Moana is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us the best Disney music in a decade, a critically praised biopic, a Criterion drama, a creepy flick from Portugal, and Japanese animation.
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I’ve always liked Disney movies. but for the most part I’ve waited until they’ve reached home video (and have gained a favorable critical consensus) before watching them.  Well, that’s the way things went until I had a daughter.  Now, I pretty much see them in the theater, or at the very least as soon as they come out on Blu-ray, no matter the critical or popular opinion.

So it was with Moana.  It came out this summer while we were visiting the wife’s family in Kentucky so we took the in-laws along for the ride.  I was a little worried they might be offended as they are very conservative Christians and Moana is all about “false gods” saving the day but they were won over by its good humor and great songs.

Speaking of those songs, they were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and are simply delightful.  “You’re Welcome” is a giant ear worm of a pop song that will be stuck in your head for weeks after. “Shiny” is a David Bowie-esque romp about a crab with a jewelry fetish.  “How Far I’ll Go” was nominated for an Academy Award and while I haven’t seen La La Land and therefore can’t attest to whether or not it should have won, really Moana should have won.  It's the best soundtrack for a Disney movie in a long, long time.

The film itself is a lot of fun as well.  I’m sure we’ll be buying the Blu-ray soon and I'm sure we’ll be watching it often.  We’ve already worn out YouTube just playing the songs.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Jackie:  Natalie Portman has garnered a lot of praise for her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in this biopic that takes place shortly after JFK was assassinated.  I’ll eventually see it but I’ve never been as fascinated with her family as the rest of the world seems to be.

45 Years (Criterion Collection):  An old married couple (Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay) seem perfectly happy and have remained as in love as the day they married some 45 years prior, but a letter upturns everything.  It concerns a woman whom the man loved deeply before he met his wife but who disappeared many years ago.  Her body has been discovered, buried in ice, and this discovery may just upturn both of the couple’s lives.  It's gotten rave reviews for the performances, and I hardly ever say “no” to anything Charlotte Rampling is in.

The Eyes of My Mother: In a secluded farmhouse in Portuga,l a mother teachers her daughter to understand anatomy and be unfazed by death.  One afternoon, a mysterious visitor shatters the idyl of Francisca’s family life, deeply traumatizing the young girl but also awakening unique curiosities.  That’s what the promo material says anyway.  Sounds interesting.

Miss Hokusai:  Animated adaptation of the cult manga tells the story of O-EI, the daughter of master painter Hokusai who did all those cool Japanese painting of waves you see in college dorm rooms.  The film is noted for taking those paintings and turning them into animated images.  Sounds cool.

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