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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, inspired by a true story, is about how children's host Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks) helps jaded journalist Lloyd Vogel (The Americans' Matthew Rhys) deal with his issues. This is just a really well-made film.
This may be the feel-good film of the year. Beautiful Day is an extremely sentimental, and possibly tear-jerking, look at self-improvement. Rogers' nuggets of wisdom are really persuasive and a highlight of the film.
That having been said, the movie could've been a little shorter. Vogel's negative traits are showcased so much that they get redundant. The scene that introduces the character's issues with his father never feels quite natural.
Director Marielle Heller (who also did Can You Ever Forgive Me) has created a tightly edited and shot film. The whole thing looks nice. The moments where Rogers is filming his show really look like the original PBS airings. There are some creative and indie-style visual and presentation choices in this. (The film isn't too indie if that's not your thing and you were worried.) Music is real strong.
There is some great acting in this. Now admittedly, Hanks can't fully replicate Rogers. The actor's large rectangular head just doesn't match, and he is unable to nail the voice. Still, it is an excellent performance; one of Hanks's best. Wouldn't be surprised if he got a best supporting actor nomination for this. He has Rogers' mannerisms nailed down. Hanks really encapsulates the man and brings such nuance, tackling both the empathy and wisdom of the man while also the melancholy aspects and the fact that he was odd. Hanks blends these facets so effortlessly. He truly gets lost in the part.
Chris Cooper is also pretty versatile himself as Vogel's estranged father. Though she isn't in this much, Maryann Plunkett does a good job as Rogers' wife Joanne. Although Rhys and Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Vogel's wife, are decent actors, they never quite shine as much as a lot of the rest of the cast.
Overall this is just a really well made film and I recommend this.
Back in the days of black-and-white, mystery films were quite common but as the years went by, they became less and less common with the mystery genre becoming the domain of television. This is a pity, because I like an old-fashioned mystery. Between this movie and Murder on the Orient Express, it's nice to see the genre make a comeback. Director/writer Rian Johnson was definitely trying to evoke an old school mystery film with this homage, and after seeing the trailers, I definitely wanted to see this. I even went to a farther away early access screening because I couldn't wait. I'm pleased to say this definitely met my expectations.
Knives Out is just a really well told movie. For 2 hr., 10 min., this is finely paced and edited. Johnson really knows how to steer the story, especially the beginning and introduction to the facts of the case.
Besides being a mystery, this movie is also a critique of privilege, which I felt Johnson managed to not beat the audience over the head with. The movie also has a good sense of humor.
The suspects consist of the Thrombey family, who from one extent to another all have leeched off of the money and success of patriarch and mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). They are such a delightfully self-entitled but diverse group of larger-than-life dysfunctional people. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get more of them. (Ana de Armas' Marta Cabrera, Harlan's personal nurse, is the actual star of the film.) I especially thought that Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) is given short shrift.
The cast is excellent all the way through, and I just don't have time to mention everyone. The best performance is by Daniel Craig as Southern gentlemen detective Benoit Blanc. He just kills it as the eccentric and well-spoken detective. I also appreciate that Benoit isn't portrayed as a socially awkward, mircaulous wunderkind as is often the case with detectives these days. Benoit is definitely the smartest guy in the room, but solving the case is real work for him. Again, this is Ana's story. The trailers make Benoit look like the lead. Just don't want you to have false expectations. He is one of the biggest players, make no mistakes.
The movie looks great. The Thrombey estate is delightfully grand and old-fashioned looking and is decorated with a wide assortment of mystery-themed or antiquated bric-a-brac. The outfits all look great as well.
There is only one thing about this movie that bothered me. The score tries for a classic mystery feel to it but tries too hard. A couple times it felt like they were just blasting the music in my face.
Overall, this is just a very entertaining movie and definitely something for mystery fans.
I enjoyed myself with this one.
First off, this is one of the BEST looking animated movies of all time. It is simply gorgeous looking. The visuals have an excellent use of color and nature. I love that they decided to set this in autumn, which is something you don't often see in animated films. In contrast to the more traditional fairy tale look of the last film, this one is far grander looking. The appearance of the kingdom of Arendelle in this makes the original look so-so.
Frozen II feels so different from any other Disney animated film. There are plenty of those that do fantasy, but this is the first one (except maybe for The Black Cauldron) to go for EPIC fantasy. I really loved the various legitimately challenging magical forces the characters have to deal with.
