June 13, 2019 Podcast

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New in Theaters

Classic Cinema Corner

If you haven’t seen it in a while, I’d recommend checking out Walt Disney Animation Studios’ perennial classic Cinderella (1950). The film is being added to the prestigious U.S Library of Congress National Film Registry this year. It’s also being “released” from the proverbial “Disney Vault” on digital platforms on June 18 and on Blu-ray on June 25.

On the big screen, make sure to check out the baseball and Father’s Day classic Field of Dreams (1989), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Part of this year’s TCM Big Screen Classics series, it will be wonderful to see this film with a beautiful digital print and in a theater with a bunch of crying dudes (myself included). The film will be screened on Sunday, June 16 and Tuesday, June 18. Check fathomevents.com/tcm for a screening near you. The film is also available on digital platforms and Blu-ray.

Listen to the podcast below or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes. Have fun at the movies this week and thanks again for tuning in.

June 6, 2019 Podcast

Welcome to this week’s podcast!

New in Theaters

Classic Cinema Corner

The Essentials is back on TCM! Set your DVR on Saturday nights for some interesting films and discussion from TCM primetime host Ben Mankiewicz and producer/director Ava DuVernay. More details are available at essentials.tcm.com.

My TCM Essentials viewing project continues (link to the Jeremy Arnold book is here; link to my original blog post is here). Make sure to check out Preston Sturges’ unique and delightful screwball comedy The Lady Eve (Paramount, 1941). I rented it on iTunes/Apple TV.

Listen to the podcast below or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes. Have fun at the movies this week and thanks again for tuning in.

May 30, 2019 Podcast

Welcome to this week’s podcast!

New in Theaters

Reviews

Disney’s remake of Aladdin (2019)

Classic Cinema Corner

Little Shop of Horrors – The Director’s Cut (1986)

Listen to the podcast below or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes. Have fun at the movies this week and thanks again for tuning in.

Review: “Aladdin” (2019)

The Walt Disney Studios’ latest remake is a live-action/photorealstic CGI retelling of their 1992 animated hit musical Aladdin.

Thankfully, the storyline and the music in this remake remain mostly the same as the beloved 1992 original. Aladdin, played by Mena Massoud, is still a “diamond in the rough”—an orphaned “street rat” who is much more of a man than his appearance and situation shows. Upon the fateful meeting in the town’s marketplace with the kingdom’s princess, Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott, who has disguised herself to get a break from her trapped life in the gilt cage of the palace, the two form an instant connection. However, the laws of the kingdom of Agrabah where they live require the princess to marry a prince, and Jasmine has many princely suitors who are vying for her hand.

Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and Aladdin (Mena Massoud) meet in the Agrabah marketplace in Disney’s ALADDIN (2019).

Enter the Genie, who in this version is played by a CGI-concoction of the actor and rapper Will Smith. After Aladdin gets trapped in the Cave of Wonders (again, very similar to the 1992 original), he becomes the master of the lamp and Genie grants him three wishes. So, of course, Aladdin wishes to be made a prince in order to have a chance with the Princess Jasmine. However, the sultan’s duplicitous vizier Jafar, played by Marwan Kenzari, has other things in mind for this new prince who appears to have won over the Princess’ heart.

Will Smith in full CGI-mode as the Genie in Disney’s ALADDIN (2019).

The new script for the film, co-written by John August and the film’s director Guy Ritchie, makes a few modifications and most of them work. The animal sidekicks remain—Abu the monkey, Rajah the tiger, and Iago the parrot—but instead are photorealistic CGI creations. Iago undergoes the most drastic character change of being truly just a parrot rather than the wise-cracking comic relief from the original, and the results are mixed. A more defined emphasis on Jasmine’s abilities and independent attitude is underlined with some added dialogue as well as a new song for the film written by Alan Menken and collaborators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (composers of the music for the Broadway hit musical Dear Evan Hansen and the musical film The Greatest Showman).

Will Smith stepped into absolutely impossible shoes trying to reprise actor Robin Williams’ and animator Eric Goldberg’s performances as the Genie. Smith tries very hard to make the role his own and I felt like he succeeded part of the time. I think the CGI artists are partly to blame here, since trying to make the Genie be as manic and shapeshifting as in the 1992 film (not to mention all of the blue skin and altered head and body features, too) works better in a 2D/traditional animation aesthetic than in a style rooted in realism that is used in all of these “live-action” remakes.

L-R: Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), Jasmine (Naomi Scott), and Sultan (Navid Negahban) argue over Jasmine’s future in Disney’s ALADDIN (2019).

Director Guy Ritchie adds his usual stylistic flair, but I was surprised that his usual camera and editing tricks were somewhat understated for this film. The production values are high, as is the case in all of these Disney remakes, with beautiful cinematography, sets, and costumes. Probably the most appealing thing about this film, other than being able to hear Alan Menken’s wonderful music again, is the overall chemistry with the actors. The casting choices were solid (the CGI performance of Will Smith’s Genie notwithstanding) and the actors were all appealing in their attractiveness and abilities. Particularly, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine have the sort of on-screen spark and rapport that makes going to the movies so fun.

Overall, Aladdin is an entertaining retelling of a story that didn’t need to be retold. If you don’t plan to make it to the theater to see this one, the 1992 animated feature you’ve already got in your home movie library is really the only version you need.

Aladdin is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “some action/peril.”

My score: 3 out of 5 stars

As an added bonus, here’s the IMAX poster.

©️ Disney and IMAX

All images ©️ Disney

May 9, 2019 Podcast

Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast!

New in Theaters

Classic Cinema Corner

This week’s film in my TCM Essentials viewing project was the 1941 classic Citizen Kane. The film will be playing next on TCM on Monday, May 13 at 2:15 a.m. More info is here.

Upcoming Films

Due to my schedule, I won’t be podcasting for the rest of the month of May. Here are some new films opening that might be worth checking out.

Listen to the podcast below or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes. Have fun at the movies this week and thanks again for tuning in. Look for the next podcast in June!

“Toy Story 4” Posters

The talented folks at Pixar Animation Studios have released some beautiful new posters for their upcoming sequel Toy Story 4. Check out the posters below along with the latest trailer for the film.

Toy Story 4 opens in theaters on June 21.

Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks)
Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts) and Giggles McDimples (voiced by Ally Maki)
Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen)
Forky (voiced by Tony Hale)
Ducky (voiced byKeegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (voiced by Jordan Peele)
Duke Caboom (voiced by Keanu Reeves)

Here’s the latest trailer.

Images ©️ Disney/Pixar

May 2, 2019 Podcast

Welcome to this week’s podcast!

New in Theaters

Classic Cinema Corner

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) turns 20! Check out these links:

Make sure to check out TCM Big Screen Classics’ screening of True Grit (1969) on May 5 and 8, too. Details at fathomevents.com/tcm.

Listen to the podcast below or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes. Have fun at the movies this week and thanks again for tuning in.