Showing posts with label Marry Me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marry Me. Show all posts

Thursday, May 12, 2022

A Mixed Bag of Movies - an Animated Feature, a Drama, and a Rom-Com - all with Latin Flair!

[I review the movies "Encanto," "Parallel Mothers" and "Marry Me."]

Encanto (2021)

Everyone in her family has magical powers except Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz)!

During an armed conflict, Alma and Pedro Madrigal had to flee their village in Colombia with their triplets, Julieta, Pepa and Bruno. Pedro is killed but Alma, left to raise three children alone, manifests a magic candle that protects her and her children and it creates a magical house - the Casita - a house that responds to the family's moods and needs and it is located in a magical, protected place called Encanto.

The candle is still providing protection 50 years later and the house is a miracle house, now in a village where the candle grants magical gifts to every Madrigal child when he or she turns five, gifts like shape shifting, controlling the weather, lifting heavy objects and healing with food. These magical gifts are meant to serve the villagers.  But young 15-year-old Mirabel, Julieta's daughter, had received no gift and appears to be a disappointment to her grandmother, Alma (voice of Maria Cecilia Botero). But Mirabel is a good girl who still wants to make her family proud.

One evening, when 5-year-old Antonio is given the ability to communicate with animals, Mirabel sees the Casita cracking and the candle flickering and an unknown darkness threatening the village, but no one believes her. Then the magical gifts of the other family members start to weaken but stern matriarch Alma will have none of it.  She blames the messenger - Mirabel - for causing the family's problems, saying she is jealous that everyone has a magical power but her and likens her to her Uncle Bruno who was banished from the family for seeing into the future (I guess he also told the family things they didn't want to know)! 

But Mirabel is undaunted.  She knows something is wrong and resolves to save the miracle. She goes to her Uncle Bruno's room, a forbidden tower in the Casita, where Mirabel discovers that Bruno (voice of John Leguizamo) had never left.  She begs him to help, and reluctantly, he does as Mirabel tries to fix various family issues and restore the family's powers.

Animation today sure isn't what it was when I was young.

 But, okay, I'm old.  I actually saw "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp" and "Sleeping Beauty" in their first runs in the theatre, and I can't watch Dumbo visiting his mother in prison without crying my eyes out. That tells you how old I am (Note: I didn't see "Dumbo" in its first run.  I'm not THAT old)! And when I say that animation isn't what it used to be, I am not complaining about today's animation per se.  It's just that it's so different. It's more three-dimensional which is a good thing, but what's with those eyes?  Why do all of the modern day animated kids have those gigantic eyes? Actually, the adult characters have them too! Kind of gives me the creeps.

Written and directed by Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush and Byron Howard, kids will probably enjoy this, but as an adult watching this, I don't know.  I was kind of bored. It felt very basic and slapstick, and it didn't really go anywhere. It's the usual Disney formula - a girl who doesn't quite fit in but who is good and brave, a mission, a silly animal sidekick, sibling rivalry, a surprise villain who is not really a villain, and family rifts healed - but nothing much really happened. Maybe this film needed a real villain so there would have been more conflict. However, the film is beautiful to look at paying tribute to Colombian culture and its diversity, and the Lin-Manual Miranda musical numbers were fun and lively, though, apart from "We Don't Talk About Bruno," not particularly memorable. 

And speaking of the musical numbers, isn't it funny that musical comedies have gone the way of the dinosaurs? They just can't seem to draw an audience anymore.  Movies like "Singin' in the Rain" or "Grease" are few and far between.  Maybe that abysmal version of "Cats" put the nails in the coffin for musicals.  But yet movies with animated characters singing and dancing still seem to draw an audience.  And they often generate big hit songs.  All of our kids can probably sing all of the words of "Let it go" from "Frozen" and from this film "We Don't Talk About Bruno" has taken the world by storm. And in fact, this film is going on tour as a sing-along event (Note: the DVD also has a sing-along feature so you can sing along with the movie at home too)!  So go figure.  I guess we like musical comedies if the characters are animated.

Despite my complaints, the intent of this film is good. It has a good message for kids, and it's a feel good film. Who doesn't love an intrepid young girl saving the day? Who doesn't want to hear that they don't need to change, that they are enough just as they are? Who doesn't want to believe in the importance of family?  

Rosy the Reviewer says...not my favorite Disney film but then, like I said, I'm old. I'm still crying over "Dumbo."  See it for yourself and you decide. (Available on DVD, Disney+ and for rent on most streaming platforms)

Parallel Mothers (2021)

Writer/director Almodovar combines motherhood and political history in this story of two women who give birth on the same day and end up with an unlikely bond.

Pedro Almodovar is one of the all-time great writer/directors. I remember the first time I discovered him.  It was “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and I was enamored by his vibrancy – the originality, the colors and his amazing ability to highlight women.  And that was followed by the controversial “Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down,” starring a young Antonio BanderasI was hooked.  I have not missed a new Almodovar film ever since. 

