Onward (2020)

“Onward” is Pixar’s latest effort, and it has become one of my top 3 Pixar movies. I know that it didn’t get the standing ovation reviews like other Pixar movies, but for me it was the right amount of heart to make me feel a little better during these uncertain times.

The film takes place in a fairy tale world and although these magical creatures (elves, pixies, centaurs…etc) have wings, history of sorcery (etc), they have forgotten their history because of technology and the ever changing the world.

The film focuses on a family of elves, and this family is made up of three members; mom Laurel (Julia Dreygus), oldest son Barley (Chris Pratt) and youngest son Ian (Tom Holland).

Ian, is a 16-year-old awkward teen, who wants nothing more in life but to be more confident and more sure of himself, like his dad. Unfortunately, Ian has never met his father, as his dad passed away before he was born. On the night of his birthday, their mother tells Ian and Barley, that their late father, had left them a present. The present was a magical spell that could have their father back for 24hrs. However, when they do the spell, their dad does comes back, but only the lower half of him. Which sends the brothers on a magical quest, to find a magical stone that would bring the second half of their father’s body.

The movie is filled with laughs and a whole lot of feels. I teared up a couple of times, and really felt bad for this movie, because it was released during a time, that movie theaters were starting to close its doors. But it is available for rent, and I definitely recommend watching it. The ending of this movie, will really make you appreciate what you have right now, and that is a reminder that we all need.

I applaud Pixar’s animation once again and the voice cast was phenomenal on this movie.

I give this movie, 7.5/10

The Invisble Man (2020)

This truly is a pandemic, because I am actually reviewing one of the latest movies. To be fair, I usually avoid reviewing latest movies, mainly because so many people have done this better than I could ever do. But alas, theaters are closed, and movie studios are now releasing “home premieres” of the lastest blockbusters and I rented this jewel for, wait for it….$24, my heart shatters, but I will get over it. ***ALSO SPOILERS ALERT

“The Invisible Man” stars Elisabeth Moss and is written and directed by Leigh Whannell. The movie follows a woman named Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) escaping from domestic violence and two weeks after she escapes, she finds out that her ex-boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Cohen) is dead.

After a series of unsettling events (ie: moving blankets, reappearing medications, unauthorized emails sent), it becomes clear that Adrian may not be dead. The movie, shows how Cecilia, goes through a downward spiral, trying to prove to everyone around her that her ex-boyfriend, who was one of the leading minds in the optics field, is still alive. Obviously, just like all movies, the family and friends do not believe her. There are several scenes though that if you are a film addict like me you’d notice right away. The first hint, was when Cecilia and her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) meet with Tom Griffin (Michael Dorman) who is Adrian’s brother to discuss the Will. Tom then alludes to Cecilia and Emily that “Adrian is in this room right now” and he gives a smirk, but then later points at the ashes, obviously Tom knows that Adrian’s is there physically but just in his suit. Another scene of significance, is when Cecilia’s medication falls out of her bag and onto the road as she is escaping with her sister in the first 10minutes of the movie, the camera focuses on the medication, telling the audience that this medication will be significant later on. The medicaiton can also be used for weight loss, which was one of the things that Adrian used to control Cecilia. But tables are turned because, that’s the medication she uses to drug him during her escape. But karma returns, when he uses the drug to drug her as well, which is why she fainted during her job interview. The last thing I noticed was how Emily (Cecilia’s sister) was killed, which was with a knife, which Adrian slit her throat with. However, at the end of the movie, Cecilia like Adrian, wore the invisible suit and slit Adrian’s throat, making it look like Adrian committed suicide, via their home cameras. This was Cecilia not only finally getting away, but also avenging her sister’s death.

Overall I really liked the movie. I mean it wasn’t the best thing, as everyone cracked it up to be. But I will have to say the camera work was phenomenal and the scares for me, was more when the camera was panning to empty spaces. Or when Elisabeth Moss, perfectly acted out this feeling of being watched, and that is something we can all relate to.

This review was more detailed, but what the heck, we all have the time now to look at details.

I give this one 6/10

Training Day (2001)

“Training Day” starring Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington, is about a rookie cop (Hawke), who goes on his first training day as a narcotics officer with a loud mouth senior cop (Washington).

I finally got around to watching this movie, and I never thought I’d hate Denzel Washington but I did and that is how good he played the character of Alonzo Harris. The beginning of the movie starts of with Officer Jake Hoyt’s (Hawke)  day, as the scene shows him as a devoted husband and loving father.

Then the scene cuts to a restaurant, and we are first introduced to the arrogont Alonzo Harris, whose methods seem over the top at first, but once the movie continues, Hoyt starts to rethink Harris’s methods as dangerous and unreasonable.

The climax of this movie is definetly when Hoyt refuses to take evidence money from Harris and his squad of other narcotics officer. A string of events follows, that keeps the audience enticipating for more.

This movie was and is fantastic. Washington definitely gave a Oscar worthy performance, and Hawke really did amazing as well, as he brings innocence and heart to his performance as the altruistic Hoyt.

The entire movie was great, I will have to admit that the first 10mins was kind of slow paced and if you’re enticipating action right away, then you may have to wait awhile. But when action does happen, it is all worth it.

I give this movie, 8/10.

Netflix: “Self-Made”(2020)

“Self-Made” is the story of the first female self-made millionaire Madam CJ Walker. Written by Nicole Asher and stars Octavia Spencer.

The film takes you on a journey of Madam CJ Walker, as she breaks barriers for not just women of color but for all women. Madam CJ Walker, goes through struggles, heartbreak, and finally reaches the success she is known for today.

I really loved this short mini-series, and I felt that Octavia Spencer stole the show and this is why she is one of the most respected actors in Hollywood right now.

