Film Review:An evolved iceman? Kristoff steps up in ‘Frozen 2’
Jocelyn Noveck, AP
Picture this: A princess is in
distress. It looks bad. Her dashing young man rides up in the nick of time
and says, “Here I am to save you, my dear!” Actually, he doesn’t. He just
says, “I’m here. Whaddya need?” She has a plan, and off they go.
This little exchange between Kristoff
and Anna may not be the showiest in “Frozen 2,” the long-awaited sequel to
that little 2013 Disney movie that won two Oscars, broke box office records
and caused countless young girls (and boys) to find their inner belting
But if you’re a parent looking for your
young girl or boy to learn good relationship behavior, they could do well to
watch Kristoff, who has now become probably the most evolved iceman this
side of Arendelle or all of Scandinavia or maybe the entire European Union,
pre- or post-Brexit.
Not that a man is the answer to Elsa
and Anna’s problems. As in the first movie, the sisters are still doing it
for themselves. And they’re wearing the pants â€” literally. Gowns give way
to more practical attire, even a royal wetsuit.
But, folks: Kristoff has the best song,
too. Sorry, Elsa! You sound great â€” because you’re Idina Menzel, duh. But
“Lost in the Woods,” sung by the effortlessly lovable Jonathan Groff, might
just be the true heir to “Let it Go,” at least in terms of its
addictiveness. An angsty love ballad, performed in retro glam rock style
with intentionally cheesy music video moves, a reindeer chorus and
Kristoff’s blond mane blowing in the wind ... what’s not to love? “You’re my
only landmark, so I’m lost in the woods,” he sings. Sigh.
It’s a highlight of the film. The rest,
you ask? Well, it’s got quality, and it’s got quantity (HOW many animators
are listed in those closing credits?) It just doesn’t have the exciting,
lightning-in-a-bottle feel that the wonderful original had. Perhaps that was
too much to ask.
Certainly, the main characters, who
have aged three years (though we humans have aged twice that â€” drat!) are
in good voice, led by Menzel’s majestic Elsa and Kristen Bell’s spunky Anna.
Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad) is back, too, and he’s learned how to read, and
he has questions. (And nerve! At one point he channels an “American Idol”
judge and pronounces Elsa’s singing “a little pitchy.”)
And if it all seems less effortless,
more workmanlike than the first film, with a very complex storyline that
will definitely be harder to follow for younger fans, there’s plenty to
like, especially the lush visuals. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
give us an animated ocean that looks incredibly real, a more mature,
autumn-hued color palette, and a magical forest surrounded by a wall of
mist. There are new creatures, from imposing “earth giants” to a sweet
There’s an interesting new character
played by Sterling K. Brown, a man from Elsa and Anna’s past. And there are
seven new original songs by the estimable songwriting team of Kristen
Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez, including a fitting anthem for each main
We begin, of course, in Arendelle. In
flashback, we see Elsa and Anna as young girls, being put to bed by their
mother, Queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood). In her soothing lullaby, “All is
Found,” there’s a message that will shape the story.
Back to present time: It’s autumn, a
season we haven’t seen yet in the kingdom. Elsa has gained some control over
her magic. All seems well. “Some Things Never Change,” the four main
characters sing, in what amounts to a Broadway-style opening number.
Except it’s wishful thinking. Elsa
suddenly hears a voice calling from afar â€” a voice only she can hear,
making her feel deeply unsettled. She decides she needs to voyage far “Into
the Unknown” â€” that’s the new anthem she belts out â€” to see who’s
calling her, and why.
Anna insists on going along â€” they’re
in all this together, she reminds Elsa (she has to do this a number of
times” it’s the only conflict they still have). And so, accompanied by
Kristoff, his reindeer buddy Sven, and Olaf, they head off toward the
enchanted forests, unsure of what they’ll find. Meanwhile, Arendelle is in
great danger; Elsa has awoken some powerful spirits.
It’s best not to give too much detail
about what the band of voyagers will find in that mist-surrounded forest.
Suffice it to say that they encounter clues from the past, about wrongs that
must be righted if they, and Arendelle, are to have a future.
The voyage has its lighter moments.
Olaf gets into his usual jams, and sings about getting older (the song is
not, sadly, a substitute for the wonderful “In Summer” of the last film).
