Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Howl's Moving Castle
Those sneaky movie house people are slowly bumping their budget Tuesday ticket prices up again, those sneaky devils. It got down to $5.00 a ticket about a month ago. They had to do something, after all. I was going along to see a movie and there would be half a dozen of us in there, in this gigantic theatre.
Anyway, last week it was $7.50 and today it was $8.00. See how sneaky they are? Pretty soon it will be me and five other people again in that big room.
The movie I saw today was called Howl's Moving Castle, an animated picture from Japanese wizard Hayao Miyazaki. His last movie Spirited Away was excellent so yes for sure I was really looking forward to this one you bet.
First of all, the theatre was packed, but at least I had an empty seat on either side and no Asian teenagers made a move to sit up close to me. You know I wouldn't mind this but they never put their cute girlfriends next to me. Maybe they are worried I will put my hand on their leg. I would not even do that. Is that why they are so protective? I don't know. But yes, that could be it all right. Maybe next time I will turn around and tell them straight up, 'It's OK you know, you can put your cute girlfriend next to me without any feelings of anxiety on your part whatsoever. I promise not to put my hand on her leg. In fact, let me reassure you I am quite the gentleman.'
Oh yeah, the movie. Sooner or later I will have to admit that this movie confused the hell out of me, so I'll admit it right up front. It was very good, a real spectacle, but confusing.
There is a girl (Sophie) and she works in a hat shop. Even though she is young, she dresses like an old woman. People make cruel jokes about her saying she is plain and unattractive so she ends up believing it. Then later when she closes up the shop an enormous woman comes in, she is no ordinary fat woman, she is the Witch of the Waste and she insults Sophie and casts a spell on her which turns her into an old woman.
The next morning she wakes up, or maybe she actually was awake all night, but she is still an old woman, so decides to leave town. Up the mountain she goes, making amusing comments, and her back keeps creaking. There are some great sounds in the movie; sounds are put together with obsessive care and the effect is rather wonderful.
Having a hard time getting up the mountain with her old creaking bones, she tries to pull a stick out of some bushes in order to use as a walking stick, but with a mighty yank it comes up and turns out to be a scarecrow. It's got a turnip for a head and Sophie tells it she has always hated turnips, the worst vegetable as far as she is concerned, and she calls it Turniphead. Turniphead doesn't speak, but starts pogoing along after her.
Then she spots a big castle moving along on mechanical legs, and steam shooting out in all directions. The castle slows down a bit and she manages to get on board with some difficulty, because it doesn't slow down quite enough. She says goodbye to Turniphead.
Inside the castle is a young boy (Markl) who has magic powers. People keep knocking on the door and Markl pulls up a disguise over himself transforming himself into a comical kiddie version of a grizzled old sea dog, or a lighthouse keeper. As he is about to answer the door he always says, 'Stand by.' Those parts were funny, indeed there are many genuinely funny moments throughout the movie.
Markl is assistant to Howl, who owns the moving castle. Those knocks on the door previously were messengers come to ask Howl to present himself at some other castle to offer his services in a war that is going on. Howl is a scaredy cat and doesn't want to go so he sends Sophie in his place, telling her to pretend that she is his mother, and tell them that her son Howl is useless and will be no help at all, so he can get out of the jam, out of his responsibilities.
Anyway, Sophie goes off on this adventure, but that Witch of the Waste is also heading for the same place and they meet up. Obviously Sophie is not too happy to see this witch that made her old, yet she gets some kind of satisfaction when they both have to walk up the hundreds of castle steps. Even though Sophie is in an old body now, she makes it OK, whereas the Witch is so obese she has a real hard time, and this is quite a grotesque scene as she sweats like mad struggling up the steps, becoming more hideous every second.
Well, after that everything became confusing. I'll have to watch it again, thinking about it has not made it any clearer. What makes up for any confusion or obscurity though is how amazing the movie looks. The animation is mostly done by hand and it's awesome, a real pleasure to watch even if you can't quite understand what is happening during the second half. Well, maybe you can understand it, it's quite possible that it is only me who had that problem. Oh well. A depressing thought! Ha ha. But if somebody were to tell me they wanted to watch one of these Miyazaki movies I would have to advise them to see Spirited Away first, which I thought was superior, at least as amazing visually but with a clearer story.
As for the audience in the theatre, there were many distractions. A man in front of me kept loudly rustling his chip packet like he was doing an old time radio show that demanded many and loud chip packet sound effects. There was also a man a few seats to my left who found it necessary to regularly consult the dazzlingly bright blue screen of his mobile phone. It was like the flash of a small star exploding every five minutes. Why do these robots do that? Robots should be forbidden access to movie houses, their retarded obsession with constant access to communications electronics is a distraction for the human beings in the movie house.