Full Review: JOJO RABBIT (USA 2019) ***1/2

Jojo Rabbit Poster
Trailer

A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.

Director:

Taika Waititi

Writers:

Christine Leunens (novel), Taika Waititi (screenplay)

As wild as its title, JOJO RABBIT follows the protagonist, a German boy, a Nazi fanatic given the nickname of JoJo Rabbit (Roman Griffin Davis) during a Nazi training camp for failure to kill a rabbit in order to prove his loyalty to the Führer.

It is not an easy task to make a tasteful film with Nazi Germany in the setting and a fanatic Führer young boy as the lead.  But it has been done successfully – ie. Germany Nazi comedy in TV series like HOGAN’S HEROES and ALLO ALLO.

The boy also has an imaginary friend giving him advice throughout the story, as Humphrey Bogart advised the meek Wood Allen character in PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM.  It is Adolf Hitler himself (played with gust by director Waititi) who gives the boy advice right to the very last frame of the film.

JOJO RABBIT, while being a satire of the german machinery during WWII is a coming-of-age story of JoJo, a boy who aims at serving the Führer the best he can while discovering love  in the form of a Jewish girl his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding in the family house from the Germans.

Jojo Betzler is a precocious kid in World War II Germany with an egregious blind spot. Socially awkward, but a proud member of the Hitler Youth, Jojo passes much of his time with his imaginary friend Adolf, a cuddly, energetic, pep-talking version of the Führer.  Having completely bought into Nazi hate, Jojo is incensed when he discovers that his mother has been working for the resistance, helping to keep safe the Jewish people he’s been taught to hate. With Germany on the brink of collapse, he is faced with the choice of clinging to his hateful beliefs or embracing his humanity.

  The film contains many laugh-out loud moments demonstrating director Waititi’s keen sense of humour.  His comedy timing is immaculate.

Roman Griffin Davis is a real find as the 10-year old boy.  Oscar Winner Sam Rockwell relishes his role as the sympathetic Nazi with a fondness for same-sex flirtations while Australian comedienne Rebel Wilson keeps popping up multiple points in the film as different characters ranging from Nazi trainer to Nazi secretary to Nazi masseuse providing additional laughs.  All the actors appear to speak english with the perfect German accent.

JOJO RABBIT turns out to be a harmless really funny comedy with a message to boot.

Spoiler alert:  I have to include this priceless moment in the review as it made the movie, but it concludes a spoiler of a key plot point.  Skip this paragraph (in italics) if it needs be.  In a key moment near the film’s end after the Germans have lost the war, Jojo’s nemesis , his imaginary Hitler appears to still give him nasty advice.  Jojo screams; “Fuck off!” and kicks him out the window of his room.  The scene elicited loud laughs and the guy next to me the screening happened to turn to me, where he, clearly a Jew, who had suffered anti-Semitism shared the laughs with me.

The film went on to win the Toronto International Film Festival Audience (Popular) Film Award.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL4McUzXfFI

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2019 TIFF Movie Review: JOJO RABBIT (USA 2019) ***1/2

Jojo Rabbit Poster
Trailer

A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.

Director:

Taika Waititi

Writers:

Christine Leunens (novel), Taika Waititi (screenplay)

JOJO RABBIT follows the protagonist, a German boy, a Nazi fanatic given the nickname of JoJo Rabbit (Roman Griffin Davis) during a Nazi training camp for failure to kill a rabbit in order to prove his loyalty to the Führer. 

 It is not an easy task to make a tasteful film with Nazi Germany in the setting and a fanatic Führer young boy as the lead.  But director Waititi’s film succeeds due to is clever brand of humour.  The film contains many laugh-out loud moments demonstrating director Waititi’s keen sense of humour.  

Roman Griffin Davis is a real find as the 10-year old boy while Australian comedienne Rebel Wilson keeps popping up multiple points in the film as different characters ranging from Nazi trainer to Nazi secretary to Nazi masseuse providing additional laughs.  All the actors appear to speak english with the perfect German accent. 

 JOJO RABBIT turns out to be a harmless really funny comedy with a message to boot.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2584384/videoplayer/vi2663366425?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Film Review: LEAVE NO TRACE (USA 2018) ***

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Leave No Trace Poster
Trailer

A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living in an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

Director:

Debra Granik

Writers:

Debra Granik (screenplay by), Anne Rosellini (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

 

LEAVE NO TRACE is another strong female character drawn adventure drama after her successful WINTER’S BONE.  Written and directed by her and based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock, the film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.[2][3] Bleecker Street will release the film in the United States on June 29, 2018.[4]

The summarized plot tells the story of a father and his thirteen-year-old daughter .  Will (Ben Foster) is an ex-military who has lost his faith in humanity for reasons not disclosed.  When the film opens, he and daughter Tom (Thomasin McKEnzie) live in an isolated existence in a vastly urban park in Portland, Oregon, (the film was shot in Eagle Fern Park in Clackamas County) when a small mistake derails their lives forever.  They are taken in by social services.

The film contains several embedded messages.  The first and foremost is the question on homeschooling.  Will and Tom live an isolated existence at the film’s start, living in conditions unacceptable by normal Americans.  Tom sleeps in close proximity with her dad.  Though this is a no-no, nothing sexual occurs.  To is home schooled.  When interrogated about this, The interrogator admits that Tom is advanced in her schooling though cautioned that she lacks the social aspect of education.  But director Granik eventually pushes Tom towards normal life which she has not experienced.  Tom loves the social and interactive aspect as they are slowly integrated into society.  Until Will escapes with Tom back to square one.  When an Will has an injury, Tom is forced to choose between the two lifestyles.

LEAVE NO TRACE is Granik’s gentler more accessible film.  There is much kindness depicted in this movie than in WINTER’S BONE.  The truck driver and other strangers that encounter Will and Tom are always more than eager to help them.  

Both actors Ben Foster (THE PUNISHER, X-MEN) and Thomasin McKenzie deliver believable an human performances, worthy of any audience’s sympathy.

As far as anticipation goes, one keeps wondering where everything is leading to and how everything will end.  One can predict some friction between father and daughter when she makes her stand on independence. “The same thing that is wrong with you is not wrong with me,” is the all important line Tom confronts Bill with.  And the reply; “I know.”   The film moves on a different tangent when the father is an understanding and caring one.

The film contains a few originally performed songs with original music by Dickon Hinchliffe.  The cinematography of the vegetation and fauna of the national parks is effectively captured by Michael McDonough.

LEAVE NO TRACE is that rare film that proves that confrontation in a story need not always be resolved by shouting, screaming and cheap theatrics.  Here, the confrontation is resolved with reason and understanding.  And the film succeeds as a quiet yet effective drama of human inadequacies that sort themselves out.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_07ktacEGo8

 

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