“Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” Has Its Chipmunk Cheeks Stuffed With Nostalgic References to Classic Cartoons
In 1943, Disney introduced the world to a pair of chipmunks, Chip and Dale, in the cartoon short, “Private Pluto.” The delightful duo made appearances in a number of other shorts over the years, and in 1988 they finally landed their own show. But what happened to Chip and Dale after that show ended in 1990? After three decades out of the spotlight, the classic cartoon characters have returned in an all-new movie, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Even though the new film seeks to introduce the beloved characters to a new generation, it’s just as much for the parents in the audience as it is for the kids. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a hilarious feature-length running joke about the evolution of animation, and it’s got its chipmunk cheeks packed full of references to nostalgic cartoon characters.
Making a movie about movie making is a fun way to experiment with self-referentiality and multiple layers of meaning. Plus, any movie about Hollywood and the film industry has magic built right in. There’s no shortage of movies about people who fall in love with the cinema and eventually rise to stardom (which is why La La Land wasn’t as entertaining or significant as it wanted to be), but such stories are still charming and nostalgic. There’s nothing more magical than a movie scene in which one of the characters goes to the cinema and gets lost in the magic of the screen, a familiar scene that’s been used to evoke a sense of wonder and nostalgia in films like Up, Australia, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Cinema Paradiso, and others. The process of falling in love with cinema isn’t one that you can explain with words or even with a still photograph. It’s a process that’s best explained through the medium of film itself — which is why Shogo Sugitani’s manga series Pompo: The Cinephile just had to be made into a film. Director Takayuki Hirao rose to meet this challenge, creating an entertaining anime flick that’s wrapped in layers of self-referentiality.
A House Divided: As Various Viewpoints Fight for Dominance in “House of Gucci,” Lady Gaga’s Immersive Performance Is Lost in the Shuffle
Originally published on Elements of Madness.
Money. Family. Power. Betrayal. Scandal. Murder. When the trailer for House of Gucci dropped in the summer of 2021, it promised all this and more. The ambitious film was set to bring one of the most infamous scandals in the history of fashion to life, complete with all the glitz, glam, and drama that only Hollywood can achieve. And if the subject matter alone wasn’t enough, the all-star cast garnered immediate attention from the masses. The ensemble would be led by none other than Lady Gaga, with supporting roles filled by Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, and crime-drama veteran, Al Pacino. To top it all off, Ridley Scott would direct. The theatrical release came and went in November, and you can now watch the Gucci drama unfold from the comfort of your home on Blu-ray, DVD, or digital. But does House of Gucci live up to expectations? What’s behind all the decadent style that’s so evident in the trailer? Does every second of the two-hour, thirty-eight-minute movie captivate and dazzle audiences as much as the trailer did? It’s a tall order to fill. House of Gucci needed more than a luxurious production design to tell the story of Patrizia Reggiani, an ambitious woman who married into the Gucci family and later coordinated the murder of her ex-husband, Maurizio.
Batman’s Back, and He’s Showing Up in Style: Experience the Thrills of “The Batman” in Theaters Starting Friday, March 4 (Spoiler-Free Review)
Things are looking grim in Gotham City. As per usual, there's plenty of crookedness afoot — and the city’s elected officials can’t be trusted to stop the criminals of Gotham. On Halloween night, just days before the mayoral election, one of the most important men in the city is brutally murdered in his home. Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) is on the case right away, and he brings a certain Caped Crusader (Robert Pattinson) along to help. Batman’s quick thinking comes in handy when investigators discover a riddle left behind by the murderer. Unfortunately, the answer to that riddle doesn’t give Gotham City police much information. It won’t be long before the sneaky Riddler (Paul Dano) strikes again, and Batman must act fast to stop him.
If you want to avoid a horror-movie situation, it’s probably best to stay away from isolated cabins in the dead of winter. Stephen King was certainly onto something when he set The Shining and Misery in snowed-in Colorado abodes. The strange, frigid silence of a snowstorm is the perfect backdrop for stories about isolation and hopelessness. That’s why director Damien Power was so drawn to No Exit, a novel by Taylor Adams, which also takes place during a blizzard in Colorado. In Power’s film adaptation of the book, which premieres February 25, 2022, on Hulu, Power makes the most of the snowy, isolated setting. He creates the ideal setup for the heroine, Darby (Havana Rose Liu), to undergo intense physical and psychological distress.
