Saturday, November 26, 2022

Stubs - See How They Run

See How They Run
(2022) Starring Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson and David Oyelowo. Directed by Tom George. Screenplay by Mark Chappell. Produced by Damian Jones, Gina Carter. Run time: 98 minutes. UK/US Color. Mystery. Comedy.

“If you’ve seen one murder mystery, you’ve seen them all,” or that’s what they’d want you to believe. See How They Run, which opened in September, tells one set against the long-running Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which at the time the film opens, in 1953, has just run for 100 performances. (For a reality check, the play, which opened on October 6, 1952, is still running nearly 70 years later. And, by the way, the play has never been made into an English-language film, as that has to wait for the play's run to end.)

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Stubs - Plymouth Adventure

Plymouth Adventure  (1952) Starring: Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, Van Johnson, Leo Genn, Lloyd Bridges. Directed by Clarence Brown. Screenplay by Helen Deutsch. Based on the novel The Plymouth Adventure by Ernest Gebler (New York, 1950). Produced by Dore Schary. Run time: 105 minutes. Color. USA. Adventure, Romance.

The landing of the Mayflower in New England is one of the touchstone moments in American History. It is from this settlement that many of the ideals we hold dear to an American way of life were born, including religious freedom and a government of the people by the people and for the people.

This very historical event gets a fictionalized treatment in Plymouth Adventure while still basically telling the story of the Pilgrim's journey to the New World. Based on Ernest Gebler’s 1950 novel of the same name, many real-life people, including John Howland, with whom I am related, are either ignored or mushed together into other characters, it’s hard to tell. There are some real figures who are represented in the film: John Alden, Miles Standish, William Brewster, Edward Winslow, William Butten, etc., so it’s a little like the film Titanic (1997), in which real life and fiction are mixed together as if the real-life story wasn’t interesting enough.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Endling - Extinction is Forever

Around the same time as Spirit of the North, another game that caught my interest featuring a playable fox protagonist was Endling - Extinction is Forever, mainly due to the art style and the concept of having to play as a mother fox caring for her cubs and any of their deaths is permanent. I was interested enough that I played a demo for the game through Steam to get a better idea of the concept, albeit with some fumbling around as I grasped what exactly to do. Once the game actually came out, I opted for a physical PS4 copy, which I received as a gift, using my experience from the demo to ensure that I would make it to the end with every cub alive. After managing to accomplish this goal during my initial playthrough, I felt that the game was ultimately worth the wait.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Stubs - Elvis

Elvis (2022) Starring Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Screenplay by Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner. Produced by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick, Schuyler Weiss Run time: 159 minutes. Color. Australia/United States Biographical Musical Drama

The story of Elvis Presley told through the eyes of Col. Tom Parker, Elvis is a biography seen through the eyes of Baz Luhrmann.

For those of you who may not know, Elvis Presley, or as he’s also known, the “King of Rock and Roll” was the biggest singing act in the world after Frank Sinatra and before The Beatles. He had a string of number one hits beginning with “Heartbreak Hotel” and including such songs as “Love Me Tender", "Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock”. His last hit, “Burning Love”, hit #2 in 1972. He made a ton of movies and recorded gospel as well as country albums.

And, if you watch the Luhrmann retelling you might or might not learn any of that. The film seems to tell the story like a stone skipping across the water, hitting on certain moments, like young Elvis’ exposure to the Blues and Gospel, but skips over things like the 30 movies Elvis made. We see him being embarrassed by Steve Allen on that comedian’s variety hour but not his appearance on Ed Sullivan’s, which was the sign you had really made it in America. We see him on the Louisiana Hay Ride, a traveling show, singing ”That’s All Right” but not him being discovered by producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

For whatever reason, 2022 saw the release of four separate Pinocchio films, each attached to a different studio and distributor. These included Pinocchio: A True Story, Pinocchio and the Water of Life, Disney’s own live-action remake of their 1940 classic and a stop-motion film co-directed by none other than Guillermo del Toro. As it turns out, del Toro had announced development for his take on the original Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio all the way back 2008, but it didn’t really enter production until Netflix picked up the project in 2018, largely because no one else would finance it until then. Though we had little familiarity with del Toro’s work outside of Pacific Rim, The Shape of Water and his involvement in Death Stranding, we jumped at the chance to see the finished product, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (aka Pinocchio), through an early limited theatrical run. Fortunately, not only was the film worth the money, it easily washed out the bad taste left by Disney’s Pinocchio remake.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Pinocchio (2022 Disney)

