We all remember that time in our childhoods when we stayed up watching classic, English-dubbed anime movies (on VHS!) from Studio Ghibli, such as “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989) and “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988) … and to our parent’s irritation, usually over and over again for weeks on end.

Years later, of course, we connected the dots and learned that one of our favorite films in particular, “Spirited Away” (2001), was in fact something of an elaborate metaphor and social commentary on the child brothels of Japan, but that’s another story. Actually, we’ve created an extensively detailed infographic to illustrate how we think you should feel about this, in case you’re interested.

In any case, we still love a good dose of nostalgia. We’re very excited to remind all of our fellow Studio Ghibli movie fans that the Berkeley California Theatre’s Ghibli marathon has been extended another week! The theater will continue these one-time reruns of classic Ghibli films only until the first week of October, so take advantage of the pre-midterm lull while you still can.

Here are the new showtimes: read more »

Friday, Feb. 17 was a special day for cinema as it was the opening day for the US theatrical release of Studio Ghibli’s new film, “The Secret World of Arrietty.” Of course, it was imperative for us at the Clog to catch a showing on opening day, with Totoro plushies in tow.

Based on the novel “The Borrowers” and its subsequent sequels by Mary Norton, the movie follows a young 14-year-old girl named Arrietty, who lives with her mother and father under the floorboards of an old, rural home owned by an elderly woman named Jessica. Arrietty and her parents are “borrowers” or little people (little enough in which mice are a threat) that “borrow” essentials from the home above such as food or tissue paper. On a venture through the house with her father, Arrietty is discovered by a young boy named Shawn, Jessica’s sickly nephew who arrives at the home for a quiet retreat. Arrietty and Shawn soon form a friendship and of course, like all forbidden relationships, tribulations follow. read more »

It is an excellent day when we have the excuse to use a clip from this film. Because, sure, Harry Potter may have your heart all a-flutter now — but if you’re anything like us, your childhood was dominated by a different kind of magic.

Oh yeah, we’re definitely talking about Disney. And a name with which you might be less familiar is that of John Musker, the animation director behind the epic masterpiece featured above as well as numerous other gems you surely know and love.

Throughout this week, BAM/PFA will be holding a “Behind the Scenes” series in collaboration with the San Francisco Film Society to showcase Musker’s work. Check it: read more »

You may have heard of Berkeley bioengineer Daniel Fletcher’s “CellScope:” a brand new cell-phone based microscope originally devised with the hope of bringing mobile microscopy (and DIY disease-hunting galore) to the masses.

However, the enterprising folks at UK-based Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, anyone?) have ditched the streptococcus for “Dot,” the diminutive star of this whimsical stop-motion animation. The film, which depicts Dot’s microscopic excursion into a world of yarn, coins and pencil shavings, was filmed entirely using a Nokia N8 cellphone and attached CellScope for 50x magnification.

Because the animation’s protagonist was so tiny — only 0.35 inches tall — traditional stop-motion methods were no longer possible: the animators had to use a 3D printer to create brand new models for each of her distinct poses, which were later meticulously hand-painted under a microscope. That sounds … well, actually, that sounds like a damn lot of work. It paid off, though — the final product is a pretty beautiful use of the technology, and much as we’d be fascinated by the disgusting bacterium colonizing our bodies, it’s easy to say that Aardman’s foray into the microscopic is probably a bit easier on the eyes.

Dot. The world’s smallest stop-motion animation character [YouTube]
Dot. The World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Animation [PopSci]