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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Studio Ghibli

Around Town: Oscar fever hits the Academy, American Cinematheque

February 23, 2012 |  6:00 am

"Puss in Boots"

With the Academy Awards on Sunday evening, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American Cinematheque are presenting seminars and symposiums leading up to the big event.  

Patton Oswalt, who provided the voice of Remy in the Oscar-winning "Ratatouille" from 2007, is the host of the 2011 animated feature film nominees program at the academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Thursday evening. The nominees, schedule permitting, will be on hand to discuss their creative process and show clips from their films.

Saturday morning’s offering is the ever popular seminar featuring the foreign-language film nominees hosted by Mark Johnson, an Oscar-winning producer and the foreign-language film award committee chair. The event is sold out, but there will be a standby line. Later that afternoon is the sold-out program with the makeup nominees, hosted by Makeup Artists and Hairstylists branch governor Leonard Engelman. http://www.oscars.org

On Saturday morning, the Cinematheque’s Egyptian presents a free “Invisible Art, Visible Arts Oscar-nominated Editors Seminar.” The event is first come, first served. The Oscar-nominated art directors seminar follows in the afternoon. The nominees are all expected to attend both of these, schedule permitting.

The American Cinematheque’s “Once Upon a Time: The Films of Sergio Leone” features his last and most underrated spaghetti western, 1971’s “Duck, You Sucker,” Thursday evening at the Egyptian Theatre. Also known as “A Fistful of Dynamite,” the film finds peasant Rod Steiger and Irishman James Coburn embroiled in the Mexican Revolution. Poorly received when released 41 years ago, the film has gained in respect and popularity over the decades.

Henry Fonda plays one of his most ruthless characters in Leone’s 1968 masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” which features an opening sequence that has influenced countless directors over the years, including Quentin Tarantino. Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale, Woody Strode and Charles Bronson also star.

Saturday’s offering at the Egyptian is Martin Scorsese’s landmark 1976 thriller, “Taxi Driver,” starring Robert DeNiro, as a loner Vietnam vet, Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd and Albert Brooks.  “Taxi Driver,” penned by Paul Schrader, was nominated for a feature film Oscar but Scorsese surprisingly failed to earn a nomination.

 The Cinematheque’s “Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata and the Masters of Studio Ghibli’ concludes Wednesday at the Egyptian with Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 anime delight, “Castle in the Sky.”

The Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre kicks off the weekend Thursday evening with Woody Allen’s dark and often funny 1989 film, “Crimes and Misdemeanors," then the Coen brothers' first film, the 1984 film noir, “Blood Simple." Friday evening the Cinematheque looks at the filmmakers of tomorrow with the 5th annual Screen Student Film Festival, which features the best short films made by Southern California teenagers. The Aero celebrates the 110th anniversary of Georges Melies’ landmark “A Trip to the Moon” — the restored color version — Saturday evening. “Moon” is followed by the new documentary “The Extraordinary Voyage,” directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange. It's about the immense, painstaking restoration work on the Melies’ classic.

And on Wednesday, director Jim  Hemphill and actress Lea Thompson discuss their film, “The Trouble With Truth,” which also stars John Shea. http://www.americancinematheque.com

The New Beverly Cinema features two films from the eclectic Wes Anderson on Thursday evening: 2004’s “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” and 2007’s “The Darjeeling Limited.” Friday's and Saturday’s offerings are Alfred Hitchcock’s terrific 1940 thriller, “Foreign Correspondent,” which earned a best film Oscar nomination, and the rarely seen 1943 “Journey Into Fear,” with Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Dolores del Rio. Friday’s midnight movie offering is 2010’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Saturday’s is 1985’s “Silver Bullet.” The Monday-to-Wednesday programming includes two documentaries: 2011’s “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” and 2010’s “!Women Art Revolution.”

UCLA Film & Television Archive’s “Nina Menkes: Cinema as Sorcery” series continues Friday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater with two shorts: 1986’s “Magdalena Virage” and 1981’s “A Soft Warrior.” Menkes is scheduled to appear in person. The archive’s “Kino-Eye: The Revolutionary Cinema of Dziga Vertov” also continues Saturday at the Wilder with the West Coast premiere of the new restoration of Vertov’s 1929 film, “Man With a Movie Camera.” Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the archive, will be on hand to discuss the film. Monday evening’s entry in UCLA’s lengthy Spencer Tracy retrospective is the 1939 Technicolor adventure “Northwest Passage,” directed by King Vidor and also starring Robert Young.

And UCLA’s Wednesday evening programming at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles features two from the Master Showman, William Castle: 1964’s “Strait-Jacket” with Joan Crawford and 1961’s “Homicidal.” http://www.cinema.ucla.edu

The Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre presents the kitty circus: "The Acro-Cats,” which Cinefamily states are well treated and well-loved felines, and a screening of the 1965 Disney classic “That Darn Cat” with Hayley Mills on Monday evening, followed Wednesday by Harry Smith’s 1957 animated “Heaven and Earth Magic.”  http://www.cinefamily.org

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby star in the 1946 musical comedy “The Road to Utopia,” showing Tuesday afternoon at  the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Leo S. Bing Theater. http://www.lacma.org

Related:

"Movie Review: 'Puss in Boots'"

"'Rango': On the trail of animation's outlaw future?"

—Susan King

Photo: "Puss in Boots" is nominated for an Academy Award for best animated film. Credit: DreamWorks Animation.


'The Secret World of Arrietty' is another Ghibli gem, critics say

February 18, 2012 |  6:00 am

The Secret World of Arrietty

Legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away," "Kiki's Delivery Service") and his animation house Studio Ghibli rarely miss the mark, and their latest effort, "The Secret World of Arrietty," appears to be no exception. Based on Mary Norton's beloved 1952 novel "The Borrowers," about a family of miniature people who live in a world hidden from ordinary humans, "Arrietty" has garnered excellent reviews.

The Times' Kenneth Turan calls "Arrietty" "impeccable," a film that "will make believers out of adults and children alike." Turan notes that although Miyazaki did not direct the film, he did conceive it, write the screenplay and hand-pick director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who makes his feature debut. The film, Turan writes, features many Ghibli trademarks, "including a reverence for the natural world and the ability to reproduce it in ravishing, hand-drawn animation detail," as well as "an intrepid female hero" (the eponymous Arrietty, voiced by Bridgit Mendler in the U.S. version). Turan commends Yonebayashi for injecting peril and depth into its charming story, and most of all for creating "a special and marvelous world for audiences to enter."

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