3 thoughts on “Pleasantville, The Alarmist, The Lion King II, Apt Pupil, Life is Beautiful, 1998

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    April 30, 2019 at 12:38 pm
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    I agreed with Gene and Roger what they said about “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride”. I really loved this movie as a kid part of my childhood. Kiara, the daughter of Simba and Nala and heiress of all the empire befriends Kovu, the eldest son of Scar, and together they will try to reunite the two herds. Simba was not surprised that Kovu couldn’t be trusted when he tried to kill him like Scar, but actually, he changed. Kiara and Kovu had a really nice chemistry in their romance, like Romeo and Juliet. My favorite scene was the ending where they were celebrating in the Circle of Life with a happy ending. I also like the music and the songs, and one thing that I like they missed the point, and that is Hakuna Matata. It always stuck on my head. People like that song, too, and they could hum. Anyway, it’s not at the level of the main Disney animated movie released, and not as good as “The Lion King”, but it is a perfect romantic film, and it does continue the story very well. I was 1 year old before it came out, then I turned 2 in 1998. It was actually a good idea to not only for the sequels being released in theatrical movie theaters for years ago, but to make Direct-to-Videos and Direct-to-DVD sequels for the original films in video stores. Some sequels are good, and some others are bad. But anyway though, I could watch this movie forever more, and I could join Simba, Nala, Kovu, Kiara, and of course, Timon and Pumbaa in my wildest dream. A marginal thumbs up for me to “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride”.

    The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride 3.5/4

  • Matthew Rapuano
    August 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm
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    Here’s my review for the 1998 film “Pleasantville.”

    Spoiler warning!

    4/4 Stars.

    If the world had absolutely no color, there wouldn’t be much variety in our daily lives. Everything would be very fixed and limited but would be that situation where everyone would have to live with it. I always felt the characters of the 50s television shows were aware of this structure, but they never questioned it as their focus was directly on what goes on in their daily lives. Did any of the four main characters in “I Love Lucy” ever make a fourth wall joke about their world not being in technicolor? A world in one of 1998’s most fascinating movies, “Pleasantville,” has that 50s style and nature all packed into one.

    Those 50s stereotypes are there in the movie, and it creates a strong, absorbing feel of a dilemma I’m surprised to have not seen in movies yet. Starting the film with two siblings of opposite personalities, teenagers David and Jennifer fight over the television remote when it suddenly falls onto the floor and breaks. A TV repair man suspiciously comes to the door coincidentally shortly after, with a character that creates a great, eerie feeling by an actor just as recognizable as Lucille Ball herself. Following a very well done, very original shot involving the two teens fighting over the remote while the television plays the show, Pleasantville, on the screen with the show’s sibling character’s Bud and Mary Sue fighting over something as well in sync with the two main characters. A new remote given to them by the repairman has a supernatural power to it: it can bring those who use it into the world of the television show playing. Now, David and Jennifer have to struggle to blend in and not alter the reality of Plesantville while also stressing to find the way out and back into the real world.

    The first 10 minutes of the film, in a lot of movies, is not normally the most exciting part of it. The movie does, however, throw in some great shots and smart plot points that suddenly make it more interesting. In a similar way to riding up a roller coaster. The camera angles are especially good at making you believe one situation is happening, when really it’s something different. Along with some really clever twists that suddenly leaves a great impact on the direction of a scene. Each of them make sense in connection to the personalities of whoever it’s happening to. Somebody may experience a trauma resisting the acceptance of something, but there can only be one outcome that comes to the decision of a character.

    It’s similar to drinking a nice, cool glass of water on a hot summer’s day when watching a film that centers around giving a world its true color. It’s very refreshing. You begin to feel this excitement in the movie to where you’re happy of the outcome of what’s going on, because it’s something you would want to happen to you too if you were in the exact same situation. I feel a strong connection between 3 specific characters in the film: David (as Bud), the mother Betty Parker (Joan Allen) and a man who the character of Bud goes to work with named Bill Johnson (Jeff Daniels). While not being David’s real mother, a strong feeling and bond comes through between him and Betty. There then is another even stronger build between her and Bill, and involving one of the best scenes in the movie.

