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TV

Too Much Streaming

I recently read an article from the Los Angeles Times about Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. Believe me, it’s enticing, but do we really need another steaming service when we already have so many?

I’m not saying one should have a monopoly or people shouldn’t have choices, but does one person really need to have all the streaming services? At the end of the day, it’s another TV bill. Who wants that?

For now, streaming seems to be a cheaper alternative to cable or satellite. But the separate bills for the different services will add up quickly, if they aren’t already. Netflix and Hulu produce their own content – as will Disney+ – but how many people have time to sit around and watch every show or movie? Not many. It definitely wouldn’t be healthy. And it would probably be boring after awhile anyway.

It would be easy if all anybody had to choose from was a few general services like Netflix or Hulu. The name of the game is making more money, but having Disney shows available exclusively through Disney+ doesn’t seem fair. I mean, its content has been on the other services for so long. Why yank it away now? What if consumers don’t feel like paying another bill? It’s not like Disney is on the verge of bankruptcy and they desperately need the money or anything.

Categories
Movies

Aladdin (2019)

imdb.com

Aladdin is the story of an orphaned thief who finds a magic lamp and uses its power to win over the princess of Agrabah, while trying to keep it out of the hands of those who want to use its power for evil.

The movie actually begins as a frame story with Will Smith as the narrator, which was interesting and fun. Smith’s performance as the genie was hilarious. It’s not easy to fill the giant shoes left behind by Robin Williams, but he made it look easy.

Naomi Scott was excellent as Jasmine. They really fleshed out the character too. She had her own song called “Speechless”. She was a strong character in the original 1992 movie, but giving her a song to sing on her own made her stronger.

However, this movie was also somewhat disappointing. During the some of the magic carpet scenes (particularly “A Whole New World”), it was noticeable that they were in front of a green screen. The audience isn’t supposed to be able to notice something like that. It was hard to focus on the movie after that because it took the audience out of the story. Computer Generated Imaging is usually seamless. Why did Disney have trouble with it this time?

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Movies

Dumbo (2019)

imdb.com

Dumbo is the story of a young elephant that helps breathe new life into a traveling circus with his ability to fly thanks to his unusually large ears. But not everything about the circus is as bright and shiny as it seems on the surface.

This being one of his less frightening movies, scraggly and eccentric genius Tim Burton transports his audience to 1919, one year after the end of World War I. Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has come home from the war to rejoin his children at the circus, only to find out that his act had been dismantled by Max Medici (Danny Devito) in his absence. So he takes care of the elephants instead.

What is it with Disney characters and mommy issues? Hardly any characters in any movies (including this one) have mothers. They may have mother figures, but their actual mothers are usually dead.

When Holt’s children realize that Dumbo can fly, all anyone else sees is a bunch of dollar signs. Dumbo does help restore the circus to its former glory, but people’s greed doesn’t stop there. They just want more and more and more. After all, money makes the world go round, doesn’t it?

Beyond greed, some people are just pure evil, no matter how charming they are on the surface. Michael Keaton’s character, V.A. Vandevere, is one of these people, even though he is reminiscent of Sam Champion (former chief meteorologist for ABC News, and a really nice guy).

At its core, Dumbo is a story about learning to believe in yourself. You don’t need to hide behind anything special to do what you are meant to do.

This movie may be emotional roller coaster, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

Categories
Movies

Where do we draw the line?

image: imdb.com

So, I came across this article by way of another article that Google shoved in my face. Somehow it knows I’m really into Mary Poppins and Emily Blunt lately. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still feels like my guilty pleasure is on display or something. It could be worse, I suppose.

Anyway, the essay argues that Mary Poppins is “flirting with blackface”.

 When the magical nanny (played by Julie Andrews) accompanies her young charges, Michael and Jane Banks, up their chimney, her face gets covered in soot, but instead of wiping it off, she gamely powders her nose and cheeks even blacker. Then she leads the children on a dancing exploration of London rooftops with Dick Van Dyke’s sooty chimney sweep, Bert.
This might seem like an innocuous comic scene if Travers’s novels didn’t associate chimney sweeps’ blackened faces with racial caricature. “Don’t touch me, you black heathen,” a housemaid screams in “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” (1943), as a sweep reaches out his darkened hand. When he tries to approach the cook, she threatens to quit: “If that Hottentot goes into the chimney, I shall go out the door,”she says, using an archaic slur for black South Africans that recurs on page and screen.

Daniel Polack-Pelzner, The New York Times

It’s obvious that if Mary Poppins were published today, it wouldn’t go over well at all. But we can’t always examine history through a modern lens. Sometimes, it has to be looked at in the context of its own time period. If these slurs were a problem in the 1940s, there’s no way P.L. Travers would have been published. But she was; society didn’t recognize these words or sentiments as slurs.

