Movie Review – Aftersun

Aftersun (2022)
Written & Directed by Charlotte Wells

Many people will never know their parents as real human beings. That could be because the parent puts up emotional barriers to hide their vulnerabilities. The parent may not want to overwhelm the child with adult emotions they are far too young to understand, which continues into their child’s adulthood. Or the parent could simply not respect the child as a person and think they couldn’t understand. I know for me, my parents will always be enigmas. Estranged from my dad for 14 years and counting and my mom for 3+. It’s better for me that way; they are both broken, toxic people who I don’t think will ever seek out the help they need. I don’t have the bandwidth to do it for them, and honestly, I was neglected in so many ways, so a relationship with them is nothing I desire. But, unfortunately, that’s how life can sometimes be. We don’t choose to be born, and we don’t choose who we are born to. Some people have parents that are grounded, open, and loving. Others have parents who are distant, closed off, and confusing. All we can do is try to make sense of the cards we are dealt.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Aftersun”

Patron Pick – One True Thing

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

One True Thing (1998)
Written by Karen Croner
Directed by Carl Franklin

Movies like One True Thing weren’t on my radar in the late 1990s. I was a teenager, a year away from college, sheltered & homeschooled, working at my local public library and discovering all sorts of exciting niche things I would cultivate over the decades. So something like this movie wouldn’t have even been a blip for me. Instead, I was far more interested in exploring weird movies, inching my way towards becoming the art house snob I lived as during college. Now, at age 41, I appreciate this type of movie more, particularly in the face of its near extinction, as something you can see in a theater. The cineplexes are dominated by blockbuster incoherence, and streaming seems to be a flood of mediocrity devoid of soul. So while One True Thing sounds like a Lifetime movie in its description, the performances, mainly Meryl Streep’s (coming as no surprise to anyone), elevate the picture to something of note.

Continue reading “Patron Pick – One True Thing”

Movie Review – The Godfather

The Godfather (1972)
Written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

I would argue that Francis Ford Coppola is the most influential director of the last 20th century, not a giant leap to make, really. He pre-dated the breakout debuts of Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, De Palma, and more. Coppola also created a type of movie that had been endlessly mimicked and rarely matched. It’s an epic drama focused on characters and their relationships over long periods. Hollywood had been making epics for decades but not like what Coppola brought to the screen in The Godfather. This was also many people’s introduction to the specifics of the mafia. Like epics, Hollywood gave audiences gangster pictures for years but nothing that showcased the family dynamics and the importance of cultural heritage to these criminal organizations. The Godfather really does live up to its hype, unlike anything before.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Godfather”

Movie Review – Petite Maman

Petite Maman (2021)
Written & Directed by Céline Sciamma

Céline Sciamma truly wowed me and many others with Portrait of a Lady on Fire. It was a complex romantic film about two women unable to have the sort of love they wanted under the social constraints of their time. The premise could have been played so bland, but Sciamma injected it with life and energy few films have. That led to a heart-breaking finale that lingers with the viewer long after. I was excited when I learned of her newest film, Petite Maman. She had been such a fantastic filmmaker I was curious to see what she did next. When I discovered the movie was about the rocky relationship between mother and daughter, something ripe to be explored with a lot of emotional depth, I needed to see it. Sadly, what we got was a complete waste of time.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Petite Maman”

Movie Review – The Witches (2020)

The Witches (2020)
Written by Robert Zemeckis, Kenya Barris, and Guillermo del Toro
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Robert Zemeckis, like I said about John Landis while reviewing An American Werewolf in London, is a director that gave us some fantastic movies in the 1980s and then seemed to fade in subsequent decades. In Zemeckis’s instance, he seemed to keep putting out quality work in the 1990s, but it was the new millennium and deluge of motion capture technologies that took him into a new realm of filmmaking that often hasn’t paid off. These instances always cause me to wonder if all that success ultimately had a negative consequence, removing the things that made Zemeckis’s movies fun because he simply wanted to play with some complicated new toys.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Witches (2020)”

Movie Review – A Little Princess

A Little Princess (1995)
Written by Richard LaGravenese & Elizabeth Chandler
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

When I watch films intended for families or children, I always focus on the theme or lesson being communicated. I think, as an elementary teacher, I want to know what this picture is telling kids about the world and humanity. I’d heard very positive things about A Little Princess, mainly from the perspective that Alfonso Cuaron did a great job directing. From that technical perspective, the film is well done, save for some poorly aged computer special effects. But I actually found the lesson of the picture to be deeply troubling yet very much in line with many of the films that come out of Hollywood for kids.

Continue reading “Movie Review – A Little Princess”

Movie Review – The Indian in the Cupboard

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)
Written by Melissa Mathison
Directed by Frank Oz

Frank Oz is one of my favorite comedy directors of the 1980s and 90s. I consider Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and What About Bob? among my favorite movies from that period. He was also no stranger to making family-friendly fare with The Muppets Take Manhattan directorial credit as well as being one of the top performers among Jim Henson’s Muppet troupe. That’s what makes The Indian in the Cupboard feel so strangely disappointing and lifeless. The movie isn’t horrible, but it feels like it’s missing a critical emotional component that ends up leaving the picture ultimately forgettable.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Indian in the Cupboard”

Movie Review – Babe

Babe (1995)
Written by George Miller & Chris Noonan
Directed by Chris Noonan

I recall this movie being huge when it came out, and when looking at the box office returns and critical reviews, it truly was. Babe was a phenomenally popular film, one of those rare family films that didn’t pander to its audience and told a layered, thoughtful story. Most people probably just remember the cute little pig and his sweet voice, but there is a lot of heavy, dark material. The film doesn’t shy away from touching on the cruelty of factory farming and the eating of meat. With the talented work of filmmakers George Miller & Chris Noonan on the script, they never become didactic, though, making sure the story is always entertaining.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Babe”

Movie Review – Follow That Bird

Follow That Bird (1985)
Written by Judy Freudberg & Tony Geiss
Directed by Ken Kwapis

The late 1970s/early-mid 1980s was the era of the Muppets and Jim Henson. The world-famous puppeteer worked to show the audience what his creations could do and expand the public consciousness about puppetry. He showed us a comedic variety program with The Muppet Show, a road trip picture with The Muppet Movie, action & adventure in The Great Muppet Caper, and a Broadway-style musical with the Muppets Take Manhattan. Henson created work aimed at older audiences with The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. In the middle of all of this, Henson’s company decided to bring their phenomenally successful public television series Sesame Street to the big screen with Follow That Bird.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Follow That Bird”

Movie Review – Matilda

Matilda (1996)
Written by Nicholas Kazan & Robin Swicord
Directed by Danny DeVito

Roald Dahl has always been one of my most favorite children’s authors ever since I had first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory read to me. Dahl has an incredible nastiness in his writing that appeals to kids, he reveals the truth of the world, mainly that adults are often gluttonous buffoons. There are also monstrous children, usually offshoots of their rotten parents. The child protagonists on Dahl’s work are overwhelmed by these abrasive forces but typically find a source of internal strength to overcome them and triumph. Matilda is one of the most archetypal Dahl heroes, and her story is very much centered in a nuanced examination of the education system.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Matilda”