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Despicable Me (2010)
Some call him bad. They call him dad.

Villainous Gru lives up to his reputation as a despicable, deplorable and downright unlikable guy when he hatches a plan to steal the moon from the sky. But he has a tough time staying on task after three orphans land in his care.

Foreground/Background I see that I did not write a comment on this when it came out. I have since had kids and rewatched it recently, and am impressed by a couple key decisions. The first is the quality of the animation and choices made in...
Published July 7, 2024
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Pitch Perfect (2012)
Get pitch slapped.
Filmmaker(s): Jason Moore

College student Beca knows she does not want to be part of a clique, but that's exactly where she finds herself after arriving at her new school. Thrust in among mean gals, nice gals and just plain weird gals, Beca finds that the only thing they have in common is how well they sing together. She takes the women of the group out of their comfort zone of traditional arrangements and into a world of amazing harmonic combinations in a fight to the top of college music competitions.

Packaged Energy I recall watching ‘Fame’ when it came out. It surely was not the first film that was a performance about a performance with a personal quest overlain. But it was the first in my film life. There have since been hundreds of these...
Published July 6, 2024
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Kung Fu Panda 4 (2024)
Filmmaker(s): Mike Mitchell

Po is gearing up to become the spiritual leader of his Valley of Peace, but also needs someone to take his place as Dragon Warrior. As such, he will train a new kung fu practitioner for the spot and will encounter a villain called the Chameleon who conjures villains from the past.

Green Noodle of Wisdom There are three interwoven stories in this edition, which for apparent cost savings does not have the furious five. So this is a one-hero show. The dominant thread is the father-son story. I guess I can understand why this so deeply...
Published July 1, 2024
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Inside Out 2 (2024)
Make room for new emotions.
Filmmaker(s): Kelsey Mann

Teenager Riley's mind headquarters is undergoing a sudden demolition to make room for something entirely unexpected: new Emotions! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who’ve long been running a successful operation by all accounts, aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety shows up. And it looks like she’s not alone.

Lassiter Layers Decades ago, I had the charter to ‘study Hollywood’, ostensibly as a model for virtual enterprises, but that extended into my now serious study of folding in film narrative. One expression of folding is the play within the play, where you have narratives...
Published June 23, 2024
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The Fall Guy (2024)
Fall hard.
Filmmaker(s): David Leitch

Fresh off an almost career-ending accident, stuntman Colt Seavers has to track down a missing movie star, solve a conspiracy and try to win back the love of his life while still doing his day job.

No Stuntman This film, and every comment I’ve seen seems to not be aware of 1980s ‘The Stunt Man”. That was a similar setup, but before the noir device evolved to the comedic. In the earlier film, the fact of the stunt guy being so...
Published June 20, 2024
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Next Goal Wins (2023)
Be happy.
Filmmaker(s): Taika Waititi

Dutch coach Thomas Rongen attempts the nearly impossible task of turning the American Samoa soccer team from perennial losers into winners.

Faʻafafine Oh gosh, such a tired story. A weak sports team, including troubled youngsters in need of a father figure. A talented but haunted coach, reluctantly assigned, comes around to adopt the team. Success! Personal fulfilment. I cannot say how many times this film has...
Published April 10, 2024
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Jojo Rabbit (2019)
It's definitely not a good time to be a Nazi
Filmmaker(s): Taika Waititi

A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

Multipurpose knives I think I would like to hang out with Taika. At any rate, I believe him to be a genuinely good man in a business fraught with otherwise. I actually like when a personal style is deeply reflected in a film or collection,...
Published April 9, 2024
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Wish Dragon (2021)
Three magical wishes. One life changing adventure.
Filmmaker(s): Chris Appelhans

Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon who shows him the magic of possibilities.

Shallow Well This is not just reminiscent of ‘Aladdin’, it is a copy of hundreds of films that have come before, with no notable deviation or identity. It still has value. It is presented exceptionally well. I’ve become more accepting of repetition as I grow...
Published April 6, 2024
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Dream Scenario (2023)
Meet the man of your dreams.
Filmmaker(s): Kristoffer Borgli

Hapless family man Paul Matthews finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. But when his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom.

Films within The core of film structure these days is elaborating on where the viewer is. The two historical devices are films within, and noir, where an unwitting soul is manipulated for our amusement. So it makes sense that we would from time to time...
Published April 6, 2024
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Bottle Shock (2008)
Based on a true story of love, victory, and fermentation
Filmmaker(s): Randall Miller

Paris-based wine expert Steven Spurrier heads to California in search of cheap wine that he can use for a blind taste test in the French capital. Stumbling upon the Napa Valley, the stuck-up Englishman is shocked to discover a winery turning out top-notch chardonnay. Determined to make a name for himself, he sets about getting the booze back to Paris.

Jostled Beware of these sorts of things. Something happens that when it happens around you, it seems pretty interesting. When someone thinks “they should make a movie out of this” usually they are wrong. The supposedly interesting thing here is that a California wine won...
Published April 2, 2024
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