21 Studio Ghibli films are coming to Netflix UK in 2020

Ghibli by hyung86

Studio Ghibli to stream in the UK

It’s happening. It is really happening. From February 2020, the majority of Studio Ghibli films will start to be available to stream in the UK. In essence, we have Netflix UK to thank.

Growing up, I remember the joy of finding Studio Ghibli films randomly on Film4. The channel would regularly have entire seasons dedicated to the Japanese animation studio. They even screened My Neighbor Totoro at the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House.

Most importantly, 21 films from the Japanese animation giant will be available on the Netflix UK from February to April 2020.

Surprisingly, the streaming service will include fan favourite animations such as Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbor Totoro.

When will the Studio Ghibli films stream in the UK?

Release dates and titles on Netflix UK include:

February 1, 2020

  • Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
  • Only Yesterday (1991)
  • Porco Rosso (1992)
  • Ocean Waves (1993)
  • Tales from Earthsea (2006)

March 1, 2020

  • Nausicaä of the Valley Wind (1984)
  • Princess Mononoke (1997)
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
  • Spirited Away (2001)
  • The Cat Returns (2002)
  • Arriety (2010)
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

April 1, 2020

  • Pom Poko (1994)
  • Whisper of the Heart (1995)
  • Howls Moving Castle (2004)
  • Ponyo (2008)
  • From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
  • The Wind Rises (2013)
  • When Marnie Was There (2014)

The only feature-length film excluded from the stellar line-up is infamous tear-jerker, Grave of Fireflies.

Unfortunately, these films will not be available to stream on Netflix in USA, Canada or Japan.

What is your favourite Studio Ghibli film? Which are you most looking forward to watching?

Stephanie xox

Hungry for more? Take a read of Why Studio Ghibli is better than Disney

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I, Tonya: A film of fact or fiction? ⛸️

I, Tonya film review - The LDN Gal

I, Tonya film review

As soon as I saw the trailer, I knew I had to see I, Tonya. The biopic, starring Margot Robbie as the lead protagonist tells the tale of famed and shamed 1990s US figure skater, Tonya Harding.

Full of angst and passion, the chronological story details the interviewed accounts of Tonya, her abusive partner Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and downright distant mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney) in her early life as a competitive figure skater.

From start to finish, this controversial journey, and these relationships are raw and full of emotion. The tale is relatable, as we watch Tonya chasing her dreams relentlessly, despite her socio-economic status, unkempt style, and brash attitude constantly hindering her progression in a sport known for its grace and even snobbery.

As an impoverished woman from a broken home, the odds are against her. With fame comes a media storm, tearing her apart at any given opportunity and pitting her against her rivals, particularly fellow US figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan. Surprisingly, Tonya was quite the success and the first ever US figure skater to land a triple axel in competition.

So, what did I think of I, Tonya?

Within the film, a plot is hatched by Tonya’s partner, Jeff, to rid Tonya of her competition, aiming to scare Nancy with death threats so that she will not continue to compete. However, things take a turn for the worst when Nancy is indeed injured quite dramatically in an orchestrated attack.

To this day, Tonya’s prior knowledge of this scheme is still debated and the actual Tonya heavily rebuffed these accusations until recently in the ABC documentary, Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story.

However, the film encourages an alternative viewpoint to the infamous scandal in the early 90s, that makes the audience sympathise with Tonya throughout. The scandal thwarts Tonya’s future and ultimately leaves her disgraced and ousted in the world of competitive figure skating. Fact.

I, Tonya ensures a degree of genuine emotion and leaves the audience bitter as the angsty and passionate Tonya continues to give it her all, despite the world seemingly being out to get her. Throughout, the film leaves us rooting for Tonya, an impoverished, misunderstood and talented woman that perhaps just deserved a little bit more from life. The reality of the real-life events and Tonya’s responsibility is for you to decide.

Have you seen I, Tonya yet? What do you think of Margot Robbie as Tonya?  

