Mickey Mouse’s pup takes center stage in ‘Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto’

[rating=2]Starring: Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse
Company: Disney

Pluto with Mickey Mouse in 'Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto'
Pluto with Mickey Mouse in ‘Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto’

The evolution of Pluto differs from the other famous Disney icons, in that the character didn’t change in appearance too much, and he’s the only character that doesn’t speak.

To be honest, I was never a big fan of the Pluto cartoons. The strange part of watching this collection, unlike the Mickey Mouse one I reviewed earlier this week, was that I had actually seen many of these cartoons. I started from the beginning, watching “Chain Gang”, which is considered Pluto’s first appearance, even though it’s not really him. Since Disney approaches these characters as if they were real people, it’s been generally accepted that Pluto made his first appearance in that short as two different bloodhounds. It wasn’t until a few shorts later in “Moose Hunt” — which is on the Mickey in Black & White: Vol. 2 DVD set — that Pluto actually got his name, and only then does he begin to fill the role he is famous for — as Mickey’s loyal sidekick.

Read moreMickey Mouse’s pup takes center stage in ‘Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto’

‘Finding Neverland’ is the rare film which has pitch-perfect acting and writing

Johnny Depp and Dustin Hoffman in 'Finding Neverland'
Johnny Depp and Dustin Hoffman in ‘Finding Neverland’

[rating=4]Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman
Director(s): Marc Forster
Writer(s): David Magee, based on the play by Allan Knee

Ahh, Los Angeles in January… It is a most glorious time of year when our attentions turn collectively to Awards Season©. It is a time when Variety and The Hollywood Reporter do their best work, serving as mere staples for a throng of “For Your Consideration” studio ads.

Read more‘Finding Neverland’ is the rare film which has pitch-perfect acting and writing

Chris Evans shines as the all-American hero in ‘Cellular’

Chris Evans in 'Cellular'
Chris Evans in ‘Cellular’

[rating=3]Starring: Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, William H. Macy, Jason Statham, Richard Burgi
Director(s): David R. Ellis
Writer(s): Screenplay by Chris Morgan; Story by Larry Cohen

Chris Evans (Not Another Teen Movie) plays a reluctant hero who altruistically does everything he can to save a woman and her son from kidnappers after he receives her call for help on his cell phone — the only number she could get through to on a broken landline.

Read moreChris Evans shines as the all-American hero in ‘Cellular’

‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black & White Vol. 2’ shows the evolution of an animation icon

[rating=3]Starring: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto

Although I received this DVD set several weeks ago, I’m only now getting the review posted because I wanted to take my time in watching it. There are a good amount of short cartoons on this pair of DVDs, and it wasn’t easy getting through them all in a short period of time. Especially with the holidays.

Mickey mourns a robot in a short on 'Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black & White, Vol. 2'
Mickey mourns a robot in a short on ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black & White, Vol. 2’

Why did I want to make sure I watched them all? Because I really wanted to experience each of these classic cartoons before giving my thoughts on it. To be honest, some of them were a little difficult to sit through, and there is a certain level of racism apparent in a few. But I didn’t want to simply dismiss the earlier work, nor did I want to unfairly judge the characterizations of certain characters throughout.

Read more‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black & White Vol. 2’ shows the evolution of an animation icon

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Mystic River’ is richly performed, beautifully executed

Kevin Bacon in 'Mystic River'
Kevin Bacon in ‘Mystic River’

[rating=3]Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): Screenplay by Brian Helgeland; Based upon the novel by Dennis Lehane

Deeply nuanced performances breathe reality into the film’s somewhat tried plot devices, and ultimately overshadow a director’s visible manipulation and a studio’s heavy handed marketing to deliver an intensely satisfying film.

Read moreClint Eastwood’s ‘Mystic River’ is richly performed, beautifully executed

Nearly 30 years after ‘Jaws,’ ‘Open Water’ gives us a new reason to stay out of the water

Blanchard Ryan (left) and Daniel Travis struggle to keep their heads above water in 'Open Water'
Blanchard Ryan (left) and Daniel Travis struggle to keep their heads above water in ‘Open Water’

[rating=4]Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein, Estelle Lau, Jon-Damon Charles
Director(s): Chris Kentis
Writer(s): Chris Kentis

Writer/director Chris Kentis makes a splash with his second film, a low-budge thriller about a couple left stranded in shark-infested waters when their diveboat inadvertently heads back to shore without them.

Read moreNearly 30 years after ‘Jaws,’ ‘Open Water’ gives us a new reason to stay out of the water

‘Mary Poppins: 40th Anniversary Edition’ proves this classic still has charm

Julie Andrews stars in the iconic role of 'Mary Poppins'
Julie Andrews stars in the iconic role of ‘Mary Poppins’

[rating=4]Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Hermione Baddeley, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Elsa Lanchester, Arthur Treacher, Reginald Owen, Ed Wynn
Director(s): Robert Stevenson
Writer(s): Screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi; Based upon the “Mary Poppins” books by P.L. Travers

I think it’s probably arguable that Mary Poppins was Disney’s crowing live action achievement in film. This wildly popular film has undoubtedly been seen by generations of children and adults, and has become an indelible part of American pop culture.

Read more‘Mary Poppins: 40th Anniversary Edition’ proves this classic still has charm

‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ has intriguing characters, beautiful dialogue and nuanced performances

The cast of 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou'
The cast of ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’

[rating=3]Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum
Director(s): Wes Anderson
Writer(s): Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach

Recently I went on a couple of dates with a beautiful blonde who may or may not have been out of my league. We got along well, I made her laugh, and I thoroughly enjoyed the making out (and the potential for more). But abruptly, after the second date, my phone calls went unreturned. Now, I’m not one to bear ill will at such an early stage, so the experience left me with nothing to say but a declarative “Huh”. I enjoyed the time that we had, but I ended up feeling like there was something that I missed.

Read more‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ has intriguing characters, beautiful dialogue and nuanced performances