Tag Archives: animation

Studio Ghibli – things for which I am grateful #50/365

Well, for my 50th post, it has to be something special. And, what better than the inimitable, Studio Ghibli.

If you’re unfamiliar with them, they are a Japanese animation house who produce some of the most original and sumptuously animated movies you will ever see.

Of course, I only really got into them because I have children, (both of whom love their films). But I would argue that any adult could watch their movies and enjoy them – they are that unique.

What I don’t want to do is get into a critique of all their films that I like. So, suffice it to say, just trust me, and try and watch as many of their films as possible – even if you don’t have kids.

How I think they differ from western animation houses is that they draw upon Japanese folklore, which is new to us and makes for very unusual storylines. Not only that, but the colours seem so much richer and vivid than what we are used to.

Another thing I love about them is that their leading protagonists tend to be girls. Which is good for my children.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

A young girl has to enter a spirit world in order to save her parents from being permanently turned into pigs.

Spirited Away.

Spirited Away.

My neighbour, Totoro.

My neighbour, Totoro.

Totoro is a giant forest spirit who comes to the aid of two young girls who have moved to the countryside with their father while their sick mother recuperates in hospital.

My neighbour, Totoro.

My neighbour, Totoro.

Howl's Moving Castle.

Howl’s Moving Castle.

Sophie starts out as an 18-year-old hat maker, but then a witch’s curse transforms her into a 90-year-old grey-haired woman. Sophie is horrified by the change at first. Nevertheless, she learns to embrace it as a liberation from anxiety, fear and self-consciousness. She begins cleaning for the powerful wizard, Howl. And soon finds she is more and more attracted to him. But can she break the curse, not just on her, but Howl too?

Howl's Moving Castle.

Howl’s Moving Castle.



Ponyo is a fish who befriends a boy and desperately wants to become human.

Laputa - Castle in the Sky.

Laputa – Castle in the Sky.

Sheeta is wanted by a ruthless government agent who wants her magic amulet which will help him control the once mighty kingdom of Laputa. Aided by her faithful friend, Pazu and a gang of flying pirates, they have to thwart the dastardly, Muska.

Laputa - Castle in the Sky.

Laputa – Castle in the Sky.

Kiki's Delivery Service.

Kiki’s Delivery Service.

A young witch goes out into the world to make it for herself and sets up a delivery service.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Absolutely heartbreaking story of two brothers trying to survive the aftermath of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Grave of the Fireflies.

Some other titles that are worth mentioning: The Cat Returns, Whisper of the Heart, Princess Mononoke, Arrietty and Tales from Earth Sea.


Filed under Animation, Art, Children, Children's stories, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Film, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Screenplays

Top 10 bestest kids’ films of all time – ever!

So, just to recap: We’ve had love films, sci-fi and war movies.

Next up – kids’ films. This could be the hardest one of all as there are so many brilliant movies out there aimed at Tranquilityslayers. Particularly from the studios of Pixar, Dreamworks, Aardman and Ghibli.

It’s a toughy as I could pick ten Studio Ghibli movies in a heartbeat. But where would that leave that dastardly Gru of Despicable Me fame?

If you’re a grown up and you don’t have Walletsuckers then you might not have seen most/any of these flicks. But, I can assure you, there’s nothing childish about them. If you love a good movie, then you’ll love these.

I’m not sure my kids will agree with me. But what do they know.


A classic tale originally penned by Rudyard Kipling. Mowgli – a man-cub, is brought up by wolves and then ordered to return to the man-village for his own protection because Shere Khan, aka “Stripes”, is the tiger who wants a piece of him. Or, more accurately, several pieces. But Mowgli wants to stay in the jungle much to his escort’s dismay – Bagheera the panther. Cue – Baloo the sloth-bear, who has got to be the coolest bear that there ever was. Some banging tunes that I can still sing all the words to today. Much to my kids’ embarrassment.

shrek_01You could pick any one of the five Shrek movies in the franchise, as they are all cracking yarns. I think my favourite would have to be the second when Latin Lothario, Puss in Boots, makes an appearance, voiced by Antonnio Banderas. Eddie Murphy is brilliant as Shrek’s unwanted sidekick. While Cameron Diaz plays the ass-kicking Princess Fiona. Great characters and great to see that ugly is the new beauty.


