Friday, February 26, 2010

Disney Magic

There is something so rejuvenating about Disney films.

I recently saw The Princess and the Frog, the first traditional Disney movie in years, and it was a breath of fresh air. It made me nostalgic for all the marvellous movies of my youth – the rich colours, the wholesome humour, the witty lyrics of sprightly songs, the cleansing sorrow and the human lesson, always delivered so gently to remind one of life's goodness.

Have you ever seen a cat as beautiful as Duchess in The Aristocats? Or a fox as dashing as Tod in The Fox and The Hound?

I remember the genie that came out of my mother's tea kettle after I watched Aladdin. I remember dancing and singing along to the glorious music of Hercules' Muses. I remember how my brother and I, being so young, used to rewind and play over and over the part in The Lion King where King Mufasa dies, because we had never experienced such raw emotion from a film before and it seemed we simply had to milk out the tears.

Embrace Disney for its warmth, simplicity and honesty.

My Disney favourites:

  • Favourite film: Mulan – it's incredibly funny, set in beautiful ancient China and I've always had a thing for Asian girls (which is not as dodgy as it sounds)
  • Favourite soundtrack: Hercules – who could resist those gospel-like tunes
  • Favourite line: "Eet ees not slime. Eet ees mucus," Prince Naveen in The Princess and The Frog
  • Scariest villain: Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmations (what a disgusting, terrifying woman with a man-voice)

What are your favourites?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Princess and The Frog Review

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker Screenplay: Rob Edwards, Ron Clements, John Musker, Greg Erb, Jason Oremland and Don Hall Cast: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis Time: 97min Age Restriction: 10M

Summary Review:
The Princess and The Frog is a delightful, jaunty film adaptation of a classic fairytale, infused with jaunty New Orleans culture and a spicy twist.

Watching The Princess and The Frog was honestly one of my most enjoyable recent film experiences. It is about Tiana, a waitress from New Orleans, who works incredibly hard to fulfil her (late) daddy's dream of opening their own restaurant.

After many disappointments and to her great reluctance, she agrees to kiss a frog who just happens to be a cursed prince, who promises to help her establish her restaurant once he is human again. Unfortunately, things don't work out as planned and Tiana and Prince Naveen are running out of time and opportunity to make their dreams come true.

The Princess and The Frog is a classic Disney film, the likes of which we haven't seen in ages, complete with dazzling Disney imagery, a deliciously deviant villain (Dr Facilier, the voodoo witchdoctor), a great soundtrack of New Orleans jazz and a boatload of belly laughs. Not to mention the valuable lesson of discovering what is truly important in life and learning to distinguish between what one wants and what one needs.

Guest Comment:
Sheri-Lee says, "I LOVED The Princess and The Frog!!!! Was awesome!!!! Loved the way they realistically portrayed each character and kept the old school look and feel to it – classic!"

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Lovely Bones Review

Director: Peter Jackson Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, based on the novel by Alice Sebold Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci Time: 135min Age Restriction: 13V


Summary Review:
The Lovely Bones is a chilling film of violence and loss, which examines the hold the dead have on those left behind, and is filled with magical imagery and surreal symbolism.


Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is a radiant fourteen-year-old schoolgirl from a happy family. She is just blossoming into womanhood when she is murdered. Her father (Mark Wahlberg) is determined to find her killer, while her mother (Rachel Weisz) does her best to block out her loss and find an escape.

While her family are haunted by her absence, Susie is caught in a surreal world somewhere between heaven and earth, unable to move on to the afterlife.

In The Lovely Bones Peter Jackson creates a sharp contrast between the stark eeriness of the life Susie's family is left to live and the fantastic spectacle of the in-between world Susie is caught in.

The Lovely Bones portrays a father's eternal, unchanging love for his child and the child's need to know that she has made an impact on those she loves. Throughout the film, one is left wondering whether Susie is prevented from moving on by her family's struggle with her death or whether it is Susie's unrelinquishing hold on life that hinders the family's difficulty to heal.

Superb graphics, terrifying scenes and raw acting build a haunting and memorable film, but can't fill in the gaps left by The Lovely Bones' translation from page to screen.

Guest Comment:
Ruschka says, "The Lovely Bones was intense. It's one of those movies that make you want to read the book, because you can just tell that they tried to cram so much detail into a limited running time."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox Review

Director: Wes Anderson Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, based on the novel by Roald Dahl Cast: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray Time: 87min Age Restriction: A


Summary Review:
Fantastic Mr. Fox is the result of a failed vision comprising amateurish puppet animation and a deadpan sense of humour that just doesn't work for this film.

When Mrs Fox tells Fantastic Mr. Fox that she is pregnant he promises to stop putting his life in danger by stealing for a living. But after 12 years they move into the neighbourhood of Boggis, Bunce and Bean, a chicken, duck and apple farmer respectively, and Mr. Fox just can't help himself.
Based on the sly children's story written by Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson's adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox has turned a romping, eccentric tale into a pseudo-sophisticated animation. The wry humour is more suited to Napoleon Dynamite than to this adventure story, while the soundtrack of Beach Boys and Rolling Stones music kills any suspense there might have been.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wolfman Review

Director: Joe Johnston Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self, Curt Siodmak Cast: Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving Time: 102min Age Restriction: 16V


Summary Review:
The Wolfman is a gasping, hair-raising hauntingly atmospheric visual feast that recalls the gruesome tradition of the 1930's horror films.

