Category: Morning After

The Morning After: Feb. 28, 2022

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

2022 Oscar-Nominated Shorts

Every year, Shorts.tv presents the 15 short films nominated for Academy Awards and each year, there’s a strange array of productions that range from comedy to tragedy and everywhere in between. Having given all fifteen a chance, the difference between the best and second best has never been more stark. The political commentary of the documentary and live action programs is clear, but generally less forceful than it has been in the past.

Among animated shorts, the most interesting is Bestia, which is a horrifying look at totalitarianism from the perspective of those who carry out the orders. It’s certainly not a program that seems like the Academy would love, but it’s quite compelling. For the live action shorts, Ala Kachuu is a poignant exploration of the notion of forced marriage, kidnapping, and an outdated moral code and stands in stark contrast to its compatriots for the courage and forcefulness with which it’s told. Among documentary shorts, Audible is the most fascinating as it explores the challenges that face a group of high school students at a deaf school in Maryland whose lives on and off the football field feel familiar, yet unique with their added struggles for acceptance.

Like all prior years, there are a handful of shorts that don’t feel like finished products and ultimately don’t feel like they deserve nominations. This includes the likes of Three Songs for Benazir, Boxballet, and The Dress.

The Morning After: Jan. 31, 2022

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

West Side Story


On the Broadway stage, a revival is meant to explore an older show and look at it through a more modern lens. In cinema, such efforts are often met with derision or otherwise pale in comparison to their originals. Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story brings the story of two rival gangs on the streets of New York as they fight for dominance in what feels like a more significant fit in our modern political landscape than it was when it was originally brought to the screen in 1961.

Based on the William Shakespeare play Romeo & Juliet, the show pits the Sharks, a group of Puerto Rican immigrants, against the Jets, a white gang who resents the Spanish-speaking transplants for invading their space. Ansel Elgort plays Tony, former leader of the Jets who went to prison for almost killing a Egyptian immigrant in a rumble a year earlier. Rachel Zegler is the sister of Shark Bernardo (David Alvarez) who resents the Jets for their privilege. Throw in Ariana DeBose as Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita, Mike Faist as the Jet’s new leader Riff, and Rita Moreno as Tony’s benefactor, and you have a tremendous cast of young (and old) talents that pull the audience into their narrative.

That narrative, written by Tony Kushner, understands its place in a modern day milieu. While the film is set in the New York City of the past, the parallels between entitled white youths and their vitriol spewed at their fellow Americans come out loud and clear. This is why some films can be remade without tarnishing the original. Spielberg has never directed a full blown musical before, but you wouldn’t know it from his framing and attentive pacing. While there are some questionable choices at times, his conviction is so palpable that the viewer can take those moments in stride.

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The Morning After: Jan. 10, 2022

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Cyrano


Joe Wright’s directorial style is unique enough to make him one of the more compelling auteurs in modern cinema. It’s also familiar enough to make his films accessible to wide array of People. Cyrano has a lot of both elements together.

The story of Cyrano de Bergerac is that of a malformed and socially unacceptable poet who helps an attractive milquetoast woo the woman he loves. Herein, Cyrano is played by the fascinating Peter Dinklage and the love of his life, Roxanne, is embodied by the affable Haley Bennett. Kelvin Harrison Jr. takes on the role of her appealing suiter Christian while the role of the man who controls her financial destiny, De Guiche, is portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn. It’s a superb cast with Bashir Salahuddin rounding out the cast list as the captain of the guard.

Although most will be familiar with Dinklage’s work from the popular television fantasy series Game of Thrones, he and the entire cast have had long and admirable careers as actors and each brings their talent and presence to roles that have been done countless times before, but seldom better. Dinklage, for his part, is almost solely responsible for the film’s success. While his skill became apparent to many after his starring role in The Station Agent, it has reached stratospheric heights with this lively, yet bleak effort.

