Watch 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki Free Online: A Four Part-Part Documentary on the Unstoppable Japanese Animator

When Conan O'Brien found himself temporarily out of a late-night television hosting job a few years ago, he went on tour with a stage show instead. If the documentary chronicling that period of his career wasn't called Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, a similar title could equally fit the recent films that have captured Hayao Miyazaki's oscillation between work and "retirement." In 2013's Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, previously featured here on Open Culture, we thought we witnessed Miyazaki animating the final frame of his final feature. But his subsequent withdrawal from filmmaking proved short-lived, and his preparation for re-emergence (including his gone-viral critique of experimental computer animation) provides the subject for 2016's Never-Ending Man.

This year, Never-Ending Man director Kaku Arakawa returns with 10 Years With Hayao Miyazaki, a four-part documentary available to watch free at NHK's web site, and whose trailer appears at the top of the post. "Whereas Never-Ending Man tracked the director’s career from his short-lived retirement in 2013 to the germination of his forthcoming feature How Do You Live?, this series covers the decade running up to 2013," writes Cartoon Brew's Alex Dudok de Wit. Those were busy years for Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, involving as they did the production of Ponyo and The Wind Rises, as well as two films directed by Miyazaki's son Goro: the Ursula K. LeGuin adaptation Tales from Earthsea and the 1960s boarding school-set From Up on Poppy Hill.

Tales from Earthsea came out in 2006, and at the time Miyazaki felt that Goro was unready to make his debut. As awkward as the period of estrangement between Miyazaki père et fils during that movie's production may feel — especially given how often they're in the same office — it reflects the near-impossibly high standard to which the man who directed My Neighbor TotoroPrincess Mononoke, and Spirited Away holds not just his successor and his collaborators, but himself. Above all himself, as revealed by the candid footage Arakawa's decade of access to Miyazaki's life allowed him to gather.

"We see him at work in his private studio and at Studio Ghibli, and relaxing at home," writes Dudok de Wit, "insofar as he’s capable of relaxation." What Miyazaki says to Arakawa about his craft, his worldview, and his life suggests a mind perpetually at work, even during the rare times his hands aren't. 10 Years With Hayao Miyazaki ends with the making of The Wind Rises, but Arakawa must surely have known not to take the animator's pronouncements of it being his final feature seriously: Hayao Miyazaki can't stop, nor do we want him to.

Watch 10 Years With Hayao Miyazaki online here, and find it listed in our collection of Free Documentaries, a subset of our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Watch Hayao Miyazaki Animate the Final Shot of His Final Feature Film, The Wind Rises

Watch Moebius and Miyazaki, Two of the Most Imaginative Artists, in Conversation (2004)

Hayao Miyazaki Meets Akira Kurosawa: Watch the Titans of Japanese Film in Conversation (1993)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

When Ted Turner Tried to Colorize Citizen Kane: See the Only Surviving Scene from the Great Act of Cinematic Sacrilege

Could there be a greater act of cinematic sacrilege than colorizing Citizen Kane? For most of the past 78 years since its premiere, Orson Welles' debut feature has been widely considered the greatest motion picture ever made: witness, for instance, its domination of Sight & Sound magazine's critics poll from 1962 until its slip to second place under Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo in 2012. Artistically innovative in ways that still influence movies today, it would seem that Citizen Kane requires no help from subsequent generations. But that didn't stop Ted Turner, the media mogul whose previous colorizations of CasablancaKing Kong, and The Philadelphia Story had already disheartened not just lovers of classic Hollywood films but those films' surviving makers as well.

"Turner Entertainment Company, which had obtained the home video rights to Citizen Kane in 1986, announced with much fanfare on January 29, 1989 its plans to colorize Welles' first Hollywood movie," writes Ray Kelly at Wellesnet. "There was an immediate backlash with the Welles estate and Directors Guild of America threatening legal action."

Welles himself had died in 1985, but the filmmaker Henry Jaglom quoted the director of Citizen Kane as importuning him not to "let Ted Turner deface my movie with his crayons." Ultimately Turner's crayons were indeed stayed, but for legal reasons: a review of Welles' initial contract with RKO "revealed he had been given absolute artistic control over his first Hollywood film, which it specified would be a black-and-white picture" — an odd specification to declare back in 1940, but declared nonetheless.

