6:00 PM, 28th July, 2012
One of my favourite themes in Pixar movies is the importance of our choices. Be it Woody and Buzz deciding to work together, Remy following his dreams or Carl hitching his house to a million balloons and fulfilling his childhood wish, it comes up again and again as a message for young and old: you can change your fate. This is the tagline to the newest Pixar movie (and the first with a female protagonist), Brave.
The daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor of an old Scottish clan, Merida is a skilled archer whose talent is ignored just because she's a girl. Determined to prove herself, she defies an age-old custom, inadvertently causing controversy and throwing the realm into chaos. Seeking help from a witch, Merida accidentally curses her kingdom. To save it, she must go out and discover the meaning of true bravery.
It's hard to find fault with a Pixar movie; they are crafted so carefully and with so much love. This is no exception, with gorgeous animation (Merida's hair alone is distractingly beautiful) and a fun original story that draws on fairy tales and ancient Scottish lore.
It's the year of the bow and arrow in movies; Merida takes her place alongside skilled shooters such as Katniss (The Hunger Games), Hawkeye (The Avengers) and a certain elf to appear in The Hobbit - against all of whom she more than holds her own. This is a feisty, fantastic character and an awesome girl for girls (and boys) to admire.
8:00 PM, 28th July, 2012
The Tenenbaum family is one of high-achievers - geniuses in their respective fields who excelled at whatever they put their minds to. With the exception of their social lives, as their eccentricities and obsessions haven't exactly led to a family of happy and fulfilled souls. When circumstance brings this most dysfunctional of families back together under one roof, one thing is clear - none of their lives are going to be the same after this. And for most of them, that's probably a good thing.
This is a sly, sardonic and at times very dark comedy built around a fantastic, Oscar-nominated script and excellent performances across the board. The hand of Wes Anderson is clear as the film plays out with the subtlety and skewed perspective of Rushmore or The Life Aquatic - those hoping for the more outrageous over-the-top humour that Stiller and co may suggest (Zoolander, Meet The Parents) will certainly be disappointed. There are more art jokes, less fart jokes to be had here.
A character study with equal parts tragedy and comedy, The Royal Tenenbaums will have you laughing, crying and (as with any good dark comedy) at times laughing at situations you probably should be crying about. An excellent, intelligent film - if you were at Battleship last night then you owe it to your brain to come along and make amends.