(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)

For the first time in its 36-year history of making some of the most breathtaking animated masterpieces of all time, all of Studio Ghibli‘s movies are available to stream right now. The Japanese animation studio best known for its adorable raccoon-like mascot and the acclaimed works of animation titan Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is often written off as the maker of peculiar arthouse animes — too philosophical for western kids used to fast-paced Disney movies, and too anime for cinephiles. Well, I’m here to prove those hypothetical haters wrong. Or, at least, to lend a helping hand to those who are interested in diving into the works of Studio Ghibli, but are unsure about where to start or if the studio’s films will even appeal to them. I can assure you, of the 21 feature films (and one TV movie) released by Studio Ghibli since its inception in 1984, there will be something for you.

So in this week’s Pop Culture Imports, I’m shaking things up a bit and spiriting you away across the Pacific to give you a beginner’s guide to Studio Ghibli movies.

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Hoai-Tran Bui’s Top 10 Movies of the Decade

hoai-tran bui's top 10 movies of the decade

(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)

I can’t stress enough how formative this past decade of movies has been for my moviegoing experience. Sometimes I wonder if I can fully trust my opinions during 2010-2019, ever-shifting they were, and ever-evolving my movie knowledge was. I went and graduated college during that time, and began to form a movie opinion of my own outside of the one the film classes would impose on me. And in my opinion, the last decade of movies was fantastic.

It was never a more exciting time to be a movie fan in the 2010s, because the movie landscape itself underwent a dramatic shift. This was the decade when the genre movie began to get taken seriously by critics and the Academy, when cerebral sci-fi made a vengeful comeback, when horror got a socially thrilling edge. And most importantly, it’s one where a bear taught us the value of being kind. Here are my top 10 movies of the past decade.

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The 15 Most Beautiful Animated Movies Ever

most beautiful animated movies

(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the most beautiful animated movies.)

Over the weekend, one of the most imaginative and visually striking animated movies ever made hit theaters. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is being hailed as a groundbreaking achievement, and a testament to the creative heights that animation can reach. But it’s not the first animated movie to push the boundaries of the medium.

Animation so often gets dismissed a “children’s genre” that it’s often overlooked how damn beautiful these movies can get. Cinema is first and foremost a visual medium, and no other medium can test the limits of the imagination and realize the potential of filmmaking like animation. So in honor of the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, here are the 15 most beautiful animated films ever.

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isao takahata legacy

“Why must fireflies die so young?”

On April 5, the world lost an animation titan. Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a frequent collaborator with Hayao Miyazaki, and the director of stunning anime films like Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, died at 82. But not many people outside of hardcore Studio Ghibli fans may recognize his name.

Takahata’s films are rarely given international acclaim and Disney hasn’t rushed to bring his movies Stateside like they have for his partner, Miyazaki. Until a few years ago, most of his filmography wasn’t even available to buy in the U.S. Which is a huge shame. Much credit has been given to Miyazaki for elevating anime to international heights and testing the limits of anime’s narrative and creative potential. But the Isao Takahata legacy is just as groundbreaking, if not more so.

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Tale of the Princess Kaguya US trailer

Studio Ghibli is back this year with another gorgeous feature. Based on the classic Japanese folk tale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya spins a fantastical story about an older couple who find a tiny child inside a special bamboo stalk. She grows into a famous beauty, attracting all manner of suitors.

Chloe Grace Moretz leads the English-language voice cast as the title character, with Mary Steenburgen and James Caan playing her adopted parents. Watch the first The Tale of the Princess Kaguya US trailer after the jump.

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Princess Kaguya US teaser

Studio Ghibli’s next release in the US is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and we’re happy to present the first US teaser for the film. Directed by Grave of the Fireflies director Isao Takahata, the movie explores the folk tale of a young princess who is found as an infant by a bamboo cutter, and tells of the fate that befalls her. The English-language version of the film is to be released by Gkids in October, with James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Chloë Grace Moretz voicing the lead roles. There’s no dialogue in this first trailer, but you will get to see some of the unique and lovely visual style employed for the tale. See The Tale of the Princess Kaguya US teaser debut below. Read More »

The Tale of Princess Kaguya English-language voice cast

Studio Ghibli’s latest movie is getting ready for its American bow. Chloë Grace Moretz has been set to lead the English-language cast of The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which GKIDS has just scheduled for a fall release in the U.S.

James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Darren Criss, Lucy Liu, James Marsden, Beau Bridges, Oliver Platt, Daniel Dae Kim, John Cho, and Dean Cain will also lend their voices to the project. Get all the latest details after the jump.

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tale-princess-kaguya-6-minute

It’s been years since we saw the arrival of a period that was as rich for Studio Ghibli fans as this year has been. We get new films from not one of the studio’s major directors, but two: Hayao Miyazaki, with The Wind Rises (see the new US trailer here) and Isao Takahata with The Legend of Princess Kaguya.

The latter film adapts the Japanese story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, in which an aged and childless bamboo cutter slices open a glowing bamboo stalk to find a tiny child inside. He and his wife raise the girl, Kaguya, who grows into a delicately beautiful woman. The cutter also finds himself rich as his work, impossibly, yields gold from bamboo. The strange truth of her existence is revealed, as hopeful suitors arrive to ask for Kaguya’s hand in marriage.

We’ve seen various small trailers and footage breaks from The Legend of Princess Kaguya over the past couple months, but now we’ve got an extended six-minute trailer that really shows off the film’s gorgeous animation, influenced by ancient Japanese illustration styles. Read More »

Tale-of-the-bamboo-princess

Twenty-five years ago Studio Ghibli’s second major release was the double feature of My Neighbor Totoro from Hayao Miyazai and Grave of the Fireflies from Isao Takahata. This year we’ve already seen Miyazaki’s latest, The Wind Rises, arriving to acclaim (and some controversy) in Japan, and we’ve now got a poster for the US release.

At the same time, Takahata’s latest film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, is soon to be released in Japan, and we’ve got a new three-minute trailer for the film. We’ve seen some footage from that already, but this offers a lot more to take in.  Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Tale-of-the-bamboo-princess

When Studio Ghibli comes up in conversation, it is inevitably co-founder Hayao Miyazaki who dominates the talk. For good reason: he’s made more movies than any other director at the studio, and his films have helped change the face of animation.

That said, while another Ghibli co-founder, Isao Takahata, is less prolific, his films are no less effective. Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies, which officially launched Ghibli along with Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, is a testament to the power of animation as a straight narrative form, free of genre-based embellishments. Films like Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and Pom Poko (a personal favorite) tell stories of modern Japan that are unlike any other animation director’s work.

For his latest film, however, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Takahata has gone back to ancient Japanese folklore. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is the inpiration for this film, and in keeping with that starting point, Takahata’s animation is inspired by charcoal, watercolor, and sumi-e ink illustration techniques. If you think of Studio Ghibli as having a house style, footage from The Tale of Princess Kaguya will shatter that notion.

It’s gorgeous to see in motion; have a look at a trailer below.

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