Isolated Beauty: The Red Turtle Review

Next in my Studio Ghibli retrospective, I look at The Red Turtle. Probably the first point to address in reviewing The Red Turtle (2016) is “Does this really count as a Ghibli movie?” My answer: Yes, to me it counts. The movie was co-produced by Studio Ghibli and as such is part of the studio’s …

The Substitute: Not One Less Review

The next installment in my Zhang Yimou retrospective is Not One Less. Following Shanghai Triad and his split from Gong Li, Zhang Yimou made a comedy called Keep Cool (1997). This movie does not appear to be available anywhere with English subtitles, however, so I have to skip over it in this retrospective. (If I …

Ghost of an Idea: When Marnie Was There Review

For the next installment in my Studio Ghibli retrospective, I look at When Marnie Was There. During his time at Studio Ghibli, Hiromasa Yonebayashi carved out an interesting niche for himself. He directed two movies, both based on children’s books by British female authors: The Secret World of Arrietty, an adaptation of Mary Norton’s The …

No Honor among Thieves: Shanghai Triad Review

Next in my Zhang Yimou retrospective, I look at Shanghai Triad. Shanghai Triad (1995) marked something of a return to familiar territory for Zhang Yimou. After the near-docudrama of The Story of Qiu Ju and the sweeping family saga of To Live, Zhang once again made a downbeat period drama centered around a woman trapped …

Caught between Two Worlds: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Review

Next in my Studio Ghibli retrospective comes The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. I would like to take a moment to talk about Isao Takahata, one of Studio Ghibli’s original founders. Although he has been overshadowed by his more prolific and famous co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, Takahata’s work and life are no less worthy of attention. …

Ordinary People: To Live Review

In the next installment of my Zhang Yimou retrospective, I look at the magnificent To Live. To Live (1994) is a masterpiece. Director Zhang Yimou, screenwriters Lu Wei and Yu Hua, and the rest of the cast and crew have created a movie of great subtlety that packs an enormous emotional punch. Zhang has returned …

A Head in the Clouds: The Wind Rises Review

In the same month that brought the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I examine the life and work of a man who helped make that catastrophic event possible. Next in my Studio Ghibli retrospective, I look at The Wind Rises. Jiro Horikoshi was a Japanese aeronautical engineer who went to work for Mitsubishi in the …

Squeaky Wheel: The Story of Qiu Ju Review

Next in my Zhang Yimou retrospective, I look at The Story of Qiu Ju. The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) marks a notable change for director Zhang Yimou. The movie departs from his past story-telling template, which had reached a culmination of sorts in his previous movie, Raise the Red Lantern. In contrast to Zhang’s …

The Fair-to-Middling Kingdom: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

Next I review my second Marvel Cinematic Universe feature, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While calling Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) “the Asian Black Panther” would be a bit flippant, the parallels between the two movies are notable. And I’m not just referring to the fact that both …

Japanese Graffiti: From Up on Poppy Hill Review

Having just finished a Tokyo Olympics this month, let’s look back at the last time the Olympics were held in that part of the world. Next in my Ghibli retrospective, I review From Up on Poppy Hill. Among Ghibli fans, one occasionally hears the plaintive wish to live within a Ghibli movie, or perhaps some …

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