The Secret World of Arrietty
So much of what children absorb from TV and film these days is based on yelling, that the quiet of Miyazaki’s films are a serene shock to the system. Miyazaki, craftsman of such gems as Spirited Away, Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle, among many others, is not in the director’s chair this time around, but acts as “planner” to helmer Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Based on Mary Norton’s novel The Borrowers, the film tells the tale of Arrietty (voiced in the North American version by Disney’s Bridgit Mendler), a tiny person who lives with her family under the floorboards of a Japanese county house. Her family is threatened after a visitor to the house—sickly Shawn (David Henrie)—espies Arrietty on a foraging mission in the garden. He seems friendly enough, but the housekeeper (Carol Burnett) is as keen to catch the little people as the resident cat. Tense moments and quiet ones find perfect balance under Yonebayashi’s direction.
Voicework is engaging, from Amy Poehler’s hysterical mama to Will Arnett’s meaningful grunts. It’s a beautifully drawn film, with lush backgrounds and astonishing detail sure to be a hit with the little people in your own house.
The Blu-ray offers music videos by Mendler and singer/harpist Cecile Corbel, plus original trailers and Japanese storyboards.
Monroe, series one
Now that House has run its course, you may be calling for a new television doctor in the house, one with smarm and wit in equal measure. You’ll find both in Dr. Gabriel Monroe (James Nesbitt), a neurological wonder at St. Matthews hospital, who isn’t above taking bets in the operating theatre.
At work, Monroe terrorizes his interns (one keeps fainting under his tutelage) and trades professional barbs with heart surgeon Jenny Bremner (Sarah Parish), but at heart he is a bit of a softie, even if he does tell the husband of one of his patients that “your feelings don’t count for s#@t right now.” Bedside manner is not necessarily his strong suit. At home, the doctor is a mess, facing an unexpected marital split and the empty nest.
Camerawork is quick and vibrant, with too-bright lights, tunnel-vision hallways and shots of Dr. Monroe looking through an x-ray or brain scan directly at the camera. Stories are equally briskly paced, cutting from patient drama to the orderly chaos of behind-the-scenes hospital life.
The first series of Monroe (a second is in the works) features six episodes (approximately 274 minutes) on two discs.