Today was the perfect day to illustrate my incredibly varied tastes in film. The Secret World of Arietty, the newest offering from Studio Ghibli, may not have been as fun as Ponyo or captivating as My Neighbor Totoro, but it's no slouch, either. Taken from the novel (or the movie or The Littles), the story is a pretty simple one (which is one of the film's detriments), in that there is a family of little people ("borrowers") who are living in the the floorboards of a house and they try to keep people from finding out they exist. The daughter, Arietty, when she goes out on her first "borrowing" is found out by the sick boy (Shawn). Now they have to move.
As slight as the story is, the film is simply gorgeous to look at. Each frame seems like it is a piece of artwork. It's a lush and captivating film. And by the end, there is some real drama and emotion. It just seems so slight for all the effort that was put into it. ***
Then, tonight, I got to see the documentary Corman's World, which gives a fairly comprehensive look at the filmic history of Roger Corman. It should be required viewing for anyone who likes exploitation films (the man gave us Piranha, The Little Shop of Horrors an The Raven amongst others), or who hasn't read How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime. I already own his book and have read it a couple of times, so, really, none of the information was new to me. However, it was incredibly cool to see people like Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Ron Howard all talk about him with reverence.
As a historical piece, the film worked pretty well, with the perfect ending of Corman receiving his honorary Oscar in 2010 surrounded by friends and family. (As a side note - I was initially pretty upset when the Oscars started handing out their honorary Academy Awards at a separate event instead of at the real deal. But then I read an interview, probably with Corman, where they said, because they had advance warning about the Oscar, they got to invite all the people close to them to enjoy in the honor and it made things much more personal. When the people getting the Oscars are for this process, it's hard to argue.)
The movie really skimps on his 1980's output of films, but overall, there are some fun stories and a look at one of the most successful independent filmmakers ever. Definitely worth a watch. ***
When I turned on the television tonight, I got caught up in Catch Me if You Can on TNT. I had no intention of watching until the first commercial break, but I ended up watching most of the film. After looking at his output over the last ten years, I think it's pretty safe to say that this is his best film over that period. It has a fun story, great acting, and John Williams best score in quite some time. It does what the best "based on true events" movies do - which is make you want to read what the "real" story is. ***1/2
A busy day. But satisfying.