Covid-19 Day 36

Ponyo, initially titled in English and released in Asia as Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is a 2008 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by Studio Ghibli,

It is the eighth film Miyazaki directed for Ghibli, and his tenth overall.

The plot centers on a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and wants to become a human girl.

It earned over US$201 million worldwide[2] and won several awards, including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.

Inventive, exciting mystical and just plain great. One of their best EVER. I’m sure I saw this at an Armageddon event at least a decade ago, so it must have been when it first came out.

Liam Neeson is immediately recognizable as the Wizard. Tina Fey is the mother, Lisa. Matt Damon also stars, with Cate Blanchett as Ponyo’s mother. And Lily Tomlin, Betty White and Cloris Leachman star as three old women.



3 Caballeros

Covid 19 Day 35

The Three Caballeros is a 1944 American live-action animated musical package film produced by Walt Disney.

The film premiered in Mexico City on December 21, 1944. It was released in the United States on February 3, 1945 and in the UK that March.

The seventh Disney animated feature film, the film plots an adventure through parts of Latin America, combining live-action and animation. This is the second of the six package films released by Walt Disney Productions in the 1940s, following Saludos Amigos (1942). It was also the first feature-length film to incorporate traditional animation with live-action actors.

Almost a movie length music video. The live action is well integrated into the animation. Given the sharpness of the images, it’s probably been cleaned up for digital distribution.

More fun eye-candy from Disney.


Saludos Amigos

Covid-19 Day 34

Saludos Amigos (Spanish for “Greetings, Friends”) is a 1942 American live-action animated film produced by Walt Disney. At 42 minutes, it is Disney’s shortest animated feature to date.

Set in Latin America, it is made up of four different segments; Donald Duck stars in two of them and Goofy stars in one. It also features the first appearance of José Carioca, the Brazilian cigar-smoking parrot.

Saludos Amigos premiered in Rio de Janeiro on August 24, 1942. It was released in the United States on February 6, 1943.

This is a few animated sequences that could have been part of a Disney TV show interspersed with live action of the animators visiting the places depicted. It has no overall narrative, but each section is up the the standards expected from Disney animation.





Covid-19 Day 33

The Man in the Rubber Mask
by Robert Llewellyn (1994)

In a recent pole the robotic Kryten was noted by viewers as their favorite of the four main characters in “Red Dwarf”. In this book actor and alternative comedian Robert Llewellyn, who plays the part in the series, tells the inside story of life as Kryten.



Covid-19 Day 32

Tales from Earthsea is a 2006 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Gorō Miyazaki, and animated by Studio Ghibli.

The film is based on a combination of plot and character elements from the first four books of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu).

The film’s title is named from the collection of short stories, Tales from Earthsea, made in 2001. The plot was “entirely different” according to the author Ursula K. Le Guin, who told director Gorō Miyazaki, “It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie”, although she later expressed her disappointment with the end result.

Beautifully drawn and with a wonderful score, this fantasy would seem to suit the Studio. Unfortunately the story lets it down. It is drawn out slowly and it’s not until the second half that the plot starts to move.

But in the end it’s just another fantasy story about good, evil and a boy that is destined to to become someone. There are also the usual Studio Ghibli strong women roles.

The English dub included Timothy Dalton as Sparrowhawk (good) , Willem Defoe as Cob (evil). Cheech Marin is Cob’s head slaver, probably the most interesting character.


Old Bloke

Covid-19 Day 31

Some Old Bloke
by Robert Llewellyn (2018)

This is a lighthearted, revealing and occasionally philosophical autobiography of the actor.

The story meanders through episodes of his life, from the young boy at odds with his ex-military father, through his stint as a hippy and his years of in fringe comedy, like the Joeys:


There is a bit on the years in scrapheap challenge:

But his years in Red Dwarf are not included as this is in another book.

Well written and gives an interesting insight to the presenter of Fully Charged.



Howl’s Castle

Covid-19 Day 30

Howl’s Moving Castle is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

The film is loosely based on the 1986 novel of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The film was animated by Studio Ghibli.

Sophie, a young milliner, encounters a wizard named Howl on her way to visit her sister Lettie. Upon returning home, she meets the Witch of the Waste, who transforms her into a ninety-year-old woman. Seeking to break the curse, Sophie leaves home and sets off through the countryside.

The English cast includes Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal and Blythe Danner.

This is the second time seeing this film. The first time it seems to be a mixed mash-up of Victorian steampunk. fantasy, romance and a war movie. The plot barely hung together and at times seemed forced and subject to shifts of tone.

In short, I didn’t find it at all engaging then and still don’t.



Covid-19 Day 29

Dumbo is a 1941 American animated film produced by Disney.

The fourth Disney animated feature film, it is based upon the storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, and illustrated by Helen Durney for the prototype of a novelty toy (“Roll-a-Book”).

The main character is Jumbo Jr., a semi-anthropomorphic elephant who is cruelly nicknamed “Dumbo”, as in “dumb”. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using his ears as wings. Throughout most of the film, his only true friend, aside from his mother, is the mouse, Timothy – a relationship parodying the stereotypical animosity between mice and elephants.

At just over an hour long, this covers everything we expect from a Disney feature. Anthropomorphized  animals, running, dancing and a few songs. It’s cute, engaging and fun.


Covid-19 Day 28

Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney

With story direction by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, and production supervision by Ben Sharpsteen, it is the third Disney animated feature film. The film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski.
Music critic and composer Deems Taylor acts as the film’s Master of Ceremonies, providing a live-action introduction to each animated segment.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.
This is very impressionistic, featuring silhouettes of the orchestra then morphing into abstract colours and shapes.

The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Very cute, with flowers and faeries.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas
The one everyone knows, featuring Mickey Mouse.

Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky
A visual history of the Earth’s beginnings is fairly predictable.

The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven
A mythical Greco-Roman world of colorful centaurs cupids, fauns and other figures from classical mythology frolic and play in a very sanitized Disney way.

Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli.
A comic ballet in four sections. Very fun, featuring ostriches, elephants and alligators. Can’t help but think of the Allan Sherman song:


Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky
Ave Maria by Franz Schubert.
Are kind of what you expect.

I liked Dance of the Hours best as its fun, witty and has unexpected turns in the story.



Returning Cats

Covid-19 Day 27

The Cat Returns is a 2002 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Hiroyuki Morita based on the manga The Cat Returns by Aoi Hiiragi, with music by Yuji Nomi, animated by Studio Ghibli.

A spin-off of Whisper of the Heart, it was theatrically released in Japan on July 20, 2002 and in 2005 in the United States through Disney. It received an Excellence Prize at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival.

The English dub includes:
Anne Hathaway
Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)
Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond)
Elliot Gould
Tim Curry
Judy Greer (Archer)
Rene Auberjonois (Odo in Star Trek)

Of all the actors, It was Odo’s voice I recognized.

Haru Yoshioka is a quiet and shy high school student who has a suppressed ability to talk with cats. One day, she saves a cat from being hit by a truck on a busy road. The cat she saved turns out to be Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. As a thanks, the cats give Haru gifts of catnip and mice, and she is offered the Prince’s hand in marriage. Her mixed reply is taken as a yes.

From there the characters are taken to a mythical land of cats where adventure and action occurs.

I liked this film, it’s funny, whimsical and has lots of jokes at the expense of cats. At only 75 minutes it covers a lot of plot. At times the physical comedy is more like a Disney film.

This should be fun for everyone.