When a brand is successful, the easiest thing to do is to create factory line like replicas of the product that created that accomplishment. The harder thing to do is try something new.
In 1940, Disney temporarily broke away from what decades later would be their princess narratives and released a film that was and still is completely novel. Fantasia is a series of short films set to the music of classical composers.
What I like about this film is that it is different. The risk paid off. Though each individual narrative is able to stand on its own, it is the music that ties them all together in a seamless and entertaining fashion.
Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
#AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.
We all know that at some point, we will exit this life. The question is, will we live to the fullest while we can?
The new Disney Plus movie, Soul, premiered yesterday. Joe Gardiner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) is a junior high school band teacher with a passion for playing music. At this point in his adult life, his dream of being a professional jazz musician has yet to be achieved. Then he gets an opportunity to play at a local jazz club.
But before he can play, he falls into a manhole. Discovering that he is in the Great Beyond, Joe tries everything he can to get back to his body. His ticket back to Earth is 22, (Tina Fey) an infant soul who is disinterested in being born. Together, they will learn about what true passion is and how to live life to the fullest.
What I like about this movie is while it is obviously a kids movie, there are themes that are well over the heads of younger audience members. The message of appreciating being alive and knowing what is truly important radiates through the narratives, reaching the viewer as only a touching and funny film can.
Among the myths that exist in Chinese history, the story of Hua Mulan is one of the most well known. In 1998, Disney released an animated film based on her narrative. In September, the live action adaptation premiered on Disney Plus.
Mulan (Yifei Liu) is not your average young woman. Girls in her world are expected to be meek, mild, and subservient. The highlight of her life is her future as a wife and mother. But Mulan is the opposite. She is a tomboy who would prefer to be active rather than submit to the path that is prescribed for her.
When the kingdom is invaded, a decree is sent out. Every family must send one man to fight. But Mulan has no brothers and her father is partially crippled from the last invasion. Disguising herself as a boy, she joins the army, knowing full well that the revelation of her gender is a dangerous one.
Among the live-action updates of Disney’s animated films (Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast), this is the best of the three that have so far been seen by audiences. It is darker and grittier than its predecessor, enhancing what was already there. I also loved the addition of Xianniang (Li Gong). Though she is initially introduced as the typical Disney villain, there is more to her than meets the eye.
One of the updates that I think makes the movie is the question of how gender is perceived. Though the subject was threaded into the screenplay in the 1998 movie, it is much more prevalent in this version.
If there was one takeaway from this film, it is to thine own self be true, even if the revelation is a difficult one to process. Given the changes in our culture in regards to gender, sex, and sexuality, the message comes through loud and clear.
In only a short few days, Americans will know who will be leading the country for the next four years. While millions have already made the choice known, others will be going to the polls on Election Day.
Randy Rainbow released his newest video on Friday.Entitled HOW WILL YOU VOTE? – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody, the song is based “That’s How You Know” from the 2007 movie Enchanted.
I loved this video. Over the last week or so, the reminders to vote have come at us in all directions. Though we are told every year that that year’s election is the important, this year’s election is critical. If we do not vote you know who out, the United States as it exists today may not be there tomorrow.
As we get closer to November 3rd, Americans will have to make a choice as to who we want leading us for the next four years. Though it may seem like a simple choice, it is a choice that will help to determine the future of the nation.
You know who is becoming desperate. Some of the who blindly follow him are starting to open their eyes to the truth. He is unfit for office in every way possible. In a certain sense, he is not as dumb as he appears to be. But then again, a smart leader knows when to listen to others (especially when they disagree with that leader) and when to listen to their own judgement. He refuses to listen to anyone else (with the exception of those who kiss up to him) and claims to know everything he needs to know about being President.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am so ready to refer to Joe Biden as President Biden.
If there is one word to define 2020 so far, it is social distancing. As annoying as it is, its the only way to stop the coronavirus.
Randy Rainbow released his newest video this morning, entitled SOCIAL DISTANCE – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody. It is based on the song Go The Distance from the 1997 Disney movie Hercules (1997).
