Born in China (2017)

Born in China Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Born in China Movie Review

Born in China is a 2017 documentary film directed by Lu Chuan. It is a Disneynature film which is another good addition to their roster of documentaries.

………………………………………………….

They were born in China

………………………………………………….

Born in China Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This film has its problems and more on that later, but it is overall pretty good that I was satisfied in the end. The biggest and most refreshing thing that it does right is that it changes formula by following a couple of species and not just one. That led to a lot of variety in the film and to a more interesting, diverse experience.

Some people may have a problem with the crew not helping the mother snow leopard when she injured herself on the rock beneath the snow. I do have a problem with that, but I can see why they did not help her as they wanted authenticity for the film and certainly this is not as drastic of an example of that as the one in ‘Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness’.

I liked those snow leopards and the cubs are so cute. Golden snub-nosed monkeys are endearing, but the weakest part here as their story was the most childish one with the most annoying narration from John Krasinski. I liked the pandas and they were so cute albeit somewhat anthropomorphized maybe. Still the scene where the mother embraces her baby in a hug warmed my heart.

………………………………………………….

Born in China Movie Review

………………………………………………….

But I loved that the pandas did not take away too much runtime here as the standout part is actually the chiru one. These Tibetan antelopes are so cute and lovable that I adored watching them. The highlight of the entire film is the scene where the little one tries to walk and stand still eventually falling on its back. That was so funny and cute.

Born in China is a family film for better and for worse. Certainly it isn’t authentic as it is staged a lot and there is no violence or death to be found anywhere in this film, but I also liked that as it led to a much more innocent, charming and endearing film. So that decision remains a mixed bag for me.

As for its narration, again it is as troublesome as you would expect from Disneynature, but still one of their better efforts so far as in my opinion John Krasinski was overall solid in the role. Sometimes his comments and lines were cringe-worthy, but for the most part he did an okay job and wasn’t too annoying.

………………………………………………….

Born in China Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The film definitely needed more facts in it. It does teach us some things about these four animal species, but not enough owing to its short runtime and an emphasis on pleasing the children with the strong, evident cutesy factor. The score is very good and the cinematography is absolutely terrific as some shots and takes are brilliant. The scenery is beautiful to watch and the photography is polished and simply breathtaking. The film has such a fantastic cinematic feel to it that I guess it was beautiful to watch in the theater.

Born in China is a family flick for better and for worse with sometimes annoying narration, but it is for the most part a very endearing, cute film which is refreshing in its formula as it follows four instead of just one animal species. Some scenes here are incredibly heartwarming. The cinematography is so strong and the film is so well photographed that it makes for one beautiful and very cinematic viewing experience.

My Rating – 4

Share

Kristopher Kolumbus Jr. (1939)

Kristopher Kolumbus Jr. ReviewKristopher Kolumbus Jr. Review

Kristopher Kolumbus Jr. is a 1939 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is quite a funny cartoon.

This is actually a pretty solid, underrated Looney Tunes entry from 1939 that surprised me a couple of times. Porky Pig is the star here and he plays Christopher Columbus. He goes to America and meets Indians and brings some of them back to Spain to meet the queen. The premise was not used properly and the film should have been better utilized and funnier overall. The animation is also pretty weak.

However, some gags here are so good that they make the film quite solid and worth a watch. The Native Americans doing the jitterbug dance was odd but the ending where the queen joined them was amusing. The highlights here are the scene where Porky throws a baseball into horizon to prove that the world is round and it returns to him in a hilarious fashion as well as the scene where the narrator says that he is welcomed in masses and we then see a footage where only two people are awaiting his arrival. That was so unexpected and hilarious.

Kristopher Kolumbus Jr. is weakly animated and underutilized, but with a couple of terrific, clever gags.

My Rating – 3.7

Share

The Hunt (2012)

The Hunt Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Hunt Movie Review

The Hunt is a 2012 Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Mads Mikkelsen. It is such a sophisticated, strong drama.

………………………………………………….

The world is full of evil

but if we hold on to each other,

it goes away

………………………………………………….

The Hunt Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It follows a man wrongfully accused of child abuse and the mass hysteria and chaos that develops afterwards. Everybody jumps on the bandwagon, they do not let him into their shops and markets and they even kill his dog in such a devastating scene.

