Thursday, July 23, 2015

Winds of Summer

Finally finished The Wind Rises during breakfast this morning. Jiro (English voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man who is in love with airplanes. He's too nearsighted to become a pilot, so, inspired by an Italian airplane designer (Stanley Tucci) who keeps appearing in his dreams, he sets out to become an aeronautical engineer. This, however, is Japan between the World Wars. It's still very much a backwards country, where oxen pull airplanes to the hangers. Jiro meets a young girl named Naoko (Emily Blunt) on a train  and helps her and her nurse out during the devastating Tokyo earthquake of 1923.

He spends the next ten years working for Kurokawa (Martin Short), a short, grouchy fellow whose hair always seems to be two steps from taking off. Kurokawa gradually comes to respect Jiro, even sending him to Germany to study their advanced designs. Jiro finally meets Naoko again at a hotel back in Japan. Though they spend a happy summer together, he discovers she has tuberculosis and may only live a few months. He insists on marrying her, despite the protest of Kurokawa and Jiro's sister Kayo (Mae Whitman). Jiro, however, is hard at work on a new plane design for the coming war. Even as the design proves to be a success, the moment is marred by tragedy...

I loved this movie. I thought this was one of the most touching, sweet, and thoughtful animated films I ever saw. I also enjoy learning about 20th century history, and it was nice to see the 20's and 30's from a different perspective than you normally do in the US. This was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2014 and probably only lost because it was competing with Frozen. (I love that one, too - talk about your impossible choices!)

I will point out that first of all, this movie is not appropriate for children. There's a lot of talk of war, the real-life Tokyo earthquake and all the devastation it caused, the Great Depression, Nazi Germany, and the main female character coughs up blood at one point. Second, Jiro is building planes that ultimately killed a lot of people, both Japanese and American, even if he didn't like it. Third, though I found the love story to be touching, a lot of people thought it was tacked on and a little too melodramatic. Also, the biopic part is quite fictionalized. (For one thing, in real life, Jiro was apparently neither a smoker, nor had a dying wife.)

If you enjoy other Studio Ghilbi work, animation that skewers more towards adults, the history of Japan or the 20th century or airplane design, or just a good old-fashioned tragic romance, I highly recommend the last work of Hayao Miyazaki and his groundbreaking studio. It may not be fantasy, but it's beautiful work nevertheless.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on my fanfiction. Scott convinces the rest of the acting troupe to dress as ghosts to scare the goons off. Thankfully, the goons aren't too bright, and they pull it off. They run right to their boss to tell him what they saw. Pruitt's not too happy that his stepson seems to be alive. He wants his boys to try again, maybe a little more subtle this time...

Work was exactly the same as yesterday - steady early on, quiet later. I'm hoping things will pick up a bit this weekend and next week as we get closer to the beginning of the month. Besides, it was another gorgeous day, sunny and a bit warmer, but not nearly as hot or humid as Monday. This was hardly a day to go shopping. My relief was actually a bit early, and I was in and out with no problems.

When I got home, I made scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms for dinner, then made my favorite one-bowl Fudgy Brownies recipe. Ran the first half of the series finale of Wonder Woman as I worked. Diana Prince has her hands full dealing with a missing orphan and a wealthy industrialist who wants to buy an amusement park to use as the base of his spying operations. A strange monster-like figure seems to be lurking under the roller coaster, stopping the industrialist's plans. Wonder Woman has to find out who "The Phantom of the Roller Coaster" is, before the kid or anyone else gets into trouble.

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