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I have another list for movies that are on Blu-Ray, but not in America.
If a movie is available in region A, you should be able to play it on your regular American Blu-Ray player!
I have another list for movies that should be restored and put on Blu-Ray.
Tangled Ever After (2012)
Focused on the wrong characters
My favorite characters in Tangled are Rapunzel and, slightly behind her, Flynn. The horse Maximus and the chameleon Pascal were fine in Tangled, but I wasn't dying to see more of them. Yet they are the stars of this animated short. I did not watch Tangled for its physical humor, but since the animals can't talk, that's just about all they do.
Within the listed parameters, Tangled Ever After does a decent job, but these story decisions suck the life out of the Tangled universe. I wouldn't care as much if this was a short with the same plot but with no Tangled connection. It would fit right in as the pre-feature short for the next Disney or Pixar movie. But since it's Tangled, I know everyone involved could have done better.
Tangled Ever After is a poor choice for the name of this short. It's odd. After watching Tangled, I was fine with the story ending where it did. But this short raised the possibility of more Tangled stories, and then had a middle-of-the-road showing when it got the chance. Now I'm left wanting even more Tangled, to help me move on from this short.
Plenty of jokes, if you're paying attention
So far, this is the only Jacques Tati movie I've seen. It's extremely visual. It looks great. In particular, the opening of the film and the movie's final major act are wonderful to watch. A few scenes show characters being swallowed up in massive sets and environments. The shot gets wider and wider, an approximation of how insignificant each of the characters are to those around them. Such shots are stunning in their beauty.
Most of the comedy in Trafic is visual as well. I normally like wordplay, but I ended up liking Trafic's visual humor as well. For example, two workers are installing a sign for an "auto show", and one instructs the other to rotate the giant letter "O" before putting it up. Yet the O is perfectly round and looks the same at any rotation. Most of the comedy is from similar workplace incompetence and inefficiency. Much like a real workplace, there's nobody in the movie pointing out how ridiculous everyone is acting. The satire isn't mean-spirited; Tati isn't implying that workers are lazy or stupid, just that sometimes we end up behaving foolishly.
A scene in the middle reminds me of Saturday Night Live, during its creative peak. Customs inspectors are suspicious of a prototype camper car, so its salespeople have to explain all of its features. This includes an electric razor inside the steering wheel, an extendable bed, a trunk-mounted shower, and a grill that seems to use heat from the engine. It's absurd and brilliant, and I've only listed some of the car's features. The inspectors aren't always convinced: hands having been squirted by the built-in soap dispenser, an official requests to have the soap analyzed. Anyone who has seen Charlie Chaplin's movies will see shades of his characters in Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot -- he changes a tire with extremely exaggerated, rhythmic alternation between crouching and standing.
All of the humor, both visual and spoken, translates excellently from French (and there is some English in the movie anyway), although one joke about a gas station giving out trinkets will only be fully appreciated by audiences who were alive when gas stations still did this (before the 1970s?). I think it compares very easily to "Airplane!" or The Naked Gun. In contrast to The Naked Gun, Trafic is more deathly serious despite being hilarious. Part of the comedy is playing "what's wrong with this picture?", and sometimes it's really hard! If you miss the jokes, or have to have them explained, you won't find the movie as funny.
96 minutes long is the perfect length for this movie. It conveys the annoyance of waiting for a roadside mechanic or being late for an event, without forcing viewers to watch in real-time. There are plenty of jokes throughout the film to keep the audience's attention. Despite being called "Trafic", you're not going to see any metropolitan gridlock here. The movie happens *because* of some cars, but most of the movie is not *in* a car.
Full disclosure: I watched this along with around 15 other young people in a film comedy class. I liked it far more than any of the other students, who found it to be either: occasionally smart but mostly boring, or entirely boring.
Madangeul Naon Amtak (2011)
Daring and weary
Leafie looks nothing like any American animated film. It carries out its story in a way unlike American animation as well. American animated movies are almost always kids' movies, and there's an implication that the story and characters should be similarly childish.
Leafie, hailing from South Korea and based on a South Korean novel called "The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly", doesn't seem interested in stooping to the six-year-old demographic. There's a lot in the movie for kids to love, but it's also a bit scary, and the story isn't as neat and orderly as one expects from a kids' movie. Leafie is bittersweet, like real life, which makes it both interesting and hard to watch. Tears were in my eyes at one point, although I never started sobbing.
