Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscars Wrap Up

Normally, wrapping up the Oscars is exciting and fun, but there was just nothing to talk about this year.  Ha!  By now we know all of the winners, and here are my thoughts about the telecast.

I thought Jimmy Kimmel was funny and did a great job.  I liked all the cute bits about the candy and the tour bus.  He did a GREAT job poking fun at overrated Meryl Streep and Matt Damon alike.  I loved the montages of acceptance speeches (I once wrote an article about memorable Oscars speeches which you can read here.)  The idea of actors and actresses watching movies and talking about their inspirations was beautiful and not overdone.  Justin Timberlake set the tone right from teh beginning - can we get that guy an honorary Original Song Oscar?

It was a night of fun, even if the In Memorium montage featured the name and occupation of a person who died, but showed the picture of a very alive colleague.

My take on the winners:

Best Picture - I really loved Moonlight.  Envelope gaffe aside, it was a pleasure to see that film receive recognition, and I'm sorry that they didn't really get their moment in the sun.  I would have also loved to see Hidden Figures win the prize.  Like everyone, I was shocked to the core that the wrong winner was announced.  I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for the LLL producers to have to put on their big boy pants and hand over the awards to other people.  But they did it with grace.  My heart especially goes out to Marc Platt (who I know a little bit), and who had a very similar experience at the Tony's as the producer of Wicked the year Avenue Q won.  (Not exactly the same, but similar.)  Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty all handled the situation with class, and though I'm so sorry for the LLL folks, it proved once again that the more powerful stories are going to win.  Last year when we all thought The Revenant would win (a good, but not important movie), Spotlight pulled it out.  I'm starting to trust Oscar voters more and more.

Actor in a Leading Role - Well, add this to the percentage of time that the SAG winner did NOT match the Oscar winner.  A rarity indeed.  Casey Affleck was the frontrunner for most of awards season.  I had trouble deciphering why Denzel Washington didn't at least smile or nod when Affleck acknowledged him.

Actor in a Supporting Role - Mahershala Ali won, deserved it, and has given a series of wonderful acceptance speeches at every show.  What a class act.  I think his five day old baby was happy to give him the night off.

Actress in a Leading Role - Emma Stone was gracious and a shoo in.  

Actress in a Supporting Role - VIOOOOOOOOLLLLLLAAAAAAA!  I have supported her since her nomination for The Help, which she lost to Octavia Spencer for the same film.  Which also starred Emma Stone.  These three peas in a pod deserve the recognition they've gotten.  Now Viola's manager better be figuring out how to get Viola that Grammy so she can join the other EGOT winners.  And, she has officially joined my "favorite Oscars speeches of all time" list.

Animated Feature - I really hope that you'll see this film.  It has an important message about mistrusting the other, and what happens when the government foments fear among its citizens.  This film was a truly politically relevant film.

Cinematography - La La Land was a shoo in.  

Costume Design - It's nice to see that this category remains true to itself every year, and almost never follows the obvious "big film" choices.  However, if we're really awarding the best costumes, I stand by my assertion that Florence Foster Jenkins deserved it.  Check out the images online, you'll see what I mean.

Directing - Damian Chazelle spoke so beautifully, I almost don't feel badly about myself that he is only 31 and has already accomplished so much.  I loved how he acknowledged all of the important people who helped him achieve his vision.  PS, if you don't already know this - Mandy Moore is a choreographer who you can see on So You Think You Can Dance.  Not the Mandy Moore from This is Us.

Documentary Feature - There is no question that OJ was an unbelievable filmmaking accomplishment.  But 13th was the most important documentary of the year.

Documentary Short Subject - This year's batch was so strong it could have gone to anyone.  But these heroes from The White Helmets deserve recognition not just for the over 80,000 people they've rescued, but also for reminding certain people that ordinary humans value life, no matter where they are from. A rare moment when a Holocaust related story doesn't win.

Film Editing - Ugh, Hacksaw Ridge.  Ok, war movies win this a lot.  But seriously, could everyone stop acting like we love Mel Gibson again?  Seriously, it's distasteful.  How is it that we live in a world where Lena Dunham is more hated than Mel Gibson?  When did earnest and sometimes self righteous become more egregious than racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semetic, misanthropic... oh wait, never mind. I know when.  Moving right along.

