Friday, December 8, 2023

The Boy and The Heron

My View: The Boy and The Heron (2023)  PG-13   The Boy and The Heron is about a young boy named Mahito who loses his mother in a fire and is haunted by her memory. His father has remarried and moved to a new house in the countryside. Mahito keeps hearing his mother call his name, and he sets out to find her in an abandoned and magical tower that will take him to a world he never knew existed. The Boy and The Heron is a film from legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, who has, over the years, given us some of the greatest animated films in history (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises). Now he gives us what may be his last film, a very personal story of a boy trying to find the answer to why his mother left him in a world that is so strange and cold. When I see animated foreign films, I try to see them in their original language, as I did with this one. However, after seeing the voice cast for the English version, including Robert Pattinson, Florence Pugh, Mark Hamill, and Christian Bale, I regret that decision. The film is beautifully told as the young boy goes on a journey of discovery, helped along the way by unique characters, including a weird and threatening big heron who initially seems to be the enemy but becomes a friend to help the boy in his quest. This is a magical tale with fantastic animation, a brilliant score, and a storyline that will move you while also delighting you. This is a little more adult than the typical Miyazaki film, like Howl’s Moving Castle, so small kids might sometimes be a bit bored. But older kids and adults will be filled with wonder and awe as Mahito goes on his journey accompanied by a big, talkative bird. If The Boy and The Heron is the last film of Miyazaki, he is leaving us with a masterpiece. This film is a sure bet to be nominated for an Animated Feature Oscar and should be seen in a theatre.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again The Boy and The Heron Website Now playing theatres nationwide.

My View: Leave the World Behind (2023) R A wife (Julia Roberts) books her husband (Ethan Hawke) and their two kids a getaway to a luxurious rental home. This dream vacation takes an ominous turn when a massive cyberattack knocks out their services just as two strangers (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la Herrold) show up at their doorstep, stating that the house is theirs. This is one of those films that should have been better. The film has an outstanding cast, but I felt that, at times, they seemed a bit out of place. The movie is never scary, even though it deals with some terrifying ideas, but the film never finds the tension it needs to make us keep watching. Other than some creepy deer that keep showing up (we don’t know if they are trying to warn the characters or get revenge for murdering Bambi’s mom) and a few attempts of shocking us with a scene or two, the film never finds its momentum. It also feels like director Sam Esmail got a little too in love with the tricky camera shots, so much so that it took me out of the film each time he did something weird with the scene. I also hated that the soundtrack kept jumping in with music, sometimes stopping the movie to a dead stop so we could listen to a selection. I never cared for the people in the film, especially the Julia Roberts character, who we hate from almost the first frame of the film to the last. Leave the World Behind is a film that tried to say too much and make too much of a statement, and it never succeeded in making us afraid or care.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Leave the World Behind Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform.

My View: We Live Here: The Midwest (2023)  The documentary highlights the individual experiences of LGBTQI+ families who faced with discriminatory laws and rising hostility, try to live their lives in the heart of the country, a place that they dearly love. This is a documentary about families trying to live their lives in a part of the country that doesn’t always welcome different lifestyles. We Live Here is about the love of families and acceptance of who you are. One story the film follows is about Minnesota Representative and queer mother Heather Keeler, who uses her political know-how to bring LGBTQI+ rights to the forefront despite ongoing death threats. We Live Here: The Midwest is a film that shows you all sorts of families living in the Midwest, on farms or in cities, who aspire to be a part of their communities and live their lives as best they can. Families that are full of love and support. We need more of that in the world.   My Rating: Full Price  We Live Here Website  Now playing on the Hulu platform.

Indiefest: The Oath (2023) PG-13  In 400 AD, the last warrior of his people, Moroni (Darin Scott), is trying to survive while being hunted down by a ruthless king named Aaron (Billy Zane). King Aaron has banished his mistress, Bathsheba (Nora Dale), to the wilderness after savagely beating her. Moroni takes Bathsheba in even though she is the enemy, and she’s her a kindness she has never known. Can they survive in the wilderness together as King Aaron sends out his best warriors to find the last warrior? This was a film that was a very confusing experience. The film seems to believe that I know what this story is about and the history of the religion in the movie. The story is boring, with most of the film Moroni teaching Bathsheba about his beliefs and faith. We are teetering on the fine line of the ‘white savior’, saving the savage from a bad belief system to one that teaches how to live. The film ends with the hero finding peace with his beliefs and life. All this made sense when I saw the final credits, which I was not happy with. I won’t go into any more about this film, but to say it is a promotion piece for a religion, and it’s not very well done.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  The Oath Website  Now playing in theatres.

Forgotten Film: Waking Life (2001) R Willy has returned to the town he grew up in. However, he has returned in his dreams. As he wanders around the town, he both listens to and engages in conversations with people he encounters. The discussions range from what is reality, whether their free will is really free, what makes up a relationship, and, of course, serious subjects like what our purpose on earth is. Directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Before Sunrise, Slacker), this is a beautifully animated film that Linklater uses to make us feel like we are part of Willy’s dream. Waking Life is a beautiful film that celebrates ideas and the exploration of people’s dreams from all walks of life. Note there are a few surprise appearances of characters from other films, so that adds to the fun. So, go on a journey with Willy to discover what makes the world tick.   My Take: Full Price  Waking Life Info  The film is available to rent or buy on Amazon or Apple TV.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Leave the World Behind: Dental Prosthetics

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Anyone But You (2023)  Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell) went on a first date that had sparks at first, but then things happened. Now they have been unexpectedly reunited at a destination wedding in, of all places, Australia. Their exes are also there, so they do what two mature adults would do: pretend they are a couple. This looks like it could be a fun rom-com to see to get away from the Christmas rush. Sweeney is coming off two Primetime nominations in 2022 for The White Lotus and Euphoria. Powell impressed film lovers with his role as Lt. Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin in Top Gun: Maverick.   Anyone But You Website  The film is in theatres on Friday, Dec. 22th.

Until Next Time!

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