Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Disney Diary - Week 11

For the past four weeks that have flown by me quietly, I have not written a single word on my weekly adventures here. This is because the only thing that went on was work and, to quote from a great character from a classic film, it was basically "Same old shit, different day". To my disappointed readers, I apologize for the long dormant silence. Luckily, I finally found the time to write about my Week 11 story.

It was on the first day of the week, from my days off, that I was exposed to another event in good old Downtown Disney. Little did I know when working in to work on Wednesday 25th March that it was the 40th anniversary of the opening of Downtown Disney. So to commemorate this historical event, Disney set up a large buffet and party behind the Cast Services building. Of course being told that it was a party and that I would get free food, I immediately signed up to go. So my leader and my coordinators signed me up to have a couple of other people and myself escorted to the party. Ultimately, even though I enjoyed the party atmosphere and the free full-course meal, the only thing that bothered me was that I had to sacrifice my second entitled break and have only one one-hour break earlier than I wanted. Thus I had to work for four or five hours after my hour break for my seven-hour shift that day.

Rather than having me ramble on and on about the party and the food, I'll let the photos below speak for themselves.

Overall, the food was good and all but, honestly, it was nothing too special.

See Week 14 at http://ss-film.blogspot.ca/2015/04/simons-disney-diary-week-14.html

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Film Review: "Cinderella" (2015).

"Wherever there is goodness, there is kindness, and wherever there is kindness, there is magic." This quote is at the essence of this retelling of Cinderella. This romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Chris Weitz, based on the classic fairy tale of the same name by Charles Perrault and Disney's 1950 animated musical film. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film is a live-action retelling of the classic fairytale about a servant step daughter who is abused by her jealous stepmother and stepsisters after her father had died, for she was forced to be a servant in her own house yet through it all she did not let anything or anyone crush her spirit as she meets a dashing stranger in the woods.

There are numerous ancient myths and stories containing Cinderella motifs, dating as far back as an Egyptian tale from the first century BC. The modern version of Cinderella was created by French author Charles Perrault, whose fairy tale was first published in 1697. It has since been the basis of and inspiration behind innumerable operas, ballet, plays and films. The first film version was seven-minutes long, directed by George Méliès in France in 1899. The first Hollywood adaptation was Paramount Pictures' 1914 silent film, starring Mary Pickford in the title role. Disney's classic animated version of Cinderella was released in 1950. It was a major box office success, and in 2008 was named the ninth-greatest animated film of all time by the American Film Institute. Other modern films based on the Cinderella concept include The Slipper and the Rose (1976), Ever After (1998) and A Cinderella Story (2004). While approaching the project with a deep understanding of the fairy tale's history, Kenneth Branagh said: "It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney, and the timeless images we've all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker."

The film stars Lily James in the title role as Ella ("Cinderella") with Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine (the Wicked Stepmother), Sophie McShera as Drizella, Holliday Grainger as Anastasia and Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother. As well as Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke, Derek Jacobi as The King, Hayley Atwell as Cinderella's Mother and Ben Chaplin as Cinderella's Father. The cast, despite giving their best efforts under the direction of Branagh, brought nothing really new in terms of characterization and expanding upon the characters from the 1950 classic. All was brought was why was Cinderella kind, what drives Lady Tremaine to do the wicked and cruel things to Cinderella and where the Fairy Godmother came from. Nonetheless, they were performances wasted in vain. I think we're going to see James in bigger and better films to come.

Kenneth Branagh's magnetic and stunning visuals outshines Cinderella's cast and spirit; unfortunately, the story and characters fail to bring anything new to the table and justify all that impressive effort. However, it surprises me not for its Disney vision of a colorful, lavish world enlivened by magic and a shining castle, but rather for the Shakespearean touch of its story and characters thanks to director Branagh. To conclude, long live the feminist revisionist backstory.

Simon says Cinderella receives:

Also, see my review for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Film Review: "Chappie" (2015).

From the first trailer, the last lines uttered "I'm consciousness. I'm alive. I'm Chappie" is what Chappie presents in this science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell and based on Blomkamp's 2004 short film Tetra Vaal. The film is set in the near future, where crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

The creation of Chappie began when Blomkamp along with his wife Terri Tatchell, who also co-wrote District 9 (2009) wrote the screenplay during the Post Production phase of Elysium (2013). Filming began at the end of October 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa and was completed in February 2014. Re-shoots took place in British Columbia, Canada in April 2014. The name of the weapons company in the film - Tetravaal - is a reference to Blomkamp's 2004 short film of the same name, which centers on a police robot in Johannesburg with a similar design to Chappie. Blomkamp has said that Chappie is "basically based" on Tetra Vaal. Blomkamp also employed a robot with a similar design in his 2005 short Tempbot, and both Tempbot and his 2006 short/advertisement Yellow deal with a thinking and learning robot which tries to assimilate into society.

The film stars Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, and Watkin Tudor Jones and Yolandi Visser of the South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord. The cast gave strong performances though some lacked likability with their respective characters and lacked development and screen time. The first goes to the film's unlikely actors Ninja and Yolandi, though they gave a stable first performances, they however played characters that hogged the spotlight from the rest of the cast and were just ultimately not relatable nor likable. The controversial South African rap-rave duo were both cast due to Blomkamp being a fan of their work and the duo are both fans of Blomkamp's work. Ninja has a District 9 tattoo on his inner lip. Ninja purportedly behaved very poorly on the set, allegedly leading to a complete breakdown of his relationship with the director. The second point goes to Jackman and Weaver, whose characters had so much potential but ultimately suffered because of underdevelopment and lack of screen time. Jackman, in particular, delivered a terrific performance as the film's antagonist. Lastly, who can forget the performance given by Copley as the film's title character. He delivered his best performance yet and rivals Andy Serkis' mo-cap performances.

After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Chappie, along with Elysium, is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp. The film suffers from a misguiding cast and a ridiculous story that only a child-like machine could conjure up. But on its own terms, it delivers just enough Blomkamp-esque visuals to satisfy.

Simon says Chappie receives:

Also, see my review for Elysium.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Disney Diary - Week 7

I apologize for the long vacant silence from myself; Weeks 7 had been very busy indeed. As Spring Break has commenced now I am in for a world of pain and hectic hours for work at Goofy's Candy Co. The amount of visitors passing by through my workplace is slowly growing by the dozen. The immediate sense I'm getting is "I ain’t seen nothing yet".

For Week 7, I saw another cast member go. Carolina Crelier, another Brazilian employee at Goofy's had left us on Friday 27th February. Wednesday 25th was her last day at work, and we all celebrated by taking her out to a dinner party at Applebee’s. Fellow cast members Danielle Tracy, Jennifer Nguyen, Jessica Schow and Kristen Jones came along for the party at 2am in the morning of Thursday after we had got off of work at 1am. Like the two Brazilian cast members that had come before her, she was as fun, interesting and unique, and will be missed by us very much. Have a safe trip home, Carol.

So far, I must say, after having two dinner parties late at night with the same group of girls, I must confess that they are unlike any other girls I have encountered. The women back home are neither as approachable nor as open towards myself as these girls. It seems as though my brother's words of wisdom may be true - American women are different.

See Week 11 at http://ss-film.blogspot.ca/2015/03/simons-disney-diary-week-11.html