I was also surprised with Tiffany Haddish, who played the character of Leila, Madam CJ Walker’s daughter with such ease, and she did great. Haddish, blew me away, and I truly think that she should do more serious roles.

Beyond that, the writing was great and I felt the series went through with ease. The music was also great, I thought that the mixture of modern music with some jazzy undertones really added a layer of storytelling, and gave you the energy that matched the character’s moods.

I give this series a 6/10

“Knives Out” (2019)

Here I am again, back at it again, with movies from LAST YEAR. Awards season is complete and my excuse for finally getting to this, is well, I have none. Anyways, here’s my review on the “Clue” inspired movie, directed by Rian Johnson, who also directed one of my favorite movies, “Looper”(2012).

The movie follows a death of a famous mystery novel writer Harlen Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), and his “suicide” raises questions of foul play. Three detectives enter the scene, and one by one they question each member of the family. The story will reveal greed, narcissism and family feuds that have been brewing for decades.

The film stars Daniel Craig as the smooth talking Kentucky detective Benoit Blanc. First of all, who would’ve thought that Daniel Craig, could be so funny? He plays Blanc with ease and at first the Kentucky accent puts you off, because we are so use to Craig playing the British spy James Bond, but after 5mins, he eases you into this character and makes you realize, that Bond is gone and Blanc is in.

Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) also stands out for me. Jamie Lee Curtis, plays her with such cold confidence and yet insecurity all at the same time. Marta Cabrera (Ana De Armas) also does a fantastic job as one of the lead roles, and plays the immigrant nurse with humility yet her character also is dosed with mystery as we the audience are forced to like her but also be suspicious of her. However, the big surprise for me goes to Chris Evans who plays Ransom Drysdale. Evans really sheds his “nice guy, I am Captain America” persona, for the spoiled and rude Ransom Drysdale, just some foreshadowing as well with his first name.

All the actors did great, and story line was great, but I felt that it got more credit than it deserved. The ending was not so much a twist, it was more of a reverse climax, however the ending scene does give the audience a brief moment of shock, which in a small way made up for that sort of twist.

I also liked the nod to Wes Anderson type of feel that the movie had during the first couple of scenes in the Thrombey household. The sets made the mansion feel small, because the mystery had to feel big, which it did. I really was at the edge of my sit during the entire movie.

The performances saved this movie for me, and there was smart writing and great directing, I just wish there was more.

I give this movie a 6.5/10

Missing Link (2019)

“Missing Link” an animated movie about a “myth hunter”named Sir Lionel Frost (High Jackman) and Susan or Mr Link (Zach Galifianakis), a Sasquatch.

The entire movie sets off on a bet between Sir Frost and Lord Piggot-Dunceby, about the existence of the Sasquatch.

The movie then takes on a crazy adventure, and in the end lessons are learned between the two main characters about belonging.

I liked this movie. I especially like Hugh Jackman’s voice work as Mr. Frost. But either than that, it felt like it the middle act was a little bit shaky. There’s a whole scene when the two characters are trying to steal a map, and it was drawn out more than usual.

This movie could’ve done better via box office if it had more promotion. I also feel that with just some tweaks with the story line, it would’ve improved tremendously. The voice acting is great, and the concept about a “myth hunter” is great as well, but again I felt the plot was stagnant at times.

I would recommend this movie, especially if you’re watching it with the family. It’s good enough, but not remarkable.

I give this a 5/10

Parasite (2019)

“Parasite” a movie tackling class discrimination, takes you on a journey that is far closer to home than one may think. Before you say it, yes I know, I am so late to the party. Well I am here now and I have to say, that wow! Where have I been? Most likely under a rock, but hopefully not the rock that was also a character in this movie.

The movie is directed by Bong Joon-ho, and it is a masterpiece. It deserved every single award that it won and more.

The story is about a impoverished family who all become employees of a wealthy family. Not to give too much away, because I really feel that everyone should see this movie, but a series of events takes places that make you question how our society sees the rich and the poor.

There is also a very symbolic scene in this movie, that shows the audience how the very poor deal with the looming reality of climate change, whilst the rich are not as effected, due their luxuries.

Before you say it; climate change? Yes, apparently the rainy scene in the movie was used as a metaphor for climate change and it’s effects on different levels of society. You see, I became obsessed with this movie, and right after watching it, I researched the meaning of certain scenes and watched a couple of interviews by the director. So yes, I love the movie.

The only down side about this project, is that Song Kang-ho who plays Kim Ki-taek, I believe deserved to win the Oscar for best actor category. Yes I said it! or at least nominated. His portrayal, blew me away and his combined a level of humility, humor and hopelessness but with a cunning under tone and that alone takes an immense level of talent. He really played the heck out of that role.

I give this movie a 10/10.

So finally watched, Seven (1995)…..

When I was still in University, I remember going almost every weekend to watch movies in theaters. It was addictive and to be honest, I love cinema and the experience of it, but now that I graduated, I find myself been far too busy working to actually go to the cinema anymore.

But that gives me a good excuse to watch movies, that were made before I was even born, but in this case, when I was 1 years old.

Seven, an action packed thriller starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, and directed by David Fincher.

Detective Somerset played by Morgan Freeman is a retiring detective, who is asked to work on one more case, about several murders. The murders seem to be connected to the seven deadly sins. A young detective, played by Brad Pitt, becomes involved in this case as well, and unknowingly becomes the last piece of the killer’s (played by Kevin Spacey) twisted motives.

I love this movie. It was everything you want in a thriller; filled with mystery, smart writing, great chemistry between the actors and a shocking ending.

