Pinhole Movie Reviews

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro / ルパン三世カリオストロの城 by tincolor

Lupin the Third is one of the best known Manga and Anime characters in Japan. He’s a world-trotting charismatic thief and in this film we find him in Monaco just as he is being duped into stealing a large sum of counterfeit bills from a casino. Not the type to have the wool pulled over his eyes, Lupin decides to find the source of the bills, which ultimately leads him to Cagliostro Castle and on the trail of a sinister plot. This is the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki and as far as I know, his only film that features characters he didn’t create. There is a lot to like about this film, from Lupin and his hard-boiled group of allies to the art direction and fluid animation that Miyazaki would become famous for. The only disappointment is when you realize that there has never been a Lupin film as good as this one. Worth watching.


Whisper of the Heart by Thomas
October 13, 2012, 8:31 pm
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A middle school girl finds the courage to be a writer — plus some of that pure, chaste, Studio Ghibli romance.  (Nobody ever kisses in these movies!) There’s lots of giggling and awkwardness and predictable middle school drama, but ultimately this is a meditation on the creative process.  Instead of being “spirited away” like other protagonists, this girl is stuck in suburban Japan where she must work hard to cultivate her creativity.  I liked this one.  Worth checking out.

Whisper of the Heart

Tonari no Totoro / My Neighbor Totoro by tincolor
July 25, 2012, 1:15 pm
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Two sisters and their father move into a Japanese country side inhabited by giant stuffed animals. There’s no real conflict in the movie, no “bad guy” no evil corporation/government, it’s just kids being kids and getting upset about the things that kids get upset about. It all adds up to something refreshingly pure and definitely worth watching.

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Thomas
June 6, 2012, 10:43 pm
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A young witch masters the art of flying while delivering baked goods. Phil Hartman plays her wisecracking cat.  It’s an early Studio Ghibli flick with all the standard ingredients: beautiful landscapes, supernatural plot, meandering jazzy soundtrack…but, for all its charms, there’s hardly any conflict.  I’m just as interested in freshly baked treats as the next guy — even so, it’s hard to care whether she delivers them successfully or not.  Watchable.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Howl’s Moving Castle by Thomas
June 5, 2012, 5:38 pm
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A powerful wizard makes a blood pact with a fire demon, voiced by Billy Crystal (of course).  This movie is spellbinding even if the plot seems bizarre.  The animation is glorious, with lusciously detailed artwork  in every frame.  I was lucky enough to see this in the cinema during the Northwest Film Center’s Studio Ghibli festival — a nerdy film-goer’s dream. Worth watching.

Howl’s Moving Castle

The Secret World of Arrietty by tincolor
December 19, 2011, 6:05 am
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Little people live beneath the floorboards of normal sized people’s houses, but they’re not out to hurt anyone. Bad bad bad bad bad. Japanese anime is already overly melodramatic, but this is just bad writing. A frustrating watch from cell one. Barely watchable.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky by tincolor
December 13, 2011, 2:09 pm
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A young boy goes on an airborne adventure with a mysterious girl who is being chased by pirates and seedy government suits. I have to admit, when I first saw this movie, I wasn’t particularly impressed. So perhaps my taste in movies has changed significantly, because I absolutely loved this movie when I saw it the other day. Very worth watching.

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