Foreign Language Film - Guys, I'm sorry to tell you that this was a political choice.  The Salesman was quite good, but it wasn't the most moving or the most impactful.  Land of Mine was a much stronger story, and A Man Called Ove was a much more touching one.  While we are at it, though the sentiments of the speech that the director sent were laudable, they failed to mention that Iran has some of the most stringent rules about travel there (if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, you can't enter the country), and their human rights abuses are atrocious.  I suppose his life would have been in danger had he spoken openly about that, but let's keep his remarks in context, shall we?

Makeup and Hairstyling - Suicide Squad was a very mediocre film with great makeup.  Star Trek was a good movie with great makeup.  But, ya know, ok.  Suicide Squad for the win.

Original Score - La La Land was a lock from the beginning.  But I loved the speech that Justin Hurwitz gave.  Loved.

Original Song - City of Stars from La La Land is a good benign choice, but I gotta tell you, if my kids don't learn an instrument, they aren't skipping out on the JCC soccer team.  But now I'm thinking that they could win an Oscar and take me to the show, so I'm torn.

Production Design - I honestly think that Fantastic Beasts should win, but I can see how that last section of the movie really won the Oscar for LLL.

Animated Short Film - Piper has been my favorite since I saw it in the theater.  It was just too cute to ignore.  It's been a long time since I got this one right, so I was thrilled to see it win.

Live Action Short Film - I have to be honest, Sing is one of the last films I would have chosen for the big win, but it does have a strong values message.  I still really hope that you'll see Timecode.  Do everything you can to see it.

Sound Editing - The whole Arrival movie is about sound and language and these complicated layers.  I didn't expect the win, but I can see how it was chosen.

Sound Mixing - Seriously?  Hacksaw Ridge?  War movies are the second most chosen after musicals in this category.  (and it's a Cinderella story of finally winning after 21 nominations.) Still, if you're not going with LLL, can my beloved Star Wars get some love?  I was a little bit confused last night because I had read an article that 13 Hours was removed from consideration at the last minute due to illegal campaigning, but it was still announced in the package. Can we get some clarification on this?

Visual Effects - I know Jungle Book was an amazing feat, but go back and watch Dr. Strange.  I saw nothing like it last year.  It really deserved the win.

Adapted Screenplay - Moonlight had the rare screenplay and best picture win.  It was wonderful.

Original Screenplay - We knew Manchester by the Sea was going to win this category, particularly since Kenneth Lonergan actually wrote that dialogue to overlap on itself.  That's a rare thing.

Thank you to all you readers, tweeters, retweeters, reposters, and lovers of film.  We'll see you next year!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Who Should Win? Who Will Win?

Followers of the blog will know that this is my most stressful post of the year!  I've done a lot of research into what the Oscars "experts" think will win, and then I try to add in my own opinion, as well.  If you win big, send me 5%! (haha)  Actually, if you win big, please help me next year by sharing some of the blog posts and help me turn others onto this lovable hobby of mine.  Without further ado...

Best Picture
Should Win: Hidden Figures
What a beautiful and important film with a story that I'm certain many of us didn't know.  Last week, I felt confident that this would win, much like last year when the conventional wisdom was that The Revenant would win and I still (correctly) called Spotlight.
Will Win: La La Land
To be clear (and if you read my review), I LOVED La La Land.  I'm a musicals groupie and seeing some of the old Hollywood musical brought back to life felt like slipping on a warm bathrobe.  Many have argued that this film is being voted on by people in La La Land who have made it despite their early struggles reflected in the film, and so conventional wisdom suggests that it will win.  I still have a 10% chance hope that Hidden Figures takes the prize.

Actor in a Leading Role
Should Win: Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
The role in Captain Fantastic was so well done and unique, and if you read my post, this was an incredible film.  This was Viggo's top performance in his career.
Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences
Ok guys, this is a tough one.  Casey Affleck has had the momentum and has been the presumptive winner for the entire awards season.  He's captured a large majority of the awards given out so far. But the SAG awards are the most predictive for acting awards - in the last two years, all four of the winners at SAG were the winners at the Oscars.  It doesn't happen every time in every category, but when Washington won at SAG, it completely changed my prediction.  Having said that, Affleck might still be the safer bet, so choose carefully!

