It sort of escalated in a prolonged movie marathon that lasted throughout the monday -- we made two trips to the DVD rental place in that time.
- Pom Poko, a Ghibli movie. About raccoons trying to preserve their natural habitat which is being turned into a Tokyo suburb. Pretty amusing, but it is more a loose collection of scenes than it is a coherent story. It's amusing to see Disney release a movie where testicles are a plot point. :)
- My neighbour Totoro, another Ghibli movie. A long-time fan favourite, it's about two sisters (and their father) who go to live in the countryside to be closer to the hospital their mother is in. They meet the spirit Totoro, and forge a friendship with him. Totoro is the 'monster' that is displayed in blue during the opening titles of every Ghibli movie -- it's an important movie in the Ghibli mythology. And with reason: it's a very charming movie. Funny at times, exciting at other times. It hits all the right notes.
- Whisper of the Heart, another Ghibli movie. This was based on a manga, and it shows: instead of the usual countryside decor, this is set in a Tokyo suburb (amusingly enough, the very suburb the raccoons of Pom Poko wanted to stop), and tells the story of a romance between two middle school kids. Instead of following the path that is expected from them, they decide to set their own goals, and that is a very powerful message. (There is a sequel of sorts, based on the sequel of the manga, 'The Cat Returns', but it has a completely different feel.)
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky, another Ghibli movie that had been released earlier, which I had bought, but then lost/misplaced. A great adventure story, about the lost flying city of Laputa. Lots of airships (a hobby of Miyazaki!), pirates, unfathomable riches and blind ambition!
- Kung Fu Hustle, of the makers of Shaolin Soccer. While it is funny enough, it doesn't reach the comedic heights of Shaolin Soccer -- and the ending is pretty Deus ex Machina. Fun to recognise the various actors that also starred in Shaolin Soccer in completely different roles, though.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which isn't really a movie. It's some scenes of the book set to celluloid, but it's not a movie in itself. If you haven't read the book, the movie doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Sure, Prisoner of Azkaban is only loosely based on the book, but it made a better movie. Goblet is fun enough, but it didn't wow us.
Every time an owl was featured, I couldn't help myself from saying: 'O RLY?' Especially not when Hermione snarled: "I'm not an owl!" Yes, I know. I am beyond all hope.
- The Taste of Tea, a 'lighthearted comedy' from Japan. Yes, it is lighthearted and at times absurd. It's really, really amusing, in a way that makes it hard to pin down why. It's more a collection of anecdotes rather than a coherent story that progresses. Even though the movie lasts over two hours, I wasn't bored for a single minute.
- Casshern, another two-hour movie from Japan. Basically, it's a giant video clip against war and fascism. A really, really beautiful movie, with interesting effects and camerawork. Towards the end I was getting slightly fed up with the heavy-handed way the movie's theme was shoved down my throat. Still, excellent movie fodder.
- Steam Boy, an anime movie by the director of Akira. It's set in Victorian England, during the World Exhibition. Lots of steam-powered gadgets, gizmos and weapons. Again, an anti-war message, but this time packaged a little more subtle. It's more of a kids' adventure movie than the edgy stuff that you expect from the guy who made Akira. Not a bad movie at all, but nothing groundbreaking.
And we're about half-way into Howl's Moving Castle, but I already wrote about that earlier.