The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Image Source: MovieGoods

Synopsis: When Sydney drag queen Tick (Hugo Weaving) is invited to perform at a tourist resort in Australia’s Northern Territory, he invites fellow entertainers Adam (Guy Pearce) and Bernadette (Terence Stamp) to join him. Traveling on the cheap, the three glamorous queens must cross the unforgiving Outback in a decidedly un-glamorous dilapidated tour bus, which flamboyant Adam soon paints a vibrant lavender and christens “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” But out in the high desert, the trio experience the perils of both rural homophobia and mechanical malfunctions. Taking on helpful mechanic Bob (Bill Hunter), the troupe finally make it to their destination, where even more shocking surprises await them.

Here on Garbo Laughs, I’m dedicating the entire month of June to the topic of Queer Cinema (LGBTQs, and depictions thereof, in classic film). This includes reviewing one relevant film from each decade from the 1910s to the 1990s. This is all leading up to my Queer Film Blogathon on June 27th. Won’t you join me in celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month by contributing a post or two (or three)?

My final film review for the Queer Film Blogathon is of a movie I’m going to have a helluva time being objective about. I’ve mentioned before my nearly-obsessive (at one point it was definitely obsessive) love for Stephan Elliott‘s Priscilla in passing, noting that I’ve seen the film close to, if not more than, 200 times. This is the movie that got me interested in movies. I was 12 or 13 the first time I saw it, having previously given no indication that it’d be the type of movie I’d be drawn to; but somehow, I was absolutely entranced. That first summer, I bought the film on VHS and found myself often watching it three times in a single day. I found a copy of the script online and printed out the entire thing to memorize. Once, when I was napping on the couch, my mother happened to stumble across the film playing on television and put it on, and I woke myself up by reciting the dialogue in my sleep. So yeah, I’d say I’m a pretty big Priscilla fan. (more…)

Japanese Cinema Blogathon: Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Image Source: Syoutokuumako

Synopsis: Junior high school student Shizuku Tsukishima finds her life becoming increasingly mysterious when she notices that the same person is checking out every book in the library she reads – beforeshe reads them. Putting aside this conundrum, she attempts to write a song for her school’s graduation ceremony; but when she forgets her notebook on a bench and returns to find a strange boy reading it, who then labels her lyrics “corny,” she feels discouraged. Riding the train one day, she notices a cat on board, seemingly traveling all by itself. Following the animal out of the station, Shizuku discovers a magical antique shop which awakens her creative spirit. She meets the owner, a kindly old man – and his grandson, who just so happens to be the same boy who insulted her song! Learning that the boy, Seiji, plans to skip high school to go to Italy and train as a violin-maker, Shizuku begins to question whether she truly has what it takes to realize her dream of becoming a writer. Can Shizuku find happiness within herself, before it’s too late to find it with someone else?

This is an official entry in the week-long Japanese Cinema Blogathon for disaster relief, co-hosted by CinemaFanatic and Japan Cinema. As we all know, Japan was struck with a 9.0 earthquake on March 11, resulting in devastating tsunamis and widespread destruction. Please CLICK HERE to make a donation to the represented charity of your choice to aid Japanese disaster victims, and be sure to click the banner at left to view the other contributions to the blogathon.

The fourth film in my Ghiblithon (see the rest here) comes from director Yoshifumi Kondō; employed as a chief animator on five previous Studio Ghibli films, Kondō was the first director outside of studio heads Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata to helm a Ghibli film. He was being groomed as a successor to Miyazaki and Takahata before his untimely death at age 47 from a brain aneurysm in 1998. Believing Kondō’s death to be partially attributable to overexertion in his work, Miyazaki initially announced his own retirement that same year, only to rescind his decision and instead plan to work at a less strenuous pace (Ghibli had been putting out a film a year from 1989 to 1995, with two major releases on the same day in 1988). While Miyazaki did do a little hand-holding by penning the screenplay, drawing the storyboards, and directing some of the fantasy sequences, Whisper of the Heart definitely feels like a different director’s work; while I think I’ll always like Ghibli’s Miyazaki-directed work best, it’s still nice to see other people try their hand at it, and Kondō does a marvelous job and shows a lot of potential. It’s just a shame he wouldn’t live long enough to be able to repeat his success. (more…)

Japanese Cinema Blogathon: Pom Poko (1994)

