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Tag: Satire

Reviews

Review: Jojo Rabbit

January 8, 2020

What’s Going On?

Jojo Rabbit is a film about 10-year-old Jojo living in the last months of Hitler’s Germany. Jojo is a very devoted member of the Hitler Youth and believes so passionately in the Nazi party his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler. Jojo lives with his unconventional mother and to his surprise a Jewish girl who his mother is hiding – the patriotic Jojo is torn between his devotion to the Nazi Party and not wanting to get his mother into serious trouble. It is described by its director as an anti-hate satire and is largely a comedy but obviously touches on many issues full of tragedy and horror.

Behind The Scenes

Jojo Rabbit (variety.com)

Jojo Rabbit is the latest film by Taiki Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnorak, What We Do In The Shadows and many more, It is based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. I have not seen all of Waititi’s films but every one that I have seen is very, very good, even doing the impossible and making me care about Thor.

In Front Of The Camera

Jojo Rabbit (source: bristol247.com)

Jojo is played by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, Elsa, the Jewish girl in hiding, by Thomasin McKenzie, probably best known for her role of Tom in Leave No Trace. There is a large ensemble cast including Scarlett Johansson as Rosie, Jojo’s mother, Sam Rockwell as world, and possibly war, weary Captain Klenzendorf, Stephen Merchant as the local Gestapo officer and Rebel Wilson as an extremely enthusiastic Nazi. And of course, Taiki Waititi played Hitler (Jojo’s imaginary-friend Hitler anyway).

Does It Work?

Jojo Rabbit (source: refinery29.com)

I had very high expectations for this film, mainly because of my love of Taiki Waititi’s work but also the trailer had me hooked immediately. I shall say straight away that I loved it. Many films have shown up fascism, the Nazi Party and Hitler as evil, ridiculous, cruel and worthy of mockery, Jojo Rabbit does this but also makes a strong case for love, freedom, kindness and dancing. The film is moving, capturing the many different ways fascism hurt people, as well as being very funny. The scenes with Jojo and Hitler are particularly funny, with Hitler trying to find parallels with his world of global domination with Jojo’s struggles as a young boy. Much fun is had with Captain Klenzendorf who often takes a sideways glance at Nazi propaganda and this works even better when coupled to Rebel Wilson’s character, who wholeheartedly believes all of it.

The crucial part of the film is that Jojo is not really a Nazi, he’s too young to understand what that means and whenever he is given the opportunity to really be a Nazi he doesn’t take it. Early in the film older members of the Hitler Youth want him to kill a rabbit, to show his strength, and he won’t do it (hence his nickname Jojo Rabbit). Jojo is basically a good person, the same is true for his friend Yorki, a similarly enthusiastic member of Hitler Youth whose message of hatred and cruelty crumbles before his basic good naturedness.

It’s always dangerous mixing comedy with topics so infused with horror, hatred and outright evil but I think Waititi succeeds admirably. At no point does it feel like the film being funny comes before showing Nazi Germany for what it was. For all, it’s a comedy it has two of the most moving scenes I have seen in recent years, one of which I am still trying to come to terms with.

There were times it reminded me of Death of Stalin, another film mixing comedy and the darkest of events. When we saw the daily madness of living under such a regime, the bizarre lies you would have to tell yourself, the complete abandonment of common sense and logic, as well as the horror that you could get caught up in these horrors so easily.

Jojo Rabbit (deseret.com)

The film revolves around Jojo and Elsa, and both actors are great, Roman Griffin Davis never strays so close to Nazism that the audience turns against him. Thomasin McKenzie runs through a gamut of emotions of righteous anger to hopelessness perfectly and believably. The ensemble cast is very good, with Scarlett Johansson giving a tremendous and at times heartbreaking performance. Sam Rockwell’s performance is an odd one, in many ways we are supposed to like Captain Klenzendorf, the eccentric frequently drunk soldier who never seems entirely convinced by fascism and does good where he can, while at the same time he wears the uniform and fought in the army and I’m still unsure what Waititi was going for with this character. Stephen Merchant is very funny as the local Gestapo officer, an embodiment of all the nonsense and stupidity of fascism. And there is Waititi playing the imaginary friend Hitler, a mix of charismatic tyrant and idiotic, petulant child, at times trying to buoy Jojo’s spirits or placing insane demands on him.

Jojo is a film at times is funny and even manages to be joyous about life as well as being deeply moving and thoughtful and it is a rare director who can this in one film.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

JoJo Rabbit (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Parasite (Review)

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Editorials

Top 5 Un-Christmassy Christmas Films

December 20, 2018
Brazil (1985)

Debates are currently raging across social media and news outlets regarding a certain movie and it’s status as a Christmas movie. So when would be a better time to run down a list of the 5 most debatable Christmas movies ever?

