Friday, September 3, 2010

The Movie Club #19: Grave of the Fireflies and Wizards

0:00 - 1:44 -- Intro/Roll Call
1:44 - 1:13:40 -- Grave of the Fireflies
1:13:40 - 2:00:55 -- Wizards
2:00:55 - 2:04:03 -- Next Month/Outro

» Download MP3 (56 MB)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Directed by: Isao Takahata
Starring: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi

Wizards (1977)
Directed by: Ralph Bakshi
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Mark Hammill


Nat said...

Really enjoyed this bi-month's podcast and Antony's contributions!

Was there ever a discussion of switching out Wizards with either Coonskin or Heavy Traffic? That'd be an interesting comparison to Grave of Fireflies given the discussion. Bakshi, at least in those films, really stresses the differences between live-action and cartoons as metaphors for racial divides. It can get heavy handed at times, but to me it's a very clever use of the medium.

It's also the polar opposite of trying to make the animated characters human; Bakshi intentionally exaggerates the cartoonishness of his animation and, in my opinion, succeeds in making a stronger point. Not to say Coonskin or Traffic are "great" films, I'm jes sayin'

Matt Gamble said...

I'd call Coonskin a great film, and I think its Bakshi's best, that being said Wizards is the one I have the most fun with and I think is one of his strangest. Plus since I knew Grave of the Fireflies was a rather subdued anti-war film, I thought the more spastic delivery in Wizards would make a great contrast.

But it also comes down to the ease in which to find these movies and Coonskin is ridiculously difficult to track down since a DVD has never been released and Heavy Traffic isn't particularly easy either.

Nat said...

Good points, M. Gamble. And yeah, I didn't think about the difficulty in getting ahold of the two.

I wouldn't call Coonskin great, but it certainly is underrated and under-appreciated. He's not making especially deep points, even for the time, more than he's very creatively stating the obvious. And whoever described him as "scattershot" I think was right on. He's like the animation version of Ken Russell--the movies are made to serve their flashes of visual brilliance at the expense of coherency (Lord, that sounds pretentious).

At least that's how I see 'em.

On a lighter note, John K., creator of Ren & Stimpy, was Bakshi's protege, and he pays tribute to Ralph in the Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" episode "Fire Dogs 2: Part 2." It's a damn funny day in the life of Bakshi.

M. Gérin said...

I watched both films for the first time before listening to the (great, as usual) show.

I actually thought the montage of the little girl playing around was the best moment in "Grave of the Fireflies". Not necessarily because it was emotionally effective (which I thought it was) but because it put her death in a bittersweet light instead of giving it the more common miserabilist and ultra heavy treatment. The song (called "Home Sweet Home") playing over the montage in preceded by a quick but important introduction; a couple of girls are coming back to Japan because the war is over and one of them says that she can't wait to listen to some music before putting the record on. The tragedy of the little girl's death is appeased by the joy of the other girls and a sense of closure about the war. It's also a nicely thought out and edited scene - the cutting is patient and if I remember well, the girl is always seen at a distance without any close-ups, which gives her an unattainable, almost ghostly quality. I was somewhat indifferent to the film as a whole; the one-dimensional portrayal of the aunt as a heartless hag and the film's near disregard of the boy's selfishness were missed opportunities to add depth and more exciting character dynamics. I was surprised to hear Kurt had the opposite reaction to these two elements - it does make me question whether I missed some subtleties along the way.

A lot more obvious eand easy than the montage was the long shot of two fireflies venturing into the dark before disappearing completely. Now that's a heavy-handed visual metaphor!


I had a hard time getting through Wizards. From what I've seen (American Pop, Fritz the Cat and now this), I'm not a fan of Bakshi's. His inconsistent, messy visual style and narrative sloppiness isn't matched by anything that is of much interest to me. He's anti-war (who isn't?) in the boldest, most simplistic and boring way possible. His films aren't just messy as wholes; short scenes featuring two characters can become incomprehensible and fall flat because of his lack of rhythm and basic filmmaking skills. I will give him another try with Coonskin, since it seems to be his most beloved work.

Anthony did a great job!

KeithTalent said...

Finally just went ahead and listened to this. I was waiting for Wizards to show up, but could not find it anywhere. I seem to recall being creeped out by Bakshi's stuff as a kid, so I'm probably not missing much.

Great discusion on Grave of the Fireflies and I am definitely on board with Jay's comments and I probably liked it even less than he did. Jay's point of it being a cartoon representation of real life (paraphrasing here) is exactly the problem I had with the film. I did not feel any attachment to the characters whatsoever and the fact they were trying so hard to pull emotion from the viewer just annoyed me more than anything.

M. Gérin said...

The poll was closed way too soon...F for Fake was making a comeback!

Drewbacca said...

I think we're pretty much done with the poll - it's obviously being messed with by a bot or some douche. From here on out I think we just decided that we'd pick the movies ourselves or take reader recommendations via email.

Andrew James said...

Just found out Wizards is coming to Blu-ray