Tag Archives: children’s film

Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree

31 Oct

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Happy Halloween everyone! Here in Baltimore it’s a foggy, overcast morning. Here’s hoping the sun comes and we can see some of those brilliant autumn leaves illuminated properly. Hard to believe the end of October is here already.  In keeping with the holiday, I’ve dug up the Cartoon Network adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree. A wonderful and childlike animation that offers the cultural and historical context for the holiday wrapped up in a story of young friends venturing out to save one of their own.

Bradbury has been evoking smoky autumn evenings and golden, leaf-strewn afternoons for years in his work and his affection for this particular holiday is evident. He doesn’t skimp on the ghouls here but it isn’t scary and it offers some educational details about the traditions and heritage that lurk underneath the candy-giving and costume-wearing.

As it isn’t available on DVD, I’ve put the entire thing up right here. If you get the opportunity, check it out. And keep your ears peeled for Leonard Nimoy as Moundshroud, the foreboding old man who owns the Halloween Tree. Continue reading

Now Playing: ‘Ponyo’ swims the dazzling sea of Miyazaki’s imagination

13 Aug

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Ponyo(Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea) (G) 100 min. Directed and Written by: Hayao Miyazaki.  Featuring the voice-work of: (English version) Ponyo: Noah Lindsey Cyrus, Sosuke: Frankie Jonas, Koichi: Matt Damon, Lisa: Tina Fey, Gran Mamere: Cate Blanchette, Fujimoto: Liam Neeson. With Betty White, Cloris Leachman and Lily Tomlin. Art Direction: Noboru Yoshida. Cinematography: Atsushi Okoi. Chief Animator: Katsuya Kondô. Original music by: Joe Hisaishi.

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 Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo is a welcome breath of fresh air for the world of animated film. For starters, the Japanese master’s latest is a delightful throwback to a not-so-distant time; the era of hand-drawn 2-dimensional, cell-animated films. While it’s true that cell animation is still a viable means of expression internationally, American theaters have not seen such product  in quite awhile. Thankfully, Walt Disney, prompted byPixar head John Lasseter, is attempting to reverse that. Tomorrow, Ponyo will be given a wide-release in theaters (the largest a Miyazaki film has had here in the West) and in November, the mouse-house will release The Princess and the Frog,  its first traditionally animated film(I’m not counting the opening of Enchanted or all of those DTV cheapies) since 2002’s  pathetic Home on the Range.

Ponyo offers all audiences, both the newcomer and the Miyazaki faithful, something both artistically beautiful and conceptually original. Created in a simple, elegant style with water-color pastels, this fantasy is driven by its vibrant, otherworldly visuals and by its creator’s keen sense of child-like wonder and knack for off-kilter, human details. Skewing to a younger audience than some of Miyazaki’s other animated ventures, like Princess Mononoke or  Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo is an honest-to-goodness family film; it isn’t just appropriate for all ages, it has the potential to entertain all ages. Continue reading