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A few reviews

addiesin

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TM2YC said:
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

If you haven't heard of it, former Ghibli staff now have a new studio and produced an animated film that can be found on Netflix called Mary and the Witch's Flower, and my headcanon is that it's a stealth sequel to Kiki.

I'm not an anime fan in general but I love some Ghibli movies. This one's Ghibli by association. :)
 

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mnkykungfu said:
Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Everyone's seen a trailer already, so there's a good spoiler-filled video instead... it actually just begins to cover the "sins" of what I thought was a massively over-rated film.  There are several big plot problems with that film, but much like Thor: Ragnarok, people who like comedy and pretty visuals don't care.  I'm a story guy however, so.... full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/spider-man-into-the-spider-verse/
I stopped watching after two minutes because the "sins" weren't things that were wrong with the movie, they were just stylistic things the reviewer didn't like (like the comic-book style of animation which I admit also bugged me), or non-issues like telling the viewer that Aaron's advise to put your hand on a girl's shoulder and go "Hey." is bad advice.
 

TM2YC

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addiesin said:
TM2YC said:
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

If you haven't heard of it, former Ghibli staff now have a new studio and produced an animated film that can be found on Netflix called Mary and the Witch's Flower, and my headcanon is that it's a stealth sequel to Kiki.

I'm not an anime fan in general but I love some Ghibli movies. This one's Ghibli by association. :)

Netflix's algorithm has been recommending that one pretty heavily because I've got all the Ghibli stuff on my watchlist. Speaking of Ghibli...

Princess Mononoke (1997)
After seeing several other Hayao Miyazaki animations in the past I was not expecting this to be so violent and adult oriented. There are more beheadings and maimings than in The Hobbit trilogy :D . It starts off as a fairly standard sword & sorcery adventure set in 16th Century Japan, following Prince Ashitaka (and his trusty elk steed Yakul) on a journey to a far away land to discover the source of an evil curse. It gets much weirder as it goes along with tentacles everywhere, forest spirits, nightmare demons, boar god armies and giant talking wolves. The source of the evil is a conflict between animals and the ancient spirits of the forest and the humans of the industrial 'Iron Town'. The forest is represented by San (the titular "Spirit-Monster Princess"), a human raised by the wolf gods and the humans are lead by the authoritative Lady Eboshi, a friend to lepers and prostitutes. Miyazaki is careful not to make either side out to be completely villainous, it's more concerned with ecological themes, the balance with nature and our failure to empathise with others. The animation and design is a riot of imagination and the handling of light is stunning as characters move beneath foliage, dappled in sunlight.


 

mnkykungfu

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asterixsmeagol said:
I stopped watching after two minutes because the "sins" weren't things that were wrong with the movie, they were just stylistic things the reviewer didn't like (like the comic-book style of animation which I admit also bugged me), or non-issues like telling the viewer that Aaron's advise to put your hand on a girl's shoulder and go "Hey." is bad advice.
Yeah, I find that when I really like a movie, I get annoyed with CinemaSins because its #1 priority is comedy, not "sins".  That said, pretty sure they bring up the first two major plot holes of the movie in the first 2 minutes, which is Gwen coming to Miles' school which
A. is an exclusive private school that you have to win a lottery to enter, and
B. is before he has been (for some reason?) bitten by an unexplained spider

So, in this case, I can forgive them poking fun at things that aren't really "sins".
 
TM2YC said:
Princess Mononoke (1997)
After seeing several other Hayao Miyazaki animations in the past I was not expecting this to be so violent and adult oriented. 

