“Raya and the Last Dragon” (2021):
Ever since I saw “The Croods: A New Age” in theaters and the preview for this movie came on the screen, I was instantly pumped.
In the broken kingdom of Kumandra, Raya is the last one left striving to protect the mission of her father, to bring the surrounding lands together to act as a unified land again
In classic Disney fashion, this movie tackles the importance of a specific virtue, and for Raya, this virtue is trust. After giving the wrong person trust and having that incident turn into the further division of Kumandra, Raya becomes hardened, refusing to give people her trust anymore.
It’s only with the companionship of the last dragon Sisu, her hearty armadillo-like pet Tuk Tuk and a handful of other unexpected friends that Raya is able to set off on an adventure that will ultimately lead her to the value of trust, friendship and a united kingdom.
I give this movie three and a half stars out of five. Raya is the female heroine we all deserve but in comparison with other releases from Disney, “Raya and the Last Dragon” falls slightly short.
No one can say this movie doesn’t have style.
But of course, with Joe and Anthony Russo directing, you can expect a specific style when you sit in front of the screen, even though “Cherry” is far different from their previous high-grossing Marvel movies.
“Cherry” is based loosely on the life of Nico Walker, a veteran and criminal who wrote about his life and experiences in a novel during his time in prison. This book became a best-seller, depicting the story of an unexpected criminal.
Walker was a war hero with a solid family background and yet, his life depicts all sorts of tragedies. From what Walker sees at war and the PTSD that comes to follow, his fall into drugs,participation in the opioid epidemic and the life of crime full of bank robberies that Walker pursues, the façade of a put-together man falls apart.
While the story and the plot are incredible for a true story, this movie could have been better.
The creators of this film covered the originality of Walker’s story with a handful of cliches. They never give our Walker-based protagonist a name, but they might as well have named him after the beloved Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye,” who they seemed to take every personality trait from in an attempt to make a moody, literary buff main character.
Our protagonist falls for, of course, another cliche: the spontaneous brunette who doesn’t believe in love. How many times have we seen this one? Too many times to count. Unlike the true story, however, our main character and this woman, named Emily in the film, stay together throughout it all. In Walker’s life, he and his wife Kara separated shortly after he came home from war.
Another unique part of this movie was the way our main man breaks the fourth wall. This was one of the worst decisions in the movie. It happens maybe four times in the entire two and a half hours of “Cherry.” When you make the character break the fourth wall, you have to completely commit. The Russo brothers didn’t commit to this, however, leaving this artistic choice as an awkward addition.
If you couldn’t tell, I rated this movie poorly. While the story is incredible and Nico Walker’s life is a story that seems to have come straight out of a movie, I don’t think it should have ever become one
“The Father” (2021):
I saw this movie in theaters, not prepared for the experience I was about to have. I don’t believe any movie has made me feel the way this movie did.
This film is about 80-year-old Anthony, living under the care of his daughter Anne. Struggling with memory loss from dementia, Anne begins to grieve the loss of her father as he begins to lose himself.
With genius production design, the viewer gets a glimpse of Anthony’s deteriorating memory, walking alongside him in his sickness.
Walking out of the theater, I didn’t really know what to say and still lack the words to adequately portray how this movie made me feel. So, this review is short, and I’ll leave you with this five-star movie.
Go see “The Father” for yourself and participate in this incredible piece of art.
“It Began with a Page” – Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad (2019)
Instead of recommending something music-related this week, I decided to share a picture book.
On March 16, 2021, a series of mass shootings occurred killing six Asian-American women. While discrimination and oppression has been targeted at Asian and Pacific Island communities much before 2020, it has increased exponentially since the beginning of the coronavirus and is something that no one should be ignoring any longer.
It’s important that we strive to educate ourselves on the experiences of our Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) friends and siblings in Christ.
“It Begins with a Page” is a picture book about Gyo Fujikawa, an American illustrator born to two Japanese immigrants. Throughout her life, she felt misplaced among all her white classmates. It was through art that she felt she fit in with the world around her.
Fujikawa was hired by Walt Disney Studios in 1939, working on projects like “Fantasia.” She continued to illustrate picture books, most of which depicted babies of all backgrounds and ethnicities playing together, inviting readers of all nationalities to see the beautiful freedom that can come from unity.
I hope that “It Begins with a Page,” a picture book, serves as only the first book or piece of art that readers of this column explore in their efforts to continually research and educate themselves on the lives of our AAPI brothers and sisters.
Here are a few films I’m interested in checking out next month.
“Nobody” (March 26, 2021)
“Shiva Baby” (April 2, 2021)
“Things Seen and Heard” (April 29, 2021)