Bit of a panic yesterday as word spread fast and furiously that Studio Ghibli was shutting down production. But as Mark Schilling reports in Variety, the “death of Japan’s most famous animation house, to paraphrase Mark Twain, has been greatly exaggerated.”
And to paraphrase Schilling, here’s the situation. Films by studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki would “routinely” earn over $100 million, but since announcing that The Wind Rises would be his last film, the wind’s gone out of the studio’s sails (sorry). Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There is “a solid hit,” albeit one that’s earned a “mere” $36 million. So Studio Ghibli will indeed be downsizing its full-time staff—but not closing down.
A couple of related notes. For the Japan Times, Ian Martin reviews The Art of Princess Mononoke, a book that “reveals some fascinating insights into the film’s production process, which are of particular interest given the important role Princess Mononoke played in the Japanese industry’s transition from traditional cel animation to computer graphics and digital compositing.” And back in May, Jasper Sharp wrote up “five essential films” from Studio Ghibli for the BFI.
IN OTHER NEWS
“Director Ann Hui, a hugely popular figure in Hong Kong for her pioneering movies about social issues in her home city, will be named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the Busan International Film Festival,” and Clifford Coonan has details in the Hollywood Reporter. BIFF 2014 runs from October 2 through 11.
Celebrating Artificial Eye’s Blu-ray release of Fassbinder’s Querelle (1982), John Coulthart presents “a small collection of Querellerie past and present.” And as for the film, it’s “still only the briefest sketch of Genet’s novel (although Genet biographer Edmund White enjoyed it) but I like the overheated atmosphere, the phallic set designs, Franco Nero (hey, it’s Django Gay!), and the film as a whole is a fitting memorial to Brad Davis, everyone’s favorite sweating matelot.”
On a related note, the New Yorker‘s Hilton Als previews the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Genet’s The Maids with Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert. Lincoln Center Festival performances will run from Wednesday through August 16.
Michael Smith presents a “New Hollywood/ Film School Generation Primer.”
The latest “Cinephiliac Moment” at photogénie comes from Fien Troch, “one of Belgium’s most highly praised directors.”
Amy Pascale’s Joss Whedon: The Biography will be “a boon to moderate Whedon fans who weren’t a part of the early fan communities of Buffy or Firefly, or who know him primarily through his recent directorial work on Avengers or The Cabin in the Woods,” writes Laura M. Browning, who gives the book a B- at the AV Club. At the House Next Door, Jonathan Russell Clark notes that Whedon “comes across as an impossibly good (and, thus, uninteresting) figure who chirpily learns lessons from banal tribulations.”
Slate‘s Aisha Harris on The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) in which “the fate—and more pressingly, the complexion—of the human race lies in the hands of a black man, white woman, and white man.”
Breast cancer has taken Alex Sichel at the age of 50 and the Columbia School of the Arts has posted a remembrance: “A gifted writer and director, her feature film All Over Me (1997), and short film, Amnesia (1992) won numerous honors. Other films include Tree Shade (1998) and Anemone Me (1990). At the time of her death, Alex was working on a hybrid feature length documentary (working title, The Movie About Anna) about her struggle and desire to come to terms with her illness. Through the creation of a fictional alter ego, played by Lili Taylor, the film follows Alex as she tries to use her imagination to transform her relationship to a disease she could not cure. Blending fictional scenes with documentary, the film explores some of the issues that come up in stark relief when confronting a terminal illness: parenting, marriage, faith, life, and death.”
John Wyver‘s posted a fresh round of links.