Luca

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for rude humor, language, some thematic elements and brief violence.
Voices of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Marco Barricelli, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, Sacha Baron Cohen.

With Luca, Pixar delivers a wonderfully realized rumination about growing up, exploring the joys of the world and finding friends who also might be just a little bit different.

The film follows the tradition of earlier Disney tales such as Splash and The Little Mermaid, but with a distinctly Italian flair. Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is a young sea monster who yearns to learn about the wider world, but is limited to a life shepherding goatfish under the sea. One day, while looking through a number of human objects that fell from a boat, he encounters Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), an orphaned sea monster who teaches Luca that when they go onto land and dry out, their bodies become human.

They have fun with their misadventures on the lonely island where Alberto lives, dreaming of one day obtaining a Vespa so they can travel the world. But when Luca’s parents take notice of his time on land, they threaten to send him to live with his uncle in the ocean deep. So, Alberto convinces Luca to run away to the sleepy Italian fishing village nearby to hide out. There, they meet Giulia (Emma Berman), who recruits them to form a team for an upcoming race, hoping to defeat the bully Ercole.

But they also learn there is a bounty for killing sea monsters, which they are revealed to be whenever they get wet. In addition, Luca’s parents come ashore themselves to search him out, leading to a funny bit in which they assume every boy they encounter could be Luca because they don’t know what he looks like as a human.

Director Enrico Casarosa based much of the film on his boyhood in Genoa, Italy, using the concept of the sea monster as a metaphor for not quite fitting in.

The film is beautifully animated in typical Pixar fashion, and so evocative of its oceanside environment that viewers can virtually feel the sun on their face and the water at their feet.

The Blu-ray includes a compilations of storyboards for about 30 minutes of deleted sequences, included a couple of alternate openings. There are also three making-of featurettes running about 35 minutes total.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Trial of the Chicago 7

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Drama;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some violence, bloody images and drug use.
Stars Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Alex Sharp, Danny Flaherty, Noah Robbins, Ben Shenkman, John Doman, J.C. MacKenzie, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton.

Writer-director Aaron Sorkin demonstrates his continued mastery of the craft of filmmaking with this docudrama about the court trial of the leaders of the violent anti-war protests that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

While Sorkin’s screenplay does play a bit fast and loose with the chronology of actual events, the subject matter plays to his strengths as a writer with its political overtones and eclectic cast of characters. This is most emphatically not a documentary, but like Sorkin’s other historical re-creations, such as The Social Network, Steve Jobs and Molly’s Game, it provides a framework for him to tell a compelling story while highlighting the foibles, actions and heroic deeds of the people involved he considers relevant to his examination of the human condition.

Follow us on Instagram

Sorkin treats the trial conducted in federal court from 1969 to 1970 as a farce, as the newly installed Nixon administration wanted to make an example of the leaders of various movements opposed to the Vietnam War. The end result is an actors’ showcase — a well-balanced array of humor and drama mixed with a bit of between-the-lines ruminations on modern America.

Standouts include Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, who delivers his lines as if they were written for Bradley Whitford 20 years ago, and Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, whose irreverence provides the film with one of its key sources of comedy. Mark Rylance gives an appropriately steady performance as William Kunstler, their lawyer, while Frank Langella shines as the judge who seems intent on doing everything he can to aid the prosecution.

Sorkin manages to keep a brisk pace thanks to some crisp editing by Alan Baumgarten, jumping between the trial and flashbacks to the Chicago riots at the center of it, as numerous undercover cops testify as to what happened.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The attempts to demonstrate the alleged overzealousness of the police certainly draws parallels to modern times, but Sorkin seems to undercut the fervor of some of his points with depictions of evidence that contradicts them.

Still, even viewers who disagree with Sorkin’s sentiments can appreciate the sharpness of his dialogue and the skill with which his assembled cast delivers it.

