Apr 20, 2015

Review: Three Orphan Kittens (1935)

I'll admit that I'm a full-on cat guy when it comes to pets. I got nothing against dogs or anything, but in terms of choosing either a cat or dog to be my companion at home I'll choose a cat every time. Every time I see a cat outside, I can't not try to see if it'll let me approach it so I can pat it. I love them that much and I guess that's what happens when you grow up in a household that had four cats all at once for a time (I know, it's crazy).

So you can definitely understand the position I was in before starting Three Orphan Kittens. Just the title alone gave me images of kittens in a sack being abandoned somewhere. I just knew that I was going to end up being "cute-ed out" by some poor little kittens. It looks like the members of the Academy were as well since Three Orphan Kittens went on to win Best Short Subject at the Academy Awards that year.

Apr 19, 2015

Review: X2 [X-Men 2: X-Men United] (2003)

I consider the first X-Men movie to be the beginning of the modern superhero era. With Batman & Robin putting the entire genre into doubt in 1997, here was a movie that wasn't just about action sequences, loud sets and ridiculous villains. Human themes like acceptance and alienation are explored and it also helps when you have a great cast. That especially goes for the Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart connection. Their duality happens to be one of the best things in the entire X-Men franchise.

Even if X-Men is still far from the best superhero movie ever made, it was surprisingly competent. So how do you follow up on something like that? With an additional $50 million approved for the budget, Bryan Singer and producer Tom DeSanto wanted X2 to be like what Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. Talk about reaching for the stars. I mean, how rare is it that sequels end up being better than their originals? Practically never would be as good a guess as any.

Apr 18, 2015

Review: The Tortoise and the Hare (1935)

Everyone is familiar with Aesop's fable The Tortoise and the Hare, or at least most people should be. It's a story that joins the long list of fairy tales that have been appropriated by Disney over the years. Not that I have a problem with that or anything, I'm just saying. If not Disney, someone else would've done it all and probably not as well as Disney was capable of.

Part of the long running Silly Symphony animated short film series, The Tortoise and the Hare won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. The lesson that the film's story is supposed to impart is actually a bit ambiguous though. Is it about the dangers of being overconfident? Is it about perseverance or a warning against doing things too quickly? Either way, there's nothing like a good moral to a story.

Review: Top Five (2014)

Top Five is not Chris Rock's directorial debut. That honour actually goes to Head of State which was released eleven years ago to less than satisfactory results critically and financially. Besides directing an episode of Everybody Hates Chris, his next project was I Think I Love My Wife which was as uneven a movie as they come. Could Top Five be a case of third time's the charm?

I won't lie, I had an idea of what I thought Top Five would be like. Fair or not, I thought it would be an ensemble comedy movie, similar to something like This is the End. That was my impression and I was totally ready to accept that. I mean, just check out the cast right? With the likes of J.B. Smoove, Kevin Hart, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld and many many more, how could Top Five NOT be funny at the very least?

Apr 16, 2015

Review: The Practical Pig (1939)

The Practical Pig is the fourth and final film in the Disney Three Little Pigs animated short film series that all began in 1933. Sadly, it is the second last film that Disney released under the Silly Symphonies umbrella, with The Ugly Duckling being released less than two months later. Mainly used as a way for Disney to experiment, they still managed to walk away with an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film seven times in a ten year period. Only MGM's Tom and Jerry posed a significant threat to this run which is pretty impressive.

Apr 15, 2015

Review: VeggieTales: The End of Silliness? More Really Silly Songs! (1998)

You know how many VeggieTales movies were released since the last sing-along video, VeggieTales: Very Silly Songs? A mind boggling three. THREE! Only one year separates Very Silly Songs and The End of Silliness? More Really Silly Songs! and I find that pretty insulting. It also didn't give me a lot of time to recover from seeing some of my least favourite "songs" of all time a second time. Releasing a sing-along video so soon just strikes me as an easy cop out for Big Idea Productions.

What's even more astounding is that some of the songs that are included in The End of Silliness? are found in films that Very Silly Songs also took its selection from. You're telling me that overlap is somehow justified? No, songs don't repeat but it just proves to me that there wasn't enough quality material to choose from when the makers were selecting the songs for The End of Silliness? I know that it's only two songs that overlap, but it's a matter of principle.

Apr 14, 2015

Review: Legally Blonde (2001)

By all accounts, Legally Blonde wasn't supposed to be much more than a run-of-the-mill chick flick. If you judge it by its cover anyway. It's definitely not hard to extrapolate further from its sorority president main character who happens to be a blonde and decides to pursue a career in law anyway. The question is, how many dumb blonde jokes could we expect a minute? 3? 5? Maybe more? I didn't really expect much of LB anyway, unfair as that may be.

When Legally Blonde was initially released, I wasn't at the age to really be spending my time watching a movie so obviously geared for girls. I actually still remember my little sister watching this movie in the background while I grinded in Final Fantasy X on my trusty PlayStation 2. Time well spent right? All the same, it kind of feels like I'm coming home by watching Legally Blonde for real after all these years and it feels nice.

Apr 13, 2015

Review: Nevada (1997)

There isn't a whole lot to say about this tiny independent film, so I'll just start off with a funny connection that my girlfriend found as we were watching it. She's the kind of person that can recognize an actor and almost instantly make a connection of where she's seen them before. In Casper, Nevada's main actress Amy Brenneman actually played Kat's (Christina Ricci) mother and Garette Ratliff Henson who plays the son of Amy Brenneman in Nevada played Vic, the guy who had a crush on Kat. Talk about a good memory. I can't even remember what I had for lunch.

Anyway, Nevada was Gary Tieche's directorial debut and the only film he's directed in fact. He also wrote it and went on to write the screenplays for several other films as well, most notably The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest. Yeah, not really something I've ever heard of either. Maybe big fans of Rosario Dawson and um, Jake Busey have? Tieche mostly writes for TV now, most recently a Lifetime TV movie called She Made Them Do It.

Apr 12, 2015

Review: Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

Woody Allen, a workhorse if I ever saw one when it comes to making movies was going through a bit of a crisis when Manhattan Murder Mystery was released in 1993. Although it was down to a slow simmering at this point, his break up with Mia Farrow and all the details that had come out were still tabloid material. I'm not much for celebrity gossip though nor am I going to go into whether or not Allen shouldn't have done what he did. I'm here to review his work and I've always been able to separate a celebrity's personal life from their work.

Point is, the filming of Manhattan Murder Mystery wasn't an easy time in Woody Allen's life. Allen had directed thirteen movies with Mia Farrow and she originally was going to star in MMM as usual. Diane Keaton was brought in after a fourteen year gap since the last time Allen and her had worked together and the rest is history. Despite Allen's current problems, things were apparently very calm on-set and a lot of that was due to Keaton's presence.

Apr 11, 2015

Review: Three Little Wolves (1936)

You thought Disney was done with short films that were metaphors for brewing tensions in pre-World War II Europe and positioned the Big Bad Wolf as a substitute for Adolf Hitler? They hadn't even started yet. Burt Gillett was gone as director, but in stepped David Hand who was another veteran of Disney cartoons. While you might think that Three Little Wolves might suffer from a downgrade in quality as a third film in a series, you'd be wrong about that just like I was.