“Coco” Review


Coco (2017)

Coco” is a simply delightful Pixar-produced Academy Awards nominee of 2018. Taking the Mexican folklore and tradition on board, it tells the story of Miguel, a boy living with his family of zapateros or shoemakers in Santa Cecilia, Mexico. Years before, the family imposed an absolute ban on music, because a father of some previous generation left his family to pursue a music career. However, in this present time, Miguel, unbeknown to his family, dreams of becoming a musician, practices music secretly and worships his music idol Ernesto de la Cruz. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel desires to enter a local music completion to fulfil his dream of becoming a musician, but, trying to do so finds him in the secret Land of the Dead, where his adventures only begin.  

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“Tokyo Godfathers” Mini-Review

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) main-qimg-addc775327077c1483eb320cebc19f81-c

The co-director and scriptwriter of this little gem of an animation is no other than Satoshi Kon, the man who brought to the masses such great animated films as “Perfect Blue(1997) and “Paprika” (2006), and the story is about three homeless people who discover an abandoned baby-girl amidst the piles of garbage, and decide to embark on an adventure to deliver her back to her parents. The animation may portray harsh realities of living on the streets too realistically for everyone’s taste, but the animation is so fun, well-structured and beautifully-presented, with a touching finale, it becomes a must-see. Moreover, it is so heart-warming, with memorable characters who learn their lessons, it is truly the New Year movie to watch to lift anyone’s spirits.

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“Up” (2009) vs. “Above Then Beyond” (2006): Simple Coincidence, Unmentioned Inspiration or Stolen Idea?

Up PosterAbove then Beyond Poster

I will first introduce the two animations, then detail the similarities, and, finally, will argue that the French short animation “Above Then Beyond” (2006) and Pixar/Disney produced-animation “Up” (2009) share so many similarities, including shots which are almost identical, that one must have influenced greatly the other, and this is not a question of pure coincidence. Even given the timelines in which the two animations were produced, there is strong case to be made for the French short influencing Disney/Pixar’s final product. Going further, it also seems that, rather than being a mere inspiration, all evidence point to Pixar/Disney covertly using the main idea present in “Above Then Beyond” to fledge out the very essence of their Academy Award-winning film.

“The Breadwinner” Teaser Trailer

The Breadwinner” promises to be a great, inspirational animated film. In my opinion, it looks like an interesting cross between “Mulan” (1998) and “Persepolis” (2007). It will be screened at the forthcoming BFI London Film Festival, taking place between 4 and 15 October 2017.

“Miss Hokusai” Review


Miss Hokusai (2015) 

Based on a manga series by Hinako Sugiura, “Miss Hokusai” is a Japanese animation about the daughter of the famous Japanese painter Hokusai, Katsushika Ōi. A great artist herself, Ōi helped her father in painting, while leading a peculiar lifestyle of her own due to her work demands and her father’s eccentricities. The beautifully-drawn animation highlights some of the most memorable instances from Katsushika Ōi’s life. It becomes impressive in a way it manages to show both Ōi’s life in Edo (now Tokyo) in the 1810s, including her hopes and traumas (as told through a manga series), as well as inspiration behind Hokusai’s major artistic accomplishments, all the while remaining strangely poetic and touching.

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“Wolf Children” Review

Shorewood Blu-ray Ocard

Wolf Children (2012)

“Love wildly”

Wolf Children” is a 2012 animation directed by Mamoru Hosoda, the man behind the very creative “The Girl Who Leapt through Time” (2006) and the equally inventive “The Boy and the Beast” (2015). The film is about a young girl Hana who meets a wolf-man and has two adorable wolf-children. After the sudden and unexpected death of her husband, Hana has to confront the challenging reality of bringing up two very unconventional children. Although “Wolf Children” may put off those who are after a conventional story with villains, its meticulously-crafted looks, and the innocence and charm of its plot, with important life lessons, still mean that this is the animation to watch.

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Studio Ghibli: “Only Yesterday” (1991) and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

“…What drives animation is the will of the characters” (Hayao Miyazaki).

Only Yesterday” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” are two completely different in plot animations, but both were produced about the same time by famous Japanese Studio Ghibli, an animation film studio known worldwide for the quality of their animations. While “Only Yesterday” focuses on grown-up concerns and largely targets teenager/adult audience, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a completely child-friendly movie, which also has important messages to deliver.

OYpostOnly Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday” has a plot filled with highly emotional undercurrents and intelligence: a 27 years old unmarried woman, Taeko, from Tokyo, visits countryside while reminiscing over her childhood of when she was a shy and creative fifth grader at school. Through her nostalgia, we get to learn about many situations which have had the biggest impact on her up until her present life, and get to understand her past choices, hopes and regrets. Directed by Isao Takahata (“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (2013) and “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)), “Only Yesterday” is a beautiful animation which touches upon such often overlooked in films/animations topics as the “grip” of persistent childhood memories and their traumatic or positive impact on one’s later life and development, the benefit of re-discovering oneself in a different setting, the importance of staying true to oneself no matter the circumstances, and the imperative of letting go and forgiving “one’s former self”, as well as people from one’s past, to be able to carry on and lead a happy, fulfilled life.  Read more of this post

Steve J Donahue

Film reviewer

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