Advertisements

Tag Archive: David Ogden Stiers


spirited-away-clip

With Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki transported Japanese anime into the mainstream consciousness in the United States.  A dramatic fantasy story with gravitas and an incredible journey, Spirited Away would win the Oscar for Best Animated Film–Miyazaki’s only Oscar (except his lifetime honorary Oscar).  A modern fable in the classic tradition, 17 years ago audiences first met Chihiro Ogino, a brave ten-year-old girl not happy with her parents moving her into a new neighborhood.  But when she wanders off, she finds herself trapped in a world of spirits, beasts, and uniquely imaginative surprises.  Wondrous, curious, and even grotesque, something of everything is tucked into Spirited Away.

Spirited Away is not just any other movie.  Like Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, the film transcends the typical use of animated cinema, providing the kind of experience that will leave audiences discussing it long afterward.  Critics across the globe lined up in agreement–not only was it the highest grossing film in Japan’s history, the critical acclaim seems to know no end.  In 2016 it was listed as the fourth best film of the 21st century as picked by 177 international film critics.  Last year the New York Times called it the second best film of the century so far.

spirited-away

The film is back in theaters for a limited three-day release beginning tonight as part of the Fathom Events series, in partnership with Studio Ghibli and GKids.  Spirited Away follows the brave young girl who enters a spirit world to rescue her parents and herself.  It is an incredible fantasy, with dark undertones about real-world concerns including human greed, borrowing from classic children’s stories Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Pinocchio.  It offers spectacular characters and is a story of great courage.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Following the success of last year’s Studio Ghibli Fest, animated film distributor GKIDS and Fathom Events are bringing back to U.S. theaters nine critically acclaimed films throughout the year for Studio Ghibli Fest 2018.  Starting this weekend the series will feature both dubbed and subtitled versions of Studio Ghibli classics, beginning with a 10th anniversary screening of the fan-favorite family adventure Ponyo (2008) on March 25 (dubbed), 26 (subtitled), and 28 (dubbed), with original actors Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima, and Yuria Nara in the subtitled version and Cate Blanchett, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, and Matt Damon in the dubbed version. In a spin-off of the Hayao Miyazaki story Whisper of the Heart, the character Baron re-emerges in The Cat Returns (2002), back in theaters April 22 (dubbed), 23 (subtitled), and 25 (dubbed), with stars Chizuru Ikewaki, Yoshihiko Hakamada, and Aki Maeda in the subtitled version, and Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, and Tim Curry in the dubbed version.  Miyazaki directs his tale of a pigman pilot bounty hunter in Porco Rosso (1992), back in theaters May 20 (dubbed), 21 (subtitled), and 23 (dubbed), with original stars Shûichirô Moriyama, Tokiko Katô, and Bunshi Katsura Vi in the subtitled version, and Michael Keaton and David Ogden Stiers in the dubbed version.

Studio Ghibli’s village of magical raccoon dogs fight back in Pom Poko (1994), in theaters June 17 (dubbed), 18 (subtitled), and 20 (dubbed), starring Shinchô Kokontei, Makoto Nonomura, and Yuriko Ishida in the subtitled version, and Clancy Brown and J.K. Simmons in the dubbed version.  One of Miyazaki’s most thrilling films, the legendary Princess Mononoke (1997) is back July 22 (dubbed), 23 (subtitled), and 25 (dubbed), starring Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, and Yûko Tanaka in the subtitled version, and Minnie Driver, Clare Danes, and Gillian Anderson in the dubbed version.  Director Isao Takahata offers one of the finest World War II stories in all of cinema in his gut-wrenching Grave of the Fireflies (1988), back in theaters August 12 (dubbed), 13 (subtitled), and 15 (dubbed), starring Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, and Akemi Yamaguchi in the subtitled version, and Adam Gibbs and Emily Neves in the dubbed version.

