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Showing posts from September, 2017

Back to the Feature: Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Adapting a story from stage to screen is different from adapting a book. Firstly, there are rules on stage that don’t apply to film, largely in the actors’ relation to the stage which effects how sets are designed. In a movie you can shoot from any angle yet the audience is only privy to a limited perspective in theatre. Many plays cater to this with limited environments and performance coming through more in dialogue than anything else. So the trick with adapting something like this to a much more visual medium is to keep the story faithful and interesting, while making appropriate changes that suit the new form and using the advantages film offers. Hollywood musicals often do this well, but with more character-based plays it doesn’t always work. 12 Angry Men is a great film, but it’s not visually interesting at all, relying entirely on its already compelling dialogue. This was also, I felt, the biggest problem with last years’ Fences -there was nothing cinematic to it. Glengarry Glen…

Kingsman Crosses the Pond

This is the second movie I’ve seen this year with Channing Tatum where someone sings “Country Roads.” What an odd coincidence. Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was a great movie that came out of nowhere; a really fresh and unique take on the spy genre, it was a great marriage of classy and corny, and it introduced the world to one of the most promising up-and-coming stars, Taron Egerton. That film was one of my favourites of 2015. Does Kingsman: The Golden Circle stand a chance of being one for 2017? Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now under the codename “Galahad”, has been a Kingsman for a year when their base and all their agents are destroyed in a missile strike. The last of their organization, he and Merlin (Mark Strong) following a doomsday protocol, locate their American counterparts, the Statesmen in Kentucky. There they discover Eggsy’s old mentor Harry (Colin Firth) now suffering amnesia, and while worrying about him, must also deal with the international threat of a powerf…

One Saturday Morning Retrospective Month Finale: Teamo Supremo and Fillmore!

Teamo Supremo
          Through it’s illustrious career of television animation, Disney would occasionally just throw something weird at us to see if it would work. Gummi Bears was such a show, literally inspired by junk food, but so was Marsupilami, Brandi and Mr.Whiskers, and Pickle and Peanut. Teamo Supremo was One Saturday Morning’s attempt, and like most of these other shows, has rightfully fallen into the annals of obscurity.
          It’s about a trio of child superheroes which already sounds familiar to a show airing around the same time on Cartoon Network. Their leader, Captain Crandall, just summons two random kids, a Southern skip-roper and a Hispanic skateboarder, to join his team and they become Rope Girl and Skate Lad respectively, because the show likes to avoid originality wherever possible. Every episode is a formulaic beat-the-evil-villain story, usually without even the trope of a lesson to be learned. Teamo Supremo, as they christen themselves, as the local crime-…

Mother! is Pure Aronofsky

There’s a distinct line in storytelling between ambiguity and senselessness. The use of ambiguous or undefined elements in a story can be very evocative, and effect the way we view the work as a whole -if they are within an identifiable context. We don’t need to know where the monoliths came from, or the exact nature of Dave Bowman’s transformation into the star child, but we do need to know that Dave is an astronaut and that monoliths effect evolution. You don’t need to explain everything, but you have to explain something.
          Unless you’re Darren Aronofsky, and vagueness is your wheelhouse. This is where Mother!, comes in, a film which from a literal point of view is perfectly incomprehensible. And while it’s impeccably directed, utilizing fresh techniques, and is heavily metaphorical, the execution is both confusing and blunt at the same time.
          An unnamed young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in a beautiful secluded house with her husband (Javier Bardem), a …

Pixar Sundays: Up (2009)

In the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was the only animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture …until 2010. Pixar received their first of two Best Picture nominations the year the nominees were increased from five to ten, and this adulation was given to Up.
          Like WALL-E, Up broke from the mould, by centring its story on a senior citizen, the only thing more likely than a silent film to turn kids off. It’s premise was also very vague in the promotions. Pixar was clearly confident enough that the movie would do well purely by having their name attached. And while this kind of arrogance can lead to some bad artistic decisions as we’ll see later, it also can lead to some creative and spellbinding results.
          The movie is about Carl Fredricksen, an old widower who wants to finally realize the dream he and his late wife shared to move their home to Paradise Falls, somewhere in the rainforests of South Am…

One Saturday Morning Retrospective Month: Lloyd in Space and The Legend of Tarzan