The Morning After: Jan. 3, 2022

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Vivo


For his third directorial effort, screenwriter Kirk DeMicco takes audiences from the streets of Havana, Cuba to the vibrant nightlife of Miami, Florida by way of sunny Key West. From the musical mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film gives us an array of wonderful new songs for the likes of Miranda and Gloria Estefan to sing with a number of fascinating characters and situations surrounding them.

The story starts off with a street musician named Andrés (Juan de Marcos González) whose trained kinkajou assistant Vivo (Miranda) helps him thrill and entertain crowds each day at a busy fountain in Havana. Andrés receives an invitation from an old friend, celebrated singer Marta Sandoval (Estefan) to join her in Miami for her farewell performance. He decides then that it’s time to see her again and tell her what he longed to tell her so long ago, that he loves her. However, his passing leaves a distraught Vivo adrift with a song that Andrés wrote for her and a desire to grant Andrés his final wish and deliver the song into her hands. When his nephew’s daughter Rosa (Zoe Saldana) arrives with her daughter Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) in tow, he hatches a plan to stow away with her and find his way to Miami, a plan that expectedly goes awry.

Watching Vivo will instantly transport you back to the great Disney animated adventures we once got on a regular basis. While the film uses a not particularly interesting computer-generated modeling for its characters, there are throwback sequences set to music that recall Disney’s two-dimensional mastery, a welcome sight for any Disney-phile. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s score fills itself with that Latin sound that Estefan helped bring to a global audience, an interesting symbolic reference the film makes to its roots. Miranda’s songs are lively and fit well into the film’s various sequences thanks to the artists’ creative energy, but only two of the songs really stand out from the rest, “My Own Drum,” which Gabi sings to celebrate her individuality and “Love’s Gonna Pick You Up” sung by a pair of spoonbills Vivo helps fall in love.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Estefan or Miranda’s work, the resultant feature surrounding them is an aural pleasure blending her soaring, richly texture vocals with Miranda’s rapid-fire delivery. It’s an interesting dichotomy that’s surprisingly well blended in a film that feels both fresh and familiar.

The Morning After: Dec. 27, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Belfast


Actor Kenneth Branagh has been directing almost as long as he’s been acting on the big screen. His first directorial effort, Henry V was a huge success. It was his four screen credit as well. Both his skill and performance were praised with that debut and since then, he’s created a strange blend of Shakespearean adaptations and blockbuster favorites. Not many directors can lay claim to both.

Belfast is Branagh’s 20th directorial effort (technically his 21st as he completed Death on the Nile almost two years ago, but Belfast got out the door first) and it’s the work of a skilled craftsman who works well with actors and employs numerous admirable techniques with his camera. Set during The Troubles in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the film follows 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), a carefree Protestant boy who is coming of age during one of the most tumultuous periods of Irish history, that of the riots and violence inflicted on Catholics by the ruling Protestants of the area.

His father (Jamie Dornan) is hoping to find a way to get his family out of the tension-filled, violence riddled neighborhood where Protestants and Catholics live side-by-side without issue. His mother (Caitriona Balfe), on the other hand, wants to stay so as not to uproot Buddy and his brother (Lewis McAskie) from a place where the neighbors look out for them and care about protecting each other. As The Troubles intensify, the once unconcerned Buddy becomes confused and angry, not wanting to leave his grandparents (Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds) behind.

The story reflects a regional history that a young Branagh might have lived through, being 9 years old at the time as well. The film embodies that memory in the form of black-and-white photography, intended to accentuate just how long ago the events depicted were while highlighting the present day bookends in color along with a handful of colorized moments as the family reacts to the various entertainment programs they experience, including a color segment of the play A Christmas Carol starring uncredited Tom Wilkinson.

This is a well-mounted film that wants the audience to experience the joy and sorrow that accompanies such trials and exists in a simple space within its own narrative without finding a way to be more than lightly cathartic.

House of Gucci


Real life with a soap opera flavor make up Ridley Scott’s look into the collapse of the Gucci dynasty as the family who gave its name to the luxury clothing brand succumb to petty internal squabbling that allows outside forces to worm their way into the lives of one of the most celebrated families in Italian history.

