On DVD & Blu-Ray: November 6, 2018

It has been fourteen years since the Parr family, including Bob (Craig T. Nelson), Helen (Holly Hunter), and their three children-Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and Jack Jack (Eli Fucile)-were introduced to audiences through the magic of Pixar and the imagination of writer/director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and arguably the best Mission: Impossible movie-Ghost Protocol). In those fourteen years since the first Incredibles film Pixar has steadily upped its output of sequels going from only a single sequel in Toy Story 2 as of 2004 to Incredibles 2 being the seventh Pixar sequel of some sort. Does this say anything about the studio outside of the fact they enjoy making money and are not immune to capitalizing on IP's the same way every other studio does? No, not really, but it does always feel like something of a missed opportunity when Pixar releases something that re-hashes a striking original rather than releasing what is hopefully another striking original. This is all to say that while The Incredibles always seemed like the most obvious choice for sequels, it was also a stand-alone film that didn't necessarily require any type of continuation. Thus bringing us to what is probably the most impressive thing about Bird's Incredibles 2 in that not only does the film seem to effortlessly pick up right where the original left off, but it validates itself thoroughly and makes its case that not only is its existence justified, but rather that the original needed this extension of the story to exist. And while this is impressive for obvious reasons it is the ideas the film dolls out as well as the engaging if rather complex without actually feeling convoluted premise that will earn Incredibles 2 this sterling reputation as a sequel that both earns its place alongside the original as well as one that improves upon it. Incredibles 2 will undoubtedly please the generation that grew up on it and are now entering their early twenties, but as someone who was among the Toy Story faithful, Pixar blossoming just before we did, I was getting ready to enter my senior year of high school when The Incredibles was released and feel no inherent connection to that original whatsoever. Due to this and the fact we live in a time where the market is saturated by super heroes it was genuinely surprising how much joy came from watching a family of super heroes strike a balance between feeding the machine and rebelling against it. Which, as Pixar sequels go, is par for the course. Full review here. B

There is a moment within the opening credits of Disney's latest attempt to turn one of their classic animated properties into a live action ATM that hints at the devastating nature of our lives. It is fleeting and it, if only for a moment, says all it needs to say about what this movie aspires to be. As it passes though and as it becomes more and more apparent the film doesn't really know how to accomplish what its initial ambitions intended the film instead becomes all the more broad and all the more safe. This moment is one in which a young Christopher Robin (Orton O'Brien) comes to the Hundred Acre Wood for the last time. He is going off to boarding school, you see, and won't be able to visit his friends as often anymore. His friends being his stuffed toys, which include that silly ol' bear named Pooh (voice of Jim Cummings), the perpetually petrified Piglet (voice of Nick Mohammed), the ever-exuberant Tigger (also Cummings), the steadily gloomy Eeyore (voice of Brad Garrett), as well as Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), her little Roo (Sara Sheen), and of course Owl (Toby Jones). Robin's toys know change is afoot and are throwing Christopher a farewell party of sorts in which treats-ranging from pots of honey to carrots, of course-are served and where even Eeyore is moved to make a speech. It is in light of the depressed donkey's surprisingly apathetic speech that Rabbit reacts to accordingly that we hear Cummings as Winnie the Pooh whisper a soft, "I would've liked for it to go on a bit longer." And just as fleeting as the moment itself is it simultaneously felt as if I'd been knocked over by a half ton barrage of scattered thoughts and emotions that reminded me just how fleeting time itself is. It's the one thing we can't get more of no matter how much wealth we possess or the circumstance of our lives; we all have a finite amount of time and Christopher Robin, in its first five minutes, exists to remind you that your children will grow and change just as you did and even though you feel you're different, that you're special, and that despite knowing it was a fact of life all along you were never really meant to grow old and become like your parents before you. Time truly waits for no man. This affected me to the point I wondered why I was sitting in a theater watching a movie when I should have been at home snuggling my three year-old daughter. In short, that would have been the more entertaining option of the two and certainly the more fulfilling one as it is only in this aforementioned moment that Christopher Robin was able to pull any genuine feeling out of me. And might I remind you, this is a movie wholly designed to pull on the heart and nostalgia strings. One moment. Full review here. C

A history lesson and galvanizing procedural all in one, Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman is one for the ages. An incredibly heavy, effectively powerful film that drenches you in the world in which it operates, pulls absolutely no punches, and delivers a film from a focused filmmaker who is not only presenting a timely conversation that needs to happen, but conveying his side of the conversation with style, eloquence, and immense profundity.

 Spike Lee has always been something of an enigma of a filmmaker for me. Having been born in 1987 and only two years-old when Lee broke onto the scene with the film he’s now seemed to be chasing his entire career, Do the Right Thing, I didn’t really come to know who Lee was until realizing he directed Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” music video. I was too young to see the much heralded 25th Hour when it was released, but Lee’s one-two punch of more accessible films in the mid-2000’s with Inside Man and Miracle at St. Anna allowed me my first, full experiences with the filmmaker while being something of a misdirect as many of his smaller, less mainstream films don’t follow the clean structure and story beats familiar to most audiences. Rather, most of Lee’s films are pointedly about what they’re about, but when Lee actually has a story to work his themes through he is able to create more fulfilling and profound experiences. This is what makes BlacKkKlansman the perfect story for Lee to tell. The true life events the film is based on provide an entertaining template to discuss the politics Lee desires to discuss while that true story is at the same time entrenched in the racially charged dilemmas of the late seventies (and unfortunately, of today as well). In essence, it’s a perfect melding of artist and material. Full review here. A-

Before you ask: No, I haven't seen the original.

And no, this re-make of Papillon has no excuse to be nearly two and a half hours, but it mostly makes it worth your while. Director Michael Noer, who largely works in the world of documentaries, paints some beautiful canvases in contrast to the ugliness with which human life is subjected in this journey of a relentless man, unwilling to give in to a system dead set on cutting him down. Charlie Hunnam is solid, sells it, and obviously dedicated to the part while Rami Malek is charming, oddly endearing, and the point of the dynamic that forces us to genuinely engage (hmm...wonder why they're dropping this on home video now?). There is an epic sense to the execution here and the entertainment factor is large if not somewhat distant, but I'd hoped we might be instilled more into the minds of these characters and how they dealt with the confinement and quiet more so than the film accomplishes. A for effort though (or B-).

"Keeping you is no benefit. Losing you is no loss."

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