West Side Story
Steven Spielberg’s pass at West Side Story is immaculately directed, stunningly choreographed, and strikingly shot. It will be — and actually already is — up for lots of awards once the season gets into full swing. Most of the actors are perfectly cast, including Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Mike Faist, and they make you care about this story that everyone already knows. The themes of the film are poignant, especially today, and the nuance that’s brought out is admirable. And the classic music doesn’t seem to have aged a bit. There are so many aspects of this film that are worthy of praise, yet its lead actor and central relationship were so unbelievable and poorly done that it caused me to disconnect. Sadly, my inability to connect left me frustrated amidst the excellence. However, I’m in a very small minority on this point, and overall, West Side Story is totally worth a watch.
Disney Animation rarely misses, and Encanto is no exception. This film about a Colombian family with a wide variety of magical powers brings lots of heart, joy, and music to the forefront, all while being a visual treat. It includes powerful themes about accepting people for who they are and not letting unrealistic expectations for people tarnish relationships. It’s also yet another stepping stone for diversity and inclusion, and a well-done film at that. Unfortunately on my end, the film just hasn’t stuck with me. That could be for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t take away from its overall quality. Encanto really is a fun treat for the whole family.