Image Source: Webry

Synopsis: On the edge of the forest of the Tokyo suburbs, a clan of wild raccoon-dogs (known in Japanese as tanuki) feel their habitat being increasingly encroached upon by the construction of human dwellings. Realizing that they will soon run out of food and places to raise their families, the good-natured but concerned tanuki band together to find a way to drive the humans out of their territory. Summoning their long-forgotten powers of shape-shifting and transformation, the tanuki begin a guerrilla campaign to scare the humans away by impersonating every deity, demon and ghost under the sun. But when it soon becomes clear that the humans won’t be chased off that easily, a militant male by the name of Gonta lobbies for more violent tactics to rid the tanuki of the human presence. Can the wise elders Tsurugame and Oruku and the rest of the clan stop Gonta and his militia before they get themselves killed? Or is resorting to violence really the animals’ last plausible hope for peace?

This is an official entry in the week-long Japanese Cinema Blogathon for disaster relief, co-hosted by CinemaFanatic and Japan Cinema. As we all know, Japan was struck with a 9.0 earthquake on March 11, resulting in devastating tsunamis and widespread destruction. Please CLICK HERE to make a donation to the represented charity of your choice to aid Japanese disaster victims, and be sure to click the banner at left to view the other contributions to the blogathon.

My third review of this blogathon/mini-Ghiblithon focuses on the most kid-friendly film discussed so far, an escapist tale (like Porco Rosso) with an environmentalist message (like Nausicaä – isn’t it nice when everything ties together like that?). Released in 1994, Pom Poko was directed by studio co-head Isao Takahata, his third directorial effort for Ghibli following 1988’s anti-war masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies and 1991’s coming-of-age tale Only Yesterday, reviewed here by Clara of Via Margutta 51. (And in case you’re wondering, I did end up watching Fireflies, but I’ve decided not to review it for this particular blogathon. It’s kind of hard to criticize a film’s technique when you’re too busy crying your eyes out.) (more…)

Japanese Cinema Blogathon: Porco Rosso (1992)

Image Source: KinoPoisk.Ru

Synopsis: Trained as an ace fighter pilot for the Italian Air Force during World War I, pig-headed (literally) Porco Rosso now answers to no one but himself – and anyone with enough cash to hire his services as a bounty hunter, of course. He maintains a friendly rivalry with the local “air pirates,” bandits in sea planes who swipe their booty from passing ships. Instead of joining their band of merry thieves, Porco makes his money stealing backtheir plunder on behalf of the victims! Yet after dark they always put their differences aside and come together to share a drink at the bar of the Hotel Adriano, owned by the lovely and tragic Gina. But when hotshot American pilot Curtis arrives on the scene, he makes it his mission to take down the meddlesome Porco once and for all. With the help of his immature yet skilled mechanic and co-pilot Fio, can Porco defeat Curtis in the ultimate dogfight – and finally win the affections of the beautiful Gina?

This is an official entry in the week-long Japanese Cinema Blogathon for disaster relief, co-hosted by CinemaFanatic and Japan Cinema. As we all know, Japan was struck with a 9.0 earthquake on March 11, resulting in devastating tsunamis and widespread destruction. Please CLICK HERE to make a donation to the represented charity of your choice to aid Japanese disaster victims, and be sure to click the banner at left to view the other contributions to the blogathon.

This is my second contribution to this very worthy blogathon, as well as the second entry in my own mini-marathon of Studio Ghibli reviews. I apologize for skipping around in time a bit; I had planned to review these lesser-known (though by no means obscure) Ghibli films in chronological order, meaning Grave of the Fireflies (1988) should be next after Nausicaä (1984), but as I am not yet emotionally prepared to tackle that one, Porco Rosso it is. Like Nausicaä, Porco is based on a manga penned by Hayao Miyazaki himself, Hikōtei Jidai (The Age of the Flying Boat), originally published in three parts in Model Graphix, a monthly magazine for scale model enthusiasts. Miyazaki also directs (which may sound like a given, but remember Isao Takahata directed two of the first seven Ghibli films). The film takes place between the two World Wars in and around the Adriatic Sea; the location was intended to be more specifically indicated as Croatia, but the outbreak of war in Yugoslavia during production prompted the filmmakers to leave the location a bit more ambiguous. Still, of the films directed by Miyazaki, having a clearly-defined historical and geographical setting makes Porco Rosso unusually reality-based. Aside from the fact that, you know, he’s a pig. (more…)