Anyone who remembers watching Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book The Witches at a young age could tell you how truly horrifying of an experience that is. I was never one of those kids that grew up with it, but it exceeded in gruesome practical effects and an eerie nature that could give any child nightmares. What Robert Zemeckis does with his version, however, is far from horrifying. Instead, it relies heavily on the CG that he is so used to using. I am not saying that his version is not prone to terrifying the youngest of kids, but that it is hard to beat a hideous looking witch when you have Anne Hathaway’s cartoonish wide sharp-toothed smile rendered in the silliest of effects.
The story is the same: A young boy whose parents have suffered a demise goes to live with his loving grandmother who is aware that witches exist in the world with only one purpose: To rid the world of children by turning them into the most helpless of animals, mostly mice, then crushing them. What follows is nearly a recreation of the 90’s film with only a few changes (including one that Dahl’s readers might find taken from the source). At most, The Witches is lighthearted fare, from its choice of music to the grating narration of Chris Rock recalling the time he, as a young boy (Played by Jahzir Bruno), and his grandma (Octavia Spencer) encountered their share of witches, led by the Grand High Witch (an over-the-top Hathaway relishing in the glamour of it all).
As the story goes, the witches have come to the hotel the boy and his grandmother are staying at under the guise of the RSPCC, in order to enact their evil plot. While playing with his pet mouse, the boy hears of the plan, only for the witches to discover him by sniffing him out with the Grand High Witch turning him into a mouse. Yet, he and his mouse Daisy (Voice of Kristin Chenoweth) escape with the help of a boy named Bruno (Codie-Lei Eastick), who has suffered the same fate.
There is no doubt that Zemeckis’ take on The Witches is inferior to Roeg’s film, yet what keeps me from writing it off as an abashedly awful remake is the charm it brings once the talking mice come into play and the family dynamic, which I found the least bit heartwarming. However, this is just me being generous. Kids will love watching it with their parents, yet I cannot seem to recommend it for anyone who really loved the original film. As someone who found the original average, what Zemeckis has accomplished is the ability to make me appreciate Roeg’s efforts a bit more.
If there is one thing that makes Charlie Kaufman such an interesting writer, it is his exploration of the human psyche and what makes the mind tick. Whether it be the fulfillment of desire/longing to live another life (Being John Malkovich), what we decide to do with our memories both good and bad (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the dedication of achieving an ambition (Synechdoche, New York, Kaufman’s directorial feature), or finding meaning in a life filled with monotony (Anomalisa, which Kaufman also directed). The films which Kaufman has written for may be quirky, existentialist fantasies, yet somehow, they feel as real as can be. The characters Kaufman creates are just ordinary people, though it takes a certain fantastical situation to help dig in to the recesses of their minds as to make them relatable, whether they achieve their goals or not.
The same could be said for Kaufman’s newest feature I’m Thinking of Ending Things, based on Iain Reid’s debut novel, which hit Netflix on September 4th. Like Kaufman’s earlier works, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is yet another mind-bender about the human psyche that deals with existentialism, identity, and how we perceive relationships told through the inner monologues of a young woman (Jessie Buckley) as she goes off to meet her boyfriend Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) during a snowstorm. As expected from a Charlie Kaufman film, things take a turn for the psychologically bizarre.
How else can I describe I’m Thinking of Ending Things without spoiling anything? It is a film that requires you to accept the eerie bizarre reality of its protagonist’s mental state, where one event twists into a completely different outcome in the strangest of ways, until we find ourselves pulled into its deteriorating state of psychosis. I cannot guarantee that I’m Thinking of Ending Things will go down easy with the average viewer, especially with scenes that feel as if they could halt the movie in its tracks, but it will give fans of Charlie Kaufman the satisfaction of questioning everything they have seen.
When it comes to political and social issues, no one is less afraid to speak his mind than Spike Lee. As controversial as his viewpoints may be for some, it is clear that the messages he is trying to send resonate with most people, making him one of the most influential living directors. ‘Da 5 Bloods’ is his newest effort in making a statement about race in the form of four elderly war veterans who return to the jungles of Vietnam to work on some unfinished business left behind by one of their own as their journey threatens to tear them apart.
