Gkids has amassed nine Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature since 2009 including one for My Life as a Zucchini last year and two in 2016 — but it has yet to take home the hardware. Now comes the first English-language trailer for its latest pic, featuring the voices of Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent and The BFG star Ruby Barnhill.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower hails from Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the Oscar-nominated animator behind Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo. Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 children’s book The Little Broomstick, the film centers on Mary (Barnhill), an ordinary young girl stuck in the country with her Great-Aunt Charlotte (Lynda Baron) and seemingly no adventures or friends in sight. She follows a mysterious cat into the nearby forest, where she discovers an old broomstick and the strange Fly-by-Night flower, a rare plant that blossoms only once every seven years and only in that forest. Together the flower and the broomstick whisk Mary above the clouds and far away to Endor College – a school of magic run by headmistress Madam Mumblechook (Winslet) and the brilliant Doctor Dee (Broadbent). But there are terrible things happening at the school, and when Mary tells a lie, she must risk her life to try to set things right.
Director Yonebayashi also co-wrote the film with Riko Sakaguchi. It was produced by Yoshiaki Nishimura. Gkids will open Mary and the Witch’s Flower in theaters on January 18. Have a look at the trailer above and tell us what you think.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”