Film Review: When The Wind Blows (dir by Jimmy Murakami)

Over the past few years, I’ve seen some extremely depressing animated films.

I cried during the first fifteen minutes of Up.  I cried during the final ten minutes of Toy Stories 3 and 4.  Actually, now that I think about it, I think I’ve sobbed through every single PIXAR film, with the exception of the movies about the talking cars and the one about the good dinosaur.  My point is that I’m not one of those people who automatically assumes that, just because a film is animated, it’s necessarily going to make me laugh.  I fully understand that not all animated films are for children and that a cartoon can be just as serious and dark as a live action movie.

That said, I don’t think anything could have prepared for the 1986 film, When The Wind Blows.  To say that When The Wind Blows is bleak would be an understatement.  Is When The Wind Blows a depressing film?  Yes, you could say that.  It’s a film about an elderly couple facing the end of the world with optimism and a never-ending faith that things will turn out okay.  This is the most trusting couple in the world and, in the end, they end up crawling into their own separate potato sacks, where they struggle to recite the Lord’s Prayer as they both die a slow and painful death.  It’s not just that When The Wind Blows is depressing.  It’s also that it’s a film that takes place in a world bereft of hope.  It’s a film that has a message but, at the same time, it also seems to be convinced that it’s a message to which no one will bother to listen.

Jim and Hilda Bloggs (voiced by John Mills and Dame Peggy Ashcroft) are a loving couple who own a rather nice cottage in rural England.  They’re very content in their life and more than a bit complacent.  They have faith that both the milk and the paper will be delivered every morning.  Hilda has a nice garden going.  Jim regularly takes the bus down to the library, where he reads the newspapers and picks up pamphlets about what to do in case of a nuclear attack.  When the news comes over the radio that Britain will probably be attacked in 3 days, Jim industrially sets out to make a shelter for himself and Hilda.

It’s not much of a shelter.  In fact, it’s really just two doors leaning against a wall.  However, Jim and Hilda are simply following the instructions that they found in a government-printed pamphlet and both of them have a good deal of faith in the “power that be.”  As they wait for the war to break out, they remember just how much they enjoyed World War II.  Everyone was in it together during World War II!  And Jim has faith that everyone will continue to be in it together during this latest war.

The bomb eventually drops.  The animation, which previously had the feel of an old school Christmas special, becomes dark and ominous as the world around Jim and Hilda’s house erupts into flames.  Jim and Hilda hide in their little shelter.  Though the pamphlets say that they shouldn’t leave the shelter for at least two weeks, Jim and Hilda leave within a few hours.  They walk around outside and look at the charred remains of the garden.  Hilda wonders what fallout looks like.  Jim isn’t sure.

And, at this point, we know they’re both as good as dead.  (Interestingly enough, it does appear that they survived longer than their neighbors, who perhaps did not hide behind a door.)  The rest of the film is essentially watching Jim and Hilda waste away while remaining convinced that someone from the government is going to come and save them.  You find yourself wondering if the two of them are really as naive as they seem or if they’re both in a shared denial about what’s happened.  It’s probably a combination of the two.

It’s an undeniably effective film.  It not only works as an anti-war film but also as an anti-government film.  Both the Left and the Right will find things to appreciate in the film’s story.  But my God is it ever a depressing movie.  It’s a well-made film that I’ll probably never voluntarily watch again.


Here’s A First Look (For Those Of Us in the U.S.) At The Personal History of David Copperfield!

The Personal History of David Copperfield has finally made it over here to the U.S.  It opened in the UK back in January and its release here in the States has been continually delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Originally, it was supposed to open in May.  Then it got moved back to August 14th and then it was moved back another two weeks to August 28th.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing the film.  Apparently, there was some controversy over the casting of the lead role but I personally think that casting the terrifically talented Dev Patel as David Copperfield is a way to bring some new life to an old story.  The film was directed by Armando Iannucci, who, along with creating Thick of It and Veep, also directed The Death of Stalin, one of the best films of the past ten years.

This featurette about the film was released today and here it is:

Here’s The Trailer For Robin’s Wish

When I first heard that there was a documentary coming out about the final days of Robin Williams, I feared for the worst.  I worried that it would be one of those exploitative programs that featured reenactments and tabloid reporters sharing every sordid rumor that they had ever heard about the man.

