We watched Raya and the Last Dragon twice, over two weekends. I really enjoyed, SHE WHO WILL NOT BE BLOGGED enjoyed it, the kid really enjoyed it. The animation was varied and beautiful. My kid and I watch a lot of animation and there is so much that is just “flat,” especially digital animation, that it’s a bit shocking to see animated characters in Disney/Pixar films appear to be imbued with actual spirit. Raya‘s characters felt lifelike, even the Con-baby, Noi, and her monkey helpers.
Heck, even Sisu, the titular dragon, both in her human and animal forms, had facial expressions that mimicked convincingly those of the actress who played her.
There’s a part of me, a big part, that really hates Disney. As a media corporation, they hold an outsized influence on what TV shows and Films get made. With the purchase of Fox, Disney’s intellectual property holdings are too deep and wide to be of any benefit to the world. Disney has for years embargoed films, holding back huge chunks of their catalogue from DVD/Blu-ray distribution, TV, and second run or revival theaters. They’ve extended this to the Fox world. Unless you’ve got the DVD lying around, thousands of movies are not available to view until Disney says so. They’re goosing scarcity. Disney executives are not creatives in any real sense. They’re not filmmakers or artists. They are asset managers.
Still, I can’t help it. I do look forward to a Disney film. Most of my childhood movie memories are focused on Disney films. Tron was my first VHS. My Dad loved the shorts and Fantasia. I have very fond memories of family trips to both US parks. So we ponied up the $29.95 (after the barrage of commercials on Kid Youtube, this amounts to extorsion) to view the film early from our Covid Bunker.[Read more…] about Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)
The passage noted above reads:
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.Psalms 119:165 KJV
I’m not sure what sin my buddies here refer to, but my gut tells me it’s the sin of “not paying attention in English when teacher discussed basic reading comprehension.”
Are they being “ironic?”
Many years ago, pre-Pandemic, I was in New York City for the weekend. It is something I do rarely, but SHE WHO WILL NOT BE BLOGGED has a deep and abiding love for Broadway and that’s where we were headed. Pre-show, we had drinks at a roof-deck bar at one of the W hotels. On an otherwise sunny spring day, the space between the buildings was shaded; the hotel was projecting, with surprising clarity, The Maltese Falcon.
I would have stayed at that bar all night, straight through the play. The Maltese Falcon is one of those movies that, when it comes on, I have a very hard time turning it off. But I value my life, my marriage, and, besides, I have the film on DVD.[Read more…] about The Maltese Falcon (1941)
I am a strong proponent of California Noir, especially the subset LA Noir. My memory of my family’s brief time in the City of Angels is piss-yellow and grainy, like the intro to James Gardner’s The Rockford Files or Emergency! Not the Kodachrome Los Angeles of mid-century musicals. Not the jewel-toned love letter to “trying to make it” of La La Land.
Noir pictures, and novels, fit this memory. So I seek them out, have my favorites. Chinatown… L.A. Confidential… both the movie and the novel, but for different reasons. He’s a right-wing wackadoodle, but James Ellroy can set a scene with a few words and write wicked dialogue. Widely panned by the Twitterati, I thought the second season of True Detective hit all of the beats of an L.A. Noir… I liked the story and characters, even though Vince Vaughn played a gangland version of his stock character… I still don’t understand the hate.
Violence against women at the hands of powerful men is the recurring theme in noir stories. The old “dame in distress” trope: murdered hooker, socialite in crisis for getting some of the same action any of the male characters take for themselves. As my hair goes gray, I find it harder to excuse this trope. I try to find stories where it’s subverted/turned on it’s head.[Read more…] about Too Late (2015)
Following up on my thoughts on Silverado, a 1980s film dripping with nostalgia for Westerns and serials the filmmakers watched in their Boomer youth, I decided I wanted to watch an ur-Western, preferably something without The Duke1 A palate cleanser, if you will; a film to set my understanding of the genre in the right direction. I chose High Noon from my Amazon Prime queue. Many reviewers on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes called this movie “the greatest Western of all time.”
The epithet is certainly a bit of hyperbole. Perhaps modern reviewers have warm and fuzzy memories of watching it as children, and it has won a bunch of awards, but there are certainly more nuanced Western films. Reading about the production, many see the film as an allegory for the Hollywood blacklist: a man, with his life and livelihood at risk, standing up for what is “right,” is abandoned by the community that he helped to build.2 Helping him in a time of need, they believe, will end their good lives. That theme resonates today.[Read more…] about High Noon (1952)
- John Wayne made a good movie or two in his time. He was also rabidly racist and an arch conservative. His film, The Searchers, is a about a man who spends years trying to find his niece, who’s been “captured” by the Apache. Not to return her to her family, of course, but to murder her. She’s been defiled by a savage, he says. ↩
- the writer, Carl Foreman, was run out of Hollywood and the United States after production wrapped after refusing to name names to the HUAC ↩