I have never seen a book-to-film adaptation so flimsy, chaotic, and silly in its execution such as Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Artemis Fowl’. Keep in mind! This is coming from someone who has never read the books by Eoin Colfer, let alone even aware of its mythology. All I knew about it was that it was centered on a child thief named Artemis Fowl and the secrets he has to unlock. I am sure that it was one of the books I have wanted to read in my childhood, but never had a chance to. A feature film was inevitable and was in development since 2001, but never saw the light of day until its first teaser hit in 2018. Though, it had been pushed back from August 2019 to August of this year, only to be released just yesterday on Disney+ due to the Coronavirus.
Like ‘The Addams Family’, ‘The Willoughbys’ is quirky both in style and sense of humor; taken straight from other dysfunctional families that have come before them, blended into a colorful, candy-coated, yarn-filled family-comedy-adventure that may be a bit predictable, but fun once you buy into its characters. Tim (Voice of Will Forte) is neurotic and wants the best for his family. His sister, Jane (Voice of singer Alessia Cara) is always singing the same melody and always asking the what-ifs of their situations, while both the Barnabys (Voice of Seán Cullen) are monotonously similar that it is hard to tell them apart, prompting their nanny (Voice of Maya Rudolph) to label one A and the other B. Though, what makes them all similar are their red-heads which come from a generation of Willoughbys before them.
With quarantine still in effect, it has been hard to write movie reviews lately, especially since movie theaters have been shut down and there have not been many movies to talk about. Yet, one movie that has come to mind as of late is the 1999 science-fiction spoof ‘Galaxy Quest’, which I vaguely remember from my childhood other than seeing ads for it, and watching it with my family in a motel when I was but a child. Recently, I decided to give it a much-needed re-watch for the experience, being that my mother-in-law had the film in her collection. I have to say that ‘Galaxy Quest’ holds up as a comedy as well as a love letter to the science-fiction genre, conventions, and more importantly ‘Star Trek’ (which it spoofs for the most part).
Villains are supposed to be the most despicable, conniving characters on the screen. So why do we enjoy them? You could say they have a charm to them, or they can be just darn entertaining. However, I believe a villain song could be a major factor in why we love them so much. The villain song can explain their intentions, provide depth as to why they are who they are, and are just plain badass all around. These are the songs that I have found the most entertaining and what make it hard to hate them!
With the Coronavirus epidemic hitting the United States as of late, and movie theaters closing up shop as a result. Films that have been released in the past few weeks have made the move from big screens to smaller, digital formats. Pixar’s newest feature, ‘Onward’ is one of those films. However, it is streaming on Disney+ as of Friday, April 3rd, which means if you have a subscription, you do not have to purchase it on your phone. Families can sit around the TV and watch the tale of two elf brothers as they go on a quest to bring back their father for a day.
After watching ‘Horse Girl’, there is no doubt that you will be filled with so many questions. What happened? What did it all mean? What did I get out of it? Then, you end up going on Youtube to find some analysis’s to see if anything made sense. It is clear that this is one of those independent features that makes you think in frustration, all while admiring its technique and an unhinged performance by Alison Brie.
After six seasons, ‘BoJack Horseman’ has finally come to an end, which is sad, being that there may be no new seasons to look forward to in the following years. If you knew me, ‘BoJack Horseman’ is my favorite show; not only is it filled to the brim with hilarious sight gags involving animals, but it is also surprisingly dark, depressing, and closer to reality than any animated sitcom could possibly dare tread. If you have never seen ‘BoJack Horseman’, the show concerns a former TV sitcom star known as BoJack Horseman (Voice of Will Arnett), a horse trying to find his purpose over twenty years later, only to spiral into self-destructive behavior. His friends include his feline agent/ex-girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (Voice of Amy Sedaris), who is always eager to find celebrities perfect roles, human Diane Nguyen (Voice of Alison Brie), who he hires to be a ghostwriter for his autobiography, his human roommate, Todd Chavez (Voice of Aaron Paul), who comes up with crazy ideas, and his TV rival, Mr. Peanutbutter (Voice of Paul F. Tompkins), a happy-go-lucky golden retriever who is always willing to help. At first glance, ‘BoJack Horseman’ may not sound like anything too special, but these episodes are what showcase its best form, and I am going to count ten of my favorites. Warning – This list may contain spoilers for the entire series as some episodes may contain plot points, so you have been warned