The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: December 3

12/03/2014 4:00 AM |

 

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Pom Poko (1994)
Directed by Isao Takahata
Tedium is a trap into which many animated films fall, with an urge to unveil a parade of marvels resulting in one lovely, dull thing after another. In contrast, the brilliant Japanese animation filmmaker Takahata (a cofounder, along with Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki, of the animation house Studio Ghibli) keeps his films’ stories dense and emotionally complex through the surprising ways in which they show meetings between wonder and failure. His characters stumble repeatedly and, through doing so, learn ways to hold themselves upright. They include the young women coming of age in Only Yesterday and this year’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya as well as the animals trying to protect their homes in Pom Poko. We watch a number of tanuki (a kind of Japanese raccoon dog) counter the efforts of human developers to transform their forested hills into suburbia. They scheme and plot and teach themselves how to magically change shape. Each setback in their struggle offers a moment of lost hope, and an opportunity for some new trick. Aaron Cutler (Dec 6, 1pm at the Museum of the Moving Image’s “See It Big!: Animation”)