Mary and the Witch’s Flower
When animation master Hayao Miyasaki “””””””officially”””””” (enough air quotes?) retired after The Wind Rises (Air quotes because he’s developing another movie right now), the future of Studio Ghibli dramatically shifted. I’m unsure about Miyasaki’s next movie, but the decision was made to stop animating original movies in house. Instead Ghibli would be a producer and distributor of other animated films like last years excellent The Red Turtle. So now you have a bunch of the best animators in Japan without a studio. So they created their own, Studio Ponoc, and this is their first feature film. As you can imagine, the animation on this movie is spectacular. It definitely is imaginative but I don’t think the story is as strong as Mayazaki’s works. Still that’s a fairly high benchmark to make, and it’s a charming and beautiful movie nonetheless. If you need a Ghibli fix, Studio Ponoc’s movie is the best thing you can find right now.
Death of Stalin
This movie isn’t for everyone. It is really dark, violent, and yet was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever watched. The movie takes place at the end of Stalin’s reign in Soviet Russia and the succession crisis that preceded his death. Something like this would normally be done in a serious oscar-bait drama. But instead, they turned the death of one of the most ruthless and evil dictators of the 20th century into a comedic farce. This adds a sweetness to the otherwise acerbic subject matter. I cannot recommend it to everyone, but anyone who enjoys dark humor, witty dialogue and irony should really check it out.
I didn’t catch the PG-13 re-release so this is based off of the R version. The production value went way up for this one and played out more like a typical superhero movie. For better or for worse, this one feels much more mainstream and dare I say less raunchy than the last one. But there are plenty of gorey bits and F-bombs to maintain an adult rating. I didn’t have any many issues with this one but I didn’t laugh as much with this movie than the last one. It has a much better story than the first one but the first one felt more rebellious and underground. Deadpool was a major risk and that’s what I respected about it, this one felt more safe. Again not a bad movie, but may not have the lasting impact that the first one does.