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Showing posts from July, 2017

Game of Thrones Reviews: "The Queen's Justice"

As I’m sure many have noted, everyone’s moving around very quickly this season. Though Jon left Winterfell just an episode ago, he’s already made it halfway down the continent to Dragonstone. It makes sense of course, given how few episodes are left, and it would be awful to waste time on the road. But it does draw attention to the passage of time in this world, which has to work a little harder to stay consistent across the various storylines. However it’s a good thing, things move so quickly in Westeros as it led to one of the moments fans have been waiting for for a long time.
          Yes, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow meet for the first time in this episode and it’s both as expected and unexpected as predicted. To start, when Jon and Davos first get off the boat at Dragonstone it’s immediately striking how out of his element Jon is. This is the first time we’re seeing him outside of a winter climate and it’s a little jarring. He has a great reunion with Tyrion, callin…

Pixar Sundays: A Bug's Life (1998)

Oh boy, is there a complicated story behind this one. The movie that destroyed good working relationships, and incited a bitter feud between DreamWorks and Disney leaving people at both studios feeling betrayed. The short of it is Jeffrey Katzenberg developed an idea at his new studio DreamWorks for an insect film which the folks at Disney were already working on. Katzenberg claimed ownership of the pitch from years before when he worked at Disney, despite the Pixar movie being already in production. Steve Jobs and John Lasseter were furious, and it felt very much like a petty attempt by Katzenberg to undermine Disney CEO and his arch-nemesis, Michael Eisner. Whether you believe Katzenberg’s side of the story or Lasseter’s, it was a really messy affair for both studios, and forever cast a shadow over the films A Bug’s Life and Antz. It didn’t help that they came out within months of each other, and have ever since been doomed to be compared with one another.
          So as I…

Back to the Feature: A Man for All Seasons (1966)

So there’s a song by Robbie Williams called “Man for All Seasons” that was released with the movie Johnny English, and I could not get it out of my head when remembering the title of the 1966 film of the same name.
          That film, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1967, is about the life and career of Thomas More from 1529 to his execution in 1535. The court of King Henry VIII produced some of the most interesting figures in English history including More, Anne Boleyn, Cardinal Wolsey, and Thomas Cromwell; and a film about any one of them would and has proven to be fascinating.
          Thomas More (Paul Scofield) is a courtesan to Henry VIII (Robert Shaw), notable as being the only man on his Privy Council opposing his attempts to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The film follows his succession to Lord Chancellor, and his strict Catholicism, which defies Henry’s separation from the Pope, also effecting his family’s situation and relationships.
          Though I never …

Valerian and the Movie of a Thousand Problems

Luc Bisson is a fascinating director to say the least. One who’s dipped his toe into multiple genres and made a wide array of films from Nikita and Leon: The Professional to Lucy and the Arthur and the Invisibles series of animated movies. One of his most popular films is the 1997 cult classic sci-fi movie The Fifth Element, which though it has some bad writing and plotting, is a thoroughly original story with memorable characters. The same can’t be said for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, based on a classic series of sci-fi comics in France, and which no doubt hearkens back to Bisson’s twenty year old film in its layout and weirdness.
          Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are a couple agents of a galactic government police force who obtain a mysterious pearl connected to a believed-to-be extinguished race. Once they take it to Alpha, the titular city of a thousand planets, they learn it’s far more significant and there’s a lot going on t…

We Shall Defend Our Island, Whatever the Cost May Be

In late May and early June of 1940, the Germans had surrounded British forces in France, cornering them at the beach on Dunkirk just across the English Channel from Dover. In a massive evacuation by the British military and private vessels alike while defensive Spitfires tried to keep the enemy at bay, over 300,000 were rescued despite the loss of the beach for the Allies. 
          Christopher Nolan’s been wanting to tell this story since the 1990s, and it’s a very unconventional story for him. Not only is it his only war film, but it doesn’t have the heavy ideas and plots that are typical of his movies. However this works to Dunkirk’s advantage, resulting in a movie that feels like a classic war film, but still presented in an interesting way.
          Completely covering the Dunkirk evacuation, the film tells three stories simultaneously that take place over different ranges of time. The first follows British privates (Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, and Harry Styles) a…

Game of Thrones Reviews: "Stormborn"

