UK-based filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski returns to the country of his birth with a film that explores the persistence of the war in 1960s Poland. Shot in Academy ratio and soft black and white, the cinematography by Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal is beautiful, capturing the stark landscapes and emotional weight of the historical period. The setting and subject matter seem to give Pawlikowski renewed impetus at an important stage in his career and the result is a measured, sombre film that succeeds in evoking the intricate world of its central figures.
This is what’s called serendipitous timing, folks. If you’re downloading this episode the day it drops on iTunes, then we’re just one day away from the Academy Awards, and the film we’re talking about on the new episode of Mousterpiece Cinema may very well walk away with an Oscar this year. No, we’re not going over Frozen again; instead, it’s time to discuss Hayao Miyazaki’s newest, and possibly final, film, The Wind Rises. Gabe and Josh are joined by Film School Rejects‘ Rob Hunter to debate Miyazaki’s fictionalized biopic of Japanese airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi. Did Miyazaki need to be more strident in his criticism of the man who helped Japanese fighters fly in World War II? Is this film more than just a bunch of beautiful animation, or hollow aside from the visuals? And is the English-language dub going to be worth watching aside from hearing Werner Herzog as an animated character? Find out on the new episode!
Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee) arrives at a small town via travel boat accompanied by his uncle Lu (Chia Ching). Cheng has decided to relocate to a more peaceful, quaint location to find work and abide by his mother’s bidding to stay out of fights. Lu presents Cheng to the many cousins he will be staying with under the same roof, among them headstrong martial arts practitioner Hsu Chien (James Tien) and the attractive Chiao Mei (Maria Yi). Through his familial connections Cheng earns a place at the local ice factory but things are not all what they seem upon first glance. Their manager occasionally requires employers to visit him to his office or the factory’s owner at the latter’s personal estate never for them to return. Two of Cheng’s cousins are the most recent victims to vanish in thin air. The manager and owner claim innocence, but as Cheng soon discovers, the duo are using the factory as a front for their drug smuggling operations. He also discovers that sometimes one simply can’t stay out of a fight to defend family!
The Little Mermaid is usually credited with kick-starting Disney’s first animation renaissance, but this often-discussed period started 3 years prior with The Great Mouse Detective. Similarly, Disney’s second animation renaissance has been credited to Frozen and Tangledwhen it started years earlier. While it is convenient to think that all Disney needed was Idina Menzel and a great power ballad to rediscover their movie musical roots, the path that led to Frozen’snearly $1 billion box-office gross worldwide has been rough and messy with one major loss for the company along the way.
Liam Neeson’s face has become a world-weary, pock-marked road map over the years, detailing a wholesome leading man’s travails into cinematic battle. In the last 6 years, he’s revitalized himself as a no-nonsense action hero, an unstoppably tough Good Guy With A Dark Past, starting with the outrageousTaken all the way up to his new film, Non-Stop. Gone is the soulful dramatic lead of the early 1990s; in his place is a take-no-guff sort who better like you or else he’ll probably put a choke hold on you in about eight seconds. (His recent detour into voiceover work, in The LEGO Movie, was a pitch-perfect parody of the stereotype he’s otherwise embodied in his recent films.) Non-Stop is, as would be expected, an enormously silly film that either squanders or is saved by its overstuffed ensemble, from scene to scene.
Adapted from Boris Vian’s cult novel, commonly translated as Froth on the Daydream, Michel Gondry’s latest film is a riotous, whimsical journey with a lot more to say than initially meets the eye. The opening sequence threatens to drown you in a cavalcade of offbeat animation and special effects, including a stop motion eel, an insect-like doorbell, a TV chef who passes ingredients through the screen and a miniature man dressed up like a mouse. Gondry’s indulgence throws down the gauntlet right away – either you’re in or you’re out. Mood Indigo can be bewildering, exasperating, infuriating, but, then again, it can be utterly transportive.