And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Quickie (Animated Feature) Reviews: Coco and Ferdinand

First things first. Disney-Pixar’s Coco is way better than Ferdinand and will probably win Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Oscar ceremony in March. So if you have to pick just one, Coco is the better bet, especially for anyone aged seven and up.

Neruda

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda received a Nobel prize for literature in 1974 and is considered by many to be one of the greatest who ever lived. More poem than biopic, Neruda is a creatively told imagining of one portion of his life. In 1948, the Chilean government outlawed the Communist Party (prodded by the US government) and Neruda (Luis Gnecco) suddenly went from esteemed Senator to revered fugitive with the doggedly determined police investigator Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal) on his tail. It is through this chase that Neruda’s character and the wide influence of his work are revealed, and Peluchonneau is brought under Neruda’s spell. It is really quite wonderful!

Rosewater

Jon Stewart’s crossover from host of a hit satirical news show to feature film writer/director was slightly surprising on the face of it. But once you get into Rosewater, you see why this true story was so personal to him. In 2009, Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, donning a silly undercover spy persona, conducted a mock interview in Tehran with Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari for a segment about the country’s elections, which Iranian-born Bahari had returned home to cover. A short time later that interview was actually used against him when he was arrested and charged with spying for the CIA. “Why this man claim to be a spy if he is not a spy?” his interrogator asks in the film. “Why would a spy have a television show?” Bahari answers incredulously. And this was the rabbit hole he fell down — an absurdist nightmare with no room for reality or truth.

No

Academy Award nominee No is another film based on a true story, but what makes it remarkable is that this story changed history. It takes place in Chile in 1988, when the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet bowed to increasing international pressure and allowed the people to vote YES or NO to keep him in power. He assumed that it would be an easy win, what with his goon squad intimidating the country. But what he did not count on was the ad campaign that the NO side was able to muster. Think Don Draper takes on Hitler.

Letters To Juliet

Letters to Juliet is a total chick flick but (thankfully) not a weep-fest, so you can leave the tissues at home and bring on the popcorn! The consensus among the audience of mostly women – of varying ages – was that the movie was “cute”, and I concur. It’s not great. It’s not high art. It’s not particularly thought-provoking. But it is indeed cute. And it definitely left me itching to embark on a road-trip across Italy. (Who’s in?!)