Stephanie xox

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Why Studio Ghibli is better than Disney

Ghibli by hyung86

The great animation debate: Studio Ghibli versus Disney

Disney is a universal brand, a timeless reflection back to our youth. It is brimming with fond memories of cinema trips and cosy nights in with the family. Tales of traditionally ‘perfect’ Princesses, talking animals and sing-along-songs. The companies ability to hold a special place in the hearts of each generation for almost a century is admirable. So, why is Studio Ghibli, the Japanese counterpart for the East, so much more?

For those who do not know of Studio Ghibli, it was founded in 1985, around 62 years after its fair-to-say rival, Disney. The Japanese company has created over 20 beautiful animated feature films to date, with their own array of wonderfully crafted heroes and heroines.

The two animation giants undoubtedly share similar traits, their work is utterly timeless and adored globally. However, it is a belief shared by many that the East began to take over the West when it came to quality animation, and there are a fair few reasons why Studio Ghibli will always surpass Disney.

Growing up, I watched both Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and the latter continues to move me as I edge towards my mid-twenties (a scary prospect). The heart of Studio Ghibli stems from its animation team, especially from the creative brain of the former lead director, Hayao Miyazaki, who created something with a far deeper moralistic and feminist meaning.

Japanese Studio Ghibli Posters - Ghibli versus Disney - The LDN Gal

Why are strong female leads so important in animation?

Like many, I found myself learning far more from Studio Ghibli, with their tales of female struggle and empowerment (most films tend to have a strong female lead). Unlike the Disney Princesses, the heroines are relatable without the patronising undertone and the magic and depth of their fantasy tales awakens the attention of adults, as well as presenting important moral dilemmas and messages for children watching.

Looking at the female leads in Disney films (predominantly the Disney Princesses) in comparison to those in Studio Ghibli, a striking difference will continuously manifest itself. Time and time again in Disney, it will be seen that these princesses are overtly defenseless without the men in their lives to rescue them (Mulan, Merida and the new Princess Moana being the few exceptions).

Compare this to Studio Ghibli, and you will find feminist icons in abundance,  the majority of Ghibli films have an admirable and strong female lead. Miyazaki says:

“Many of my movies have strong female leads – brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe in with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”

Not relying on a man (or anyone for that matter) is a recurring theme, everyone is seen as equal in the gender Olympic’s and this is just wonderful for the self-esteem of a small child, who doesn’t love feeling empowered and equal?

Why is female empowerment needed in animation?

An example of utter reliance on men is presented to us in The Little Mermaid (Disney). Our leading mermaid, Ariel, plays centre-stage under the sea, she is beautiful, feisty and terribly naive. Of course, she falls head-over-heels for the ‘wrong’ guy in the opinion of her father, whom she then desperately seeks out upon the land in exchange for her voice. He notices her, but not enough to avoid being bewitched and ensnared by a witch. Says it all but a happy ending is guaranteed, this is Disney.

Old Sophie Howls Moving Castle - Ghibli versus Disney - The LDN Gal

Compare this with female protagonist Sophie of Howl’s Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli), and you are presented with a self-conscious wallflower.

Sophie is plain and unnoticed, obviously reinforced as viewers see that even her own mother fails to realise her transformation from a young girl into a twisted hag. This ordinary girl, no ‘beauty’ on her side, must seek out a wizard whose attention she had caught in her youthful state. Sophie cannot speak a word to anyone about the curse and therefore must lurk around until she can figure out how to break it herself, while her wizarding companion is on a quest to find himself also.

There is far more depth to Sophie, she’s opinionated, brash and stern (probably something to do with the aged state and being utterly fed up). Whereas Ariel is presented as emotionally motivated and stroppy, only seeking her happiness as an end goal and caring little for the loss of those around her (particularly her somewhat overbearing father who is terrified about her disappearance). On the other hand, Sophie seeks to help all those around her, she is a complex character whose love and compassion motivates her throughout, perhaps even at her own expense and happiness at times.

The problem with Disney is that helplessness, ‘love’ and beauty define the Princesses. With Studio Ghibli, beauty isn’t key, the female leads are admired for their strength, journey, and powerful hearts. It is a stark and reoccurring difference, just select any Disney or Studio Ghibli film.

