Casting double feature: the English-language cast for Studio Ghibli's next and Paul Dano joins revenge flick Prisoners

From Up On Poppy Hill bike and bus still

As is often the way with these sorts of things, the two movies at hand could not be more different from one another.  Which s good, because variety is the spice of filmmaking life.  Or clove and cinnamon, if we're talking the spices that infuse the warm apple cider you drink while watching movies or between takes when making movies. 

First up is the English-language cast for Studio Ghibli's latest, FROM UP ON POPPY HILL.  The highest grossing film for Japan in 2011, it made $56 million and won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation because that's just what Studio Ghibli films do whenever a new one comes to cinemas.  Written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro, the English-language cast now boasts the likes of Gillian Anderson, Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Jeff Dunham, Isabelle Fuhrman, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Saxton, Alex Wolff and Anton Yelchin.  Dunham is an interesting name there - I'll be curious to see if he's playing a strange character, or simply using his own voice and comedic timing. 

All in all though, it's wonderful to see so many of these names lending their talents to a Studio Ghibli film.  That studio crafts a very particular kind of storytelling that is not often seen these days, and the love and light and hope and wonder interwoven though whatever happens in the course of all their films is something that I know I for one much appreciate.  I always try to catch Ghibli in cinemas when I can, and my plan for FROM UP ON POPPY HILL definitely looks to be no different when it releases some time in March 2013.

Plot summary: Set in Yokohama in 1963, the film centers on a high school couple’s innocent love and the secrets surrounding their births. The story takes place in a Japan that is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics – and the mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the new generation struggles to embrace modernity and throw off the shackles of a troubled past. The film's rich color palette and painterly detail capture the beauty of Yokohama's harbor and its lush surrounding hillsides, while the 1960’s pop soundtrack evokes nostalgia for an era of innocence and hope.

From Up On Poppy Hill steamboat still

On the scarred side of Harvey Dent's coin (random Batman metaphor because I can and it more or less works), Paul Dano has joined Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Melissa Leo in the revenge flick PRISONERS.  Production is scheduled to start towards the beginning of 2013 with an eye towards releasing late that same year.

While Dano's role has not been revealed, the plot of PRISONERS "revolves around a small-town carpenter named Keller (Jackman) whose young daughter and her best friend are kidnapped. After the cops fail to find them, Keller takes the law into his own hands, but in the process runs up against Detective Loki, a hot shot cop with confidence to burn, assigned to the case."  You can currently catch Dano in LOOPER.

Christina Hendricks in crown in front of a mirror

This is far and away the most beautiful picture I've encountered of Christina Hendricks, so thank you to Studio Ghibli for giving me occasion to find it

Extra Tidbit: Right now I'm listening to the score from an animated Japanese film called THE PLACE PROMISED IN OUR EARLY DAYS. Check it out!
Source: GKIDSVariety



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