Each country has their legendary business families. The US had the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers while Italy had the Guccis and the Versaces. The latter of those two families had a recent TV movie made about the assassination of one of its members. The former is given similar treatment in this film with Lady Gaga taking the lead as Patrizia Reggiani, the daughter to the owner of a small trucking firm who runs into Maurizio Gucci, the youngest member of the Gucci family with whom she becomes smitten. As the pair marry against his father Rodolfo’s (Jeremy Irons) wishes, they begin a behind-the-scenes assault on the family legacy trying to earn Maurizio is proper due while exposing the internecine conflicts between Rodolfo, his brother Aldo (Al Pacino), and his nephew Paolo (Jared Leto).

The film amounts to little more than a salacious melodrama that could have fit well into the television landscape of the period in which it’s set. Shows like Dynasty, Dallas, and Knots Landing seem clear inspirations here, though I doubt Scott would see it that way. It’s an engaging drama to an extent, but it’s the kind of backstabbing and in-fighting that have been a part of television for decades and while this film may seem tame comparatively, it doesn’t ultimately fill the soul or the mind as a result.

The Morning After: Dec. 20, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The Tender Bar


George Clooney’s latest film adapts the autobiographical novel of the same name by J.R. Moehringer. The film tells the story of young Moehringer’s growth from child (Daniel Ranieri) to adulthood (Tye Sheridan) as he grows up and makes a play for attendance at Yale or Harvard in honor of his mother’s wishes.

Lily Rabe is affecting as his mother with Christopher Lloyd in a brief, but impactful role as his grandfather. Ranieri and Sheridan likewise give solid performances, but this film hangs on the skills of Ben Affleck as his uncle, Charlie. Charlie is an educated bartender who serves up keen observations on life and love, giving J.R. the father figure he never had with his own deadbeat one (Max Martini) away working as a DJ in New York City, keep his drunkenness away from the family.

The film moves back-and-forth in time between the elder J.R. and his younger self, blending the advice he’s given together into a love-fueled pursuit of success and happiness. Clooney’s film is wryly observed, served with a garnish of humor that elevates the material beyond the scope of what we usually see in these types of coming of age movies. While it holds no candle to his superlative Good Night, and Good Luck., the film is the best he’s done in years with his estimable skills put to good use.

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The Morning After: Dec. 13, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The Power of the Dog


Some world class filmmakers don’t take every project that comes their way, nor do they push to produce content out every year. Jane Campion is one such director who came to broad attention with her 1993 Best Picture nominee The Piano, her third feature film. In the intervening 28 years, she’s directed four full feature films and two segments of other projects. The Power of the Dog is her third film that starts with “The P” and it’s just as magnificent as The Piano and better than her stunning follow up to that film, The Portrait of a Lady.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who seldom carouses with his compatriots, employing a hulking bravado to stay at the top of the pecking order even if he prefers to spend most of his time in isolation. He never fails to remind his brother George (Jesse Plemons) of the mentorship the late “Bronco” Henry provided them and becomes vengeful when George falls for and marries widowed innkeeper Rose (Kirsten Dunst) who brings her effeminate son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) with her. His harassment of Peter and Rose is subtle, but disconcerting, with Rose turning to the bottle for comfort and Peter taking a different tack.

The acting is beautiful. Cumberbatch plays his character with ambivalence, longing, and vulnerability. His hard-edged life a front for his feelings of loneliness in the wake of his mentor’s death. Smit-McPhee captures something different. He’s fully aware of his perceived homosexuality, but the taunts and barbs seem to affect him far less. His innate sense of self and determination to become a doctor override many of the baser instincts that Cumberbatch’s Phil occasionally exhibits. Director Jane Campion captures the unusual interplay between the two as the power dynamic shifts as one becomes more unguarded while the other begins enacting his own vengeance.

