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What To Watch Thursday is Overdose’s weekly movie injection: every Thursday we highlight movie releases that shouldn’t be missed! This week we present two movies by new voices of familiar genres.
Anticipation: Receiving great reviews since its premiere at Cannes Film Festival in 2014, some have suggested writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s second feature, It Follows, is the best American horror movie since The Blair Witch Project. After scaring audiences at Imagine Film Festival, it follows Dutch audiences for a nationwide theatrical run.
Appreciation: In its opening minutes, It Follows declares itself to be a horror movie with a penchant for retro stylistics. Referencing John Carpenter’s teen slasher Halloween, the slow zooms and synth score of It Follows pays its homage to the ´70s classics of the genre. While it´s a call back of older horror, it nonetheless attempts to update the familiar set-up of the American teen terror flick. Pretty teen Jay (Maika Monroe) has sex with her new fling Henry, who tells her he has passed on a sexually transmitted curse. We soon find out it takes the form of a slow-moving zombie-like figure, which will violently murder her if ‘it’ catches up.
While the movie is set in Detroit, a favorite location among recent genre works (Only Lovers Left Alive and Lost River), it doesn’t abuse the city’s economic deprivation. Instead, Detroit’s empty streets provide vast spaces for the wide screen format that effectively encourages us to search the screen for new arrivals of terror – for once, a horror movie that doesn’t rely on confined spaces. But It Follows can’t help but trip over its own internal logic by trying to overstretch its premise. Failing to settle on a character trait, the haunting presence at times metamorphoses into what appear to be casualties of sexual abuse and at other times into the victim’s parents (why?). Still, it’s fun watching the teens trying to solve their supernatural problem in their world without adults.
Length: 100 min.
Verdict: ★★★ – It’s no Blair Witch Project
Where to see: Filmhallen, Pathé Arena and Pathé de Munt
When Marnie Was There
Anticipation: Anxious anticipation has surrounded the latest Studio Ghibli movie, the first (and possibly last) to come out of the studio since the retirement of its biggest directors, Hayao Mizakai and Isao Takahata. After many Dutch festival screenings (IFFR, Holland Animation Film Festival, Imagine Film Festival and CinemAsia), When Marnie Was There is finally placed on theatrical release.
Appreciation: While Miyazaki and Takahata’s swan songs were in many ways atypical affairs for the studio, Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s second hand-drawn animated feature is a return to familiar territory for Ghibli. Anna, a lonely schoolgirl in Tokyo, temporarily relocates to northern Japan to escape the pollution of the metropolis that´s worsening her asthma. Staying at her relatives’ house, she freely wanders the rural town and meets blond-haired Marnie who lives in what looks like an abandoned mansion. Marnie’s ethereal presence draws Anna into daily visits where she slowly begins to uncover the past life of her new friend. Their friendship blossoms into an unusual intensity that encourages queer interpretations –quite progressive for a work made in Japan, where lesbians have yet to see broad societal acceptance. Yet, what´s most radical about When Marnie Was There is its treatment of Anna; although there are no clear-cut villains like in most (if not all) Ghibli stories, she´s clearly the most unlikeable character despite her central position.
Similar to Yonebayashi’s Ghibli debut, the movie is an adaptation of a mid-20th century British children’s book by a female novelist – on this occasion, Joan G. Robinson. But like many of the best children’s books and Japanese animation, When Marnie Was There has the power to captivate adults as much as children.
When Marnie Was There
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