The Hunt is an extremely sophisticated, immensely smart and observational film. It showcases one very difficult situation where of course you sympathize with the main character but you can also see where everybody is coming from – they want to protect their children which is their primal, great instinct and even the implication of pedophilia gets the men going.

But the film showcases the important of the concept of innocent until proven guilty. They almost destroyed his life and left him scarred for the rest of his life just because they were so impatient and quick to get their foot on the situation which is best to be left to the authorities. People are pack animals just like wolves and dogs and most of them follow others and cannot think for themselves as so truthfully evidenced by this film.

………………………………………………….

The Hunt Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Now certainly the entire premise is somewhat difficult to happen in real life. Plausible, but difficult. I wanted to see some of the questioning from the authorities as well as what his ex-wife thinks. I also wanted to see everyone say sorry to him, but unfortunately that was not shown.

What was shown however was that beautiful ending. After one year has passed, the men are hunting and somebody shoots Lucas and misses him. Now that can be interpreted in two ways: either somebody who still thinks he is guilty really shot him or hi imagined the whole thing as he is always going to feel that he is hunted and is now damaged for life. I loved that open ending and how well it was realized.

Mads Mikkelsen is absolutely terrific as Lucas and he gave such a great, subtle and nuanced performance here. He stole the show and carried the entire film on his shoulders. But I also liked all of the rest and the highlights are Theo and Marcus as his best friend and his son. His son is just a perfect son whom you can imagine and their scenes together were so beautiful and his friend is so well acted by Thomas Bo Larsen and that scene in the church is so intense, clever and one of the highlights of the film.

………………………………………………….

The Hunt Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The Hunt manages to be even more relevant now than it was before owing to the whole sexual harassment situation in Hollywood. The script is so terrific and the execution is so good as well. The film flies by how engaging it is, but it is also incredibly hard to watch owing to its difficult subject matter and the pure empathy that it makes us feel for the protagonist. Thomas Vinterberg’s direction is fantastic and consistently accomplished. The entire film is great and a further proof of how strong Scandinavian cinema can be.

The Hunt is such a great drama. The performance from Mads Mikkelsen is terrific and Thomas Vinterberg’s direction is superb. The film is very difficult to watch, but emotional and immensely powerful in its story. The screenplay is fantastic and the film is thematically rich, truthful in its observations and it explores its tough situation to the fullest extent. It is even more relevant in what it has to say now than it was back when it came out.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Thugs with Dirty Mugs (1939)

Thugs with Dirty Mugs ReviewThugs with Dirty Mugs Review

Thugs with Dirty Mugs is a 1939 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a pretty solid gangster flick.

I am usually not a big fan of these Warner Bros. gangster parodies, but this one is different as it actually works rather well and can be quite amusing. Again the film is slow, uninvolving and with a particularly forgettable, very disappointing conclusion. I also wanted stronger characterization from it.

But the animation is truly excellent and it has that interesting, palpable noir-like atmosphere to it. The score is also solid. The film surprisingly has a couple of very interesting gags and the overall story is very funny where the thieves rob banks by succession and yet nobody manages to stop them until an audience member sees a movie with that plot in the theater and helps the police. The highlight was them omitting the number thirteen bank because of superstition and the various terrible securities of the banks.

Thugs with Dirty Mugs ends somewhat weakly and the characterization is not great, but the plot is amusing and some gags are quite clever.

My Rating – 3.5

Share

Thelma (2017)

Thelma Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Thelma Movie Review

Thelma is a 2017 Norwegian thriller film directed by Joachim Trier and starring Eili Harboe. It is a very authentic, but flawed film.

………………………………………………….

A little knowledge doesn’t make us better than others

………………………………………………….

Thelma Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It follows a girl who is a young student in Oslo. She develops feelings for another girl but because she comes from a very religious family, she rejects those feelings and thus triggers powers. There is no denying that this premise is so incredibly offbeat and admirably original even if the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

It is a great metaphor for sexually repressed gay adolescents who question and reject their homosexuality as well as an examination of gay people coming from religious backgrounds. The fact that it was mixed with supernatural elements made this film very modern, cool and undeniably intriguing.

