Review: Peter Rabbit
2018’s Peter Rabbit is an insulting CGI update to the beloved tales of author Beatrix Potter. This low brow, bunny cringe fest would have Potter spinning in her grave.
Where to begin? For starters, 2018’s Peter Rabbit features British actor James Corden voicing our beloved, carrot-happy friend. Let that sink in a bit. The Late Late Show host, Corden, has been wildly funny at times, like his karaoke carpool or his street theater. All are gleefully entertaining, but his casting choice as the famous hare who made his first appearance in 1902’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, just didn't fit the part. I felt like I was watching an extended version of Corden’s Late Show that didn’t make it on the air. Mr. Corden voicing the CGI bunny felt closer to Russell Brand’s Hop (2011).
Yes, Peter has always been mischievous and disobedient to the garden of Mr. McGregor, but now director Will Gluck (Easy A and 2014’s Annie) has filled Peter’s adventures with gruesome pop culture and garbage comedy. Its re-imagery of Potter’s famous material is insulting to every Peter Rabbit purist out there. Yes, there's a big difference between this and the Paddington films. The Paddington films have been more carefully constructed to value the original source of material. Director Paul King brought Paddington to the 21st Century without sacrificing the bear's essential charm. Plus, both movies illustrate King’s ability to add-in a touch of his own art, visually and narratively. Paddington kept his wit and also proven to be an absolute delight without being stupid. I couldn’t say the same for Mr. Rabbit 2k18.
There were some nice voice casting in this film, that included Daisy Ridley and Margot Robbie. But overall, this was a disaster to begin with. In the end, the modern cynicism thrown into this film was simply too much to handle and made you want to vomit. There's no way on Earth that Potter would have given the green light to this adaption of her work. I advise keeping your kids away from this horrendous pile of rotten cabbage and instead having them read the classic tales written by Potter herself, or even watching the 1990’s TV series, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends, by BBC. After this, the world may need a break from Corden for a while… I know I do.
Peter Rabbit is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For some rude humor and action, that includes animals throwing blackberries at a person with severe food allergies. By which, the character has to inject himself with an EpiPen and then has anaphylaxis and collapses. 😒 Full story and apology here by Sony.
Review: Phantom Thread
Phantom Thread is a self-absorbing tale of love and desire. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and The Master) has polished one of his finest films to-date, backed by a grand and final performance from legendary actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Phantom Thread in theaters. Luckily, it turned out to be an intoxicating experience. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA) weaves his narrative through the sewing machines of this movie. Its attention to detail on the story and characters is stunning. The vibrant photography throughout this film is lush and full of life. This was also PTA’s first attempt at serving as his own cinematographer for the film. PTA’s craft has paid off, by making one of the most beautiful films ever captured on camera. PTA is in peak form here, as we travel with a renowned fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (the masterful Day-Lewis) in 1950’s London. The film is set in the heart and glamour of a post-war London, Reynolds Woodcock and his sister Cyril (a marvelous Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion.
The House of Woodcock are at the top of their game, provided with dressing royalty and socialites. Woodcock is a confirmed bachelor, as women come and go in his life. That’s all about to change when he meets a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (an exquisite Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life. PTA’s masterful hands are swirling through the very fabric of this film, as we follow Woodcock and Alma’s relationship during their highs and lows. At times, they seem madly in love and in others they are about to rip each other apart. “I want you flat on your back. Helpless, tender, open with only me to help. And then I want you strong again. You're not going to die. You might wish you're going to die, but you're not going to. You need to settle down a little,” Alma proclaims to Woodcock.
Those cold words from Alma show us a wicked side of her, yet her tenderness still prevails. While, Day-Lewis remains as one of our greatest actors even for one final film. His posture and charisma embody the very being of his profound character. Woodcock’s attitude in how he lives his everyday life is flawed. He’s obsessed with his work, hiding notes and names into the clothes he makes. At times, his compulsions go erratic by the tiny sound of a pen drop. Yet, his humor throughout the film remains untouched – “The tea is going out, but the distraction is staying right here with me,” Woodcock states. PTA’s newest creation is one that can be endlessly soaked up on multiple viewings. From the story, to the visual, to the score, they're all to die for.
The multiplex-ion of PTA's style infused into his films has always amazed me. The romantic intimacy, luscious desire, and the beauty are all there as we gaze into a life full of luxurious fashion. I am proud to see that this movie finally got the credit it deserved by receiving six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Day-Lewis. PTA’s eighth feature film receives all five stars from me. Let me end with this, Phantom Thread is a strange, yet wondrous movie experience. It’s one that needs to been seen multiple times to fully soak in. This self-absorbing picture will leave you astonished by its raw nature and allure. The last shot of Day-Lewis is heartbreaking, as he takes his final bow as a true film patriarch. Bravo.
Phantom Thread is rated R (Restricted). For language.
Review: The Post
Steven Spielberg’s The Post is a rallying cry for journalist everywhere, as its political themes couldn’t have been more timely.
In our current political era that constantly screams ‘fake news,’ this is a film that reminds our audience the vital power of journalism and seeking out the truth. With the rising tensions of our polarizing political climate, director Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln) wanted to have his film released as quickly as possible given the parallels between its theme to the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. According to Meryl Streep, the physical shoot started in May 2017 and finished at the end of July 2017 and Spielberg had it cut two weeks later. The gestation from script to final cut lasted a modest nine months. Yes, you heard that right, nine months. This speaks volumes on Spielberg’s effort to get out the timely movie to the general public and to remind us the critical notion of journalism that’s currently under fire.
“The level of urgency to make the movie was because of the current climate of this administration, bombarding the press and labeling the truth as fake if it suited them,” Spielberg said to journalist Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian. “I deeply resented the hash-tag ‘alternative facts,' because I’m a believer in only one truth, which is the objective truth.” This is the point that Spielberg was trying to hammer at and in the end; he managed to pull it off. His film is now nominated for two Oscars – Best Picture and Best Actress for Meryl Streep. The Post is a triumphant film revolving around strong journalism and the power to hold our government accountable. Led by two strong leads, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, The Post comes ready to report. This period setting embodies everything bad and ugly from the Nixon administration.
The Post depicts the true story of The Washington Post journalists (Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee) and their attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding the 30-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War. Watch as The Post's Graham (a superb Streep, as always), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Bradlee (the never better Hanks), race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades (1945 to 1967) and four U.S. Presidents (Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ and Nixon). As Graham and Bradlee race against the clock to publish the underlining truth, they also put their careers in jeopardy.
A slow burning film that packs a punch when the wheels start turning, The Post is a masterfully crafted film. Actors Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood and Alison Brie also help carry the film to perfection. A dramatization of the events that unfolded with a hint of melodrama, The Post sheds light on accountability and the newspaper’s responsibility for spreading veracity to the American people. It’s a brilliant film that shares a passionate message between the free press and the people. So, the next time you hear someone, high up, yelling ‘fake news!’ take it in with a grain of salt. After that, check your sources, compare them with other news outlets and always continue to read, read, read.
The Post is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For language and brief war violence.
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