However, the trailer for Robin’s Wish seems to indicate that the film is actually meant to be both a tribute to Williams and an educational tool about Lewy body dementia, the disease that is believed to have led to him ending his life.  Let’s hope that it is.

Robin’s Wish will be released on September 1st.

Here’s The Trailer For On The Rocks!

On the Rocks is the latest film from Sofia Coppola.  Featuring Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, and Marlon Wayans, it’s a film about a daughter who teams up with her impulsive father to discover whether or not her husband is cheating on her.

In other words, it’s a Sofia Coppola film.

And I can’t wait to see it!

On The Rocks will be released at some point in October.  Here’s the trailer:

Here’s The Trailer For Death On The Nile!

Kenneth Branagh is back with another Agatha Christie adaptation and, again, he’s brought along an all-star cast.  I will definitely see Death on the Nile because seriously, how can you go wrong with a murder mystery featuring Gal Gabot, Armie Hammer, and Russell Brand?  It should be fun if nothing else.

The movie comes out on October 23rd and here’s the trailer:

Hanging By A Thread (1979, directed by Georg Fenady)

A group of old friend who call themselves the Uptowners’ Club (yes, really) want to go on a picnic on top of a remote mountain.  The only problem is that they have to ride a cable car up to the mountain and there are reports of potentially bad weather.  It’s not safe to ride in a cable car during a thunderstorm.  Drunken ne’er-do-well Alan (Bert Convy) doesn’t care and, since his family owns both the mountain and the tramway, his demands that he and his friends be allowed to ride the cable car are met.  One lightning strike later and the members of the Uptowners’ Club are stranded in a cable car that is perilously suspended, by only a frayed wire, over treacherous mountain valley.

With no place to go, there’s not much left for the members of the Uptowners’ Club to do but bicker amongst themselves and have lengthy flashbacks that reveal every detail of their own sordid history.  Paul (Sam Groom) is angry with Alan because Alan is now engaged to his ex-wife (Donna Mills).  Sue Grainger (Patty Duke) is angry with everyone else because they don’t want to admit how their old friend Bobby Graham (Doug Llewellyn) actually died.  The other members of the Uptowners’ Club are angry because there’s not much for them to do other than watch Duke and Convy chew on the scenery.  Because of the supposedly fierce winds, someone is going to have to climb out on top of the cable car and repair it themselves.  Will it be Paul or will it be cowardly drunk Alan?  On top of everything else, Paul is set to enter the witness protection program and has got hitmen who want to kill him.

This made-for-TV disaster movie was produced by Irwin Allen.  Are you surprised?  It’s also three hours long and amazingly, Leslie Nielsen is not in it.  It’s hard to understand how anyone could have produced a cable car disaster film and not given a role to Leslie Nielsen.  Cameron Mitchell’s in the film but he’s not actually in the cable car so it’s a missed opportunity.  Any film that features Patty Duke detailing how her friends got so drunk that they ended up killing the future host of The People’s Court is going to at least have some curiosity value but, for the most part, Hanging By A Thread gets bogged down by its own excessive runtime and lack of convincing effects.  Hanging By A Thread came out at the tail end of the 70s disaster boom and it shows why the boom didn’t continue into the 80s.

Worth A Thousand Words, Indeed : Aidan Koch’s “House Of Ruin,” Volume II

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

A few years back, I got a bunch of shit on Twitter for telling a newbie comic critic who said “I’m really not comfortable talking much about art yet” that they had no business reviewing works in this medium until they were. Now, granted, this individual was likely mostly — if not entirely — trying their hand at reviewing “Big Two” stuff, but even still : if all you’re talking about is the writing, then you’re giving short shrift to the person who spends more time than anyone else working on the latest issue of Justice League or The Avengers or whatever. And you wouldn’t have the capacity to review an extraordinary work like Aidan Koch’s House Of Ruin, Volume II at all. The question is — do I?

This new small paperback from Koch is, you see, a collection of drawings and nothing else — but it certainly…

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The Absurdly Manly Covers Of Man’s Action

Man’s Action was published for 20 years, from 1957 — 1977.  You can probably guess from the title who the targeted audience was and, if they title didn’t give it away, the covers definitely would.  Man’s Action was all about men going on adventures, meeting beautiful women, and defeating America’s enemies.

Here are a few of the absurdly manly covers of Man’s Action:

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

by Basil Gogos

by John Duillo

by John Duillo

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown