Mei and the Kittenbus (2002)

This quasi-sequel to “My Neighbor Totoro” is a thirteen-minute dip back into that film’s world. The premise is cute, following the titular child of that film’s iconic Catbus, and there are some nice grace notes about ageing and sharing, but there’s not much meat on the bone here – a pleasant little jaunt but nothing…

Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Exposition-heavy but borderline incoherent, “Tales from Earthsea” is perhaps the least substantial offering from Studio Ghibli, a rudderless mess of a story without the saving grace of stunning visuals. Perhaps familiarity with the books the film is apparently a mash-up of would have helped the story make sense to me, but for all the exposition…

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

Isao Takahata’s last film, based on ancient Japanese folklore, looks absolutely exquisite. The hand-drawn animation style exemplifies the natural beauty Studio Ghibli is so concerned with. The watercolour palette plays beautifully into how the film addresses the wonder of simple life and creation. Like Takahata’s last film, made so many years earlier, the film revels…

When Marnie Was There (2014)

A portrait of a moody, self-loathing, socially self-destructive young introvert who forms a bond with the titular figure, a girl who the film teases out as being either real, spectral, or imaginary for most of the runtime. Intentionally or not, that bond really comes across as pivotal to the protagonist’s awakening sexuality. I was fascinated…

Bad Words (2013)

Jason Bateman embraces the inherent callousness of his performance here in his directorial debut, putting what’s usually relegated to a sidenote of line delivery in his usual performances front and centre here as he plays a caustic, petty man taking delight in upstaging and insulting children. Perhaps it’s no surprise that as a director he…

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

The first half or so of “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (a clumsy retitling of the cleaner “Soldado”, lacking the embrace-the-shlock factor of something like “Sicario 2” as well) is a very worthy successor to the excellent thriller that was the first film. The first film was a perfect melding of two distinctive names in…