Posts tagged with “elle fanning”
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1998/DVD) This DVD arrived in the mail for my little ones the other day as a gift from a very wise aunt. The next 86 minutes were spent in rapt delight by all of us as we took in this wonderful and unusual film. A creation of the Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki, it was originally released in Japan in 1998 and acquired by Disney and redubbed in English in 2006. It’s the story of two sisters (voiced by Elle and Dakota Fanning in the English version) who move with their dad into an old house in the countryside while their mother recovers from a long illness in a nearby hospital. The house and the woods around it are inhabited by spirits and magical creatures that only the girls can see. It sounds like a foreboding set up — sick mom, haunted house — but the movie is surprisingly lighthearted and charming. As Ebert sagely points out, part of this movie’s joy comes from the fact that it doesn’t hit you with the expected children’s movie scenarios. There are no villains. The adults don’t mistreat, misunderstand, or condescend to the children. A parent who is ill doesn’t have to die tragically. Giant fuzzy creatures lurking in the woods are friends, not foes. Plus, there’s a Cat Bus! Not a bus for cats, silly. A bus that IS A CAT. Case closed.
This would make a wonderful gift for anyone you know with kids. Or anyone else who likes cats. Or buses. Or needs a reason to smile.
SUPER 8 (IN THEATERS/2011)
Warning: The following discussion is spoiler-heavy—although, come on, we all know that a Spielberg homage is going to have an alien in it, right? Whoops.
Brian! Quiz! What is the thing that Steven Spielberg loves the most? A) Characters staring into the night sky with childlike wonder. B) Fat kids. C) One dead parent. D) Aliens finally going home, as string-heavy music swells in the background. E) Hating mean old military stiffs. All of the above! And writer/director J.J. Abrams includes all of these elements in his sweet tribute to Spielberg movies (the ‘80s ones), Super 8. As we know, Steven, who never met a leaden framing device he didn’t like, pushes my buttons. When the Amblin Entertainment logo pops up before a movie, it earns well-deserved boos in every theater I’ve ever been in (that I am doing the booing is beside the point). But put his formula into the hands of Abrams, who seems to respect the intelligence of his audience a little more, and it makes for a nostalgic movie that deserves summer blockbuster status. Enjoying the loaded-with-meaning father/son hugs, occasionally cartoonishly evil henchmen, hero’s zooms-in, and slightly-too-knowing-for-their-age kid dialogue is virtually guilt-free, and I look forward to many years of half-watching this on nonpremium cable. Read more »
SOMEWHERE (2010/ IN THEATERS) Sofia Coppola’s movies are not for everyone, but they’re definitely OK by me. Her latest–Somewhere–was as usual written and directed by SC. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2010 Venice International Film Festival, it’s a slow–make that glacial– moving portrait of Hollywood as seen at the Chateau Marmont—that famously seedy Sunset Boulevard gem where actors, actresses and others go to hide, to party, and to just be themselves. As Harry Cohn, founder of Columbia Pictures said in 1939, “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” Stephen Dorff seems made for the part in Somewhere as Johnny Marco, a young, good-looking actor, complete with designer stubble, who is spending his days at the Chateau just hanging—- watching a couple pole dancers (very funny! especially the second time around), dozing off, smoking, just waiting for his manager to call and say where to be next. Plenty of women are available to Johnny—more than available really. His life is just drifting when suddenly his 11 year old daughter Cleo (a fabulous Elle Fanning) appears and needs to stay a while. They jet off to Milan for a gig—and what a gig! (Be sure to catch the suite he stays in.) And then return for the “good life”–lazing around the pool at the Chateau, grabbing a burger in the lobby, Cleo making eggs benedict in the kitchen of the suite—pretty cool. The film takes a turn after Cleo goes to camp and I have to say the ending is not up to the Lost in Translation standard, but is not unexpected. It says a lot that Rotten Tomatoes gives this film a critical 74% approval, while audiences give it 49%. As I said at the start of this review, you either like Sofia Coppola or you don’t.
Grade: B. I felt the film lost much of its mojo when it became more “meaningful.”
Check this out!!
Reporter: Did you base Johnny on anyone?
SC: Oh, a lot of people (laughs). I’ve met a lot of actors who have lived at the Chateau Marmont and he’s lived there (gestures to Dorff). It was a combination of people I’ve met and stories I’ve heard, kind of all put together.