This Valentine’s Day, Do Something Different (Or, Stay in and Watch a Warm and Familiar Rom-Com That Will Melt Your Heart)
Heartwarming romantic comedy Marry Me will hit theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. The flick stars rom-com veterans Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, along with comedian Sarah Silverman, singer-songwriter Maluma, and the impressive young Chloe Coleman. Based on the graphic novel by Bobby Crosby, the movie is about an unlikely romance between popstar Kat Valdez (Lopez) and divorced math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Wilson). Kat is all set to marry a fellow performer named Bastian (Maluma), and their wedding will be the event of the decade. They plan to tie the knot during an extravagant concert with hundreds of fans watching in person and millions more streaming the ceremony in countries all over the world. But after a last-minute hiccup, Kat is left questioning everything. As she steps out in front of the crowd with ice-cold feet, she realizes that if she wants something different, she has to do something different. And that’s when she notices Charlie’s face in the crowd. In a moment of desperation, Kat points to Charlie and says, “I’ll marry you.”
When it comes to fairy tales, setting is key. Fairy tales don’t have to take place in the past or in distant kingdoms, but their settings should invoke a sense of wonder and enchantment. The setting of a fairy tale should work alongside the other thematic elements to draw out and challenge the hero’s best and worst character traits. And if there’s any place where we’ve seen the best and worst of people over the past few years, it’s been right here on the internet. Therefore, it’s no surprise that writer/director Mamoru Hosoda chose to set his 21st-century adaptation of a classic fairytale in a bustling and vibrant virtual world. With a little help from VR technology, the heroine of the story, Belle, can be whoever she wants to be — and her counterpart, “the beast,” can hide his true identity behind a curated “tough guy” internet persona. Belle is a rich, detailed, and ambitious film that’s part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, and part VR adventure.
Mothers, Hide Your Children: Another Cinematic Adaptation of "The Legend of La Llorona" Hits Select Theatres Friday, January 7, 2022
In the trailer for The Legend of La Llorona, a distraught mother (Autumn Reeser) asks, “What is ‘a llorona’ and what does it want with my son?” Clearly, this mother isn’t a fan of low-budget horror. If she was, she’d probably recognize the Mexican folktale of La Llorona, or “the weeping woman,” which has served as the inspiration for a number of forgettable spooky flicks over the years. In 2019, the legend was brought to life in two film adaptations that proved to be somewhat more popular than their predecessors — Michael Chaves’ The Curse of La Llorona (the sixth feature installment in The Conjuring Universe) and Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona.
At the beginning of the 2021, Chloé Zhao became the second woman in history to win the Oscar for best director. She now rounds out the year by joining the ranks of filmmakers who have made their mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Zhao makes her Marvel debut directing Eternals, a fast-paced, action-packed, big-budget, CGI-infused Hollywood spectacular that’s vastly different from the slow-burning film for which she won the Oscar, Nomadland. We can catch glimpses of Zhao’s directorial expertise, respect for nature, and reverence for human connection in Eternals — but in the end, the movie is still characterized by the same distinctive style, themes, and humor that define all films in the MCU (how many jokes can you make about non-human beings trying to figure out human technology?). After Avengers: Endgame, Eternals feels a bit like an all-or-nothing attempt to get a new superhero group together as quickly as possible. Fans should buckle up, because there’s a lot going on in this latest addition to the MCU.
We’ve all had at least one bad family road trip. Maybe it was the time your toddler threw up all over your new car, or maybe it was the time you had to sit squished between your least favorite cousins for several hours with no AC. But those experiences seem like dream vacations compared to the nightmarish family road trip that unfolds in Coming Home in the Dark. In this tense thriller directed by James Ashcroft, schoolteacher “Hoaggie” (Erik Thomson) and his wife Jill (Miriama McDowell) undergo chilling physical and psychological trials during a hiking trip with their two sons (Billy Paratene and Frankie Paratene). The movie is based on a short story by Owen Marshall and skillfully adapted for the screen by James Ashcroft and Eli Kent. After an impressive festival run, Coming Home in the Dark will be available on VOD and in select theaters starting October 1, 2021.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."