The Great Mouse Detective Revisited

(Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.)

With recent global events, plenty of people are resorting to nostalgia and comfort when it comes to their movie watching. Whether it’s that comedy you love or a family-friendly movie you loved as a kid, few things can help calm you down when the world seems chaotic quite like a good movie. That’s why for this week’s Out of the Disney Vault column, I decided to re-watch one of my favorite Disney animated movies, which is usually ignored when discussing the Disney Renaissance: The Great Mouse Detective.

What do you get when you combine Disney animation magic, a Sherlock Holmes-like mystery, film noir aesthetic, and one of the most deliciously diabolical and elegant Disney villains, voiced by none other than Vincent Price? One hell of a good time to get you through these social-distancing times.

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The Magicians Fillory and Further Review

The news a month or so ago that this season of The Magicians would be the last has magically made “Fillory and Further” not only the season finale, but the series finale as well. It’s hard to say goodbye to this world and the effed up magicians who inhabit it. But all good things must come to an end, and so last night we said farewell to Brakebills, to Fillory (especially Fillory), and to the magical world on Earth existing just beyond our mere muggle purview. For the last time, let’s sort through what happened this episode, and what it means for the characters we’ve come to love. 

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(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Series: Fruits Basket (2019)

Where You Can Stream It: Crunchyroll (with subtitles), Hulu (dubbed in English)

The Pitch: Recently orphaned high school teenager Tohru Honda finds herself living in a house with her handsome classmate Yuki Sohma and his two cousins — Yuki’s hot-headed rival Kyo, and the group’s de facto guardian, Shigure. But she soon discovers that Yuki’s family harbors a strange secret: they’re cursed to transform into an animal of the Chinese zodiac when hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Tohru quickly becomes entangled in the Sohma family’s lives and, through her cheery disposition and unflagging kindness, begins to change the embittered family members’ lives for the better.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Getting over the wacky romantic-comedy premise of this series is always the biggest hurdle for anyone starting Fruits Basket. The idea of several hot men who transform into cute animals living under the same roof of a naive girl has led many to miscategorize Fruits Basket as a reverse harem anime — a trope that describes a fluffy romance between one girl and her many varied suitors. But I promise you that this somewhat silly premise gives way to a sensitive and moving slice-of-life series that manages to profoundly examine depression, alienation, abuse, and the healing power of love.

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Snowpiercer. A History of Violence. Oldboy. Road to Perdition. There are any number of top-notch comic book movies that don’t revolve around costumed superheroes. One of the best of these is Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, a film that pushed the genre forward fifteen years ago with trailblazing black-and-white visuals ripped straight from the comics.

On April 1, 2005, Sin City ushered theatergoers into a world unlike anything they had ever seen before on the big screen. Lurid yet literate, with voiceovers like thought bubbles, the film was something new and remarkable: neo-noir with a heap of violence and the look of a live-action motion comic. With cinemas now closed and most people’s travel plans on pause due to the global coronavirus pandemic, it’s as good a time as any for pulp-lovers who are stuck at home to take a trip back to Sin City.

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cursed films review

Have you heard the rumor that real skeletons were used in Poltergeist? Or how about all the mysterious incidents that surrounded the shooting of The Omen? If you’re a horror fan, you’ve heard these stories – and more. Certain iconic horror films are surrounded by this sort of legends – the type that make an already scary movie extra scary, as if the very film itself was emitting bad vibes, or toxic fumes.

These rumors, rumblings, urban legends, and more, crawl out of the shadows and into the light in Cursed Films, a new Shudder docu-series from director Jay Cheel. Each episode attempts to get to the bottom of these stories, and, should they be total bunk, track their origins. In doing so, Cursed Films uncovers dark secrets and stark realities harsher than any mythical curse.

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tower of god review

When Crunchyroll rolled out the red carpet for its first-ever slate of original animes, Tower of God was the series that immediately caught my eye. Its striking animation style — like hand-drawn sketches or charcoal drawings brought to vibrant life — sets it apart from most other animes out there, and certainly from the uncanny 3D-animated titles that Netflix has been churning out. Which is good, considering the plot of the first episode of this fantasy-adventure series is pretty slim.

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Castle of Cagliostro

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: The movie chronicles the adventures of a gentlemen thief named Arsène Lupin III. As the headline indicates, that really should be all you need to know, but on the off chance that you need more convincing, it also features: car chases, ninjas, an evil count, a princess in distress, a secret ring, a clandestine counterfeit operation, a femme fatale, a dogged inspector, gorgeous locations, a strong dose of derring-do, and much more.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: I only watched 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, the feature directorial debut of animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, for the first time last summer, but it instantly became one of my favorite animated films of all time. If I were to imagine a platonic ideal of the perfect action adventure movie, this would be pretty damn close to it. In addition to its terrific story and characters, which I’ll get to in a second, its locales are what made me think of this as a contender for this column. We’re still only a few weeks into self-isolation, but I’m sure many people who aren’t used to working from home are starting to go a little stir-crazy. So why not be whisked away to lovely Cagliostro, a fictional European destination featuring a mixture of classicism and retro-futurism? The painted backgrounds are gorgeous across the board, and the story’s setting – bouncing from ancient ruins to village rooftops, soaring towers to creepy dungeons – will make you feel like you’ve traveled the world in an hour and forty minutes. Read More »

The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen About Magicians

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we go point your attention over there while we discuss movies about magicians over here!)

Movies about magicians come in all shapes and varieties. To be clear, I’m speaking of films about the performers, those who do magic tricks and illusions, as opposed to the wizards you find in fantasy films and late-80s Fred Savage movies. They range from documentaries (Make Believe, 2010) to comedies (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 2013) to biopics (Death Defying Acts, 2007) to Swedish genre-benders (The Magician, 1958) to BDSM noirs (Lord of Illusions, 1995) to the best movie about a magician you’ll ever find (The Prestige, 2006).

/Film’s own Peter Sciretta previously compiled a list of the best films about magic and magicians which includes a few of the titles mentioned above, but readers of this column know the goal here is to recommend ones that are far less celebrated. To that end, keep reading for a look at six great and/or entertaining movies about magicians that you probably haven’t seen.

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New Blu-ray Releases Rise of Skywalker

Welcome to another week in quarantine! As we continue to find ourselves sequestered in our domiciles, there’s never been a better time to block out the horrors of the real world and kick back with some movies. And while streaming is great – and convenient – you just can’t beat the quality of physical media, folks. So, without further adieu, these are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

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Better Call Saul JMM review

This week on Better Call Saul:

  • Kim and Jimmy get hitched!
  • Lalo gets bail!
  • Mike gets to work!
  • Saul Goodman comes out to play (and yell)!

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