Movies for the Homebound IX: Animation

Posted on May 17, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Every family is familiar with the Disney and Pixar classics, which are ideal for families who are looking for something to watch at home. Here are some outstanding animated films from other studios to add to your viewing list.

The Thief and the Cobbler There’s a bit of controversy about this wonderful movie due to creative clashes, which you can learn more about in the behind-the-scenes documentary and “recobbled” version. But the theatrical release, with voice talent by Jonathan Winters, Matthew Broderick, Vincent Price and Jennifer Beals is a visually dazzling fairy tale that is genuinely enchanting.

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Kubo and the Two Strings I am the biggest fan of LAIKA Studios and their exquisite stop-motion films, and it is hard to pick a favorite. “Coraline,” “Paranorman,” “The Box Trolls,” and “The Missing Link” are all beautifully designed with wonderful stories that don’t shrink back from exploring the dark and scary. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is about the son of a depressed mother who sets off with Monkey (Charlize Theron) to find the three pieces of Hanzo’s armor that he will need to fight the evil sisters and their father, who wants Kubo’s eye. Along the way they meet a samurai who has been cursed and turned into a giant beetle (Matthew McConaughey). And they meet and fight three different monsters, a giant skeleton, an underwater garden of eyes, and an enormous, floating, reticulated moon serpent, each giving Kubo a chance to discover his courage and power.mThis is a gorgeous, epic adventure with grandeur, scope, and spectacular settings, every bit of it wonderfully imaginative.

Kung Fu Panda: Jack Black provides the voice for Po, a panda with an unlikely ambition — he wants to be a kung fu master. But he is rejected by the teacher, Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), and the Furious Five; Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Mantis (Seth Rogen). Po is not a natural. He says dejectedly, “I probably sucked more than anyone in the history of kung fu…more than anyone in the history of sucking.” He admits to Shifu that he only stayed “because I thought if anyone could change me, make me not me, it was you.” But Po will learn that the source of his strength is what no one can teach him — his sincerity and humility. Po will find within himself the strength, focus, and resolve to face Tai Lung. Followed by two sequels.

Surf’s Up: This story about a penguin (think very cold weather) who wants to surf (think very warm weather) is beguiling, thanks to vibrant visuals, superb voice talent, wit without ironic air quotes or snark, a sweet storyline, and a brisk running time. Like the sport it salutes and the island where it takes place, the movie has a laid-back vibe, taking its story, its humor, and itself lightly.

Spirited Away: Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki makes wildly imaginative, almost dreamlike films. Do not try to find a linear narrative, just enjoy the magic. A girl named Chihiro is on her way to move to a new city with her parents when they take a detour to what seems to be an abandoned amusement park. However, the park is filled with magical creatures and her parents are turned into pigs. Chihiro must grow up quickly in this exotic world not only to save her parents, but to survive. Other Studio Ghibli films to try: “Ponyo,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Princess Mononoke”

Wallace & Gromit Nick Parks’ stop-motion films are delightfully — and literally — hands-on. You can see fingerprints on the charming characters, the dim human Wallace and his ever-patient dog Gromit. All of their adventures are delightful in a slyly low-key manner, but I suggest starting with the first. Wallace is a fan of cheese, so why not go to the moon to find some?

Yellow Submarine: The Beatles have to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies in this gorgeous musical adventure with some of the world’s best music (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Eleonor Rigby,” “Nowhere Man,” “All You Need is Love,” “When I’m 64”) and some of the world’s most glorious animation.

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More Movies to Watch at Home: Recommendations from The Washington Post, AWFJ, and Rogerebert.com

Posted on March 24, 2020 at 10:57 am

Great recommendations for movies to watch at home from my friends and colleagues:

The Washington Post:

This is a great list, with Martin Scorsese’s quirky comedy “After Hours,” my favorite film of last year, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” and the under-seen documentary that is a powerful reminder of what connects all humans, “Life in a Day.”

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists:

This is a wildly varied assortment, reflecting the wide range of the AWFJ’s members. It includes Drew Barrymore’s roller derby film “Whip It,” the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG,” the zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead,” and Barbra Streisand’s Oscar-winning performance in “Funny Girl.”

Rogerebert.com editor Brian Tallerico has put together all of the resources for watching the films that Roger Ebert certified as “great.” Try “Diva,” “M,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday,” and “On the Waterfront.”

And the contributors to rogerebert.com have also suggested some of our favorites, including one of the craziest movies of all time, “Madame Satan,” which we showed here in Washington as a part of our pre-Code series.

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25 Great Musicals

Posted on April 9, 2018 at 9:08 am

I love movie musicals and I especially love the movie musicals of the studio era, with stars like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Debbie Reynolds, and Bob Fosse.

 has put together a terrific list of 25 of the all-time best movie musicals, all highly recommended.  I’d also add: “Bells are Ringing,” “The Music Man,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Let’s Make Love,” “The King and I,” and so many more.

Some of my favorites include:

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List: Movies about Peter Pan

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 8:00 am

James M. Barrie’s play “Peter Pan” premiered in 1904 and the story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up is still one of the best-loved of all time. This week the prequel “Pan” opens up in theaters, with Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, and Garrett Hedlund as the young not-yet-captain Hook. And there’s a hit musical on Broadway called “Finding Neverland,” based on the Johnny Depp movie that was based on Barrie’s life, and the friendship with some children that inspired his most famous story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jsR7_EqQSs

There was also a theatrical Peter Pan prequel on Broadway called “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

There was a silent film version in 1924.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdnZUszqGOY

A generation of baby boomers adored the Mary Martin musical version.

The Disney movie was the first to have the title role played by a boy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf00mEe9EOs

The theatrical version was remade with Cathy Rigby and Sandy Duncan. Here Duncan is introduced by Mary Martin.

Rigby played the part longer than anyone else, more than 30 years.

Steven Spielberg made a sequel called “Hook,” starring Robin Williams with Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell.

The PJ Hogan-directed version had Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook.

And Allison Williams starred in the live telecast last Thanksgiving.

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Bill Hader’s 200 Movie-List for Comedy Writers

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm

SNL’s Bill Hader has a great list of the top 200 movies anyone interested in comedy should see.  And of course that means that they’re great choices for anyone who likes to laugh.  I love all of his choices and was very glad to see classics from Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, and Howard Hawks.

 

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