These past couple seasons we’re beginning to see characters who’ve never crossed paths before running into each other. Again, this is expected with the world of the show shrinking seven seasons in. But it’s nonetheless a little surreal for long-time viewers to see Sam Tarly with Jorah for example or Dany meeting Melissandre. This episode takes steps to further that with Jon getting the summons to Dragonstone and Arya changing her course. These kind of developments of course promise a lot and that’s why we’re excited for them. But “Stormborn” in addition to this, reminds us that this show is unrelenting, and things aren’t just going to be smooth now that Daenerys has returned home. Sometimes lords disagree with their kings, sometimes slimy guys hit on teenagers, and sometimes a whole fleet can be lost to one asshole with crazy eyes.
          The episode begins appropriately on a dark and stormy night at Dragonstone where Dany is consulting with Tyrion and Varys. There’s a gre…

Pixar Sundays: Toy Story (1995)

In 1988, a short film called Tin Toy won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. It was produced by a little company called Pixar, formerly an effects studio before being bought out by Steve Jobs. The short was directed by a former Disney animator called John Lasseter and it was made completely by computer, something never before done for an animated film. The short got the attention of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg at Disney, but Lasseter refused to return out of new loyalty to Pixar. Katzenberg realizing the gold mine in this new form of animation, eventually negotiated with Jobs and Lasseter for a partnership between the two studios and the development of Tin Toy into a feature film. With Pixar scribes Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft, Lasseter formulated a story, and hired among others, Joss Whedon to work on the script. When the animation process began, there was a definite risk that such an ambitious project, the first feature-length CG animated film, woul…

The Quiet Excellence of The Big Sick

Hollywood likes big things: sleeps, countries, Jakes, chills, Lebowskis, daddies, mommas, fish, years, eyes, shorts, and troubles in little China. Now it’s sick. 
The Big Sick is a romantic comedy directed by Michael Showalter, and written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon based loosely on their real-life relationship. Sounds a tad self-indulgent. But this personal story is actually pretty incredible and really deserves to be told through such a passionate and relentlessly likeable film as this.
          Kumail Nanjiani plays himself as a stand-up comedian and Uber driver in Chicago who meets and develops a strong relationship with Emily (Zoe Kazan). However he keeps her secret from his parents, who are Muslim Pakistani immigrants and dead-set on arranging Kumail’s marriage. When she finds out about this she breaks off their relationship, only to enter emergency care shortly after, necessitating her being placed in a medically-induced coma. As Kumail cares for her, he me…

Game of Thrones Reviews: "Dragonstone"

Game of Thrones is nearing the finish line and everything about “Dragonstone” serves to set up that fact. There are only seven episodes this season, and six next season which will finish off the series. By that point it’s possible George R.R. Martin will have the penultimate book published. As with many season openers of this show, the episode moves the pieces around to set up the final positions. Bran is moving back towards Jon, Arya moving towards Cersei, and everyone overall just seems to be coming closer together. And with the episode ending on the long-awaited return of Danaerys to Westeros it’s a sign the action and geography’s going to be a lot tighter and more immediate, the fat of many minor subplots and characters are going to be trimmed, and the endgame, where somehow I’m sure dragons are going to be pitted against white walkers, is nigh. In doing this, the episode serves an important purpose, if not necessarily being all that exciting or surprising.
          Though you wou…

Jodie Whittaker: The New Face of Doctor Who

So once again we have a new Doctor officially cast, and for some reason I suspect this one’s going to be getting a lot more attention than the last few, and not just because we’re going into lucky Doctor Thirteen. But admit it, it was fairly likely with all the fan demand, longevity of the show, and nature of the character that the next Doctor was going to be a cast member from Broadchurch. Hell, with David Bradley officially playing the First Doctor in this year’s Christmas special, Broadchurch has had two Doctors in its cast already (three if you count Lenny Henry’s sketch), a companion, a few alien villains, and even Gwen Cooper from Torchwood. Chris Chibnall likes this universe’s talent, and he’s just added a new name to it.
          Enter Jodie Whittaker, easily one of the best cast members from Broadchurch, certainly the one with the most demanding role at its outset. Beth Latimer is going to be a Time Lord and I think that’s cool. She wasn’t who I was expecting, though …