The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) Written by Isao Takahata & Riko Sakaguchi Directed Isao Takahata
When people talk about Studio Ghibli, you will most often hear them talk about it in the context of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. That’s completely reasonable as the studio’s most prominent work started with Miyazaki before becoming a collaborative effort. However, he was only the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, with his partner being Isao Takahata. Takahata was the director behind films like Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Takahata’s take on animation was quite different than Miyazaki, but both men worked to push the medium in ways it never had been, both artistically and thematically.
Earlier, I looked at Max Lord, one of the villains in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. Today, I’ll breakdown the second villain, The Cheetah. Unlike Lord, The Cheetah has always exclusively been a Wonder Woman enemy, but there have been multiple people that worked under that name. In 1985, DC Comics launched Crisis on Infinite Earths, a company-wide event that rebooted the entire timeline and compressed many parallel Earths into one. Before this, there had been two Cheetahs, neither of whom had superpowers and were mainly knock-offs of Batman’s villain Catwoman. With Crisis, these versions were erased to make way for writer-artist George Perez’s overhaul of Wonder Woman and her continuity. This led to a new Cheetah, one who derived her powers from dark mythic gods.
The upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 is set to feature two villains, and I am writing up a spotlight on each. First up is a character who has been both a hero and a villain, and it wasn’t until 2006 that they were even associated with Wonder Woman so directly.
The summer blockbusters of the 2010s feel like an entirely different world from what we saw in the 1980s. Not only has the technology drastically changed, but social mores have opened the door to more politically overt material and fantastic fare that obscure fascistic leanings (see almost every superhero movie). The blockbuster genre doesn’t shy from being self-reflective and commenting on itself now, yet indulges in some of the laziest nostalgia bating. These movies are slicker and, as a result, exist on two extremes of a spectrum: sharp modern fantasies & transparent corporate merchandising efforts. Our first summer of a new decade is off to an extremely troubling start who knows what the future holds for big summer tentpole movies.
Black Lives Matter. If you find an issue with that statement, then your presence on my website is unneeded. The comment section of this post will not be allowed to house any sentiments contrary to this. There is no free speech in my little corner of the internet when it comes to white supremacy and fascist ideals. The history of abusing, mocking, torturing, and killing black people in my home country of the United States is too long and still happening. Cinema was used as a weapon against black lives during the early silent years and into the talkies. However, films have been made that lift up black people and show them as human beings. Here are some of those movies.
Here is another batch of great short films. We start off with Rakka, a short piece made by director Neill Blomkamp (District 9). This serves as both a piece of world building and a proof of concept for a potential larger film or series. The production value here is quite high.
Right now, many of us are stuck inside our homes for the foreseeable future, and it can seem like an incredibly dull place. Movies have repeatedly shown us how even one tiny room can hold great stories within. Here are some movies that use small spaces to tell tense and exciting stories.
The depiction of mass hysteria and societal collapse have been a part of film since around the release of the first Invasion of the Body Snatchers. With that movie, we were able to see how people could either be hyper-paranoid or walk around oblivious to the apparent changes to their everyday life. Some times these films are used to speak to societal fears of the time. As we are all under voluntary quarantine and exercising extreme caution, here are some movies that might get your mind off of it or make you even more anxious. Some are chilling in their observations of humanity, while others are cringingly horrible.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, directed by Philip Kaufman)
From my review: This is a fantastic film and one we don’t hear about often enough. The cast is composed of some acting greats who are firing on all cylinders. I’ve always felt Brooke Adams was terribly overlooked, and this performance is one of those that reminds you of her strengths. Leonard Nimoy, who we never got to see outside of Spock very often, is excellent as the laidback Dr. Kibner, who becomes a very different character by the film’s conclusion. Nimoy plays both sides of the character wonderfully.
It’s Valentine’s Weekend, so that means people are buying cheap chocolate and flowers en masse to profess their love for one another. Love is an emotion that’s been present in cinema since its inception. In 1896, William Heise released the short film The Kiss, one of the first publicly viewable movies. Since then, many stories have been told about people falling in and out of love, both comedic and tragic. Even some horrific. Here are my favorite movies about Love.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974, directed by John Cassavettes) John Cassavettes paved the way for independent film in America and made a name for himself as an iconoclastic director. His muse & wife was Gena Rowlands, who he cast as Mabel, the titular woman. Nick (Peter Falk) is her devoted husband, who notices Mabel’s behavior becoming erratic. While the film never labels Mabel’s condition, it’s clear she’s somewhere in the realm of bipolar disorder. Mabel ends up in an institution after attempting self-harm, and Nick thinks life can just go back to normal when she returns home. Cassavettes understood that true love could endure the most trying of circumstances, that people who really love each other can do so even when the one they care about doesn’t appear to love them back.
Never before have I experience the type of drastic shift from confidence to disdain for a director as I have for M. Night Shyamalan over the last twenty years. It was twenty years ago this week, on August 6th of 1999 that his third feature film, The Sixth Sense, opened in theaters. I haven’t watched his first two films and am saving those for a later date because from all accounts The Sixth Sense was a significant sea change for the creator. It was the movie that made him into the household name he’s become, for better or worse. In honor of this twentieth anniversary, I decided to rank M. Night’s pictures.