Here are five films that I haven’t written about until now. As usual, the films go from best to worst.
A Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)
I saw the Disney version some 40 years ago, and I didn’t care for it then. I never read the original novel. This new version is set mostly in Mussolini’s Italy, where young boys are taught to fight and go to war. This is a Pinocchio for adults – or at least for older children. While del Toro shows the horrors of fascism, the film is somewhat kinder to the Catholic Church. Christian iconographies pop up frequently, both as a form of comfort and of fright. The stop-motion animation is just fantastic.
A- Little Big Man (1970)
Dustin Hoffman plays a young man and a very old man in this unlikely and often comic epic about the one white survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Hoffman is a white man raised by the Cheyenne. Going back and forth between two cultures, he’s always at his best among the indigenous people. The film swings between broad comedy and horrific violence. The white cast includes Faye Dunaway, Martin Balsam, and Richard Mulligan. It was ahead of its time by using only native actors to play native characters, and Chief Dan George stole the movie. But by today’s standards, it feels like a white savior movie.
B+ Eating Our Way to Extinction (2021)
This vegan documentary can terrify you. It’s not about killing cuddly animals, or what meat does to your own body. It’s about what it does to our planet. Massive animal agriculture is destroying the ability to grow any kind of food at all. The argument, and I find it compelling, is that raising cows, chickens, fish, and other animals is ruining the planet more than burning coal. Narrated by Kate Winslet.
B EO (2022), still in theaters; not yet streaming
Watch this film and you’ll hate the human race…especially the male half of it. Circus donkey Eo is split up from his beloved trainer (Sandra Drzymalska). As Eo goes from one owner to another, his situation gets worse and worse. Set in several European countries, it’s almost always men who treat the donkey badly. The irony is that Eo and his trainer were split when a new animal rights law keeps animals from circuses. Almost always, Eo’s new owners don’t care about the donkey as anything but a piece of muscle. However, most of the men in this film seem not to care much about their own species, too. Cinematographer Michal Dymek’s work is amazing.
C+ Twentieth Century (1934)
Of all the crazy screwball comedies, this one must be the craziest of them all – even if it’s far from the best. John Barrymore gives what is probably the most ridiculously over-the-top performance in the history of cinema. If he was a cook instead of an actor, his only ingredient would be cayenne. Carole Lombard, who plays something like an actual human being, is smothered by Barrymore’s thespian peppers. Not a single character seems to be a human being.