However, the film is flawed because it doesn’t take the premise to the fullest extent possible and it only touches the surface of this story. The first half is very good and interesting, but some of the parts in the second half weren’t as interesting and the film needed stronger thriller/horror overtones and sort of just remained a mystery drama in a way. It didn’t delve deeply enough into its themes and it wasn’t atmospheric enough. It was too much like a tame psychological thriller.

As for the characters, I expected a bigger romance, but still it was interesting and at times even wonderfully sensual as well as sexy. Eili Harboe did a very good job in the main role and although Thelma is not a particularly likable person, she it was still interesting following her troublesome journey and she is quite a complex person.

………………………………………………….

Thelma Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Thelma is well directed by Joachim Trier and although weakly paced, it was well shot and very well scored. I loved the ending and some of the conversations with her father especially concerning religion were quite interesting. That is why I liked the first half more as it was much more engaging and sophisticated whereas the second half was somewhat boring to me. However, it did end wonderfully with that beautiful ending plus some of the mysteries surrounding her family history was fascinating to discover.

Thelma is a film with an incredibly offbeat, intriguing premise and it remains a fascinating experiment even if the execution of said premise isn’t great or fully realized. The first half was much more interesting than the second one. The film is a psychological thriller with some mystery and horror elements and it is such a cool, modern lesbian film with an interesting metaphor and main character.

My Rating – 4

Share

Garden Party (2017)

Garden Party ReviewGarden Party Review

Garden Party is a 2017 French animated short film directed by Florian Babikian. It is a very interesting film.

Garden Party is the kind of animated short where not a lot of sophistication, message learning or deepness is involved. And while certainly it is languid in pacing and lacking in those areas, I still ended up really liking it as its story is just so original and wildly amusing. So it follows a bunch of frogs who explore a deserted rich house and try to find water and food. Eventually we witness the dead body of a gangster who owned the house.

This is a very interesting, authentic take on a gangster setup and I loved that twist at the end. I also liked the exploration of the house as it reminded me of all those Silly Symphonies of the early thirties, but the difference here is that the amphibians are never anthropomorphized and they remain very realistic which is very refreshing and ultimately sets the entire film apart from the rest. I loved its animation as it is the kind of computer animation that I like the best – very polished, modern and stunning, but also incredibly detailed and with exceptional, realistic design of the frogs.

Garden Party is simple, but it works thanks to an offbeat premise, a great ending and amazing, polished animation.

My Rating – 4

Share

A Grand Day Out (1990)

A Grand Day Out ReviewA Grand Day Out Review

A Grand Day Out is a 1990 British animated short film from Aardman directed by Nick Park and starring Wallace and Gromit. It is inferior to its successors.

Here the two build a rocket to the Moon where they sample their favorite food which is of course cheese. Now this is a good film, but far from great when it comes to the duo as ‘The Wrong Trousers’ and ‘A Close Shave’ are both much better. The film suffers from having very little dialogue which is unusual for Wallace at least and it also has a less mature, less dark and less compelling than usual storyline.

But it is still charming and endearing for sure. I loved the animation of course which is stellar as always and the score is lovable and so catchy per usual. I also really liked that this time we got a real adventure with the two pals and it was an interesting departure definitely. I loved the rocket, the scenes on the Moon and the emphasis on cheese. It is an adventurous and quite likable flick, but definitely flawed.

A Grand Day Out is definitely endearing and very adventurous in its storytelling and imagery, but overly slight and not as memorable as the duo’s next stories.

My Rating – 4

Share

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

A Fantastic Woman Movie Review

…………………………………………………

A Fantastic Woman Movie Review

A Fantastic Woman is a 2017 Chilean drama film directed by Sebastian Lelio and starring Daniela Vega. It is one of the year’s finest dramas.

………………………………………………….

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

………………………………………………….

A Fantastic Woman Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It follows Marina who is a trans woman living with her much older boyfriend. Once he dies, she starts experiencing terrible things: all of his family says horrible things to her, they forbid her to come to the funeral and she is questioned by the police and examined by the doctors.

That is the story of this hard to watch, difficult, but very important and necessary feature film from Chile. This is a harsh reminder of how simply horrible, unforgivably bad lives are for trans people, especially trans women. It is a testament to how powerful the film is that I was maddened, disgusted and appalled at what was happening to Marina and I wanted to help her and punch those people in the face.

