Category Archives: children
Winter’s Bone ~ Set in the hillbilly hell that is modern Appalachia, this is a quest movie, similar to Easy Rider, The Wizard of Oz or even The Matrix, or some weird hybrid of the three. It also reminds me of The Road, only without the relationship, the narrative or the apocalypse. It is all of these films actually, minus the excitement, happiness or enthusiasm – or momentum. Winter’s Bone is slow as hell.
Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence tried to find her daddy who’s on the run and has put the family home up for bail. If he doesn’t show up, she loses everything. Most of the folks in this hillbilly hell don’t want to help her. Everyone smokes pot and carries a gun, except for our protagonist so it’s hard for her to make any headway finding her father.
Did I mention how slow this flick is? I wanted to scream at the screen for something to happen other than bad grammar or verbal and physical domestic abuse. Furthermore, Winter’s Bone stinks of the social commentary that the bleeding hearts of the Academy love so much, but me, I kept waiting for the point, or better yet, a plot.
Now I wanted a plot, but when the flick turned into this effed up version of The Wicker Man meets Children of the Corn with a bit of, God forbid, The Village thrown in – I started wishing it didn’t have a plot. Really. This got a Best Picture nomination, and Secretariat didn’t? Wow. Not recommended.
Al Alberts, local Philadelphia icon and founding member of the Four Aces, is dead today at the age of 87 of kidney failure. His child talent showcase ran on WPVI channel 6 for over three decades and was frequently the landing field for many local dance studios, fledgling singers and little comedians.
Gamera the Brave ~ Boy meets turtle. Boy feeds turtle. Turtle grows. No, really, turtle really freakin’ grows. Monster attacks Japan. Turtle fights monster, saves Japan. Boy (and Japan) happy. That could be it, but there’s a lot more to it.
Gamera the Brave, or Chiisaki yusha-tachi: Gamera as it is known in its native land, is not your average Gamera movie despite the above description. It was marketed as a children’s film, which it most certainly is – like the original Gamera film series of the 1960s but unlike the more violent and dark 1990s flicks. Except for the opening few moments which harken back a vague memory of Gamera fighting several Gaos, this is pretty much all kids fare – and it’s delightful stuff.
The little boy Toru finds his pet turtle Toto is a little more interesting than most other turtles, flying and spitting fireballs. This secret he shares with his best friend, little girl next store Mai. It’s just fun. And it’s not annoying. As any Kaiju fan will tell you when they hear a kid is involved in the plot of the movie, he’s going to be annoying – especially if it’s a Gamera flick. Not the case here at all.
This could easily be an afterschool special with a bit of kaiju eiga nudge-nudge thrown in. It does eventually turn into a Gamera movie though, so take heart, fans of the spinning flame-spitting turtle – you won’t be disappointed. There’s even a Guiron reference that is in there just to make the fanboys grin. Fun is what the kids’ part of this flick, as well as the adults’ part, is all about.
When bad monster Jidas shows up, we see that the special effects are cutting edge, at least as far as the genre goes. Toto plays Gamera (although I wish they would have kept his original roar) and takes on Jidas, a prehistoric spiked iguana-like kaiju with a mutant tongue – don’t ask. The fights that ensue are spectacular, and that is the reason I like kaiju eiga, but I gotta tell you – as engaging as the monster battles are, the relationship between little Toru and little Toto is moreso.
I waited months for this on NetFlix, and it was worth the wait. Fun for the kids, fun for the monster fans, fun for the adults, just fun.