Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood never made the journey down to the shores of Australia. As far as I am personally aware, as much as I can tell from my research, none of the 912 episodes of the PBS program ever aired on any of the networks that were broadcasting in Australia at any point during its incredibly long run. This period of time when Mister Rogers was inviting the children of America to visit him in his neighborhood started long before my life began, and ended in the 2000’s without me ever once being able to sit down and see the legendarily kind man walk into his home and change from a work jacket and work shoes into a red jumper and pair of comfortable sneakers.
Once again I have written a review for an outside source and have decided to link to it here, in part so that those who get email notifications can know where to look for my latest work and also to maintain the “One post a day” that seems to allow the views on this blog to rise (Turns out taking two weeks off after the most popular posts of the year can result in taking the view count… fun)
Anyway, the fine people at Soda & Telepaths once again asked me to review something for them, The Grudge… I now hold the notable honour of giving the lowest score ever on that site, so I’m pretty proud of that. Go see it, I did not like that film and I need to warn the people about why it’s a bad film.
In 2009, Lucas Martell released a short animated film called Pigeon: Impossible. The short was simple, a secret agent sits on a bench about to eat a bagel when a pigeon comes by to take it, there are some mishaps with a computer in a briefcase and a whole lot of slapstick comedy. It’s a pretty fun little short film that clearly caught the attention of some people at BlueSky Animation because that little short film directly inspired this little animated spy comedy and in doing so created a genuinely fun little film that just oozes with charm.
About a month ago I reviewed Playing With Fire and in that review, I discussed this strange phenomenon where wrestlers who become actors have one big thing in common. They all end up headlining a very bad kids’ movie. Sure, a lot of actors end up appearing in one bad kid’s movie because it offers them an easy paycheck and it’s a movie they can take their children to go see so they can prove they have an actual job but wrestlers almost make a sport out of it. Our latest addition to this is Dave Bautista who I kind of hoped wouldn’t have to do this because he has the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers movies which would be enough to show any future children that he was cool. He didn’t need this, he didn’t need this to be the first major thing he did after Endgame (Stuber came out BEFORE Endgame, if you can believe it). I’ll give it this much, it’s not as painful as that thing Robert Downey Jr decided to do after Endgame.
The very first Best Picture Oscar winner was the War film Wings, way back in 1928. Since then a grand total of 16 War movies have taken home the little gold statue for Best Picture. Considering only 91 of those statues have been handed out, for 16 of them to go to films about war is pretty big. War films can be epic or personal but they are usually very Oscar Baity, full of big dramatic performances that are fantastic to put on a reel while names are announced for big awards. This year’s big war film is 1917, currently, the most likely Best Picture winner (though I’ll have full thoughts on that in a few weeks) which recently took home the Best Film at the Golden Globes. My big worry, when I walked in, was that this was a film with a lot of style that would end up treading the same waters we’ve seen in dozens of other war movies, so imagine my surprise when this epic war drama turned out to live up to its impressive hype. That never happens.
True History of the Kelly Gang is a lie. It’s a work of fiction based upon the novel of the same name written by Peter Carey. The original novel pretends to be a journal written by the real Ned Kelly but is a highly fictionalised version of the story. Claiming to be told by Kelly to his daughter, the book spins a yarn about one of Australia’s most infamous historical figures. Adapting it to a movie is certainly not something to be taken lightly, a story about a real figure that is full of lies meant to try and reveal a greater truth about the man is not easy to translate to film. Clearly, it’s not easy at all because the film doesn’t work as well as I wanted it to.
If I had to put a label on it, I’m what you might call a leftist, I believe in a lot of left-wing causes, particularly in regards to things like LGBTQIA+ rights and the rights of other minority groups and like all good left-wingers I hate Fox News. I hate them, I hate everything about them. I really hate Rupert Murdoch and have since before he scarpered off to become a US citizen and help to change the news landscape forever by taking what he had already done with the Australian and British news media and turned it up to 11. Why am I opening with this? Simple, I need you to know my biases before we go on. I need you to be aware of where my head was when I walked into this movie. I always do my best to walk in with an open mind on just about everything I review but there are times when I know there’s a bias that will in some way alter my judgement. Being impartial in regards to a film is a pipe dream anyway, there is no such thing as an impartial review. If you want a review that doesn’t in some way reflect the politics and beliefs of the author… well, you don’t actually want a review, what you want is a plot synopsis written by the studio itself. This film is a political film that deals with a political company and a political issue, therefore the viewers politics will shape on some level how you view the film and it would be a fools errand to pretend otherwise. Please note that this does not mean I want to be involved in a political debate, not only because I’m exhausted with those (It’s 2020, aren’t we all exhausted?) but because even if you somehow changed my mind right now that would not impact my mindset walking into this film which is why I’m bringing it up at all. I’d rather just get all that out in the open now so you can consider it when you read what follows and how much of it you feel would be relevant to you. Oh, one more tiny bit of bias… I’m sincerely happy that Roger Ailes is dead and by the time you finish watching this movie, you’ll probably feel the same way I do.
Tyler Perry is a director whose work I’ve never watched before. I’ve heard about it, it’s reputation precedes it, but I’ve never seen anything he’s made. Most of his films came out before I did this reviewing thing so I would react like most people and look at the posters and say “That looks like shit” and then go see something else. The ones he’s released since I started reviewing never made it to the cinema near me so again, no reason for me to try and see them. I will say that I respect the man for what he’s done in the industry, there aren’t many black writer-directors who are getting consistent work and somehow Tyler Perry has made it so he is making a movie every year, often with a largely black cast. He recently opened the first black-owned movie studio which is absolutely incredible and he deserves a spot in cinematic history just for that alone. I respect him… but that doesn’t mean I have to like the movie he made, which I really don’t.
The Doctor Dolittle character first came to life in 1920 with the release of the book The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. The book, and subsequent series of companion novels, told the story of Doctor John Dolittle who has learned to talk to animals and uses that knowledge to go on several great adventures. This idea was destined to become a movie so it comes as no surprise that in 1967 a musical was created. That musical cost 17 million and ended up making 9 million, it had the production from hell that included racism, Rex Harrison being a dick and ducks forgetting how to swim. Naturally, the property would end up abandoned until 1998 when a new Doctor Dolittle movie was made that starred Eddie Murphy. This new version was a success financially and got average reviews but it’s still fun… but it’s also, notably, one of the last good films Eddie Murphy made until his recent resurgence with Dolemite Is My Name. Basically what I’m saying is that the Doctor Dolittle franchise is a career killer and I now seriously worry about just what’s going to happen to Robert Downey Jr because the man just appeared in the worst version of the Dolittle story that’s been put on film.
Remember how stunned we all were when we heard they were doing another version of A Star Is Born? Four versions of the same movie seemed insane, right? Remakes are one thing but multiple remakes are something else. Well, I bring this up because Little Women, according to IMDB, has been adapted 25 times. Think about that for a second, a book printed in 1868 has been adapted, on average, once every six years since the original publication of the first volume of the novel… and considering that the first adaptation doesn’t pop up until 1917, it’s probably adapted once every four years. Basically, this is here to explain why I cannot in any way give you a fair comparison between every version because there are far too many for me to even try it. I also can’t tell you how it compares to the book because I didn’t read it when most people do. As far as this review is concerned, no version outside the 2020 adaptation by Greta Gerwig exists and it will be judged on its own merits. I cannot tell you if this is a truly great adaptation of the original novel that’s going to make you feel as though you are living the lives of the March sisters as you imagined them from the source material. I can tell you that it’s just a damn sweet movie that made me all warm and happy inside.