Noirvember – Top Five Film Noirs

Posted: November 29, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

A lot of film people consider this month “Noirvember”, and use the occasion to celebrate and watch Film Noir. I’m no noir expert, but I certainly have some favourites and that seemed like a perfect way to close out “Noirvember”. I should note that the rankings here are not just based on what films are better or worse, but rather, for the ways in which they embody what it means to be a Film Noir. Also, for the purposes of this list, I’m only considering classic noirs. Modern, neo, or revisionist noirs like Chinatown, Blade Runner, or Sin City don’t count.

5. Touch of Evil

touch-of-evil

Much of noir is dedicated to creating a world which feels bleak and hopeless. I can’t think of any noir that nails this quite like Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. This isn’t just a world without hope, it’s a full on nightmare where seemingly every goodness in the world is compromised. The film pushes the twisted angles and dark shadows of noir to the extreme and the characters are often bitter and hateful. This is most emphasized in Welles’ Police Captain Quiplan, a hardened bastard who has been made bitter after years of living in a dangerous place. That might sound like clichéd material, but Welles presents the material in such a way that it feels fresh while also being very personal in a sense. Read the rest of this entry »

The Handmaiden Review

Posted: November 27, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

the-handmaiden-poster

Written by Daniel Simpson

It’s easy to judge a film based on genre or other trappings and that often leads to films being mislabeled. Take the career of Cronenberg, who started his career by making some really perverse body horror films which explored identity and change with movies like Videodrome and The Fly. As his films went on, the premises read like more standard movie plots; a family man’s violent past confronts him, a crime tale involving Russian gangsters, a movie about Sigmund Freud. However on closer inspection, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method were just as perverse and challenging as the overt horror movies Cronenberg built his name on. I bring all of this up because a similar thing can be noticed with Park Chan-wook’s newest film, The Handmaiden. Though the film has the trappings of a more traditional prestige period piece, the film is every bit as twisted as the thrillers that made him famous.

The Handmaiden is set around what I’m guessing is the 1930s during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Specifically, the focus is on a pair of Korean con-artists; the pickpocket Sook-he (Kim Tae-ri) and a man posing as a Japanese Count named Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo). Fujiwara has chosen his next mark: wealthy Japanese heiress Lady Hideko, who has been restricted to her large estate by her domineering uncle. Fujiwara plans to seduce Hideko and marry into her fortune, then declare her insane and have her locked in a mental institute. Sook-he will pose as Hideko’s handmaiden, and is to help push Hideko into loving Fujiwara. The two begin their scheme, but overtime Sook-he grows increasingly fond of Hideko. As their bond grows more intimate, Sook-he has reservations about the con. Read the rest of this entry »

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

Posted: November 26, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

fantastic-beastsWritten by Daniel Simpson

Right before seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two in theaters, I remember having a conversation with a friend who was a huge fan of the series. While she was excited to see the final film, she also lamented the fact that it meant the end for the movies. I sympathized with her, but I also pointed out that it was pretty cool the series would actually end. Most movie series see endless sequels or reboots until becoming unprofitable, whereas Harry Potter would get to close out with some dignity. Little did I know Warner Bros. had to go make a fucking liar out of me. The same year that they dusted off and rushed Batman back onto the silver screen, WB decided to not only release the Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but they also announced that film to be the first in a five part series.

I’m not going to lie, I went into Fantastic Beasts with a pretty skeptical outlook. The Harry Potter franchise was a billion dollar industry for Warner Bros. for a decade and I’m sure it was even more crushing for that gravy train to cease just a year before Christopher Nolan’s wildly successful Dark Knight trilogy finished up. Disney has also proved with Marvel and Star Wars just how profitable a shared cinematic universe can be. A shared “Potterverse” seemed like a desperate attempt to capture a similar trend. The fact that the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts would be written by J.K. Rowling was of little comfort to me given that Rowling’s post-Potter efforts have generally been met with apathy. In short, all signs pointed to Fantastic Beasts as being made less in an effort to expand the mythology of the series, but more to recapture the glory and success of yesteryear. All that said, I did try to go into the film with an open mind. The reviews were fairly solid after all and in the thick of a busy semester, some magic and escapism seemed like a good way to spend an evening. Read the rest of this entry »

