- 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.
- The Trial of the Chicago 7: The film tells. the story of the 7 men accused of being responsible for the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. Though it is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it feels very 2020.
- 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.
- Mank: Gary Oldman plays Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in a performance that is nothing but Oscar bait.
- #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.
Tag Archives: Disney Princesses
Back in 1976, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich made the following statement:
“Well-behaved women seldom make history”
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.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Mulan is available for streaming on Disney Plus.
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.
I am a natural redhead. When I was growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was hard to find on screen characters who looked like me. Among the handful who I could look to as inspiration was Ariel (Jodi Benson) in the 1989 film, The Little Mermaid.
Over the last few years, Disney has rebooted their beloved animated films into live action films. The newest addition to this trend is the live reboot of The Little Mermaid with Halle Bailey stepping into the fins of Disney’s first modern Princess.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this casting. While I applaud Disney for choosing an actress of color to play the role, my heart is still wedded to the idea that Ariel is a redhead. When your growing up and you look different from your peers, you look to film and television characters who look like you. When I was a kid, that was Ariel. As an adult, I don’t agree with her narrative, but her image and the impression she made back then are still with me to this day.
Readers, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the casting?
Mental illness affects millions of people around the world. And yet, it feels like you are the only one who suffers.
It takes courage, especially if one is in the spotlight, to reveal this very human aspect of themselves. We often elevate celebrities and performers to an almost g-d like state, forgetting that they are human and go through the same things that every human goes through.
I have to admit that I have no impetus to see Frozen on stage. The 2013 animated film was more than enough for me. However, I do admire Ms. Murin for having the courage to go public and talk about a subject that is very personal. My hope is that she inspires anyone who suffers from mental illness to get help so they can live a full and healthy life.
We continue to lose too many to mental illness. If her coming out has saved even one life, then it is worth more than all of the gold, jewels and treasures that this world has to offer.
I will try to make this review as spoiler free as I can, but if you have not seen the movie, I will not be bothered if you only read this review after you have been to the movie theater.
Hollywood has been addicted to reboots since it’s inception. Over the past few years, Disney has added to the general idea of reboots by releasing live action versions of their classic animated films. The most recent film in this sub-genre is Aladdin.
Like it’s 1992 animated predecessor, the film is set in Agrabah, a fictional Middle Eastern city. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is an orphan who lives by the seat of his pants and whatever food he can steal. One day, he meets Jasmine (Naomi Scott), who is Princess of Agrabah. Locked in the palace, she yearns for freedom and escapes to the anonymity of the Agrabah marketplace.
Aladdin is roped into Grand Vizier Jafar’s (Marwan Kenzari) plan to find a mysterious lamp in a mythical cave. But Jafar is less than honest and leaves Aladdin to die. Inside the cave, Aladdin meets Genie (Will Smith), who offers him the possibilities that he could have only imagined of before.
When the original film was released back in 1992, I was a child and had a completely different view than I do now as an adult. Director Guy Ritchie surprised me. I’ve never seen any of his previous films, but based on the trailers, I can’t say that any of them were aimed at or appropriate for the audience that typically sees a Disney film. However, Ritchie and his creative team were able to create a film that is an homage to its predecessor while standing on it’s own two feet.
Two major changes that from my perspective elevated this film from the 1992 animated film was the expansion of Jasmine as a character and the casting of actors whose ethnic background matches the ethnicity of the characters. Instead of just giving lip service to feminism, Jasmine is truly a character in her own right. Not only does she wear more clothes, but she is more than arm candy to the man who she will potentially call husband. In the casting for this movie, the actors who were ultimately chosen are of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent. The specific choice of actors adds a level of authenticity that is lacking in the 1992 film.
Speaking of changes to the film, I was very impressed with Will Smith’s version of Genie. Robin Williams’s performance a quarter of a century ago can never be duplicated. However, Smith is able to put his own spin on the character while showing respect to Williams’s Genie.
Though the film is over two hours, it does not fee like it is over two hours. The narrative has a nice pace and the musical sequences fit in nicely with the overall story.
