A solid week kicks off with the winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. In 1944 Germany, a lonely young German boy names Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is learning the ins and outs of being a Nazi youth. But when he discovers his single mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic, he strikes up a cautious friendship with her and starts to question the ways of Nazi’s. With Elsa teaching him the truth about Jews and his idiotic imaginary friend Hitler (Waititi himself) trying to convince him that the Nazi way is right, Jojo must decide for himself what the world is all about and who is on the right side of history.
Jojo Rabbit is definitely a different movie than anything I have seen before. Sure there have been movies parodying Nazi’s, and comedies that take place during the war like Roberto Benigni’s brilliant Life if Beautiful, but Jojo Rabbit takes a broader approach and yet an approach that seems so relevant during our current social times. It shows the Nazi belief system for the ridiculous thing it was, and shows how ridiculous hate is, but also shows how dangerous it is. Infused with a wonderful sense of humor, a beautiful story of a mother’s love, and a poignant and often heartbreaking portrayal of right and wrong, Jojo Rabbit is very deserving of all the praise that has been heaped upon it.
Next up is a new Roland Emmerich epic, Midway. The film follows various characters like Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton (Patrick Wilson), pilot Dick Best (Ed Skrein), Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) and others during the historic Battle of Midway, a clash between the American forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. The Battle at Midway became a pivotal turning point in World War II.
Emmerich is known for his special effects laden epics like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Godzilla, and in terms of special effects and scale, Midway is true to Emmerich’s style. But Midway is more than the other films mentioned in that it is about historical events and Emmerich really seems to care about that. That is not to say Midway isn’t epic, it certainly is with extraordinary action sequences that are absolutely breathtaking, especially in 4K. The 4K disc is definitely a new reference disc for home theatre enthusiasts with a booming audio track and a near flawless picture. And even some veterans have commented on the close accuracy to the actual events portrayed. Midway is huge, beautiful, thrilling and engaging.
Lastly this week is A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is an investigative journalist married with a new baby who finds himself with a reputation after many successful take down pieces he wrote. His editor assigns him a lighter piece interviewing children’s show host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood for a magazine piece on heroes. Over the course of several visits with Fred Lloyd starts to look at his jaded life with a new set of eyes and starts to see there is good in people and in humanity, a view he thought he had all but lost.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was very a very different film than I was expecting. Marketed as a bio of sorts of Fred Rogers, the film is actually a very personal journey of Lloyd Vogel’s, based loosely on the real life experiences of a journalist and his experiences with Mr. Rogers. But the film is a beautiful story of finding (or rediscovering) the good in life, which is often difficult in today’s times. Hanks, as usual, is just perfection as the famous kids host, infusing the perfect kindness and good sensibilities into his portrayal of Rogers that the real man exuded. Rogers was a rare breed, someone who genuinely cared about people and about the problems of the world and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood captures that goodness and hopefully passes some of it on to any of us who watch it. Highly recommended.
Also of note this week is the new thriller 21 Bridges with Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller, the horror comedy Snatchers and the new Twilight Zone: The Complete First Season brought to you and hosted by Jordan Peele.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday February 18, 2020
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Another Day of Life
Antonio Gaudí (1984) - Criterion Collection*
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series 15th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook Collection
Beyond Therapy (1987)*
Daffy Duck’s Easter EGG-Citement
Deadly Manor (1990)*
Disturbing the Peace
High School High (1996)*
Hunter X Hunter: Set 7
Is Anybody Listening?
Je t'aime moi non plus (1976)*
John Hughes 5 Movie Collection
Martin and Lewis 8 Movie Collection
One Missed Call Trilogy (2003-2006)*
Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966)*
Teorema - Criterion Collection*
Tex Avery Screwball Classics: Volume 1*
The Criminal (1960)*
The Day of the Dolphin (1971)*
The Light at the Edge of the World (1971)*
The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (1937)*
The Twilight Zone (2019): Season One
The Ugly Duckling (1959)*
X: The Unknown (1956)*
*Catalog Blu-ray debut