Da 5 Bloods
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I May Destroy You
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After a fairly disappointing year for animation, compared to recent times, we have a real winner in "Frozen." Taken from Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale "The Snow Queen," it is centered on a pair of sisters torn apart when the elder sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) accidentally hurts the younger Anna (Kristen Bell) using her ice-manipulating magic ability while the two play. Their parents are told by a wise wildreness troll that Elsa's powers must be kept under control, which leads to her nearly total isolation from everyone else for fear that her power would be destructive. Increasingly lonely and frustrated by these circumstances, made worse by the death of their parents, Anna sees an opportunity to try to make up for lost time when Elsa's coronation ceremony occurs. Unfortunately, an argument over a young man's proposal sets off a chain of events, leading to Elsa fleeing to the mountains and leaving the kingdom under an icy eternal winter. Not one to give up Anna follows, determined to make things right. Along the way, she encounters a man named Kristof (Jonathan Groff), his sidekick reindeer Sven and a lovably goofy snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).
This delightful animated musical was directed by Chris Buck (1999's "Tarzan" and 2007's "Surf's Up") and Jennifer Lee (2012's "Wreck-It-Ralph"), with music by Christophe Beck and songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Don't miss it!
Lovely film about one girl's gentle defiance of her country's traditional placement of women in society. Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) is a young school girl who longs for the seemingly simple joy of racing a bike with her male friend Abdullah (Abdullrahman Algohani). Her mother (Reem Abdullah), knowing how society will frown on Wadjda for riding a bike, refuses to buy it. So the independent-spirted 11-year-old girl decides to raise the money herself through means that make her school's headmistress suspicious. Then she discovers a Qur'an recital competition and determines to win the prize money to pay for the bike. Meanwhile, Mother is distracted by the looming possibility that her husband will take on a second wife and does not realize the situation.
"Wadjda" tells its story gently, and brings forth the political issues in a straightforward manner that allows us to focus on the innocent quest for a moment of childhood joy forbidden by a society with many contradictions. Included in those contradictions is the fact that a society that doesn't allow women to drive and bans movies has produced a female director, Haifaa Al Mansour, whose film is the first from Saudi Arabia ever submitted for consideration for the Academy Award Foreign Language category..
Worthwhile, if a bit too solitary, tale of survival at sea. Robert Redford gives a sturdy (and nearly-wordless) performance in a physically demanding role. Some of the visuals are striking, such as when we see schools of fish under the life raft Redford uses. Nevertheless, there is an element of emotion missing until late in the film, when the situation has finally led to a realization of doomed fate closing in. Still, it is an interesting time spent with one man fighting against the odds in an uncontrollable environment.
Intense, suspense-building story of Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his crew combating a take over of their cargo ship by Somali pirates in 2009. The film provides us with a battle of wits between Phillips and the pirate's captain Muse (played with an occasional flash of humor by Barkhad Abdi), who takes to calling his counterpart "Irish." Done with an almost documentary style, much like his "United 93," director Paul Greengrass again brings the audience along on a realistic yet incredible ride. Tom Hanks hasn't been this good in a very long time, probably not since at least "Road to Perdition" in 2002.
Involving, well-crafted story of the struggle of space engineers to survive after their work is interrupted by a catastrophic strike from debris. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) finds herself basically alone in space, with only the reassuring presence of the more experienced astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) to guide her through the harrowing experience of trying to find a way back to Earth's surface. Once everything goes haywire, she must race time or face the real possibility of never getting back. Superb performance from Bullock, with Clooney likable as her guiding voice.