A few weeks ago we went to a military movie theater with our kids to watch a Disney movie “Princess and Frog”. I was curious if our older son could sit through a 90 minutes animation film, and it turned out he did fine for the most part, though there were some parts where a voodoo doctor appeared which was scary for him. It was an entertaining story with so much color and music, with an unique storyline; The main character Tiana turned into a frog when she kissed a voodoo cursed frog, thinking it’ll turn him back to a prince. Together they visit Mama Odie, hoping that she’d undo the curse, but she told Tiana that she needs to understand the difference between what she wants and what she needs. Continue reading
I recently watched the movie “My Sister’s Keeper”. It is based on a novel with the same title, however the movie differs from the novel slightly. It is about a girl, Anna, whose DNA was genetically designed so she could be a perfect donor to her older sister, Kate, who has leukemia. In the movie, Anna, age 11, decides to sue her parents seeking to win control of her own body on the grounds of medical emancipation as she no longer wanted to give her body parts to help her sister due to the potential impact it would have for her own life. Despite this serious theme, I found the movie enjoyable and somewhat uplifting. It was also thought provoking; would parents really go as far as having another, genetically designed baby so they’d have a perfect donor to their dying child? Where is the line between wanting to do everything within their power to help, and going too far? Continue reading
Some time ago, my husband and I watched the movie “Seven Samurai” which was highly recommended by my friend Henry. It is an old movie (1954) made by the world famous film director Akira Kurosawa. We enjoyed it very much. It is about a village of farmers that decided to hire seven samurai (ronin; masterless samurai) to defend themselves from an impending attack of bandits instead of letting the bandits steal their crops after the harvest. There were many things to be said about this movie. I liked what Kanbei (the head Samurai) said to others when he was trying to recruit his small army. He was honest about it up front and said “I have a job that brings you no money and no fame”. Continue reading
My husband and I just came back from a special full-screening of the movie “Ponyo”, which is the latest animated film created by Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki made an appearance and talked about the film prior to the movie. In order to get in the theater in downtown San Diego, my husband went there to get in line and waited for a few hours. After I got off work, I joined him and waited some more, during which I wrote most of this post.
I recently re-watched the movie, “Spirited Away”, a Japanese animation film created by Hayao Miyazaki. The main character is a sullen ten-year-old girl named Chihiro. In the middle of her family’s move to the suburbs, they wind up in a mystical town where gods, spirits, and monsters get together for a retreat at a bathhouse. At some point, Chihiro got separated from her parents and had to rely on her inner strength to survive there and to find her way home. In the DVD, there was a bonus feature which explained how Miyazaki came up with this basic plot. He revealed that Chihiro had a model – a daughter of a friend of Miyazaki’s. Chihiro was described “typical, apathetic and lazy” 10-year-old before winding up in this mystical town. After going through a phase of denial, Chihiro accepted her fate and started tapping into her inner strength. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the movie “Departures”. The main character (Daigo) takes on a job as a “Nokan-shi”, a person who performs the ritual of “encoffinments” which consists of washing the body, putting on a new kimono and putting make up on the face. Daigo didn’t know what exactly the job was about before going in for an interview – he answered a classified ad entitled “Departures”, thinking it must be some kind of travel agency, only to discover the true nature of the job. The employer somehow talked him into “trying the job for a few days”. When he came home, he told his wife that he found a job, but he didn’t tell her the whole truth. He let her believe that it was a job at a wedding chapel. For a while, he sneaked around to conceal the truth as he was not ready to tell her, which created comical scenes in the movie, but in their lives it created distance between the couple. When Daigo’s wife finally found out what he has actually been doing, she was furious. She asked him why he didn’t tell her, and he said “I didn’t think you’d approve”. Sure enough, she didn’t think it was a good profession for her husband, and she gave him an ultimatum that it will be either life with her without that job, or vice versa. Continue reading
I don’t remember when I watched the movie “Nausiccaa of the Velley of Wind” for the first time. I must have been in elementary school, maybe in 4th or 5th grade. I watched it on TV, on video, and also on a big screen when my junior high school had a showing in a brand-new concert hall they’d just built. At that time, the movie was still somewhat difficult for me to understand, but I watched it many times over the course of many years. Every time I watched it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The creator of this movie Hayao Miyazaki made many movies after this one, some of them became famous in the U.S. Recently, a friend of mine talked about his favorite Miyazaki movie “Spirited Away”. He had never seen “Nausicca of the Valley of Wind” so I recommended it, saying that this is my all time favorite. After watching Nausicca, he asked me why I like this one so much(as he preferred “Spirited Away”), and suggested that I write about it.
I heard that the Japanese movie “Departures” has finally opened in the U.S. in the past few days. The Japanese title is “Okuribito“, meaning a person who sends out (something or someone). This movie won an Academy Award for best foreign language film, though I don’t believe many Americans know of this film (and it will most likely not become a blockbuster movie). I watched it about a week ago after borrowing the DVD from my colleague. I cried on several occasions. I was watching it alone, and there were some scenes that made me think of my grandparents, both of which passed away in their own home, at different times. It made me wonder if they were taken care of as well as the ones that were shown in the movie when they were “encoffined” i.e.: being placed in the coffin.