Tag Archive: Anime

Remembering Roger Ebert

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


What is a sure sign of spring at my house?


When the weather is warm enough that I feel okay removing last year’s perennial stems. Usually I leave the stalks from the peonies and mums up over the winter. It gives the snow someplace to land that is not flat – and therefore – a little interesting.


Image of Roger Ebert  from IMDb.com

Image of Roger Ebert from IMDb.com

This year as I cut away last year’s peonies stems, I thought about Roger Ebert who passed away last week. I grew up on Ebert’s and Siskel’s review show. I read his columns to find out how to write a proper review and to learn how to be better. But I also read his work because I enjoyed his writing style.


I had the pleasure of meeting Ebert and he was always gracious to me, especially when I was hugely pregnant with our last child and wanted an easy exit to the bathroom – just in case.  That spot was right in front of him which most people never do.


More than that, Roger was always interested in what other people thought and asked questions to the room at large in between screenings.  He believed everyone read as much as he did and was interested in what the rest of the room was thinking. For a man at his level of brilliance, it was humbling to know he wanted our thoughts.


If there was one thing that Ebert hope to inspire in people, it was to try a movie that may not have seemed like your cup of tea. He encouraged his readers to get out of their comfort zone, not only with his columns but with his Overlooked Film Festival, now known as Ebertfest,  in Champaign, Illinois every April. While the festival started as one thing, it became a chance to Ebert and friends to pick out movies that were not seen for a variety of reasons.


My Neighbor Totoro IMDb com 4 2013

Poster Image from IMDb.com

One movie that was out of my comfort zone was the family friendly My Neighbor Totoro. This Japanese Anime movie tells the story of a family who moves out to a house in the Japanese countryside. It is filled with soot sprites that need to be scared away.


But more than that, it is near the home of a giant Totoro – king of the forest. However, the young girls are also dealing with an ill mother who cannot leave the hospital no matter how much they miss her. Hayao Miyazaki directs what I  call a near perfect movie that explores Japanese folk tales and the emotions of two girls dealing with fear and grief.


I was blown away by the detail of the hand-drawn animation and the joyousness of the story despite the heavy shadow of the sick mother.  It sent our family on a journey to find more anime movies by this director and we have never been disappointed.


While I may not have Ebert to thank for discovering this movie, I do thank him for the wonderful writing he produced that was always, always, thought-provoking and moving.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


The other day, we were at a party talking to people about streaming video.


They liked it for the ease and convenience of not having to go anywhere for a movie, especially if they remember at 8 in the evening. But then the wife said something I found interesting.


She stated she missed going to a video store and walking through the racks to find a movie. I couldn’t agree more because there is something to touching and feeling a movie box. I love reading the descriptions on the back, looking the pictures and seeing who is in the movie. I have stumbled on great movies because I was walking through the aisles, not knowing what I really wanted.


Streaming is easy, takes one errand off the list of things to do. That can be great when you have kids who cannot handle more than three stops before they get a treat. But there is something lost in not seeing all of the choice out there on a wall in front of your face.

What do you think about streaming?


Poster Image from IMDb.com

This week my list of movies to see has just gotten longer with the release of One For the Money starring Katherine Heigl in the adaptation of the Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. The premise is that Plum becomes a bail bonds man after losing her job, moving back in with her parents, and recovering from a nasty divorce.


I know what the critics have said about this movie, I know it is bad. But sometimes a bad movie has its place – to laugh at its stupidity, to smile at the bad jokes, to go along gamely with the actors who know the movie is bad but decided to have fun with it. I love the smile on Heigl’s face as she brings in a guy who insists on being naked because “the ‘boys’ need air.”


As you can guess, this one is not for family viewing.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

How lucky for us that a good anime, family-friendly film has just been released to the home market. We saw The Secret World of Arrietty at the theater and loved it. The story is about little people who live in our world and take what they need but not in great amounts so it will not be discovered. It is based on the story of The Borrowers. This movie is suitable for children as young as kindergarten-age and their older siblings.


In this movie, Arrietty is a 14-year-old girl who is about to learn to art of borrowing from her father. The house that they live in has been inhabited only by a housekeeper. But now a boy, resting before major surgery, is moving in. And when he discovers Arrietty one night, her world faces major challenges.


This movie comes from the studios of Hayao Miyazaki, a film-making master.  Many of his techniques are employed in this movie with beautiful animation, solid storytelling in a manner that is not rushed. And the voice over work by Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Bridget Mendler, David Hendrie and Carol Burnett are perfect for their characters.



Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


How many people can say they love Japanese Anime?


How many people know it when they see it?


If you have kids like my kids, the Uh-Gi-Oh or Pokemon or some other cartoons might be the extent of what you know.


"My Neighbor Totoro" Image from IMDB.com

I discovered Anime one day when I was looking for a video for my son who was feeling sick that day and needed to be entertained. In the store I stumbled upon My Neighbor Totoro by Studio Ghibli’s director Hayao Miyazaki. The cover looked worn and tired at that time, so much so I almost skipped over it.


I took it home anyway. We watched it and were entranced. The story is about two young girls who move to the country with their father and meet Totoro, the king of the forest.


We watch it on a regular basis and I still have that feeling of amazement every time I watch it.


Image from IMDb.com

Last week, our 4H group did our semi-annual dinner and a movie night. After supper at Panera Bread, we went over to Movies 10 to watch The Secret World of Arrietty a movie from Studio Ghibli although not directed by Miyazaki.


We had kids ranging in age from 8 to 17 and there was not one single unhappy kid in the crowd.


The story is based on The Borrowers, tiny people who live in our homes and borrow only what they need. So food items and earrings might disappear as well as tissues. The trick is to stay hidden from the ‘beans, cats and rats. Birds like to eat borrowers as well.


In this case, Shaun comes to live at his aunt’s house to rest before a serious operation. He sees a borrower by accident and at first he thinks he imagined it. That is until his aunt tells him about the special doll house that was built for a tiny family.


Meanwhile, Arrietty is the only child of borrowers who live in this house. She accompanies her father on her first borrow in the house and he teaches her not only how to be a borrower but how to be a good person.


As far as they know they are the last of their kind in the area. Other families have disappeared and where more might be is hard to tell.


What is different about this movie is the way the story slowly unfolds. There are few big action scenes and every moment is not filled with music. The sounds of nature suffice and fit better. At first I had trouble slowing down and simply enjoying it. I had to remind myself it was OK to let things play out and not know what would happen next.



While Disney Channel viewers will recognize Bridget Mendler as Arrietty and David Henrie as Shaun, soon you forget about their real ‘faces’ and believe them as their characters. Amy Poehler does a wonderful job as the mother while Carol Burnett is a hoot as the housekeeper determined to rid the house of the ‘little people.”


This movie plays well for children in early grade school through middle school. The animation is beautiful and can be appreciated by all ages. 


Other Miyazaki anime movies you might enjoy are Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service for younger viewers while Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away are more appropriate for pre-teens and teens.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.