In an effort to continue their wave of live-action remakes of animated films, Disney has been digging deeper into their catalog, this time going as far back as 1940’s Pinocchio, the studio’s second ever animated feature. Putting aside the odd timing of releasing within a sudden sea of Pinocchio adaptations in the year 2022, the film was released straight to Disney+ to negative reception. While I normally don’t have much interest in unnecessary remakes, this backdraft spurred me to watch this remake to see if it really was that bad, especially since I could watch it for free, after re-watching the original 1940 film for comparison. While the 1940 version remains a classic, the 2022 remake really is that bad.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Stubs - Pinocchio (1940)

(1940) Voices of Dickie Jones, Cliff Edwards, Christian Rub, Walter Catlett. Directed by Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, David Hand (Supervising Directors). Screenplay by Ted Sears, Webb Smith, Joseph Sabo, Otto Englander, William Cottrell, Erdman Penner, Aurie Battaglia (Story Adapted by). Based on the novel L'avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (Rome, 1882). Produced by Walt Disney (Presented by). USA Run time: 87 min. Animated, Fantasy

Work on Disney's second animated feature began while Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was being completed in 1937. But as soon as 1938, there was talk that Bambi would be the second animated film released as there were story difficulties with Pinocchio. Disney discarded 2300 feet of the film, or what is believed to have been 5 months of work. This was apparently footage supervised by David Hand, who would not receive onscreen credit when the film was released.

Pinocchio’s look was probably part of the problem, as according to Bob Jones, the supervisor of the department at Disney to design and manufacture character models, “at least 12 Disney artists struggled over an 18-month period--each contributing their own ideas--before the design [for Pinocchio] was finalized."

Jiminy Cricket was a bit of an afterthought. There is a cricket in Collodi’s original story, but rather than being the puppet boy's conscience, the puppet kills the cricket. Naming him Jiminy, Disney asked his artists to create a cricket who looked "like a human being" and "talked and wore clothes."

All-in-all, a contemporary study guide for the picture stated that 2,000,000 drawings were created, of which 300,000 were used in the final film. The budget was $2.5 million, much of which went into the scenes filmed by the multiplane camera, single sequences of which cost up to $48,000.

The film had its premiere in New York on February 7, 1940, and was in general release on February 23, 1940. While the film is now considered a classic, when it was first released, the film was considered a box-office bomb. Such were the times, when World War II cut off Europe and Asian markets. The film didn’t turn a profit until its 1945 re-release.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Stubs - Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis. Directed by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert. Screenplay by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert. Produced by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang. Run time: 140 minutes. Color. USA Absurdist, Science Fiction, Adventure, Comedy-Drama

Multiverses seem to be all the rage recently with such films as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) all taking shots at the concept. While the superhero movies have been hit and miss with it another entry into the genre succeeds; Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as Daniels.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Stray (PS5)

Those who have seen the initial PS5 reveal may remember an announcement for a game called Stray, in which you play as a stray cat. Of the announcements at the reveal, this was one that instantly caught my attention, though I opted not to look at anything else related to it until it came out, and even then, I patiently waited for a physical release first. Although I didn’t have any expectations going in, my patience paid off and I found the short experience worth it.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Wendell & Wild

With stop-motion animation as popular as it is now, it’s a wonder that Henry Selick, best known for directing The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, hasn’t directed a feature film since the latter film’s debut in 2009. This would change when he started work on Wendell & Wild, based on an unpublished children’s book Selick had written, in collaboration with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, in 2015. Though the film was eventually picked up for distribution through Netflix for its later release on October 28, 2022, we watched the finished product at a Leammle theater during a limited theatrical run the week prior. While it’s certainly great to see Selick working within the realm of stop-motion once again, we found that although fun and well-made, Wendell & Wild unfortunately falls short compared to the director’s previous work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge

As far as action games go, the Devil May Cry series is easily one of the best. While certainly challenging for the most part, the games are rewarding to finish and have had a lasting influence on the genre in games like the Bayonetta series. I can even recall a period of time where licensed games copied either God of War or Devil May Cry, though usually not as good. Few games inspired by Devil May Cry, however, have the distinct honor of being made by Capcom themselves. In this case, it’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge, a 2004 sequel to the original 1993 stop motion film. While not a perfect game, what truly makes this licensed game stand out is not only its strong use of the license, but also its seeming influence on later Devil May Cry games, as it predates Devil May Cry 3 by one year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

A Celebration of 1400 Reviews

Below is a list of links to every review from 1201-1300, broken up every 25 links for easy navigation. Each review will also be color-coded as such: MovieVideo Game, DLCComic Books.

1318. Free Guy

1344. Our Town
1346. Top Gun

1358. Lightyear
1369. Sabotage

Movies: 53 (879 Total)
Video Games: 44 (468 Total)
Comic Books: 1 (28 Total)
DLC: 2 (24 Total)
Book: 0 (1 Total)