Kristoff keeps trying to propose to Anna, but saying the wrong thing, and
she keeps slipping from his grip. At one point she apologizes, and he
replies: “That’s OK. My love is not fragile.”
Keep on modeling that enlightened
boyfriend stuff, Kristoff. Our love for you is not fragile, either.
“Frozen 2,” a Walt Disney Studios
release, has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America “for
action/peril and some thematic elements.” Running time: 103 minutes. Two and
a half stars out of four.
MPPA definition of PG: Parental
Film Review: Hanks anchors a lovely
Mister Rogers tale for adults
Lindsey Bahr, AP
Director Marielle Heller frames “A
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” as if it were an episode of “Mister
Rogers’ Neighborhood,” with miniature sets of cars and bridges to illustrate
New York and Pittsburgh. Mr. Rogers, played with clear-eyed purpose by Tom
Hanks, introduces the audience to the film’s protagonist, journalist Lloyd
Vogel (Matthew Rhys), using his “picture window” in that all-too-familiar
living room where he’s just changed into his sneakers and sweater. It’s even
But “A Beautiful Day” is not really a
children’s story at all. It’s a story about a man who suffers from the
doubly impossible combination of being an adult and an investigative
journalist. In other words, he’s the person least likely to be charmed by
the straightforward sincerity of someone like Fred Rogers.
The film is loosely based on Tom
Junod’s article “Can You Say...‘Hero’?” which appeared in Esquire Magazine
in November of 1998. Junod has said that spending time with the then
70-year-old changed him. Cynical at first, the two formed a friendship —
Junod’s first ever with a subject — that would last until Rogers’ death in
The similarities stop there and the
film veers off in its own direction, adding drama and elements that are not
part of Junod’s life at all (like getting into a fistfight with his father
at his sister’s wedding, neither of which happened). But as Junod writes in
The Atlantic this month, the film “seems like a culmination of the
gifts that Fred Rogers gave me and all of us, gifts that fit the definition
of grace because they feel, at least in my case, undeserved.”
Essentially, Fred Rogers’ lessons can
apply to adults too. And “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” spins its
magic to show (not just tell) us how, no matter if it’s mostly a fiction
from the minds of screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.
The film introduces Lloyd at a
particularly unstable moment. He’s got a newborn son with his wife, Andrea
(an understated and excellent Susan Kelechi Watson), and his long-estranged
father (Chris Cooper) has suddenly started trying to come back into his
life. It’s under these high-pressure circumstances that his editor
(Christine Lahti) assigns him to write a “small piece” about Fred Rogers for
the magazine’s “heroes issue.” Lloyd scoffs at what he considers a demeaning
assignment. He’s there to be an investigative journalist and the host of a
cheesy children’s show is, he thinks, below him. Andrea even asks her
husband, knowing what kind of writer he is, to please not ruin her
He remains skeptical even upon meeting
Fred and goes back to his editor to ask for more time, saying that he “just
doesn’t think he’s for real.” Sure, part of you is probably thinking Lloyd a
monster. But consider Lloyd’s point of view too: Fred uses puppets during
his interview and deflects quite a bit on the more pressing questions, often
diverting and asking about his interviewer instead of answering.
And yet, his goodness starts to
transcend all of that. Heller does a marvelous job illustrating the effect
Fred has on those around him. Even the production staff who he infuriates
with his tendency to veer off schedule by spending a little too long with
visitors, falls in line when he starts to work his singular magic in front
of the camera. They know they’re making something special.
One scene, that seems almost too
schmaltzy to be true, in which a subway car full of adults and children
starts serenading Fred with his theme song, actually happened.
Hanks is such an obvious choice to play
someone as beloved as Fred Rogers that his performance is something that
could be in danger of being taken for granted or overlooked. He just makes
it all look so easy — the almost uncomfortably slow way that he speaks. But
it’s a testament to Hanks that you can’t “see” the work. But much like Fred
Rogers, you don’t have to understand it to be moved.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,”
a Sony Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild
language.” Running time: 108 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
Jon Voight, Alison Krauss honored
with national medals
Jon Voight. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Singer Alison Krauss. (Photo by Evan
James Patterson. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)
Washington (AP) —
Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, singer and musician Alison Krauss and
mystery writer James Patterson are among the artists and philanthropists
being honored by President Donald Trump for their contributions to the
arts or the humanities, the first recipients of prestigious national
medals since Trump took office.