Some critics argue that Studio Ghibli films exploit these young heroines. However, It would seem that the consensus argues that Ghibli, in fact, challenges girls to solve their own problems. Saying this, modern Disney appears to have approached this too with ‘stronger’ characters such as Mulan and Merida, to name a few. In contrast, Studio Ghibli has been doing this with his characters since day one, in a culture often perplexed by such dominating female empowerment.

Another perk is that Studio Ghibli animations provide far more cultural exploration for us Westerners and prove themselves to be culturally apt. Whereas Disney often fails to truly embrace the cultures of their Princesses in their locality.

Often you will hear of Disneyland being the ‘most magical place on earth’, its stories the basis for this magic. I argue that Studio Ghibli offers far more magic, it teaches us to be kind, to not judge, to respect and cherish our environment (nature being of great religious importance to the Japanese), that pacifism can work and childhood transitioning is tough, no one can save you from it but you.

Their stories are creative, with complex and challenging storylines, developed and iconic characters, heartwarming and meaningful messages, embellished with beautiful animation. Studio Ghibli will remain timeless to its audience, holding many an animated heart for a lifetime with their emotion invoking work. The core and important message will stay the same, despite your gender, appearance, size or background, you can achieve anything you want to, and this is why Studio Ghibli will always surpass Disney.

Does your heart remain with Disney or Studio Ghibli? What is your favourite Ghibli film?

Stephanie xox

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Film: Bridget Jones Baby

Bridget Jones Baby

Bridget Jones Baby Film Review

Who doesn’t love a romantic comedy? Even when you enter the cinema full well knowing that said rom-com is going to be both a charming and chaotic nightmare. You would not expect anything less from Miss Jones.

Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger), first stole our hearts with her relatable and ditzy ways back in 2001 in Bridget Jones Diary, a single woman in her early 30s searching for love in all the wrong places. The first movie beautifully playing out the yearning for the notorious bad boy (Daniel Cleaver, as played by Hugh Grant) versus the oh-so-conservative, Mr. Nice (Mark Darcy, as played by Colin Firth). During which time, the leading lady relentlessly strived towards being the epitome of feminine beauty and health, of course.

After we presumed a happy-ever-after upon the closing scenes of Bridget Jones Diary: The Edge of Reason of 2004, the emotionally-constipated Mark Darcy is no more, the engagement has been called off and he has married another woman. The callous cad!

We’ve skipped forward more than a decade with the belated Bridget Jones Baby, the teenagers, and adults of the noughties filled with wonderful nostalgia and optimism for Bridget as she celebrates her 43rd birthday. The diary is long gone (hello subtle Apple promotion of the iPad), Bridget is a ‘respected’ career woman, still single (WHAT? Yes, you heard it. Single!) and secretly yearning for a future of motherhood. The ‘normality’ she sees in her friends who surround her with busy family schedules is a perpetual reminder of where she should be in life, the heart of a nuclear family.

bridget_jones_baby

On the verge of breaking point, she is tricked into a rambunctious trip to Bestival, meeting a somewhat narcissistic American (Patrick Dempsey as Jack Qwant, a multi-millionaire mogul – where on earth does she meet these men?!) for a night of no-strings-attached fun in an attempt to lessen her woes. This is shortly followed by an intoxicated rendezvous at a baptism after-party with a devilishly handsome (if I do say so myself) old flame (Hello again, Firth). With these fleeting and haphazardous intimate moments, the damage is done.

Obviously, there is a baby involved somewhere in all this madness, and the now pregnant Bridget must determine the father, having got herself in said pickle with some out-of-date vegan condoms (now there is a lesson to play responsibly, kids).

Going through the pregnancy the two men fight for her affection, doing so in a verging on patronising fashion, both desperate to be the father. Unlike the previous films, genuine heart touching moments are plentiful and you really do see the maturity and vulnerability of the characters throughout the film.

‘Sometimes you love a person because of all the reasons they’re not like you. Sometimes you love a person because they feel like home.’

