Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding Dory

       This sequel to the beloved "Finding Nemo", once again written and directed by Andrew Stanton (along with help from Angus MacLane, Victoria Strause and Bob Peterson), is another winning addition to the Pixar family.

        The central plot revolves around Dory (Vocals once again by Ellen DeGeneres), the little blue Tang with short term memory loss, who begins to remember her past and decides to seek out her parents with the help of Nemo and his father, Marlin. Their search takes them pretty quickly across the ocean to Morro Bay California and the Marine Institute, Dory seems to remember in bits and pieces. Hayden Rolence is the voice of Nemo this time out but Albert Brooks returns as the voice of the nervous Clownfish, Marlin. Mr. Brooks and Ms. DeGeneres have wonderful chemistry together that is evident even through their animated characters.

         The story has many flashbacks to when Dory was a child with her parents (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) and how she eventually got separated from them. Little Dory is absolutely adorable as is pretty much the entire film. It is a warm, funny, bittersweet, exciting and emotional film. Just what we've come to expect from the minds at Pixar.

           Most of the story takes place at the Marine Institute where we meet new characters including Hank, a cranky Octopus (with seven tentacles) voiced perfectly by Ed O'Neill,  Destiny, a near sighted Whale Shark voiced by Kaitlin Olson, and Bailey, a Beluga Whale with a hearing problem, voiced by Ty Burrell. There is also a "Wire" reunion of sorts as Idris Elba and Dominic West voice two silly sea lions. The vocal casting is exceptional as the actors match their characters perfectly.

             The animation as usual is excellent, in particular, Hank the Octopus who has amazing fluidity. The poignant story will affect a viewer of any age and there are plenty of visual gags and verbal jokes aimed at adults in the audience. Take a child or not, the film has universal charm and appeal and is that rare thing, a sequel that really works.


Saturday, June 11, 2016


          Behind every great writer is usually a great editor. This new biographical drama is based on the true story of Max Perkins, the editor at Scribner Sons publishing house. Mr. Perkins was the editor for some of the most influential writers of the 20th century including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. "Genius" centers on the story of the relationship between Max and Thomas Wolfe.

          The film stars Colin Firth as Max and Jude Law as Thomas Wolfe. Mr. Firth plays Max with calm cool restraint as opposed to the loud, boisterous Mr. Wolfe. Also starring are Laura Linney as Louise Saunders (Mrs. Perkins) and Nicole Kidman as Wolfe's lover, Aline Bernstein. It is a joy to watch these actors inhabit these characters. There is great chemistry between the leads. Guy Pearce co-stars as F. Scott Fitzgerald (appearing in just a few scenes) and Dominic West makes a one scene cameo as Ernest Hemingway. 

          Director Michael Grandage faithfully recreates 1930's New York, despite being filmed in Manchester, England (CGI can be a director's best friend). The film itself, is a low key but interesting period story of a simpler time, when books were still a valuable source of entertainment and knowledge.