And I really don’t think Disney was trying to be controversial either. But there’s more:

The 1964 film replays this racial panic in a farcical key. When the dark figures of the chimney sweeps step in time on a roof, a naval buffoon, Admiral Boom, shouts, “We’re being attacked by Hottentots!” and orders his cannon to be fired at the “cheeky devils.” We’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface. It’s a parody of black menace; it’s even posted on a white nationalist website as evidence of the film’s racial hierarchy. And it’s not only fools like the Admiral who invoke this language. In the 1952 novel “Mary Poppins in the Park,” the nanny herself tells an upset young Michael, “I understand that you’re behaving like a Hottentot.”

Daniel Polack-Pelzner, The New York Times

I mean, Mary Poppins has a friend who’s a chimney sweep. What do you expect? No one was making fun of anyone at all. And anyway, it’s just a story, and fiction at that. It’s not meant to offend anyone. I’m not trying to absolve P.L. Travers or Disney of accountability or anything like that. I’m just trying to point out that if we view everything through today’s societal lens, we lose important context, and we risk sucking all the fun out of both Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns.

Categories
Movies

Incredibles 2

After 14 years, Disney/Pixar finally made a sequel.

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Movies

Natasha Richardson as Elizabeth James

If you read my other post, you’ll know that I recently became re-obsessed, if you will, with Disney’s 1998 version of The Parent Trap.

Since that last post, I’ve pretty much been playing my favorite song from the soundtrack through YouTube constantly.  I’ve also found the movie clip that features the song.

Which brings me to what I am writing today.  I’ve been able to play the song without a problem, but I have a bit of a hard time watching the video.  It’s a trigger because of the innocence issue I talked about before.

When I’m listening to the song by itself, I don’t have a problem because I can think about any situation that fits the lyrics.  When I’m watching the video, however,  I can’t escape the mother-daughter dynamic in the context of the film.  It’s too perfect.

When I first saw it after not having seen it in a long time, I was on the verge of tears.  I can keep my emotions in check now after having seen it a handful of times, but it still stings a bit.

Categories
Music

A Four-Year-Old’s Jam

1998.  I was four years old.  Disney’s remake of The Parent Trap starring Lindsay Lohan came out.  And I was obsessed with it.

My mom and I were reminiscing one day, and we happened to talk about the movie.  Which brought up my favorite scene and my favorite song.

I wanted to be Lindsay Lohan.  Specifically, I wanted to be Hallie.  Trade places with my long-lost twin sister, hang out with my mom at one of her photo shoots and photo bomb the bride?  Um, YES PLEASE!

The song in the photo shoot scene is “Never Let You Go” by Jakaranda.  Lately, I’ve been listening to it nonstop.  I tried to download it, but it’s not on iTunes, so I have to play it through YouTube.  It’s annoying.

Even though I love the song now as much as I did back then, it’s bittersweet.  It reminds me of the innocence I once had.  I had a good relationship with my mom.  I was happy.

As I’ve gotten older, my relationship with my mom – both my parents for that matter – has been strained.  We don’t see eye to eye, and we have trouble communicating in general.

How do I reclaim my innocence?  Is it even possible?  I want it to be.  I really want it to be.

(You can listen to the audio here)

Categories
Movies

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Over spring break, I went to see Beauty and the Beast.  It was actually two times in the making; I thought I had plans to see it opening weekend, but they fell through.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Categories
Movies Throwback Thursday

Moana

Towards the end of Thanksgiving break, I went to see Moana.  Here’s a quick synopsis from IMDB:

In ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right.

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Movies

Mediocre Movie

On Monday night, I finally saw Frozen. Yeah, I know it came out two years ago. I believe I wanted to see it at the time, but Mom said it was a “kid’s movie,” implying it was somehow beneath me.
Anyway, in case I wasn’t the last person on earth who hasn’t seen it, here’s a quick synopsis from imdb:

When the newly crowned Queen Elsa accidentally uses her power to turn things into ice to curse her home in infinite winter, her sister, Anna, teams up with a mountain man, his playful reindeer, and a snowman to change the weather condition.

It was good, but I found myself wanting more. One of the critics’ quotes they used in the trailers was “The best Disney movie since The Lion King“, or something to that effect. I think that is a slight overstatement. In the beginning of the movie, I was anticipating “Let It Go” so much that it was hard to focus on what was happening in the plot. After “Let It Go,” there were a few action scenes, but they weren’t anything to write home about. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t live up to all the hype that influenced my high expectations. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I was disappointed when my expectations were not met.