The White House announced four
recipients of the National Medal of Arts and four of the National
Humanities Medal in a statement Sunday night. Voight is one of Trump’s
few vocal Hollywood backers, and has hailed him as “the greatest
president of this century.” Trump is also honoring the musicians of the
U.S. military, who frequently entertain at White House events.
While the honors had been an annual
affair during past administrations, they have not been awarded since
Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. The most recent arts or humanities
medals were bestowed by President Barack Obama in September 2016.
The recipients of the National
Medal of Arts are:
—Alison Krauss, the
bluegrass-country singer and musician, “for making extraordinary
contributions to American music.” The White House misspelled her name in
—Sharon Percy Rockefeller “for
being a renowned champion of the arts, generous supporter of charity,
and a pioneer of new ideas and approaches in the field of public
—The Musicians of the United States
Military “for personifying excellence in music and service to country.”
—Jon Voight “for his exceptional
capacity as an actor to portray deeply complex characters.” Voight
starred in “Midnight Cowboy,” the 1969 film that won an Academy Award
for best picture, and he won the best actor Oscar for 1978’s “Coming
Home.” He appears in the Showtime series “Ray Donovan.”
The recipients of the National
Humanities Medal are:
—The Claremont Institute “for
championing the Nation’s founding principles and enriching American
—Teresa Lozano Long “for supporting
the arts and improving educational opportunities” through scholarships
—Patrick O’Connell, the chef at The
Inn at Little Washington, “for being one of the greatest chefs of our
—James Patterson “for being one of
the most successful American authors of our time.” Patterson wrote a
book about Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who killed himself
while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. The
book includes several references to Trump, including an account of the
men’s falling out.
The National Endowment for the Arts
and the National Endowment for the Humanities solicit candidates for the
medals and compile proposed winners. The White House, which sometimes
adds its own nominees, traditionally approves and announces them ahead
of a presidential ceremony.
Trump has had an uneasy if not
hostile relationship with many in the arts and the humanities who oppose
his policies and have denounced his presidency. He has been largely
shunned by Hollywood and has skipped events like the annual Kennedy
Center gala that is one of Washington’s premier social gatherings after
some honorees said they would not attend if Trump was part of the
Like her parents, Blue Ivy now an award-winning songwriter
Beyoncé, right, and her daughter Blue Ivy Carter arrive
at the world premiere of “The Lion King”. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP,
New York (AP) —
At just 7, Blue Ivy Carter is an award-winning
Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter won
the Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award at Sunday’s Soul Train Awards
for co-writing her mom’s hit “Brown Skin Girl,” a song celebrating dark-
and brown-skinned women.
Ivy Carter gives a vocal
performance that opens and closes the song, which also features Wizkid
and Saint Jhn.
The Carters weren’t at the Orleans
Arena in Las Vegas to accept the honor named after the legendary Motown
songwriting duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Ivy Carter shares the
win with Beyoncé, Jay-Z, St. Jhn and several other co-writers.
This week could get even better for
Ivy Carter: Grammy nominations will be revealed Wednesday and “Brown
Skin Girl” could earn the young star her first Grammy nomination (Beyoncé
has won 23 Grammys and Jay-Z has 22).
“Brown Skin Girl” — which features
Beyoncé namedropping Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell and Kelly Rowland
and singing lyrics like, “I love everything about you, from your nappy
curls to every single curve” — was also nominated for best collaboration
at the Soul Train Awards. Most of the top winners didn’t attend the
show, and only three of the 12 awards were handed out during the live
telecast: best female R&B/soul artist (H.E.R.), best new artist (Summer
Walker) and best gospel/international award (Kirk Franklin).
Chris Brown and Drake’s “No
Guidance” — which has spent the last five months, and counting, in the
Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart — was the big winner, picking up
song of the year, best dance performance and best collaboration. Lizzo
won album/mixtape of the year for “Cuz I Love You” and video of the year
The awards show, which aired on BET
and was hosted by actresses Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell, also gave
special honors to gospel music icon Yolanda Adams and Songwriter Hall of
Famers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who have worked with Janet Jackson
throughout her career and have also crafted No. 1 hits for George
Michael, Usher, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.