NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND
KAZE NO TANI NO NAUSHIKA
1984, Studio Ghibli, 116 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

This first of many triumphs for Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is set a thousand years after a nuclear holocaust has gutted the globe. After the death of her father and an attack by the hostile Tormekia, Princess Nausicaa must use her uncanny ability to communicate with the giant crustacean Ohmu to unite her people against the threat of annihilation. Based on the manga of the same name, and using Miyazaki’s distinct stylistic flare for the dreamlike and fantastical, the film also inaugurates Miyazaki’s enduring collaboration and friendship with composer Joe Hisaishi. Its visually breathtaking, truly dexterous animation is more than worthy of a repeat viewing, let alone a first.


PORCO ROSSO
1992, Studio Ghibli, 94 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

This unsung treasure from Hayao Miyazaki nestles a tale of morality and identity inside a soaring tribute to early aviation and the reckless flyboys whose home was the open sky. Set in a mid-WWII Italy swept by fascism, the film follows Marco, a world-weary flying ace turned bounty hunter, who plies his trade above the waters of the Adriatic. Somewhere along the way a curse has transformed Marco’s head into that of a pig, reflecting his loss of faith in humanity. Marco meets his polar opposite in the innocent and energetic 17-year-old Fio, an aspiring airplane designer, and the two are catapulted into an airborne adventure pursued by air pirates, the Italian army and an egotistical American flying ace.


RANGO
2011, Paramount, 107 min, USA, Dir: Gore Verbinski

A bug-eyed, Hawaiian shirt-wearing pet chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) pines for outside-the-terrarium-tank adventure, which is exactly what he gets when a freak accident lands him in the Mojave Desert outpost of Dirt. Dirt’s varmint inhabitants need a hero to save them from the slithery predators and corrupt turtle mayor (voiced by Ned Beatty) who are preying on the town and keeping it in a perpetual state of drought, and the chameleon obliges, taking on the role of daring gunslinger Rango. Filmmaker Gore Verbinski’s (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) endlessly imaginative, borderline hallucinogenic and visually stunning riff on the Wild West genre, with a hilarious, witty script by John Logan, is a treat for audiences of all ages. With the voice talents of Bill Nighy as the venomous Rattlesnake Jake, Ray Winstone as the gila-monster heavy Bad Bill and Isla Fisher as Rango's love interest, Beans. “RANGO is some kind of a miracle: An animated comedy for smart moviegoers, wonderfully made, great to look at, wickedly satirical, and (gasp!) filmed in glorious 2-D.” -Roger Ebert


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