So here is his latest.

Penelope Cruz, Almodovar’s muse (it’s their eighth film together), stars as Janis, a successful fashion photographer in Madrid, who connects with Arturo (Israel Elejalde), a forensic anthropologist, who she meets so that he can exhume the graves of her grandfather and other townspeople who were killed and buried by Franco’s goons after the Spanish Civil War.  The two also connect in another way…um…and she gets pregnant. But he is a married man and doesn’t want the baby.  She is single and time is running out for her, so they separate and she has the baby.

In the hospital, Janis meets Ana (Milena Smit), a young woman who is also giving birth.  Her story is different.  She is also unmarried, but very young, living with her mother, and she doesn’t know who the father is.  The two women give birth on the same day and forge a bond that becomes very entangled in the present and, ultimately, with the past.

It is clear that Almodovar loves women, and they are often the centerpieces of his films.  And motherhood and friendship are the themes, this time with political overtones as it becomes clear how mothers have, over the years, suffered through so much political upheaval, and how they have had to be strong, raising children alone and helping each other.  Considering what is going on in the world now, how more relevant can he get?

Penelope Cruz received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, and it was well-deserved.  Though this is not a big, flashy, histrionic performance, she has the ability to be real, to exude poignancy, vulnerability and warmth. Almodovar clearly loves women and Cruz is his perfect muse.  His use of juicy close-ups (that’s what my Dad used to call those up close and personal close-ups of actresses so common in the films of the 30’s and 40’s) says it all and it’s all done with respect and love.

Rosy the Reviewer says…whether it’s comedy or drama, with Almodovar, expect a good story, vibrant colors, beautiful cinematography and twists and turns. Tie me up, tie me down, you will not keep me from Almodovar’s films. I look forward to each and every one. They are all gems. (In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD and for rent on Amazon, Apple+ and Vudu) 

Marry Me (2022)

When singer Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) discovers her singer boyfriend has cheated on her right before they are to be married on stage in front of an audience, Kat impulsively points to a stranger in the audience and marries him!

I have to admit up front that I am a huge Jennifer Lopez fan. I know she is not the best actress in the world nor the best singer, and though she is certainly beautiful, she is not the most beautiful. But there is a certain warmth about her. I want to be her bestie. So because of that, I tend to give her a pass on most things, especially rom-coms, no matter how absurd.
And speaking of rom-coms. I love romantic comedies. Where have they gone? They used to be a constant in our lives and now it’s all superheroes and horror. Romantic comedies seem to get a bad rap by movie snobs, er, in some circles. They are dismissed as silly and unimportant, but since when is love and humor silly and unimportant? And sometimes we just don’t want to have to think too much. We want to chuckle as we watch people fall in love and then cry tears of joy during the credits.
So needless to say, I looked forward to this latest romantic comedy from Jennifer Lopez.

Here she plays Kat Valdez, a singer who has had a huge hit with her singing partner, Bastian (Maluma). The hit song is called “Marry Me” and the two just happen to be in love. They decide to promote the song and themselves by actually getting married on stage during their concert and the wedding is minutes away when Kat discovers that Bastian has been cheating on her. So when she gets on stage, she starts talking to the audience to explain what happened and notices a man in the audience holding a sign that says “Marry me.” So far, so good.

But here is the absurd part. In a moment of grief and then impulse, she points to a stranger in the audience whho is holding a "Marry Me" sign and says “Yes!”
The man is Charlie (Owen Wilson), a math teacher, who just happens to be at the concert with his colleague and his daughter and he just happens to be holding the sign. His daughter made him do it. And, then more of the absurd part, when Kat points at him and says "Yes," he just happens to go up on stage and marries Kat (he doesn’t want to make things worse for her). However, here is a more realistic angle. The two make a deal that she will contribute to his school if he goes along with the marriage for a few months.

And then lots of rom and lots of com and more absurdity ensues. Remember I said I love Jennifer no matter what, right?

Now I know that seems like an unbelievable plot, but c’mon, this is rom-com. You have to suspend disbelief for most of them anyway, but now that we have that TV phenomenon called “Married at First Sight,” maybe this premise isn’t too unbelievable after all. I mean, there are actually some people from that show who are not only still married, but they have kids!
Comedian Sarah Silverman plays the school guidance counselor, which is absurd and funny all by itself, but in its defense, the film written by John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill and directed by Kat Coiro, pays homage to teachers; there is a nod to feminism; and the film comments on celebrity, single parenting, marriage and friendship. And there are lots and lots of performances from J-Lo singing some good songs, one of which – “On My Way” - is likely to get an Oscar nomination for Best Song at the next Academy Awards.
Rosy the Reviewer says…is it so cute you want to pinch someone’s cheek? Yes. Is it silly at times? Yep. Must you suspend disbelief? Duh. But in this time of so much bad news, sometimes you just need something silly and cute and you want to believe. I know I did.
(On DVD, streaming on Peacock Premium and for rent on most platforms)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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