Thursday, 26 May 2016

Alice Through The Looking Glass - Movie Review

Many of us have an enduring affinity with Alice in Wonderland in at least one of its many incarnations. I have fond memories of an obsession with my cassette tape copy of the original Disney film’s soundtrack. A Unbirthday Song was my cue to pick up the (toy) mic and subject my house to the gift of karaoke.

Later in life I was given the opportunity to study the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass through the excellent Annotated Alice, which explains literally everything you might ever want or need to know about the satire-dense texts.

Most film-goers now will be well aware of Disney’s 2010 Tim Burton-helmed reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. The lush backgrounds, elaborate wardrobes, extensive special effects, and expanded storyline have inspired a renewed interest in the classic cult film adaptation, and it was inevitable that a sequel would follow up on Mia Wasikowska’s plucky 1800s Alice.

Central to the film's heart are the themes of family bonds, forgiveness, regret, and as always with Alice themed works, the importance of personal fortitude. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) and the Hatter (Johnny Depp feat. oodles of make-up and special effects) find their pasts having a direct effect on their presents in both Underland and 1800s London. As always, the adventure is sparked by the both of them having discovering that something formerly concrete to their lives is not quite as it seems…

Expect another gorgeous wardrobe of gloriously vivid and textured outfits for every character, especially those of Alice and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Particularly of note are the numerous fantastic stylised naval uniforms, many of which I left the theatre coveting.

As Through the Looking Glass follows directly on from the first film you may want to take advantage of a rewatch of the first (the DVD is conveniently available from Auckland Libraries), as Through the Looking Glass is a complex story, traversing time and space…I won’t say much more so as not to spoil any plot points!

Very young children may find the fast paced and intricate plot difficult to follow, but the visual spectacle was more than enough entrance most watchers at my session. Much like Maleficent, Disney’s newest reimagining of a classic, is no rigid re-enactment of the original tale, and you can expect to enjoy an engrossing original story with much homage to elements of the books.

Our thanks to Disney for providing tickets to an advanced screening for our reviewer.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

'The Jungle Book' Movie Review

I was excited, based on my last post about children's movies, that I got the opportunity to go see The Jungle Book at the cinemas recently. As I said, I am a sucker for children's movies, especially Disney ones (don't judge me). 3D glasses perched on my face, I prepared to enter the world of the iconic Mowgli, and his talking animal friends.

In case you have been living under a rock for several decades (or a century, for that matter, if you include the source material), the story is based around Mowgli, a 'man-cub' orphan, played with great vivacity and sweetness by 13-year old newcomer actor Neel Seethi. Mowgli is rescued from almost-certain death by a panther named Bagheera, who decides to bring him to wolf Raksha, a new mother. Raksha, along with wolf-clan leader Akela, decide to bring Mowgli up as their own son.

However, trouble appears on the horizon in the form Benghali tiger Shere Khan, voiced with ferocious precision by Idris Elba, who wants Mowgli for himself. Eventually Mowgli, with the encouragement of Bagheera, decides to leave the wolf pack for their own safety. Bagheera wants to accompany him to the nearest 'man village', but they get separated along the way. Left to fend for himself, Mowgli encounters a python with a hypnotic voice, a massive orangutan obsessed with fire, and a sloth-bear enamoured of honey. He eventually finds the village, and ends up embracing his own unique abilities along the way.

This is a beautiful film, visually. The Disney animation is so iconic, I was surprised at how well it translated to live-action. The jungle looks magical and lush, especially through the eyes of an eight-year old boy. Ben Kingsley, and Lupita Nyong'o, who play Bagheera and Raksha respectively, bring a warmness and protective nature to their bond with Mowgli, which really fells like the beating heart of this movie. It is beautiful to see a supportive bond on screen being celebrated. Idris Elba gives a fantastic performance also, but for very different reasons. If that's not enough to convince you, then Bill Murray singing certainly will. He is like the outrageous uncle we all wish we had. The story has its tense moments, which keep the story flowing, but it never spills over into pure terror territory. Maybe don't take very young children, but I suspect older children will adore it. Overall, a beautiful movie full of spirit, music and suspense for the whole family.

Keep an eye on our New Titles lists (updated monthly) for when The Jungle Book DVD is added to our collections, and be sure to place a free hold.

Our thanks to Disney for providing tickets to an advanced screening for our reviewer.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Wiling The Winter Away

Click click click, clack, clack clack...

There is something very soothing about the sound of knitting needles busily working away and with winter slowly making an appearance now is the time to pull out those patterns and wool and curl up on the couch with a hot cuppa and craft those wintry evenings away.

Of course if knitting's not your thing there are a realm of other crafts that you can do from the toasty warmth of the sofa, from crocheting to sewing to stitching to colouring.  And here at Auckland Libraries we have plenty of books to help get you started.

So get into that wintry mood and get crafting.