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January 22nd, 2022

cruella spotlight pageCruella (Emma Stone) prepares to cause some trouble for her nemeses in this scene from Disney’s newest, “Cruella,” currently available in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


One of my favorite Disney movies when I was younger was the classic “101 Dalmatians,” and I was always rather frightened by Cruella De Vil’s horrible plot to kill a bunch of puppies in order to make herself a coat (of all things). So when I heard last year about Disney’s plan to give Cruella’s backstory the live action treatment, I must admit I was rather skeptical and my main thought was “How could they POSSIBLY humanize an attempted puppy murderer?!” 

Nevertheless, I made the trek Friday evening to the movie theater and saw for myself exactly what Disney did with “Cruella,” which follows Estella Miller (Emma Stone), an aspiring fashion designer during the 1970s punk revolution, as she explores the path that will lead her to become the notorious Cruella de Vil.

The first thing I have to give praise to is the costume design because every single one used throughout the movie made my jaw drop. Two-time Oscar winner Jenny Beavan headed up the costume department with this movie, and Disney made the right choice in hiring her. The costumes range form bright and colorful (especially Cruella’s as her name starts spreading around London) to sharp and sophisticated (especially at the gala parties and shows hosted by Cruella’s main nemesis, Baroness Hellman, throughout the movie). I can only imagine how long it must have taken for each of the costumes to be fit and designed perfectly toward each character. And because some of the costumes are particularly outrageous, I’d also like to know how many people were actually in the costume design department for this movie, because there is no way only a few people took care of all that during production/filming. With all of that in mind, it would not surprise me at all for the movie to receive at least a nomination for costume design come the next awards season. The only minor quibble I have on that side is I wish a better black-and-white wig had been found for Emma Stone, because the one used in the movie actually looked rather cheap and unrealistic. 

jammin randy file photoRandy Sauer, aka Jammin’ Randy, performs a song with some young audience members during his 2019 concert at Liberal Memorial Library. Sauer will be returning to Liberal Memorial Library for a concert as part of the library’s summer reading program activities. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


This year’s summer reading program through Liberal Memorial Library is officially under way, and one of the program’s first events of the summer will be happening soon. 

Randy Sauer, aka Jammin’ Randy, will be making his way back to Liberal Memorial Library for a concert starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 1, and the concert will be on the library's front lawn. 

“It'll be going along with the summer reading program theme of "Tails and Tales," so most of the songs will be about animals – the first half will include songs like 'Going to the Farm' and 'BINGO' and 'Flying Disco Chicken' (which was inspired by my grandchildren) and 'Five Little Puppies' (which is really popular on Amazon and Spotify),”  Sauer said. “And then the second half of the show will feature some songs focused more on zoo animals, which all little kids seem to like, like 'Penguin Hop' and 'Happy Hippo Hop' and other songs like that. I'll also be bringing my ukulele banjo and my guitar to play along with some of the songs.”

the mitchells vs the machines spotlight pageThe Mitchell family prepares for battle with some robot allies in this scene from Netflix’s “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Family road trips can sometimes turn rather disastrous due to various circumstances. However, what would happen if that family road trip happened to take place during an uprising of suddenly sentient robots controlled by an artificial intelligence program bent on revenge?

That exact question is posed with Netflix’s new “The Mitchells vs. The Machines,” which follows the Mitchell family as they take a cross country road trip to drop off oldest daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) at film school. Along the way, they not only fight the evil robots but also learn some things about what it means to be a family. 

One of the first things that deserves praise with the movie is the animation. With the movie taking place in the somewhat near future, it makes sense for things to look more futuristic and sleek and smooth, and this movie does a great job of perfecting that look. The animation overall is stunning, and all the different colors and everything else just absolutely pop on screen, making the movie rather a visual feast. The movie comes from the same studio that produced 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which is also quite visually stunning, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that a lot of effort was put into the animation for this movie. There are also some visual animation gags used throughout the movie that keep everything amusing. 

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