I do love the all-ages Ghibli films, and I wouldn't really call any of them "adult", though you would need to be a teen and/or Japanese to really appreciate some of them, like this one.  Mononoke-hime is hands-down Ghibli's crowning achievement for me, and one of my top animated films ever.  Crap, I immediately remembered Grave of the Fireflies and have to retract that.  Ok, Mononoke is #2 though!
 

asterixsmeagol

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mnkykungfu said:
asterixsmeagol said:
I stopped watching after two minutes because the "sins" weren't things that were wrong with the movie, they were just stylistic things the reviewer didn't like (like the comic-book style of animation which I admit also bugged me), or non-issues like telling the viewer that Aaron's advise to put your hand on a girl's shoulder and go "Hey." is bad advice.
Yeah, I find that when I really like a movie, I get annoyed with CinemaSins because its #1 priority is comedy, not "sins".  That said, pretty sure they bring up the first two major plot holes of the movie in the first 2 minutes, which is Gwen coming to Miles' school which
A. is an exclusive private school that you have to win a lottery to enter, and
B. is before he has been (for some reason?) bitten by an unexplained spider

Yeah, that doesn't really make any sense. I think that the video would have been more effective if it just did what the title says instead of doing what the title says and criticizing creative decisions and naming them as errors along with actual errors.
 

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mnkykungfu said:
That said, pretty sure they bring up the first two major plot holes of the movie in the first 2 minutes, which is Gwen coming to Miles' school which
A. is an exclusive private school that you have to win a lottery to enter, and
B. is before he has been (for some reason?) bitten by an unexplained spider

A. Maybe her universe also had the school so she had the credentials to get in? Maybe the teachers are mostly not observant? I mean I don't doubt she's not enrolled but it's the beginning of the school year so she wouldn't stick out to most just being new. A better question is why would she want/choose to go there, but even then she's not in her universe and has no home to go to, maybe she wants somewhere to blend in until she figures out what to do. I don't find this to be much of a stretch.

B. The collider that caused her to arrive went off after he was bitten, but Gwen said she was "thrown into last week". The spider's origin not being explained was for a (imo pretty good) visual gag, but if you want an explanation, since it was underground and very near the collider, I'd say Fisk's science people working on the collider were likely also the origin of the spider. Fisk had a history with Spiderman in this universe so again, not much of a stretch.

I don't think these count as plot holes, maybe leaps in logic or details left to the imagination. They don't make the movie's story hard to understand, the audience is always able to follow the plot. I think the story is pretty tight, and I'm glad they didn't get too nitty gritty into the characters' origin stories, they know we know the gist already.

Btw, I didn't intend this as an attack on you, just a response to the two nitpicks.
 

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addiesin said:

Well, hey, if it didn't bother you, it didn't bother you.  As someone who's taught big classes before, it's incomprehensible to me that you're passing out photocopies to your students and oblivious that there's an extra student who's not on your roll.  It also just seems like super lazy/convenient writing to have the only instance of time travel indicated in the film be used to explain Gwen's presence.  Time travel explanations are the crutch of desperate writers (unless your movie is all about Time.)  (Also, ALSO Gwen explains her presence at the school by saying she felt "called" there by her Spider-Sense [because now that's how Spider-Sense works??] except that why would she be called there before Miles was ever bitten?!  Her Spider-Sense no longer senses danger but is now some kind of divination device?!)

Then we have Kingpin, a Prohibition-era mobster caricature.  Doc Ock wants to work on a particle collider, fine, but in this universe Kingpin also thinks warping dimensions will allow him to rewrite his past and will work on a billion dollar experiment for that?  Okay, fine, so it's a very different Kingpin than we've ever seen before, but I'll try to run with that.  So we're meant to believe he's simultaneously bankrolling experiments on spiders that would replicate Spider-Man's powers?  Why?  It's not tied to his motivation.  We don't see anything about these experiments.  He doesn't know what gave Spider-Man his powers.  Nobody we see in the movie is a genius bio-chemist.  And it would be super-weird to run these experiments in the hidden sewer next to a particle collider that distorts reality!  They'd be totally separate from each other, assuming you believe they co-exist.  It's just a deus ex machina thrown in and then hoping the audience will buy the explanation "Uhhh...Because Science!" just because they don't want to see yet more exposition and yet another Spider-Man origin (even though the film shows 6 Spider-Man origins...)  Sorry, not on board.  It's just lazy.

