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Mia and Me (2011)
If you have a child that enjoys fairies and elves and unicorns and such, then this is something else for them to watch. It's a fantasy show where a real life (live action) teenage girl is magically transported to a (CG animated) land of flying elves on occasion.
Season 1 is formulaic with the new girl in school and the school bullies and the outcast friends. Lessons are learned, friends are made, bullies get their comeuppance, and in the fantasy land the heroes band together to defeat the villain.
Season 2 gets more complex. The focus is on the main character and her school bully as they both spend a summer on their respective families' houses in the country. The stakes are higher and we learn more about the families of the characters. The antagonist even gets to join in on the fantasy adventures and gets her own redemption arc. The fantasy story involves freeing animals and finding characters and solving puzzles and has a little more to it than the last season.
Season 3 is weird and different but ultimately inoffensive. All of the actors are replaced, there's a new Mia and a new voice cast and new characters. The fantasy story is just a rehash of Season 1. The new cast is fine. It's admittedly less engaging than the first two seasons, but it'll do for anyone wanting to see Mia go on more adventures.
"Maybe it's not enough to not be mean..."
"...maybe you have to be nice."
Granted, any Equestria Girls adventure is just a they're-people-in-a-people-world version of My Little Pony, so there's not really much new in terms of writing, music, jokes, or animation style. What I did appreciate about this adventure was the idea that we can't always control someone else's concept of who we are and that ignoring someone can be just as upsetting as antagonizing them.
Pros: Trixie gets some development as a character, which is a relief after her being something of a background joke most of the time. She delivers the opening quote (the central theme) while declaring herself The Wise and Moralizing Trixie. Wallflower Blush's disarmingly relatable song "Invisible" is one of the better songs to come out of the franchise.
Cons: Not enough time to really make the mystery plot mysterious. Sunset Shimmer is the focal character at the expense of the other characters. Sunset Shimmer returning to Equestria to face Princess Celestia could have been its own movie, but here it's glossed over in service to the main plot.
Overall: surprisingly good for a 45-minute Equestria Girls adventure and worth a watch with the kids.
La novia ensangrentada (1972)
This is good, very good
This is, quite simply, good. Reminiscent of Tod Browning's Dracula, this is an adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla that maintains the story and spirit of the original while adding plenty of cinematic flair. There's the blood and nudity expected of a horror movie, especially out of 1970s Europe, but that's just par for the course. Beyond that is a beautiful atmospheric film full of symbolism.
An older man marries a younger woman who is still unsure of her sexuality. His family has a dark past. The couple strives to conform to traditional expectations of marriage. A mysterious woman seeks to pull them apart. Is she really a vampire or is it all just an act?
It's not perfect; there are a few cheap jump scares, some issues with the audio, and it's distractingly obvious that the lead actress has several different body doubles. However, I think the film's strengths vastly outnumber its weaknesses. To be fair, I'm something of a vampire fan. This may have simply been one of those films that's just right up my alley.
I laugh every time I watch
This is one of my all time favorite movies. I grew up watching antenna TV in the late '80s and early '90s and seeing many of those strange UHF stations with reruns and syndicated shows and low budget shows produced in a tiny local TV station. I watched and adored all the different movies that are parodied. And of course, I'm a huge Weird Al fan. This movie just hits my funny bone exactly right.
Not to mention that this movie only grows more relevant over time. With hundreds of channels to fill, cable and satellite networks are coming up with more and more ridiculous shows. Endless sequels and reboots keep Rambo, Indiana Jones, and Conan ever present in the pop culture landscape.
If you're a fan of screwball surreal comedy, whacky characters, and general weirdness, then don't worry. They've got it all on UHF!
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Would have been a great "package" animated film
From the trailers giving alternate and standalone scenes to the disjointed credits scenes, I got an impression that this movie was written with the overall plot being considered last. To the point that I think the plot could have been completely removed and it would have made the film better. A package film, made up of a series of shorts with just a bit of frame narrative, would have fit just right into a movie about Ralph making short videos for streaming sites. This should have been Ralph and Vanellope traveling over Wifi just because and having adventures on the internet during the night when the arcade is closed.
The shorts should have been: -Vanellope turns out to be really good at racing in a gritty modern racing game -Ralph opens a toy box that turns out to be full of bees -Ralph tries to play a prank with a virus and accidentally makes a giant King Kong of himself -Vanellope convinces the princesses to wear normal clothes -Ralph and Vanellope explore Ebay to look at how the vintage merchandise based on their game is selling and accidentally bid way too much on an item -The princesses create a bizarre Rube Goldberg device to rescue Ralph and/or Vanellope from something
There were a lot of good jokes and fun sequences that could have easily been rounded out with a simple story and turned into shorts. This film could have been the compilation of those shorts, a commentary about how entertainment has come full circle and how the modern viral video is essentially the same as the first shorts and serialized films.
Instead we got a weak plot that gives little more than a cursory glance at the first film and completely changes the characterization of its two central characters. The heavy handed lessons don't match the character arcs of the first film and there is almost no expansion on the first film's supporting characters.
Overall, this film is mostly humorous and entertaining and works well enough as a standalone film. Unfortunately it is not a good sequel and falls far short of living up to the expectations set by the first film. Worth a couple of watches but there's no reason not to go back to the first one afterwards.
The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
An Orson Welles film that isn't "an Orson Welles film"
Here it is, if anybody wants to see it.
Were you compelled by the character study of Citizen Kane? Were you thrilled by Touch of Evil? Then get ready for something unlike any of those or unlike anything. This is the mockumentary before Reiner or Guest, the improvisational dramedy before Apatow.
The entire point of this movie is that there's no point to this movie. Here is Orson Welles's most talked about movie about talking about a movie. His film about a film within a film. Orson Welles deliberately subverts Orson Welles to make an art film contained within an art film making fun of art films. John Huston plays John Huston playing Orson Welles as Orson Welles. Peter Bogdanovich plays himself as his own ripoff. There's a party celebrating a celebrated filmmaker making a film making fun of filmmakers. Nothing happens. So much happens. We learn everything about a legendary director about whom we learn nothing.
This film is a glimpse into the psyche of a filmmaker who wants to make films but has no idea how to keep making films. He wants to be commercially successful without compromising his integrity. He wants to make personal films for an impersonal audience. He wants to make something sexy despite being prudish. This movie isn't really for anyone; this movie is really for everyone.
It wasn't until the end of his life that Orson Welles realized the most important story he needed to tell was his own. It's a story whose only concern is that it was told, whether or not you like it. So watch it. Or don't. This movie doesn't care either way.
And if this review left you feeling confused, then I gave you an accurate impression of the film.