Monday, August 17, 2009

Drowned in the Rio Grande

Ponyo (2008)
directed by Hayao Miyazaki
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats
seen on the screen at Loews Waterfront 22

Ponyo might be my least favorite of Miyazaki’s movies, but it serves as a nice reminder of things the director and his team of artists do well, even at their least focused. Nature is often strange – often unsettling, often ugly – and the ocean very possibly the strangest of the planet’s spaces, but nature has its patterns, its graces, and its beauty, and what is wonderful in the world is inseparable from what is horrifying in it. It is a moral even-handedness that goes beyond tolerance towards something closer to acceptance – a generous, benevolent gaze that is, truly, unlike anything else in animation. There are no villains in Miyazaki’s movies, and anything like “pure” good exists only in children, who have not yet experienced the hardships of the world. They will, and learn their tolerance in turn. As something tangible, too– the painting on the screen – Ponyo is a marvel, a world of currents and waves and wind, full of so much life from frame to frame that you can’t sit close enough to the screen.