Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.
Kim’s Pick – Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Loosely based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle was Hayao Miyazaki’s follow up to the runaway success of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Telling the story set in a fictional kingdom filled with both magic and technology as well as a bit of steampunk if you look at the Moving Castle creation, it follows the adventures of a common girl called Sophie who encounters a witch that turns her into an old woman. In turn, she encounters Howl, a wizard who is set out on resisting the war that is going on between the kingdoms. This encounter takes her into Howl’s Moving Castle which turns out to not only be a magical place filled with magical creatures like Calcifer, the fire that runs the castle as well as the portal of doors that can go where Howl had set.
Voiced by Christian Bale (Howl), Jean Simmons (old Sophie), Emily Mortimer (young Sophie), Billy Crystal (Calcifer) and Lauren Bacall (Witch of the Waste), Howl’s Moving Castle is packed with some strong Hollywood talent which reflect well through the final outcome of the film as each character becomes endearing and incredibly fun to watch come to life in each of their roles. As usual, Joe Hisaishi is the mastermind behind the moving soundtrack here and manages to capture all the great moments through sweeping orchestral score. Howl’s Moving Castle is an adventure and a love story packed with anti-war themes as well as the depiction of old age. However, it is the balance between the humor and the drama here that gives each of the character depth as we learn more about the magical Howl, both literally and figuratively, and it goes right down to giving a charming sense of life to a ball of fire.
While not laddened with achievements or considered a classic like Miyazaki’s earlier works, Howl’s Moving Castle has a ragtag team that goes on an adventure, each with their own goals and their own stories. However, it still manages to tug at the heartstrings and deliver some funny and charming moments. While one of the more modern titles from Miyazaki, although its already been 15 years since its release, Howl’s Moving Castle is a worthy title that doesn’t always get mentioned as Miyazaki’s great directorial works and should be.
Elwood’s Pick – Heavy Metal (1981)
For those of you who recently enjoyed the Netflix anthology series Love, Death and Robots and now find yourself eagerly awaiting the recently announced second season you might want to check out this 1981 animated anthology which served as the inspiration with David Fincher and Tim Miller originally setting out to remake it, only for production issues to see them instead reworking their ideas Love, Death and Robots.
So for those of you not familiar with the mature comic “Heavy Metal” which the film draws its own inspiration from it’s no doubt a publication best known for its focus on fantasy and sci-fi stories which are presented with a healthy dose of nudity, violence, drugs and erotica. It’s also a comic which interestingly is also owned by Kevin Eastman who lets not forget was also responsible for giving the world the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The film itself is a bumper collection of nine tales tied together by a mysterious green orb called the Loc-Nar which also describes itself as “the sum of all evils” and as we soon discover has been responsible for influencing societies throughout time and space while usually bringing misfortune to those who encounter it. Each story has its own distinctive style from the Sin City style noir of the opening story “Harry Canyon” through to the ultra violent barbarian fantasies of “Den” and “Taarna” which makes it an easy film to get into especially as if you don’t like one story its not long till you move onto a new one.
Directed by Gerald Potterton who is no doubt best known for his work as an animator on arguably the best Beatles movie Yellow Submarine here his style is just as experimental incorporating elements of rotoscoping aswell as a distinctive hand drawn animated style which brings to mind the work of Ralph Bakshi. More so when characters frequently can be found engaging in some form of bad or deviant behavior including (but certainly not limited to) a pair of alien pilots snorting mile long lines of coke off the floor of their spaceship.
While the animation style might look a little dated there is still unquestionably a charm to this hand drawn style of animation and it perfectly suits the stories being told much like the voice cast who might be surprising to see attached to this film and no doubt the result of Ivan Reitman being attached as the producer, but they all really play their roles well with John Candy’s voice work in particular really left me wishing that he had done more voice work as here he really shows a talent for it.
Adding to the action is a classic rock soundtrack which thankfully forgoes the usual obvious choices and instead gives us lesser known tracks from the likes of Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad and Sammy Hagar which really is the kind of soundtrack you want when you open your film with a Corvette being driven out of a spaceship and landing on Earth by it’s astronaut driver (or should that be pilot). Still regardless of the setting of each story the soundtrack somehow works well with the onscreen action, though frustratingly one of the stories being cut due to production delays meant that we lost “Time” by Pink Floyd from the soundtrack.
It’s true that due to the voyeuristic style throughout the film which much like its source material is not something that will suit all tastes, but if you liked the brash style of Sin City you will no doubt find this film very much its kindred spirit. Yes it’s rude, foul mouthed and seemingly devoid of even the most base morals but at the same time it’s so much fun that it’s hard to draw too much of an issue with it’s frequently outlandish world view and for fans of adult animation, especially those who came up through the anime boom of the late 80’s and early 90’s will no doubt get a kick out this one.
So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?
Let us know in the comments section below.
Simplistic Reviews return from their recent break to discuss what they did on their summer break, which includes hospital visits that lead to an interaction with Michael Keaton, their top 3 episodes of Black Mirror, some of Quincy Jones’ best hits…on fellow celebrities, and how much they would need to get paid to let a female soccer player kick them in the nethers!
Of course if this wasn’t enough Matt has an interview with the producer of The Ranger Heather Buckley
Asian Cinema Film Club check out Park Chan-Wook’s take on the vampire mythos with Thirst as a priest finds himself inheriting vampirism from a blood transfusion. They also discuss Old school anime collecting, Detective Pikachu, Neon Genesis Evangelion and the changing face of fandom.
The Blade Licking Thieves are looking at Highlander: The Search For Vengeance aswell as sharing thier thoughts on Godzilla: King of the Monsters