Everyone’s favorite gentle giant cat is back September 30 (dubbed), October 1 (subtitled), and October 3 (dubbed), when My Neighbor Totoro (1988) returns, starring Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, and Chika Sakamoto in the subtitled version, and Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, and Tim Daly in the dubbed version.  Perhaps Miyazaki’s most acclaimed film, the fantastical, spiritual, riveting epic Spirited Away (2001) is in theaters October 28 (dubbed), 29 (subtitled), and 30 (dubbed), starring Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, and Mari Natsuki in the subtitled version, and Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, and James Marsden in the dubbed version.  And finally, a boy and girl search for a floating castle in Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky (1986), in theaters November 18 (dubbed), 29 (subtitled), and 20 (dubbed), starring Keiko Yokozawa, Mayumi Tanaka, and Kotoe Hatsui in the subtitled version, and Anna Paquin, Mark Hamill, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, and Mandy Patinkin in the dubbed version.

Here is a quick preview of Studio Ghibli Fest 2018:

Continue reading

spirited-away-clip

With Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki transported Japanese anime into the mainstream consciousness in the United States.  A dramatic fantasy story with gravitas and an incredible journey, Spirited Away would win the Oscar for Best Animated Film–Miyazaki’s only Oscar (except his lifetime honorary Oscar).  A modern fable in the classic tradition, 16 years ago audiences first met Chihiro Ogino, a brave ten-year-old girl not happy with her parents moving her into a new neighborhood.  But when she wanders off, she finds herself trapped in a world of spirits, beasts, and uniquely imaginative surprises.  Wondrous, curious, and even grotesque, something of everything is tucked into Spirited Away.

Spirited Away is not just any other movie.  Like Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, it transcends the typical use of animated cinema, providing the kind of experience that will leave audiences discussing it long afterward.  Critics across the globe lined up in agreement–not only was it the highest grossing film in Japan’s history, the critical acclaim seems to know no end.  In 2016 it was listed as the fourth best film of the 21st century as picked by 177 international film critics.  Earlier this year the New York Times called it the second best film of the century so far.

spirited-away

The film is back in theaters for a limited three-day release beginning this weekend as part of the Fathom Events series, in partnership with Studio Ghibli and GKids.  Spirited Away follows the brave young girl who enters a spirit world to rescue her parents and herself.  It is an incredible fantasy, with dark undertones about real-world concerns including human greed, borrowing from classic children’s stories Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Pinocchio.  It offers spectacular characters and is a story of great courage.

Continue reading

spirited-away-clip

He may be the world’s greatest living director.  Hayao Miyazaki, master storyteller and moviemaker, retired but rumored to be coming back for another film, and animator extraordinaire.  He is one of Japan’s national treasures and international film icon.  His catalog of works have garnered literally hundreds of awards and nominations.  Miyazaki’s only film to receive an Oscar, 2001’s Spirited Away, is returning to theaters next month to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its release.

Spirited Away is on many critics’ lists as one of the top five films of the century thus far, and it is Japan’s highest grossing film.  It’s the story of a brave young girl who enters a spirit world to rescue her parents and herself.  It is an incredible fantasy, with dark undertones about real-world concerns including human greed, borrowing bits and pieces from classic children’s stories Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Pinocchio.  It offers spectacular characters and is a story of great courage.

spirited-away

We have yet to be disappointed with any anime production from Miyazaki and the house of Studio Ghibli.  Whether it’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Princess Mononoke (1997), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), or The Wind Rises (2013), you know you’re getting sumptuous visuals and a compelling story.

Continue reading

The TV Land network and their addictive marathon of M*A*S*H holiday episodes sucked me in once again.

First of all, my all time favorite character in any TV show or movie is Major Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce, played by Alan Alda.  Hawkeye has the toughest job in the toughest place in the toughest time period.  He lives and breathes tough decisions and his job is triage, discriminating between life and death realities, between saving this guy’s life over that guy’s life.  Dealing every day with friendly and unfriendly comrades he is just stuck with.  And yet, except for the last episode of the series (which I pretend does not exist), Hawkeye brings humor and optimism into the equation whenever he can.  And thanks to some brilliant writing over the years (now decades ago) we got not only the best TV series ever, we got the best drama and comedy wrapped into one, and at that, each episode had only 20-some odd minutes to make us all become familiar with a war seemingly firsthand that we never otherwise would have had a personal affinity toward.

