May 2nd: Porco Rosso
Everyone loves Miyazaki and everyone should. His animation if chalk full of charm and adorable children doing adorable things. I was looking through his filmography, trying to decide which ones I might want to revisit for this little marathon, when I discovered I had skipped over this gem. A man is turned into a pig by a spell and then spends his life as a bounty hunter of air-pirates. WHAT??? Awesome!
What I loved about this film was how much Miyazaki left to the imagination. He never explains how Porco is turned into a pig and he never reveals whether he will ever turn back into a man. A lot of foreign films leave endings open to the point of cliche (which was one of the reasons I didn’t love The Official Story), but here the open ending serves to heighten the imagination of what could be. Which seems perfect for a kid who can write her own back story and ending without the nosy interference of an over manipulating filmmaker.
Also, no one animates water quite like Miyazaki. It’s mesmerizing.
May 3rd: How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck?
We had a hard time constituting just what exactly counts as a foreign film. Can a film that takes place in the U.S. in English ever be considered “foreign”? Do the Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis count? What about American directors that make foreign language films? In the end we decided that no one could be more of a “foreigner” than Werner Herzog.
Which is why his look at middle American culture could have been fascinating. Louis Malle did it in …And the Pursuit of Happiness and Scott and I both went googoogaga over that documentary. But Herzog’s portrayal of a auctioneering competition doesn’t quite do the job. I’m wondering what exactly his purpose for making the film was? With it’s almost real-time footage of each auctioneer in the competition repeating nearly the same lines of dialogue was he trying to point out the intricacies of the art – and thus the people – or the monotony? Or was it merely a look at a craft most people would be unfamiliar with? I’m not sure, but, frankly, it was boring. I’ve never said that about a Herzog film! But this one was. It was boring.
Watch this impersonation instead!