How the Magical Casita in ‘Encanto’ is a New Kind of Disney Castle

Encanto follows three generations of family, of which everyone but Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) has magical powers. Despite being ordinary and spending her entire life trying to measure up to the rest of the Madrigals, Mirabel discovers that the magic that defines her family’s legacy is in danger and that she may be the only one who can save it and them.

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Barry Jenkins and the Cast of ‘The Underground Railroad’ Talk About the Powerful Limited Series

Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad is a necessary reading for the ways it transcends a violent history and navigates the magic of self determination and Black personhood. The novel, published in 2016 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book awards for fiction, follows the life of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in 19th century Georgia who take on the treacherous journey that is their freedom. The novel is bold, loving, and powerful, and with its serving as the basis for director Barry Jenkins’ (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) Amazon series by the same name, it has become necessary viewing.

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Birdman: What We Talk About When We Talk About Superheroes

The superhero genre — as we know it — was first birthed over seven decades ago in the pulpy pages of the 10-cent comic books. Mint copies of which that are now worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Not only are the books themselves more valuable, many of those original heroes are even more popular today than they were at their inception. Even the heroes who weren’t popular then have been resurrected to much critical acclaim today. We call this period of superhero storytelling “the Golden Age” of comics, but we are currently living in a new golden age of superhero storytelling, except the heroes have migrated from the four-color page to the fourteen-screen multiplex.

The fact that we can count on a new comic book superhero movie (or three) every year until infinity and beyond is both a blessing and a curse for the nerd contingent. For every billion-dollar grossing blockbuster that stars men in tights saving the universe — and it is almost always men — there are critics from both within and without nerdom that bemoan the genre’s grasp on pop culture and predict its demise every year. “Superhero fatigue,” it’s called. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the latest film from writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu — best known for heavier, more melodramatic fare like Babel and 21 Grams — and it takes on the superhero genre, and the fatigue that may or may not come along with it, like no other film before it.

Spoilers ahead.

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Ponyo’s Magic Realism

In 2008, a character with a two-syllable name captivated a then 4 year-old NOC-in-training as she watched a movie about a fish-girl, magic, friendship, and bringing balance to the world. Many would guess that I’m describing The Little Mermaid, or even the early stages of Avatar or The Legend of Korra. All are fair assessments, but in this case we are referring to the eighth film from the amazing Studio Ghibli: Ponyo.

Now, I have written before about my introduction to anime while growing up in Peru, but it is my brother Diego that is the expert in our family. I remember him saying that I had to watch Princess Mononoke and Spirited Way, but I never got around it. And it wasn’t until one day he came to our house determined to introduce me and his niece to the world of Miyazaki.

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