REVIEW: Anastasia [1997]

In the dark of the night she’ll be gone. In a fantasy world where royalty was adored as idyllically benevolent leaders thinking only about how to protect and serve their people, the Romanovs were betrayed by the evil Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) who subsequently consorted with the Devil to wield dark magic powerful enough to curse their entire bloodline to death. His goal was to eradicate them and seize control, but things didn’t go quite as planned. And although the princess Anastasia (Kirsten Dunst) narrowly escaped his grasp when he fell…

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REVIEW: Mary Poppins Returns [2018]

It’s today or never. Not all live-action/animated hybrids from Disney of yesteryear live up to the nostalgic memories of youth (I’m looking at you Pete’s Dragon), but Mary Poppins is an exception. Maybe it was revisiting it after seeing the underrated Saving Mr. Banks for added context concerning craft and motivation or maybe it’s simply that its message, adventure, and fun combine to form a film that literally stands up to the test of time. Let’s face it: you don’t retain the same reverence through multiple generations over five decades…

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REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast [1991]

“There may be something there that wasn’t there before” The fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is so perfectly suited for the Disney princess treatment that it’s shocking they didn’t do one until 1991. Crafted to provide young girls a metaphor for the arranged marriages many of them would inevitably be a part of in 18th century France (Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve wrote the first version with Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont soon streamlining it into what we know today), its trajectory became one of the idyllic fantasy of raising one’s…

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REVIEW: Nanny McPhee [2005]

“I did knock” Based on the children’s stories of Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand, the British film Nanny McPhee tries its best to grab hold of the magic ever-present in Disney’s Mary Poppins. Liberties are taken—the number of children is changed and the mother, alive in the novels, has passed on in the film—by Oscar-winning screenwriter Emma Thompson in order to make matters as dire as possible, the need for Nanny McPhee immeasurable. So, after a seventeenth nanny is sent screaming from the Brown mansion, “They ate the baby!!”, Colin…

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REVIEW: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [2007]

“May I have your attention, puh-lease!” Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is not your run-of-the-mill Broadway spectacle. This thing is dark, gory, and bleak to the end with little in the way of joy and hope seeping through. I had seen the staged production featuring George Hearn and Angela Lansbury a couple years back, so I was familiar with the story before sitting down to experience Tim Burton’s vision. I guess by knowing Sondheim’s other musical Into the Woods, he is accustomed to darker,…

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REVIEW: Gaslight [1944]

“Good morning daffodils” Here is a film that I just don’t think aged well with the years. George Cukor’s Oscar nominated Gaslight has the feel of something that was fresh and unique back when released in 1944, today, however, it feels as though it was from a bygone era, complete with acting that somehow has become laughable where it once showed brilliance. A slow burning plot is laid out, showing us the systemic destruction of a woman’s mind. Our lead Paula found the body of her dead aunt/caretaker when she…

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