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Review

Posted: November 25, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

billy-lynns-long-halftime-walk-poster.jpgWritten by Daniel Simpson

Is Ang Lee the most underappreciated director of his generation? That seem an odd statement given the dude has won three Oscars, many of his films have been critical darlings, and cumulatively his films have grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, but whenever the discussion of who the best working directors are, Lee’s name is seldom mentioned. Perhaps it’s because Lee is something of a chameleon. His three most famous films; Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, and Life of Pi, all have very different stories and styles. His films do possess common themes of spirituality and repressed emotions, but Lee doesn’t necessarily have an obvious auteurial stamp. On a more general level, one of his defining features might just be his willingness to take bold risks with his projects. Such is the case with his newest work, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Shot at 120 frames per second rather than the conventional 24, and the film also explores the Iraq war in a fairly novel way. The film has received very mixed reviews, and it’s certainly a flawed work, but as is always the case with Lee, there’s definitely some interesting elements to Billy Lynn.

The film opens with news footage of Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), a young American soldier in Iraq, defending his sergeant (Vin Diesel) during a battle. The sergeant dies, but Lynn and the other members of his troop are celebrated as heroes and are brought back home from a promotional tour. The bulk of the film is centered on the last day of this tour, where Lynn and his comrades will be featured during the halftime show of a football game. As the film comes closer to the titular long halftime walk, the film observes Lynn and his troops many interactions with others at the game, while flashbacks tell how Lynn came to serve and what his war experiences were like. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Animated Films

Posted: November 22, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

Written by Daniel Simpson

Tomorrow, Disney is putting out an animated adventure film called Moana which is already pulling in great reviews. It isn’t the last animated film of 2016, but it does seem to be the last of a string of above average animated movies to see wide-release in 2016, with others including Disney’s Zootopia, Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings, and Pixar’s Finding Dory (I haven’t seen that last one, but reviews are strong so I’ll assume it’s at least better than mediocre). To mark the occasion, this week’s list will be celebrating what I consider to be the top ten best animated films ever made. Generally speaking, I’m limiting this list to only one film per director/studio, but I’m making an exception in the case of Studio Ghibli. Simply put, the filmmakers working under Ghibli have distinct enough auteurial styles that it would be unfair for to lump all of these directors under one label.

10. Persepolispersepolis

Of all the films in this list, Persepolis is easily the one I’ve gone the longest without seeing. None the less, I still felt like it needed to be included as its one of the boldest examples of a work of animation made for adults. The fact that the film depicts a fascinating portion of Iran’s history which doesn’t get much representation in cinema alone gives the film a big edge and it also tells a young woman’s compelling coming of age story quite well. The film’s animation has a deliberately two-dimensional look which is interesting and the use of black and white is really striking. On a rewatch, this film might well climb a lot higher. Read the rest of this entry »

Arrival Review

Posted: November 17, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

arrivalWritten by Daniel Simpson

Denis Villeneuve has come forth as one of the most promising directors of the current decade. As a fan of his breakthrough Incendies I’ve been largely excited by this, but I’ve also been a little disappointed by the films he’s made since. Make no mistake, movies like Prisoners and Sicario both show some fine directorial craft, but I found both were also marred by some questionable screenplays. I’m not going to go into detail about why here, but I found both had something of an identity crisis wherein they presented themselves as dignified prestige pictures, but their scripts were hokey. Still, I remain enthusiastic about Villeneuve’s work and have been hoping he’d be able to make something special. His newest film, Arrival, seemed like exactly the sort of hard science-fiction that would win me over.

