Monday, September 25, 2023

Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004)

Man in a high castle

Hayao Miyazaki's version of Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle  lurches out of mysterious fog right at the start of the film-- a gigantically mutated armored version of the Baba Yaga's chicken-leg house, complete with gun-turret eyes and brassplated tongue. The castle bristles with balconies and smokestacks and batwings (Fish fins? Chinese junk sails?); popped out of one side of its head is a little chapel tipped with crucifix; a brick tail (Anus? Rearward penis?) trails between balljointed legs ending in a door lit by a solitary lamp. It's like Miyazaki had spent a month brainstorming ideas for the castle's look got over a dozen good suggestions (Munchausen whale island, steampunk samurai, flying fortress cyborg) struggled to choose among them hit upon an inspired thought: why not use them all?

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Essential Truths of the Lake (Lav Diaz, 2023)

Lady of the lake

Call Lav Diaz's latest film Essential Truths of the Lake a prequel to his When the Waves are Gone (Kung Wala Nang Mga Alon 2022); call the film a deeper dive into Diaz's returning character Hermes Papauran, the oft-described 'greatest Filipino investigator ever.' 

Monday, September 11, 2023

World Trade Center (Oliver Stone, 2006)

This is not a political film

That was the mantra Oliver Stone reportedly repeated to himself while making his latest feature -- the idea being to show what happened on September 11, 2001, when two passenger jets hit the Twin Towers and sent them tumbling down. "The details are the details are the details," he says, having been told in no uncertain terms by producers Michael Shamberg and Stacy Sher (who gave him the aforementioned mantra) to keep the paranoid conspiracy theories to a minimum (JFK anyone?) and stick to facts.