Lloyd in Space
          This was created by the same team who made Recess, and admittedly it does show. This series also takes everyday menial kid problems and heightens them through presentation. But where Recess did that using an in-universe world order and social commentary, as well as a distinct tone, Lloyd in Space just does that through “future stuff”. It relies a lot on the gimmick that it’s set on a space station in the distant future but focuses on the everyday life of an alien kid. And that’s pretty much exactly the show’s problem. Given such a universe, this mundane direction isn’t exciting. Though there are minor twists, most of the lessons and shenanigans are just the same as you could get from any other average kid-based show, only this time they’re in space. With Lloyd’s mother as commander of the station too, this show is very much Deep Space Nine if it was told from the perspective of a whinier Jake Sisko.
          Lloyd is a really dull thirteen year old in a Where…

A Girl and Her Super Pig

Bong Joon-Ho is not a director well-known in North America, but he’s certainly making a mark on the stage of world cinema. He’s directed great films like The Host and the amazing Snowpiercer, the latter of which incorporated an international cast of Korean, American, and British actors. His latest film on Netflix, Okja does as well, a similarly strange movie that’s unlike anything else of its kind.
          On a farm in the mountains of South Korea, a girl Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) lives a pleasant life with her grandfather (Byun Hee-bong) and her beloved pet Okja, one of many genetically engineered “super pigs” bred by the Mirando Corporation as a solvent to food shortage. When Okja is declared the best super pig, Mija is happy until she learns Okja is being taken to America where she’ll be slaughtered. So she goes on an ambitious journey to save her, crossing paths with the Animal Liberation Front, who are determined not only to rescue Okja but to take down the Mirando Corporati…

One Saturday Morning Retrospective Month: Teachers' Pet and House of Mouse

Teachers’ Pet
          “That looks like Cranium” was my first thought upon seeing the previews for Teacher’s Pet. Sure enough, it was created by Gary Baseman, who designed Cranium, as well as Cheri and Bill Steinkellner from Cheers oddly enough. Despite the talent involved, this show is not an eighth as good as either of those other properties.
          It’s about a dog called Spot (voiced by Nathan Lane) who wants desperately to go to school for no real reason explained other than adventure, which -yeah, it’s a bit of a long-shot you’ll find that in school. Donning glasses, an outfit, and the name “Scott” he enrols in the same fourth grade class as his owner Leonard, which also happens to be taught by Leonards’ mother, Mrs. Helperman. While Leonard finds out quickly enough who his classmate is, they hide it from his mother and everyone else. With nobody having the smarts or depth perception enough to see he’s just a dog in human clothes, he gets up to wacky antics as a pet passing …

Pixar Sundays: WALL-E (2008)

Not since Toy Story, had Pixar made a movie as experimental or ambitious as WALL-E, a film featuring very few characters, and mostly non-speaking at that. The latter is particularly significant, as many American animators in the past expressed great interest in making a purely visual film (of course outside America, many of these were being made). Don Bluth’s original idea for The Land Before Time especially comes to mind, which was going to have more in common with ‘Rite of Spring” from Fantasia than Bambi. So WALL-E is in some ways quite revolutionary for a mainstream animated film. 
          …And this is the first I’ve seen it. Yeah, even after I stopped going to Pixar movies, I still eventually wound up seeing most of them one way or another. The Cars movies I avoided of course, but Wall-E was the one I never got around to seeing that everyone insisted I had to. Now I completely get why. I’d say it’s one of Pixar’s greats, but they’ve got so many at this point, it’s a st…

One Saturday Morning Retrospective Month: The Weekenders and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

The Weekenders
          Does anyone else remember this show? Because I do, and it was actually pretty good. In fact I’d go so far to say The Weekenders was the most underrated show in the entire One Saturday Morning line-up. I think it may have been glossed over because while its contemporary shows were very energetic, The Weekenders was incredibly mellow. It’s animation style was also not always the most pleasing to look at. But in lieu of that, the show was surprisingly funny and clever.
          It was about four twelve year old kids hanging out and getting into morality tales on the weekends in a beachfront California town called Bahia Bay. Much like Recess represented its own eponymous period as a freedom during school, this show portrayed weekends to much the same effect, but restricting each episode to the time frame of a weekend, beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday. Thus it’s the rare thing in a kids sitcom in that we never see the characters in school. The characters a…