Actor in a Supporting Role
Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Like Dame Judy Dench before him, time on screen is not a good predictor of who should or will win. His performance was so powerful, and he's won almost everything in this category along the way.

Actress in a Leading Role
Should Win: Emma Stone, La La Land
Although that Isabelle Huppert was amazing in Elle.
Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land

Actress in a Supporting Role
Should Win: Viola Davis, Fences
CAN I GET AN AMEN! Nobody even comes close this year.

Animated Feature Film
Should Win: My Life as a Zucchini or Zootopia
Will Win: Zootopia
In addition to cleaning up in most of the awards shows, this film is the most relevant to what we are seeing today.  The government telling you something doesn't mean it's true and doesn't mean it shouldn't be investigated.  Sound familiar?

Should Win: Arrival
The work on this film was amazing.  Shooting in dark spaces with strange lighting, multiple kinds of settings, landscape and tight spaces, really great work.
Will Win: La La Land
Also wonderful work, but I thought Arrival was better.

Costume Design
Should Win: Jackie
It was a gratuitous part of the film, but that scene where Jackie tries on all of her favorite outfits was priceless.
Will Win: Well..... it's going to be La La Land or Jackie
Here's the thing, Jackie did not win it's award at the costumers awards show and La La Land did.  I still can't decide, but the odds are that the "sweeper" film will do better than not, so if you're betting, I suspect the safer bet is La La Land.  But historically, the costume awards really go to period or fantasy pieces, somehow the costume design category isn't colored by rose glasses.  But I admit I have a secret suspicion this could be one of the rare upsets.

Should Win: Damian Chazelle
Will Win: Damian Chazelle

Documentary Feature
Should Win: 13th
Possibly the most important documentary of the year.
Will Win: OJ: Made in America
This epic 8 hour documentary is an unbelievable accomplishment (read my blog post about Documentary Features to see why), and I think people will want to honor the craft of this film as much as the story it tells.  Want to hear something interesting? This film, 13th, and I Am Not Your Negro all used the exact same piece of historical footage in their documentaries.  Watch for it.

Documentary Short Subject
Should Win: Extremis
I sobbed.  I sobbed.  I sobbed.
Will Win: The White Helmets
I know my rule is generally "never bet against the Holocaust story" (Joe's Violin), but this film is so timely, and Hollywood will relish showing good people doing heroic things in Syria, as much as a snub to this administration as anything else.  Also, I cried... a lot.

Film Editing
Should Win: La La Land
Will Win: La La Land
The freeway scene alone.

Foreign Language Film
Should Win: A Man Called Ove
Can I please beg you to see this movie?  It's available as a DVD on Netflix.
Will Win: The Salesman
It's enough that this film was very good and shows a different side of how we think about average Iranians, but the travel ban/suspension is more than enough for Hollywood to send a screw you to the President to get them to vote for this film.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Should Win: Star Trek Beyond
Will Win: Star Trek Beyond

Original Score
Should Win: La La Land
Will Win: La La Land

Original Song:
Should Win: How Far I'll Go, Moana 
Can I get a what what for my man Lin-Manuel Miranda!
Will Win: City of Stars, La La Land

Production Design
Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I mean, every Harry Potter film SHOULD HAVE won this category.
Will Win: La La Land
For that very last montage alone.

Animated Short Film
Should Win: Piper
Will Win: Piper
I'm notoriously bad at picking this category but my other favorite was Pearl.

Live Action Short Film
Should Win: Ennemis Interieurs
This film is incredibly important and timely and is tied for my two favorites.
Will Win: Timecode
Ok, my favorite Oscars predictors have picked Ennemis Interieurs and La Femme et le TGV.  But the live action short category has a history of picking lighthearted, adorable, funny films over their more serious competitors.  You absolutely must see this film, so I'm going with Timecode.

Sound Editing
Should Win: Deepwater Horizon
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Sound Editing loves war movies.  Full stop.

