National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Picks & Passes 09.08.13

BY Steven D. Greydanus

Film Critic

Sept. 8-21, 2013 Issue | Posted 9/3/13 at 4:16 PM

 

From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) PICK

The Fugitive (1993) PICK

The Great Gatsby (2013) PASS

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) PICK

 

The summer’s best animated film, and its best-kept secret, is now on home video: From Up on Poppy Hill is the latest film from Studio Ghibli, co-written by animation legend Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro.

This nostalgic film is an earthbound coming-of-age tale of high-school life and first love. Ghibli fans will be reminded of Whisper of the Heart, though the emotions run higher, and there’s more plot.

Set in a coastal town shortly before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the film follows a typically responsible young Miyazakian heroine helping her grandmother accommodate boarders. At school, she becomes acquainted with an intriguing boy who’s leading an effort to save a historic building used by academic boys clubs. Respect, thoughtfulness, initiative and integrity are key moral themes as our young heroes deal with unexpected revelations and learn to balance facing the future with honoring the past. For receptive viewers, including thoughtful tweens, a film like this is a rare gift.

Also debuting on home video, The Great Gatsby is Baz Luhrmann’s fever dream of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the enigmatic millionaire, with Tobey Maguire as narrator Nick Callaway, Gatsby’s neighbor. Like nearly all of Luhrmann’s films, Gatsby is a grand misfire, a cinematic wonderland with characters, drama and theme never quite coming to life. The film glosses over Gatsby’s dark side in favor of a romantic reading of his obsession with Nick’s cousin Daisy.

Debuting on Blu-ray, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh remains a high point of middle Disney animation and one of the most charming and delightful films for even the youngest viewers.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new Blu-ray edition, The Fugitive remains one of Harrison Ford’s great triumphs, with the riveting cat-and-mouse tension between Ford as the innocent man wrongly accused and Tommy Lee Jones as the gruff, tenacious U.S. marshall on his trail.

 

Content Advisory: From Up on Poppy Hill: Some mature themes, but nothing inappropriate. Kids and up. The Fugitive: Depiction of murder and other violence; some coarse language. Teens and up. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Mildly unsettling Heffalumps and Woozles. Kids and up.