    What goes on with the character of Bill is perhaps the strongest and one of the most relatable parts of the movie. When reality strikes the characters of this universe and everything begins to not seem as simple and happy, this naturally brings in character development, and this movie could possibly be the absolute definition of that. A man who is, at first, happy with his job in the restaurant business. All it takes is one new element brought into their lives (in this case it’s about art), a new spark comes into place, and it creates a feeling of wonder and a feeling for more excitement that brings new interests. The film is so brilliant of showing two characters and the complexity brought on to them by David and Jennifer. One being Bill, and the other being the boyfriend of Jennifer, Skip (Paul Walker).

    David is playing basketball with Skip and the others of the team. He notices everyone shoots into the hoop and never fails. When Skip approaches David with an enthusiastic attitude for going out with David’s sister, and when facing a misunderstanding that brings negative feelings into play, it causes Skip to fail the shot into the hoop. A world that’s flawless has no interest as everything all happens the same. And it was in this one scene in particular that I began to gain a feeling I never usually get in movies: a heart-pounding sense inside. It’s very jarring to watch an innocent, naive world full of happy, innocent characters be thrown with the other half of what may possibly be the inevitable and see the outcome with their feelings towards the situation. A lot of credit must be given to the film for that, it tackles a tricky setup, and it succeeds.

    An interesting element of the movie is that the characters of this universe don’t, at first, show their feelings of sorrow and grief. The atmosphere of their original world is slowly washing out that usual feeling of routine and content due to a simple change. It’s when their colors begin to fade in that those feelings that should always be expressed at some point in life start to work their magic. Bill and Betty represent this the best, and many side characters experience these colors that begin to affect their emotions. A lot more personality shines through them.

    The father in the film, George Parker (William H. Macy, from Fargo a couple years back), depicts the struggle for dealing with change the most. A man who always followed the same routine and was happy with it, it’s fascinating to watch his world not exactly come to pieces, but rather the pieces represent a different picture, a picture he has not seen before in his life. Some of the best scenes in the film simply involve his confusion with what’s going on, denial for what’s happening to those around him, especially a scene where he arrives home and the gate is wide open. A little touch of detail like that also begins to cause your heart to race, and some pieces of writing for his character may come off a little silly, but they’re accurate. Realizing his wife isn’t home and that it’s raining (which nobody has seen before, being that it’s Pleasantville, where it’s all sunny), he walks out the door onto the sidewalk only to ask out loud “Where’s my dinner?” It’s a brilliant kind of silly, and the film’s charm comes a lot through that 50s style, very cliched way of talking setting in to a moment a character isn’t used to. It’s all one could really say in a life where nothing much changes or even goes on.

    One particular scene involves a tree getting caught on fire. Being the world they live in, nobody would even know how dangerous an unexpected fire can be. The characters, in their own universe, react exactly the way they should. They’re awestruck and struck by the fire’s beauty. The film very cleverly mixes many different emotions in the movie, but the one emotion not overly emphasized is anger. It slowly works its way into the movie, and it brings great excitement through the second half of the film. When David puts it out with the fireman’s hose (which, by the way, the fireman thought there was a cat in the tree), he is awarded for it and the fireman now understand what the hose was used for. This is incredibly funny because it raises many questions. What did they ever use it for if it was never for fires? Was it like that because that’s how their world was built being that it’s a television program?

    Possibly the most original film of 1998, it is an underrated gem that seems to have been overlooked by many. A film more than first rate in its own right, and that comes in thanks to the many emotions worked into the movie so magically and so smoothly. It’s refreshing to finally see an idea like this on the big screen. Those television shows briefly shown at the beginning of the movie, they’re all classics in their own right, too. It probably would have been just as interesting to see David and Jennifer put into those shows as well as with Pleasantville. Yet, it works better like this due to a more free platform to work with. The creators of the film really stretched out what they can do with it, and it works beautifully and will captivate you nonstop.

    • Matthew Rapuano
      August 5, 2019 at 3:48 pm
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      Ooh! I should have also mentioned the film also does a great job at showing the real issues involving the 50s and the racism at the time. The way many of the white Americans saw blacks at the time. The film kind of does a reverse role of that in a way. It does a great job making you identifying it without it being shoved in your face.

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