Just watched 宮崎駿/Hayao Miyazaki's latest—ハウルの動く城/Howl's Moving Castle and it didn't disappoint. (Well... I did think the ending was a bit too deus ex machina for me, but that's a minor quibble. I mean it is a fantasy after all.) I won't know how I'll rank this amongst Miyazaki's masterpieces until I've had some more time to mull it over and watch it again. I do know this: I was spellbound by this magical tale for 2 hours.
Unlike most of his other works (i.e. My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), this movie's not an original story. Instead it's based on Diana Wynne Jones' novel of the same name. I've never read it (or even heard of it until today) and supposedly this is a loose interpretation. Anyway, in this story you'll find: a young girl in a 90-year-old's body, a fire demon who powers a moving castle (my favorite character!), a kid who can transform into a tiny old man with a huge beard, an old witch with a neck that looks a little like Jabba the Hutt, a wizard who turns into a giant bird (voiced by 木村拓哉/Takuya Kimura, last seen canoodling with 王菲/Faye Wong in another wonderful film, 2046), a scarecrow that hops around, flying battleships, and so many other wonderful and weird things that make up Miyazaki's trademark style. I think it's best to just go in with a clean slate and enjoy the magical ride so I won't rehash the plot (kind of hard to do anyway given the complex multi-layered story).
Howl's doesn't open in the States until June 10th in NY/LA (blame Disney).
And if you read Chinese, this is the best fan site I've found so far (well, in English or Chinese anyway): 移動城堡台灣興趣版
Despite my previous claim that "The Gates" is close to being completely horrible, I went back to see it again this past weekend. This time, I entered the park through Harlem Meer (at 110th and 5th) and my reaction was much more positive. Maybe I was able to appreciate it after I got the player-hating out of my system. Or maybe up around the northern part of the park it just didn't have the crush of people that the below-reservoir parts had (there were less people up there on a Saturday afternoon then there were on a Tuesday afternoon below 86th). Or maybe the area around Harlem Meer is just an exceptionally beautiful part of the park (where I almost never go since it's so far up there).
Between my two visits, I more-or-less have seen every part of "The Gates" and the installation around Harlem Meer area is definitely the best. The gates worked well with the topology of the area and seemed to be placed less monotonously than elsewhere in the park. This last point I'm not sure, but that's how it appeared to me. I still don't think the project's that great overall, but at least I hate it less.
If you haven't gone out to see it yet, you should. Good art or not, it's still an interesting and impressive (in the sense that it was done at all) installation. You have a few days left to see it and make up your own mind about it. Make sure you enter the park through the Harlem Meer and avoid the crowd in the lower parts of the park.
My 阿嬤 (ah-ma/paternal grandmother) passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 2, 2005 at home in Taipei with my 阿公 (ah-gong/grandfather) at her side. She was 81 years old. These are some photos from her funeral.
I know I said I wasn't going to put these up because people might find them in bad taste. But after looking over the photos, I decided to share them after all. As LT reminded me: When did I ever care what other people thought? True dat. This is my way of remembering an important event in my life. Plus I think the photos are pretty interesting, to boot.
Most poignant photo: My 阿公/grandfather looking over at the proceedings.
See the full gallery: Grandmother's Funeral [ 23 photos ]