I give this movie a 7/10

Netflix: I am not okay with this (2020)

Yesterday, I sat down and watched the new Netflix series “I am not okay with this”. The series is created by Jonathan Entwistle and it stars Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Sofia Bryant and Kathleen Rose Perkins.

The series is about a young girl who is an outcast and finds out that she has “superpowers”. Each episode is 20-30mins each, and has 7 episodes, so definitely was an easy show to finish.

With that, how was it? Very good. I was actually nervous that I would be watching a “wannabe”version of the “Stranger Things”(2016), but it surprised me, I thoroughly enjoyed this series and thought it was well written and that the first season wrapped up nicely and left me wanting more.

I also want to say that the aesthetic of this show is a nod to the “80s”. The soundtrack is phenomenal and takes you to another era, even though the teenagers are all walking around with smart phones. The cinematography was also nicely done, which is important because you even feel like the location is a character as well. Another, point I’d like to mention to all 70s and 80s movie nerds, is that there are nods to John Hughes (Director of Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and other iconic 80s teen movies), and also a huge nod to the book “Carrie” by Stephen King.

This series is nostaglic and I think that’s where the character of Stan played by Wyatt Oleff, comes in. Oleff really does steal the show in every scene he is in, with his almost “Duckie”-like (from Sixteen Candles) way of dressing, however unlike Duckie, Oleff plays Stan, as an actual nice guy with unselfish intentions towards the main character, Sydney.

I will also say that Sophia Lillis plays her character with ease, and I know that we are been fed all these “outcast to hero” movies, but Lillis plays the character of Sydney without trying too hard, you really do feel her pain of not only how to handle her new found abilities but figuring out as a teen girl, her own sexuality.

I would say that if you are looking for a show that is quick to finish and very well-written then this will be the one for you. I look forward to finding out where the series will go from here.

I give this one a 8/10

Disney: The Golden Touch (1935)

The “Golden Touch” is about King Midas, whose greedy ways leads him to want the ability of turning anything he touches to gold. It’s all fine and dandy, until he tries to eat. Then he ends up asking the “magic man” to take his powers away in exchange of his kingdom, and
the “magic man” agrees. The film ends with King Midas enjoying a cheeseburger.

The film was very mature for children, during the movie King Midas talks about wine and women, and I am sure that most kids even those in the 30s, do not know what he meant by that, however, it still made me chuckle.

The animation was crisp, but I will have to give it to Disney for their imagination, especially when King Midas was touching the fountain and it turned to gold coins. I also thought that the voice animation was well done and to be honest, this is why I think that Disney should really go back to just hiring actual voice actors instead of celebrities.

Either than that, I give this one a 6/10

The Tortoise and the Hare (1934)

I just want to start by saying that I wanted the Hare to lose, just because of his laugh. Ned Norton played the Hare, and if he was wanting the Hare’s laugh to be arrogant and annoying, then he did it.

This tale is a classic. The arrogant Hare, against the humble Tortoise, and with his slow and steady approach the Tortoise wins.

I really enjoyed this, and I really feel that as time goes on, Disney’s short films become better. If these kind of cartoons were to air again today, I think it would be just as much of a success, and I really do feel that adults would actually want to watch with their kids, instead of suffering through.

I give this one 7/10

Disney: The Big Bad Wolf (1934)

I am back on the Disney train, well I was never off it, I was just super busy with work, studying and curating for this other online platform that I rarely get the chance to actually sit down and enjoy a Disney short film.

But here we are again, and I am reviewing “The Big Bad Wolf”, which really should be called “Little Red Riding Hood”, but whatever, details, details.

The film takes place after the Three Little Pigs successfully get rid of the Big Bad Wolf from their turf and is now centered around the classic character of Little Red Riding Hood, who is on her way to see her grandmother.

If you’ve read the classic tale, then you will know that the the wolf disguises himself as the grandmother, and tries to eat Riding Hood, but thankfully is rescued by a lumberjack in this case the third Three Little Pig (the Pig with the Brick house).

I found the short film to be enjoyable and for some reason I really do get the creeps when the wolf starts chasing Riding Hood around. I am telling you, Disney films in the 1920s and 1930s, just have a different feel to them. It feels like Disney had no filter, and they were allowed to have their villains look and feel as dangerous and creepy.

I give this one a 6.5/10

Trafficked 2017

Trafficked, directed by Will Wallace and starring Ashley Judd, Sean Patrick Flanery and Anne Archer, explores the stories of three young women; one from America, one from India and one of from Nigeria, as they are forced into sex trafficking.

Watching this movie, can get really uncomfortable and there are moments where you just want to look away. The acting from the three women Jessica Obilom, Alpa Banker and Kelly Washington, was great and all three actors had great chemistry with each other.

Ashley Judd was only in the movie for less than 10mins, however she played her character fantastically. I don’t think I have ever seen her in such a dark role and thought that she really delivered a great performance.

This movie is difficult to watch and at times I had to pause the movie in order collect my emotions of what I was watching. The direction was great and the script was as well. But for me, the acting is what made this movie. Very heart wrenching story and would warn anyone before seeing this movie, as it does include a lot of uncomfortable scenes.

Nonetheless, this movie is important and it gives a glimpse of what is happening in the world.

I give this movie a 6.5/10

Netflix: To the All the Boys: P.S I Still Love you (2020)

2018, the year that the very charming Netflix romantic high school comedy “To All the Boys I Loved Before” was released. We all fell in love with Laura Jean and related to her teenage self, as she tries to deal with the fact that her love letters, that were never intended to see the light of day are read by all her former crushes.

The first movie was adorable, and filled with teenage dreams and rose coloured glasses. It was perfect, and gave its actors a moment to be noticed. BUT, that’s where the story should’ve ended.

