On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 25, 2019

I was negative forty-six years-old in 1941 when Walt Disney released his fourth (and shortest) animated feature, Dumbo, a mere forty-five or so days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. To watch the original animated feature now is to see little more than simplicity and a cautionary tale about bullying, but in the wake of the context in which it was received initially it could certainly be perceived that a simplistic escape mixed with a prevailing underdog (or elephant) story might have been exactly what the country ordered. The question then posed to director Tim Burton's new, "live-action" take on the film is what might it mean to those who decide to take in this new experience? What is peculiar about choosing the 1941 film for an updated re-imagining is the fact it is without doubt an experience that will not hold the same nostalgic meaning for the majority of the audience that ventured out to 2017's Beauty & the Beast nor does it feature any of the explicit technical wizardry of 2016's The Jungle Book. This is the latest film in a string of Disney re-makes that, at their best, can be soulful and moving (Pete's Dragon) and at their worst can be derivative and dull (Alice in Wonderland), but while Dumbo comes to us from the same auteur who ushered in this recent craze with that aforementioned "worse-case scenario" that is Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo seemingly finds Burton not necessarily taking note of what others have done with similar opportunities, but more investing himself more wholeheartedly in the material; caring as much about the themes and ideas that populate his world as he does the design of the world itself. Burton is often referred to as a "visionary"director and this comes more from the fact he has a signature style than it does the fact he's consistently innovative or wise beyond comprehension, but while-as with many of his more recent endeavors-the sheen may have worn from Burton's visual prowess, Dumbo is something of a welcome return in that it is a streamlined, inoffensive, and largely harmless tale that simplifies the more recognizable themes Burton has worked in throughout much of his career. Sometimes simplicity is what's needed, what's necessary, and what connects viewers to material more effectively. Burton's Dumbo doesn't break any new ground, but it does keep the emotional beats intact, preserving their poignancy. Who knows, maybe a simple reminder about placing yourself in someone else's shoes is exactly what the country needed right now even if we didn't order it. Full video review here. B-

Like Germany in 1946, when the film is set, The Aftermath is about two people trying to figure out how to rebuild their lives after unthinkable loss. A timeless tale of love and grief, director James Kent's period drama starring a predictable, but charismatic-as-ever Keira Knightley, a compassionate and broken Jason Clarke, and a guarded yet incredibly earnest Alexander Skarsgård The Aftermath is as adult a drama as one could hope to see in the multiplex these days. Consistently choosing to play things in a restrained and mature manner, the film is elevated not by succumbing to the tropes of its story simply by acknowledging them, but in highlighting said beats by cutting to the core of the emotions that motivate them.

Y'all are sleeping on this one. B

In The Hummingbird Project, writer/director Kim Nguyen exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world. Cousins from New York, Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of High Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream is to build a fiber-optic cable straight between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions, but nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point in their endeavor. Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva (Sakma Hayek) a powerful, intoxicating and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game.

No comments:

Post a Comment