The Jungle Book: Interspecies Empathy

It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge my initial cynicism upon being told that The Jungle Book was being remade yet again. Not only by Disney, but also by Warner Brothers now that the copyright protections which safeguarded Rudyard Kipling’s novel have lapsed. While Warner Brothers has postponed the release of its own film until 2018, Disney’s latest effort has landed in theaters with notable aplomb. I openly admit that my original cynicism was unfounded: Jon Favreau’s direction has imbued what could have been an otherwise cold exhibition of studio machinery with an invigorating earnestness. Here we have a film that passionately encourages us to embrace our core essence while simultaneously recognizing it as an accidental feature that doesn’t reflect our true character.

JONES | Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday and Animation for Adults

To many, animated movies seem like a medium for children: pretty, colorful and reassuring, with straight edges and corners, gaudy colors that fit just inside the lines, and a lack of  the moral ambiguity that cannot help but enter a film when the characters are played by actual humans. The work of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio best known for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, has proved again and again that animated films can be complex, provocative and even disturbing, and remain enthralling for children. However, the intrigue of Studio Ghibli’s films hardly expires at a young age. I’ve only recently come to them (I haven’t even seen the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away yet), but I have been captivated by the few I’ve seen so far. The 1991 Studio Ghibli film Only Yesterday, directed by Isao Takahata, has only just been given a United States release with an English dub, 24 years later.