The Little Prince (2016)

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Thank goodness for Netflix, because otherwise I doubt I and many other people would have seen this glorious and gorgeous animation. Mixing computer animated scenes with the true art of stop-motion sequences, this French-Canadian movie is colourful, stirring and magical.

Single Mother (Rachel McAdams) is a busy worker and wants her daughter to follow suit by attending the prestigious Werth Academy. However The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) befriends the much talked about nutty man next door leading her down a more adventurous fun path. The Aviator (Jeff Bridges) has stories to tell and interests the girl with a tale about a Little Prince (Riley Osborne) who he met in the Sahara Desert.

In a way, the 3D graphics of the animated world featuring the girl and her older neighbour reminded me of the look ‘The Incredibles’ provided. The shape of people and their faces harking to that sort of visual. The way this grey and busy landscape is seen is brilliant, just the times we zoom out to see ant sized cars all leaving on the dot for work shows how professional and disengaged to a more fun life these adults are.

The special moments are in the papery looking but also wooden style design of the stop-motion characters. I’ve always said that the whole process of stop-motion animation is something admirable and rewarding and I stick by it ever more so due to this beautiful exploration of the medium. There’s a great charm in seeing The Little Prince stories come into the fold during this film and it gives the story an extra fancy touch.

Having never read the source material myself, I couldn’t comment on what the treatment of the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is like. They me quite faithful or changed a lot but I enjoyed the story presented here a lot. His tale is moulded nicely and Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti create a lovely screenplay that fits for all ages, centred around the idea of growing up and forgetting childhood. At times, this theme gets dealt an emotional hand and I felt a little tingly at the ideas being put across.

Only one portion of this movie kind of felt off and that’s annoyingly the third act as the Little Girl decides to take action and flies off in the hope of seeing the much talked about prince. It could be viewed as an act that loses people because it gets off track from the better grounded narrative scenes that come before, which is exactly how I see it. I guess you could say that at the time the girl falls, what comes after can be interpreted how you like which makes more sense but still doesn’t stop the last act being slightly iffy.

The music gives you chills, with a wonderful score from Hans Zimmer accompanying the on screen action with suitable bounce and heart. Camille provides lush vocals during the film, in a way that echoes of the enchanting yet haunting sounds from ‘Coraline’. Another positive is the light comedy that hits well, the sad notes of loss and looking to the stars for laughter provides a lovely notion and the pairing of the girl and aviator are fun to watch.

All I can really say is, it’s a massive shame this won’t be up for an Academy Best Animated Feature award due to it not being theatrically released. If it was it’d certainly give Disney and Pixar a severe run for their money because it’s stunning, emotional and special.

8.5/10

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Oscars 2016 Look Back

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So, another Oscars and film awards season is over. I’ve just woke up after watching the 88th Academy Awards live, which was certainly one with lots of expectations, not just because of switching in to see how the diversity racquet would be dealt with but also because of apparent film darling DiCaprio and whether he’d finally scoop an award.

Before the ceremony began, I always flick on for the red carpet, I don’t get fashion or know what works but you know, if someone looks good, guy or gal then it’s still fun to watch. There’s always that pandering talk but straight out of the blocks was a smouldering Saoirse Ronan in an plunging green number, showing more than usual but looking elegant all the same. Alicia Vikander can do no wrong for me even in a very pale yellow dress. Dapper li’l Jacob Tremblay came up the red runway and he is a cool cat and should have been nominated…I think really one of the big snubs this Oscar year.

So it began…everyone in their seats, me included…not in the Dolby Theater of course, I can but dream. Chris Rock was a fantastic host in my opinion, he dealt with the diverse (or lack of) issue head on which was both honestly searing but energetically funny at the same time.

Best Screenplay became an expected win for Spotlight, considering it’s well handled subject matter though the sci-fi intrigue and technological brilliance of Ex Machina was my favourite.

Adapted Screenplay got handed to The Big Short which for me was a Darth Vader scream of ‘Nooooo’ but apparently people lapped it up, my twitter feed had lots of BS fan’s…and that’s exactly what I’m calling…BS.