If I had one takeaway from this film (as was the same takeaway from the 1992 film), it was that being yourself is the most important thing and you should never change who you are to please someone else.
I recommend it.
Aladdin is presently in theaters.
Twenty years ago, Disney introduced audiences to the newest member of the Disney Princess line: Mulan.
Based on the myth of Hua Mulan, Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) is a young woman growing up in ancient China. She is expected the follow the traditional path: marry, have children and live as women before her have lived.
Then the Huns attack and the men are called up to join the army. But Mulan is an only child and her father is not a young man anymore. She takes her father’s place and pretends to be a boy. The ancestors watching her are not pleased with Mulan’s decision and send Mushu (Eddie Murphy) to convince Mulan to stay home. But Mulan will not be convinced otherwise, so Mushu goes with her to battle.
Twenty years ago, Mulan was a revolutionary film for Disney. As a character, Mulan was the most progressive of the Disney Princesses up to that point. She was the second non-Caucasian heroine after Jasmine in Aladdin (1992). Marriage was not her first priority.She was also not a size 2.
In every Disney Princess film, the character’s emotional journey is kicked off by the “I Want” song. In a nutshell, the song describes what they want from life. Mulan’s “I Want” song is “Reflection”. 20 years ago, this song left its emotional mark on me and many others who saw this film. It’s about pretending to be someone else to please your loved ones and the emotional toll it takes on you.
While Disney has a long way to go in terms of how women are represented on film, Mulan was and still is a giant step forward for which I am grateful for.
When creating animated movies, the creators have to walk a fine line. They have to appeal to both the children and the adults, which is often easier said that done.
Ralph Breaks The Internet premiered today. A sequel of Wreck-It Ralph, the film starts off six years later. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still the best of friends. But Vanellope is feeling hemmed in by how predictable her life is. When the game controller on her game breaks, Ralph and Vanellope travel to the Internet to find a new controller. Their plan is supposed to be simple, find the controller on Ebay and go home. But as the saying goes: “mortals plan and G-d laughs”.
While trying to stick to the plan, Ralph and Vanellope meet Shank (Gal Gadot) and Yesss (Taraji P. Henson). Will they be able to accomplish their goal or will things to awry?
This movie is brilliant, funny and appeals to all ages. It has the humor that speaks to the kids and the emotional gravitas that adults will appreciate. I also appreciated the scenes with the Disney Princesses. Without giving too much away, I will say that it was nice that Disney stepped into the modern era by stepping away from the traditional narratives of these traditional characters.
I recommend it.
Ralph Breaks The Internet is presently in theaters.
Friday was the 28th anniversary of the release of The Little Mermaid.
Loosely (and I mean very loosely) based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid the story of Ariel. Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is 16 and the youngest daughter of the King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars). Rebellious and headstrong (as many teenage girls are), Ariel falls in love with a human prince, Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes). Making a deal with the sea witch, Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll), Ariel trades her voice and her tail for legs to hopefully be with Eric. But is it worth the trade-off and will she have her happy ending?
I have mixed feelings about this movie. On one hand, Ariel is is Disney’s OG Ginger. As a redhead, especially as a redhead of a certain generation, Ariel will always have a place in my heart. But that does not mean that I have issues with the character and the narrative.
- Ariel is a size 2. Most of us are not a size 2.
- How does she not have third degree sunburns? One of the cardinal rules of being a redhead is that sunscreen is a mandatory part of our morning routine.
- She willingly gives up her voice and her legs (i.e. her identity) for a man who she barely knows. Not exactly the message that we should be imparting to our daughters.
- When push comes to shove (i.e. Ursula tries to get in the way of Ariel and Eric’s happy ending), it is Eric that saves the day.
- Ariel wears a pink dress. I don’t know about other redheads, but it’s not a color that exists in my wardrobe.
- Ursula is old and fat. Ariel is young and skinny. Therefore, young and thin is good. Old and fat is bad.
Despite my concerns with this movie, The Little Mermaid will always have a place in my heart. I can’t believe it’s been 28 years.