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Movie Review – Coco (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

This wildly beautiful animated film celebrates Latino culture, inter-generational family connections, one possible interpretation of the afterlife, and, most obviously, what the Day of the Dead is all about.

I’m not an expert on Mexican holidays, but it felt authentica. The animated humans were pretty adorable, and the Miguel/Hector interactions  stole my dark little heart. Then the perito…what can I say? He seemed firstly like a typical cutsie sidekick, but we get a little Scooby treat in the end.

Even the cast and plot held together — which in animated films can be hit or miss. Coco is on the level of Inside Out for me: giving me deeper things to think about, with a visual feast to sit back and enjoy.

The “real world” first act was only okay, (which brings the grade down from a perfect A+ score) – kind of like a Mexican Footloose – but once we let any semblance of reality go, crossing the bridge to the afterworld, things become fabuloso, wacky, quirky, and really, really fun.

New anthology films in this undead setting could start a whole new franchise. Like traipsing to a more colorful Narnia, we’d enjoy staying in the brightly festooned, colorful cities, teeming with glitzy skele-people and their bold, big lives-after-death. Nice place to visit, I think.

What this film does best of all (besides making me sob like a baby: be warned) lies in the pretty. It’s gorgeous. Every scene in the land of the dead is phenomenal.  Worth seeing in 3D, and definitely worth owning as a DVD, to play over and over again, no matter what your nationality, or afterlife belief.

Good, solid entertainment for anyone, at any age. This one reaches the ranks of the better animated movies (feel free to post those in the comments for discussion). Darkly beautiful: thanks, Pixar!

Movie Grade: A

Movie Review – Ghost in the Shell

Grade: A-

This is a really, really pretty movie. It’s also a seamless use of CGI, and I’m normally really hard on films that rely extensively on computer animation. It totally works in this one.

Ghost in the Shell is an origin story for a comic book character called Major, and apparently this isn’t a case of ‘Asian whitewashing’ if you are an established fan. Johannson does a good job carrying the film, giving us a stoic, understated hero, struggling to understand whether she has any humanity left. Don’t expect a lot of humor – the main lighthearted moments are reserved for her friend and coworker Bantou, who really is the best part of the film. I smiled whenever he entered a scene.

Everyone else is deadly serious. I’m not a huge fan of deadly serious stories, but understand how the themes in GitS are relatively mature – presenting the nature of man, and the ethics of cybernetic enhancements. Where exactly do we draw the line in upgrading one’s given body, in pursuit of perfect health, upgraded skills…or frivolity (for example, getting an implant that lets you drink too much, so you don’t get hung over)? If you like the works of Philip K Dick, you’ll relate to this story. I do wish it had been a bit lighter in tone, however.

It’s a relatively short origin superhero tale (at one hour and 47 minutes), with an efficient pace. The action is exciting, reliable, and easy to follow. There’s a tremendous amount of dialog though, making it tough to find Peetimes. If I had to relate this movie to others, I’d say it has elements of Blade Runner, Minority Report, and a bit of The Matrix. Ghost in the Shell doesn’t achieve any of the bars set by those films, but is a respectable offering for what I expect to be a new franchise. I wasn’t disappointed, and sometimes that’s all you need.