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Winnie the Pooh (2011)
Winnie the Pooh is great fun
I was able to see a special screening of this movie at the L.A. Film Festival and I was very excited for it. For starters, I'm a huge Winnie the Pooh fan and the 1977 animated movie is one of my favorites. However, even though I was very excited to see it I was a bit worried that this might be a disappointment because I heard the running time for the film was less than an hour. Well, while watching this movie my worries were pushed to the side. I loved everything about this movie and in the end I was quite pleased with the length of the film and when I thought about it I'm not sure why that was a worry for me. Winnie the Pooh isn't not something that can be stretched to 90 minutes without having some major filling and this movie had none.
There have also been some talks about the animation and how it's in 2d and that is one of the reasons I was excited. Winnie the Pooh wouldn't work in any other type of animation and so Disney made the right choice in returning to the 2d for this movie. The characters all look great, especially Eeyore and Christopher Robin. Another thing that surprised me about the movie was how every character was well represented. I was worried that the story might not focus on all the characters and that some would be left out. However, that was not the case. Every character has their fair of great moments, from Eeyore's tail contest to Rabbit's silly antics later in the movie.
I think another reason why this film succeeds is because of the story line. There is plenty of going on, but it doesn't get overstuffed and it doesn't drag. The movie starts off on the characters looking for a new tail for Eeyore and smoothly transitions into the characters trying to rescue Christopher Robin because they miss read the letter he left at his house. The voices for all the characters are great and it's another reason this film succeeds. Everyone involved adds something to each character and truly makes it their own, something a lot of other animated movies fail at.
Lastly, the score for the movie was great and really added something special to the scenes that carried the movie and hearing Zooey Deschanel sing the Winnie the Pooh theme song was terrific. When I think back on it there was nothing that disappointed me in this movie and it was everything I could ever want from a Disney movie
Jane Eyre (2011)
Jane Eyre is, ultimately, worth seeing
Here we are again. Another adaptation of the novel Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte. This time Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) plays the main character, Jane Eyre, and Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds) plays her love interest, Edward Rochester. The big question, surrounding the film, is, well, is this film worth seeing since it has practically been done to death already. Overall, I would say yes.
For starters the film's beautiful cinematography alone makes the film worth seeing. In fact, that's the best thing the film has to offer and that is no insult to the actors and actresses that starred in the film. There are plenty of beautiful shots showing the open countryside of England as Jane wanders around, trying to find her place. Even inside the mansions the cinematography is just breathtaking and it truly adds to the film. The cinematography of the film creates a unique atmosphere that at times makes the film almost seem like a horror flick and it adds to the Gothic nature of the film.
One of the major standouts that I took notice to was the film's score. The score was done by Dario Marianelli, and he did a magnificent job. The score added tension to many scenes and, like the cinematography, added greatly to the atmosphere of the film. I feel without the strong score the film would have, at times, fallen flat and completely lost the interest of its audience and been a disaster.
Another strong point of the movie is the acting. Wasikowska plays a strong Jane Eyre and is definitely worthy of playing the role. She holds her own against the likes of Judi Dench and other great actors. Fassbender is equally, if not better, as great as Wasikowska and the two have wonderful chemistry together and it adds to the quality of the film. If the chemistry was absent between the two lead parts the film could have easily fallen apart and been a major disappointment. There are several scenes where the chemistry between Wasikowska and Fassbender truly shines and makes the film come to life.
However, while the film may have great cinematography, acting and a phenomenal score one cannot help but feel that the film seemed rushed. Too many crucial scenes of the film felt either short or rushed and ultimately it hurt the film. At times the scenes between Wasikowska and Fassbender didn't feel right even though the two had great chemistry. The film didn't leave enough time for their love to truly develop and feel natural. Instead, their love felt forced and at times unbelievable although the both connected well. It was not the actor's fault in this film it was the screenwriters fault who didn't let the love grow appropriately.
Overall, if you're a fan of the novel you won't be disappointed. There is enough in the film to keep the audience interested and that is what matters when all is said is done. Mia Wasikowska plays, what could be, the finest portrayal of Jane Eyre yet and is not let down by her fellow cast members. The film has wonderful cinematography and score that add to the film's atmosphere. If you haven't read the novel, like me, and you're interested in this type of movie I would easily recommend it.
Ghost World (2001)
Ghost World is a spectacular film that is not to be missed.
I think most would agree when I say that the world has enough high school and coming of age movies and most of the time I ignore them as they really aren't worth watching, but Ghost World stands as a fine example of what a coming of age should be like. Ghost World may seem like your typical coming of age post-high school movie, but it is much more than that. What makes Ghost World stand out is the amazing performances by Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi.
Birch plays Enid, a social outsider, who hates the world around her and has a hard time relating to other people. She has one best friend, Rebecca, who she hangs out and makes fun of other people with. It's clear from the start of Ghost World that Enid is not your typical teenager. When Enid's classmate is giving a speech at her high school graduation Enid whispers to Rebecca, "I liked her so much better when she was an addicted crackhead," and they both chuckle to themselves.
Though Enid is almost always cynical what makes her so relatable is that she also has a very compassionate side. When at a post-graduation party with her classmates she sees another social outsider and tells Rebecca that they will never see him again and comments on how sad that is. Enid also shows a great compassion for Seymour, played by Buscemi, and says, "I guess I just can't stand a world where a guy like you can't get a date." She goes on to form a strong relationship with him and her life will forever change.
As mentioned before the performances in this movie make it what it is and that is where the film ultimately succeeds. Thora Birch does a remarkable job making the character Enid her own and whatever she left unfinished as Jane Burnham, from American Beauty, she completes with Enid. As great as Birch is the main standout of the movie is Steve Buscemi. He does a phenomenal job playing Seymour, a lonely man who collects old Blues records, and does a great accompanying Enid as she tries to figure her life out.
Ghost World is a colorful film with great pacing and it never misses a beat. It perfectly shows the relationship between Enid and Rebecca and how because they want different things in their lives that their strong friendship will ultimately deteriorate. Another stand out for Ghost World is the soundtrack. The theme song for this movie is quite impressive and adds to somewhat cynical and depressive nature of the Enid and the film itself. The soundtrack is also filled with some great blues track that help set the mood of the film.
Ghost World stands as one of my favorite movies of all time because I can relate to Enid and maybe even more so to Rebecca. The movie may some turn off with its cynical take on Enid's personality, but to me seeing her react to the world around her was more often than not hilarious and added to the overall experience of the movie. The movie is filled with great performances and one great soundtrack. This movie is not to be missed and is a true standout of the year 2001.