Lawrence Talbot (a burly Benicio del Toro) is the black sheep of his family, who returns home after receiving a letter from Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), his brother's fiancée, telling him his brother, Ben, has gone missing.

Upon returning to his family's mansion, Lawrence discovers that Ben's body has been found – apparently mauled by some horrific creature. Despite the strained relationship with his father, Sir John (played by Anthony Hopkins in an emotionless monotone), Lawrence promises Gwen that he will not leave until he finds out what happened to his brother.

Set in 1891, The Wolfman is rich with Victorian imagery and overlaid with a Gothic colour pallet of black, greys and red. The actors are let down by the awkward, lumpy script, but this does add to the tense mood of the film and horrors have never really been about the acting now have they?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Up In The Air Review

Director: Jason Reitman Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, adapted from a novel by Walter Kirn Cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Bateman Time: 111min Age Restriction: 13L

Summary Review:
Up In The Air reveals the importance of relationships and the different expressions of people's need for human contact.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) fires people for a living. The agency he works for hires him out to companies who can't face letting people go themselves. He therefore spends something like 324 days of the year Up In The Air travelling and an airport is his idea of home.

He loves this lifestyle, but when a young woman joins the agency with ideas to revolutionise the industry, he faces spending the rest of his life working from the same office every day.

At first you will be seduced by the apparent "freedom" of Ryan's glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle, but Up In The Air nimbly exposes the true emptiness of his life when he's forced out of the hollow hustle and bustle of commuting strangers.

This man is an island with streams of people flowing past him continuously, but his isolation is only revealed to him through encounters with two women, one of whom seems to be his female parallel, the other who is the polar opposite.

Be prepared for witty one-liners, sailor's swearing, provoked thought and a twist that will make you catch your breath.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Skin Review

Director: Anthony Fabian Screenplay: Helen Crawley, Anthony Fabian, Jessie Keyt, Helena Kriel Cast: Sophie Okonedo, Alice Krige, Sam Neill, Tony Kgoroge Time: 107min Age Restriction: 13VPM


Summary Review:
Skin is an uplifting film about finding one's identity amongst the clutter of who everyone says you are or should be or can't be.

Skin is another film that I enjoyed to my surprise. I had been expecting something solemn and plodding, but although the movie deals compassionately with very serious issues and has an air of tension, its warm, humorous moments lift it.

Based on the true story of Sandra Laing, Skin tells the life story of this black-looking woman born to white parents in South Africa during the apartheid era. Although both Sandra's are white Afrikaners, Sandra's skin and hair appear more ethnically African and according to the law she must be re-classified as black, forbidden to go to a "whites only" school.

As Sandra grows older, the colour of her skin causes more and more tension in her family and when she falls in love with a black man, her father disowns her.

Somehow, despite all the pain and injustice it depicts, Skin remains a positive film with an uplifting conclusion and the well-delivered message that one is not defined by what others think of you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bright Star Review

Director: Jane Campion Screenplay: Jane Campion Cast: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider, Kerry Fox Time: 119min 


Summary Review:
Bright Star is a love story infused with natural beauty that feels like it could have been shorter.


You will not enjoy Bright Star unless you have a heart sympathetic to beauty, poetry and soppy, lovesick youth. If you yourself are happily in love, you will probably end up loving this film – even more so if you see it with your loved one alongside you.

Bright Star tells of the great love between the poet John Keats and the young Fanny Brawne. Although he saw little success during his lifetime, Keats is now recognised as one of the greatest and most influential of the Romantic poets. His life was cut tragically short by illness at the age of 24, before he and Miss Brawne could marry.

Abbie Cornish, who plays Fanny, is an organically beautiful woman and a skilled actress, while Ben Whishaw portrays Keats as the archetypal emo poet, with his pantaloons serving as the 19th Century answer to skinny jeans.

Bright Star's cinematography is fantastic, showcasing the best of the English countryside in every season. Keats's poetry runs like a silver thread through the entire film, connecting the passionate performances that leave you feeling slightly nauseous at such excess of emotion.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Education Review

Director: Lone Scherfig Screenplay: Lynn Barber, Nick Hornby Cast: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike Time: 100min Age Restriction: 13M


Summary Review
A disarming film about losing one's innocence and, along with it, your naivety. 

I must admit, I sat down to watch An Education with slight trepidation. After seeing the trailer, I thought Carey Mulligan (who plays Jenny Mellor, the lead character) might begin to annoy me, but in fact, the film was a pleasant surprise.

An Education is an edgy and witty coming-of-age story set in 1961. The screenplay was written by the ironic Nick Hornby, who adapted it from a memoir by Lynn Barber. Jenny is a 16-year-old schoolgirl living a life designed to get her into Oxford University. That all changes when she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), an older man who shows her a different side to life, along with his two friends, Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Helen (Rosamund Pike).

An Education challenges one to question doing life the way its always been done and to live purposefully, with eyes wide open.