For the purposes of this list, a Christmas movie is a movie that pays particular attention to the holiday season. And also focuses on delivering the festive message of goodwill. As such, movies on this list don’t pay close attention to the holiday or deliver messages of despair and misery. What a fun way to counteract all the forced gaiety of Christmas time. So for those of you looking to watch something different this year, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s begin.

Black Christmas (1974)

Many un-Christmassy Christmas movies like to use Christmas as an ironic or dark setting. To exemplify their stories horrific or absurd nature. One of the earliest films to do this was the original Black Christmas. Bob Clark’sseasonal chiller tells a familiar story. A group of sorority girls are killed off one-by-one by someone hiding in the attic. But it sets itself apart in a myriad of ways. Not least by how it uses Christmas as its backdrop. When juxtaposed against the snow, lights and carolers, the films violence and adult content becomes extra effective. And the perversion of Christmas iconography like birth, family and having the killer breaking into the house like Santa Claus, transforms the film into both a well-told deconstruction of Christmas mythology and the best Christmas horror film ever. But when watching it, goodwill will be the furthest thing from your mind.   

Gift wrapping gone wrong in Black Christmas (1974)

Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece is a sci-fi reimagining of George Orwell’s 1984, except more concerned with corporate bureaucracy, the power that corporations hold over us and how fantasy is a far more attractive prospect than reality. And it is set at Christmas…I wonder why? Like Black Christmas, Brazil uses the bright trappings of Christmas to accentuate the darkness of its world. But this time with a more darkly satirical edge. Like many of Gilliam’s films, it finds absurd humour in combining jolly childish fantasy with bleak adult reality and both of those things very much fit the Christmas motif. Making for an experience that captures not so much the fantasy of Christmas, but perfectly captures the pain of growing out of Christmas.

Santa visits the condemned in jail. Brazil (1985)

The Hunt (2012)

And continuing from Brazil’s use of grim adult reality to offset childhood innocence, comes the ultimate example of how assumed childhood innocence can have grim repercussions on adult life. The Hunt is a Danish film from director Thomas Vinterberg and stars Mads Mikkelsen. The story focuses on Lucas, a schoolteacher accused of something during the holidays. He then spends the season attempting to clear his name. While also trying to save his relationship with his son and surviving persecution from his neighbours. This truly is one of the most challenging films set at the most wonderful time of the year. Watching a man being driven to near-suicide, for something he didn’t do, by “civilized” people is as far removed from Christmassy as you can get. But the message of forgiveness and the dangers of pre-judgment is one that everyone should hear, especially at this time of year.

The happiest midnight mass ever in The Hunt (2012)

Die Hard (1988)

The movie everyone is currently discussing for its holiday relation. The classic action movie concerns New York cop, John McClane (Bruce Willis). Who attends his wife’s Christmas party which is later hijacked by “terrorist” Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). The story then becomes pure white-knuckle action as John tries saving the day, while desperately trying to avoid being killed. It is so easy to get absorbed in the action, brilliant acting and dialogue, that Die Hard’s Christmas setting seems incidental. But again the festive trimmings lend extra catharsis to the blood spurts. And the themes of greed and honesty that permeate the film still shows a clear affinity for the holiday. So we may have Bruce Willis instead of Santa. Delivering death instead of presents. But Die Hard deserves to be seen as a Christmas movie. Let it Snow’s presence on the soundtrack also helps.

See a Santa hat. Die Hard (1988) is a Christmas movie

Filth (2013)

Finally, for our list of seasonal antithetical movies, we have the filthiest holiday movie of the century so far. Filth stars James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson. A cop with dreams of promotion, investigating the murder of a foreign exchange student. But he has some serious demons to deal with. Including drug addiction, a disparaging voice in his head (Jim Broadbent) and being separated from his wife and child. Consequently, he spends the Christmas season making life miserable for himself and his colleagues. Pitch black in every sense, Filth is only recommendable to those with strong constitutions. Even seasonal goodwill may not get you through it. This is a film intent on showcasing humanities selfish and destructive side. But McAvoy’s brilliant performance makes it hard to turn away from. If nothing else, this film shows, however bad you think your office Christmas parties are, they could be much worse.

One hell of a Christmas party in Filth (2013)

So, I hope this list has given all of you some new festive treats to check out. To help provide a different perspective on this wonderful time. It may not always be holly and jolly, but all are a great cure for a silent night at home. Happy watching.