Updated: 12/02/2016 4:09 PM | Print Story |  Email

12/2 Movie Trip

Paul reviews two possible Oscar nominees  in theaters right now.  Head to his website to see his interview with Marlon West, head Animator form Disney’s Mona.


MOANA (theatrical release)

Like many Disney heroines that have come before, Moana is a scrappy young girl with an independent spirit. She’s the daughter of the chief on Motunui Island who is poised to be the ruler of the land someday. There is a darkness sweeping over the island and resources are becoming scarce threating the lives of its residents. They live in dilemma, as they believe it is too dangerous to go beyond the reef. Moana may be young, but she is adventurous, as she wants to voyage out like her ancestors to see what may be beyond the reef in order to save her people. She is told by her wise Gramma Tala to find the demigod and shape-shifter Maui and return a gem known as the heart of Te Fiti. Te Fiti was the original island and has now been long extinct.

-Featuring the voices of: Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Jemaine Clement, Alan Tudyk

-Evident Dwayne Johnson is having a ton of fun as the demigod Maui. The character was very much designed after him while adhering to the cultural vision of who he was.

-Second animated Disney movie of 2016 following Zootopia.

-Has the traditional look and feel of the ‘90s Disney movies like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Hercules. The film’s two directors have been with the company for many years and are the archetypes of the traditional Disney films we grew up on. They brought their same style and vision to Moana

-Has a Broadway inspired score with some of the music and lyrics written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote Hamilton.

-It should come as no surprise that the animation is breathtaking with specific attention toward keeping it true to the culture. All of the water and lava effects are quite realistic looking making them appear sharper than some live action movies.

-It asks kids to think about their calling in life. It may even bring about conversations about their heritage and what aspects of their grandparents or great-grandparents culture could they adapt into their lives.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? While I prefer Zootopia, Moana is still a winner for Disney.



MOONLIGHT (theatrical release)

The 2014 film Boyhood followed young boy who he grew up over a twelve-year period. In a way, Moonlight does that very thing as we watch a young child grow up over three different periods of his life. The first section showcases Chiron as a nine-year old African American kid who’s nicknamed “Little” based on his smaller, weaker stature compared to other kids his age. He barely speaks a word and is mercilessly teased by his classmates. His home life isn’t any better as his mother is a drug addict. The only good influence in life is a man named Juan who takes Chiron in one night after finding him in an abandon house. He and his wife Teresa become the guardian angles he needs at this point. The second section of the film finds Chiron in high school where we find it has only gotten worse for him. His mother is still having issues, and Chiron faces a barrage of bullying from his other classmates who believe he may be gay. The final act of the film finds a twentysomething Chiron now buff and chiseled on the outside but still fighting those inner demons of how he can a better version of himself despite the horrible influences he has had over the years.

-Starring: Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Spectre), and Andre Holland (American Horror Story)

-Whether it’s the powerful actors, the cinematographer, or the gripping music, you find yourself fully immersed in such an emotional journey for this character throughout all three acts of the film.

-Already huge talk of Oscars and has received acclaim from the Gotham Awards and the National Board of Review

-Not an easy movie to watch by any means. The bullying of Chiron in high school can really hit you hard.

-Every beat and moment is directed with perfection to constantly keep you on your toes as to which direction it may go and what choice any given character is going to make. You can really feel the back and forth pull Chiron faces whether he gives into temptation or goes against his truth.

-Even if you don’t have a personal connection to the world presented, it’s very evident how real this story is for many people across the country.

-While it focuses on the African American life and the role Chiron’s environment played in his upbringing, there are universe themes of self-acceptance, masculinity, sexuality, finding your place in this world, dealing with societal pressures, growing up, and family that anyone can relate to.

-Prompts great discussion afterwards whether you fully understand it right away. Perfect teaching tool for kids or adults who may be struggling, who may feel in isolation, who can’t find their way, and needs resurgence that life will get better

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? See it. Reflect on it. Talk about.