Without risking spoilers, Bridget Jones Baby is a wonderful film in its own right and should be praised as the concluding chapter of the wonderful Miss. Jones life. It was not nearly as Mamma Mia as I presumed and was a touching reflection on the life of a modern day heroine/hot mess. If you are a fan, Bridget Jones Baby is definitely worth a watch.

The Women of the Oscars 2014

OSCARSWOMENOF2014

 (Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior, Emma Watson in Vera Wang, Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace, Lupita Nyong’o in Prada, Lady Gaga in Versace and Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé)

The Academy Awards is a renowned event and something many of us keep an eye on as it comes around each year. Be it to see our favourite actors and actresses picking  up their statuettes, to honour the hardworking directors and design teams of the film industry or to witness the beautiful display of fashionable gowns of those gracing the red carpet.

For the 2014 Oscars we saw lots of neutral and pastel colours on display, proving to be simply glamorous as spring creeps back.

Jennifer Lawrence appeared bold and beautiful in her peplum Christian Dior,  a more modern approach to the typical strapless gown. However, the elegance of the outfit did not rub off on her, taking her second tumble of the Oscars waving to the crowds upon the red carpet. In her typical and beloved Jennifer fashion she shook it off and continued in hysterics.

Emma Watson was sultry in metallic Vera Wang, teamed with red lips. However, Kate Hudson took it to the next level, stern-faced in her silky and plunging Atelier Versace dress. The delicate cape draping and striking colour make this dress simply breathtaking.

Lupita Nyong’o awed also in her pale blue custom Prada, in a gown that has been dubbed as the ‘Cinderella dress’. Although I find it a bit risqué for Disney royalty myself, with its daring and plunging neckline. However, grace bites back with the delicate and lengthy flow of the gown.

Lady Gaga toned it down in metalic Versace. The pink Art Deco gown with the addition of a lengthy chiffon scarf seemed very understated and pretty for the outrageous singer. Oh wait, she teamed it with ridiculously high platformed shoes, hello Gaga…

Last, we have Cate Blanchett in her beige and (perhaps overly) embellished Armani Privé dress. Like Nyong’o gown we have a beautiful hem and flow, the ladies of the Oscars certainly wowed this year.

 

Film: Hitchcock

Hitchcock film review

Hitchcock film review

“All of us harbour dark recesses of violence and horror,” says Anthony Hopkins, acting as director Alfred Hitchcock.

The behind-the-scenes biopic Hitchcock, takes a peek at Hitchcock’s greatest achievement and struggle, the revolutionary classic, Psycho.

Hopkins gives a convincing portrayal of the 60-year-olds gentlemanly arrogance; the pursed lips, waddle, well-spoken with a fixation for the younger women.

It is a shame that the voice is a little off, but we can forgive that.

So, what did I think of the Hitchcock film?

The film is centred on an impressive cast with Scarlett Johansson as the panic-stricken lead Janet Leigh, and Helen Mirren as the hardworking wife, Alma Reville.

Hitchcock’s in turmoil with Psycho, desperate to pull it off. His relationship becomes strained. Alma becomes increasingly unappreciated, in the shadows of the “great and glorious Alfred Hitchcock.”

He succumbs to her and they work together, financing the film independently when Paramount Pictures rejects its content of voyeurism, incest and transvestisms.

People appear disgusted by the gore and Hitchcock swears his cast to secrecy and boldly continues.

However, so do the doubts, nightmares and visions – becoming a regular occurrence. Alma supports him “unquestionably” as he deteriorates, editing the film for the difficult censors, a daunting and tiresome task. The duo balances one another, a tale of love as it is of horror.

Oh, but what of the unforgettable knife scene? Well seeing Johansson’s performance proved impressive and convincing. Not just a pretty face but an incredible actress.

The ending would satisfy the “master of suspense,” heartfelt before concluding direct to camera with a clever twist.

What did you think of the film? Are you a fan of Psycho?

Stephanie

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Why Black Swan is a fantastic psychological thriller

Black Swan Film Review | The LDN Gal

Darron Aronofsky’s Black Swan Film REVIEW

Darren Aronofsky has created something truly special. The gripping and striking Black Swan is art in its best form. Mixing the mediums of dance and film, he has produced a movie with mass appeal.

