Tag Archives: herbie hancock

SOUL (2020) – My rating: 8.5/10

Soul is a computer-animated fantasy comedy-drama produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Soul is directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers.  The story follows a middle school music teacher and jazz musician wanna-be seeking to reunite his soul and his body after they are accidentally separated. I can no longer claim resistance from animated features as I have come across too many that are both fun and brilliantly done.  Soul is a good one that is rocking the Disney world.

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle school music teacher, feels stuck in life and unfulfilled at his job. He dreams of a career in jazz, to which his seamstress mother, Libba Gardner (Phylicia Rashad), objects, fearing that he will not be financially secure. Unexpectedly, Joe’s former student, Lamont “Curly” Baker (Questlove) informs him of an opening in the band of jazz legend Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). Joe impresses Dorothea with his piano playing and is offered the job immediately. As Joe happily heads off to prepare for his first performance, he stumbles and falls down a manhole.

**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****

Joe finds himself as just a soul heading into the “Great Beyond”. Unwilling to die before his big break, he tries to escape but ends up in the “Great Before”, where soul counselors—all named Jerry—prepare unborn souls for life on Earth. Joe poses as an instructor who is set to train the souls and is assigned 22 (Tina Fey), a cynical soul who has remained in the Great Before and sees no point in living on Earth. Joe tries to assist 22 in finding a passion, but his attempts prove futile. With no other options, 22 takes him out to “the zone”, an area that people enter when their passion sets them into a euphoric trance; it also houses the lost souls who become obsessed. They meet Moonwind (Graham Norton), a sign twirler who enters the zone to rescue lost souls. He agrees to help Joe return to his body and they learn that Joe’s fall down the manhole sent him into a coma. Joe excitedly hops back to Earth but accidentally brings 22 with him, resulting in 22 entering his body and Joe ending up in the body of a therapy cat. Meanwhile, Terry (Rachel House), an accountant designated to counting souls headed to the Great Beyond, finds the count off and convinces the Jerrys to let her return the missing soul.

Soul may sound confusing but all is cleared up eventually.  There has been some controversy surrounding Soul because Tina Fey is the voice of the character called 22, who should be a person of color.  I think the protestors should pick bigger battles to fight, GOD knows there’s plenty to choose from.  This is all make-believe, after all.  I’m just saying!  Anyway, Kemp Powers will go down in history as  Pixar’s first African-American co-director.  Back to the story; Joe hasn’t even begun to touch on the adventure he will face.  I can attest to humor, excitement, and mystery as you go further into Soul.  It starts off a tad bit slow but moves right along as situations heat up. The story includes Joe’s students, family, friends, and provides many messages.  The character 22 is as involved as Joe and will keep you in an emotional state.  You won’t want your money back as Soul is entertaining and should keep the kids, as well as some adults occupied for a couple of hours. In order to accurately portray African-American culture within Soul, several consultants worked closely through the film’s development; among them were Pixar employees, musicians Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington, Quincy Jones, and Jon Batiste. On review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes rated Soul 95% and IMDB rated it 8.2/10 out of 92,906 viewers.  Soul is streaming on Disney + — Check It Out!

 

[SOUL  is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best: Animated Feature Film, Original Score, and Sound — Totaling 3 Nominations]

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Since I don’t read comic books, I didn’t know what to expect or even that this movie was derived from a comic book series. The pitch was “Valerian is the most beautiful movie we’ll ever see.” It was compared to Avatar and I was convinced that if it was half as good as Avatar, it still would be pretty fantastic as far as outstanding special effects goes. As it turns out, some of this was right but not all. It wasn’t until two thirds through, I found Valerian becoming more than tolerable and even interesting. The acting was good but the story was a little confusing. Then something happened; camera, action, a change of pace — oh boy, I think I like this after all.

A space station called Alpha was started in the 28th century where millions of creatures from different planets could live peacefully, exchange knowledge and cultures without any problems. What began as a space station around the planet Earth, grew as many nations from Earth and races from other planets joined. One of the planets called Mül was a low-tech humanoid race that lives peacefully in a tropical paradise. They fish for energy-containing pearls and use certain animals to duplicate the pearls.  Their philosophy was to give back what was given to them, much like Luke 12:48 – (NLT) “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are romantically involved as well as special agents of the human police forces. In a dream, Valerian sees this planet in all it’s beauty and glory.  As this idyll is destroyed by spaceship debris crashing onto the planet, Valerian wakes up to find he and Laureline on a mission to retrieve one of the rare animals from his dream, called a “converter”, from a black market dealer.

Valerian interrupts a meeting of the dealer with two prospective customers for the converter, both looking like the humanoids from his dream. He and Laureline obtain the converter, and he surreptitiously steals one of the pearls that had been given to the dealer as payment.  They now return to Alpha, where they are told by their Commander, Arün Filitt, (Clive Owen) part of the station has been infected by an unknown force, rendering it highly toxic, and troops sent into the area have not returned, plus the infection is spreading. Laureline and Valerian are assigned to protect the commander. However, while briefing an assembly about the infection, they are ambushed by the humanoids, who incapacitate all participants and kidnap him. Valerian frees himself and the others and chases the kidnappers, who head for the infected area. Valerian loses control of his vehicle and Laureline loses contact with Valerian who infiltrates the residential sector of the group with the help of a shapeshifter named Bubble (Rihanna).

While this is all starting to sound a little confusing, you probably can understand why I became a little loss in the beginning.  Trust me, it all comes together and even is fun and very interesting, especially when Rihanna enters the scene.  It definitely was not the fabulous movie they promised but it was descent.  You’ll learn why and who destroyed the planet Mül, as well as what happened to the planet’s beautiful inhabitants.  Also Valerian ask for Laureline’s hand in marriage, does she say yea or nay?  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is not too violent and the special effects are fantastic.  Nicely done!    You will also get to see: Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, Herbie Hancock as a Defence Minister and hear John Goodman as the voice of Igon Siruss, a Kodar’Khan pirate captain and the galaxy’s most-wanted criminal.  Check it out!

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