Next up we had a little video reel of black actors appearing in Oscar nominated films was brilliantly done; Tracy Morgan as a Danish girl or Whoopi Goldberg with a mop calling out the dumbness of Joy was a great tone to this whole #oscarssowhite issue/debarcle.

Supporting Actress came around, my heart beat levels for the Swedish stunner were rising. Luckily Vikander got the win, I was so so happy, I mean yes, Ex Machina was better but then she was the best feature about The Danish Girl even without eating pastries like Tracy Morgan.

Mad Max: Fury Road gained prizes for all the visual ideas, costume/hair/production which made this action movie more than expected. A huge dystopian world of thrills and vision. What a day, what a lovely day they had.

The Revenant won for cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, his third on the trot; fair as it does look grand, sweeping and beautiful but The Hateful Eight was also glorious but better detailed even when not outside in the snowy landscapes.

I very much liked how awards were presented this year, production or costume props rolled out as presenters came onto the stage. The sound and editing nominees were also presented well in the clips with a neat style to it all. Also commenting on the winners ticker tape that went along the bottom – I liked that, a fair chance for the winner to have names listed even if they forget in the heat of the moment or the orchestra plays them off.

Ex Machina got a Best Visual Effects win, yay, well deserved because the sci-fi of the film is stunning. And could we also pretend that Oscar Isaac’s dance number was a sublime visual effect for the movie.

Nice to see Buzz and Woody even if their voices sounded like they had a cold, even better because they almost made me forget that the Minions appeared at the Oscars, oy, what a sentence I never thought I’d write. Boy and the World perhaps should have won Best Animated Feature because it would have opened it up to more views but I can’t deny that Inside Out was excellent and therefore I’m happy it won.

Supporting actor finally came around after many commercials, what a surprise as I thought the nostalgia factor would of been ol’ Sly to get it after so long, that would have been a dream but from what I’ve heard Mark Rylance was a top draw act opposite Hanks.

Lady Gaga may not have deserved a Golden Globe but her performance last night was emotionally powerful, important, moving and a solid moment when stars stood and the world hopefully took notice. Like Legend and Common’s song of 2015, this performance very much leapt out as the big talking point.

Ennio Morricone seems like such a lovely humble man with his speech accepting Best Score, which spoke even louder volumes. A fantastic soundtrack for a fantastic film, which was followed by Sam Smith, yes really. That’s all I shall say otherwise I’ll get mean. Hang on though, his performance was dreary and his song is so meh…especially after that Gaga song how on Earth did he walk away with the Oscar??

Alejandro G. Inarritu won for The Revenant, very expected but I’m disappointed, we get it, it was a tough cold shoot but George Miller presented a fun yet directorial feat of thrills, spills and unique film-making, I mean a sequel of years for lordy sake and it was exhilarating for a 70 year old to direct.

Brie Larson , yay again, expected again but if you saw her in ‘Room’ then you know she was the rightful recipient for Best Actress.

Now the real big one, no black nominees aside, the Best Actor time had come. More memes for Leonardo DiCaprio or finally his turn?? He must know about the internet love for him and now he gets the Oscar looking genuinely in awe at the standing ovation. He did a lot for the trophy but I still feel this wasn’t the film for his prize, he always felt/looked like DiCaprio but with a beard and muddier. I kind of wanted him to lose for more memes to come rolling in.

Spotlight won the heavy metal for Best Picture and though it does follow all the yawn Oscar tropes it’s a seriously important topic and delved into well, the ensemble acting truly makes it too. I realise this will end up being a forgettable BP winner but it’s delicately directed and acted in the Church crime story being uncovered.

All in all, last night’s late watching proved a great choice, Chris Rock leapt at the hosting chance with great zip, the jokes sometimes got edgy but I feel they needed to be. The Oscars also provided some good surprises this year in terms of winners but sadly it may have all been let down by no sign of the one, the only and wickedly talented John Travolta.

