Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki needs no introduction to animé fans. His latest film "The Wind Rises" will not disappoint with its exquisite animation in the story of Jiro Horikoshi, aeronautical engineer and designer of WWII Japanese navy fighter planes. The title comes from a French poem quoted several times, translated as "The wind is rising; you must try to live."
Director Joel Allen Schroeder's documentary "Dear Mr. Watterson" delivers a 90-minute love letter to Bill Watterson, the creator in 1985 of the immensely popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Schroeder's sentiments are heartfelt, effusive, and dull. He makes the common mistake of enlisting Calvin and Hobbes' admirers for testimonial after testimonial when insight and analysis are needed to explain the praise.
It's no secret that Emile Zola knew how to tell a story, especially the pitiful story of orphan Therese Raquin. From that novel, a play was written by Neal Bell, and from that play, a film script was produced into a film called "In Secret" and directed by newcomer Charlie Stratton.
"The Trials of Muhammad Ali" begins with a jolt from 1968--a verbal denouncement of Ali by David Susskind speaking from London to Ali via live television satellite. Producer/director Bill Siegel immediately cuts to President George W. Bush bestowing the Medal of Freedom on Ali in 2005, juxtaposing jarring counterpoints of attitude as well as of Ali's physical presence.
As direct and candid as its subject, director Sini Anderson's "The Punk Singer: A Documentary Film about Kathleen Hanna" profiles this outspoken feminist's life. This includes her late 1980s days at Evergreen College, the formation of Bikini Kill with Hanna as the lead singer, her step away from performing in 1995, and her empowering involvement with Riot Grrrl.
George Clooney made a noble effort to tell the story of soldier/scholars sent by President Franklin Roosevelt to save the culture of Europe near the end of World War II. A noble effort, however, does not immediately translate to a fine film.
As relevant now as when it premiered at New York's Philharmonic Hall in 1964, "Nothing But a Man" retains its amazingly, quietly intense appeal without a hint of sentimentality. Masterfully restrained, it never sacrifices communicating the deeply disturbing racist insults and pervasive inequities affecting Duff Anderson, introduced working on a railroad section crew in a town near Birmingham, Alabama.
Too bad the title "It's Complicated" went to 2009 film starring Meryl Streep and Steve Martin, for the title could be a generic. It certainly applies to "The Past," which depends on revelations, each one more complicating than the last. "The Past" is a mystery wrapped in a soap opera.
A documentary difficult to watch but essential viewing, "Fire in the Blood" charts the pharmaceutical industry's response to the AIDS antiretroviral treatment breakthroughs, beginning in 1996. Instead of embracing opportunities to save, literally, millions, young and old, dying excruciating deaths, U.S. Big Pharma companies worked nationally and internationally to protect their patents and profits.