#316/ 365 – ‘Spirited Away’ (2001) – 125 mins
IMDb Challenge #194 / 250 – Ranked #50 – Lovefilm
With her parents transformed into pigs after straying into what seems to be an abandoned theme park, a spoilt ten year-old girl takes a job in a bathhouse belonging to a wizened old crone and vows to deliver her family from its plight.
Spirited Away is weird, but once you soon realise that this is essentially Studio Ghibli take on ‘Alice In Wonderland’, it becomes a great adventure. The magical world here, created by Hayao Miyazaki, is filled with danger and dark forces, which is where it differs from the cute and quirkiness Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.
From ghosts and demons to a hideous hag dwarf who transforms into a bird of prey, means every scene carries lots of dramatic surrealism and even suspense which is matched by the films fantastic visual imagery.
#317/ 365 – ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (1988) – 155 mins
IMDb Challenge #195 / 250 – Ranked #77 – Lovefilm
A famous film director remembers his childhood at the Cinema Paradiso where Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the projectionist, first brought about his love of films. He returns home to his Sicilian village for the first time after almost 30 years and is reminded of his first love, Elena, who disappeared from his life before he left for Rome
Cinema Paradiso is a perfect love letter to the movies and everything in it is completely faultless, Direction, Acting, Script, Cinematography, Musical score – flawless.
Special mention has to be given to Salvatore Cascio, who plays the boyhood Salvatore. His performance is an absolute gem to watch, He’s funny, he’s just plain adorable. His love for independent cinema is infectious, as his early uplifting friendship with Alfredo. Equally wonderful is the second half of the film where it shifts from being a nostalgic celebration of movies to a traditional coming-of-age drama, as we see Salvatore grow into his teens.
Director and Writer Giuseppe Tornatore displays immense skill as he exhilarate your emotions and this is echoed perfectly in the screen kiss finale montage which had me tearing up, as Salvatore plays Alfredo’s long-hidden gift to him.
It’s a complete mystery why I hadn’t watched Toronatore’s masterpiece before today, but it’s now one I’m guaranteed to watch forever throughout my life-time, because its a spellbinding and emotional example of filmmaking at its very finest and all the awards that it won in 1988 – Cannes Grand Jury Prize, Best foreign language Academy Award and the five Baftas – were richly deserved. Cinema Paradiso is a film I can’t recommend highly enough and its essential viewing for everyone who has a long love affair with the cinema.