Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies at Three Rivers Film Festival starting November 9.

Totoro posterGrave of the Fireflies

Two classic Japanese animated films, My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) and Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓), are among the four Asian movies at the 2013 Three Rivers Film Festival. The two will not be shown back to back, though, as they originally were and as they often are today.

My Neighbor Totoro will first run at the Waterworks Cinema (map) on Saturday, November 9, at 2:00 pm. Roger Ebert wrote a lengthy review describing the plot and the themes, a review that concludes thus:
I'm afraid that in praising the virtues of ''My Neighbor Totoro'' I have made it sound merely good for you, but it would never have won its worldwide audience just because of its warm heart. It is also rich with human comedy in the way it observes the two remarkably convincing, lifelike little girls (I speak of their personalities, not their appearance). It is awe-inspiring in the scenes involving the totoro, and enchanting in the scenes with the Cat Bus. It is a little sad, a little scary, a little surprising and a little informative, just like life itself. It depends on a situation instead of a plot, and suggests that the wonder of life and the resources of imagination supply all the adventure you need.
It will play a second time at the Regent Square Theater (map) on Sunday, November 10, at 2:30. Tickets for both are available online.

Grave of the Fireflies is, according to the film festival site and many other authorities, "profoundly beautiful anti-war film is praised by critics around the world as a masterpiece." To defer again to Roger Ebert for a summary:
“Grave of the Fireflies” (1988) is an animated film telling the story of two children from the port city of Kobe, made homeless by the bombs. Seita is a young teenager, and his sister Setsuko is about 5. Their father is serving in the Japanese navy, and their mother is a bomb victim; Seita kneels beside her body, covered with burns, in an emergency hospital. Their home, neighbors, schools are all gone. For a time an aunt takes them in, but she’s cruel about the need to feed them, and eventually Seita finds a hillside cave where they can live. He does what he can to find food, and to answer Setsuko’s questions about their parents. The first shot of the film shows Seita dead in a subway station, and so we can guess Setsuko’s fate; we are accompanied through flashbacks by the boy’s spirit.

“Grave of the Fireflies” is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.
Grave of the Fireflies plays twice at the Regent Square Theater (map): November 9 at 2:30, and November 12 at 8:00. Tickets are available online.