Kubo and the two strings is a beautifully animated fantasy movie that takes place in ancient Japan. Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a one-eyed young boy who lives with his ailing mother, Sariatu (Charlize Theron), in a cave atop a mountain, which is next to a village. Every day Kubo goes into the village and interacts with the locals, who love him like family. Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Kameyo (Brenda Vaccaro) are some of the villagers who are part of Kubo’s sort of extended family who live in the village. They encourage him to tell his magical stories that appear to have him manipulating origami, which moves under music played from Kubo’s shamisen. He tells the tale of a samurai warrior named Hanzo, who is Kubo’s missing father. When the town bell chimes, signaling sunset, Kubo returns to his mother, as she explicitly warns him not to stay outside after dark or her Sisters Karasu and Yukami (Rooney Mara) and his grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) will come to take his remaining eye, as they are responsible for taking his missing eye when he was a baby in the first place.
One day, Kubo learns of an Obon festival that has a ceremony where family members communicate with deceased loved ones. Desperate to speak to his father, Kubo arrives at a cemetery and tries to speak to Hanzo, but leaves in anger when his father doesn’t respond. Kubo realizes the sun is setting and he is far from home, so he begins to run but Sariatu’s Sisters, Karasu and Yukami find him and attack. Kubo’s mother arrives to fend them off. She sends Kubo away using her magic, telling him to find his father’s magic armor. He takes a lock of his mother’s hair before she charges at her Sisters. Kubo wakes up and meets Monkey (Charlize Theron), his little wooden snow monkey charm that was brought to life by his mother’s magic. She informs him that his mother is dead, his village is destroyed, and they must move on to survive. The next morning Monkey wakes Kubo and points out “Little Hanzo”–one of Kubo’s origami designed to look like his father–who folded himself and came to life at night. Little Hanzo shows Kubo and Monkey the way to pieces of a magic armor, where they are greeted by Beetle/Hanzo (Matthew McConaughey), an amnesiac samurai who was cursed to take the form of a beetle and claims to have been Hanzo’s apprentice. He joins them on their quest when he finds out that Kubo is Hanzo’s son. The Sisters discover Kubo is looking for his father’s armor and split up to find him.
See the movie to find out what happens next, as usual I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. While I’m not into cartoons or animated films, I really enjoyed Kubo and the Two Strings. It is a wonderful story with a wonderful message for all. Kubo is now on DVD/Blu-Ray and is an interesting choice for the entire family to adventure into.
[Kubo and the Two Strings is nominated for Best Animated Film and Visual Effects]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged art parkinson, beetle, brenda vaccaro, cary-hiroyuki tagawa, charlize theron, george takei, hanzo, hashi, hosato, japanese snow monkey, kameyo, karasu, kubo and the two strings, mari, matthew mcconaughey, meyrick murphy, minae, minae noji, monkey, raiden the moon king, ralph fiennes, rooney mara, sariatu, villager, yukami
Hail Caesar! has a lot going on. Considered a comedy/satire, it takes place in 1950s when Hollywood was having a rough time because of television as a major competition and the McCathy Era (aka the Cold War era). Directed by the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan), known for their wacky, satire films, certainly live up to their reputations for this one. In Hail Caesar!, they try to follow the real life of Eddie Mannix (James Brolin) who is known as “the Fixer” of the film industry. There are several plots which makes the focus a just little difficult.
Eddie has a growing amount of problems that need his attention. Since Eddie works for the production studio, which is in the throws of producing Hail Caesar!, he must get these problems resolved as soon as possible. Actress, Deeanna Morgan (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant and single. Eddie is resolving her potential scandal by having her adopt her own baby without revealing herself as the biological mother. Braid Whitlock (George Clooney) is starring in the studio’s epic film, Hail Caesar!. Someone drugs and kidnaps him, then sends a ransom note demanding $100,000 dollars for his release, signed by “the Future”. Eddie plans to use the studio’s petty cash to pay them off. Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton) are twin sisters who have rival gossip columns. They are a constant threat, as they are always hanging around looking for the latest scoop and don’t mind playing dirty to out-do one another or to get the information they want. Currently, Thora is holding info about Whitlock that she plans to release but Eddie is able to hold her off with a promise to give her info on another actor/singer Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), who is cast in a drama directed by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). Recently, Laurence has informed Eddie that Hobie’s acting abilities are sub par and he want him replaced but Eddie has convinced Laurence to take Hobie under his wing and make him a better actor.
There are more problems for Eddie and many more stars in Hail Caesar! You can see why it’s a little hard to stay focused. You can get all the plots and answers on DVD/Blu-Ray, if you like this kind of satire and/or the Coen Brothers. I think it’s an okay film to rent!
