DVD Review: The Castle of Cagliostro, Ponyo, The Cooler

  • Bernard Delacruz
  • Poet-Scientist

The West Wing was my favorite TV show at the time and remains a favorite. I can pop in any DVD and know I am going to watch a quality TV episode. In particular, seasons 1–3 show Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) at the top of his TV game.

The Castle of Cagliostro is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s first movies (before starting Studio Ghibli). It set a high bar for action animated films. It has been said that Steven Spielberg has called it one of his favorite movies, period (although the source of that quote has disappeared into the mists of time). The story of thief Lupin III and his sidekicks taking down a counterfeiting ring and saving the beautiful Clarisse is funny and touching.

  • The West Wing: The Complete Series Collection (USA) 1999–2006, Warner Home Video
  • List price: $299.98 (45 discs)
  • Castle of Cagliostro (Japan) 1991, Manga Video
  • List price: $19.87

  • Lidia Marin
  • Mount Miguel High School Senior and KPBS Cinema Junkie Teen Critic

Whenever I feel a bit nostalgic, I watch Ponyo. It’s visually stunning, endearing, and cute. The voices are familiar American actors, the story is well written, and the animation is well done. It’s a subtle, vivid, and magical tale about a girl who used to be a fish.

Another movie that puts me in a good mood (although with a bit of a contradiction) is Wristcutters: A Love Story. It sounds gloomy, the landscape is dreary, and the suicides are graphic. But watching it is a different experience. It’s amusing, interesting, surreal, and emotionally sympathetic. It gives you a small dose of optimism, romance, friendship, and Tom Waits. Also, a character based on Gogol Bordello’s lead singer and a soundtrack inspired by the lighter side of suicide.

  • Ponyo (Japan) 2008, Disney Presents Studio Ghibli
  • List price: $29.99
  • Wristcutters: A Love Story (USA) 2006, Lionsgate
  • List price: $14.98

  • James Setterholm
  • Student

The Cooler is a Casino-type movie set in a low-end Las Vegas joint. It shines for William H. Macy’s performance as a “cooler” that the casino uses to bring bad luck to gamblers. When the cooler wants out of the gig, his boss (Alec Baldwin) sends a smokin’ hot hooker his way. Does the cooler get out?

In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio plays an American con man who writes and cashes bad checks, impersonates others, and makes a ton of dough in the process. He is relentlessly pursued by a detective (Tom Hanks) who follows him to France, always a step behind his prey. Will he catch him? Christopher Walken plays DiCaprio’s father and turns in a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination.

  • The Cooler (USA) 2003, Lionsgate
  • List price: $9.98
  • Catch Me If You Can (USA) 2002, Dreamworks
  • List price: $9.98

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"Ponyo" is beautiful, but strange and scary -- even more so since the disastrous tsunami in Japan this spring. For one thing, the kid's dad is away at sea, captaining a freighter, which blinks a greeting to the family's hilltop home as it passes into port. And his mom works at an old folks' residence which definitely has a strange vibe with hunchy oldsters in wheelchairs. And then there is the terrifyingly-drawn tsunami that engulfs the winding road along which the mom's car drives every day. "Endearing and cute?" Not really, and definitely not for young children.

As for this teener-girl critic's recommending a film called "Wristcutters?" It's not okay to blithely talk about "the lighter side of suicide."

I don't think that any of the scenes in "Ponyo" are meant to invoke fear, let alone the movie itself. If you don't find it suitable for small children, then by all means don't show it to them, but I don't recall suggesting you show it to children. I fully acknowledge the trauma Japan has experienced, but the events of this movie are due to some kind of spiritual magic, not by nature or war. There are very little Disney movies in existence which include both the mother and the father. I mean, Bambi's mom died in the beginning. Nobody dies in "Ponyo". We all know the world is a very frightening place. That doesn't require us to regard it with fear. I'm surprised that the idea of counterfeiting or stolen princesses didn't offend you in Miyazaki's first film when Bernard called it funny and touching! This 'teener-girl' also acknowledges that "Wristcutters" is a humorously written drama. I don't think suicide is fun, and I've tried it. I was referring to the soundtrack, which included romantic songs done by bands which have experienced a member suicide. My apologies if you find suicide in a creative context distasteful, I'll recommend that you, for the love of all that is holy, do NOT watch this film. It will make you smile, and I don't think you'd enjoy that very much.

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