Tuesday, August 31, 2010
My Neighbor Totoro. B-
My strongest memory of any Miyazaki film is Spirited Away (and specifics, the giant creature in it with a little too much inside him). That movie I've seen at least three times and I find it to be a marvelous experience, sort of like Miyazaki taking everything he's got and applying it to one creative exercise after another. His movie My Neighbor Totoro, considered a classic by many, is also strong, but not nearly as successful for me at the time I saw it. One could praise Miyazaki for the simplicity he instills in the story, but I found myself bored, with the exception of a few magic moments. The movie doesn't give us a story as much as it offers an experience. It's about two young sisters and their father who move into a new house in the country while their mother is in the hospital. The sisters are imaginative and curious and only require nature for entertainment. Miyazaki has been praised for capturing the essence of childhood and the vivid imagination that accompany it, and that is one aspect of the movie I admired. But at the same time, I found the kids to be a little on the annoying side, mainly because they're always yelling and shrieking in shrill voices. I accepted it at first, but when they didn't seem to calm down, I became irritated. The title refers creatures Miyazaki created that the kids may or may not think up on their adventures. The totoro is a pleasant creature and a classic Miyizaki creation. Though almost devoid of characteristics, the totoro is amiable and emits a sense of security. He is a protector, but at the same time we sense he's just as curious about life as the kids are. As usual, Miyazaki has created a beautiful film visually. The movie is like looking at one sumptuous water-color painting after another. The result is a generally emotionally resonant story that works more as a visual treat than a classic fairy tale.