There are only two films I have ever walked out of, one I don't remember apart from it was a war film and there was a scene where someone waited in the rain.
The other was Spirited Away.
A move for which I have felt guilty of for a very long time, I since went back and watched it through many times over. I've also watched Howl's Moving Castle. Meaning my understanding of Studio Ghibli is high fantasy and extraordinary images; fast paced animation with extraordinarily beautiful line work.
When Marnie Was There is missing all those things with the exception of beautiful line work. It's a film of more restrained movement, any supernatural element is subtle and easily explained away. It is still beautiful but of a very different tone to the rest of Studio Ghibli.
The main character Anna is a young girl, outside the circle as she puts it, isolated with abandonment issues. Her guardian doesn't know why she has suddenly shut her off from others and even her own emotions. So she sends Anna off to the coast, to stay with some relatives, the clear air will also help with Anna's athma.
In this beautiful coastal town Anna avoids all other children till she finds an old marsh house, and a young girl who seems to be trapped there. Marnie.
Anna is an interesting character, she isn't just an isolated child who needs to learn to let people in, she's also a little bit of a bitch. She's quick tempered and incredibly rude, although usually only in her thoughts. It's a culmination of things in life that have made her shut everyone out.
Her friendship with Marnie develops quickly and deeply, always stretching the line between reality and dreams. Time seems to be lost when they are together, Marnie never appears when any of Anna's friends are around.
Is she a ghost, a memory, an imaginary friend? As it turns out, perhaps a little of each. The story is a very traditional one, the characters feel archetypal and yet fresh enough to still be interesting.
The animation felt odd however, it is still as beautiful as ever, but the more realistic speed of the characters and less bombastic action mean's it feels a little too constricted and as though it could be doing more.
A beautiful a touching tale, unique in how restrained it is for a Studio Ghibli, however crying out for something with a bit more of the unique creativity the studio is known for.
Today the first in The Old Kingdom series, Sabriel, turns 20 years old. There are a few books I can point back to as being so very influential on my life.
The first was Howl's Moving Castle; I wasn't an adventures reader during my younger years. I didn't have a great grasp of spelling or grammar, a trait I'm happy to say I still am unable to escape... wait... happy's not the right word. However it was How'ls Moving Castle that was the first ever chapter book I read, and I couldn't put it down. I don't know if it was the magical world, characters or just how endlessly creative it was but I couldn't put it down. It was the first book that was ever threatened to be confiscated from me, but certainly not the last.
From then on I was a very avid reader, a huge fan of Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynn Jones and Margret Clark''s Web Watchers... which is so incredibly dated in hind site that I have to laugh, although lovingly.
One of the book made a very lasting impression on me without ever having a chance to read it, this was Lireal. I borrowed the book but didn't have a chance to read it before I had to return it, although my father did. When the Librarian asked what I was planning to read next I said Lireal, and was then promptly told that I couldn't. Lireal was apparently too adult for me, and I should never have been able to borrow it in the first place. I'd never been told that I wasn't able to read something before and that set something off inside me.
It was in the high school library that I finally was able to get my hands on Lireal, to this day it is still my favorite book. It's the only book I've ever re-read and re-read and re-read.
There was only one other book that opened up another word for me as well, the first ever tome fantasy that I read. Sword of Shannara, was the first time I'd challenged myself when it came to length.
However this isn't really a great birthday for Sabriel, as I've spent so long talking about how I like it's younger sibling more. While it's considered a trilogy, I see it a bit more like The Hobbit and then LOTR. Sabriel is set around twenty or so year before Lireal and Abhorsen.
So Sabriel, a happy twentieth birthday to you, one of the few books I'll re-read, part of my favorite series of all time and a truly great book.
Once the film has been out for a while I may do a re-cap of the major reveals in more details as well as the obligatory Easter egg hunt. For now lets focus on broad terms; how does this film hold up and compare to the rest of the Marvel line up.
I called Avengers a safe movie, one that hit all the notes it was supposed to, but it was polished to an absolute gleam; and while it was very traditional for an action movie it's attempt to blend in several franchises and genres and have them all feel cohesive was incredibly ambitious. Avengers: The Age of Ultron suffers for not being as refined, the weight of having to keep so many balls in the air, supporting and introducing new characters begins to show.
Avengers 2 is not as good as Avengers 1, it's not as refined, it has too many plot notes it needs to hit and attempting to one up it's previous film. I saw it over a week ago and while I do still remember plot points and character motivations my feelings to the film are fairly, ehhhh.
Perhaps the tipping point of over saturation of comic movies has been reached sooner then most thought, or Avengers 2 simply suffers from middle movie-itis. It's not the treasured first born that was Avengers, nor will it be the chaotic misbehaving twins of Infinity Wars. It has to struggle to continue developing what was already set up, introduce new plot threads and still be a contained movie. It is eons more successful at that then Hobbit: The *missing* desolation of Smaug was, however it probably isn't up to the Two Towers level of skill either.
Let's brush on weak points and strengths; Tony vs Cap is already feeling like a fiddle played too often. We know this song boys, and I for one am not looking forward to another encore during Captain 3: Civil War. There are too many plot points and too many characters, a few clearly just making cameo's to remind the audience they exist so it isn't confusing when they show up at the end.
I'd count the humor as both a strength and weakness, it's still funny but the first movie it felt more natural, here it feels a little more forced. As if they have pauses to wait for the audience to laugh.
When it's on point however it is still genuinely funny. The new characters were also a mixed bag however I can't go into to much detail without spoilers.
The action is still clear however despite being in a smaller city for the climax it feels far more spread around. The opening action seen had some laughably bad CGI at points and was clearly influenced by Captain America's montage from the first movie. It was also deliberately watered down so it didn't compete with the climax. When they are all brought together to protect something in the climax it really feels intense and close. That scene was pretty beautiful, and there were a few great moments.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is worth the price of admission, compared to many blockbusters it is fun and clever. However Ultron may not have any stings on him, but there are plenty all over this movie, it's constrained in parts and stretched in others. This is where we see the cost of Marvel's ambitious plan, service to the continuity over service to making the best product possible. It's still not nearly as embarrassing as Sony's attempt at the exact same thing but it will make me more wary for any studio attempting such a task. (DC I'm looking at you)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.