Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Co-authored with Amy Bowring

Disney is, of course, an evil, money-hungry empire seemingly intent upon subsuming every element of your childhood under its huge and imposing mouse-shaped banner. Beyond the acquisition of Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney has begun to make live-action versions of some of their most beloved animated features, beginning with Cinderella and The Jungle Book. Despite how iconic the original versions of these films are, they are arguably a safe bet and fair game for re-adaptation. Both are well over half a century old. Disney’s latest offering re-tells a tale a mere 26 years old, a tale considered by many to be the high-water mark of the Disney Renaissance of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a movie that was the first animated feature to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Remaking Beauty and the Beast is a curious blend of sure thing and huge risk; there are millions of people primed to love this film, and who will be ready to riot if it fails to live up to expectations.

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La La Land (2016) & Whiplash (2014)

La La Land has a narrow path to walk in order to succeed. The lavish Hollywood musical seems to flourish in the presumed ‘simpler times’ of the past, before irony, cynicism and disillusionment were invented in the mid-1960s. Realism is anathema to a world in which groups of people burst spontaneously into elaborate, choreographed song-and-dance routines. Despite this, director Damien Chazelle has been largely successful. While the balance between music and narrative is lost for some time in the third act, it returns in spectacular fashion in the closing scenes. The final show-stopper is a gorgeous punch to the heart, an emotional climax earned by the affection that the film has built over the journey of the two romantic leads.

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