I'm fine if people like things more/less than I do, it's cool.  What I do wish, though, is that people would be more open to admitting the faults in what they like.  Like, I've historically been a huge Star Wars fan, but I'll admit those are not perfect films.  It seems like often these days, especially on the internet, no one can admit there are flaws in the things they like.  Like that would somehow lessen their like for the thing?  (Not directed at anyone in particular, I just often find myself in the position of criticising a critical darling and being met with a wall of opposition.)
 

Moe_Syzlak

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mnkykungfu said:
I just often find myself in the position of criticising a critical darling and being met with a wall of opposition.

Well, when you’re opposing someone else’s opinion—especially when it’s one that is shared by a great many critics—you have to accept that it may be you in the minority; that the faults you see aren’t seen as faults by most. I’ve got my fair share of differences in opinion with many movies. For example, I think almost all Christopher Nolan movies are well made but ultimately shallow and cheap narratively. But many find him among the most brilliant filmmakers ever, and certainly currently making movies. Stand by your convictions but don’t assume you’re right and they’re wrong. You’re right for you, and they’re right for them. That’s the beauty of art.
 

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Moe_Syzlak said:
mnkykungfu said:
I just often find myself in the position of criticising a critical darling and being met with a wall of opposition.

Well, when you’re opposing someone else’s opinion—especially when it’s one that is shared by a great many critics—you have to accept that it may be you in the minority; that the faults you see aren’t seen as faults by most. I’ve got my fair share of differences in opinion with many movies. For example, I think almost all Christopher Nolan movies are well made but ultimately shallow and cheap narratively. But many find him among the most brilliant filmmakers ever, and certainly currently making movies. Stand by your convictions but don’t assume you’re right and they’re wrong. You’re right for you, and they’re right for them. That’s the beauty of art.

I'm good with that.  I do expect opposition, and don't get me wrong, I like debate over the relative success of how well filmmakers achieved their vision.  It's often hard to get across online what you'd see in person, which is a real enthusiasm and engagement when discussing films.  What I was getting at is that I try to focus on criticism that isn't a matter of personal taste (unlike for example, "I don't like that animation style" as astrerixsmeagol pointed out) and is more about continuity, logic gaps, tonal/character inconsistencies... things that are not a matter of preference but can be discussed more objectively. 

Your criticism of Nolan is a good example.  We could really debate if the deeper meaning and themes present in films like Inception or The Dark Knight are intended by the filmmakers or are being read into and imposed by the audience.  That's a healthy debate.  And as a Nolan fan, I'm open to admitting he has not always flawlessly executed his films.  I love when others can engage on that same level, like "I liked the acting so much in The Prestige that I overlooked some of the logic errors." It's okay to acknowledge something is not perfect and you like it anyway.  I kind of view that as a major focus of this site: the idea that as good as a movie was, it could be made even better with a little tweaking.
 

asterixsmeagol

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Moe_Syzlak said:
I think almost all Christopher Nolan movies are well made but ultimately shallow and cheap narratively.

I'm in the minority here along with you.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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mnkykungfu said:
Moe_Syzlak said:
mnkykungfu said:
I just often find myself in the position of criticising a critical darling and being met with a wall of opposition.

Well, when you’re opposing someone else’s opinion—especially when it’s one that is shared by a great many critics—you have to accept that it may be you in the minority; that the faults you see aren’t seen as faults by most. I’ve got my fair share of differences in opinion with many movies. For example, I think almost all Christopher Nolan movies are well made but ultimately shallow and cheap narratively. But many find him among the most brilliant filmmakers ever, and certainly currently making movies. Stand by your convictions but don’t assume you’re right and they’re wrong. You’re right for you, and they’re right for them. That’s the beauty of art.

I'm good with that.  I do expect opposition, and don't get me wrong, I like debate over the relative success of how well filmmakers achieved their vision.  It's often hard to get across online what you'd see in person, which is a real enthusiasm and engagement when discussing films.  What I was getting at is that I try to focus on criticism that isn't a matter of personal taste (unlike for example, "I don't like that animation style" as astrerixsmeagol pointed out) and is more about continuity, logic gaps, tonal/character inconsistencies... things that are not a matter of preference but can be discussed more objectively. 