Before that discovery, "a team at Color Systems Technology Inc. in Marina del Rey, California" had already "secretly colorized a portion of Orson Welles' landmark black and white film": its final ten minutes, Rosebud and all. The only known surviving footage of this project — which took Citizen Kane and not just colorized it but also, of course, reduced it to the resolution and aspect ratio of 1980s television — is included in the BBC Arena documentary The Complete Citizen Kane, the relevant clip of which appears at the top of the post. Kelly quotes William Schaeffer, assistant art director at CST at the time, as remembering the results fondly: "I thought it looked fine." Then again, Schaeffer had never actually seen the real Citizen Kane — and as for the rest of us, we perhaps breathe a little easier knowing that Vertigo is already in color.

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Metropolis Remixed: Fritz Lang’s German Expressionist Sci-Fi Classic Gets Fully Colorized and Dubbed

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Metropolis Remixed: Fritz Lang’s German Expressionist Sci-Fi Classic Gets Fully Colorized and Dubbed

Those of us who grew up with late-night cable television will have a few memories of happening upon old movies that didn't look quite right. Usually drawn from the 1940s or 50s, and sometimes from the depths of genres like science-fiction and horror, these pictures had undergone the process of colorization in hopes of increasing their appeal to a generation unused to black-and-white imagery. Alas, even the most high-profile colorization projects back then tended to look washed-out, with lifelessly pale faces lost among washes of green and brown. On the technical level colorization has improved in the decades since, though on the artistic level its usage remains, to say the least, a suspect endeavor.

But what if the film chosen for colorization was, rather than some piece of drive-in schlock, one of the acknowledged masterpieces of early 20th-century cinema? MetropolisRemix comes as one especially intriguing (if also startling) answer to that question, bringing as it does Fritz Lang's hugely influential 1927 work of German Expressionist sci-fi from not just the world of black-and-white film into color but from that of silent film into sound.

To add color its makers used DeOldify, "a deep learning-based project for colorizing and restoring old images (and video!)" previously featured here on Open Culture when we posted this colorized footage of Paris, New York, and Havana from the late 19th and early 20th century. You can get a taste of the MetropolisRemix viewing experience from this trailer:

In its entirety this version of Metropolis runs just over two hours, quite a bit shorter than the film's most recent restoration, 2010's The Complete Metropolis. The difference owes in large part to the lack of dialogue-conveying intertitles, which have been rendered unnecessary by a full-cast English-language dub that includes music and sound effects. Not everyone, of course, will approve of this "fan modernization," as its creators describe it. Phil Hall at Cinema Crazed prefers to call it "the most recklessly bad idea for a film since All This and World War II, the infamous 1976 nonsense that united Second World War newsreel footage with mostly unsatisfactory cover versions of Beatles music." But the sheer brazenness of MetropolisRemix nevertheless impresses — and somehow, Lang and his collaborators' vision of an industrial art-deco dystopia survives.

via Messy Nessy

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Quentin Tarantino Explains How to Write & Direct Movies

When Quentin Tarantino debuted in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs, and even more so when he followed it up with the cinematic phenomenon that was Pulp Fiction, the viewers most dubious about the young auteur's cultural staying power dismissed his movies as elevations of style over substance. Whether or not Tarantino has converted all his early critics over the past 27 years, he's certainly demonstrated that style can constitute a substance of its own.

Even many who didn't care for his latest picture, this year's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nevertheless expressed gratitude at the release of a lavish, large-scale film packed full of ideas, references, set pieces, and jokes — an increasingly rare achievement, or even aspiration, among non-Tarantino filmmakers. How does he do it? The Director's Chair profile video above, and the accompanying Studio Binder essay by Matt Vasiliauskas, identifies the essential elements that constitute the Tarantinian style and Tarantinian substance.

In the video Tarantino discusses his process: "I was put on Earth to face the blank page," to bring forth ideas from within and place them in new genre contexts, to write one line of dialogue after another and feel the surprise as the script takes turns unexpected even to him. Everything, from conversations to action scenes to expansive wide shots, plays out in his head before he shoots the first frame: "Before I make the movie, I watch the movie." And like all auteurs, he makes the movie he wants to see: “I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me," he has said. "I am the audience.”