[Hail Caesar! is nominated for Production Design]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged alden ehrennreich, braid whitlock, coen brothers, cold war, deeanna morgan, eddie mannix, george clooney, hail caesar!, hobie doyle, james brolin, laurence laurentz, ralph fiennes, scarlett johansson, the fixer, the future, thessaly thacker, thora thacker, tilda swinton
Spectre is one of the most expensive movies ever made. With a budget of $245M, it has brought in approximately $176M over the last 4 weekends here in the US and grossed $750M worldwide. After all is said and done, Spectre needed to gross $640M to break even. A reported $34M was spent just on the destruction of expensive cars during the making of this 24th James Bond movie. Add Daniel’s salary of $24M, making him the highest paid Bond (which doesn’t include endorsements), in the history of the 007 franchise. Now add around $100M for promotions, plus with all the other staff, actors and employee salaries, one can see how the price tag escalated so high.
So with that said, lets talk about the movie. The plot features James Bond’s first encounter with the global criminal organization called Spectre. Also, several characters, including M, Q and Eve Moneypenny return, with the new additions of Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh and Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra. Spectre opens in Mexico City with 007 on an unofficial mission ordered by the former M (Judy Dench). Eventually, Bond ends up in Rome where he learns about Spectre. Things get pretty complicated and very dangerous as Bond finds himself without backup, as his division has been dissolved by the current M’s new boss, C, because he deems “00” section outdated. In the meanwhile, Spectre turns out to be a sinister organization headed up by the ultimate villain, Ernst Stavro Brofeld, played by Christoph Waltz. The story is complex, the action is intense and the cast is brilliant. However, I found Spectre to be quite different from most of the Bond stories. It seemed like something was missing. Somehow I think the absence of Judy Dench and her nurturing personality made Bond seem noticeably alone and a little uncertain of himself — not the overall confident ladies man I’m use to seeing. Pierce Brosnan expressed that this Bond film seemed weak and lack luster. While I thought the story was solid, I have to agree with Pierces’ opinion. Check it out, it’s an endless challenge of surprises, twist and turns. It will keep you entertained all the way to the end.
[SPECTRE is nominated for Original Song]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged "c", "m", "q", 007, andrew scott, ben whishaw, christoph waltz, daniel craig, ernst stavro brofled, james bond, judy dench, mexico city, moneypenny, naomie harris, pierce brosnan, ralph fiennes, rome, spectre
The Invisible Woman is a story about a period in the life of the famous social critic and author, Charles Dickens played by Ralph Fiennes. This is a respected, well loved member of the arts at it’s finest. How many of us know the true story of this man’s life. His treatment of his wife was considered by many as down right cruel. He had 10 children, not including one that died with his mistress, Ellen Ternan/Nelly played by Felicity Jones. He claimed that he didn’t love his wife but was grateful for having bore him a great family. He considered his wife empty and uninformed, going nowhere because she lacked the literary insight necessary to truly understand and push him toward his endeavors.
While I find his works fascinating, as I read many of his novels, I find his personal life choices distasteful. As far as the Invisible Woman goes, I find the style in which the story is told quite boring. The movie was “oh so slow”. The scenery was beautiful, the acting was good but the pace was very British. It was like being in school, watching a history lesson of minimal interest. I truly love Ralph Feinnes who also directed this movie but… There’s much more to Charles Dickson’s biography, for this reason I recommend seeing The Invisible Woman — it’s not a complete waste of time since this is a piece of history and is currently on DVD.
[THE INVISIBLE WOMAN is nominated for Achievement in Costume Design]
Critics Gave The Grand Budapest Hotel a “Must See” rating. Choosing to see Budapest was a risk taking adventure for me as I don’t like slapstick comedy. Obviously, I saw it anyway. Hoping that it was going to beat out the competition, I let the other movies fall my the wayside in favor of The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was not exactly slapstick. I can’t say I made the wrong decision but I can say it was not a “Must See” movie. There was an unprecedented amount of stars in this movie starting with Jude Law who played an interviewer/writer and guest at the hotel. This is the story of Gustave H, played by Ralph Fiennes, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy, played by F. Murray Abraham as an adult and Tony Revolon as a young boy, who becomes his most trusted friend. This legendary concierge was a ladies’ man who had an infinity for blond, old, rich women. When one of them dies, he gets blamed for her death. This is when the movie takes form and any and everything goes. From Bob Balaban playing M. Martin to Adrien Brody who plays the dead woman’s son Dmitri to Willem Dafoe who plays a depraved killer named Jopling, I was intrigued. Stars like Harvy Keitel, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Edward Norton graces this film bringing it to a level of craziness I truly enjoyed. I was happy to see one of my most beloved actors, Jeff Goldblum who played deputy Kovacs as part of this wacky cast doing what he does best. If you like this sort of shenanigans, you will surely like The Grand Budapest Hotel. I was entertained and I thought it was funny. You might just want to wait for the DVD, as there were no special effects or any other reason to spend money for the price of a movie ticket.
[THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is nominated for Best Picture, Directing, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup & Hair Styling, Music: Original Score, Production Design and Original Screenplay (writing)]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged adrien brody, adult, bill murray, blond, concierge, crazy, deputy kovacs, edward norton, european hotel, f murray abraham, famous, friend, harvy keitel, jeff goldblum, jude law, ladies, legendary, lobby boy, old, owen wilson, ralph fiennes, the grand budapest hotel, tony revolon, wacky, wars, willem dafoe, young boy, zero moustafa