The film not only subverts the concepts of masculinity enshrined in decades worth of western cinema, but asks the audience to challenge their own interpretations of strength and fragility, not just in the core of the male ego, but in the destructive nature of that environment on the human psyche, hardening those who could have lived a life of quiet potency, but instead had to hide who they were in an effort to avoid persecution. The film has numerous fascinating themes playing across its length and Campion’s film is tightly focused, flowing naturally through several acts, covering the span of two hours in what feels like far shorter a time. Her masterful use of framing and composition make for a delightful viewing experience even if the nature of the story is a sometimes dark and contemplative one.

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The Morning After: Dec. 6, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Soul


It’s a shame the pandemic hit when it did. Soul is Pixar’s best film since Inside Out and stands easily within the upper echelons of their all-time output. A theatrical release would have befitted this meditative film about finding one’s purpose in life and igniting one’s spark. In the hands of experienced director Pete Docter and neophyte co-director Kemp Powers, the material bursts from the screen.

The story is about a middle school band teacher Joe (Jamie Foxx) who longs for a career as a jazz musician, but cannot seem to find the right break. When an accident sends him into the afterlife, his push to return to earth and play in the gig of his career puts him on a collision course with 22 (Tina Fey), a soul who cannot seem to find the spark that will allow her to join her fellow new souls to a life on earth. Paired with Joe, they hatch a plan to get them back to earth, which meets another setback when they return with 22 in Joe’s body and Joe in the body of a cat. Will the duo find a way to reverse the body swap before the abacus-counting Terry (Rachel House) drags them both back.

Foxx’s vocal style doesn’t always fit the self-conscious teacher who longs to be a working jazz pianist, but he makes most of it work. Fey delivers a performance that’s almost unrecognizable as the dismissive and adrift 22. Her typical comedic style is subsumed by the role giving it personality and energy. Richard Ayoade and Alice Braga deliver wonderful support as two soul shepherds while Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad remain magnificently dependable in their roles as a popular jazz saxophonist and Joe’s mother respectively.

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The Morning After: Nov. 29, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Eternals


The Marvel Cinematic Universe has an aging problem. Not that its core audience is getting older, which is true but immaterial, no it’s an issue with the lack of new blood in the franchise. With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson out of the picture and original Avengers Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth finding different aspects of the series to work on, Disney needs to introduce even more new characters and plotlines to keep things going.

In this third feature film of Phase IV, the studio has taken a gamble on introducing a hefty slate of 11 new characters of importance to the future of the MCU. Some of them will be important, such as Gemma Chan’s Sersi, Angelina Jolie’s Thena, and Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman, but others aren’t likely to be significant going forward: Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, and Don Lee. The rest all seem to be minor characters in search of validation.

Eternals is yet another entry to the MCU by a prominent indie filmmaker. This time, it’s recent Oscar winner Chloé Zhao. Zhao managed the massive project well, making it one of the best looking films in the franchise’s history. Unfortunately, the unwieldy story creates a significant impediment and while it’s wonderful to see some great moments, such as the first deaf character in the MCU, the first gay character, and the first sex-adjacent scene, the film struggles to feel more than its paint-by-number origins, the dread Disney formula.

As for the actors, all of them are affable figures and will make fine additions to the MCU, though it remains to be seen how the Celestials will insert themselves into the framework of the franchise and how much the television series will shape that narrative going forward. As for Eternals, it’s the weakest entry in some time with just barely enough within to warrant a recommendation.

The Morning After: Nov. 22, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Raya and the Last Dragon


For the longest time, Walt Disney Animation focused entirely on bringing written works to life whether it was fairy tales or classic works of literature. Only in recent years have they really stepped away from that model. Raya and the Last Dragon is one such work, taking bits and pieces of Southeast Asian culture and infusing them into an organic whole with an inventive and creative story filled with fascinating details.

Set in a dystopian future, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) is the daughter of a once mighty defender of an orb containing the last bit of dragon magic, used to hold back a vile enemy that feeds off negative energy. After the orb is shattered, Raya goes in search of the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), who she hopes to can help rid the land of these once defeated enemies before the claim the last of civilization.

