The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


Weekend to-do list
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Director's son continues anime excellence in 'Poppy'

  • Umi runs a household in the somber, gentle, transporting and unapologetically beautiful "From Up on Poppy Hill."

    Chizuru Takahashi / Tetsuro Sayama / GNDHDDT

    Umi runs a household in the somber, gentle, transporting and unapologetically beautiful "From Up on Poppy Hill."

For a lucky cadre of moviegoing families, simply uttering the name "Miyazaki" is enough to send them straight to Fandango to scoop up tickets to the Japanese director's latest anime charmer.
Anyone familiar with Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke," "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away" can attest to the enchanted web he's been weaving for three decades, telling simple stories of loss, adventure and resilience against backdrops of beguiling lushness.
The surprise with "From Up on Poppy Hill" is that the Miyazaki in the director's seat isn't 72-year-old Hayao but his son, Goro, who proves superbly well-poised to carry on his father's legacy.
The story of a girl grappling with first love, the absence of her parents and the anxieties of an on-rushing future in 1963 Yokohama has all the earmarks of a Miyazaki classic.
Umi (voiced by Sarah Bolger), who runs a household that includes her grandmother, little sister and a group of female boarders while her mother is studying in the United States, has the wide-eyed innocence of a little girl, even as she attains emotional and practical wisdom beyond her years.
Mourning the loss of her father at sea some years earlier, Umi transfers her hope and longing to Shun (Anton Yelchin), a student from a nearby boys school who is trying to preserve his gang's delightfully ramshackle clubhouse from demolition.
The interplay between the romanticism of the past and the progress of the future is the tension that propels "From Up on Poppy Hill," in which the Japanese authorities are seeking to erase painful memories of World War II and the Korean War as they prepare for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Accompanied by sunny '60s pop tunes and hand-drawn in the house style of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, "From Up on Poppy Hill" occasionally succumbs to the "cheap melodrama" Shun invokes at one point (parents might want to prepare themselves for explaining why family members are ill-advised to fall in love with each other).
But the film's tender voice, captivating atmosphere and painterly visuals more than compensate for any narrative weaknesses.
From the vibrant red poppies of Umi's sun-dappled garden and the cool interiors of her old-fashioned house to the splashing waves of Yokohama's harbor and the dancing oil around a pan of frying mackerel, "From Up on Poppy Hill" pays homage not just to pre-CGI animation at its finest but an entire material culture, in scenes as carefully composed as anything found in the domestic dramas of Ozu.
Umi ultimately makes peace with her past, as she makes tentative steps toward promising days ahead. Considering that journey, as well as one Miyazaki passing the torch to the next generation, the film's exquisite lyricism and subtle tone of aching melancholy seem exactly right.
Somber, gentle, transporting and unapologetically beautiful, "From Up on Poppy Hill" is the kind of family film Hollywood doesn't make anymore. Thank goodness Tokyo does.

'From Up on Poppy Hill' ˝
The charming story of a young girl in 1963 Yokohama falling in love for the first time while trying to keep her family together. The beautifully done pre-CGI animation is done by the son of famed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.
Rating: PG. Contains mild thematic elements and some incidental smoking.
Showing: Egyptian and Sundance Theaters.
Story tags » Movies

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

HeraldNet highlights

'The Pinterest of beer'
'The Pinterest of beer': Lynnwood man's iPhone app tracks the beers you drink
Your photos
Your photos: A selection of our favorite reader-submitted photos
Tulips in bloom
Tulips in bloom: Photo gallery: A rainbow of color in Skagit County
He was a devoted family man
He was a devoted family man: Stephen Neal was working in a home when the mudslide hit