The film is set on what looks like a modern day Earth when twelve mysterious alien vessels touch down on the planet. Seeking a means to communicate with the aliens, the U.S. government enlists linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to make contact. Louise is brought to Montana, where one of the alien vessels resides, and meets Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist who is to work with Louise inside the alien ship during sessions. Slowly but surely, Louise does start to make progress understanding the aliens, and vice versa. However global tensions mount as Chinese General Shang (Tzi Ma) increasingly moves to a military solution and the threat of warfare grows. Read the rest of this entry »

Hacksaw Ridge Review

Posted: November 16, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

hacksaw0001

Written by Daniel Simpson

It might be hard for some to imagine, but there was a time when Mel Gibson was one of the most important of Hollywood figures. He was a successful movie star, a well-respected actor, and had even began to make a name for himself as a serious filmmaker. He won an Oscar for Braveheart and Passion of the Christ was one of the most fiercely discussed films of its time, but for many of us, Apocalypto is his masterpiece. That film showed Gibson applying top-notch craft to a setting rarely depicted in film while simultaneously delivering one hell of an action movie and survival story. The achievement of Apocalypto has been overshadowed however by Mel Gibson’s personal life, particularly a series of derogatory and offensive statements the man made over the period of a few years. I’m not going to defend these claims, but I will say as someone who admired his work as an artist, it was frustrating to see. This is someone who had really blossomed into an amazing directorial talent after all. But after ten years, Mel Gibson has finally returned with the war drama Hacksaw Ridge, an imperfect film, but one that validates why Gibson’s talents are so valuable.

The film tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is a young man and devoted Christian living in Virginia in the 1940s. The son of a bitter veteran (Hugo Weaving), Desmond decides to enlist in World War Two and serve his country. Desmond’s religious practices prevent him from picking up a weapon and killing people, but none the less insists on serving as a medic. He is met by some resistance from army brass, but ultimately is given the go ahead and is sent to The Battle of Okinawa, where he would go on to save over 75 lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Eleven Feel Good Movies

Posted: November 15, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

It’s been a distressing week. For many, Donald Trump winning the presidency is a clear cut example of hatred winning over love and society going back on progress. Marginalized groups have already seen a wave of discrimination and violence following the election and the legitimization of hateful views. People are afraid and upset, and they have every right to be. Many are reaching out for comforts and for me, those comforts can be as simple as a film that makes you feel better. Rather than just sharing my own “feel good” movies though, I thought it be better to get some other opinions in there. I asked some of my friends to share their own feel good movies and they move them so much. Together, we’ve put together this list. These movies won’t change our current problems, but they do provide comfort, and sometimes that’s necessary to keep on fighting. I encourage anyone who reads this to share their own feel good movies.

1. The Apartmentthe-apartment

Billy Wilder’s The Apartment is my feel good movie, and it’s also a romantic comedy, but the film is no frivolous romp. The central romance occurs between two characters who experience a lot of loneliness, pain, and are riddled with their own insecurities. That might sound depressing, but there’s a warmth to the center. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are both intensely lovable characters that you can’t help but root for and the film’s dry wit really turns the film into an enjoyable experience. Most importantly, the catharsis of the film is not a foregone conclusion and that makes it all the more powerful. Happiness in The Apartment, like in real life, is not easy. It takes hard work and it comes with suffering, but it can be achieved, and it’s a beautiful thing when it is. Anyone who has ever felt love for someone else knows that it’s not always easy. Relationships cost, mistakes are made, and feelings inevitably involve some level of heartache. The Apartment is a film that reckons with this, but the overall impression is not despair. Rather, the film inspires a sense of joy and hope. For my part, The Apartment moves me every time I see it. I’m entertained, I’m enlightened, I laugh, shed a tear or two, and leave the film feeling a little bit better about the world.

