Albert Lamorisse's flights of fancy come to Criterion courtesy of a gorgeous new box set.
There are few things more wondrous than a child's imagination -- its capacity to uplift itself beyond the pain and doldrums of everyday life to see the world through new eyes. One of cinema's greatest chroniclers of that imagination is French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, a contemporary of the French New Wave who literally went high where his peers went low. His domain was in short, charming, powerful films often linking child protagonists to wonders both terrestrial and supernatural: an animal that captures their heart, or the unyielding power of flight. Now, Criterion has captured that magic in a new two-disc Blu-ray set containing the bulk of Lamorisse's flashes of cinematic whimsy.
The crown jewel of the pack, of course, is 1956's The Red Balloon, the only short film to ever receive a major Academy Award (for Best Original Screenplay; no small feat, considering the film, like many of Lamorisse's, relies on very little dialogue). It's a simple, elemental tale of a boy (Lamorisse's son, Pascal, a frequent star of his works) walking the grey, rundown streets of postwar Paris -- the Ménilmontant neighborhood, to be specific -- only to find himself befriending a bright red balloon that follows him everywhere. The two seem to build some ineffable connection, a bond that plays out through the streets of Ménilmontant. The boy's parents and teachers don't understand their friendship. His peers envy it, chasing them through the streets to tragic ends. Continue Reading →
Netflix’s action-comedy is deadly short on both.
There’s something undeniably attractive about the premise of Obliterated. A highly skilled team of soldiers, spies, bomb experts, and tech geniuses stop on nuclear bomb detonation in the heart of Las Vegas and fully celebrate their victory. And by fully celebrate, we mean FULLY. Drugs, alcohol, exotic animals, hundreds of guests, plenty of sex toys, and so on. Then they wake in the morning to find their mission wasn’t as successful as they thought, and now they have no choice but to try and save the day in various stages of loaded and hungover.
Sadly, miles exist between premise and execution. Think the difference between visiting the Bellagio in Vegas and the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Then double it. Maybe triple it. Put it another way, Obliterated is bad. Very bad. Continue Reading →
All the Light We Cannot See
Early in For All Mankind Season 4, Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) and Dani Poole (Krys Marshall) reencounter each other for the first time in years on the Happy Valley Mars base. Smiling warmly, each says, “Hi, Bob,” to each other. For fans of the show, it has an immediate impact. The significance of the silly greeting reminds those audience members of the deep bond between these two astronauts. Newcomers likely won’t grasp the specifics of the importance, but Marshall and Kinnaman’s performances make it quite clear that it isn’t some random bit of silliness. Continue Reading →
Night owls and insomniacs will tell you it's special being awake while most of your family, friends, and community slumber. How sometimes weightless and creative you can feel when everyone else strives for that healthy rest. They’ll also often tell you how lonely and frustrating it can be. Wandering your home or the world outside all alone because their bodies’ circadian rhythm actually makes sense. Continue Reading →
Some find entertainment without characters to like a difficult slog. Those individuals would do well to avoid Wilderness, a series almost entirely devoid of likable major characters. The one possible exception of note, the lead couple’s neighbor Ash (Morgana Van Peebles), will ultimately depend on how individuals feel about the morality of blatantly hitting on a married woman who isn’t exactly in the best headspace. Continue Reading →
Who Is Erin Carter?
In Who is Erin Carter? ’s precipitating event, the titular character (Evin Ahmad)—a British ex-pat living in Spain and trying to make a living as a substitute teacher—must fight a masked gunman during a grocery store robbery. At stake is the life of nearly blind daughter Harper (Indica Watson), who cowers unseen under a display of oranges. Continue Reading →
So the idea of “having it all” was a big lie, right? It is nearly impossible to balance and give equal time to a fulfilling career, a stable relationship, and full-time parenting, with room for leisure time, hobbies, and staying fit. Something will fall to the wayside somewhere, sacrifices will have to be made that will either affect us now or affect us later. But women, we’ve been hearing this nonsense for decades, right, about how with the perfect day planner or the number one meal delivery service or the best ten-minute workout we can do it, we just have to want it bad enough. But not too bad, because ambition is an ugly thing in women. But, on the other hand, so is laziness. Add “find the right balance between too ambitious and not ambitious enough” to the list of things we have to do. Continue Reading →
Through the haze of nostalgia, someone might find themselves thinking, “I remember Twisted Metal being a fun video game. I don’t remember there being a story to it though.” If that’s you, good news: your brain is not playing tricks on you. While the series gained complexity over time and each character took on backstory and better-defined goals, the on-screen experience essentially boiled down to a demolition derby in which the victor received an ironic fulfillment of their biggest wish. Continue Reading →
Special Ops: Lioness
Taylor Sheridan believes in a very particular strain of the badass woman archetype—steely-eyed, whiskey-drinking, stoic badasses who refuse to be seen as anything other than the HBIC. There's a poetry to their confidence, a mystery to their vulnerabilities. They have no time for feminine pursuits and will be the first to tell you their Myers-Briggs type (ENTJ, obviously). The world might implode if Yellowstone's Beth Dutton ever picked up an Avon Paperback Romance. Continue Reading →
The Muppets Mayhem
It’s hard to do something genuinely awful with The Muppets. Yes, it's true, even if The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz certainly gave that a try. These pop culture icons are so innately endearing in their personalities and so fully realized as glorious puppets that figures like Kermit the Frog or Gonzo feel extremely real. Whether they’re shilling for coffee, reciting the words of Charles Dickens, or realizing that life truly is a filet of fish, The Muppets are irresistible. Continue Reading →
If you’re going to do a TV reboot of any James Cameron movie, it might as well be True Lies, his weakest directorial effort that doesn’t involve flying piranhas. The 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis action-comedy was undercut by the same fidelity to traditionalism that makes other Cameron features enjoyable. His Avatar films feel like riveting fables, for instance, while Titanic had a sweeping nature to its old-school romanticism. Tragically, True Lies was traditional in that it regurgitated stale observations on domestic married life. Then there were the uncomfortable gender and racial stereotypes that were already long outdated before the movie ever hit theaters. Continue Reading →
Salvage Hunters: The Restaurators
In Season 2, Hunters remains dedicated to exploring whether vengeance and justice can ever be one and the same. Continue Reading →
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi
Part of the joy of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was that it could go anywhere. One week, you could watch physical manifestations of the light and dark sides of the Force duke it out with Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The next, a multi-episode arc about a tiny frog alien leading a bunch of misfit droids on a wacky mission. The quality wildly varied from episode to episode, not really hitting its stride until season 2. However, big swings in tone and creative influence ensured even the weakest installments demonstrated admirable ambition. Continue Reading →
I Am Groot
The recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have gotten enormous in scale. It’s no longer only Avengers installments that span multiple planets and involve countless superheroes. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness explored multiple alternate dimensions, while Eternals concluded with a massive robot emerging from one of Earth’s oceans. Even the Earthbound Spider-Man: No Way Home made room for multiple Spider-Men. Continue Reading →