A filmmaker looking to follow Tarantino's example must do the following: "Keep it personal," using experiences they've actually had or emotions they've actually felt, even if they present them filtered through "crazy genre world." "Structure like a novel," with the willingness to break free of chronological order. "Think like an actor," since you'll have to work long and hard with them. Shoot "Hong Kong action sequences," two or three moves at a time, so that you can organically change and incorporate what happens along the way. "Keep music in mind," whether that means existing songs that evoke certain times, places, and moods, or original scores like that which Tarantino commissioned for The Hateful Eight from Ennio Morricone.

Morricone is best known for his collaborations with Tarantino's hero Sergio Leone, and like Leone and "all directors working at the top of their game," writes Vasiliauskas, Tarantino "uses the camera as his most powerful storytelling implement," especially when shooting wide. "Whether it’s the Bride battling the Crazy 88 gang in Kill Bill or Django surveying a burned-out home, Tarantino understands the power of the wide-shot to not only create tension, but to utilize the environment in revealing the desires of his characters." But he also gets serious aesthetic and emotional mileage out of extreme close-ups, crash zooms, and point-of-view shots from inside the trunk of a car (or period equivalents thereof).

Above all, this former Manhattan Beach video-store clerk "absorbs movies," and has by his own admission stolen from more films than most of us will watch in our lives. But none of this makes predictable what Tarantino will draw from his real-life and filmgoing experiences and put on the screen next: "I should throw them for a loop," he says in an interview clip included in the video. He means his audience, of course, but before he can throw us for a loop, he has to do it to himself. And whatever thrills and surprises Tarantino will, as we've seen over the course of ten feature films so far, thrill and surprise us even more.

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The Films of Quentin Tarantino: Watch Video Essays on Pulp FictionReservoir DogsKill Bill & More

Quentin Tarantino Explains The Art of the Music in His Films

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Proper Way to Eat Ramen: A Meditation from the Classic Japanese Comedy Tampopo (1985)

There is a right way to eat every dish, as an ever-increasing abundance of internet videos daily informs us. But how did we navigate our first encounters with unfamiliar foods thirty, forty, fifty years ago? With no way to learn online, we had no choice but to learn in real life, assuming we could find a trusted figure well-versed in the ways of eating from whom to learn — a sensei, as they say in Japanese, the kind of wise elder depicted in the film clip above, a scene that takes place in a ramen shop. "Master," asks the young student, "soup first or noodles first?" The ramen master's reply: "First, observe the whole bowl. Appreciate its gestalt. Savor the aromas."

Behold the "jewels of fat glittering on its surface," the "shinachiku roots shining," the "seaweed lowly sinking, the "spring onions floating." The eater's first action must be to "caress the surface with the chopstick tips" in order to "express affection." The second is to "poke the pork" — don't eat it, just touch it — then "pick it up and dip it into the soup on the right of the bowl." The most important part? To "apologize to the pork by saying, 'See you soon.'" Then the eating can commence, "noodles first," but "while slurping the noodles, look at the pork. Eye it affectionately." After then sipping the soup three times, the master picks up a slice of pork "as if making a major decision in life," and taps it on the side of the bowl. Why? "To drain it." To those who know Japanese food culture for the value it places on aesthetic sensitivity and adherence to form, this scene may look perfectly realistic.

But those who know Japanese cinema will have recognized immediately the opening of Tampopo, the beloved 1985 comedy that satirizes through food both Japanese culture and humanity itself. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert describes the ramen-master vignette as depicting "a kind of gastronomic religion, and director Juzo Itami creates a scene that makes noodles in this movie more interesting than sex and violence in many another." Not that Tampopo, for all its cheerfulness (Ebert calls it "a bemused meditation on human nature in which one humorous situation flows into another offhandedly, as if life were a series of smiles") doesn't also contain plenty of sex and violence. Walter Benjamin once said that every great work of art destroys or creates a genre. Tampopo creates the "ramen Western," rolling a couple of cowboyish truckers (seen briefly in the clip above) into booming 1980 Tokyo to get a widow's failing ramen shop into shape.

