Coco (2017)

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Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Stars: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt

Another first-rate animation from Pixar? I should coco!

Pixar needn’t fear about entering the land of the dead after Coco dazzling audiences and critics alike. They’ve been teetering lately with their three most recent films (The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory and Cars 3) all of which received relatively mixed reviews from a studio who have churned out more timeless animations than any other. Coco sees them back on top form though by emotionally weaving an engaging and constantly surprising story about family, love and loss.

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It follows a spirited Mexican lad called Miguel who wants nothing more than to be a musician. Unfortunately for him, his family are from a long line of music-haters after Miguel’s great great great grandmother’s husband left her and her daughter alone in order to pursue a career in music. Since then every child from the family has been raised to detest all kinds of music (as any sane family would do) which means Miguel has to tinkle his ivories in secret whilst worshipping his superstar musical idol, Ernesto De La Cruz. For reasons never quite explained, Miguel ends up in the Mexican land of the dead where a madcap adventure ensues, never failing to entertain along the way.

Coco fools you initially by pretending to be a straightforward family adventure film with stunning visuals and cute characters, but a genuinely shocking third act twist reveals itself to be so much more. It’s quite barmy how a film targeted for children is more unpredictable than the majority of films aimed at adults in this day and age. Nevertheless, this is Pixar and we all know that despite being family friendly, they’re really made for adults!

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What makes the film so memorable though is its pure emotion. Pixar have been pulling at our heartstrings for years from the infamous opening of Up to the tragic demise of Bing Bong in Inside Out. I’m happy to say that Coco is no exception. I’m not one to cry in films but I must admit to being quite choked up several times in Coco, particularly in its closing moments. This isn’t manipulative, sugary, trying-desperately-hard-to-make-you-cry kind of emotion seen in the likes of the recent Wonder but genuine tear duct pulling. This is a film which genuinely cares about its characters so the audience does too.

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Some people are calling this the best Pixar film ever but I think that’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. It lacks the innovation of say, Inside Out and the comedy of Up but that’s not say it’s a great film because it is. Pixar have just churned out such a high calibre of animated features that to say one is better than the other doesn’t really count for much. Coco will certainly be beloved for years to come though, I know I’ll be watching it with my kids all the time if anyone would have them with me!

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The Greatest Showman (2017)

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Director: Michael Gracey

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron

P.T Barnum Would Be Dancing In His Grave

“Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for” are the first words Hugh Jackman warbles in this box office smash hit. I’m not entirely sure that the world has been waiting for a jazz-handed, all-singing, all-dancing musical about P.T Barnum (the man who invented the business of show) but the audience numbers prove otherwise. Like a bad penny, Jackman’s returned to the world of musicals, only he’s looking a little happier in this one compared to Tom Hooper’s sprawling adaptation of Les Miserables and his voice is sounding a little better too! Or is that just the autotune?

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Either way, Jackman and the rest of the cast look like they’re having the time of their lives in Michael Gracey’s infectiously joyous debut. I must admit to being a little apprehensive about seeing it, fearing the worst for a High School Musical-esque cheese-fest, but was immediately drawn in by the spectacular visuals and mighty music. From start to finish, The Greatest Showman does what P.T Barnum knew how to do best, entertain. The film moves at a glorious pace, piling on the impressive images and sounds until your senses feel overwhelmed. Gracey displays great skill and confidence from behind the camera, at best it displays similarities to Baz Luhrmann’s musical masterpiece, Moulin Rouge! It’s hard to believe that this is a film from a first-time director.

Unfortunately it’s the screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Oscar-winner Bill Condon which stop this show from soaring to the heights of Zendaya’s pink-haired trapeze artist. The story is undeniably cliché and predictable. It’s the rags to riches tale we’ve all seen countless times before, only this time with more song and dance routines. The film almost peaks too early by rushing through Barnum’s rise to stardom and then not giving our hero much to do through the rest of the running time. A flat love story is introduced between Zac Efron (who remains fully-clothed for once) and Zendaya but neither character is developed enough for us to care what happens. Shock, horror, Hugh gets too fame obsessed and ends up neglecting his wife and children only to realise his sins in the end so we can neatly tie a bow and let the credits roll. There are also moments of sugary sentimentality enough to make even the soppiest person cringe.

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But in the end none of that matters, The Greatest Showman is a pleasure of the guiltiest kind. It knows exactly what kind of film it is and it does it very well. There isn’t a duff song in the film, although that’s no surprise given that the lyrics were penned by the duo who wrote for last year’s stupendous La La Land. The choreography is also top-notch, daring you not to take your eyes away from the screen. Despisers of musicals might want to steer clear, but those who are a sucker for a catchy showtune will undoubtedly find a lot to admire. It’s perhaps not something I’d shout from the rooftops and ruin my street cred, but I was a big fan and strangely I can’t wait to see it again.

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10 Greatest Scenes In La La Land

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01-la-la-landLove it or loathe it, there’s no denying that LaLaLand is a bold film. The Damien Chazelle-directed musical was nominated for a whopping 14 Academy Awards, and almost won seven of them if it wasn’t for dastardly Moonlight snapping up the Best Picture win at the last minute.

Of course due to its musical nature, there are many people who simply don’t ‘get it’. However, for the rest of us I thought it would be a nice idea to look at the 10 best scenes in La La Land as pretty much every scene in the film is memorable.

Read full article below:

https://creators.co/@StephenHampton/4242108