Saturday, February 25, 2023

Stubs - The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan. Directed by Martin McDonagh. Screenplay by Martin McDonagh. Produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh. Run time: 114 minutes. Color. Ireland, United Kingdom, United States. Drama

Every year when awards season rolls around, you may find yourself wondering what some of these films receiving accolades are all about. This is what happened with me and The Banshees of Inisherin. I had heard about the film but hadn’t thought about seeing it until the nominations came in for a myriad of awards on various awards shows. For me, the only film awards that count are the Academy Awards and this film racked up nine, including Best Picture, Best Director (Martin McDonagh), Best Actor (Colin Farrell), Best Supporting Actor (both Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan), Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh), Best Film Editing (Mikkel E. G. Nielsen), and Best Original Score (Carter Burwell).

Martin McDonagh, a playwright turned filmmaker, first got my attention with the highly overrated, in my opinion, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), which like this film was nominated for the Academy Awards’ Best Picture, along with Acting nominations (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson. Sam Rockwell), as well as Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Original Score. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t all that blown away by that film, feeling that it was two acts looking for a third.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish - All That Glitters is Gold

As the Shrek franchise dwindled in popularity back in the 2000s, a process that began with the poor reception to Shrek the Third, DreamWorks officially spun of the franchise to center more around Puss in Boots, an anthropomorphic cat parody of Zorro introduced in Shrek 2. Puss, notably voiced by Antonio Banderas, first received a theatrically-released spin-off, Puss in Boots, back in 2011, then a perhaps lesser-known Netflix series, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, which ran from 2015 to 2018. During Puss’ time in the spotlight, effectively taking over the franchise, DreamWorks had announced a Shrek 5, which has yet to see a proper release, let alone any solid news on its development.

In the meantime, Puss in Boots recently received a sequel, The Last Wish, in late 2022. Considering the 11-year gap, the announcement came as quite a surprise and I initially didn’t have much interest, as I hadn’t seen the previous film out of a lack of interest. Its very positive reception, however, convinced me otherwise and I finally saw a theatrical screening after it received an Oscar nomination for “Best Animated Feature”. As it turns out, not only does The Last Wish live up to the hype, it may have actually surpassed the quality of most of Disney and Pixar’s own output from the last few years.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Stubs - Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022) Starring Dean Fleischer Camp, Lesley Stahl. Voices by Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini. Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp. Screenplay by Dean Fleischer Camp, Jenny Slate, Nick Paley. Based on Characters created by Dean Fleischer Camp, Jenny Slate. Produced by Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Paul Mezey, Dean Fleischer Camp, Jenny Slate, Terry Leonard Run time: 90 minutes. USA. Color. Stop-Motion, Animated, Comedy, Drama.

One of the surprises when the 2023 Academy Awards nominations for Best Animated Feature Film were announced may have been Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Compared to some of the other nominated films, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Turning Red and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Marcel was not as well-known.

The film, which took seven years to make, thanks in part to the stop-motion animation, is based on a trilogy of stop-motion animated mockumentary short films directed by Dean Fleischer Camp, who co-wrote the script with Jenny Slate, that were initially released in 2010. Originally shown at the Telluride Film Festival in 2021, the film rights were purchased by A24 films and released in the U.S. on June 24, 2022. A darling of the festival circuit, the film made $6.3 million during its theatrical release.

Dean (Dean Fleischer Camp), a documentarian, and his subject Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate).

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Bluey's Big Play


If you’re reading this, it’s very likely you’ve at least heard of Bluey, the Emmy award-winning Australian preschool show featuring the Heelers, a family of anthropomorphic dogs. Since it first started airing in 2018 on ABC Kids in Australia, as well as on Disney Junior in the US and internationally on Disney+, the show’s popularity has only grown, both among its target demographic and adults with or without children. So much so, in fact, that it spawned a live stage show, appropriately titled Bluey’s Big Play, that started in its native Australia in early 2021, followed by a US tour in late 2022 that’s still going as of this writing.

Like many others, I first heard about Bluey through social media, in my case Facebook ads promoting the Disney broadcast. The more I saw these ads, and later sightings of merchandise, the more my curiosity grew until I finally caved in and watched the first episode through Disney+. From that moment, I was hooked and soon enough, I had caught up with the entire show as made available in the US. Despite its status as a preschool show, Bluey focuses on simply being a good show, with great writing that doesn’t talk down to its target audience, high-quality animation, great music without being a musical and, best of all, an actual positive depiction of family life that emphasizes the importance of play in a child’s development.

At some point while watching the show, we stumbled on upcoming performances of Bluey’s Big Play at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. After careful consideration, we bought tickets to the Sunday 2:00 performance, the final one for the venue. Though well worth the money, it’s best suited for those who are already familiar with the show, no matter who they are.