Sound Mixing
Should Win: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Will Win: La La Land
Sound Mixing loves musicals.  Full stop.

Visual Effects
Should Win: Dr. Strange
No kidding, that was the most creative, beautiful effects I've seen since Avatar.
Will Win: The Jungle Book
The entire movie was basically visual effects of animals around one live kid.  That's pretty impressive.

Adapted Screenplay
Should Win: Moonlight
My second choice would be Lion, but Moonlight is the darling of Hollywood.  There was even talk of this upsetting the Best Picture category!
Will Win: Moonlight

Original Screenplay
Should Win: I'd like to make a plug for 20th Century Women here, and also for The Lobster.
Will Win: Manchester By The Sea
The "big reveal" is so gut wrenching.  Very well told story (sorry, my friends who hated it.)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Passengers - 2 nominations and Hail Caesar - 1 nomination

Music (Original Score) - Thomas Newman
Production Design - Guy Hendrix Dyas (Production Design) and Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)

This is the story of thousands of people in cryosleep on a spaceship traveling to colonize a new frontier from earth.  Without explanation, one of the passengers, Jim Preston, is awakened early and the loneliness is overwhelming.  Even with a spaceship filled with every kind entertainment, when you're totally alone, it's pretty easy to tire of those diversions.  So, Preston devises a plan to wake up another passenger.  Doing this has its consequences - being roused 90 years before arrival at the destination functionally means that it's highly unlikely that either of them will actually see the place their trying to go.  Once she has gotten her bearings, he must then decide whether to tell her that the malfunction that woke her up was not the same as his, and this dilemma could have a tremendous impact on their long term relationship.  They two are the only people in the world, so he must weigh his options carefully.

Truly one of the best parts of this fun film was the production design.  The set decorators and production designers did an amazing job of letting their imaginations soar without limits to envision what a high priced traveling spaceship might look like in an age where that kind of dream is possible. It's a movie worth seeing and enjoying.

Hail Caesar
Production Design - Jess Gonchor (Production Design) and Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration)

You've never seen the behind the scenes of old Hollywood like this, is what the Coen brothers would like you to think.  The story follows a studio professional whose job it is to keep the veneer of celebrity larger than life and scandal free to the adoring public.  One of the many issues with which he is struggling is that the studio's largest star has been drugged and kidnapped off the set of a huge, high budget film, and is being ransomed for $100,000.  He's got an Esther Williams genre star who is knocked up with no husband.  He's got gossip columnists sniffing around every day to see what they can pick up.

The film is comical but it's just not very funny.  There's little that is memorable about it, and as I write this, I am struggling to remember anything that really stood out for me.  Yes, the production design is old Hollywood, larger than life, and reflects sets like Ben Hur and Neptune's Daughter (two movies that most people reading this surely won't remember), so the clay available to mold by the production designer and set decorator was ripe for excellence.  But even the over the top characters are just cliche enough to be forgotten.  I'm an ardent fan of the Coen brothers, but this film just didn't get it done like so many of their others have.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Deepwater Horizon - 2 nominations and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - 1 nomination

Deepwater Horizon
Visual Effects - Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton
Sound Editing - Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli

Deepwater Horizon recounts the true story of the devastating British Petroleum (BP) oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, and the very brave professionals who both tried to prevent the spill and rescued each other from the fallout.  Perhaps the greatest demonstration for the need for regulations in America, this film captures what happens when a corporate entity prizes money above safety.  With little oversight of the regulations that do exist, companies take more and more risks seemingly without regard to the potential consequences.  At its heart, this film is a great action movie ably led by the always terrific Mark Wahlberg.  But the movie takes the time to let us know the characters, their families, their backstories, and the very real dangers they faced.  As always, we must remind ourselves that filmmakers have no obligation to the actual facts as they occurred, so those who love the film and are outraged by it, must also take the time to find out how much of the story was inspired by actual events, and how much was adding entertainment and imagination to how the events could have happened.  Nonetheless, I was not expecting to like the movie and I liked it very much.  Of note were the visual effects which required a tremendous level of complexity so that the viewer could almost feel what the people portrayed experienced.  It was well worth the time and the popcorn.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Sound Mixing - Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth

Another in our "inspired by true events" stories, 13 Hours recaps the events of September 11, 2010 in Benghazi, Libya, where the American ambassador and three others were murdered as Libya was becoming a failed state.  Nearby, in a secret CIA outpost, former military contractors stood ready and waiting to help the overrun embassy as they were being attacked.  The siege lasted all night, and these brave men did what they could to usher as many people to safety as possible, and as we know, they didn't all survive.  

