Mulan

Review:



Buy at Amazon

The single best Disney movie to show to girls (and boys), in my opinion.

Although Disney has gotten much better at presenting well-rounded and interesting heroines in recent years, many Disney movies still focus ultimately on romance. In Mulan, by contrast, the romance is a minor and understated subplot, and the focus is squarely on Mulan’s quest to save her father’s life and bring honor to her family. Along the way, her cleverness, resourcefulness, and quick thinking save China as well.

In addition to providing a great role model, Mulan also has some great songs, lots of action and humor, and lovely animation. A must-have for any family video collection.

My rating: (5 / 5)

[Read more…]

Les Grandes Chaleurs (Heat Wave) Movie Review



Buy at Amazon

Review:

This is a French-Canadian film about a middle-aged social worker whose husband confesses on his deathbed that he’s been involved in a long-term love affair. A few days after this crushing revelation, one of her former clients, a troubled young man younger than her own children, confesses his love for her, and she begins a passionate affair with him.

My husband and I are big fans of Francois Arnaud, who plays the May in this May-December romance, thanks to his great work on The Borgias. We weren’t sure what to expect with this film, but it turned out to be funny and charming, with a very good script (or at least, very good subtitles). The ending was a little contrived and I had trouble suspending disbelief, but all in all, it was a very entertaining and enjoyable film.

My rating: (4 / 5)

[Read more…]

You’ve Got Mail Movie Review



Buy at Amazon

Review:

A smart and charming update of The Shop Around the Corner that benefits from the great chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. As a confirmed hick, this film is also to be commended for accomplishing the rare task of making me want to visit New York.

My rating: (4 / 5)

[Read more…]

Lost in Austen



Buy at Amazon

Review:

A fun and entertaining, though sometimes contrived, miniseries about a modern Austen fan who accidentally switches places with Elizabeth Bennet, and soon finds that the story she knows and loves isn’t behaving exactly as it’s supposed to. Wondering how everything will manage to get straightened up will keep Austen fans like me glued to their seats, and even my husband (a much more casual fan) enjoyed it a lot.

My rating: (3 / 5)

[Read more…]

The Hunchback of Notre Dame



Buy at Amazon

Review:

Okay, I have seriously mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, it mystifies me how Disney thought it would be a good idea to make a children’s animated musical out of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo’s novel had to be butchered and bowdlerized almost beyond recognition to make it even semi-appropriate for children, and despite the butchering and bowdlerizing, it’s still full of dark themes that are, imo, inappropriate and confusing for young children. This essential darkness melds very poorly with the elements intended to make it more appealing to younger audiences, resulting in a sort of thematic whiplash. Goofy gargoyles do a big song and dance number one minute, Frollo sings about burning Esmeralda at the stake if she won’t agree to become his lover the next. It doesn’t work.

On the other hand, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, most of the songs are excellent, and Frollo is one of Disney’s best and most terrifying villains.

It’s worth watching for the incredible Heaven’s Light/Hellfire sequence alone.

Malificent is, and probably always will be, my favorite Disney villain, but she’s fundamentally a creature of fantasy and therefore truly frightening only to Disney’s youngest audience members. Evil fairies don’t exist in the real world. Frollo, on the other hand, is a distinctly human brand of evil. His hypocrisy and cruelty are terrifying in their very mundaneness – most adults have known a Frollo or two, or at least known somebody who has, and few will remember the encounter happily. For that reason, he is one of the few Disney villains that is probably scarier for the adults than the children in the audience.

Buy at Amazon

My rating: (2.5 / 5)

Lost in Space



Buy at Amazon

Review:

Okay, I’ve never seen the original tv show, so it’s possible I was missing something as a result, but this was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Despite the (mostly) good cast, the acting was inconsistent at best, the plot made no sense, and the script took itself far too seriously. A total muddled mess.

My rating:  (1 / 5)

[Read more…]

Lilo & Stitch Movie Review



Buy at Amazon

Review:

One of the most under-rated Disney movies, in my opinion. The wacky hijinks of little Lilo and her alien “dog” are enjoyable and often laugh-out-loud funny (“Oh good, my dog found the chainsaw”) but the action and humor disguise a poignant message about the importance of family – both blood, and chosen. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.”

My rating:  (4 / 5)

[Read more…]

Much Ado About Nothing



Buy at Amazon

Review:

Not Shakespeare’s best play, but one of my favorites due to the awesomeness of Beatrice and Benedict, one of the world’s best written bickering couples ever. Here, the pair is played brilliantly by Kenneth Branaugh and Emma Thompson, who were married to each other at the time it was made and have always had great chemistry.

The rest of the cast is also great (with one or two puzzling exceptions) and the resulting film is frothy and fun and full of beautiful, sunny Tuscan scenery to boot.

My rating:  (4 / 5)

[Read more…]

Dead Again



Buy at Amazon

Review:

Murder! Amnesia! Reincarnation! I stumbled on this supernatural thriller entirely by accident in a Blockbuster back in the day and rented it because of the cast, despite the cheesy-sounding plot. It turned out to be surprisingly entertaining and gripping, and not nearly as cheesy as I expected. Recommended.

My rating:  (3.5 / 5)

[Read more…]

The English Patient



Buy at Amazon

Review:

This movie is gorgeously shot, with a great script and many outstanding performances. Though the central romance is epic and all consuming, I felt it was marred by the unlikeability of Almasy and Katherine. Still, it’s very easy to get swept up in it all.

For the heart is an organ of fire.

My rating (4 / 5)

[Read more…]