The film’s focus on disunity as a source of conflict is a compelling narrative focus that looks towards trust, harmony, and solidarity. In the fractious world we live in, it’s a strong metaphor for modern society. Teaching children valuable lessons in acceptance and tolerance has been a part of Disney’s heritage from as far back as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and in bits and pieces throughout its history. As imaginative as Disney is with its productions, the film feels incomplete, moving from one set piece to another with a driving storyline that over simplifies the context. This very much feels like the result of a rush in production that allows for some gorgeous animated backdrops, but also keeps its kid-friendly animated character styles, making for an odd dichotomy.

Disney has done some great work in the past, but this feature feels like it could have used a few more passes to shore up its identity. And for a film that hangs on the notion of trust, Disney’s lack of faith in the film is evident not just through its rocky production history, but in how it allowed the best elements to be dragged down by antiquated or uninspired notions.

The Morning After: Nov. 15, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Although there is a formula to films made within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, certain filmmakers have been able to tinker with the formula and make the action feel original. Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy managed that, as did, to a lesser extent, the Ant-Man, Thor: Ragnarok, Captain Marvel, and Black Widow. More akin to the first two films in this list, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings delves into the Wuxia style of filmmaking popularized in Asian cinema. It’s the perfect setting for giving the MCU its first Asian superhero in the guise of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu).

Shang-Chi is an émigré to America, escaping his haunted past and his tyrannical father (Tony Leung). When a group of thugs ambush him and his friend (Awkwafina) on the San Francisco city bus, his father’s plan begins to unravel as he reveals that he is seeking to rescue their entrapped mother (Fala Chen) in the mystical realm of Ta Lo. Along with his estranged sister (Meng’er Zhang) and a figure from the MCU’s past, they discover that he’s being misled by dark forces who want him to unleash catastrophe on the world.

It’s not uncommon for Wuxia films to blend in ancient mysticism with their extreme martial arts choreography, but director Destin Daniel Cretton worked hard to enfold so many traditional themes and action sequences in the film, making the whole Marvel production feel like it stood on its own while linking itself into the universe itself. This delicate balancing act is well handled, helping the film stand out against the sea of cardboard cut-outs that have for so long dominated the MCU. The actors give the production all the gravitas and importance of a familiar Wuxia event picture while grounding the affair in warmth and humor.

The Morning After: Nov. 8, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Wonder Woman 1984


As with all superhero films, the second outing is too often a mixed bag. For every Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight, there’s a The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (though in that film’s defense, it was more of a lateral disappointment than a decline in quality. For Wonder Woman 1984, director Patty Jenkins tries mightily to keep the momentum of the first film going, but shunting the action forward more than 60 years has a way of minimizing its impact.

What likely started out as a nobly enriching story was stuffed full of unnecessary plot points, superfluous scenes, and pointless characters. The story revolves around an unsuccessful businessman (Pedro Pascal) desperate enough for success who seeks out an ancient artifact that may have been responsible for countless civilization collapses, but which he believes will make him inordinately successful. Diana (Gal Gadot) is back to thwart his not quite evil plans while having to contend with her own past by the unexpected arrival of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) whom she thought dead along with a shy coworker (Kristen Wiig) who wants Diana’s confidence, but who may not be able to handle the responsibilities.

There are a lot of lofty ideals on tap for this film, hoping to create a more hopeful message, something needed more now than ever before, but the superhero trappings get in the way. While suspending disbelief isn’t a huge issue, getting to the point is. The audience is dragged through a lengthy film that could have been massively trimmed and been delivered with more impact. Wiig, try as she might, has a character that seems to be wasted even if her plotline has some compelling elements. Unfortunately, we’re never given the kind of backstory really needed to make her stand out to audiences and when the Legion of Doom eventually comes together against the Justice League, it’s unlikely that she will be treated any less shabbily.