“To all the Boys: P.S I still love you” was boring to watch. Peter Kavinsky played by Noah Centineo was almost unbearable to watch. I don’t mean Centineo’s acting, I mean the character of Peter was bordering annoying. Lara Jean played by Lana Condor, was also very tough to watch, her character had lost its charm and her personality seemed blend in this movie. John Ambrose played by Jordan Fisher was the only consistent character in the entire movie, and his chemistry with Lara Jean was great but it felt rushed.

The movie ends with Lara Jean making a questionable choice, because again it is 2020 and I think we have sat through enough PSA commercials and presentations in classes on healthy and unhealthy relationships and I believe that Peter Kavinsky’s treatment of Lara Jean during this movie was unhealthy. Peter seems to always prioritize his ex over Lara Jean, and for some reason the movie decides to flip that narrative as just an unfounded insecurity that Lara Jean has.

When I reviewed Disney’s Snow White (1937), I talked about how media has influenced the way that we view romance (which is not a ground breaking thought) but I thought at least in 2020, we would try to have Lara Jean chose herself over everything else.

But I will give the movie one credit, and that is the soundtrack. But I will forgive this movie just a bit, because there was a change in directors. Susan Johnson directed the first and Johnson’s last known directed project was Carrie Pilby which is a coming of age story of a young girl, and clearly you can see Johnson’s directorial style fitted well. However, the second movie was directed by Michael Fimognari who is known for directing horror movies, his a great horror director, but there was some clear mis-steps with his direction in this romantic comedy.  

I give this movie a 4/10.

Netflix: The Stranger (2020)

This past Tuesday, I watched Netflix’s new UK based thriller; the Stanger. This series had me on the edge of my chair from beginning to end.

The plot revolves around Adam Price, whom after one of his son’s soccer games finds out that his wife faked her pregnancy. Price then confront his wife about this, and a day later, she disappears.

After Mrs. Price’s disappearance, the entire series takes you on an adventure filled with lies, deceit, greed and murder.

I thought the series was great but mostly in the beginning, because the conclusion had me scratching my head a little bit. The stranger played by Hannah John-Kamen, did a great job but I felt that her character development was a little shaky. Adam Price played by Richard Armitage was great but there were times I was yelling at the television because everything would have been solved if he just took his information to the police.

But to be honest, my favourite storyline was the character of Patrick Katz played by Paul Kaye. Katz’s character was so scary and infuriating, but the conclusion of his story was far more painful and to be honest a lot more interesting than of the main character’s (Adam Price) ending.

I give this series a 6/10

Early Man (2018)

I just want to start off by saying, how the hell didn’t I know about this film?! With that question out the way, we shall delve into the world of the stone age vs the bronze age.

Dug voiced by Eddie Redmayne is a young caveman, whom whilst joining his tribe on a celebration of capturing a rabbit, gets attacked by large bronze machines. The tribe escapes into the “bad lands” and leave their precious valley behind. However, Dug and his pet pig Hognob, hide in the bushes whilst it is revealed that those bronze machines were controlled by the people of the “bronze age”.

Long story short, the “primitive” tribe of the stone age ( this is the words they use in the film, do not come for me), must face the bronze kingdom on a football match (or if you are North American, you’d call it soccer), and whoever wins gets to have the valley.

The movie is produced in British stop-motion animation style and I liked it. I do not know what made the animators chose this clay animation style, but it fitted well with the story. I also thought the voice were well cast and I just want to say that Tom Hiddleston, who voices Lord Nooth was absolutely hilarious. I found the story to be predictable but to be honest what children’s movie isn’t?

This movie had a $50 million budget and made $54 million, in movie making terms, that isn’t a success, and I do not know why it wasn’t a success, maybe it was the promotion, because I didn’t even know it existed. I really feel that this movie is so under rated, and I just discovered today on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea.

I give this movie a 6/10.

So, I finally watched Midsommer (2019) ….

It’s Saturday night, and instead of going out and socializing, I decided to finally watch the much talked about “Midsommer”. Directed by Ari Aster, who brought the very scary Hereditary (2018), brings another mind bending and traumatizing movie called Midsommer.

Movie is about Dani (Florence Pugh), who loses her family in a tragic circumstance, and to cope with the tragedy she decides to join her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor) on his and his friend’s trip to Sweden.

Just for a little more backstory, Dani and Christian, are on a different spectrum when it comes to their relationship. Christian was ready to break up with Dani, however the death of her entire family holds him back from this decision. Although the couple have been together for 4 years, you clearly see that Christian has checked out of this relationship long time ago.

And we’re back to the main story, the estranged couple and friends make it to a “commune” (pagan cult establishment *cough *cough), and this “commune” is where one of their friend’s named Pelle is from and Pelle is their host for their entire 9 day stay. The first thing they do when they arrive is get high off mushrooms (this happens lots throughout the movie). The commune is beautiful and the members of this commune wear all white and share their living spaces, have their suppers together, and have established their own roles in the community. But once every year, during the Swedish midsummer days, they practice their traditional ritual and this ritual includes human sacrifices (yes that’s correct, are we surprised?).

Anyways, the movie really takes you on a rollercoaster, and it almost feels like you are on a drug trip with the characters, and that is exactly what Ari Aster, wanted the movie to feel like.

Dani, goes through the most character development however you also see sides of Christian, that makes you realize that he is not what he seems. Moreover, their friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), is the most consistent character which is scary and in this movie and you get to see why. Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter) are great as supporting roles, and I really do wish that we got to see a little bit more of Mark, because he was the comedic relief in the movie.

The acting was superb and the cinematography, oh my gosh, the CINEMATOGRAPHY , who would’ve thought that sunny days could be so scary. And music in the background just added another layer of a darker tone to the movie.