Your criticism of Nolan is a good example.  We could really debate if the deeper meaning and themes present in films like Inception or The Dark Knight are intended by the filmmakers or are being read into and imposed by the audience.  That's a healthy debate.  And as a Nolan fan, I'm open to admitting he has not always flawlessly executed his films.  I love when others can engage on that same level, like "I liked the acting so much in The Prestige that I overlooked some of the logic errors." It's okay to acknowledge something is not perfect and you like it anyway.  I kind of view that as a major focus of this site: the idea that as good as a movie was, it could be made even better with a little tweaking.

But I think that goes hand in hand. There’s always reasons why someone overlooks something someone else finds problematic.

I think the new Star Wars trilogy is about as perfect an example as you could have. Star Wars is beloved by people for a few reasons but one major reason is its Hero’s Journey that depicts very clearly a black and white good vs. evil. Some felt the sequels should just be that and tread the same old ground. But some, such as myself, felt the only way to justify a continuation of the story was to add depth, to give the story meaning and a reason to exist. I can’t say I fault either perspective. And I, too, go back and forth as to what Star Wars should be. And reasonable people can disagree. The problem arises when people insist that their view is the “right” view.

One of the things I love about this site, particularly as a non-editor, is the chance to discuss, in depth, narrative choices of movies I care about. I don’t always agree with the choices made by editors here, but until I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and do it myself, I’m left with merely voicing my opinions. Take it or leave it.
 

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mnkykungfu said:

I think we're just coming at this from different angles. What you see as lazy I see as efficient in this movie in particular. We can both agree they're using shorthand with some plot details, however you take that as a negative while I take it as a positive. I just somewhat take issue with calling these things plot holes, and am slightly surprised these things could take someone out of this film.

Not much more to say, it's totally fine for you or anyone to dislike it.
 

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Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) is an irrepressible failed dreamer, he's tried to bring ice and the railway to his remote corner of the Peruvian jungle but his biggest dream is to build an Opera house for his hero Enrico Caruso to perform in. He notices that there is an unexploited region of lucrative rubber trees beyond an impassable section of Amazon rapids. He realises that far beyond the dangerous rapids, the river bends within just a few hundred meters of another navigable river. So he hatches an insane plan to sail a steamship down it and then drag the vessel over land to get at the rubber and make his fortune. It's testament to Kinski's undeniable genius as an actor that he makes the title character so endearing, moving, earnest and quietly heroic, despite his reputation as a real-life raving psychopath. The film is full of moments of poetic beauty like when Fitzcarraldo plays an opera record to counter the war drumming of unseen natives. One obvious model shot is used at the end, which I think they film could've done without and then be able to truly claim "We did ALL of this for real!".


Burden of Dreams (1982)
Like the King of the ill-fated "Swamp Castle" from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' ("Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp!"), Director Werner Herzog remained unyielding in the face of the many formidable problems that beset the making of 1982's 'Fitzcarraldo' (some of his own making). Luckily Documentarian Les Blank was on hand to film the decent into madness. If the idea of making a film about a man who drags a 300-ton steamship over a large mountain deep in the Amazonian jungle, by actually pulling a 300-ton ship over a jungle mountain didn't present enough scope for disaster... the first set was burned down by irate natives, the original two lead actors (Jason Robards and Mick Jagger) abandoned the film after 40% was complete, then they were replaced by the volatile and genuinely insane actor Klaus Kinski, the boat ran aground, natives attacked the crew with arrows, the site engineer quit in protest, the production's bulldozer kept sinking in to the mud and worst of all the crew's football got a puncture. Herzog gives exhausted interviews to camera, partly his trademark philosophical musings and partly trying to explain things like the visible injuries to crew members and his decision to provide prostitutes alongside the catering. 'Burden of Dreams' is certainly one of the all-time great movies-about-movies.

 

mnkykungfu

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Moe_Syzlak said:
mnkykungfu said:
One of the things I love about this site, particularly as a non-editor, is the chance to discuss, in depth, narrative choices of movies I care about. I don’t always agree with the choices made by editors here, but until I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and do it myself, I’m left with merely voicing my opinions. Take it or leave it.

