Much in the vein of our Netflix Hidden Gem series, this week I’m branching out to include Amazon Prime. Why you may ask? Simple. I want to talk about Studio Ghibli!
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (Netflix Original, Studio Ghibli)
Based on Astrid Lindgren’s novel, this series tells the coming of age of Ronja, the only daughter of a robber chief growing up in medieval Scandinavia. When Ronja becomes old enough to explore the forest on her own, she discovers that a rival robber clan and their young son are living quite close by. The two strike up a friendship, regardless of their parents’ wishes.
Photo: Amazon, Studio Ghibli
I was very excited when I heard that Ghibli was going to be releasing this series on Amazon and I started watching it not long after it was available. But here it is almost 2 months later and I’m only just getting around to talking about it. This is because it took me a long time to both finish watching it and even longer to decide how I felt about it. So, for the sake of this review, I’m going to simplify things. For better or worse, here’s what I thought. Spoiler alert: it’s kinda a mixed bag.
This is probably the last post I’ll write before I go to see Disney’s new live action Beauty and the Beast, which comes out on March 17th. As a huge fan of the original film, I look forward to the remake with a mix of excitement (Emma Watson is perfect casting), worry (still not loving the computer animated enchanted objects), and the knowledge that the quality of the new film does nothing to change the first one and the way I feel about it. The impending premiere also has me revisiting some of the interesting details I’ve learned about the original movie and its creation. This includes a few answers (or near answers) to some of the Internet’s burning questions, which is what I’m going to share with you today.
I’ve been writing a lot about zombies lately, so I was going to change it up this month and write about some great comics I’ve been reading. But then I read this strange review of the new Netflix Original Series, Santa Clarita Diet, (SCD) from Esquire by a woman named Katie Van Brunt, and frankly, it demanded a response.
[Updated January 9, 2017]
Chewing Gum will have you laughing, squirming, and nodding in that “Yeah, I know how that goes” kind of way. The comedy — created by, written by, and starring Michaela Coel — follows Tracey, a 24-year-old woman discovering how awesome and awkward sex can be.
The 6-episode first season originally premiered on the BBC’s channel E4 in October 2015. Thankfully, Netflix brought the show to U.S. audiences in the fall of 2016. Season two premieres on E4 this January (watch the trailer).
I stumbled across the series while browsing Netflix, and I quickly binged all of season one. Here are my top 3 reasons why Chewing Gum should be next on your list.
For our second podcast episode, all five of us ladies got together for a year-end review of 2016. It was hard to narrow down our choices, but we each chose two highlights of 2016 and one item we’re really eager for in 2017.
Give a listen and let us know your top picks!
Confession time. I’m not a huge Christmas person. I like it fine; I’m not full-on a Grinch, but I don’t get overly excited about it. That said, there are a few traditions I enjoy, like cookie decorating, a yearly trip to to get my Drink on, and less-christmasy Christmas movies (it’s kinda like how I don’t care about sports but like movies about sports—eh, go fig). By this I mean movies where the holidays are in the background, not the main focus. I’m sure most of you know some of the more popular less-christmasy Christmas movies like Die Hard, Gremlins, and The Ref. In these movies, Christmas is the background character rather than the star.
This year, while we trimmed the tree (and yes, I do insist on a real tree because having a tree inside your home is cool), I suggested we delve a little deeper into the less-christmasy Christmas genre and watch Christmas horror! Am I a little one note? Maybe. But I watched these movies partially for you too, in the spirit of giving! So, get your eggnog or mulled wine, and buckle up those sleigh bells ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
iZombie is based on the comic book of the same name by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, who provides the gorgeous opening credit art, but apart from the primary conceit about how zombies work — that they absorb the personalities and memories of the previous owners of the brains that they eat, and if they don’t eat brains, they lose all intelligence and humanity — they couldn’t be more different.
