RIP Satoshi Kon (updated)

Some sad news from the world theatrical anime. Details are still sketchy at this point and I suppose its possible it could turn out to be incorrect, but it appears that the director of “Millennium Actress,” “Paprika,” “Perfect Blue,” and “Tokyo Godfathers” has died at the age of 47.

Probably the most critically acclaimed director in his field next to Hiyao Miyazaki, Kon was unusual among anime directors in that his films, while not completely devoid of fantastical genre elements, had a sensibility that seemed closer to live-action art film and traditional cinema than to the heavy-on-narrative pop-art tropes of Japanese animation. The comedic “Tokyo Godfathers” borrowed a sentimental plotline previously employed by William Wyler in “Hell’s Heroes” and John Ford in “Three Godfathers.” Kon’s “Millennium Actress” was a strongly stylized and somewhat arty take on traditional biographical romantic melodrama with a nod to “Citizen Kane.” Below is the opening.

UPDATE: Details remain sketchy though most seem to agree that this is not just a sick rumor. MUBI/David Hudson has more on Kon’s work and legacy.

  

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Movie news for a no longer new week

A fair amount of stuff happening…

* Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts may star, and Stephen Daldry might direct, an adaptation of a 9/11 themed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Lou Loumenick is, I’m sure, not the only one to hope the project never happens. The backlash against author Foer seems to be going full-steam. Since I”ve never read anything by him and missed the movie version of his “Everything is Illuminated,” I’m completely in the dark on this one.

* I mentioned in a tongue-in-cheek way on Sunday that, despite a fairly disappointing $10 million showing for “Piranha 3D” over the weekend, given the modest $24 million, I thought a sequel a possibility. I certainly didn’t expect this quick a turn-around, but there you go. Seems the foreign returns, combined with an okay take domestically on the famished fish tale were sufficient to justify another go-round at this price level.

* One person who I know for a fact to be delighted by the “Piranha” news is film blogger and devoted horror dad Dennis Cozzalio who reviewed — and kind of loved — the movie for the Bullz-Eye team this week, doing us all a solid as everyone in the staff was indisposed in one way or another. (My infamous gorephobia wasn’t helping any, either.) Coincidentally, Dennis’s excellent and already world-famous cinephile blog — Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule — got a little more world famous today through the attention from the lofty likes of Richard Brody of The New Yorker today. The topic, strangely enough, was the work of the late action director Sergio Leone. The infield fly rule will have to take care of itself for now.

* Oh, and if you reaction to the idea of a sequel to the aforementioned silly horror flick was “when pigs fly!” the great Japanese animator Hiyao Miyazaki has a planned sequel for you.

* It’s too sad to mention in this silly context, but it also seems wrong to ignore it and I don’t know how else to handle this. Sincere condolences to comic actor Martin Short and his family. Extremely tragic news regarding his wife.

* Apparently, unlike most /Film commenters, I actually do care that there’s may be a “Fantastic Four” reboot as they’ve always been my favorite Marvel characters, but I couldn’t even make it past the oh-so-thin first half-hour of the first movie. Why not reclaim a lost opportunity? Casting rumors, however, I never care about. Actual casting news gets really old sometimes.

* If movies are making you sick, it might not be just the content. Nah, it’s probably the content.

* The Playlist is correct. Pedro Almodovar’s new film is definitely high up on my list of highly anticipated movies for next year. It’s nice to see the Spanish director reteam with Antonio Banderas, who appeared in four of the director’s early successes starting with “Matador” in 1986 and wrapping with the controversial “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” in 1991.

However, they’ll forgive us for anticipating even more the next film from Winnipeg’s own resident eccentric cine-genius Guy Madden, which will feature Isabella Rosellini, Jason Patric, and Sir Simon Milligan himself, Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall comedy troupe. No insult to Mr. Patric, but his costars appear to be two of the coolest humans extant as far as we’re concerned here at PH. Ms. Rosellini gave a great interview to Will Harris some time back, and Mr. MacDonald has a terrific career-spanning chat over at the Onion which brings up the fact that, in drag, MacDonald has a small visual similarity to the luminous Ms. R.

* The end of one of modern journalism’s greatest hates? Sharon Waxman extends an olive branch to Nikki Finke. This could be interesting.

* Capone at AICN has a great interview with thinking geeks’ favorite Guillermo del Toro. A couple of items that were new to me, anyway: it’s far from a sure thing he’ll be directing “The Haunted Mansion” though he’s definitely producing and cowriting. Also, del Toro is now openly hoping that Peter Jackson will wind up as helming “The Hobbit” after all.

  

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RIP Miramax

miramax

It’s always a tricky business to declare the death of any company before all the deals are really done, but if it’s final enough for Anne Thompson, I’m loathe to disagree that the studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and named after their parents, Mira and Max, is winding up on a financial ash-heap.

The Weinsteins are not just any producers and Miramax was not just any company. For good and for ill — not all their movies were great by any means, a few I even hated (don’t get me started on “Chocolate”)  — they were and are throwbacks to the moguls of the past. They make decisions in a mercurial, seat of the pants way that always seems to generally produce better material than the cool logic of an MBA, which may be safer but rarely produces the kind of movie that really blows anyone’s mind. You don’t produce a “Pulp Fiction” by thinking like a marketing major, you produce it by thinking like a showman.

As I understand it, Disney wanted a certain amount of cash for the 700 or so titles in the company’s library, and they got it from a construction magnate with apparent close ties to the least trusted and most widely disliked person in an industry with a high quotient of untrustworthy and unlikable people. Disney has done a lot of things right over the years and they’ve done a lot of things wrong, I make no claims to being able to really look inside this as a business decision, but this certainly feels wrong. The film studio that launched some of the greatest behind-the camera talents around, including Quentin Tarantino, Alexander Payne, Jane Campion, Anthony Minghella, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh and even (in the U.S. market) Hiyao Miyazaki, among many others, deserves better.

For more, I definitely suggest you read the Anne Thompson piece I linked to above, and check out her links as well. Wikipedia has a partial and awe-inspiring list of films made and released by the company.

And now, your moment of Miramax.

  

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Princess movie moment #2

Another clip inspired by “The Princess and the Frog.” This comes from a relatively little known early Hiyao Miyazaki classic.The following scene shows just what some guys will go through to rescue an endangered princess.


Castle of Cagliostro
Uploaded by Daiguard. – Watch more comedy videos and sitcoms.

The funny part is, I became a fan of 1979’s “Castle Cagliostro” when I was a mere baby cinephile, and it took me decades to figure out that it was from the same guy who brought us “Princess Mononoke” and more recently “Ponyo.”

  

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It’s money that matters

Filthy lucre is today’s theme in movieland. Really, it’s every day’s theme, but it’s on my mind today.

* Nikki Finke, who actually makes money blogging, notes a pay cut for William Morris assistants, who already work ridiculously hard for the hope of decent money some day, and are expected to work a minimum of fifty hours a week. Presumably they get some overtime (though one wonders if they’re not working actually quite a bit more — Hollywood and Walmart have been known to have a few things in common in the past). They’d better because their boss’s brother is the White House chief of staff. Could get messy, otherwise.

Finke also has an interesting — inasmuch as I can follow it — look at some silver linings amidst the major studio’s fiscals clouds.

* A noted casting change in the third “Twilight” will probably not affect grosses perceptibly, but there’s no stopping those wagging tongues.

* And with all the fuss at Comic-Con, the appearance of anime genius Hiyao Miyazaki got all but ignored by the media, as far as I can tell. “Princess Mononoke” beat “Titanic” in Japan. If it had done so here, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t have been a relative afterthought.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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