Leafie the hen was born on a farm but wants to escape. Over time she has a child of her own who has different abilities than her. It's frustrating for mother and son that they are different enough for the other animals to make fun of them. Parenthood and belonging are major themes; "Leafie" is a blend of Animal Farm, Finding Nemo, and a little bit of The Lion King.
It's all a bit predictable. Some parts throw you for a loop but it's usually not that hard to guess correctly about what's going to happen next.
There are some brief jokes involving toilet humor, which weren't done in a clever enough way to make me appreciate them. They're more explicit than the toned-down toilet jokes you find in Finding Nemo or The Lion King, which is probably why I found them so distasteful.
I appreciate seeing an animated movie that doesn't look like the homogenized "Pixar / Dreamworks / Disney / Sony" style. Vibrant colors abound, and it seems like the movie was animated mostly using two- dimensional techniques. It never made me as happy as "Ernest & Celestine" did, and I liked the way that movie looked even more than this one, but "Ernest" was never as sad as "Leafie" either.
Although the movie always looks *different*, it doesn't always make the best use of its style. Very few scenes blew me away with their visual style: Frozen, The Lion King, Ernest & Celestine, and Wall-E have "Leafie" beat when it comes to beautiful artwork.
I'm glad I watched this; there are too many sequels and too little heart in American animated movies. Characters don't have the nuance they do in Finding Nemo, and there's not enough humor to hold together the passable, but touching plot.
I suggest watching it in HD - it was released on Blu-Ray in South Korea (Region A) and Germany (B). But once you're done, look up the original ending. It's a mandatory part of the experience, and it's a shame that they cut it from the film. You'll understand why it was cut once you watch it, but it contains major spoilers, so wait until you watch the movie first.
Even for fans of Lady Gaga and The Muppets, this is a bad program.
I like Lady Gaga a lot, more than I like The Muppets. Still, The Muppets are great! As soon as I heard about this holiday special, I was baffled. The Muppets are generally inoffensive family entertainment. Lady Gaga is at best inoffensive pop entertainment and at worst offensive pop entertainment.
Lady Gaga's latest album, which I don't think is aimed at children, has several songs dealing with sexual themes. Some of these are played during this holiday special featuring cute puppet characters that children are likely to enjoy.
I pretty much never consider "think of the children!" as a legitimate criticism, but it's extremely apt here. One could argue that The Muppets were never completely for children, but they also never had Lady Gaga wearing a clamshell bikini. I don't think kids' minds would be warped by watching this (they probably wouldn't notice the sexual undertones), but the very inclusion of so much sex is again baffling.
Lady Gaga is able to perform for an audience outside of her typical followers without ruining the venue she is given. Look up her performance of "The Edge Of Glory" on Howard Stern's radio show. She's not wearing a clamshell bikini, and she's not singing about sex. Granted, her outfit is skimpy, but it's *less skimpy* on this adult radio program than one of the ones she wore for the *Muppets Holiday Spectacular*. That's ridiculous.
To top it off, of the Gaga songs I like, very few were played in this Muppets show. They're all from her latest album, which is 1/3 great songs, 1/3 tolerable songs, and 1/3 bad songs. "Gypsy", my favorite song of the album, sounds much better in the studio recording than it does with Kermit the (blank)-ing Frog singing along.
There's no way to salvage this program, but it would be a 5/10 with me, a Gaga and Muppets fan, if it was more Muppets and less Gaga. Additionally, it should have had one or two of Gaga's older songs rather than more of her newest garbage. (Having more holiday songs would probably please most people more than having different Gaga songs, but I'd rather see Gaga singing her own material.)
The bits with Statler and Waldorf are just about the only redeeming qualities of this show, outside of one skit with Gaga and the Muppets about what clothes she should wear, which was okay. I've made an imaginary quote from them to finish this review. It should have been said during this special.
"I liked Lady Gaga better in 2011." "You thought her songs were better then?" "No, it's just that she wasn't doing a Muppets Holiday Spectacular that year."
One scene undermines the film
Although much of the dialog is cheesy, the film as a whole is pretty great. However, Gravity stumbles with its dream sequence. Why did it take a male character to encourage Dr. Ryan Stone? Why did this happen in a dream? Why did Stone need help from a dead guy in a dream?
I don't usually like suggesting that films become radically different just to become more progressive or more politically correct. In this case, a slight change *would* make for a more interesting movie. Remove the deus ex machina dream sequence. Dr. Stone instead should have got over her problems on her own, without a knight in shining armor to rescue her.