As long as there is political unrest in the world, film will always have something to say about it. Last year, something happened that shook up the entire nation; the death of George Floyd. Most people saw it as a motivation to start an uprising that could have quickly gone out of hand, while there were others on the opposite side who thought that there were much worse things to worry about. Judas and the Black Messiah is a film that came at a time when such things were a matter of discussion. It has as big of a voice as the political leaders and the people have; it is political as political can be.
Once in a while, a film comes along that you only watch once that becomes nothing but a distant memory later. Said film could have a dramatic actor in a contrived plot, dealing with messy situations only for it as a whole to not go anywhere. It is a film so disposable that you are most likely to find it at your local dollar store, or $5 bargain bin at Wal-Mart. I am of course talking about The Little Things.
The Little Things is the newest film in the Warner Bros. lot to be released both in theaters and on HBO Max, though I don’t even think it is worth even going out of your home to see (and not just because of the pandemic either). Instead, it is a film that does not do much with its story or genre, nor does it really have anything interesting to add either. It is just an excuse to give the likes of Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto more work, though I doubt that anyone, except their fans, may even bother in checking it out. The promotional material even has the gall to play the “Academy Award Winner” card and pretend it is something special, when all it is is your typical detective crime-thriller comparable to the much-more interesting Se7en.
John Lee Hancock writes and directs this seedy tale of a serial killer committing heinous crimes against young women in such a graphic display, as we see dead bodies getting investigated, while two detectives; one, an experienced rugged cop who knows the ins-and-outs of every crime scene (Washington), and the other, a rookie with love for his family and faith in God (Malek), try to search for him. It is clear that we have seen this type of movie many times before that it is pretty easy to just write off and forget about it later. I don’t even need to explain the story, you are getting what you see in a span of two hours.
The Little Things is a film that feels like it wants to be the next David Fincher film, though it is lower in the ranks of the previously mentioned Se7en , or Zodiac. In fact, it is probably disposable.
The latest in Disney’s slate of live-action remakes, Mulan, is now available to watch, free, on Disney+, after months of waiting for a release. Niki Caro’s feature was supposed to be premiere in March of this year, but as we all know, circumstances beyond our control got in the way, which is a shame, because this remake seemed destined for the big screen, especially with all the effort and money put into it. Yet, there is not much we can do but accept the gift that has been bestowed upon us by the “House of Mouse”
Borat has returned to America in order to tackle politics, biased viewpoints, and *Shocker* the Coronavirus in the long awaited (but never expected) sequel to Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan , proudly titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (There is an even longer title, but I feel it would take up much of my writing time to even fit here). During the past fourteen years, a lot has changed. People are constantly keeping their noses in their phones, technology has expanded, and the world has gone crazier than it has ever been; especially with President Donald Trump running the show. Luckily, Borat is there to save the day and challenge the views of what may be the last of the unsuspecting American people, which almost makes you wonder if it is nothing more than a staged event.
Sacha Baron Cohen once said that he uses his brand of shock comedy to expose the prejudices of the American people and he does so with colorful characters; many we know to be offensive, yet cannot help but laugh with. Cohen strikes with ironic hypocrisy to get those who see him as nothing more than a simple foreign immigrant learning about the customs and traditions of the USA. In a way, Cohen is brilliant and his methods are respectable, though I cannot say that those who find themselves easily offended will appreciate the subtle commentary lying within a bigoted Kazakhstan news reporter with a skewed view on the world.
Where has Borat been for the past fourteen years? Well, let’s just say that he has suffered quite the punishment since his first movie made quite a splash back in 2006, bringing shame to his country of Kazakhstan (mirroring the real-life controversy surrounding the foreign country and its problems with how the movie depicted it). Everyone in town treats him as a pariah and he has been doing heavy labor in the Gulag. One day, he gets tasked by the Prime Minister Nursultan Nazarbayev (Dani Popescu) to return to America to deliver a monkey to Vice President Mike Pence in order to redeem himself (Trust me, it is as ridiculous as it sounds).
Gladly, Borat accepts and travels once again to America to complete his mission. Yet, he is not alone, as his fifteen-year-old daughter Tutar Sagdiyev (Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova) has unwittingly hitched a ride in order to spend time with her estranged father. What follows is a series of events where Cohen and Bakalova prank unsuspecting citizens, including the likes of Pence and Rudy Giuliani, in character while also learning about the value of family.
While Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is as shocking and unapologetic as you expect, the sequel surprisingly has heart to go along with its many raunchy setups and punchlines. It is a story about a father and daughter trying to understand each other. Cohen and Bakalova make quite the team and work quite well together as they bicker in each other’s respective languages disguised as casual Kazakh while also shocking everyone, with an ending that is equally parts shocking, brilliantly hilarious, and touching.
I cannot guarantee that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a laugh riot all the way through depending on how well you can tolerate its most shocking jokes, but for me, it was a pleasant ride I enjoyed taking. It is a movie fit for the crazy times we are living in, especially since it is a movie I never thought would be made in such a politically-correct world.
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.
A Pleasant Enough Film
For the eighth season of #AniTwitWatches, I decided to host a movie night and the winner of the public vote to decide what to watch happened to be The Princess and the Pilot. Didn’t know much about this film going in, so wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. As you might imagine, the 2011 feature follows a princess as she is transported by a lone pilot in hostile territory during a time of war. It’s a quiet film peppered with moments of action. While not bad, it’s a bit plain.
Really, that’s the long short of things here. The Princess and the Pilot isn’t a film I regret watching, nor is it something I’d recommend you give a pass to, but I find it hard to just outright recommend. It does just enough to be spared feeling totally average, while simultaneously being so obviously constructed that it doesn’t bring much of its own flavor to the table.
The one exception to this is the dogfight sequences, or really any time the plane is utilized in the film. These kind of anime are more rare, so it’s nice to see them. However, the action sequences, though brief as they are, do deliver. The tension is there and the right amount of emphasis is placed on each moment.
As a result, the slower, more intimate parts of the film where our pilot and princess talk to each other feels appropriate. The two characters don’t really part from the “two different worlds” story, which is further contrived with the shared history between the pair, but their interactions are earned with growth felt between both of them. Still, I can’t help but feel there was more opportunity here that went ignored.
There isn’t much else to say about this one. I know I haven’t exactly painted The Princess and the Pilot as the most exciting film, but if you have a free afternoon and are looking for something fairly straightforward to watch, this’ll fit the bill just fine. Likely, you’ll enjoy yourself but find that the film is underwhelming despite the premise. Final verdict, worth the one-time watch on a rainy day.
That’ll do it for this review of The Princess and the Pilot. What did you think of the film? Share your thoughts in the comments below and consider joining me on Twitter @JS_Reviews for the next watch. If you enjoy my writing please check out my Patreon or make a one-time donation via Ko-fi utilizing the buttons below. Until next time, thanks for stopping by!
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.