Thursday, November 7, 2013

From Up On Poppy Hill (2013)

Cast: Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Jamie Lee Curtis, Beau Bridges, Christina Hendricks

Director: Goro Miyazaki

Synopsis: An animated Japanese film made by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, From Up On Poppy Hill is a story about a group of Japanese teenagers in 1964 Yokohama, Japan. Sarah Bolger is the voice of Umi Matsuzaki, a young girl who has to take up a lot of responsibilities when her mother leaves to study in America for a time. At school, she meets a boy named Shun Kazama, and a number of boys that are members of a clubhouse. In light of the coming 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the clubhouse, an old and run-down building, is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a newer, better building. Shun, Umi, and the rest of the members of the Clubhouse must now try to fix up the old building and save it from destruction. This movie originally came out in 2011, but was released in America in 2013.

Reviewer’s Rating: 3.5/5 Reels


Though not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, like many of Studio Ghibli’s films (My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, etc.), From Up On Poppy Hill (directed by Miyazaki’s son, Goro) was a wonderfully enjoyable movie that is fun for the whole family.

With familiar animation and light-hearted humor, the Miyazaki’s create a delightful little world that is modern and realistic. Miyazaki is typically known for his imaginative movies layered with symbolism and Japanese spirituality. However, Poppy Hill is a more realistic film that lacks the element of magic that most Miyazaki films have. This reviewer found it a breath of fresh air! While I have often enjoyed that other-wordly feel of Miyazaki’s films, it was a nice change to see one that happens in an every day world to every day people.

The plot of trying to save the Clubhouse is shadowed by the subplot of Umi and Shun and the family drama that stems from their relationship. This provides a different tone to the movie and makes it altogether more interesting. The characters are seen as very three-dimensional and the story believable as well as historical.

The only thing that took this reviewer a while to get used to was the movie’s soundtrack. Usually composed by Japanese composer Joe Hisiashi, Studio Ghibli films typically come with a feeling and sound of magic and mysticism. Hisiashi’s music has always been something that I have enjoyed and I was slightly sad to see that Satoshi Takebe was named as the composer instead of him. However, my mind was quickly changed. Satoshi’s music was very well suited for Poppy Hill. While it wasn’t nearly as grand as Hisiahi’s, it was perfect for the film and helped contribute to the delightful small town, historical feel of the movie.

While it was not my favorite Miyazaki film, From Up On Poppy Hill was unique and delightful. This reviewer would definitely recommend it.

By Anna Petrizzi

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