1 December 2023.
L’ARCHE DE NOÉ *** (vo French)
A fellow looking for a job stumbles into a chaotic home, actually a haven, for messed-up LGBTQI people who don’t know where they belong in the bigger scheme of things. Each character is so beautifully drawn, with all their foibles and charms, that one begins to understand the pain and sorrow of these lost souls.
There is the constantly harassed head of this disorganised center, perfectly portrayed by Valérie Lemercier, along with her initially reluctant recruit played by a touching Finnegan Oldfield, supported by a captivating cast, each an original.
It’s a film that brings one into this motley crew of misfits, giving a bird’s-eye view of both their amusing and heart-breaking lives. Only a pointless sequence, of a show they created together, somewhat diminishes the impact of this wise, moving film by young Bryan Marciano.
In a Disney boardroom, employees asked themselves how they were going to celebrate 100 years of animation. The decision was to make a collage of past movies. Though it may be nostalgic to see multiple nods to your childhood favourites, the result is a watered-down fairytale instead of a strong and memorable stand-alone classic. That being said, let’s get into the story, the music, and the visuals of WISH.
Asha (voiced and expertly sung by Ariana DeBose) is a caring seventeen-year-old, living in a utopian kingdom of a wish-granting sorcerer. The beginning is somewhat childish. But follow along as Asha starts asking herself if ignorance is bliss after a fraught job interview, and mounts a youth’s rebellion against the governing leader, a white male narcissist (Chris Pine), who holds their wishes in captivity. Story wise, Disney is sticking to modern political ideas on gender and race instead of the outdated ideas of the classics.
The kingdom of Rosas is set on a Mediterranean island, which is probably off the coast of Spain, given the beat and the instruments of the opening song. The vocal talent is fine, and the writing is smart, while the style is very much Lin Manuel-Miranda (“Hamilton”, “Encanto”) inspired.
Disney made a beautiful pastel wonderland for WISH. It is a mix of the computer-animated Disney characters and 2D painted backgrounds. Sadly, the result feels flat compared to the current visual renaissance of animation (“Soul”, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”, “Puss in Boots”).
WISH is a walk down memory lane and fine for elementary school kids. Don’t expect your heart to be wrenched, or to discover catchy songs, or see revolutionary visuals.
THANKSGIVING and SILENT NIGHT – to avoid!
There seems to be a barrage of ultra-violent and horror films being released recently. It might be a reflection of the inhumanity of our times or just a money-making bonanza while catering to the lowest common denominator of the masses. I personally skip the press screenings of such films, as I find them a waste of time and nerves, plus a sickening, dangerous evolution towards making brutality both benign and the norm.
What’s worse is that Hollywood has unleashed these two at what was once considered a peaceful holiday time – Thanksgiving and Christmas. And they‘ve even given them Holiday names – “Thanksgiving” (actually a bloody, axe-wielding, slasher film) and “Silent Night” (a savage revenge yarn from action specialist, John Woo). Critics have given them thumbs-up – for it’s trendy.
There is absolutely no shame or morals when the sprint-to-the-bank is calling!
Do not be fooled by these come-on titles. Instead, as that brilliant philosopher Stéphane Hessel wrote in his book, “Indignez-vous” (“Time for Outrage”) – go ahead and revolt, resist, become outraged at such blatant, reckless commercialism!
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.