I agree with you on that.  I do welcome thoughtful discussion.
 
addiesin said:
 I just somewhat take issue with calling these things plot holes, and am slightly surprised these things could take someone out of this film.  Not much more to say, it's totally fine for you it anyone to dislike it.

Just to be sure, I looked up the definition of plot hole and to me it sounds like exactly what I described.  But hey, I'm not trying to convince anyone to not like the movie if they've decided already that they like it.  If you read my review, it was a positive one.  I just don't think it's a flawless 5-star film.  This is just a "Reviews" thread, and my review was: not as good as the hype.  That's all.  I still love all you guys.  ;)

Hey, so anyway, I watched a couple films for Easter:
Jesus Camp (2006)
The official trailer is kinda all over the place.  Better to just show you a scene exactly as it is in the film (aspect ratio here is a bit stretched though.)
Review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/jesus-camp/
Most people, religious or not, will find something to be bothered by here.  What saddens me is that this isn't a few isolated people, it's about 25-30% of the U.S.  One of my new top 10 docs.

The Book of Eli (2010)
Review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/the-book-of-eli/
I held off on watching this because I got serious "Hollywood action flick" vibes from the trailer...like "This is going to turn out to have a plot that breaks down and characters with weak/inconsistent motivations, isn't it?"  I actually watched a fanedit of this and left its review on that page, but the short version is all those improvements still couldn't turn this into more than an average movie for me.  And the original film's story is just.... well, not for me.
 

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^ Did you see this? :D


Ivan's Childhood (1962)
Following in the wake of films like 1957's 'The Cranes are Flying', Andrei Tarkovsky's debut uses the relaxed censorship of the post Stalin era to cast another critical eye back over Soviet Russia's involvement in WWII. Nikolai Burlyaev plays a 12-year old boy called Ivan, who is a child soldier willingly doing reconnaissance missions as a way to get back at the Nazis who killed his family. The film begins with a stunning dream/flashback sequence to when Ivan was innocent, observing a butterfly and appearing to take flight himself with the camera. Another scene makes it look like Ivan is running on the surface of water. The toll war takes on the innocent, on nature, and especially trees/wood is a repeated theme. A scene inside a bunker lined with Silver Birch trunks, transitions to a scene in a forest of the same trees when they were alive. The most iconic shot is of Ivan approaching the wreck of a burned out wooden house, the broken planks appearing to stab into the frame towards the boy. The terrain is a psychic mirror for the characters. 'Ivan's Childhood' is an anti-war masterpiece.


^ This is one of the best and most professional fan trailers I've ever found on youtube. It captures the film perfectly without giving away any plot. Great job Dan McBride.
 

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QT8: The First Eight (2019)
A decent enough career overview of Quentin Tarantino leading up to just before 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'. It doesn't have interviews with everybody but it has enough of the top talent and Michael Madsen can really spin a yarn just on his own. The beginning is like a tiresome DVD bonus feature where everybody is falling over themselves to tell you that Tarantino is a genius (which of course he is). Thankfully it soon gets on to discussing why he is so respected by his actors and crew and into his working methods. His love for movies and for making them is infectious and really comes across. There is some awkwardness due to the precise time period in which this was shot, edited and released because they can't really talk about the Harvey Weinstein situation but they can't not talk about it either. This was originally going to be released by The Weinstein Company in 2016 but Director Tara Wood managed to get the rights back. You can feel where the smooth running of the original doc structure stops and newly added bits addressing the scandal are spliced in.

 

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Ponyo (2008)
This feels more squarely aimed at kids than some of the other Hayao Miyazaki films, even the character design has a paired-down simplicity and the backgrounds have a rougher pastel look, as if the film itself is more childlike. The relationship between Ponyo and Sosuke is utterly charming but the story overall didn't bowl me over like some of Miyazaki's other work. The movement, behavior and outlook of a 5-year old are lovingly transcribed by the animators. I didn't understand what the Wagner references were there for?


