Tag Archives: Idris Elba

The Jungle Book

I hate being right.

Haha, okay, no I don’t. I love it. I knew I’d hate this movie, I avoided it like I feared it might give me Zika, and when I finally did break down and watch (because it was the fare being offered on the first night of drive-in season), I hated it even more than I’d anticipated. That uptick is maybe partially your The-Jungle-book5fault. It’s received some fairly positive reviews so I had hope that it wasn’t as bad as my gut was telling me. But now I know the truth: either the movie-going public are idiots, or they talk up a bad movie in order to trick others into paying to see it too, thus assuaging their guilt and annoyance at having sat through it themselves.

Self-righteous, much? Yes, I enjoy being that too. But I truly did loathe this movie. I had little to no interest in seeing this movie and was relieved when Matt said he’d cover it for us (being a boy scout, he felt he had some personal connection to the material). But guess what? Matt never saw it, the chump, and he’s left it to me to attack people’s childhoods. I can only assume that’s what it’s about. I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings attached to the 1967 animated version of this one. I could have hummed some of the bars of the more popular songs, but couldn’t have told you the plot. But the minute  I heard it was live-action, I was out. Forget it. Realistic-looking animals that still for some reason talk? I couldn’t fathom how this would be done well.

Neither could Jon Favreau, as it turns out. And the thing about realistic-lookingThe-Jungle-Book-Special-Shoot_SHERE-KHAN_max-620x600 animals is that they’re still cartoons. They’re very accurate, very expensive cartoons, but it’s just some fancy animation that makes it harder for me to anthropomorphize but doesn’t stop them from breaking out into song. The tiger is so menacing looking you can practically smell the rotting meat caught between his yellowed 3-inch teeth, yet he has the velvety smooth voice of Idris Elba. Bill Murray was a nice choice for the more playful Baloo, but let’s remember that Baloo is still a bear. A sloth bear, sure, but a bear’s a bear. Sloth bears are usually known to be docile for a bear, but they’ll still attack humans who encroach upon their living space, and Mowgli doesn’t just encroach, he fucking rides him! And thejunglebook56b918f52fcee+%25281%2529then there’s King Louie, the big-ass scary mother fucking ape. Modeled after Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz, King Louie is a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan, who in real life would have been about 10 feet tall and over 1000lbs. He’s hostile AF but he’s oddly voiced by Christopher Walken. Now, I love Walken almost as much as his mother does, but it was a weird and jarring choice. King Louie is scary, but Walken’s voice is far from it. He’s got the voice of a stand-up comedian or a jazz band leader, it’s one of the most recognizable voices out there, and it didn’t belong to this ape. And then he breaks out into a show tune, which is NOT something Colonel Kurtz would be caught dead doing, so the tone of the movie just falls apart like the chain falling off of a bicycle, and the whole thing just stinks. Stinks! And not just because it’s a temple full of monkeys.

So why bother making a “live-action” version of the movie when there’s only a single live thing about it? Neel Sethi as little Mowgli is pretty charming, but he never met a single animal during the filming of The Jungle Book – which is a good thing, because seeing a small boy in the arms of how-the-beautiful-visual-reality-of-the-jungle-book-was-made-on-an-la-sound-stage-954479a black panther makes most adults want to scream “Run you little idiot!” In fact,  Jim Henson’s Creature Shop was brought in to make puppets for Sethi to act against, but those were completely replaced with CGI versions later. And as for the lush Indian landscape, it’s 100% phony too. The whole thing was filmed on a back lot in smoggy Los Angeles with a blue screen and some Styrofoam painted to look like jungle.

Tonnes of people loved this movie and I’m not one of them. If you’re going to maxresdefaultgive me talking animals, that’s fine, but they’d better also have careers and pants and fart jokes. If an animal looks real and normally eats people, I don’t want to see him dancing around with a man-cub. I have zero tolerance for this movie and as far as I’m concerned, King Louie can kiss my ass.

Zootopia

videothumbnail_zootopia_officialtrailer_disney_a4d0f4ceIn 2006, Disney purchased Pixar for the equivalent of $7.4 billion dollars. It’s becoming more and more clear how good a deal that was for Disney. Every Disney animated movie since has been amazing, from Wreck-It-Ralph to Frozen to Big Hero 6. maxresdefaultNot only is Zootopia another success for Disney, it may be the best of the bunch since John Lasseter and Pixar came on board, and that’s probably the best endorsement I can give.