The original comic was chock-full of other sorts of monsters — vampires, werewolves, and ghosts — and was a meditation on Emerson’s concept of an over-soul. iZombie, the show, is a police procedural about a zombie medical examiner with the punny name of Liv Moore who uses her brain-connections to solve murders. It sounds goofy, when you describe it like that, but trust me, the concept works. Mind you, I’m not sure if this show is totally “hidden,” but since I know so few other people watching it, I’m calling it.
In the pattern typical for showrunner Rob Thomas (no, not that Rob Thomas — though the Season Two finale makes great use of the connection), who previously helmed Veronica Mars and Party Down, iZombie seems to be critically acclaimed and enjoys a rabidly loyal but very small fan base.
As someone who hopes to see it last long enough to get a satisfying conclusion, here are five reasons you should be watching this show.
Animation of all kinds has always been essential in helping to bring dinosaurs back to life on screens big and small. In the month where we celebrate everyone’s favorite prehistoric creatures, let’s take a look at a small sample of the wide world of animated dinos.
All right, by now, you hopefully had a chance to watch the Netflix series Luke Cage and at least have some idea who Misty is. If you haven’t and you want to remain 100% spoiler-free, maybe go set up some binge watching time and come back to this later. Otherwise, read on and consider this a bit of a character primer on the comics version of Misty, which will hopefully give you some more background and get you even more interested in this kick-ass lady.
As the Ladies’ resident expert of movies and shows involving blood splatter, and since I did one of these posts last year, I decided now was a good time to prowl through Netflix for 3 more hidden gems to help get you into the mood for the best, or at least the spookiest (spoopiest?) month of the year. This time around I am going for a bit more variety, rather than just 3 straight horror movies. Think of them as choices in the spirit of trick-or-treating. Not one wants a bag full of just one kind of candy.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
I love a good horror comedy, but it’s a tough genre to do really well. For me it works best when there’s a real love and understanding of what is at the root of some standard horror tropes. Movies like Shaun of the Dead, Cabin in the Woods, and Zombieland do this particularly well. Enter Tucker and Dale vs. Evil with its flipped around take on the “backwoods murder hillbilly” trope. Frankly I think it’s more fun to go into the movie with less knowledge of the plot so I’m not going to give you much on purpose. I didn’t read any summaries myself and that made each reveal more fun. Plus, it stars Allen Tudyk, who is just a delight in his role. A word to the squeamish: while this movie is surely considered a comedy, it’s also pretty gory. If that’s not your thing, this isn’t for you. Note: It’s been reported that a sequel to this 2010 original is in the works. After enjoying this one so much I’m excited to see where these characters will go next.
4 out of 5 bodies through a woodchipper
Wait, what? Tiny Doom is going to write something about an animated thing? Yeah guys, I am, I’ve got layers. Well, it’s an animated thing with blood splatter so I guess I’m not really going too far off task here. Curated by veteran Disney animator and Spanish writer-director Raul Garcia, Extraordinary Tales is an animated anthology of 5 tales by Edgar Allen Poe. We are talking about some pretty time-honored Halloween fare. Each tale has its own animation style, and the voice talent (ranging from Christopher Lee – in one of his last projects before his death, Bela Lugosi, and Julian Sands) makes this an almost hypnotic watch. It’s not scary so much as it satisfies a craving for the Gothic and the creepy. It’s probably best viewed in the evening or on a dreary afternoon.
3.5 out of 5 red death masques
They had me at “lady ghost debunker” with this one. A BBC film, The Awakening is a period piece in which that invokes both horror and mystery tropes. Florence Cathcart uses science to expose charlatans and debunk claims of haunting. However, each time she succeeds at her task it’s a bit heartbreaking because she is also hoping for evidence of the supernatural so that she can contact her partner who was lost in the war. Think, the Houdinis. When she gets called to a case in a boy’s boarding school more is revealed about her past, including some memories she buried regarding her upbringing. This movie is a slow burn of creepiness, with some big reveals at the end. I found the ending to be sort of ambiguous and sort of not, but I think it leaves things open enough that if you want to believe, you can. If you liked The Woman in Black, you might like this.
3.5 out of 5 creepy British boarding school kids