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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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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)
The tide is turning.
Filmmaker(s): James Wan

Black Manta seeks revenge on Aquaman for his father's death. Wielding the Black Trident's power, he becomes a formidable foe. To defend Atlantis, Aquaman forges an alliance with his imprisoned brother. They must protect the kingdom.

A Lost Universe You will read from others the multiple weaknesses in this film from a genre that normally tolerates them. There are few new things you can do with these films, and instead of attempting some, they reverted, seeming to emulate the most popular...
Published April 27, 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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Bottles (1936)
Filmmaker(s): Hugh Harman

A dark and stormy night in a drugstore. The druggist mixes a potion and falls asleep. The skull-and-crossbones on the bottle comes to life and drips the potion on the druggist.

A Mind Ajar It seems that one major theology of animation concerns the animating (meaning coming to life) of normally inanimate objects. It is one strain worth tracing, because with today’s film technologies, animals can easily be seen to talk and even wear clothes and...
Published April 2, 2024
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River (2023)
Filmmaker(s): Junta Yamaguchi

The one-hundred-year-old Fujiya inn stands in the quiet region of Kyoto. Mikoto is standing in front of the Kibune river at the back of the building when she is called back to work. But two minutes later, she finds herself back at the river again. The whole inn seems to be stuck in a time loop!

Gentle flows There are films that use the cinematic vocabulary reluctantly. Most of those have visual exposition, alternated with action sequences as a common model. Or we have ‘character studies’ that use the camera like a novelist would, to penetrate the skin, so we can...
Published April 2, 2024
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Elemental
Opposites react.
Filmmaker(s): Peter Sohn

In a city where fire, water, land and air residents live together, a fiery young woman and a go-with-the-flow guy will discover something elemental: how much they have in common.

Spatial Depth I suppose most people will talk about the story. It has the by now standard Father dynamics. The also now standard tension from a systemic (I hesitate to say ‘environmental’) threat rather than a bad guy. And a love story of the typical...
Published February 28, 2024
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Careful (1992)
Filmmaker(s): Guy Maddin

The mountain-village passions of a German widow and her sons unfold in the style of a 1920s movie.

Broken Magical Eggs I really like Maddin. I like the way he thinks visually first. Narrative is not only woven into and communicated by cinematic means, but his characters live in a similar world. They experience the world, the same way we experience the film:...
Published February 23, 2024
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Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998)
Lewis Carroll's Classic Fantasy Tale.
Filmmaker(s): John Henderson

A modern adaptation of the classic children's story 'Alice through the Looking Glass', which continued on from the popular 'Alice in Wonderland' story. This time Alice is played by the mother, who falls asleep while reading the the bedtime story to her daughter. Walking through the Looking Glass, Alice finds herself in Chessland, a magical and fun world. There she meets the Red and White Queens, as well as many other amusing friends on her journey across the chessboard countryside onto become a crowned queen.

Homeopathic Seduction In 1871, A deacon logician at Oxford published a sequel to his surprisingly popular children‘s story. In that original, he had dabbled in the mix of logic and mysticism that he thought respectable. Fortunately for him, it was characterized as the sort of...
Published February 23, 2024
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Gulliver’s Travels (2010)
Something big is going down.
Filmmaker(s): Rob Letterman

Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Liliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens.

Action Figures There is something brilliant about this project, something absolutely brilliant. You will find it hard to locate in the storm of distracting bad decisions elsewhere. The bad? Well, you can read about that elsewhere. A cheap film factory and story meets the three...
Published February 23, 2024
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