If marmalade sandwiches are back on the menu, it can only mean the Paddington sequel has arrived. The 2014 original, a live-action film with a computer-generated bear, was as warm ‘n fuzzy as its main character. If the sequel has a few odd ideas—Paddington spends almost half the movie in jail?—it still supplies a happy ration of kid-friendly slapstick, grown-up jokes, and a batch of the most recognizable actors in Britain.
It didn’t cop the Oscar on Sunday, but the good news is a few hundred million people have now heard of Song of the Sea. The Best Animated Feature category often includes a title or two that—while utterly obscure by Disney or DreamWorks standards—are at least as impressive in the realm of cartoon art. This year Disney’s lukewarmly received Big Hero 6 was a bit of a surprise winner, its triumph perhaps the result of votes being siphoned off by two tiny but acclaimed competitors, Tale of the Princess Kayuga and this one.
Song of the Sea comes from an Irish company, Cartoon Saloon, whose previous feature The Secret of Kells (2009) also snagged an Oscar nomination.
During the SIFF screening I attended for The Grand Seduction, the audience was chortling and sighing at all the right moments. The picture went over so big it had me worrying that some people might think this is the sort of movie you should see at a film festival. It’s not. For all its super-nice intentions, attractive players, and right-thinking messages, this thing might’ve come out of a can. It is, literally, from formula: an English-language remake of the French-Canadian film Seducing Dr. Lewis, seen at SIFF ‘04 and written by Ken Scott. He’s becoming an industry at this kind of thing: His fertility-clinic comedy Starbuck had its recent Hollywood remake as a Vince Vaughn vehicle, Delivery Man.
What we have here is some real Northern exposure: A dying Canadian harbor town will see its only shot at landing a new factory shrivel away unless a full-time doctor settles there.
Earth has been invaded by space aliens, and Europe is already lost. Though no combat veteran, Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is thrust into a kind of second D-Day landing on the beaches of France, where he is promptly killed in battle. Yes, 15 minutes into the movie Tom Cruise is dead—but this presents no special problem for Edge of Tomorrow. In fact it’s crucial to the plot. The sci-fi hook of this movie, adapted from a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is that during his demise Cage absorbed alien blood that makes him time-jump back to the day before the invasion. He keeps getting killed, but each time he wakes up he learns a little more about how to fight the aliens and how to keep a heroic fellow combatant (Emily Blunt) alive.
It might sound laborious, and the inevitable comparisons to Groundhog Day are not far off the mark. But the movie is actually ingenious in doling out its herky-jerky storytelling.