The current word is that Hayao Miyazaki, the greatest and perhaps the last of the movies' hand-drawn-feature animators, is going to retire after his latest releast, The Wind Rises. And while I am always skeptical about show business retirements, I would like to report that the maker of Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and so many other animated masterworks, was going out in a blaze of glory.
But The Wind Rises isn't nearly up to his top standard.
The first thing to realize about Stalingrad is that it is not the story of the World War II battle that many cite as the beginning of the end for Hitler's Germany. It is the story of a little group of Russians who are defending the city and a little group of Germans who are about to attack it, both of which groups include a woman-- one who is trapped with the Russians and one who is captured by the Germans. And Stalingrad is as much the story of the women as the story of the men.
Toward the end of World War II, the United States set up a military unit it never had before and unfortunately has never had since, a unit whose duty was to protect national and international treasures from the destruction of war. The movie Monuments Men is about the unit’s efforts, and while it is pretty fictionalized – watch for the closing credit on that subject - I’m glad somebody is drawing attention to what they did. But the movie itself is not very impressive.
The title The Invisible Woman suggests some kind of comic book sci-fi thing, but The Invisible Woman is actually the supposedly true story of the aging novelist Charles Dickens and an 18-year-old talentless actress for whom he risked his reputation, profession, social standing, home and family. But it never persuades us that it is really telling the story.