2. The Boy and the Beastthe-boy-and-the-beast

Written by Angeli Pineda

My go-to movie for when I’m down has always actually been Lilo and Stitch. I’m not kidding when I say I watch it about once a month. But this year, on Thanksgiving weekend, I stumbled upon a movie on Netflix directed by one of my favourite Japanese auteurs; similar to Miyazaki but with a style all his own, Mamoru Hosoda, who has also directed Summer Wars, Wolf Children, Ame and Yuki, and The Girl Who Lept Through Time. In fact, for the first time, I enjoyed this movie enough to watch it three times in three days, it inspired that much feeling in me. The Boy and the Beast builds a fantastical world around a young boy who feels he has no place in the world. One day, he stumbles into a world full of beasts who reject him, asserting that humans carry a darkness in them that animals simply lack. Still, he stays in the world of the Beasts and trains with them. Part of, I think, what makes this such a good feel-good film is that it centres on a young man hoping to find some respite from reality, just as movies do.

The film carries us through a journey with the young boy, Kyuta, and it’s got an entertaining story, but I find that the best part of the film, the thing that gives it all of its re-watchability, is the way that they humanize Kyuta and his Bear-like master, and make them both so personable. Though a bit cheesy at times, I think that all aspects of the film contribute to the charm of their stubbornness and their constant bickering, which if done poorly could make the characters come off as annoying.

Admittedly, the characters are quite flat. But I think that a lot of feel-good movies center on characters who are just that. Like the story, they are indeed charming but above all, they aren’t complex (though the film does have its one fun little twist moment). And this is what makes the film not only so easily digestible but absolutely sweet and heartwarming.

3. Digimon: The Moviedigimon_the_movie

Written by Jordan Dawson

My feel good movie has always been the CRIMINALLY underrated but deserving classic: Digimon: The Movie. Why? Well I have literally no idea why. Maybe it’s the amazing soundtrack, likeable characters, high octane plot, and general nostalgia? I was always one of those hipster kids that said Digimon was better than Pokemon mostly because I just watched Digimon more. I still contest to this day however, that this film is vastly superior to the film of its poke-counterpart, I mean it is good enough that Summer Wars basically ripped off the plot. The film has a hilarious and hard hitting commentary for us Dial-up internet kids (represent!) with Matt and T.K being on their grandma’s shitty old computer trying to stop a worldwide virus threat. Ultimately, you could summarize the entire plot in a sentence or two: a worldwide virus (Digimon) enters the web and begins getting nuclear launch codes for Armageddon (whoa heavy). However, when our loveable and favorite Digi destined heroes jump on the case it becomes apparent that their friendship…is more powerful than any thermonuclear device!

Honestly, the movie just smashes every nostalgia button like its playing Contra and I can’t get enough time and time again. It’s the kind of movie that not meant to be hard hitting, or to some even interesting. It’s not unique and most people would prefer Pokemon but that’s the best part! Everyone can hate on the movie all they like, in the end it’s reserved for those scarce few that really loved the poor man’s Pokemon: Digimon. If you get it, I am glad we can both feel good viewing this masterpiece and if you don’t well, here is a video of the Digirap from the movie. You’re welcome.

4. Donnie Darkodonnie-darko

Written by Adam Mott

The film with which a viewing offers the most solace to myself is without question 2001’s Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly. Perhaps it was the fairly pivotal point in my life in which I watched it that laid the groundwork for feelings like comfort and warmth but every return to the pocket universe which is presented in a stunningly multifaceted detail, satiates my need for said emotions. The fact that the film in question is a thriller which many consider to be “too frightening” to watch due to a plethora of reasons leaves little bearing on me and I honestly couldn’t quite tell you why. It’s safe, the narrative existing in generic small town America with all the trappings inherent in such a place serve to define the nest where the film lives in my mind. To me, Donnie Darko represents Fall, individuality, pain, poignancy, the need to be true to who you are, the want to belong and be loved, as well as the reality that sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. Yes, there is time travel and a giant man in a bunny suit but all around these things is an earnest and vibrant heart that asks the audience, “Who are you? What do you see?” and that question in part is what keeps me coming back. I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad.