What M*A*S*H probably did best was remind us that even though we may have our own issues that approached or even sometimes surpassed the trials of the characters of this wartime mobile surgical hospital crew, more often than not you could be reminded that whatever you were going through was not really that bad–that things will get better if you can just keep your head up and march through it all.

Many main and supporting characters came and went over the years, from Major “Trapper” John MacIntyre to Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, to Colonel Henry Blake, to Major Frank Burns.  Some of these characters we were supposed to love and others we were supposed to hate.  Colonel Sherman T. Potter was one of the best of the cast, the elder traditional soldier with a sense of both nostalgia for the golden days and humor for his young medical staff.  Potter was played by Henry Morgan, who passed away two weeks ago at the awesome age of 96.  Some great acting can be found in his list of films and TV series, from The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) with Henry Fonda, to State Fair (1945) with Dana Andrews, to Yellow Sky (1948) with Gregory Peck, to Bend of the River (1952) with Jimmy Stewart, and High Noon (1952) with Gary Cooper, to The Glenn Miller Story (1954) with Jimmy Stewart, to Strategic Air Command (1955) with Jimmy Stewart, to Inherit the Wind (1960) with Spencer Tracy, to How the West was Won (1962) with a who’s who of Hollywood, to his co-starring role as Officer Gannon with Jack Webb from 1967-1970 on the TV series Dragnet, and several supporting roles between and after, Morgan may not have been the leading man, but as a character actor he gave credibility to dozens of productions.

One of the often overlooked supporting characters of M*A*S*H was Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, played by David Ogden Stiers, who went on to be a guest character in hundreds of shows, including a guest role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a memorable role as Reverend Purdy in the TV series The Dead Zone.  A snooty doctor of a old-money wealth, Winchester was typically a foil for the show’s own dynamic duo of Hawkeye and B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell).  With a long run like M*A*S*H, which aired from 1972-1983, we were able to share a number of holidays, and holiday episodes, with the cast of M*A*S*H.  If you saw the series, you probably remember this key secondary plot from the ninth season’s Christmas episode “Death Takes a Holiday.”  If you haven’t or even if you have seen it, track down a copy from your library or video source.

The army outfit has invited local refugees to the 4077th for Christmas.  Turkey dinners are being transported in, but Colonel Potter learns that the trucks aren’t going to make it.  Each key character had received care packages from their loved ones, from fruitcake from Hawkeye’s aunt, to fudge from B.J.’s wife, to ham from the Colonel’s sister.  Nurse Margaret Houlihan steps forward first to say she will offer up her care package of cookies to the refugee children and soon everyone joins in to plan a big party.  Everyone except Winchester.  Winchester will only offer up a small sardine-sized can of oysters, saying “it’s not the thought that counts, it’s the price.”  Corporal Max Klinger points out that Winchester received several packages labeled “perishable” so the other officers ask “what gives?”  Winchester is Scrooge once again.

And then the change-up occurs, that illustrates why this series was so good.  Because it had a lot of heart–behind all the war drama and laugh out loud practical joke antics.  Actor Mike Farrell wrote this episode that some may brush off as simply sappy.

We see a dark night, and Winchester covertly approaches the orphanage with giant boxes of gifts, one labeled from a certain premium confectioner.  The man running the orphanage thanks him for the gifts and invites him inside so the children can thank him, which Winchester immediately says “no” to.  Winchester recounts that his family has a tradition, going back every year since he was a child, and it only matters if it is done anonymously.  Winchester shares with the man a story of waiting inside a running car with his sister in an earlier winter from far long ago, excited as they waited for his father to run back to the car to drive away after quietly, sneakily leaving gifts on some needy person’s doorstep.  From the seemingly greedy and abrasive fellow, came an act of kindness and charity.  A touching scene, that seems to affect even the actor as he tells the story.

Sappy?  Maybe just a little.  But great actors and great writing made for a great series, and a nice Christmas story.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com