Through parody and slyer forms of allusion, Tampopo references cinema both Western and Eastern, and its cast includes actors who were or would become iconic: the student of ramen is played by Ken Watanabe, now known to audiences worldwide for his roles in Hollywood pictures like The Last Samurai and Inception. The master is played by Ryûtarô Ôtomo, a mainstay of samurai films from the late 1930s through the 1960s, who chose this as his very last role: the very day after shooting his scene, he committed suicide by jumping from the top of a building. (Itami would die under similar circumstances in 1997, some say with the involvement of the Yakuza.) Now that internet videos and other forms of 21st-century media are disseminating the relevant knowledge, we can all study to become masters of ramen, or for that matter of any dish we please — but can any of us hope to rise to the example of elegance, and hilariousness, laid down by Ôtomo's final act on film?

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch 15 Films by Designers Charles & Ray Eames

If you’re reading this, chances are good that you live in the modern world, or at least visit it from time to time. But what do I mean by “modern”? It’s a too-broad term that always requires a definition. Sometimes, for brevity’s sake, we settle for listing the names of artists who brought modernity into being. When it comes to the truly modern in industrial design, we get two names in one—the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames.

The design world, at least in the U.S., may have been slower to catch up to other modernist trends in the arts. That changed dramatically when several European artists like Walter Gropius immigrated to the country before, during and after World War II. But the American Eames left perhaps the most lasting impact of them all.

The first home they designed and built together in 1949 as part of the Case Study House Program became “a mecca for architects and designers from both near and far,” notes the Eames Office site. “Today it is considered one of the most important post-war residences anywhere in the world.” “Famous for their iconic chairs,” writes William Cook at the BBC, the streamlined objets that “transformed our idea of modern furniture,” they were also “graphic and textile designers, architects and filmmakers.”

The Eames’ film legacy may be less well-known than their revolutions in interior design. We’ve all seen or interacted with innumerable versions of Eames-inspired designs, whether we knew it or not. The pair stated their desire to make universally useful creations in their succinct mission statement: “We want to make the best for the most for the least.” They meant it. “What works good,” said Ray, “is better than what looks good because what works good lasts.”

When design “works good,” the Eames understood, it might be attractive, or purely functional, but it will always be accessible, unobtrusive, comfortable, and practical. We might notice its contours and wonder about its principles, but it works equally well, and maybe better, if we do not. The Eames films explain how one accomplishes such design. “Between 1950 and 1982,” the Eames “made over 125 short films ranging from 1-30 minutes in length,” notes the Eames Office site, declaring: “The Eames Films are the Eames Essays.”

If this statement has prepared you for dry, didactic short films filled with jargon, prepare to be surprised by the breadth and depth of the Eames' curiosity and vision. Here, we have compiled some of the Eames films, and you can see many, many more (15 in total) with the playlist embedded at the bottom of the post. At the top, see a brief introduction the designers’ films. Then, further down, we have the “brilliant tour of the universe” that is 1977’s Powers of Ten; 1957’s Day of the Dead, their exploration of the Mexican holiday; and 1961’s “Symmetry,” one of five shorts in a collection made for IBM called Mathematica Peep Shows.

Just above, see the Eames short House, made after five years of living in their famed Case Study House #8. The design on display here shows how the Eames “brought into the world a new kind of Californian indoor-outdoor Modernism,” as Colin Marshall wrote in a recent post here on famous architects’ homes. Their house is “a kind of Mondrian painting made into a livable box filled with an idiosyncratic arrangement of artifacts from all over the world.” Unlike most of the Eames designs, the Case Study house was never put into production, but in its elegant simplicity, we can see all of the creative impulses the Eames brought to their redesign of the modern world.

See many more of the Eames filmic essays in this YouTube playlist. There are 15 in total.

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Visit the Homes That Great Architects Designed for Themselves: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius & Frank Gehry

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood Examined on Pretty Much Pop #12

Wes Alwan, who co-hosts The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast with PMP host Mark Linsenmayer, joins the discussion along with PMP co-hosts Erica Spyres and Brian Hirt to discuss Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood in the context of Tarantino’s other films.

Wes thinks the film is brilliant, even though he’s not otherwise a Tarantino fan. How is this film different? We consider T’s strange sense of pacing, his comic violence, his historical revisionism, and casting choices. Is this a brilliant film or a fundamentally misguided idea badly in need of an editor?

Some articles we drew on:

Wes is working on a very long essay on this film that isn't yet complete, but he’s written plenty of other long essays about the media and has recorded several episodes of his own PEL spin-off show, (sub)Text: Get it all here.

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

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