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanharry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban-movie-poster

Written by Michael Dennos

There were honestly a number of films that came to mind for this, but upon narrowing it down based on the criteria I was given — a movie that leaves you feeling great every time and where the magic of the experience is never lost on you with each repeat viewing — my choice became obvious: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Anybody who knows me well enough also knows that I am a massive Harry Potter fan.  I grew up reading the books and seeing the movies as both sets were released, with my age roughly mirroring that of Harry’s in each of the films as they progressed; I was 11 when they started and 20 when they finished.  So, I feel very connected with the main trio in certain respects.  And if I had to choose one film in the series that, to me, best exemplifies the magic and wonder of JK Rowling’s universe, it would be Azkaban.  What I would label as the BEST Potter film would depend on my mindset at the time and what day of the week you asked me, but I now always flip-flop between Prisoner of Azkaban and Deathly Hallows: Part 1.  Azkaban, though, holds the record for the most times I’ve seen a film in theaters: nine times.  From the very first time I saw it, I fell in love with it.  Like I said, it brilliantly represents everything I adore about the series: an imaginative world full of wonder, whimsy and sometimes danger, compelling and lovable characters whose sense of friendship and family feels fully fleshed out, and much, much more.  Aesthetically and tonally, director Alfonso Cuaron succeeds brilliantly in capturing the tone of the books, to the point where it often feels like the filmmakers cast a spell that took the words on the page and transferred them to the screen in such a way that they formed the images on the screen, story omissions be damned.  Prisoner of Azkaban is also the most fun of the franchise to me.  The humor and such never gets old or stale.  Plus, the film contains what may possibly be my favorite John Williams score ever.  The Harry Potter universe is a world I would live in if I got the chance, and every time I watch Prisoner of Azkaban (which I’m sure is the Potter film I’ve seen the most), it feels like that’s exactly what I’m doing.

6. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemenleague_of_extraordinary_gentlemen

Written by Steven Griffin

When I was a child this film was the best and scariest thing I had ever seen, and watching it today I feel the exact same way if not for different reasons. The film, based on the Alan Moore’s graphic novel, follows a group of characters from famous literary works in 1899 as they globe trot around attempting to stop a terrorist for creating super soldiers and starting a world war. If nothing about that gets you somewhat excited, then you might want to check your pulse. In all honesty, the film is relatively hammy, especially with all the actors playing a caricature of literary icons like Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Captain Nemo, a vampire chemist Mina Harker, Dorian Gray and the Invisible Man. It is not all that well executed, the direction is poor, the sets laughable and the effects for Dr. Jekyll which used to scare me as a kid now scare me because of how horrible the VFX’s look. But when the film is on, it’s on. The car chase through Venice, Dorian revealing his motivation as well as his fight with Mina Harker, the Invisible Man and Alan Quartermain (Sean Connery) fighting M (who turns out to be Professor Moriarty from Sherlock) and how can forget the brilliance that is Alan Quartermain staring down a snow tiger in a blizzard. Extraordinarily terrible, but extraordinarily watchable.

7. Mermaidsmermaids

Written by Sydney Urbanek

Of Mermaids, Roger Ebert once wrote that “the material is ‘funny’ instead of funny, and we don’t laugh so much as we squirm with recognition and sympathy.” Set in 1963, Charlotte (Winona Ryder) and her younger sister, Kate (Christina Ricci), have spent their entire lives moving from town to town with their mother, Mrs. Flax (Cher). When the film’s narrative begins, they’ve already moved eighteen times, seemingly whenever Mrs. Flax takes up and breaks up with another man. What’s considered normal to this family would be bizarre to any other, and this is partly why Mermaids is so much fun. Charlotte is a typical Winona Ryder role, by which I mean she’s quirky and doesn’t really fit in. This is somewhat due to her obsession with Catholicism – strange only because the Flax family is Jewish. In her voiceover, she frequently repents of what she thinks to be sinful thoughts about Joe (Michael Schoeffling), the local bus driver and caretaker of the convent up the hill. But the true bane of Charlotte’s high school existence is Mrs. Flax, who, despite being the most fun character in the film, is often stealing Charlotte’s thunder. Always wearing a signature polka-dot dress that she seems to own in multiple colours, she unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) derails parent-teacher night and is a major obstruction to Charlotte’s relationship with Joe. Mermaids is indeed a coming-of-age story and to a lesser extent, an awkward sexual awakening, but it’s also about love, family, and breaking old patterns. It’s technically a period piece too, and features some easy listening music from the 60s as well as one of the biggest historical events of the decade – JFK’s assassination. The film has its stressful bits, but it’s a feel-good watch for anyone who considers their family strange, has a younger sibling they’re obsessed with, or can barely think about certain years of their adolescence without cringing.

