The other day I decided to open Twitter because for some reason I convinced myself that would be a valuable way to use my time. I was greeted by a large picture of Spielberg and the headline "Film fans debate Steven Spielberg's proposed changes for Oscars qualification." As a film fan and lover of many of Spielberg's films, I decided to see what this was all about.
Oscar winning director Damien Chazelle's First Man tells the raw story of how America, as a nation got the the moon. However, as the titleindicates, the film chooses to tell the story specifically from the perspective of Neil Armstrong: A troubled man who is grieving the tragic loss of his child. If there is one word that describes what it feels like to watch this movie it would be immersive. The term "man in a can" has been used to describe astronauts before and First Man viscerally immerses audiences into the feeling of being hurled through space while crammed into a tiny command module held together by nuts and bolts. While it is a visceral and cinematic space-exploration drama, the primary goal of the film is to immerse audience into the grief, isolation and humanity of the first man on the the moon. The film achieves this goal masterfully.
I feel like I'm supposed to hate this movie, but I don't. If there is one skill that Disney has mastered, it is the ability to sell childhood back to adults. Disney's Christopher Robin exists for that sole purpose. The film, Directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland), feels like one relentless pursuit to remind you of the times in your childhood you spent watching Winnie the Pooh; almost half the dialogue is comprised of quotes from A.A. Milne's novel or Disney's classic adaptations. This is a film with enough flaws that I could rip it apart and criticize it until my fingers become attached to my keyboard. And yet, despite it's many flaws, the film works. I don't know how, but it does. Perhaps it is due to the irresistible likability of the characters crafted years ago or maybe the filmmakers on this reboot actually did do something right after all. Regardless, Christopher Robin actually works, really well.
I saw Paddington 2 and fell in love with it. And by fell in love with, I mean that I want to buy this movie a Snuggie for Valentine's day or something. It is rare for me to walk out of a movie and have zero criticisms, but there was nothing in Paddington 2 that I disliked. Simply stated: this is a perfect movie. Whimsical, hysterical, emotional and brilliant. You could show Paddington 2 to a room full of the most cynical, cold-hearted moviegoers and it would probably melt their hearts in an instant.
By writing a defence of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I'm not saying that I moderately enjoyed watching this movie and think audiences were a little too hard on it: I love this movie, I have unapologetically included it on my favourite films of all time list. I don't think this is just a personal gem or "guilty pleasure," I think this movie holds a wealth of value that audiences have failed to see. Am I saying it is a perfect movie? Absolutely not. I admit, there are many problems with the execution of this film, but that's part of what makes this film so endearing: It is deeply flawed; just like every person you have ever loved, but that doesn't stop you from loving them, does it?
There's no denying that Pixar has had better days; the studio may still be the reigning king of animation in North America but in recent years (post The Incredibles) the majority of their films have been satisfactory yet have lived in the shadow of the golden era (Toy Story-The Incredibles). Every once in a while, the studio releases a gem that fits on the shelves with their early efforts; Coco — along with Inside Out, Toy Story 3, Up, WALL-E and Ratatouille — is one of said standouts. Pixar’s external brand is still an image of a vibrant bubble of creativity and originality, but it is clear that internally, their business model has shifted since Disney’s acquisition in 2006.