I just wanted to end by saying that Ari Aster is truly making his own path in the horror genre, and it’s super exciting to see a big revamp in this genre. I can not wait to see more smart scripts and terrifying stories from this Director’s mind.

I give this movie a 7/10.

Disney: Snow White (1937)

I am going to skip a little bit ahead, but not to worry because I will still review the other short features, because I just finished (re-watching) Disney’s first full length animated movie, and damn.

Snow White, based on another Grimm Brothers fairy tale is about a beautiful young princess who runs away in the woods, because her wicked step-mother was jealous of her beauty. Snow White, then meets 7 very different and very friendly (yes, I am grouping Grumpy into this as well), who welcome her in their home with opens arms.

She however, gets tricked into biting into an apple by the her wicked step-mother, and falls in a deep sleep only to awoken by true love’s kiss aka the prince whom she met and spent time with for 1 song in the beginning of the movie.

I remember falling in love with this movie when I was a child. But the older I get I laugh a little, but I think we all would as people in their late 20s onwards. I watch this movie with a more critical lens, because real-life love stories do not work like this, but for some reason we as children bought into this idea and defined romantic love like this for longer than we should.

But that is the thing about growing older and watching your favorite films and shows, you have become more aware and although I grew up with Snow White being my favorite character of the movie, I actually now prefer Dopey (he is so adorable) and identify with the cynical nature of Grumpy, but that is all of us isn’t it? We eventually go through our own experiences and we all eventually grow up.

Snow White, represents the beginning of the Disney fantasy for children everywhere, more specifically for girls everywhere. It was also the archetype for future Disney female characters for the next several decades and although the archetype now has changed to more independent female characters,  it is still hard to ignore just how much movies like Snow White had really impacted our beliefs and values as children.

BUT, with all that, I will say that I still loved the movie. If you like me, a grown adult you’ll watch this movie laughing but also feeling a sense of comfort. Movies like this give you a snapshot of your childhood, and snapshot of what you found to be admirable.

I give this movie a 6.5/10 and I really recommend that ya’ll watch it or re-watch it.

Disney Silly Symphony: Babes in the Woods (1932)

Okay, for some reason I did not notice other short features from Disney, so I am going backwards in time a little bit here.

So here we are, talking about “Babes in the Woods” another 7 minute short from Disney, and a twist on the tale of “Hansel and Gretel”. I am thinking me seeing this feature now was meant to be, because there is currently a live version of Hansel and Gretel (or as the live version has switched it to “Gretel and Hansel”).

I will break down the 7min short, and it is like the original tale but with a few changes. Firstly, Hansel and Gretel are of course in the woods and they are scared of everything and anything that looks like a monster (as we all should be). But as they make their way further into the woods, they hear music and come across a big group of dancing elves. The elves are friendly and they are all getting along, when the evil witch takes the kids on her broom, and tricks them into thinking that they will be getting amazing sweet treats in her ginger bread home. Thankfully the children are saved with the help of the elves and they also save a bunch of other kids who were turned into animals. The witch is then turned into stone, and all the animals, who are now turned back to human children dance around and celebrate the death of the witch.

I will have to say that for some reason Disney’s earlier works seems darker and even though the happy music and colorful background can still appeal to kids but to be honest as a 25 year old adult I was really debating if I would actually show my little 2 year old niece these features, because I feel that it is eerie and I really feel that Disney from the beginning tried to stay true to the Grimm Brothers fairy tales, but of course had to add their Disney pixie dust magic (okay, I’ll stop now).

I think that the character’s features and animations are not as well defined, but we can use the era of which it was released as an excuse and I really think it adds to the beauty of it and charm. The witch was drawn in such a way, that I was pretty creeped out and the elves (+ Hansel and Gretel) really juxtaposed the witch’s image so well (you did your job there Disney).

I give it a 6/10

Dear Basketball (2017)

“Dear Basketball” an animated short that was written and narrated by the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

I wasn’t a huge basketball fan growing up, but even I understood the impact that it had on billions all over the world. I grew up in the era of Kobe Bryant, and if you weren’t a basketball fan, you’d say Bryant’s name just to seem like you knew something about the NBA universe.

So, here it is, I just finished watching “Dear Basketball” and I finished the 5min short feeling heavy hearted. Bryant had a lot of passion for the sport and gave his entire energy trying to become one of the best players to ever hold that orange ball.

The animation was by the legendary Glen Keane and music by the iconic John Williams, so this entire short was bound to be a success just with those two geniuses, however it is Bryant’s narration and voice that adds that special magic to it. Bryant’s first love was and seems to always be basketball and we hear it, when he describes his days of rolling up his dad’s socks shooting it into trash cans, to his two decade reign as a basketball giant and it is all highlighted here.

Mind you, the animation could have turned in to a self-indulgent project, but IT DOESN’T. It stays true to the message, of a dream that became a reality, because Bryant accomplishing his dreams helped others also believe that they can reach theirs as well.

The short is only 5mins long and I highly recommend it, even if you are not a basketball fan, you will feel a tug in your heart strings and more of an appreciation for athletes and their love and passion for the sport they play.

R.I.P Black Mamba, his daughter Gianna, and all others who lost their lives tragically in the incident.

 

My Top 6 Disney: 80s and 90s Cartoon Series

I’m a 90’s kid and as someone who was born in 1994 and thankfully made it in the millennial club, I know that a majority of us will argue that 80s and 90s cartoons were just another level of greatness. I remember coming home everyday, throwing my backpack on the floor, grabbing whatever snack was available and plopping myself in front of the television and getting ready to watch an unhealthy amount of after school cartoons.

