Pocahontas (1995) Just a couple of days ago, I was commenting to my wife how some of Disney films like Pocahontas or Hercules had somewhat eluded me through that "golden age" of animation, even with a nephew that happened to be a baby/toddler through the 90's. Right after seeing the former yesterday, I realized why. Pocahontas is not awful, but it's just so flat and boring.
For those that don't know much, Pocahontas follows the titular Native American (voiced by Irene Bedard) as her tribe deals with the arrival of a group of English settlers led by Governor Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers) and Captain John Smith (Mel Gibson). The inevitable clash occurs as Ratcliffe is more interested in scourging the land for gold, while Smith falls for Pocahontas.
Like I said, most of the problems of the film rely in how flat everything is. The film lacks the "catch" that other Disney films have, and doesn't even have a proper climax as far as I'm concerned. Events just occur without no proper ups and downs in terms of emotions and thrills. The animation has good moments, but overall, it's spotty. The funniest moments to me involved Meeko, Pocahontas' pet raccoon, and his interactions with Percy, Ratcliffe's pet pug.
There is a "climatic" moment when Pocahontas and Smith break into the song "Colors of the Wind", which occurs pretty much by the middle of the film. The song, and overall the film, has some interesting ideas about cultures, tolerance and acceptance; but despite this, the film is more of a bland and colorless canvas. Grade: C or C-
All About Eve (1950) Now, this film I've had on my "list" for a good while for obvious reasons. Highly regarded by critics and audiences, and recipient of numerous awards, I don't know why I hadn't seen it before. The film follows a popular-yet-aging actress, played masterfully by Bette Davis, as she feels her career threatened by a young and ambitious star (Anne Baxter) who infiltrates her inner circle.
There are many things that jump to mind when thinking of the attributes of this film, so I'll start with the performances. Like I said above, Davis shines as Margo Channing. Every single movement and line is delivered masterfully. But Baxter doesn't fall behind, and her subtlety in portraying Eve's cunning is perhaps more impressive to the point that you want to slap her. The great cast is rounded out by Gary Merrill as Margo's boyfriend, Hugh Marlowe as playwright Lloyd Richards, Celeste Holm as Lloyd's wife and Margo's best fried, and George Sanders as ruthless critic Addison DeWitt. Sanders dominates most of his scenes with a certain mischievousness and cynicism, while Holm - who wasn't very impressive in the first half - delivered the goods in the second half. Special note should go to Thelma Ritter, who probably had some of my favorite lines as Margo's maid, Birdie.
But great performances wouldn't have nowhere to go without a great script, and this is where the film shines. The script is so great, so full of wit and quotable lines that you want to write them all and see when you can use them. Not only because they're quotable, but also because you feel them flow from the plot and the characters with ease, and no force.
If I were to have any reservations against the film, there would be two: first, no Birdie in the second half. I loved her character, so not having her present was a big letdown for me. Second, the last moment and epilogue felt a bit anti-climatic, and the use of yet another young actress to mirror Eve felt a bit forced. There was no need for it to drive the point home. Still, one of the best films I've seen recently and one I certainly see myself seeing again. Cut! Print it! Grade: A