15 April 2016.
THE JUNGLE BOOK ****
We are all more or less familiar with this adventure tale about a little boy growing up in the jungle amongst wild animals, either through the original classic by Rudyard Kipling, its various apparitions as comics, or the unforgettable Disney animated film of 1967.
This sumptuous live-action version does not disappoint, as directed by the talented and versatile Jon Favreau who has come up in the ranks from actor (“Very Bad Things”), writer, producer, plus director of this and other super action films such as “Zathura” and “Iron Man”.
Favreau has managed to take a beloved classic, keeping true to the ideals, characters and feel of the story, making it even more enchanting by having a real boy, Neel Sethi, portray Mowgli, the man cub. The rain forest is marvelously lush, the computer-generated animals are incredibly real, wonderfully voiced by the likes of Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken. Not to worry, they’ve even kept some of the original Disney songs!
Go with the whole family, it will make you feel as wide-eyed as your kids. An absolute delight!
The title is unfortunate, for it may keep people away, thinking it’s just another Schwarzenegger destruction blockbuster. It is nothing of the sort. It is rather an introspective, modern tale of a man’s blocked emotions and his inability to love.
Jake Gyllenhaal once again gives a fascinating, Oscar-worthy performance (remember “Brokeback Mountain” or “Nightcrawler”?) as the man who has just lost his wife in a terrible accident, and realizes that he feels nothing, neither grief nor any loving memories of their relationship. To find himself, he feels the need to physically destroy much that was his past life.
In his despair, a strange relationship grows between him and a vending-machine employee, along with her young son who is struggling with his own identity crisis, brilliantly portrayed by angel-faced newcomer, Judah Lewis.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée creates here a moving portrait of a man unraveling, especially touching in scenes with the precocious boy. But the script at times deals with too many issues, and the relationship with Naomi Watts feels contrived, as is her portrayal.
It’s nevertheless a powerful film that will remain with you, especially Gyllenhaal and Lewis’s performances.
THE CHINESE LIVES OF ULI SIGG *** (vo German)
If you are interested in art, this eye-opening film about the Swiss man who has accumulated the largest collection of Chinese contemporary art is for you. I had never heard of Uli Sigg, but this documentary explains his many passions and life in China, from businessman to Swiss Ambassador and close friend to many Chinese artists, including the controversial Ai Weiwei.
It is a fascinating look into the China of today and a man who has managed to live his dreams and expand his interests into both a career and his life work. But then that’s the essence of documentaries – informing us about things we did not know.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.
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