Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hayao Miyazaki's final film "The Wind Rises" screening subtitled at Seattle Cinerama: Feb 25 & Mar 4 | Landmark Theatres: Feb 21 - Apr 10

The six month wait for the most recent from Studio Ghibli's founding director concludes with two Tuesdays-only subtitled screenings at Seattle Cinerama and a more extensive run of the subtitled print in cities across the nation at Landmark Theatres. "The Wind Rises" is notable for both being Hayao Miyazaki's final film, and it's inclusion of realistic depictions of disaster and societal tragedy, warfare, sex, and other scenes from everyday life. More so than any other previous work, the film marks a surprising break from his previous fantasy and science fiction oriented allegorical approaches to discussing social, political and eco-industrial issues. A lot has been said already on the subject of the film's fantasized telling of the life of aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi in the setting of 1930's expansionist Japan, as it recovered from the devastating Kanto Earthquake and the rise of Nationalism proceeding Japan's march toward war. The film has received some exceptional reviews from it's western premier at the Venice Film Festival, but of higher profile has been the critical response from both the right and the left, summarized in The Guardian's "Japanese Animator Under Fire for Film Tribute to Warplane Designer" and the New York Times "Hayao Miyazaki’s Swan Song Too Hawkish for Some", with the Boston Film Critic's vote spurring heated debate by a divided jury before awarding the film Best Animated Feature. Lets not forget though, that this is the author of one of the greatest anti-war mangas ever written, "Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind" and director of numerous ecological, socially conscious, complex and nuanced tales that depict morality in all of it's spectrum of grayness, particularly during times of social upheaval. Miyazaki himself recently speaking out against the Japanese right-wing, "Anime Legend Miyazaki Denounces Push to Change Japan's ‘Peace Constitution’", opposing the movement backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to change Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and more recent developments such as the strong Nationalistic stance taken by Japan's leading LDP party. A considered response to the film and it's relevance offered by Chris Packham in his "The Wind Rises Review: Legendary Animator Hayao Miyazaki Takes a Bow" for LA Weekly: "The war rumbles over a distant horizon the myopic engineer can't see; his schematics and formulas are closer at hand, and within his field of vision. Like most of Miyazaki's films, The Wind Rises has no primary villain or Manichaean struggle between good and evil; though Jiro is bound for loss and sadness, asking a director known for his embrace of ambiguity to make a blunt, declarative political coda seems a little artless."