8. My Neighbor Totoromy_neighbor_totoro

Written by Brooke Spencer

My automatic go-to “feel good” movie would be My Neighbour Totoro (1988). My Neighbour Totoro is a Japanese animated film directed and written by the well-known Hayao Miyazaki. It tells the story of two young sisters (Satsuki and Mei) who run in to some friendly forest sprits and interact with them when they move to the country side in Japan. This my favourite “feel good” film because the movie never stops depicting joy and happiness. It shows the perspective and imagination of a child’s mind that is timeless, as well as precious to those who don’t have it anymore. This film depicts the relationship of two siblings perfectly and their bond/love for each other. Having a young sister of my own and watching her grow up, I feel as though I was responsible for her just like Satsuki felt for Mei and there is a definite unconditional love shown between the two girls. When I first watched this film, my initial thoughts were that I loved the animation, the memorable music and the adorable forests spirits. But as I got older, this movie also brought to my attention that there is so much more to this than looks and sounds (although they still hold up great). This movie to me has no flaws. It is an endless bundle of joy that keeps giving and brings back great nostalgic memories (especially of my sister and I). This film for me will never get old and I will continue to watch it when in need of a pick-me-up.

9. The Naked Gunthe-naked-gun-poster

Written by Myles Brett (HT Schuyler)

When it comes to feel good movies nothing elevates my mood and puts a smile on my face faster than The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!. The 1988 Leslie Nielsen starring comedy classic has been a favourite in my family for as long as I can remember. The film fires jokes and gags at you from all cylinders and never stops to take a break, making it to this day one of the funniest and most entertaining films of all time. Unlike most comedies these days this movie’s strength lies in the fact that everyone is playing their characters completely straight. Leslie Nielsen is phenomenal as the stern, no nonsense Frank Drebin, with all the comedy coming from his serious demeanor, making the comedic situations that much funnier. Despite Airplane! (another feel good classic) Nielsen was mainly known for playing serious and dramatic roles, with this film really emphasizing his talents as an actor, making him a household name in comedy.

There have been times when I’ve been in a bad mood, miserable, upset, etc, and I’ll toss this movie or one of its hilarious sequels or even the original TV show Police Squad! on and by the time it’s over I’ll honestly feel better. I’ve seen this movie more times than any other movie, and it still makes me laugh. The jokes still feel fresh, the film is still entertaining and it holds up 100%. I will never get tired of this movie, and it will always make me feel better. Sure it won’t solve all my problems or fix everything, but after an hour and a half of constant laughs it will elevate my mood, and help me realize that at the end of the day the world didn’t come to an end.

Want to hear me talk about The Naked Gun films more? You can listen to a whole Podcast episode with Daniel and I talking the films at length. Guaranteed to elevate your mood!

10. Raiders of the Lost Arkraiders-of-the-lost-ark

Written by Nate Peck

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the ideal choice for a comfort movie. Why? Action, adventure, comedy, romance, it manages to encompass all wants in a film, while being utterly brilliant the entire time. Steven Spielberg’s direction is pin point perfect, creating a sense of fun that holds up, 35 years later. Spielberg’s change of setting, whether it be classroom or some mysterious cave, make it as if you’re right there with Indiana Jones. Furthermore, the character of Indiana Jones is nothing but enjoyable. Jones oozes cool, his charisma constantly engages and demands viewership. His quest to find the Ark, and stop evil is simple, yet everyone can identify with the want to stop evil, and save history. Raiders of the Lost Ark is the perfect movie to sit back on a weekend, push popcorn in your face and follow along with Indy on his journey. It’s one worth going on every time.