The story looks into how Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) has her powers and I really liked the setup and the messages they were trying to tell. This is actually one of the more serious Disney animated films. (By their standards. Don't worry there's still plenty for your kids to love.) There are a couple surprisingly dark, dramatic moments. (Again, by Disney standards.)
Based on the trailers, I was afraid that comic relief Olaf the snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) wouldn't fit into the change of tone on account of being too light, but the writers adapted the character really well. They have him growing up and being far more philosophical about the world (while still being pure). His musings often steal the show. I actually thought he was funnier in this than the last film.
I did think this movie had some pacing issues. The plot just isn't as tight as the first one. There are moments where the writer didn't know how to best utilize the main characters. I do wish they spent more time interacting with a couple of the film's likable but underused new supporting characters.
Songs are decent but aren't on the same tier as the last film. Half are just okay. The song Into the Unknown tries too hard to be the new Let it Go. Still, I give the songwriters credit for going with a new style not found in previous Disney films. I liked Show Yourself, Lost in the Woods, and All is Found. The last one is a particularly lovely piece.
This isn't quite as good as the original, which knew more what it wanted to be and had a stronger emotional backbone. Still, this has a lot going for it and I think your kids will like it.
Noelle, now out on Disney+, is about the titular character who is Santa Claus' daughter (played by Anna Kendrick). Her brother Nick (Bill Hader), who is to become the new Santa, gets cold feet and goes missing. So, it's up to Noelle to find go out into the world and find him. Disney made this a couple years ago. It was originally going to be a theatrical release but got held back bringing on the rumors that the corporation didn't have much trust in it, and they they were probably right. Noelle is a rather stale effort.
The general story on paper could've worked, but nothing about the script manages to stick the landing. The movie foreshadows how things will turn out pretty early on. Yes, a lot of successful Christmas films can be predictable, but it all depends on how it goes down and nothing of a whole lot of interest happens or is said. This is a fish-out-of-water movie, too, and I usually like those, but that aspect has even less to work with than the Christmas part. Usually good actors Hendricks and Hader aren't able to salvage the lines in this.
I also found the film to be a little mean spirited. You're expecting the people behind Christmas to be optimistic, but the elves and even Noelle's mother end up being pretty petty to her.
To the movie's credit, there are few good jokes here and there. (There's a good bit with a gavel.) I also appreciate that the threat to Christmas' future, Noelle's cousin Gabrielle (Billy Eichner) who wants to digitize and streamline the way the holiday is done, isn't portrayed as a true villain but in a more nuanced way as someone who means well but is misguided.
I also felt the depiction of the South Pole Christmas town to be rather underwhelming. It feels a little mundane for the place where holiday magic happens. The buildings look like they're from a regular tourist town or a Hallmark Christmas movie. The outfits mostly look too much like regular winter clothes. And how much do fake elf ears cost? Because there seemed to be a lot of effort to keep ears hidden.
Your kids may get more from this and be less discerning. The movie does try to provide positive messages and a story of female empowerment. As for adults, understand this isn't downright bad; it just doesn't feel an hour forty well spent. Watching felt like more of a task than a pleasure.
Klaus is the new animated film on Netflix, which is about how the legend of Santa Claus started involving a reclusive woodsman and a selfish postman. This is a truly inventive, good-hearted Christmas film.
The film uses old-fashioned animation with digital techniques to bring a 2 1/2D look to it. This looks AMAZING. I don't think I've seen something quite like this. The painted appearance to the backgrounds and characters looks great. The designs of the characters and locales are all distinctive, especially the characters. There is a wide cast here and they are so stylistically designed. The movie takes place around this town where two clans are at war. The townspeople are such a wonderfully diverse group of grotesques. I also loved the look of Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons) who is given a large, broad-shouldered figure. The character movement is also really fluid.
The story is equally good. Although the film ultimately goes the way you predict it will, the storytelling in this is so well done that it doesn't much matter. The idea of the story of Santa Claus being told through non-magical reasons and happening through the actions of a postman is definitely something different from most attempts at Santa origin stories. The warring clans part brings a nice dab of dark humor while the sentimental bits are done nicely. All the characters are likable.
I highly recommend you check this out. This is just a really well-done family Christmas movie.