I was expecting this film to be much more political than it was.  In fact, the only reference to politics made in the film is a single comment recalling that Congress had cut the funding to embassies around the world, and therefore, this embassy did not comply with the regulations set for minimum standards to ensure personnel safety.  It was not the fortress it was supposed to be, and woefully understaffed for such a dangerous region.  I dearly hope that we have learned this lesson all too painfully, and that the other embassies in these kinds of regions will receive the funding they need to prevent further tragedy.

My main criticism of the film (not of the soldiers, not of the heroes) is that so much of it portrayed the battles, and not enough time was devoted to the story.  There was a very little bit where each of the incredible men with magnificent skills were on video chats with their families, and another small bit about how some of them knew each other.  I promise my criticism reflects a desire to know more about the people and who they are (or were).  Once you've seen many minutes of shooting at each other, it's very clear that the battle was grueling.  The people who fought bravely really deserved more depth.  I think they earned it.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Allied - 1 nomination and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - 2 nominations

Costume Design - Joanna Johnston

Allied is the story of a World War 2 Canadian spy, Max Vatan, who works for the British government. When partnered in Morocco with another spy, the beautiful Marianne Beausejour, the two pull off the assassination of the German ambassador and several prominent nazis.  In the midst of the operation, they fall in love.  They return to Britain and begin a more normal life together, while he continues to work for military intelligence.  Suddenly, some intel is delivered to Vatan's superiors that his wife isn't who she says she is, and that she is actually a spy working for the Germans.  Vatan believes in her innocence, and does everything he can to prove that she is trustworthy.  It's a fun film with great intrigue and suspense, and the costumes are indeed beautiful.  Period pieces always do well in this category.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Costume Design - Colleen Atwood
Production Design - Stuart Craig (Production Design) and Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)

We are back in the magical world of Harry Potter, long before young Potter is born.  In these early days, magical people in New York have been threatened by a dangerous magician and outlaw. Meanwhile, Newt Scamander has arrived in the United States on his way to deliver a beast to an environment where he is more suited to live.  Scamander also discovers an insane protestor against magic (though she is right that it exists) who has been oppressive to the foster children in her care, only causing one of those magical children to build up a powerful and deadly rage that threatens not only her, but the city, as well.  

Not since Avatar have magical creatures appeared so fantastic on screen.  The world of beauty that is created in Fantastic Beasts is unbelievably captivating.  I was surprised that this film didn't receive a visual effects nomination just for the beasts!  The genius of the costume and production designs are that they are both period pieces (always do well in these categories) AND set in a world of magic, which I'm sure allowed these talented artists to go wild with imagination limited only by whatever budget constraints they were given.

Now, I'm a serious Potter fan so this world doesn't quite live up to the main tome of J.K. Rowling books, but it is the nearest facsimile thereof and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Foreign Film Nominees

Land of Mine (Denmark) - Martin Zandvliet
Land of Mine recounts the powerful true story of young German boys at the close of World War 2 who were trained to remove the land mines all over Denmark that had been planted by their fellow German soldiers.  The dilemma as a movie watcher is clear - all of the young people who were being put to work were clearly part of the German war machine so to root for them is to root for people who were part of the 3rd Reich.  Who knows what kind of atrocities they committed?  At the same time, many of these kids (probably age 14 - 17) died doing this dangerous work.  We see an evolution in the Dane officer who supervises them, who sees the difference between right and wrong in his own military world.  It's an excellent film.

