This Is a Movie Review: ‘Christopher Robin’ And a Silly Old Bear Remind Us of the Importance of Family

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CREDIT: Laurie Sparham/Disney

This review was originally published on News Cult in August 2018.

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen, Toby Jones

Director: Marc Forster

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Rating: PG for Some Bumpy Rides on Trains and the Streets of London

Release Date: August 3, 2018

One reason the Winnie the Pooh stories have endured, particularly in cartoon form, is because of their commitment to the intense, occasionally overwhelming, wonders of the imagination. Ostensibly, the original fount of this imagination is Christopher Robin, whose stuffed animals have sprung to life in the Hundred Acre Wood. Christopher Robin the movie, starring Ewan McGregor as the grown-up title character, initially presents itself as being about the importance of retaining your inner child, as Pooh, Piglet, and the rest of the gang return unexpectedly after decades to visit their old friend. But along the way, Marc Forster’s film is powered along by the lessons of treating employees fairly so memorably espoused way back when (and year after year) in It’s a Wonderful Life. The businessmen of Christopher Robin are not quite as warped and frustrated as Mr. Potter, but they prevent people from properly enjoying their time with their spouses, children, and stuffies, and that cannot be abided.

The major conflict is that Christopher is unable to spend a weekend in the countryside with his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) because of work commitments. Far from a workaholic who has forgotten how to have fun, he is instead a businessman who is constantly stressed out by the demands of his bosses and his commitment to do what is asked of him. As the efficiency expert at Wilson Luggages, he is tasked with finding the most cost-effective way to lay off staff, and he must have his presentation ready by a Monday morning meeting. He gets to work fulfilling this heartbreaking task, resigned to being stuck in a rigged system. Then Pooh Bear shows up, and through a series of mishaps, Christopher is able to see this problem anew with fresh eyes and discover a way for decent, hardworking people to keep their jobs AND have paid vacation time while still retaining efficiency.

The presence of talking stuffed animals could be played to make Christopher Robin appear insane to the rest of the world, but the Hundred Acre Wood gang is too un-self-conscious to hide their true selves to anyone. Thus, Pooh’s presence is disarming to all his human friends, acquaintances, and audience. His propensity for simple wisdom in the vein of Zen aphorisms is on full display, as he remarks, “it’s usually today” when Christopher Robin screams out, “It’s tomorrow!” and later declares that today is in fact his favorite day. We all can benefit greatly from leaving room for Pooh in our hearts. When life feels like it is just making our floors sticky and breaking our glassware, we just need to take that as an opportunity to assess the situation differently and realize what is really important.

Christopher Robin is Recommended If You Like: It’s a Wonderful Life, Winnie the Pooh cartoons, Making time to vacation with your loved ones

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Honeypots

 

This Is a Movie Review: ‘All I See is You’ is a Sensuous Feast Hobbled by an Inconsequential Narrative

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CREDIT: Roland Neveu/Open Road Films

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Danny Huston, Ahna O’Reilly, Wes Chatham, Miquel Fernández

Director: Marc Forster

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Sex Ranging From Passionate to Frustrated to Illicit to Voyeuristic

Release Date: October 27, 2017 (Moderate)

A couple is in the throes of passion, nearing climax. The woman is blind, but that does not mean she lacks vision entirely. For her, this moment is like a kaleidoscope of rapture, the embrace between her and her husband replicated throughout her entire field of perception. It is a euphoric start for All I See is You, whose aesthetic ambitions far outstrip its narrative ones.

Gina (Blake Lively, rarely better) is the victim of an accident that stripped her of her eyesight. Her husband James (Jason Clarke) has remained a steady presence during her time of darkness. The part of her brain meant to interpret the work of her eyes is still working, so instead of pitch black, she is treated to a constant laser light show. For about the first half hour, director Marc Forster and his design team revel in the opportunities to render the subjective experience of blindness in cinematic terms. But then, her doctor (Huston) promises a procedure to restore her sight, which proves to be a liability for both the film’s creativity and Gina and James’ relationship. Despite how trustworthy as his character is meant to be, it goes to show you that anyone played by Danny Huston cannot help but be ominous.

With Gina on the road to a full recovery, the film takes a swerve into a dour drama about love on the rocks, and not a very interesting one. James proves to be too prudish and unadventurous for Gina, but the real problem is his controlling nature. It was easier when he could be the steady hand when she was blind, but now he is practically useless. It does not help that they are struggling to have a baby, with James likely lashing out due to his own impotence. There is perhaps a story worth exploring here about how this relationship was kept afloat by a disability, but any conclusions drawn therein are rather vague. Besides, it feels pointless to even bother what themes the film is trying to touch on here (something about voyeurism?) when it abandons its best feature way too quickly.

All I See is You is Recommended If You Like: Terrence Malick-ian visuals, Leaving 30 minutes after the movie starts

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Lasers