The Comforting Confusion of ‘The Father’

Leave a comment

The Father (CREDIT: Sony Pictures Classics/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss

Director: Florian Zeller

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: February 26, 2021

Whenever I think about The Father, I can’t help but pronounce it the way that Mike Myers does when he encounters Marv Albert in the “Dieter’s Dream” SNL sketch (“Fah-thuh!”, although for some reason I add a “z” i.e., “Fah-zhuh”). Weirdly enough, that’s an apt comparison, as Florian Zeller’s film is pretty much equally surreal as the avant-garde German talk show host’s trip into the subconscious. Apparently, the way to make a movie about dementia exciting instead of a total bummer is to arrange it according to the whims of the dementia-addled mind. It’s rough to see Anthony (Hopkins) losing his sense of reality, but it’s fascinating to be bent back and forth by the facial mismatches and temporal-spatial distortions he’s experiencing. In the absence of a cure, maybe embracing the absurdity is the best way to handle something as disorienting as dementia. At the very least, it worked for this movie.

Grade: 4.0 out of Dec. 31 Missing Watches

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

Leave a comment

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