December 12, 2022

Pinocchio (Guillermo Del Toro version) 2022: This is NOT the Disney version of this story. It is done through stop motion animation, a very different process than drawn cell animation as the Disney version was done back in the day. Stop motion animation involves models that are painstakenly moved just tiny amounts for each shot of the film making process. So there are models, sets, background all created in which a person then needs to manipulate the characters within it. There are also different sized models to have scale for some of the shots. This was an expensive movie at $35M, and one can see why given all the details. A-list actors were also involved like Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Switon, Christoph Walz and David Bradley (from Harry Potter and Game of Thrones).

Guillermo Del Toro has a look about his movies. He has often employed fantastical characters within those movies. Think about Pan’s Labryinth or The Shape of Water. They can be dark, exploring the darkess of humans and how they treat one another. Generally I like his films, as I find him someone with a unique way of telling the stories. I had wondered allowed before seeing this on the Netflix menu whether I really needed to see another Piunocchio movie? I was skeptical. At the end, I decided to watch the Making Of Pinocchio 30 minute special, and I was more engaged and compelled with the making of this movie more than the movie itself. The details and the artistry within each frame is remarkable, and notably Gepetto and Pinocchio themselves. But the movie itself was a Meh for me.

The Disney story of Pinocchio for me has always been a bit clunky, with scenes of the young puppet, who gets distracted going to school, then ends up in a circus, followed by an island of misfit children, and more implausibly the insides of a whale (of all things). Much of the same ground is covered in this story. However it travels deeper, with themes of life and death, depression, belief in people as they are, and other areas. There is some time reference added with the introduction of Mussolini (yes the Italian dictator in the Second World War), along with a Nazi-like character. We have more backstory into Gepetto and his relationship with his son Carlo. What is a Disney story without death? In this case, Carlo dies tragically and Gepetto is depressed, angry and drunk, unable to shake the tragedy that has befallen him. The fairy of Life shows up, and brings the wooden puppet alive to make Gepetto’s life more full. We learn that Pinocchio can’t die, as seen with a new mythical character Death in an underground lair. One can see the influence of the Faun in these characters. They add depth to it, with a new wrinkle of how something that can’t die could be used in wartime. Much of the art is just beautiful. Taken on its own, it is a remarkable achievement. I thought that whale interpretation was excellent. This is a deeper movie for this story than I had anticipated. I am more impressed with the artistry in getting this movie on film. Yes, there are some songs, but this isn’t a musical. It is a movie with music in it. None of the songs are as memorable as “When You Wish Upon a Star” or “I Got No Strings”, and in truth they could have been skipped as far as I am concerned. In the end the question remains, “did I need to see another Pinocchio at this time?” The longer answer is that no only did Del Toro have this new version of the story, Disney themselves have released another on Disney+ with Tom Hanks from director Robert Zemekis (Forrest Gump and Back to the Future). I certainly didn’t need to see two of them! I haven’t watched the Disney re-make and have no intention on doing so. I would imagine that IF you need to see one, that this one is the one to choose.

She Said: From real-life drama to on screen drama with actors in a few short months seems to be where Hollywood is going. No sooner has disgraced, famed movie producer Harvey Weinstein from Miramax film been incarcerated for 23 years, there is a movie out starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as the female version of Woodward and Bernstein from Watergate in Watergate, this time researching and outing Harvey and his predatory actions which were overlooked by the Hollywood establishment, including his own company for years. The real question becomes: why? Why would Miramax the company have an executive acting in this way, and settling numerous lawsuits with accompanying Non-Disclosure Agreement gag orders without doing something about it? People knew. Assistants, handlers, associates, and his own brother knew exactly what was going on! Harvey was enabled, protected, shielded and permitted to continue in his compulsive actions against young women.

The two New York reporters, get hold of the story about workplace sexual harrassment, focusing on the incidents from Miramax. Interestingly Megan Twohey, played by Mulligan, was part of reporting on the Donald Trump incidents before the election where even when reported, he was still elected. Fellow reporter Jodi Kantor was already running with the Miramax story, and getting stonewalled with no one willing to talk, and she decided to join in the story to assist in fereting out the truth with the people involved. Quickly they realized that there would only be a full release of stories if numerous victims came forward together. In time, it is found out that 12-18 settlements/gag orders were made with various victims. This became the basis on which the story was released. I had not realized that Ashley Judd, seen in the movie playing herself, was one of the early whistle blowers who went on record for the initial story. Rose McGowan I had certainly read about as one of the first people to come forward.

I found the movie itself to be rather slow. We know the end of the story, as it was in the recent headlines, so the key for me is what is uncovered along the way and the process that took place to get there. Reporting with the necessity in reputable publications involves research, fact-checking and corroborating sources to verify the facts. This discipline has been worn away with recent years in the age of opinion rather than facts. The lines of “news” have been blurred on political lines with the “fake news” accusations from the highest office in the US. The deeper question about why is it that the system protects the powerful, rich, perpetrator remains unanswered. There could be those who continue to argue that these aspiring actresses would have done anything to get famous and be part of these movies. The whole defense of Weinstein hinged on it, with their “consent” to these “consensual acts”. What emerges is a pattern in Weinstein’s actions that show the bully for what he truly was and is.

It has been in the news since incarceration that his health is ailing, with his teeth being the latest issue. He is in a wheelchair and was involved in smuggling Milk Duds into the prison which is against the rules. In short, he is requesting mercy from the Court, all the while facing additional charges against him for sexual impropriety. The vast majority of people, like me in this case, would think that karma is a bitch and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving person. As a movie this was okay. It is presently in the theatres and didn’t show much more than I had already seen or read about as the story unfolded. I think that Carey Mulligan is overrated. Just my opinion.

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