The best part of Disney Animation’s renaissance is that these movies aren’t just for kids. They’re as enjoyable for adults as for little ones. Zootopia, for example, includes a spot-on reference to Breaking Bad! Striking that balance must be incredibly hard butb17 Disney has picked up the torch from Pixar in that area and is doing it as well as Pixar ever did. Zootopia is literally a movie that all ages will enjoy. So it’s one up on LEGO!

Most importantly, Zootopia’s underlying message is timely and may be more important for adults than kids at this point, given the horror that is the U.S. Republican party’s nomination process. We as Canadians dealt with some of the same terribleness in our recent election so it’s not just an American tactic.  Fortunately, enough of us were able to reject fear and demonization of minority groups to trump-chicago_wide-af9dd849d37a7079224f21dd42973b4aae2a4c88-s900-c85choose someone who wants to bring us together instead of tearing us apart. We really, really, really want to believe American voters will do the same (just like they’ve done in the last two presidential elections).  Please don’t let us down!

As for Zootopia, it is a movie that will definitely not let you down. It’s smart, funny and deep and you should totally see it. I give Zootopia a score of ten sly rabbits out of ten.

SAG Surprises

rs_300x300-160130182244-600-idris-elba--accepting-sag-awards2016Idris Elba took home the trophy for best supporting actor. Sylvester Stallone, considered the front-runner in the same Oscar category, wasn’t even nominated at the SAG awards, perhaps because the Creed momentum didn’t really pick up until after their nomination ballots were in. Or maybe it’s just because he’s crap and he’s never acted a day in his life.

Last weekend The Big Short took home the top prize at the Producers Guild awards, but it was Spotlight proving they’re still neck in neck, taking home the top SAG award (outstanding performance by a cast) and

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: (L-R) Actors Billy Crudup, Brian d'arcy James, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber, winners of the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for "Spotlight," pose in the press room during The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. 25650_015 (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Turner)

boosting their success rate to about 10/20 now. Next weekend the Directors Guild will add their considerable voice to the tally, and they tend to be better predictors than almost anybody.  Either way I’m angry – neither of these was the best thing I saw last year, and neither would probably breech my top 10.

jacob-tremblay-brie-larsonOtherwise it was pretty standard: Leo won. Brie Larson won. Alicia Vikander won over Kate Winslet for supporting work in a role that is clearly anything but (she’s great in The Danish Girl, but that’s a lead role if we’re being honest, which apparently we aren’t).

Mad Max: Fury Road was justifiably honoured for outstanding action performance by an ensemble.

And the stuff that really matters: who looked pretty.

SAG loser but style winner Helen Mirren

SAG loser but style winner Helen Mirren

kate-winslet

Damn. Kate Winslet, born to vamp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Christmas

Christmas is hard. Even if you like your family – and I mean each and every one of them, even when they’re drinking – even if you LOVE them, it’s tough to be around them and not eventually revert to our petty childhood selves. Ma’Dere (Loretta Divine) is the matriarch of the Whitfield. A mother of six, there’s nothing this mama loves more than having her kids around the table at Christmas time, and with son Quentin home for holidays for the first time in four years, this year is bound to be one of the best. Right?

Except Quentin (Idris Elba) and Ma’Dere have a slight strain in their relationship because he idolizes his father, who left the family to pursue his love of music. And then so did Quentin. And Quentin’s not fond of Ma’Dere’s new beau Joe (Delroy Lindo) who’s actually lived with her in the family home for years, but when Quentin’s around, they pretend otherwise. Sister Lisa (Regina King) might have something to say about it – she usually does, about everything, she’s the self-declared caretaker and know-it-all of the family – but this year she’s a little preoccupied with her own failing marriage. And guess what? The rest of the kids are struggling too: one keeps switching majors and never graduating, one owes an awful lot of money and is about to be visited by some knee-busting bookies, one is secretly married (to a white lady!)…well, you get the point. Just your typical warm and fuzzy Christmas – and actually, I mean that sincerely. Because everybody’s got something. You, me, and the secret white wife. We’re all dealing with our own shit, and then stepping on each other’s toes trying to deal with each other at Christmas. But the Whitfields are a nice family. They love each other. They cook together and dance in the living room and bicker over how big the tree is.

The cast (minus Chris Brown) goes a long way in making the Whitfield house feel like a home. They’re affectionate and snippy and get in each other’s space and business just like real siblings do when given time and eggnog. Lack of time + surplus of siblings = we only get to know about 4/6 of them as real people. The rest, plus spouses, kids, and hangers-on, just fill in the spaces of the house, making sure the dining room table gets fully extended (anyone else always get stuck lugging in the leaves? and also, why are they called leaves?) and the turkey gets picked to the bone. Ma’Dere’s house is as full as her heart and truthfully, I could have spent even longer at their hearth, chaos and all.