So, today I shall share some of my favorites;

6) “Talespin” (1990)

Talespin first aired in 1990, with a plot about a air service business that is located in the city of “Cape Suzzette”. The series only ran for 1 season, but I thought that the characters and stories were well developed, and the main character was named Baloo (this character was developed from the Jungle Book movie). Baloo fails to keep up with his bills and has no choice but to give up his “air service” business to Rebecca Cunningham. The characters are mostly all bears, and they go on adventures like fighting off pirates.

Sadly, this cartoon series did not get the love that it deserves, but it will today. I think Talespin was one the important templates for future Disney cartoons. But, if you do not watch the series or like the series, at least admit that it has one of the best intro songs, ever.

5) Goof Troop (1992)

Goof Troop, centers around Goofy a single father and his son Max. Goofy moves back to his home town and becomes neighbors with his old high school class mate, Pete. And Pete also lives with his family and has two kids of his own; his oldest son P.J and his daughter Pistol. P.J becomes great friends with Max during the series and they are inseparable.

The series is one of the most hilarious Disney series to ever be released and its humor comes from Max’s very mature nature and Goofy’s eccentric behavior. I also have to give props to Disney for portraying a single father in the series, which I thought was pretty surprising considering the time it was released.

4) Recess (1997)

Released 3 years before the new decade of the 2000s, Recess made school seem more fun than it actually was. With quirky characters and well-written scripts, every episode of Recess was filled with adventure, laughs and made us all want a teacher like Miss Grotke.

Everyday, after school I would hear another school bell ring and it was that iconic sound of the Recess intro song and the screaming kids running out to finally have their 15 minutes of fresh air.

I really think that Recess was a last of its kind, ending the series in 2006, it truly felt like the end of an era.

3) Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (1989)

Classic. That’s all I have to say. Rescue Rangers, is based around two pint size detectives who go on crazy adventures and solving mysteries. The entire series is all about collecting evidence and with a dramatic ending that usually has a humorous twist and the mystery solved.

Chip, the leader of the duo has a Indiana Jones type of wardrobe, whilst Dale in the Hawaiian shirt or if you are Fijian like me you’d call that a Bula shirt is the laid back half of this unstoppable team.

If there was a list for buddy cop movies/series, I think that Chip ‘n Dale should be included in that. It has all of the components that will have children and adults laughing to it.

2) Adventures Of The Gummi Bears (1985)

I don’t know if a lot of people have heard of this series, but if you haven’t then you most certainly should see it. Gummi Bears is based around a group of bears who live in a hallow tree called “Gummi Glen”. Gummi Bears live among humans in secret and they develop a magic potion that helps them have the ability to bounce uncontrollably. The history of the Gummi Bears, goes back centuries and they once did lived amongst humans but as usual, human greed got in the way, and the Gummi Bears had to flee to safety.

Gummi bears, represents a simpler time. A time of which you wake up every Saturday morning with a bowl of cereal kind of vibe.


1) DuckTales (1987)

Finish this “Life is like a hurricane, ___________________________”. You did not have to second guess it huh? DuckTales, is that cartoon that no matter how old you get, you wish that you had a uncle like Scrooge McDuck. The story is based around Scrooge and his 3 nephews whom he has to care for till their father Donald Duck returns from war.

The 3 boys go on crazy adventures with their uncle and although Uncle Scrooge was hesitant at first, you see him eventually warm up to the boys.

To this day, I still catch myself humming the iconic theme song and just a few days ago I watched a couple of episodes of the series and found myself getting nostalgic. Disney did a remake of the series, and I thought that, that was great for the new generation, because there is nothing quite like this unforgettable tale.

So there it is, my top 6 cartoons. This was hard to narrow down, but I am pretty happy with my choices.

So I finally watched the “Bone Collector” (1999)…..

Hello, I am writing to ya’ll right now with a brand new laptop. My other one was almost 4 years old and had seem to run its course. Alas, I feel I can finally write without my laptop glitching anymore.

Anyways, back to more pressing issues “Bone Collector” released in 1999, which is about a brilliant detective (played by Denzel Washington) who solves from the comfort of his home, with a talented street cop (played by Angelina Jolie).

I watched this with my cousin + mum and we thoroughly enjoyed it. But my cousin kept bringing up the fact that some scenes you can clearly see it’s a green screen (driving scenes) but who cares, the script was well written and the acting was superb. I always seem to forget that Jolie’s acting skills are world class, and she definitely delivers with this one.

I feel that we need more movies like this; the thriller genre has seem to take a “time-off” the last couple of years and I would really like it to be revived with plots like this.

So, if you haven’t watched this, I recommend you do. I give this one a 6.5/10

Disney: The Wise Little Hen (1934)

1934 was quite a year, with a war on the horizon in Europe and the United States in the midst of a depression, a funny cartoon with a valuable lesson was probably what was needed to distract from the current happenings of that time (if only for a few minutes of cause).

The story is about a Wise Little Hen, who wants help planting her corn. She asks Peter Pig and (drum roll please) Donald Duck to help her, but they both say that they have “stomach aches”. Disappointed but understanding, Little Hen and her chicks work away, and plant the corn.

The corn grows, and the Little Hen needs to harvest her corn, so she asks Peter Pig and Donald Duck if they would like to help harvest it. They again claim that their stomachs are still aching, and Little Hen understands, but as she walks away from their clubhouse, she sees through the window that the two were just pretending to be sick.

Armed with this information, Little Hen continues to harvest her corn with the help of her chicks, and then she cooks a lot of dishes with it like corn bread and corn soup. Then she goes once again to Donald and Peter, asking them if they would like to eat some corn. They both get excited, and she gives them a basket filled with medicine for stomach aches.

