It’s been a few months since I last saw a Studio Ghibli film, and courtesy of Film 4, to coincide with the release of From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) in the UK, we have been treated to the first showing of My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999), something which I jumped at. I knew from the outset that the style would be far different. Yet the tone remains the same if not even looser as we follow an average Japanese family in daily life.
It was a breath of fresh air and a nice change from the highly stylized offerings to far off fantastical places which have made Ghibli such a respectable name in animation. Something I love about them too. And here you get a lighter side to things, much like Whisper of the Heart (1995) and Oceans Waves (1993) where you can see already the direction of the work towards this more comical film.
It’s not so much a comment on modern family life as to what life is like for most families, regardless of culture, class and background. Instead they create a family to which we can all relate to some extent, from the mother who lives with her daughters to family to the son who is cramming to study. Not the stereotypical family we think of in Japan who places study very high, of course there is an element if that, but we see the other sides of how that affects him. We see a normal teenage boy, trying to make his way in life. Whilst his younger sister, we don’t spend so much time with, seen on the sidelines of the film and family, She does have her moment in one sketch when she is left behind at a shopping centre.
The film is made up of a collection of sketches, which is how life can be perceived, moving from one moment to the next, The family is far from perfect, the mother stays at home, looking after the house and her own mother. Whilst the father goes out to work and the kids are at school. We see a dynamic which we can all relate to, from fighting over the T.V remote to being lazy about making the evening meal.
The design of the film is more engaging and free-er, there is nothing extraordinary (in terms of Ghibli) to be created. We see the family mind wander to far off places. We see the pressures of family life upon them all, to live up to ideals and how to deal with life, be accepting of what happens, not to fight it. Family is very much at the core of this film, being a part of one is very important, to cherish what we have. That is something we can all relate to, Japanese, American, French, English or whatever your nationality family is still important, it’s where we begin and end our lives.
- Studio Ghibli ☆☆☆☆☆ (friendlyfilmfan.wordpress.com)
- From Up On Poppy Hill (seventhreel.co.uk)
- Studio Ghibli (hatokokubiyashi.wordpress.com)
- Studio Ghibli: Japan’s dream factory (telegraph.co.uk)
- Studio Ghibli’s upcoming film has a great new look (but will be delayed) (japandailypress.com)
- Win From Up On Poppy Hill Tickets With Stratford East Picturehouse (japancentre.com)
- From Up on Poppy Hill, review (telegraph.co.uk)
I first came across Ray Milland a few weeks ago in A Man Alone (1955) which was recommended too, and I did enjoy his acting and the film as a whole, his directorial début which showed a real flair, with the minimal dialogue throughout.
Moving onto today’s Milland film; Bugles in the Afternoon (1952) another western, not his usual noir detective. Which sees him take on the role of Kern Shafter a disgraced army colonel before travelling the country to re-list as a soldier, hoping to start over. Starting over with love in his life, take the form of Josephine Russell (Helena Carter) who he meets on a stagecoach, he keeps her company and safe on their long journey.
Enlisting at the local fort seems to easy to be true, promoted over night to sergeant, fitting in with ease with life of the army. He soon finds friction with another troops captain Capt. Edward Garnett (Hugh Marlowe) knows of his colourful past, having illegally killed a soldier in combat. And so begins what is a rivalry between two men that wont be settled easily. Constantly fighting on missions out of the fort. Garnett pushes Shafter into dangerous situations with the Sioux nation who are on the verge of war with the U.S. not long after being moved to reservation land, they will be pushed no more. We find a trail of death and destruction that they leave behind.
The Sioux give the film its historical anchor to the famous fight at Little Big Horn, not that we spend much time with the battle, more touching on the conflict towards the end of the film as the grand finale. Even having a brief appearance of the famous general (Sheb Wooley). There is more focus on the rivalry and the love triangle between the two men and Josephine Russell, this is what makes a solid film to watch. Along with an irish champion in the form of fellow soldier Donavan (Forrest Tucker) who starts out as a rival until they meet in a fight to settle their differences.
Its one last mission that brings this film to a close, after losing a few men on the edge of Little Big Horn, Shafter takes it upon himself to redeem himself after leaving fellow-men to die at the hands of the enemy, which gives him back what he lost, respect and a life free from the judgement of others, and a clean slate to carry on. Bugles in the Afternoon moves at a steady pace to not get stuck in one aspect of the plot for long,
- Drum and bugle corps featuring Templeton students wins competition (sanluisobispo.com)
- New films rated: Dial M For Murder, Blackfish and Viramundo (metro.co.uk)
- Dial M for Murder 3D, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- What I Love About: The Lost Weekend (1945) (runningtool.wordpress.com)