Happy Easter everyone! By the time you read this, I will probably be done with church and knee deep in vegan chocolate. I admit that I struggled a lot with today’s post, because there aren’t exactly many things about Easter in pop culture. I think that’s because Easter is either viewed as silly (bunnies delivering eggs) or “too religious” by our secular culture. But other than resurrection motifs, which we have already talked about, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which we have also already talked about, there really isn’t much about Easter in our pop culture. However, one movie does discuss Easter to some extent, and that is Rise of the Guardians. While no reference to Jesus is made in the movie, it still discusses the important religious elements of hope and belief.
This isn’t typically what I do for Trailer Tuesdays, or at least I usually don’t go out looking for a terrible trailer to trash. However, the moment I saw the trailer for Wish Upon playing silently on my Facebook wall, I knew the film would be bad. Out of some morbid curiosity, I decided to find out just how bad this film was willing to be in the name of hopping on the generic gritty fairy tale trend, and hoo boy, does this film look bad in the terrible, boring ways we’ve all become accustomed to.
After the pleasant (but still mildly depressing) surprise that was My Life as a Zucchini, I’ll admit: I was pretty excited to check out the final Oscar’s animation nod for this year. Add to that the fact that Studio Ghibli also had their hands in this animated feature and, well, it just seemed like a slam dunk. Despite everything it had going for it, though, director Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle—La Tortue Rouge in French and Aru Shima no Monogatari in Japanese—just didn’t stack up to any of the excitement or expectations I had for it. It’s no secret that the Oscars, or any mainstream award show, is basically just a huge circle jerk for popular companies. Still, the fact that this film was even nominated at all, to me, shows that Disney’s association with Ghibli (and, well, how awesome Ghibli usually is) overrode any actual critical viewing of this film.
Here on this blog, we’ve unintentionally managed to cover just about every animation nominee for the 2017 Academy Awards in one way or another. Not that I particularly care about the Academy or their opinion, but after giving some page space to Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, and Moana, it felt kind of strange to just ignore the other two films and my artsy ass can never resist delving into productions by lesser known studios. So I set out to tackle the first of these two films: My Life as a Zucchini (or Ma Vie de Courgette in the original French). Distributed by Gebeka Films and premiering at the 2016 film festival in Cannes, the quirky stop-motion film tackles a surprisingly dark subject, and does it well. However, as with most things, this doesn’t mean it was devoid of problems.
Spoilers below and trigger warning for mentions of child abuse.
During the middle of last week, Disney finally released their U.S. trailer for their own theatrical jaunt into the Day of the Dead mythos, Coco. I, for my part, completely forgot this movie was even going to be a thing, and still kind of wish that it wasn’t. The bad blood Disney created during the film’s production still lingers, and with a seemingly superior film, The Book of Life, having already been released, many still question why we even need Disney’s spin on Mexican culture. Does Coco seem worth giving the time of day? For the time being, I’m going to give it a somewhat wary “yes”.
I recently had the pleasure of watching the movie What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary about four vampires who live together in a flat in New Zealand. The mockumentary spoofs a lot of classic vampire stories that have become cliché over the past several years. The best part about this movie is it takes normal mundane things and applies it to vampires. The four vampires have house meetings, argue over who is supposed to do the dishes, and struggle with getting dressed when they can’t see their own reflection.
The movie begins by explaining that a documentary film crew was given permission to follow around four vampires. We are then introduced to Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr. Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon have all maintained their human appearances, but Petyr, who is 8,000 years old, looks more like the vampire from Nosferatu and acts more animalistic than the others. We see the vampires deal with being centuries old and trying to adapt to modern day life. Each night the three go out (Petyr doesn’t leave the house anymore) to find people to feed on. They also often clash with a group of werewolves who dislike swearing. The three attempt to get into clubs, but struggle with the fact that they need to be invited in by the bouncer or else they won’t be able to enter.
This is definitely one of the best vampire spoofs that I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. However, the movie is very much focused on men and male characters with very little attention given to the female characters. When the female characters are present, they critique the tropes that are more typical of vampire stories, but these critiques are so brief that they’re sadly not very effective.
Whenever I get pulled back once more into that YouTube whirlpool—which is basically my life right now since winter decided it wanted to majorly shit on us one last time—I tend to go for one of two things: conspiracy/horror videos and review shows. Ever since Channel Awesome became exceedingly less “awesome”—there were rumors of mismanagement and general ego inflation, and I just didn’t like the people who decided to stay on the site—finding reviews for things I actually cared about was a bit of a crapshoot. However, thanks to an opportune link in the sidebar of a completely unrelated YouTube video, I managed to find myself back on Lindsay Ellis’s channel (she was previously “the Nostalgia Chick” when she was a part of Channel Awesome) and was subsequently led to Dan Olson’s media review channel, Folding Ideas. Low key and introspective, Olson presents his analysis with a good mix of easy to understand technical terms, a dash of social commentary, and sometimes even a bit of humor. And hey, anyone who doesn’t immediately start their review of No Man’s Sky with “aaaah!! It was the worst game everrrrrrr” is okay in my book.