There have been many takes on the famous “Pinocchio” story throughout the years, with many creative teams taking on the story. Most recently, director Guillermo Del Toro took on the story and after many years of work, his version was released on Netflix last week.
Del Toro’s version puts the story in 1930s Fascist Italy as master woodcarver Geppetto carves the namesake puppet after tragically losing his young son, Carlo. Throughout the movie, Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father's expectations and learns many lessons about the meaning of life.
To start off, the voice cast for the movie was VERY well chosen and includes David Bradley as Geppetto, Ewan McGregor as Sebastian J. Cricket, newcomer Gregory Mann as Pinocchio, Christoph Waltz as the movie’s main villain Count Volpe, and Tilda Swinton as both the Wood Sprite who brings Pinocchio to life as well as her sister, Death. Mann does an absolutely wonderful job in the lead role and perfectly captures Pinocchio’s curiosity about the world as well as the occasional brattiness children can be known for, and he also has a lovely singing voice for the few musical numbers he has throughout the movie. Bradley also does a wonderful job as Geppetto and conveys his crankiness and deep grief from the loss of his son, and he also portrays Geppetto’s softening toward his new son as the movie goes on. Swinton is also fantastic in her double role and is able to be both gentle yet harsh in her interactions, and it’s a great performance. Waltz also seemed to have a lot of fun in his most recent villainous role and he captured a perfect balance between being charming and downright malicious to those he interacts with – I won’t give anything away here, so if you want to see what I mean, you’ll have to just watch the movie. The only complaint I have as far as the voice acting is I didn’t feel like they used McGregor very much in his role as Pinocchio’s cricket conscience – he’s supposed to be quite a prominent character in the story, but I didn’t feel like they used him as much as he should have been. Overall, however, the entire voice cast did an amazing job and I enjoyed all the performances.
December is now in full swing, which means recently, I have been listening to quite a bit of Christmas music while getting work done. That’s included going back to some old favorites and discovering some new favorites that will now be included in my future yuletide listenings.
So, in that spirit, here are a handful of albums that should help you get in the holiday spirit for this year and maybe in the future.
Lindsey Stirling “Snow Waltz”
This album was actually released back in October, and even though I have my personal firm rule of not listening to Christmas music until Dec. 1, I knew I had to listen to this most recent album from Stirling, who continues her musical awesomeness with arrangements of “Little Drummer Boy,” “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night” as well as some original songs like “Snow Waltz,” “Ice Storm” and “Magic.” Stirling’s violin skills continue to be amazing, and her style fits each song so, so well. My absolute favorite song on the album is “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” and the song and video for “Snow Waltz” are also very enjoyable, mostly because the video evokes “The Nightmare Before Christmas” vibes. This album will definitely be on my listening list in the future.
“The Addams Family” was on TV a while before my time, and while I was growing up, I didn’t particularly pay attention to the movies that were released, so for the most part, any “The Addams Family” media was rather on the periphery for me. It was one of those situations where I knew the media existed, but I just didn’t follow it that closely.
When I read recently about Netflix releasing a series focusing on the lone Addams daughter, Wednesday and her adventures (or misadventures, depending on the viewpoint) at the outcast-filled Nevermore Academy following her expulsion from her public school, my curiosity was slightly piqued, so I clicked on it this past weekend.
While I ultimately found the show to be a mixed bag (more on that later), something I did enjoy about the show was the performances throughout. I liked Jenna Ortega in the lead role and thought she did a great job capturing Wednesday’s deadpan and dark humor and rather kooky way of looking at the world, and I also liked how she showed her gradual softening toward her peers as the season went on. Wednesday starts out EXTREMELY antisocial and standoffish, and throughout the season, she softens her harsh edges and opens herself up more. I also enjoyed Emma Myers as Wednesday’s werewolf roommate, Enid, who proves the perfect foil to Wednesday’s dark goth style. Myers is perfectly sweet and bubbly and manages to also garner some sympathy at times, particularly in the “You Reap What You Woe” episode focusing on Nevermore Academy’s Parents’ Weekend when she finally stands up to her rather overbearing mother.