It is very rare that Studio Ghibli films not directly connected to Hayao Miyazaki get all that much attention in the United States. Ghibli pictures still get more attention than other Japanese animation studios, but it’s that Miyazaki magic that Disney banks on to justify the distribution deal.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya might change that. Writer/director Isao Takahata (best known for his masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies) pays tribute to one of the most enduring Japanese folktales. “Princess Kaguya,” also known as “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” is a story about a poor bamboo cutter who finds a tiny princess living inside of a piece of bamboo. He raises her to adulthood when five kings from five different kingdoms propose to her. She will only marry the one who finds the gift that she is truly looking for.
I’m a big fan of body horror. Very few other genres freak me out as much as this one does. Body horror is almost always guaranteed to do some nasty things to fingernails or eyeballs and I just can’t with those gags. Contracted delivers on that front, but not so much with the rest of it.
Horror Thursday: Contracted
If you want to make a blockbuster inspired by B-movie tropes, you hire a director who knows how to handle B-movies. James Gunn (Troma-alum, writer/director Slither) teams up with screenwriter Nicole Perlman to craft the weirdest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet.
The film starts in 1988, where young Peter Quill loses his mother to cancer. He runs outside of the hospital for space and immediately gets abducted by an alien species. 26 years later, he’s a thief for hire trying to build a reputation as his alter ego Star-Lord. A bad job leads him into the company of Gamora (an assassin and daughter of Galactus), Rocket (a genetically engineered raccoon), and Groot (a living tree). The quartet of criminals agree to work together to escape prison and sell the stolen artifact.
Good news, everyone! I found a new short film to excerpt for my ever-growing Lovecraft on the Silver Screen panel.
“Black Sugar” is a short film from Hank Friedmann. Teenagers decide to experiment with a new drug that transports them to a nightmare world of pain, darkness, and winged/tentacled monsters that can actually harm them from inside their minds. It’s…graphic enough to post under the jump with a NSFW warning. It’s also really, really good.
It seems like every year at the Sundance Film Festival, there’s that one horror film that gets all the buzz. Last year, it was We Are What We Are. This indie horror is a slow burn in the tradition of Rosemary’s Baby and that in itself is quite refreshing.
The Parkers are a deeply religious family. Their faith can be traced back for centuries to early settlers in the American West. They believe in family, tradition, and independence. No one may ever see a doctor and the children are discouraged from interacting with the outside world. Everything changes when mother Emma faces a sudden medical emergency and drowns in a storm. It’s up to oldest daughter Iris to carry out the family traditions that has kept the Parkers healthy and strong for centuries.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of my favorite musical films. It’s a combination of a wonderfully somber story, Michel Legrand’s beautiful score, and the visual style that gets to me. Now, Criterion has revealed how the film was restored for the recently released Jacques Demy boxed set. My one regret is that I can’t just purchase Umbrellas alone.
It’s rare that I take Netflix at its word about a horror film I need to see. Yet, this past weekend, I went with the suggestion. 13 Sins was recently added to the streaming service and actually had generally good reviews. I really committed when I saw it came from the same writer/director as The Last Exorcism.
Horror Thursday: 13 Sins
I Am Divine is a captivating documentary about the life and career of Harris Glen Milstead, better known by his stage name/drag persona Divine. Divine had a long and expansive career through many forms of media (film, stage, music, and television) and was by no means an overnight success. His most critically acclaimed performance, as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, was, sadly, his last. He passed away from a heart attack right when he finally seemed poised for the mainstream success he dreamed of his whole life.
I Am Divine tells the story of the notorious performer through archival footage and interviews with Divine’s peers. John Waters appears, naturally, as do Mink Stole, Susan Lowe, and Mary Vivian Pearce. Beyond the typical Waters’ players, Divine’s influence and reputation are truly shown. Journalist Michael Musto, actor Tab Hunter, and Emmy-winning casting director Pat Moran (among many other surprising participants) sing Divine’s praises for the entire run time.