The Morning After: Jul. 19, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Black Widow


A decade after she should have already gotten her own standalone film, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow gets more than her due in this mixture of spy thriller and Marvel Cinematic Universe feature. Johansson is joined by the estimable talents of Oscar nominee Florence Pugh, Oscar winner Rachel Weisz, and Emmy nominee David Harbour along with Ray Winstone, Olga Kurylenko, and Oscar-winner William Hurt in a small role as MCU-recurring character Secretary Ross.

Set just after events in Captain America: Civil War in which the Avengers have broken up due to internecine struggles regarding the decision to abide by the terms of the Sakovia Accords, which was designed to out all superheroes and require them to register with the government. The film opens in a small Ohio town where Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) lives with her Russian-spy family comprised of her dad Alexei (Harbour); mom Melina (Weisz); and younger sister Yelena (Pugh). After escaping with a particularly juicy piece of intel, the family flees to Cuba where they are split up at the behest of the film’s overarching villain Dreykov (Winstone).

Fast forward 21 years, and Natasha is on the lam from Sec. Ross, who wants to bring her in for the bombing that took place at the signing of the Accords. As she attempts to stay hidden, she finds herself pursued by a mysterious assassin called Taskmaster, an event that leads her to Yelena and into a web of intrigue that involves Dreykov’s survival and his pursuit of vengeance against his enemies, and control of all those whom he can.

Indie director Cate Shortland takes the helm of Marvel’s latest feature and proves singularly adept at blending action in one of the most gripping and thrilling adventure the MCU has yet produced. While it shares a lot in common with other films in the MCU, it easily stands apart from those films as the deviation from the norm that fits better with the likes of Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy than it does with the more traditional fare of the Avengers films and many of the other origin stories. It’s a laudable decision to deliver an woman’s story into the hands of a female director, but more importantly it helps establish the necessity of disparate voices in all realms of filmmaking.

The Morning After: Apr. 12, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

2021 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

With 13 of 15 shorts under my belt, I have to say the political commentary of this year’s shorts is far more pointed than it has been in recent years. The Documentary Shorts and Live Action Shorts were most notable in this regard. Whereas with the Animated Shorts, there’s a more interesting dynamic playing out in that only one is computer animated, though it could easily be mistaken for stop-motion. That’s a rarity, but the creative and daring subjects and expressions in the film are far outside what we normally see in that category.

Once I see Hunger Ward and A Love Song for Natasha, I’ll be able to write a full review of the entire program, but so far there are four films that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest: animated short If Anything Happens, I Love You, live action shorts Feeling Through and The Present, and documentary short Colette. Their subjects, respectively, are school shootings, homelessness and kindness, human dignity in the face of discrimination, and Nazi concentration camps. That doesn’t mean that the others aren’t good, Genius Loci and Opera are fascinating to watch, and Yes-People is rather humorous. Two Distant Strangers has a fascinating story to tell about police brutality and murder while Do Not Split explores the thorny topic of Hong Kong against the backdrop of Communist China.

There are also mediocre shorts, though none are abjectly terrible. Burrow feels like minor Disney about burrowing animals and a sense of community, The Letter Room puts Oscar Isaac in a prison mailroom so that he can peruse communications between prisoners and the outside world, White Eye is a one-take short about the presumed theft of a bicycle, and A Concerto Is a Conversation is an interesting, but dull look at a grandfather’s influence on his musical son. Next week, once I’ve seen the remaining two, I will put together a review of them all rather than a Morning After report on them.

Review: Trolls World Tour (2020)

The Trolls: World Tour

The Trolls: World Tour

Rating



Director

Walt Dohrn

Screenplay

Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Elizabeth Tippet

Length

1h 30m

Starring

Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Kenan Thompson, Kunal Nayyar, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, J Balvin, Flula Borg, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Gustavo Dudamel, Ozzy Osbourne, Anthony Ramos, Karan Soni, Charlyne Yi, Zooey Deschanel

MPAA Rating

PG

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