The nature documentary Seasons starts off on an uplifting note showing what the forest was like for bird, animals and insects during the Golden Age of the Forest. These sequences are absolutely breathtaking to behold much like in director Jacques Perrin and co-director Jacques Cluzaud's prior nature docs, i.e. Winged Migration. The voice-over narration is sparse thereby demanding a lot on the audience, especially when it comes to patience, but, as the saying goes, images are a thousand words---and in this case, the images, together with the musical score, speak louder than words. Not surprisingly, the animal kingdom seems like a cruel world with predatory animals doing what's in their nature to do: killing their prey to survive. In some cases, the prey outrun their predators. What's truly cruel, though, is how man has destroyed nature through acts such as deforestation. Once the doc includes the unflinching footage of deforestation later on, it becomes darker, richer and tragic.
Much like the recent doc Love Thy Nature, Seasons will make you think deeply about the symbiotic relationship between man and nature, and how man has caused nature to become a ghost of its former majesty. Consider this doc to be a powerful wake up call for all of mankind to embrace and appreciate nature instead of destroying it. Patient audiences will be rewarded the most. Music Box Films opens Seasons at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Friday, November 25th. Please be sure to see it on the big screen because the power of its sights and sounds will be diminished on the small screen.
There have been many documentaries that focus on health-related issues. Some of them are more enraging than informative while others are more informative than enraging. Fortunately, The C Word, directed by Meghan O’Hara and narrated by Morgan Freeman, deals with the topic of cancer prevention in a way that's equally insightful, enraging and poignant. O'Hara organizes the film into different chapters each of which pertains to, as the narrator aptly puts it, deceptively simple ways of preventing cancer: exercise, diet, avoidance of toxins, and reduction of stress. The lessons aren't as simple as "exercise more" or "stop smoking" or "eat your veggies" or "don't do stressful activities." The C Word follows neuroscientist David Servan-Schreiber as it delves into the scientific reasons why and how your chances of getting cancer become reduced as a result of changing your daily lifestyle in practical ways.
It would be justifiable to be angry at Big Pharma and all of the conflicts of interest between them, the FDA, and corporations that sell junk food----also, although isn't mention in the film, the mere fact that food and drugs are regulated together in the same agency is a conflict of interest. Less healthy food=more health issues=more use of pharmaceutical drugs=more $$ for Big Pharma. Consuming one of the many tempting food and drink products that contain sugar, for instance, will promote cancer cells to grow in your body. Plants, on the other hand, can inhibit cancer growth---it's no wonder that anti-cancer drugs are derived from plants! Pharmaceutical drugs can be patented, though, and are therefore more profitable than vegetables, so Big Pharma has a more financial incentive to favor expensive drugs.
Everything you learn in this doc isn't presented in a dry way at all. In other words, it's not just a bunch of statistics and talking heads; there's also some lively animation and human interest stories which will bring tears to your eyes. O'Hara ultimately finds just the right balance between entertaining the audience, provoking them emotionally as well as intellectually. At an ideal running time of 90 minutes, The C Word is the most powerful, life-altering documentary since Food, Inc. Please click here to read my article about the cover-up of hidden MSG and its potentially harmful health effects. The C Word opens at Cinema Village on November 25th via Abramorama.
Bad Santa 2
Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) lives on the Pacific island of Motunai where a shortage of fish and coconuts has become a serious problem threatening everyone. Her grandmother, Gramma Tala (voice of Rachel House), tells her the tale of a demi-god, Maui (voice of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson), who had stolen the heart of Te Fiti, the mother island, which has the capabilities to create life. Moana defies her father, Chief Tui (Voice of Temuera Morrison) and finds the courage to sail into the ocean on a mission to find the coveted heart of Te Fiti. She eventually joins up with Maui on her quest, and the two of go through a number of obstactles, including a battle with pirates and Tamatoa the crab (Jemaine Clement), along their way to Te Fiti.
Moana boasts a winning combination of action, comedy, musical, adventure and drama that allows for it to soar high among the best animated films of the year. At it's core, a warm and big-hearted story which makes it all the more engrossing and relatable because it's grounded in humanism, a truly special effect. Most importantly, though, it has a very strong, positive female role that young girls of can look up to just like in other Disney films like Brave which is on the same level of quality as Moana. On a technical level, the animation looks breathtakingly and captures the majestic beauty of the Pacific. You might even forget that you're watching an animated film at times because everything looks so real, especially the photorealistic water.
Screenwriter Jared Bush expertly balances the captivating story with just the right amount of memorable characters each of whom has an interesting backstory. The scene with Moana and Maui bantering with one another when they first meet is particularly well-written with plenty of witty and clever humor. Heihei the rooster (voice of Alan Tudyk) provides a lot of the comic relief as Moana's sidekick, i.e. how when it tries to eat everything it sets its eyes upon including rocks. The screenplay does tend to resort to slightly excessive exposition at times, but that's a minor, forgivable issue that's not systemic. Both kids and adults will be able to thoroughly enjoy Moana thereby making it the best family film of the holiday season. Please be sure to stay until after the end credits for an amusing stinger with Tamatoa the crab.
Rules Don't Apply