The short, was about 7 mins long and very entertaining. This is also the first short film I’ve seen from Disney via late 1920 and mid 1930s, with a moral lesson. I like the animation and I feel that with each film it gets more crisp. I actually miss this kind of animation and I miss how raw animation use to look. With these drawings you can imagine the pen outlines, you imagine the amount of times animators had to erase and re-draw, just to get the look and feel for the character and scenery right. Moreover, if you are a true Disney fan , then you will know that Donald Duck’s animation has changed with every decade, but one of the reasons why the “Wise Little Hen” is such a classic is because it’s the first time we see Donald Duck and it wasn’t a disappointment, from his theatrical mannerisms and his iconic quacking voice, it was all too much hilarity for one film . Also, another fact ,the original voice for Donald Duck was Clarence Nash and he also voiced Peter Pig, whilst Florence Gill voiced the Little Hen, and this casting reminds us of a time when Disney casted actual voice actors instead of the most current and popular celebrity.

I give this one a 7.5/10.

Netflix: A Killer Inside (The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

Netflix just dropped their new documentary series, and I know what you are all thinking; “you always review a documentary” and I know, but they are so damn interesting.

The series follows the story of professional football player; Aaron Hernandez. It starts with clips from the trial and the murder of semi-pro football player, Odin Lloyd. It then starts to unveil that Aaron Hernandez was charged with Lloyd’s murder.

The story then goes into detail about Hernandez and his family background his success as a football and even with all these successes there was still some instances where he would show extreme anger and questionable behavior.

Hernandez represents the American dream, a young man with an unbelievable talent goes on to pursue his dream, finds a girl that loves him and has a family of his own. BUT, everything comes crashing down in a matter of months, and he soon finds himself behind bars for murder.

The documentary really makes you think about “why?, why give all of it up?!”, this man had everything but unfortunately because of certain circumstances loses it all.

Series is great, it could have done well in a movie documentary style as well, but still worth the Netflix binge.

I give it a 7/10

Disney: Three Little Pigs (1933)

A story that we all know, but I bet not many of my generation have seen the original 1933 Disney version of the Three Little Pigs.

Just for a refresher for some of you who do not know; there were three pigs and all built three completely different houses.

One built a house of straws, the second with wood and the third with bricks. The first two houses got blown down by the “big bad wolf” and all three pigs seek refuge together in the brick house.

The wolf is defeated and they live happily ever.

I know this story and I know the outcome, but for some reason I pulled into it. I even watched it with my 18yr old brother, who also enjoyed it and we had a few laughs over it.

The animation is definitely an improvement from Disney’s previous releases (animation wise) with this time boasting “technicolor”.

I really think that any kid between the ages of 3-11 will definitely enjoy this. The more I watch Disney’s first work, the more I am appreciative of the other things we do not really give credit to, like the voice-overs, the story-telling and the wonderfully nostalgic music that plays in each film short, making you want to be a kid again.

I give it a 7.5/10

Bikram (2019)

I watched “Bikram” a film I viewed on Netflix about Bikram Choudhury, a yogi who builds a yoga/fitness empire then later faces sexual assault allegations by his yoga students.

The documentary was about an 1 hour 1/2 mins long, and it opens with Bikram’s audio voice over, of which he speaks of “healing President Nixon’s foot and how Elvis Presley was one of his first students”. This intro grabs me immediately and for the rest of the film we watch as the untouchable yogi goes from almost a “god-like persona” to him facing charges for raping and harassing women.

I thought the documentary was well organized, and I liked that it starts with Bikram’s humble beginnings from India, to his celebrity status in Los Angeles. You see pictures of him with President Bill Clinton and you see clips of other celebrities speaking about trying out his yoga poses and hot yoga classes; from this you can see that his reach was beyond the yoga studio, but also in pop culture.

The documentary makes you question the power that comes when someone has money, influence and fame. It explores the power dynamic between Birkram and his victims (who were his students) and how he manipulated them, knowing that he had the power to influence their careers.

I really enjoyed this documentary and I liked how concise it was. In less than 2hrs, we as viewers walk away knowing one of the most shocking stories to take place in the yoga and fitness community.

I give this movie an easy 8/10 and I highly recommend it. But please be caution that it does speak about sexual assault, so viewer’s discretion is advised.

Disney: Mickey Mouse, Ye Olden Days (1933)

My vintage Disney watching streak continues. Disney released another short; “Ye Olden Days” in 1933.

This short film introduces us to a Goofy like character but in the short he is given the name; Dippy Dawg. We also see Clarabelle Cow being introduced.

The film takes place during medieval times, and the King (Pete looking character) arranges that his daughter (played by Minnie Mouse) marries the Prince (Goofy/Dippy Dawg). However, the Princess refuses to marry the Prince and because of her refusal is locked in a tower with her friend (Clarabelle Cow).

After seeing this, Mickey Mouse’s character, decides to go save the Princess and he and the princess fall in love. However, they are caught escaping and in order for Mickey to avoid execution, is asked to go into a dual with the Prince (Goofy). Mickey wins the dual and he marries Minnie.

The movie was in black & white, which I was surprised about, considering I knew that the film short before this “Silly Symphony: Flowers and Trees” (1933) was in color, but something that was different was that there was dialogue. That’s right! We got to hear the iconic voices of some of Disney’s most beloved characters for the first time.

I thought the short was good and for some reason I find myself preferring these Disney’s Shorts, than some of the modern cartoons we have right now. I feel as if these stories could be enjoyed by both adults and kids, and the voices definitely added a layer but that doesn’t mean that it was better than the shorts without dialogue.

I give this one a rate of; 6.5/10

The Oscars 2020 Nomination: My Thoughts

Oscar nominations have been announced in the early morning of 2020-01-13, and although I want to wish congratulations to everyone nominated, I wanted to put out two very important snubs; Jennifer Lopez and Adam Sandler.