A Man Called Ove (Sweden) - Hannes Holm
Makeup and Hairstyling - Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

Every year, I find a film that I refer to as the year's hidden gem.  I define the hidden gem by this criterion - a film that I hadn't heard of prior to the Oscar nominations which turns out to be among my favorites of the year.  This year, I have two hidden gems, and A Man Called Ove is one of them.  Ove is a curmudgeonly old man who is the self appointed neighborhood policeman.  He is the guy who leaves notes for people about which community rule they have violated, goes on rounds around the community every morning to check that everything is in place and as it should be, and yells at cars who drive on their roads, which they have deemed illegal.  One day, a family with two young daughters move in next door, and of course the entire family captures his heart, led by a pregnant and very tough mom who requires that Ove become more human.  At the same time, we follow Ove's young life with its share of tragedy.  This story is beyond touching and very much worth seeing.  It will fill your heart with joy.

The Salesman (Iran) - Asghar Farhadi
The Salesman captures the story of two married actors in Iran who are performing Death of a Salesman in Farsi.  One night, the wife goes home early and is brutally raped and attacked in her home.  The husband, Emad, sets off on a quest to find his wife's attacker, even if he is not clear on what he will do once he finds the man.  Meanwhile, his wife is suffering and he doesn't know what to do to support her - on or off stage.  It's a wrenching portrayal of a man who wants justice and a wife who wants peace.

Tanna (Australia) - Bentley Dean and Martin Butler
The story of two warring tribes who seek to find peace through the marriage of their children, but the son of one of the tribes and the young woman who is promised to the other chief's son have fallen for each other.  It's almost a reverse Romeo and Juliet.  The two young people run away to live on their own, but they discover that their choices are limited and their hope for the future is dwindling.  In addition, they realize that the consequences to their decision may have disastrous implications for their entire tribe.  The incredible part of this film is that the legend is being acted by real tribespeople in Australia, not professional actors.  It is a real accomplishment.

Toni Erdmann (Germany) - Maren Ade
I'm not even sure how to describe Toni Erdmann, except to say that if it were up to me, this film would be replaced by the excellent film, Elle, which didn't make the foreign film short list.  It's a tough one to describe - the main character is an older man who loves to pop in fake teeth and don wigs and act out absurd pranks in real life.  His daughter, a repressed business woman, is working to impress her company and a huge client, and is visited by her father who, when acting out these absurdist fantasies, calls himself Toni Erdmann.  She has the prankster inside of her, but it's buried deep deep under her perfect hair and perfect clothes.  While annoyed by her father, she also seems to love his antics because she keeps bringing him with her to extremely important events in her life. Their relationship arc is punctuated by a very surprising birthday party in which the daughter embraces Erdmann's crazy antics.  I didn't love this film, but in the right mood, it's like a traffic accident from which you can't look away.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dr. Strange and The Jungle Book - Visual Effects nominees

Dr. Strange
Visual Effects - Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould

Another Marvel masterpiece, Dr. Strange follows the life of Stephen Strange, brilliant surgeon and total narcissist, who loses the precise use of his hands in a terrible accident.  He discovers a monastery in Kathmandu where he learns the ways of a mystical force that allows him to join a group of monks sworn to protect the world and combat the forces of evil.  The Visual Effects in this film are remarkable - a combination of Inception and Avatar in their mind blowing beauty.  When I first saw this film, my first comment when it concluded was, "this will be nominated for Visual Effects."  Plus, the narrative is captivating enough that even folks who have no affinity for superhero films will love it.  It's an incredible accomplishment.

The Jungle Book
Visual Effects - Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon

We all know the story of The Jungle Book, and this film is one of Disney's attempts to remaking their animated stories into live action movies.  Little man-cub Mowgli has been raised by a pack of wolves, and when Shere Khan makes it clear that he intends to kill Mowgli if he doesn't leave the jungle, Mowgli must flee to safety among his own kind.  Along the way, he is escorted by his friend Bagheera, and they meet many characters along the way - some friendly like "Bare Necessities" appreciator big bear Baloo, and some dangerous like "Trust in Me" anaconda Kaa.  There is a truly standout performance by Christopher Walken as King Louie.  This film does justice to those of us who saw the original Jungle Book as children, and captivates those seeing this version as their first introduction.  The Visual Effects are spectacular and the animal wrangling incredibly impressive.  Even adults will love this film!