As much as we all know how important social distancing is, it is frustrating. Human beings by nature are social creatures. Staying indoors all day with only limited periods of going outside for only the basics can become emotionally and physically frustrating. We need fresh air, we need exercise and we need to see other people in person, not just on the various screens that we have.
To everyone reading this post, I hope that you are healthy, staying home and keeping busy. We will get through this, but to do so, we need patience and understanding.
In our technological driven age, a fully automated house seems like a dream come true. But dreams and reality don’t always mix.
In the 1999 Disney TV movie Smart House, Ben (Ryan Merriman) and his family have just won a fully automated house. The computer, known as Pat (Katey Sagal) seems easy enough to control. But when Ben starts tinkering with Pat, whatever plans Ben had go out the window.
Smart House is one of those TV movies that is meant for a specific audience. The problem is that unless your part of the desired demographic, this TV movie is neither memorable or entertaining.
Twenty five years ago, The Lion King hit theaters. To say that it was a hit was an understatement. It is a masterpiece that to this day is loved, treasured and referenced.
Yesterday, the reboot was released. Directed by Jon Favreau, the new film follows the narrative of it’s animated predecessor. Simba (voiced by Donald Glover as an adult and JD McCrary as a child) is the son and heir to Pride Rock. His parents, Mufasa (James Earl Jones, the only holdover from the original film) and Sarabi (Afre Woodard) are King and Queen, respectively.
As a young cub, as many young are, Simba is energetic, curious and doesn’t exactly follow his parent’s instructions. Unfortunately, he gets his best friend Nala (voiced by Beyonce as an adult and Shahadi Wright Joseph as a child) in trouble as well.
Neither knows that Simba’s Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has a chip on shoulder. Scar’s plan to remove all obstacles to the throne nearly succeeds as Simba runs from fear and shame. He is befriended by Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), a couple of misfits who only know freedom and a boundary-less life.
Then Simba is reminded of who he is. Can he step and be King or will he continue to run from his past?
If I had to rank all of the live action reboots that Disney has released over the past few years, this film would easily rank as #1. Favreau and his creative team had a herculean task on their hands: create a new film while showing deference to the 1994 animated film.
In my opinion, they succeeded. I felt a chill down my back as the opening number started. The animation, if it can be described as that, looked more like a documentary on the National Geographic channel than a film with a fictional narrative. I loved the cast, who, like the creative team, were able to put their own spin on their characters while showing deference to the actors who lent their voices to the 1994 film.
If I had to choose my favorite things about this film, I would choose two. The first is Nala and Sarabi. In the 1994 film, Sarabi is a glorified background character. In this film, Sarabi is more prominent and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. Nala is the power behind the throne and a warrior in her own right.
The second is Timon and Pumbaa. These characters bring a lightness and a comedic element to a narrative is full of psychological symbolism and heavy with the ideas of fate and responsibility.
In 1998, Disney broke ground with the release of Mulan. Based on the myth of Hua Mulan, the movie told the story of the eponymous character who dresses as a boy and takes her elderly father’s place during wartime.
Back then, Mulan (Ming Na-Wen) was a revolutionary character, especially among the Disney Princesses. Unlike other Disney Princesses, her main goal was not men, marriage and eventual children, in spite of the message that was shoved at her in every form possible. Her journey was that of a warrior who was defending her country while trying to figure out who she was.
It is that message, that I think, then and now still resonates with audiences.
This new live adaptation is directed by Niki Caro, whose previous films have featured strong women making tough decisions. Three of the four screenwriters are female. The cast is made up of Asian actors, properly reflecting the world that the characters live in. And yes, there will be some musical elements, but those details are being kept under wrap for now.
As expected, Disney is keeping certain information under wraps until the film is released in March of next year. These live action adaptations straddle a fine line. They have to honor their animated predecessor (and the original fairy tale, if there is one), while reflecting the cultural changes that have occurred since the original film was released.
We can only wait and see when the film is released next year.