Movie Review – Donkey Skin

Donkey Skin (1970)
Written & Directed by Jacques Demy

Among the masses, Charles Perrault’s name has never quite had the recognition of the Brothers Grimm. Perrault was a French author during the 17th century who is most well known for founding the literary genre of the fairy tale. His fairy tales, of course, were derived from regional folktales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Jacques Demy grew up hearing and reading the stories Perrault had collected centuries earlier. Since the early 1960s, Demy had been trying to work out a script to adapt one of the fairy tales. There isn’t a director I can think of that would be more suited for this type of film, Demy’s commitment to style while staying true to honest storytelling is something that makes a fairy tale pop off the page.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Donkey Skin”

Patron Pick – Motivational Growth

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

Motivational Growth (2013)
Written & Directed by Don Thacker

American independent film is a complicated industry that’s been through many transformations since movies were invented. The late 1990s to the mid-2010s were a Golden Age at the start but eventually became a time of diminishing returns. The 20th century ended with so much promise, especially with the advent of digital cameras, but by 2015 movies were being churned out that lacked a lot. Motivational Growth is one of those American indie flicks with an interesting premise, but the execution is ruined by a filmmaker who believes he’s cleverer than he actually is. He’s completely unsure of the tone, so the movie veers from body horror to dark comedy, back and forth again and again.

Continue reading “Patron Pick – Motivational Growth”

Movie Review – Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Written & Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Your life is all you know. We might imagine other possibilities, whether looking back in regret or curiosity about past choices, or contemplating what the future might hold. But, regardless of all of this, we only exist in the present, in now. We can’t ever go back and change things, and the future is eternally unattainable as it inevitably becomes now. Lately, the Multiverse has become a concept in the zeitgeist, made possible by numerous films touching on it. In their latest film, the duo known as Daniels have constructed a story that embraces this cosmic, near-incomprehensible concept’s fantastic and highly human aspects.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Everything Everywhere All At Once”

Movie Review – The Northman

The Northman (2022)
Written by Sjón and Robert Eggers
Directed by Robert Eggers

Robert Eggers has carved out a niche for himself as a filmmaker that attempts to recreate the feel of specific periods in humanity’s past. With The Witch, he captured the colonial paranoia of the fear of the wilderness. The Lighthouse evokes the birth of psychoanalysis and the expansion of the Western mind’s interiors. He does this once again in the Viking-centered The Northman, a picture that transports into the mind of the 9th century. Here the landscape is imbued with mystic power, and humanity believes that through faith & ritual, they can connect with these volatile elements. While not as profoundly esoteric as Eggers’ previous two features, The Northman is still a film overflowing with aesthetic richness and exploring complex themes.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Northman”

Patron Pick – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (1988)

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

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (1988)
Written by C.S. Lewis & Alan Seymour
Directed by Marilyn Fox

I remember having the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia read aloud to me around seven or eight. It was my first introduction to C.S. Lewis’ series and immediately piqued my interest. A couple years later, this British television mini-series aired on PBS’ Wonderworks, a children’s anthology, and I was pulled in right away. While it doesn’t compare to the lavish production values of 1980s blockbusters, it did make me feel like I was passing into another world. Narnia felt very real and honestly very frightening. The series does not hold back on some terrifying imagery for a little kid. Many years passed before I rewatched it and what I found was that, while very faithful to the book, it does not hold up from an adult perspective.

Continue reading “Patron Pick – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (1988)”

Movie Review – Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Written by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers
Directed by Spike Jonze

To be a child is to be overwhelmed. I often think back to my own messy childhood and feel pangs of regret that my way of thinking was so warped by Christian-conservative ideologues for parents that I just don’t have some of the same experiences that many of my peers did. However, I believe all children struggle with how to process their emotions. Some have good supportive parents, while others have parents who model terrible behavior. The key difference has always been a parent who can say they are sorry to their child, which my parents could not and still can’t do. The parent who does that, who can shrug off the ego, understanding that “sorry” will help shape their child into a kind person, does something revolutionary. Where the Wild Things Are is about the tension, that moment of growth from being self-centered to understanding the experiences & feelings of others.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Where the Wild Things Are”

Movie Review – Into the Woods (1991)

Into the Woods (1991)
Written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
Directed by James Lapine

For a minute, I thought about rewatching the Frank Marshall-directed version of this musical, but the idea of watching James Corden turned my stomach enough to find an alternative. So I decided to finally check out this film of the original Broadway cast’s performance. It may not have the digital effects and “star power” of the 2014 motion picture, but it is the complete musical being done by highly talented people, and I loved it. I was able to see the entire story, all the scenes and songs deleted from the Disney movie, and the result was a story with much more cohesive themes and a maturity the film ultimately lacks.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Into the Woods (1991)”

Movie Review – Memoria

Memoria (2021)
Written & Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Memoria is difficult to talk about because it really isn’t a movie in how we typically define such things. It’s filmed on a camera, there are actors and a script, but in terms of narrative, it’s glacially slow. Memoria is a filmed meditation, and because of that, it can be frustrating at times. I know I didn’t enjoy my entire time with the picture, yet some moments took my breath away. I have to assume this is the desired outcome from the director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. This is a movie about creeping existential dread that never allows its protagonist to fully define or name what is causing this feeling inside them. 

Continue reading “Movie Review – Memoria”

Movie Review – The Spine of Night

The Spine of Night (2021)
Written & Directed by Philip Gelatt & Morgan Galen King

American animator Ralph Bakshi saw his star rise and fall across the 1970s and early 1980s. He’s fondly remembered as the director behind numerous fantasy films of that period, Lord of the Rings probably his most well-known work. Because hand-drawn animation had many limitations, Bakshi would often employ rotoscoping, a technique where film of live action actors is drawn over, adding textures and embellishments but keeping the fluid motion of real people. This technique would evolve into digital motion capture, and rotoscoping has become a niche technique used sparingly. However, Richard Linklater has used it to make his films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Inspired by Bakshi, we have The Spine of Night, a dark horror fantasy that tells of another world where ancient dark magic prevails.

Continue reading “Movie Review – The Spine of Night”

Movie Review – Cryptozoo

Cryptozoo (2021)
Written & Directed by Dean Shaw

If Cryptozoo feels like an indie comic book, you wouldn’t be wrong. The creator Dean Shaw is a comic book writer/artist. The work looks like a crude outsider art piece with hints of inspiration from other obscure animated works. I personally saw a lot of Fantastic Planet in the character movement and the themes of the narrative. The story is ambitious but ultimately fails to come together, in my opinion. There’s something here, but I don’t think all the ingredients mixed well. We have an animated film that wants to build a vast world and talk about the environment & humanity.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Cryptozoo”