The funeral scene of course is very difficult to watch as is the car sequence. The detective was awful to her as well as Orlando’s ex-wife and the policemen. However, the scene at the doctor’s proved to be the most horrible one. She had to get naked to prove if the “two fought” when in actuality these people are just so sickeningly curious about her genitals and simply transphobic.

………………………………………………….

A Fantastic Woman Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The film showcases transphobia from many angles and is thus probably the most quintessential film about transphobia that we got so far and thus everyone should watch it and I really mean that as the film has the power to open people’s eyes and make them see how horrible cisgender people can be toward the trans community. Whether calling her by male name or  asking about her genitals and surgery or telling her that she is sick or thinking that she is a prostitute – all of these are the variety of hate that trans women receive on a daily basis and the film shows them so well in one full package.

A Fantastic Woman isn’t perfect as some scenes aren’t as important in the context of the story and I do think that the protagonist should have been a bit better developed. The film is concerned a lot about her problems but not enough about herself and her personality as well as life before Orlando’s death.

But even though the ending is not what you would expect from this story, it was still beautiful to witness as you see the sheer strength and resilience in her face and thus the title of the movie is very much earned in this instance. The movie conveyed her strength so well and of course in real life trans women have to be tough in order to survive so this is very realistic. She is a tragic, but admirable character for sure.

………………………………………………….

A Fantastic Woman Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Daniela Vega gave one of the year’s best performances without any doubt and the fact that he did not receive any nominations from the American awards just shows how xenophobic they really are. She is subtle in the role, grounded and always competent. This was a complex role and she pulled it off – amazing for a film debut.

Sebastian Lelio also directed this film stupendously, it flows well and is so well edited and paced with good score and many memorable, so well shot sequences. It is a wonderful, heartbreaking film that is important for everyone to see and an essential foreign film from 2017.

A Fantastic Woman is one of the year’s finest dramas and such a difficult, tragic, yet important and necessary watch. It deals with a very difficult subject matter in a very subtle, grounded and layered manner and is almost a quintessential film about transphobia. It has a lot of emotional scenes, it is so well directed by Sebastian Lelio and phenomenally performed by Daniela Vega who delivered one outstanding acting debut here.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Fox and the Whale (2017)

Fox and the Whale ReviewFox and the Whale Review

Fox and the Whale is a 2017 animated short film directed by Robin Joseph. It is a very elegant film.

The film is about a fox in pursuit of a whale. The fox is fascinated by the sounds of the whale and will stop at nothing to finally find the creature. So basically the themes here are of longing and search for the unknown and mysterious. Everybody has that yearning inside so the film should prove relatable to all of us. It is a deep film, but still not as deep as it could have been.

I wanted more memorable scenes as the film is twelve minutes long and it should have had some unforgettable set pieces, but I liked that ending and the score is quite nice too. The highlight here for sure is the animation which is absolutely gorgeous to behold with charming character designs and simply stunning backgrounds which are both visually appealing and artistic. Plus they are also modern which is great. The film conveys the mysterious atmosphere so well thanks to its terrific technical aspects.

Fox and the Whale is an elegant, gorgeously animated tale fueled by a mysterious atmosphere and imagery.

My Rating – 4.1

Share

Porky and Teabiscuit (1939)

Porky and Teabiscuit ReviewPorky and Teabiscuit Review

Porky and Teabiscuit is a 1939 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a very weak cartoon.

Porky wants to become a racer and he gets himself a horse with a titular name. The film has some charming moments, a couple of amusing lines and a very solid ending, but the problem once again is the structure as nothing really happens here before the second half of the film so it renders the entire first half almost useless.

I liked some of the race, but still I wanted more quality, clever gags. This is more in line of a children’s Disney flick and a weaker one at that. So it doesn’t resemble a Looney Tunes entry all that much and it isn’t even funny in the type of humor that it tries to do. It is just such a disappointing film, but at least Porky is good and he got more screen time here which is refreshing.

Porky and Teabiscuit definitely has its moments, but is overall a weak Porky Pig entry with a forgettable story and bad pacing.

My Rating – 3.3

Share