 

 

 

 

Oscars 2015 Look Back

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A fairly predictable night at the 87th Academy Awards, with all acting winners being the ones I expected and on the whole, ones I was happy to see pick up the golden statuette. The show itself started off spectacularly with showman Neil Patrick Harris doing his usual song and dance shtick, but he does it so well it doesn’t matter. ‘Moving Pictures’ was stylish, cool and one of the better notes of Harris’ hosting gig.

J.K Simmons deserved the win, his role as Fletcher in WHIPLASH is blisteringly good. The harsh way he tries to inspire a new musical icon is violent and cold and Simmons does well giving the teacher some light shades from time to time, either in marvellous one liners or a brief scene of sadness. Patricia Arquette was the out and out favourite all along, scooping up major prizes in the run up to last night, it was a shoe-in for her to get the biggie. Don’t get me wrong, I felt her motherly vulnerable performance held a lot of BOYHOOD together but I would have loved to see Rosamund Pike win, for shock value and doing something Pike had never really done before. Eddie Redmayne is someone I never really loved until seeing his turn as Stephen Hawking. He embodies the genius and his bodily acting as Hawking is outstanding, he thoroughly deserved the win and I was glad he got it, a sweet and gentlemanly speech too. Julianne Moore was the fourth out of four predictable acting wins but from the small snippets I’ve seen of STILL ALICE she looks damn good. Just have to see it now and watch what got the trophy.

Birdman got Best Picture and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu clawed up another two for Original Screenplay and Directing. I’m more than happy with these three big prizes as Birdman was not a bio-pic, it’s theatrical, clever, funny and excellent. I have to admit I thought Boyhood would win but luckily it didn’t. It’s a sheer statement and project but not an overwhelming treat of a film whereas Birdman stands out. The second year in a row for a Mexican to win Director and gladly it seems the Oscars voters are rewarding the talents and not just American releases. Just waiting for more female recognition and they’re doing better.

Glory got Best Original Song for SELMA, beating off earworm ditty, ‘Everything is Awesome’ featured in THE LEGO MOVIE, still a major snub for not being in Animation but it’s too late now! Glory well and truly deserved the win, John Legend and Common collected the Oscar mere minutes after their hair raising performance. The production value of the Edmund Pettus bridge and large groups marching on the Dolby Theatre stage was emotional and powerful. It got a rapturous ovation and tears were shed by snubbed David Oyelowo and Chris Pine also.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a lovely Anderson film and the whole look is perfect, so it was 100% agreeable that it picked up all the visual elements, such as costuming and production design. The state of Zubrowka is quirky and sweeps through doll house like mountains, hotels and prisons in typical Wes design.

Neil Patrick Harris himself threw in a couple of good jokes and zingers but on the whole the show did drag on, his magic suitcase prediction gag was a pointless waste of time. The opening number and his Whiplash/Birdman skit were the peaks of his hosting role. Harris stepping out in his tighty whities was brilliant and perfectly spoofed. I don’t know who may get the honour next time but Fey and Poehler are full of character and have chemistry so hopefully they’ll move up from Golden Globes duty.

A long and sometime odd show, Gaga and Sound of Music being a case in point, but I still can’t shake off the Oscar buzz every year it comes around. Even when the films aren’t as exciting or the winners are expected, there’s something fun about staying up to watch the Academy Awards. See you again next year. #stayweird #staydifferent.

The Acting Brick Road

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I have created a page that is focused on looking at movies of certain past and contemporary actors, that I have seen. I will look at their best performance, a performance of theirs that’s not so great, something they’ve done that’s family friendly and something more adult orientated to try and show how diverse the actor can be, if they haven’t done something NSFW or a kiddy sort of film then I’ll leave that out. I will also look to TV, chat shows and sketches they may have done to look outside the film world to see how they appear off the big screen and on something smaller.

It will basically let you follow follow follow follow follow the acting career of certain actors.

At the moment it’s Oscar orientated with a look see at nominated figures but once Sunday is done with the range will be opened up more!

I will be trying to keep this updated every day with a new face to add to the growing list. Go on, step away from that fallen crashed house and the withered feet of the dead witch and take a more interesting path down the acting brick road.