Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Directing Feature Films

Hayao Miyazaki Retires PictureToday was supposed to be the start of a Kiyoshi Kurosawa season but news that Hayao Miyazaki is retiring from making feature films broke yesterday and I have to post about it. According to an NHK report as seen on Anime News Network, during a press conference at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, Studio Ghibli President Koji Hoshino announced that “studio founder and world-renowned anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki will “retire from the production of feature-length films.””

I wrote about this briefly yesterday on the Scotland Loves Animation post but a sentence doesn’t seem fitting for a person who has achieved so much and made so many films I love. At 72-years-old and as one the most critically and commercially successful anime directors (the most successful?), Miyazaki has had a huge impact. He brought so many great works to the screen and was able to connect with both children and adults. His impact can be considered larger because thanks to the appeal of his films he has made anime more exportable. People come to the medium thanks to titles like My Neighbour Totoro.

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BFI Anime Season in June

The British Film Institute (BFI) is holding a special showcase for recent anime (including the chance to rediscover Akira) from the 8th to the 10th of June. The line-up is excellent and contains some of the best theatrical titles to come out of Japan with titles from Studio Ghibli, Production I.G., and Madhouse. Of all the titles on display none intrigue me as much as A Letter to Momo which got a theatrical release in Japan last week and has had excellent reviews. Here’s the line-up:


Date: 10 Jun 20:40 NFT1Akira End

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo, Starring: Mami Koyaa, Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Running time: 125 mins.

This is a stone-cold classic. Like Ridley Scott’s movies Alien and Blade Runner it’s aesthetics have influenced the look of a lot of animation and film. I have seen it on multiple occasions and I highly recommend it.

The year is 2019 and thirty-one years have passed since World War III. Neo-Tokyo is wracked with riots and clashes between the authorities and extreme political opponents. A child from a top secret government project interested in psychic powers is spirited away by one of these political extremists but gets caught up in a clash between young delinquent motorcycle gangs. This gang finds itself suddenly catching the interest of the authorities when one of the gang-members, Tetsuo, exhibits psychic powers. He is taken by the army to be experimented on but his mind might be more powerful than anybody could have guessed.

Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

Date: 9 Jun 18:30 NFT1Children Who Choice Lost Voices

Director: Makoto Shinkai, Starring: Miyu Irino, Kazuhiko, Hisako Kanemoto Running time: 116 mins.

Makoto Shinkai’s films are stunning to watch and feature such beautiful and melancholy stories full of more humanism than most Hollywood output. As the numerous OS wallpapers on my computer attest I am a fan (he answered two questions I put to him in a recent interview!). This is his latest film which looks stunning.

Asuna is a girl who spends her days listening to mysterious music coming from the crystal radio, a memento she received from her father. She embarks on a journey in the underground realm of Agartha which some believe has the properties of bringing people back from the dead. With a brave young man named Shun, Asuna will see the cruelty and beauty of the world as she evades dangerous beasts and a ruthless group of soldiers from her world.

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4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival

There are a plethora of exciting titles for anybody interested in far eastern films in the line-up for Terracotta Far East Film Festival next month. This festival is London’s premier celebration of the film and culture of the Far East because it selects the latest and most interesting titles from the region as well as bringing over the cast and crew of the films for Q&As and master-classes. Oh and there are parties.

One glance at the line-up shows that a lot of films that I followed in 2011 are getting a run at the festival including Himizu, Monsters Club, Poppy Hill and The Woodsman and the Rain. It’s a pretty awesome line-up featuring some of the most interesting talents from Japan that I rave about so enough from me! Here are the films!

Opening Film:

My Way

Dir: Kang Je-Kyu Running Time: 137 mins. Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way is the latest film from Kang Je-Kyu who directed the awesome action picture ‘Shiri’, and tells the story of two marathon runners, one Korean and one Japanese during Japan’s colonisation of Korea who are drafted into the Japanese army, and develop a close friendship through battles in Russia and Germany. It stars familiar actor Jo Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-gun who seems to have survived The Warrior’s Way.

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Trailers for Kokuriko-Zaka Kara, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Nanagami

This week has been interesting. I stumbled upon the filming of Sherlock Holmes. No, not the movie but the BBC One adaptation. As in the one starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and MArtin Freeman as Watson

The one written by Steven (Doctor Who show-runner) Moffat.

I actually talked to Martin Freeman, who broke from shooting The Hobbit and flew in from New Zealand to film the shows. I acted out of sorts, not so much the cool and calm saturnine chap and more the fan-boy. Whether he thought me rude or just strange I can’t say but I’m still excited that I talked to him in real life. I will not divulge any more information for fear of spoilers and Steven Moffat destroying me (he hates spoilers).

Anyway, here are the trailers and they are pretty exciting. Everything from spies to Ghibli and some Cumberbatch.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Release date: Friday 16th of September (UK)
Running time: N/A
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch

From the director of Let the Right One In comes a classic of British, nay World literature. A story about British spies based on John Le Carré’s classic and with a stellar cast, I’m excited by the prospect because the book is just that awesome. Here’s the trailer:

Set in the 1970s, George Smiley is a MI6 agent who has retired from the Circus under something of a cloud. He finds himself trying to adjust to a life outside the secret service. However, the appearance of a rogue agent with information about a mole at the heart of the Circus, means that his Smiley’s old colleagues need him back in the espionage game in order to root the mole out.

Release date: 20th of August (Japan)
Running time: N/A
Director: Ryuta Miyake

From the director of Ju-On: White Ghost (see my review) comes a horror thriller about the disappearance of a young girl in some haunted woods. Considering Ju-On: White Ghost was a film with some long moments of spooky atmosphere I’m intrigued. My Japanese is okay… just not okay enough to get a cast list. Sorry. Here’s the trailer:

Kokuriko-Zaka Kara
Release date: 16th of July 2012 (Japan)
Running time: N/A
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Starring:Nagasawa Masami, Okada Junichi
Based on Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsuro Sayama’s 1980’s shoujo manga, Studio Ghibli’s next film, after Arrietty, is directed by Goro Miyzaki. Goro’s debut, Tales from Earthsea was nothing like his illustrious father’s work. This appears to take a different tack as well.

Set in 1963 this coming of age tale takes place in Yokohama and follows the life of a high school girl named Komatsuzaki. Her father, a sailor is missing, her mother is a photographer who travels frequently and she helps run a lodging house with the rest of her family. The film follows her life as well as her friendship with two boys, Shun Kazama, a school newspaper member and Mizunuma, student council president.

Studio Ghibli has announced its voice cast as Nagasawa Masami (Crying Out Love, In the Centre of the World), who plays the main character, and Okada Junichi (from the idol group V6 and actor in Hana) has been cast as the main male character.