It’s apropos and yet somewhat inexplicable that Hayao Miyazaki would end his career on one what is easily his most divisive film. Miyazaki has spent so much of his career delivering masterpieces of animation that discuss the horrible fall out of war, destruction of the environment, and war machines. So it’s absolutely confounding that Miyazaki takes a more objective approach to Jirô Horikoshi and his creation of what would become certified weapons of war.
There’s nothing I hate more than a movie that has so much going for it, but has no idea how to deliver a great narrative. “Promare” is a movie that, by all accounts, should have blown me out of my seat. But by the middle of it, I was counting down the minutes, and waiting for it to get to the point. It’s so sad that a movie that looks so amazing could be so lacking in originality with government corruption, clandestine organizations, and an evil politician who has plans for the world, yadda, yadda. It’s all so old hat for such an epic looking animated movie.
A group of people lives holed up in a tenement because of a mysterious sickness affecting people on the outside. All excursions are considered deadly dangerous and people are starting to go crazy after too long of a separation from the outside world.
The Academy is always a fan of the historical epic. They love movies about perseverance to hard times during a bygone era, from “Lincoln” and “Glory” to “Amadeus” and “Saving Private Ryan.” One of the movies that they didn’t touch in 2020, despite being a relatively mesmerizing picture, was Jennifer Kent’s 2019 “The Nightingale.” Despite it being a virtually gritty and gruesome journey in to darkness a la “The Revenant,” the Academy never offered the film its due, even in the realm of cinematography and or acting. There’s not even a best original screenplay nod handed to the thriller, and it’s a shame. Jennifer Kent’s revenge period piece is the antithesis of the glossy Oscar fodder that they stumble over themselves to honor every year.
Satoshi Kon’s “Millennium Actress” has become one of the most celebrated animation masterpieces of all time, and for good reason. It’s managed to transcend everything about its medium to convey a tale that everyone can relate to. A big departure from “Perfect Blue,” his grim polemic about fandom, Kon gifts us “Millennium Actress,” a film that is a great and often riveting celebration about life.
With director JJ Abrams returning to the “Star Wars” universe once again (taking the reins for Rian Johnson), he’s able to repeat history of generations’ past. He offers fans the final film of a three movie saga that never quite hits the high bar set by the previous films. “The Rise of Skywalker” is a great movie in its own right, but like “Return of the Jedi” it is held back due to many unfortunate screenplay inconsistencies, characters that don’t do much of anything, and blatant retconning that Abrams commits to at the expense of the story. “The Rise of Skywalker” is a very good movie and great closer to the Skywalker saga, warts and all.
Taika Waititi has always been a filmmaker that’s managed to challenge conventions and deliver tales that are always completely out of the ordinary. With “Jojo Rabbit,” it’s another in a long line of tales about the male ego and the weird world that they belong to. In Waititi’s case, it’s the briefly controversial “Jojo Rabbit,” a movie that received a lot of buzz for its depiction of Adolf Hitler. Once you got down to the meat and potatoes of the narrative though, you learn that it’s the destruction of Hitler and how he’s so uncomplicated that he’s reduced to an imaginary friend of a young child.