Written & Directed By: Richard Linklater Cinematography: Shane F. Kelly

Editor: Sandra Adair

Cast: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Glenn Powell, Bill Sage, Milo Coy, Lee Eddy, Josh Wiggins, Natalie L’Amoreaux 

The story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two interwoven perspectives. It both captures the astronaut and mission control view of the triumphant moment, and the lesser-seen bottom up perspective of what it was like from an excited kid’s perspective, living near NASA but mostly watching it on TV like hundreds of millions of others. It’s ultimately both an exacting re-creation of this special moment in history and a kid’s fantasy about being plucked from his average life in suburbia to secretly train for a covert mission to the moon.

This film feels more like a loving living memory. That is more an autobiographical look back at childhood in 1969. Nothing about the culture, times, and family life of those times.

As obviously this is a project close to writer/director Richard Linklater’s heart. Where the side plot of a kid experiencing space exploration is to give the film more of a center and a kind of big plot to attract audiences.

That eventually makes good on the promise of that story but is treated more as an afterthought. As not only is it more wish fantasy but also is kind of a metaphor for the last days of innocence before getting older and into not only adulthood but young adulthood where responsibilities pile up and things become more concrete. Though it is handled here as just another episode as part of the character’s youth. 

The film uses rotoscoping animation, a technique the director has used before in previous films WAKING LIFE, and his adaptation of A SCANNER DARKLY. Here it is used more personally which gives the film and its characters a more vibrant life and flexibility that might have been harder to create in live-action. Plus it allows for that time to seem more like an otherworldly fantasy. 

Though its use here is not as outlandish and surreal as his previous projects with it. 

The film is impressive but never quite exciting even though it isn’t designed to be. It more feels like the Billy Joel song WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. With it being a pop song to groove to but also made up of so many historical references you want to look up the ones you don’t know. So in effect a kind of lesson of sorts also of all that has happened since then. A nice memorial to those times.

Grade: B

SHAZAM! (2019)


Directed By: Daryl F. Sandberg
Written By: Henry Gayden
Story By: Darren Lemke & Henry Gayden
Based On Characters Created By: Bill Parker & C.C. Beck
Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre
Editor: Michel Aller 

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, John Glover, Djimon Hounsou, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Megan Good, Adam Brody, D.J. Cotrona, Ross Butler, Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans 

In Philadelphia, Billy Batson is an abandoned child who is proving a nuisance to Child Services and the authorities with his stubborn search for his lost mother. However, in his latest foster home, Billy makes a new friend, Freddy, and finds himself selected by the Wizard Shazam to be his new champion. Now endowed with the ability to instantly become an adult superhero by speaking the wizard’s name, Billy gleefully explores his new powers with Freddy. However, Billy soon learns that he has a deadly enemy, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who was previously rejected by the wizard and has accepted the power of the Seven Deadly Sins instead. Now pursued by this mad scientist for his own power as well, Billy must face up to the responsibilities of his calling while learning the power of a special magic with his true family that Sivana can never understand.

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