Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Three stars

Sincere if ambling children’s adventure movie.  The episodic structure of the film makes for good trailer cutting but robs momentum and ultimately payoff.  There’s a bit of forced Wes Andersony whimsy but the lead kid is pretty awesome.  Good characters.  Decent silly movie.

D & W: TaikiaWaititi, More W: Barry Crump, P by: Lachlan Milne, E by: Tom Eagles, Yana Gorskaya, & Luke Haigh, M by: Lukasz Pawel Buda, Samuel Scott & Conrad Wedde, w/ Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Tiorere Ngatai-Melbourne, Oscar Knightley, Stan Walker, Mike Minogue, etc…101 min, New Zealand, 2016

My Mother’s Castle

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Four stars

A picture like a walk on a breezy, sunny day.  Submissive, girl-crazy, young boy, early 20th century, French country summer.  Bittersweet memories, the ghost of your childhood.  A family uses a secret key to shortcut through the canals in the backyards of Marseilles’ wealthy elites.  Most everyone is full of love and help but there are a few dickheads (just like life).  Pages turn to dust, families turn to death.  World War 1 looms, casts a shadow.  Novelists cast a spell.  This movie is a spell.  This movie is sweet, sunny insects buzzing and river water lapping in concrete sluice.

D & W: Yves Robert, More W: Marcel Pagnol & Jérôme Tonnerre, P by: Robert Alazraki, E by: Pierre Gillette, M by: Vladimir Cosma, w/Nathalie Roussel, Phillippe Caubère, Julian Ciamanca, Phillipe Uchan, Didier Paine, Thérèse Liotard, Julie Timmerman, jean Rochefort, etc…98 min, France, 1991

Strictly Ballroom

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Four stars

Sweet soaring hullabaloo!  For the love of the dance!  An Ugly Duckling picture, an Aussie adventure.  There’s sexy jazzy Cyndi Lauper covers, and scenery chewing caricatures.  I watched this movie and stomped my feet, shook my hips, grabbed the dog and improvised some bossa nova steps.

D & W: Baz Luhrmann, More W: Andrew Bovell & Craig Pearce, P by: Steve Mason, E by: Jill Bilcock, M by: David Hirschfelder, w/Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, Barry Hunter, Todd McKenney, John Hanan, Gia Carides, etc…94 min, Australia, 1992

Finding Dory

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Four stars

All the ocean’s fauna (save one squid) rally behind the eponymous blue tang.  When beset by doubt they ask what she would do, “WWDD?”  Dory herself utilizes this trick, the guiding principle larger than the fish it represents.  Larger than the Christ it recalls, though come to think of it he, too, is symbolized by a fish.  Am I saying Ellen DeGeneres is Jesus?  No I am not.

D & W: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane, More W: Victoria Strouse & Bob Peterson, A by: Bert Barry, Don Shank, James W. Brown, Catherine Hicks, Kishan Ramjas, Leo Santos, Sikand Srinivas, Tsung-Yin Hsieh, etc..P: Jeremy Lasky, E: Axel Geddes, M: Thomas Newman w/Ellen DeGeneres,  Ed O’Neill, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Idris Elba, Sigourney Weaver, etc…97 min, USA, 2016

Teenage Turtles 6: Shadowlands

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Three stars

According to Eckhart Tolle our slavish devotion to the mind robs us of the deep divine stillness of being.  Turtle brothers battle a brain.  Taoist, hormonal, subterranean, CGI New Yorkers in the latest filmic entry of an ip with an awesome/grotesque toy-line from my youth.  Megan Fox symbolically strips onscreen out of old April into new.  Will Arnett does a comedy bit with a wall cable.  There’s a pop punk cover of the 80’s cartoon theme.  Tyler Perry is wonderfully unrestrained here, he never turns into a fly though.  Not even post-credits.

D by: Dave Green, W by: Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec, P by: Lula Carvalho, E by: Bob Ducsay & Jim May, M by: Steve Jablonsky, A by: Ryan Bradley, Oz Gani, Wong Joe, Kai-Hu Lan, etc…thnx Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman, Michael Bay; w/Laura Linney, Tyler Perry, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Farrelly, Gary Anthony Williams, Brain Tee, Tony Shalhoub, etc..112 min, USA, 2016

Brother Bear

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Two stars

Moose!  Mammoths!  Matricide!  Floppy-lipped dog-bears crooning Phil Collins.  A brash-headed, prehistoric eskimo learns to respect the interconnectedness of all things.  This is lesser Disney but still the backgrounds are sumptuous.  I watched it by lamp light in the den with my father.  We snacked on caramel corn, pulled faces, wiggled eyebrows.  Inside of us were tornados unmatched by the small screen’s efforts.

D by: Aaron Blaise & Robert Walker, W by: Tab Murphy, Lorne Cameron, David Hoselton, Steve Bencich & Ron J. Friedman, A by: David J. Zywicki, John Webber, Yer ‘Za ‘Vue, JC Tran-Quang-Thieu, Kim Torpy, Rusty Stoll, Heidi Shellhorn, etc… E by: Tim Merten, M by: Phil Collins & Mark Mancina w/Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Michael Clarke Duncan, Greg Proops, Estelle Harris, Jason Raize, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, etc…, 85 min, USA, 2003

Instructions Not Included

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Two stars

I’m interested in mainstream foreign cinema.  What translates?  What reveals?  Here’s a transformative-power-of-Fatherhood flick.  It’s kinda Big Daddy-esque.  Acapulco playboy stuffed with sun.  Baby on the stoop.  He jumps from cliffs, he sneaks into the states.  He has a custody battle, he’s haunted by wolves.  There’s a Johnny Depp impersonator & some weirdly timed poop jokes.  The colors are candy bright.  The twist has some chutzpah but ultimately contributes to an overarching feeling of artifice that left me feeling deadened & (I think) the wrong kind of sad when I should have been moved.  But y’know, my favorite movie’s The Holy Mountain so my opinions are likely very different from yours.

D, W, & E by: Eugenio Derbez, More W: Guillermo Ríos & Leticia López Margalli, More E: Santiago Pérez & Rocha León, P by: Martín Boege & Andrés León Becker, M by: Carlo Siliotto w/Eugenio Derbez, Loreto Peralta, Daniel Raymont, Jessica Lindsey, Alessandra Rosaldo, Danny Lopez, Jesús Ochoa, Sammy Pérez, Ángela Moreno etc…, 122 min, Mexico, 2013