Another character voiced by Mike Meyers. I love the Dr Seuss books. Fantastically surreal tales with exquisite rhymes. Myers does justice to the mischievous feline with just enough adult humour thrown in for good measure. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are on hand to add mayhem and contradiction into the mix. Which is precisely why I now refer to my two children by those monikers.


What happens to superheroes when their services are no longer required by the govt.? They’re put on the scrapheap like the rest of us. But the govt. didn’t manage to put the villains on the scrapheap. Cue – Mr Incredible making an unsuccessful middle-aged comeback. Cue2: Mom and the kids have to save the day. And the world.


What happens to dysfunctional experiments that have gone wrong? They’re locked away by the govt., of course. (Again.) Until the earth is about to be destroyed by an evil alien overlord who wants his quantonium back that has turned the would-be-bride, Susan into Ginormica. Then, said ‘mutants’ are released to do battle with the alien invaders. Reluctant heroine, Susan, has to galavanise the hapless crew together to defeat the despotic Gallaxhar.


Again, you could pick any one of the wonderful Aardman-created Wallace and Gromit movies. I’m going to plum for “A close shave”.  W&G have to foil a dastardly plot by the evil robodog to turn sheep normally bred for wool, into dog meat. Dum, dum – duuuurrrrhh.


At the heart of most of these movies is a great idea. And here’s another – a parallel world inhabited by monsters who access our world via kids’ bedroom closets in order to steal their screams. Which they need in order to convert into energy to power their world. Monstropolis is turned to chaos when a human-child gets into their world thanks to the evil ‘Randal’ who wants to kidnap kids to extract more energy from them. Fortunately, Sully and Mike, (John Goodman and Billy Chrystal), are on hand to bring normality back to Monstropolis. And who could forget the company motto: We scare because we care.


Wall-E could conceivably make it into 3 out of the 4 categories: kids, romance and sci-fi. I love this movie. Probably because I can empathise with the low-tech, no-hope, love-struck, fool of a robot who will do anything for the love of his life – the high-tec probe sent to earth – Eve.


I could fill all ten slots with the movies from Studio Ghibli. But alas, I shall have to pick one for representative purposes. Spirited Away is a surreal tale about a girl who gets transported into a spirit world and must battle said spirits in order to escape and save her parents from being permanently turned into pigs. Exquisite animation. It was this or Ponyo.

despicable_me_final_posterYou guessed it, my number one – Despicable Me. Supervillain – Gru will do anything to steal the moon. Including adopting three orphaned girls. But his heart is melted when he actually begins to care for them. Lovely co-performance from Dr Nefario voiced by Russell Brand. Not forgetting high praise too for Gru’s adorably mischievous Minions.

There we are now, not a nauseatingly disproportionate princess in sight. Well, Princess Fiona is a little bit disproportionate – but in a good way.

Notable worthy exceptions: Toy Story; Up; Chitty, Chitty, Bang-Bang; Willy Wonka; Nanny McPhee; Brave; Tangled; Megamind; Ponyo… I could go on.

What’ve I missed? Let me know your favourites.


Filed under Animation, Art, Cartoons, Children, Children's stories, Comedy, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Screenplays, Writing

Dali & Disney – A collaboration.

I put this short film up on my FB page a few days ago. So apologies to anyone who has already seen this. But I wanted to share it with blog friends too.

It warrants getting as much exposure as possible.

This is quite simply beautiful animation.

A love story in the style of Dali.

Made by the daddy of animation.

My only criticism… and I’m sorry I have one, is the soundtrack.

I love the Mexican/Spanish theme. But then it morphs into English and it sounds a bit naff. Like it should be in Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella.


Filed under Animation, Art, Cartoons, Contemporary Arts, Film, Ideas, Inspiration, Music, Screenplays, Writing

William Kentridge


This large-scale exhibition surveys nearly three decades of work by William Kentridge (b. 1955, South Africa), a remarkably versatile artist whose work combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism, his work is often imbued with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation that render his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent.

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Filed under Art, Film