Monthly Archives: June 2012

Movie Review: Brave

by Dan Fields
First published June 23, 2012 by the California Literary Review

Och Aye! A Bonny Wee Fable

Disney and Pixar have taken an unexpected turn by going more classic than usual, but still with a few new quirks. The arrival of Brave prompts reflection on how rarely their films have featured normal human characters, and how few of those characters have been girls. In addition, the movie has a central theme that is fairly novel even in the long history of Disney – a strong mother-daughter relationship, in which the mother is neither a tragic memory or of the “evil step-” persuasion.

Kelly Macdonald leads the cast of Brave as Merida, a headstrong princess of the Scottish Highlands. She is the firstborn and only daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Raised among the wild heather and misty mountains, she has a deeply romantic soul. This is not your typical Disney princess rendition of romance. In fact, it has no essential connection to losing one’s heart to a prince. Adventure is Merida’s first love, and above all she longs for the freedom to determine her own fate. Continue reading

Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

by Dan Fields
First published June 13, 2012 by the California Literary Review

In the Future, People Will Still Need People

Safety Not Guaranteed is a movie that creeps up on you, in a very friendly and appropriate way. In places, especially at the beginning, it seems a little too perfectly quirky to survive ninety minutes of running time. However, as the oddball plot draws to inevitable crisis, the characters open their minds and hearts to the impossible, and the movie transforms into something more profound.

Darius (Aubrey Plaza of Parks And Recreation) is a disaffected young woman with no particular outlook or ambition, other than staying alive on the slim promise of a thankless internship. She works in the offices of a lifestyle magazine in Seattle, but lacks the drive to land a paying job. To be fair, she has legitimate reasons for being depressed, though we do not find out why until later. Everything changes, as they say, during a brainstorming session for new articles. Wise-ass writer Jeff (Jake Johnson of New Girl) recruits Darius and geeky fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni) to accompany him to the coastal burg of Ocean View, where someone has published the following classified advertisement in the local paper:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.

In the real world, these lines started life as a spoof ad in an actual magazine. They subsequently became an internet fad, which you have more than likely seen floating around somewhere online. Taking its title directly from the blurb, Safety Not Guaranteed imagines that somebody meant it to be serious, and that several other someones decided to find out what it was all about. Continue reading