The psychological thriller is innovative, based on a subject matter that many would shun away from. Ignorance is not so blissful in this case; to make a judgment on the quality of the film merely on the facts that it is an exploration of ballet would be a rather abrupt decision to make.

The film is based on young Nina (Natalie Portman) , a secretive and vulnerable woman who’s a little too dependent on her mother for comfort. The plot is based upon a production of Swan Lake.

The prestigious New York City ballet company requires a ballerina to be cast as both sides of the Swan Queen. There is a theme of contrast, the pure and delicate white swan in comparison to the seductive black swan.

Nina an adamant and skilled ballerina is desperate for the role. She’s put many years of hard work into the company and needs her break. She conflicts with the confident and whimsical Lily (Mila Kunis), who also wishes to claim the role.

Both girls represent the different personalities required to play the Swan Queen. Nina in graceful desperation is perfect for the white swan and Lily fierce and hard-edged an image of the black swan.

Fierce competition in bLack Swan

Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), the director of the production is a sexual deviant. He presents himself to Nina and makes it evident she must compete and open up to the role of the black swan if she wished to succeed. After a passionate confrontation with Nina, he attempts to tarnish her virtue. On failure to do so, he tells her to explore herself. This is the awakening for Nina and she begins to find a darker side to her personality.

The movie makes an apparent and real reflection of the trails of being a competent ballerina. The film opens us up to a world full of gruelling and painful training sessions, where women’s feet appear distorted and crushed. A world that demands one must be of perfection in body, mind and performance. There is an exploration into eating disorders, self-harm and mental instability. Reflecting that to make it in such a world, you must give everything of yourself.

exploring mental health in Black Swan

We see Nina in her home environment and begin to understand why she is in such a frail state. She is mollycoddled by an overbearing mother. This over protective nature has left Nina in a state of flux. She is expected of highly by her mother, a failed ballerina due to her pregnancy of Nina. As Nina begins to find herself we soon see numerous domestic tensions of what appears to be the behaviours of something expected from a young teenager.

On the succession of achieving the role, Nina is presented to her new glitzy world. This is much to the distress of her predecessor Beth (Winona Ryder), who in turn strikes fears into the vulnerable Nina and is a living example of how both girls are just tools of the trade.

As Nina progresses it becomes apparent that she is a wavering psychotic state. She presents numerous delusions and hallucinates episodes. Her paranoia progresses at the bold Lily. The retorts of Thomas play in her mind, she begins to change and let go of her perfectionist attitude.

a dark coming of age story

As the plot progresses, Lily visits Nina at home, much to the dismay of Nina’s mother. The duo enjoy a drug fuelled and intimate night together. On returning, Nina argues with her mother and the girls lock themselves in Nina’s room.

Later, Nina wakes and Lily is gone. She rushes to the company and is furious to see Lily performing her role. Afterward, Lily picks fun at Nina for what she says was a fantasy sexual engagement.

The night before the first performance, Nina vigorously continues to perfect her routine. In reality, her mentality worsens and faced with severe hallucinations, she flees.

As she arrives home, her body begins to distort and she begins to form as an animalistic swan. On fear of her delusions, she knocks herself out upon her bedpost.

Eventually, Nina wakes to her mother’s controlling nature. She states that she has contacted the company and that Nina will not be at the opening performance. Nina is enraged. She violently removes herself from the home, rushing to the performance and immediately begins preparations.

‘perfect. i was perfect.’

The four acts of the production details the great changes of the Swan Queen. Nina’s hallucinations continue to play tricks on her with drastic consequences. These remaining minutes are Nina’s epiphany. She concludes whispering softly, “I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.”

Black Swan surprises down to the penultimate few seconds. It’s a marvel to watch, surreal and haunting. The actresses dedication to their  roles is evident and it appears Portman and Kunis are professionals of the artform.

The film grips throughout, presenting many moralistic dilemmas. In essence, be who you are, for if you dare to stray from your true self, the results may not be to your liking.

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