Maleficent Love

Review of Maleficent, Directed by Robert StrombergAngelina Jolie makes Maleficent a movie worth watching. And she doesn’t even say very much throughout the film. Her accentuated cheekbones, her cold, creepy stares, the alabaster skin and ruby lips, the careful intonation of each phrase--the whole package keeps you fixated. There is no doubt that without Jolie, Maleficent would not sell, and fortunately both for the studio and for the audiences, the camera stays glued to this complex creature … [Read more...]

The Lion King: Disney’s Almost Christian Tale

Review of The Lion King, Directed by Roger Allers and Rob MinkoffAs my kids continue to grow up, my wife and I continue to revisit our youths and indulge in a little nostalgia by popping in another Disney classic every few weeks. Then I blog about them. I previously found Snow White lacking, Bambi interesting, and Beauty and the Beast weird. The Lion King (1994) stands head and shoulders above the rest. This is probably the best movie in the Disney opus (not counting Pixar).The Lion King … [Read more...]

Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks: On Loving Imperfect Fathers

Review of Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, and Mary Poppins, Directed by Robert StevensonWhen I was a kid we owned the laserdisc of Mary Poppins (1964) and we would watch and rewatch our favorite tunes again and again. The songs are catchy, Dick van Dyke’s energy is infectious, and the movie has just the right amount of magic and whimsy to hold a kid’s attention. But I always got bored and slightly frightened near the end.Rewatching the movie again recently with my kids, I … [Read more...]

Disney’s Frozen: A Warm Story

Review of Frozen, Directed by Chris BuckBy GIANCARLO MONTEMAYORDisney’s new animated film is a princess fairytale based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the Snow Queen, and though we are used to this type of genre from Disney, somehow Frozen feels fresh. Maybe it is because the film is now about two princesses (Elsa and Anna) instead of one, and even though one of them finds her “prince charming,” he turns out to be not that charming after all. This movie is more about family bonds a … [Read more...]

Bambi: The Deer King

Review of Bambi, Directed by James Algar, et al. In our ongoing effort to watch and blog our way through Disney’s classics, I’ve gotten around to Bambi (1942). With the other movies, I was revisiting films I had seen as a kid: nostalgia thus added another layer of enjoyment to the films’ immediate charms. Not with Bambi. Until last week, I had actually never seen Bambi before. My goodness, this movie has a high body count.Bambi occupies a certain niche in American cultural iconography. It … [Read more...]

Snow White Showing Her Age

Review of Snow White, Directed by William Cottrell, et alHaving recently shown my kids, aged 4 and 3, Disney’s finest in Beauty and the Beast (1991, reviewed here), I thought it only fitting to go back and show them Disney’s original, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937).  Separated by more than a half-century, the two masterpieces of classical animation show how far Disney has come in the art of story-telling.Snow White was the first widely-distributed feature-length animated movie.  … [Read more...]

Beauty and the Beast: A Hymn to the Cult of Love

Review of Beauty and the Beast, Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk WiseWhen you think Disney, you think of bright colors, a mouse, princesses, enchanted castles, music and song, and possibly overpriced theme parks. But perhaps above all, you think of childhood. Disney specializes in a certain kind of entertainment (or marketing). It speaks to children, including the inner sort—those who are still under the age of 12 and those of us who remember being so once upon a time. Disney is all about … [Read more...]

Wreck It, But Be Nice to Your Sister

Review of Wreck-It Ralph, Directed by Rich MooreConfession:  I love video games.  When I was 2, my dad bought the Apple II computer.  Some of my earliest memories are playing stone-age video games together as a family.  I remember playing Cranston Manor.  This was a game only slightly more sophisticated than Pong. It was a mystery game. A still image was on the screen, painted in plain 8-bit color graphics. Two lines of text described the scene. “You are standing in the forest. A piece of pap … [Read more...]

Odd Parenting in a Crooked World

Review of The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Directed by Peter HedgesBy KENDRICK KUOThe odd life of Timothy Green is not the odd part, but rather how he is parented. Odd not in a bad way, but in the way it contrasts with the broad goals of worldly parenting.Cindy and Jim Green are a married couple who are told, after an extensive line of attempted solutions, that they are not going to conceive a child. As they contemplate a childless existence, they decide not to give up. They write down … [Read more...]