Report: 1.6 Million U.S. Households Streamed ‘Borat 2’ Opening Weekend

Sacha Baron Cohen’s controversial sequel comedy Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was streamed by 1.6 million U.S. households on Amazon Prime Video during its opening weekend (Thursday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 25), according to new data estimates from Samba TV.

The data metrics company said the sequel to the 2006 film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan drew more viewers than the Disney+ Labor Day weekend release of Mulan, which pulled in 1.12 million household streams. That movie cost Disney+ subs $29.99 to activate early on the service.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Amazon’s decision to release the movie one day early, on the same day of the final presidential debate, didn’t seem to give it that great of a boost: Only 45,000 households streamed Borat 2 on Oct. 22, compared with 240 million households that watched the final Trump-Biden debate live, according to Samba.

The company found that nearly half of the households (48%) that watched Borat 2 did so on Friday night. Households with 25-44-year-olds were the only age bracket to over-index, by 4%. Households with males over-indexed by 4%. Asian households over-indexed more than any other ethnicity, up 13%.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

STREAMING REVIEW:

Amazon Prime Video;
Comedy;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and language.
Stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova, Dani Popescu.

The hilarious sequel to one of 2006’s most-surprising hits sees the return of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character, the wildly inappropriate journalist from Kazakhstan who constantly challenges America’s cultural taboos.

In this long-awaited follow-up, we learn Borat was thrown into prison as punishment for the worldwide humiliation Kazakhstan endured from the first film. However, hoping to get in the good graces of President Donald Trump, Kazakhstan’s prime minister frees Borat and sends him on a mission to deliver a bribe to a U.S. government official.

The gift in question? Borat’s own daughter, Tutar (newcomer Maria Bakalova), who wants to become the next Melania.

Borat’s first objective is to deliver her to Vice President Michael Pence, which he attempts to do by crashing a conservative conference dressed as Trump. When that doesn’t work, he sets his sights on delivering her to Rudy Guiliani, leading to the much hyped and overblown scene of her interviewing him in a hotel room.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Cohen is up to his usual on-camera shtick of acting the fool to elicit awkward responses from people he’s not too fond of politically. With the Borat character now widely known as a result of the previous film, he has taken to wearing a series of disguises to hide his identity.

From this setup, a couple of subplots emerge. The first finds Borat growing closer to his daughter as she becomes wowed by the wonders of America. The second is Borat dealing with the growing coronavirus pandemic, which serves as the primary backdrop for the film and provides some surprising cameos and plot twists.

Follow us on Instagram!

Bakalova gives a spirited performance as what amounts to a younger, female version of Borat, and the father-daughter relationship turns out to be kind of sweet, despite all the inappropriate things they say and do in public. As with the first movie, the filmmakers’ willingness to do anything to upend polite society leads to a lot of laughs, but nothing touches the uproarious levels of the naked hotel fight from the first movie (which led me to literally fall out of my chair in the theater from laughter).

The arrival of the sequel also serves as a reminder that an American Blu-ray release of the original film is long overdue.

Amazon Prime Video Nabs Rights to Sacha Baron Cohen’s New ‘Borat’ Movie Set to Stream on Oct. 23

Amazon Prime Video has secured streaming rights to Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest political satire, reprising the British comedian’s Kazakhstan television personality Borat Sagdiyev character in a 2020 presidential election movie filmed over the summer.

The film, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, is a sequel to the 2006 sleeper hit Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which generated $262 million at the global box office and was nominated for best adapted screenplay.

In the original film, Cohen’s Borat character travels through the United States to make a documentary featuring real-life interactions with Americans who believe he is a foreigner with little or no understanding of American customs. The film is built around characters from Cohen’s characters “Da Ali G Show,” a British satirical TV show. The second and third seasons of the show ran in the United States on HBO.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

With today’s compromised box office due to the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon saw an opportunity. The film, which reportedly features various Trump campaign events and associates (i.e. former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani) in humorous situations, is set to stream on Prime Video on Oct. 23 in 240 countries and territories.