11. Ratatouilleratatouille

Written by Alex Sundaresan

Among Pixar’s list of offerings, I found Ratatouille to be within the echelon of its greatest, having a palette of diverse colours and characters almost as scrumptious as the rendering on all of the food shown in the movie. There are several examples in Pixar’s filmography of movies that talk down to their audience, but Ratatouille is not among them. It’s themes of great things coming from small and humble beginnings is something that can easily resonate with everyone and I found it oddly touching that all of the characters, even the villainous ones, are united by a love and passion for food. The voice cast is excellent, especially Patton Oswalt as Remy and Peter O’Toole as Anton Ego. I found the latter in particular worth writing about because his review of Remy’s food, which concludes the movie, spoke to me as a writer and as a reviewer and critic. Even the romantic arc–which usually nauseates me in movies–I thought was done effectively and in a way that served both of the characters well.

Ultimately, I think Ratatouille is my top pick among feel good movies. I always feel inspired to create something whenever I finish watching it: And I think arts capacity to inspire creativity in its consumers is the highest argument for any art form, whether it’s in food, film or writing.

Ratatouille speaks to lovers of all three.

 

Doctor Strange Review

Posted: November 13, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

doctor-strange-comic-con-posterWritten by Daniel Simpson

If nothing else, Marvel are excellent marketers. I mean this both for the way they’ve used their own movies as basically two hour trailers for the next feature, but also for their conventional marketing campaigns. Specifically, I’m thinking of the trailers for Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War, which all advertised themselves as being the “serious” movie, the one where Marvel threw off the gloves and delivered some real drama. Of course, all three ended up being more or less the standard light adventure storylines we’ve come to expect from the MCU. Occasionally, their films to take on that sense of gravitas (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, certain parts of Civil War), but for the most part, they keep things pretty light. It is for that reason that I never entirely bought into the marketing campaign for Doctor Strange, which also advertised itself as being pretty serious and heady, but really isn’t.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon whose hands are shattered in a car accident. Unable to continue his work, Strange seeks desperate means to heal himself. He soon learns of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a sorcerer in Kathmandu, Nepal who can teach Strange to use magic to heal himself. Strange begins training, but is soon sucked into a greater conflict with rogue sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who draws on dark powers which threaten the earth. Read the rest of this entry »

Zootopia Review

Posted: November 3, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

zootopia-posterWritten by Daniel Simpson

Back in 2010, Disney animation made something of a comeback with a movie called Tangled. It was something of a modest success though and it looked really lame to me, so it was easy to ignore. Then two years later Disney dropped Wreck-It Ralph, which got solid reviews and actually looked kinda cool. I didn’t end up seeing the film, but it at least got my attention. However the main event was the next year, when Frozen was unleashed and went on to become the most talked about movie of the year. The reviews were good, the box-office was high, and the pop-culture fandom was insane. Clearly, this wasn’t a trend that could be ignored lightly and as a cherry on top next year’s Big Hero 6 was also enthusiastically received by critics and audiences. With this year’s Zootopia also proving a hit with all audiences, I finally made the plunge and powered through all of the other films from the new Disney Renaissance. Long story short, I thought they started off rough with Tangled but each subsequent film was better than the last and that trend has continued with Zootopia.

The film takes place in a world of anthropometric talking animals who have evolved and become civilized. Now, animals of all variety, including predator and prey, live together in modern cities, suburbs, and country sides comparable to our own. The film focuses on Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a rabbit from the country who dreams of moving to the big city of Zootopia and becoming the first rabbit cop. Judy is frequently dismissed, but over time she works her way through police academy with top marks and becomes a cop. Initially given the role of a meter maid, Judy soon finds herself involved in a missing mammal’s case which masks a greater conspiracy. Judy is aided by Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox and con artist who has a connection to the case. Read the rest of this entry »