I know that awards do not mean a thing, but I think that unfortunately it is one of the few ways we can give appreciation to artists and their work.

Jennifer Lopez’s role in Hustlers as Ramona was amazing and this role was the role that she was born to play. Lopez, I believe is an underrated actress, because of more than two decades, she has consistently made us laugh, made us want to fall in love and tear up; but this movie made everyone believe in Lopez and believe that her longevity in this industry is well-deserved. She delivered emotion, power and wit with her performance. And even though she didn’t get nominated, the popular opinion on Lopez has shifted, and I hope to see her in more roles that let her flex her immense talent.

Adam Sandler is a late bloomer and although he is a successful comedian and has starred in some great movies, he never truly showed the world his talent until Uncut Gems. Sandler shed his good guy comedian persona and dove into his role as Howard Ratner. Sandler is a masterpiece still in progress and give it sometime and we will see something special. I look forward to seeing more work from him.

Lopez and Sandler, represent the outcast of Hollywood, the “type-casted” actors who now want to shed their image for something more; but unfortunately the Hollywood elite will not allow that to happen, or at least not so easily. I like to think of their careers as how Matthew Mcconaughey turned around his career from romantic lead to Oscar worthy actor, and I know and hope that Lopez and Sandler’s time will come, because their talents are far too great to be restricted within one genre of movie making.

Oh and before I leave this discussion, I just wanted to say congrats to “Joker”, I remember when Martin Scorsese said that comic books/ superhero movies are not cinema; well Joker is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director; just goes to show that sometimes the elites do not always get it right.

P.S I love Scorsese, just had to mention this as a huge believer in breaking down the Elitist perspective in movies.

Netflix’s The Devil Next Door (2019)

My second documentary mini-series review from Netflix, and I haven’t seen a lot of people buzzing as much about this as “Don’t fuck with cats” but oh well, let’s dive into it.

This series “The Devil Next Door” centers around  John Demjanjuk a family man from Cleveland who is accused of being the notorious Nazi guard; “Ivan the Terrible”.

The entire documentary takes you on a journey, as Demjanjuk tries to clear his name and insists that he is not “Ivan the Terrible” but an immigrant who came to America to build a new life. You will see the trial and also opinions from those involved in the case and in Demjanjuk’s life.

I thought the series was good and I find that Netflix has been really good at condensing their docu-series and this one is no exception. As the audience you will go through the feelings of shock, confusion and in some cases questioning his guilt or innocence.

Giving this series a rate of 7/10

Disney: Silly Symphony “Flowers and Trees” (1932)

Four years after “Steamboat Willie”, Disney returns with another 7min short film called “Silly Symphony: Flowers and Trees”. The movie starts with dancing flowers and trees, accompanied with singing birds.

The story centers around two, young and healthy trees who fall in love. Their love story is quickly interrupted when a hallow grey tree tries to gain attention from the female tree and that leads to a fight between the two male trees (the healthy young one and the hallow grey one).

The younger tree wins the fight, but in an act of rage and jealousy the hallow tree sets the forest on fire. Fortunately the creatures of the forest help put out the fire and the hallow tree also dies in the process of the fire.

The movie ends with the two trees getting engaged and “ta da”, the end.

The movie was very enjoyable and again no dialogue but the storytelling was easy to follow. I thought it had some dark moments; for example when the hallow tree commits arson to pretty much kill both the trees who were in a love in a fit of jealousy was grim (especially for a Disney “KID FRIENDLY” cartoon) but thankfully all ended well.

This movie also shows Disney’s progression as it was in color. The animation was cute and the scenery can give anyone a sense of nostalgia.

Little fact: this movie won the first Oscar for Best Cartoon Short Subject

I give this movie a 7/10

Netflix: Dont Fuck with Cats

I just finished watching Netflix’s new obsession “Don’t Fuck with Cats”, and all I have to say is “wow!”. It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and binged an entire series, but this little mini series had me from beginning to end.

The documentary “True Crime” vibe production was a roller-coaster ride, and it centers around a Facebook group of animal lovers who are determined to find a man who has committed horrendous crimes against animals, specifically cats.

There are a lot of scenes and discussions on the series that are disturbing and can cause discomfort.

But overall, amazing series and I would 100% recommend it to anyone who is looking for mystery or true crime documentary production.

Rate: 8.5/10

Disney Mickey Mouse: Steamboat Willie

So, I just finished watching Disney’s first ever animation production“Steamboat WIllie” and also the first time the world gets introduced to the lovable Mickey Mouse. Also note that Minnie Mouse (equally as lovable) makes a brief appearance, plus the character Pete (who always plays the antagonist) makes his debut as well.

The short 7min production was hilarious and although there is no talking, the charm of Mickey was still there. The film was made in 1928, but the animation was still impressive. You can tell that Disney’s focus was both the storytelling and pushing the envelope on what animation can do.

For any Disney fan, I would recommend seeing this little production because it reminds us just how far Disney movies have come and it’s also a sneak peak into the making of legend.

Rate: 7/10

Disney Challenge

Ever since Disney launched their “Disney+” streaming platform, I have made a goal that in the year 2020, I would watch every single Disney movies starting from the 1920s.

Yes! you read that right. But to make it more interesting and not so overwhelming for me, I will only stick with the purely Disney produced movies; sorry Pixar fans, but I had to narrow my options down a bit here (give me a break please).

The first ever Disney movie was of Mickey Mouse and that was released on November 18th, 1928, so it has almost been 100 years of Disney magic, which means a lot of ground to cover.

But just to note that I will be posting other reviews of other movies/shows I find interesting, whilst doing the Disney Challenge.

I will be posting my review every week and may the Disney World Journey begin 🙂

FP