absolutely no need, since this is as face-palming obvious a day-for-night scene as has ever been committed to celluloid), finds nothing and heads back inside all me-big-man-me-comfort-scared-woman stylee, during all of which we learn that his name is John and hers is Harriet, and thanks to the magic of IMDb we can identify the actors as Brian Deacon and Sally Faulkner respectively.


Next morning, Harriet wakes to see the two hitchhikers – a brunette in a black cape and a blonde in a scarlet cape – ghosting through the woods and into a nearby cemetery. An ambulance siren breaks the stillness and both hasten on their way. Turns out this pair – and, oh, hey, weren’t they the unfortunately twosome who bought the farm in the how-dare-you-interrupt-the-girl-girl-shenanigans from the start of the movie? – are in the habit of flagging down lone male drivers and kind of ruining their day. Albeit with the promise of a little hanky-panky first, as Ted (Murray Brown) finds out when he picks up Fran (Marianne Morris) – she’s the brunette, btw – enjoys a night of energetic if curiously dispassionate sex, and wakes the next morning to find himself scarred and disorientated. Oh, by the way, guess where Fran lives?

Now, if I were Ted, I’d have got the hell out of there, laid a strip for the nearest medical facility and got myself checked out, in short order, at A&E and the venereal clinic. Ted doesn’t. Ted drives over to John and Harriet’s caravan for no reason that makes any sense other than the script needs to perk Harriet’s curiosity so that she and John will eventually gravitate into the orbit of …. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Ted returns to the gothic mansion and sits outside in his car till dusk when Fran appears with Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska, billed simply as “Anulka”) – she’s the blonde, btw – in tow, and three cheers for the scripter for finally, thirty five minutes in, gracing all of our principles with a name. Miriam has a boy-toy on her arm, chap name of Rupert (Karl Lanchbury), bit of a stiff shirt. Anyway, this foursome take it on inside and have a few drinks …

… and it takes a painfully long time and screeds of stilted dialogue before the kit-offery gets underway. Death never lagging far behind sex in this kind of movie, clothes-shedding inevitably leads to blood-letting.


It’s a messy bit of business all round and the girls, now unambiguously established as vampires, quickly dispose of the corpse then take a nice, languorous Sapphic shower together, sluicing off all that nasty type-o negative as well as pleasuring each oth— … hey, wait a minute. Vampires in a shower???


So, with as much established as we’re ever going to get in the way of plot and characters, the remaining forty minutes or so of ‘Vampyres’ boils down to Ted’s ordeal as the house bloodbank/Fran’s plaything counterpointed by Harriet’s curiosity about the gothic mansion and its occupants, these twin narrative strands moving ploddingly towards their inexorably bloody nexus.

Okay, maybe “ploddingly” is a bit harsh. Granted, ‘Vampyres’ has about half an hour of story but it’s hard not to be swept along by its feverish determination to reach feature length by way of (a) moody shots of long corridors, dusty wine cellars, overgrown churchyards, stretches of woodland and misty dawn light filtering through trees, and (b) prolonged softcore writhings. The padding is where ‘Vampyres’ comes alive (how many films can you say that of?): in fetishising landscapes as lingeringly as its anti-heroines’ nubile bodies, Larraz lurches into Terence Malick territory (‘Badlands’ was made the year before Larraz’s lesbian bloodsucker opus).

Moreover, in jettisoning narrative coherency – why don’t the police ever wonder why there are so many car wrecks along the same stretch of road? or why one driver was naked behind the wheel? Why does it take an ambulance 24 hours to take a dead-at-scene victim from roadside to mortuary? Why do Fran and Miriam panic about it getting light when at least half a dozen earlier scenes have them happily flitting about by daylight? How come Harriet can hear a scream several hundred yards away during a storm but not one from a car parked right next to her caravan? – for a purely sensory approach (albeit sensory in the grubby raincoat sense of the word), ‘Vampyres’ is as pure an expression of the abstract as many an arthouse film.

I’ll get my coat.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Hayao Miyazaki


So, Hayao Miyazaki has announced that he will no longer write and direct feature length animated films. At 72, the man’s certainly entitled to enjoy his retirement. But I can’t help thinking that animation will be so much poorer as an art form now he is withdrawing from the world stage.

Miyazaki’s filmography includes work for television, short features, and scripting and production duties, not to mention aesthetic guidance/input, on just about everything that bears the Studio Ghibli imprimatur.

He’s directed eleven features (links to where reviews exist on this blog) represent a stunningly coherent and visually imaginative body of work:

The Castle of Cagliostro

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Laputa, Castle in the Sky

My Neighbour Totoro (go here for image gallery)

Kiki’s Delivery Service (go here for image gallery)

Porco Rosso

Princess Mononoke

Spirited Away

Howl’s Moving Castle

Ponyo

The Wind Rises