 

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TM2YC said:
^ Did you see this? :D

Ivan's Childhood (1962)


^ This is one of the best and most professional fan trailers I've ever found on youtube. It captures the film perfectly without giving away any plot. Great job Dan McBride.
I identify with that K&P video hard... I'm like "Yes, we need each other in this post apocalyptic quarantine time!" then I look online and see a bunch of people all over the world whose behavior makes me want to go back into isolation.

That fan trailer is awesome.  Pretty sure the music is from NIN.
 
TM2YC said:
QT8: The First Eight (2019)
I'd like to see an anti-establishment doc on Tarantino.  For people who were a certain age when his movies came out, or for professional critics, they just fall all over his "genius".  How daring is a review of his successes?  Not at all.  On the other hand, how about diving in with interviews with Ringo Lam, a supposed hero of his who he denies he took the plot of Reservoir Dogs from?  How about interviews with people in the African- and Asian-American communities to see the varied opinions on his treatment of race in his films?  How about interviews with Miramax staff to examine his extremely close relationship with Weinstein and Mira Sorvino, and get perspective on how much he knew and when?  How about interviews with Uma Thurman, Dianne Kruger, and other actresses that have exposed very unprofessional requests he made of them?
I'm not looking for a "takedown" of Tarantino, I'd just like to see the questions asked of people who aren't in his inner circle of repeat actors and/or sycophants.  You know, something that's a real unbiased examination?  There's certainly a lot to explore there.
 
TM2YC said:
Ponyo (2008)
This is probably my least favorite Ghibli film.  It honestly felt to me like a re-tread of ideas better explored in Spirited Away, Howl's, and The Cat Returns, among other earlier Ghibli films.  The animation also felt simplified beyond a level of charm, into downright cheapness in some scenes.  Not sure what happened with this one.
 

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mnkykungfu said:
how about diving in with interviews with Ringo Lam, a supposed hero of his who he denies he took the plot of Reservoir Dogs from?

The doc does mention that 'City on Fire' inspired RD.

mnkykungfu said:
How about interviews with people in the African- and Asian-American communities to see the varied opinions on his treatment of race in his films?

It does devote some time to those questions too.

mnkykungfu said:
How about interviews with Miramax staff to examine his extremely close relationship with Weinstein and Mira Sorvino, and get perspective on how much he knew and when?  How about interviews with Uma Thurman, Dianne Kruger, and other actresses that have exposed very unprofessional requests he made of them?

The Weinstein stuff is mentioned but as I said, the timing makes it awkward because they can't speak totally openly about an ongoing case. Dianne Kruger is in the doc a lot in fact. Uma was going to be in the doc I believe but it didn't happen for some reason. The doc does bring up and show her car crash incident on the set of Kill Bill though.

mnkykungfu said:
I'm not looking for a "takedown" of Tarantino, I'd just like to see the questions asked of people who aren't in his inner circle of repeat actors and/or sycophants.  You know, something that's a real unbiased examination?  There's certainly a lot to explore there.

To be fair the doc does try to walk that fine line your talking about but it's a bit wobbly on it's feet.

mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Ponyo (2008)
This is probably my least favorite Ghibli film.

Yet my 5 year old niece absolutely loves Ponyo. I don't think this one was aimed at us :D .
 

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The Quiet Earth (1985)
What if you woke up and you were the last person on earth? This inventive low-budget New Zealand film follows Scientist Zac as he goes through waves of confusion, elation, grieving, denial, despair, introspection and madness. Euphoric scenes of racing a hotrod round an empty city, going for a joy ride in a train, or moving into a mansion are contrasted with him going crazy, declaring himself President and God, wreaking havoc on the world and contemplating suicide. The little blackly comedic details are so well observed, like Zac deliberately parking near a "Keep off the grass" sign. It's a bit darker and more serious but I'd definitely compare Geoff Murphy's movie with the work of fellow kiwi Taika Waititi. It's a got a similar tragicomic sensibility. The score by John Charles is really lovely in a John Barry-type way.

I can't find a trailer that doesn't have spoilers but here it is anyway. The first 45-50 seconds are safe to watch:


 
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