Watership Upside Down in Bugsy Demeanor?

DATELINE: Hare-brained cartoons?

Watership Down Bugs & Daffy, or B’rer Rabbits?

Two movies about rabbits we have seen recently are cartoons. Of course, by today’s high-falutin’ standards, they are now called ‘animation’. Watership Down, based on a children’s book, is a think-piece, now remade with a couple of big-name Brit stars.

The other film we saw was a compilation of Bugs Bunny cartoons from the Golden Age of 1942-43. The gulf between these two film works transcends streaming DVD and enters the realm of unreal hare-brains.

Stars Nick Hoult and James MacAvoy have definite chemistry as actors together, as B’rer Rabbits, in Watership Down. They play the voices of Hazel and Fiver. You may not see it, but you can surely hear their rapport.

The new version of the animated story has shown up as a Netflix movie series. Unlike Disney animation, in which characters can be distinguished, this film has a bunch of hares and bunny rabbits that are clones. After a while, we are trying to determine accents and vocalizations to tell if we are listening to Nick Hoult or James McAvoy.

We love both actors, and that’s the long and short of it.

We also do not love four hours of animation to tell a story. Alas, even broken into 4 episodic chunks tested our mettle. On the other hand, the eight Warner Brothers cartoons are about six minutes each. They are also racist, filled with fat hatred, and feature Bugs in drag often, but can’t end soon enough.

Though Warner cartoons are claimed to be highly restored, they grow increasingly unwatchable as color fades and clarity blurs. On the other hand, you can see every fur-laced lash of the hares of the new animation in Watership, if you really care enough.

The Biblical tones and literary pretensions of one are undercut in the other’s attempt to play down to Brooklyn rabbit accents and fat Elmer Fudd. Yes, Fudd has not yet gone on a diet in these early films—and even wears a corset in two cartoons.

If there is a big difference in the films, one has personality unleashed, and the other is less brash.

We may find that in each lesson it may be that teachable moments are less successful in cartoon form. It undercuts and underscores at the same time. However, in the age of superheroes and Marvel Comics, we suspect this is the new Dickensian epic-style.

We’d just like to see Hoult and McAvoy in human form. Give us a real movie please.

Rule Number Three: Short Shorts

DATELINE:  Scrabble, Anyone?

fun rule #3

It’s always a delight to find a new interesting movie, even if it is only 11 minutes long. Our pleasure is heightened when the stars are Nicholas Hoult and Imogen Poots. The short subject deserved more accolades, called Rule Number Three.

In case you are wondering, that rule in Scrabble means you cannot use proper names or nouns as your words.

Almost entirely without dialogue, the story concerns a young man and young woman playing Scrabble in a British pub.

Smug intelligent words give way to pointed sharp words in which a message of great importance is conveyed. The drama is in the exchange of glances between Hoult and Poots–which is downright delightful.

The actors have faces. We have to read the expressions.

Writer and producer James Cotton lets us see those faces light up and darken in the course of a short eleven minutes. This is another of those short movies that tell us that the short story form is a lost art. Most movies today clock in at 140 to 180 minutes, far longer than a bladder deserves.

The two principal actors do not speak, making body language the language of love and hate.

You can find this little gem on YouTube for free. You can watch it in one sitting. And you get to see Nicholas Hoult in all his youthful beauty.  It is 2011.

You also get a sense that hold knows how to pick a good role even from his youngest days. This is a clever, sharp, commentary on human relations. And, it’s all within a Scrabble game.


Collide with Nicholas Hoult

DATELINE:  Overripe Vintage Villains


Oh, no, not a noisy car chase movie with Nicholas Hoult? Heavens, spare us. On top of that, the Brit actor again plays an American boy with a surfer accent. Not bad.

He seems to have gone the route of James Franco—two inconsequential movies and one film of substance. Collide seems to be inconsequential, but not so fast.

We rolled our eyes when the first scene of Nick Hoult is his blue eyes in the rear-view mirror as he races down the highway, heading for a metaphoric crash as the voice-over notes how he did it all for love.

We prepared for movieland dismissal. However, something surprised us: suddenly there was Ben Kingsley in one of his patented creepy mobster roles, watching an old John Travolta movie and commenting on the bad acting. Oh?

He started calling Hoult by the movie star name of “Burt Reynolds.”  We were hooked, and then some when Kingsley’s archrival drug kingpin is none other than Shakespearean nasty villain Anthony Hopkins, playing the respectable son of a Nazi interrogator.

All the crime henchmen look like the bearded ladies at the circus. And, one of many chases was on.

It was ridiculous to say the least: Hoult’s girlfriend is on dialysis, but remains a party-girl for his love. Big crime will pay for a kidney transplant. Okay.

The chases and fights do leave Hoult breathless and agonized, which one seldom sees in heroes of this brand of movie. He clearly wanted to perform with the legends of Hopkins and Kingsley—and he manages to more than hold his own.

It’s all over the top, but we stayed around for the credits—never expecting that Hopkins and Kingsley would be billed as “Sir Anthony” and “Sir Ben” and then have stunt doubles listed.

Yeah, we liked this one.

Rebel in the Rye Catches Nicholas Hoult

DATELINE:  See You in September, Release Date


Real J.D. Salinger and the Real Nick Hoult

If we were to pick our favorite recluses, J.D. Salinger is up there with B. Traven and Greta Garbo.

Now comes forth an intriguing film about the years before Jerome David Salinger went private-mad.

Nicholas Hoult has sent out a Facebook message about his new movie, Rebel in the Rye.

The handsome young British actor has perfected his American accent enough to go for playing a New York writer in the 1940s.

J.D. Salinger famously published but one novel and preferred the genre of short story and novella. Who can blame him? His greatest hit is titled Catcher in the Rye, which a few people have read over the past 60 years.

Salinger would never let Hollywood ever come near his cherished novel. And, they threw oodles of money at his feet, but he was adamant.

So, how would J.D. feel about a movie depicting his post-traumatic experiences in World War II as the backdrop for writing his “grand” novel. Heavens, Holden Caulfield would have a fit over calling his story grand.

And, boy, would he throw a fit over this movie! Privacy is certainly dead nowadays.

Nicholas Hoult is always fascinating to watch, but he may seem a touch different here. It’s the brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that vaulted him to fame among devoted distaff viewers.

With Kevin Spacey as his demanding editor, Hoult’s Salinger comes across as chummy, not reclusive. Ah, youth.

The best we can give you at this point is a trailer. So here goes.

So here goes.

Nicholas Hoult’s Latest Frightful Role

DATELINE:  A Career in Cult


Kill Your Friends is the latest movie tackled by Nicholas Hoult.

Despite his often terrible film choices, like those dreadful X-Men movies, we have greater respect for his talent. In Kill Your Friends, Hoult wants to emulate Christian Bale’s performance in American Psycho.

He plays a 1990s music label producer who takes the Richard III approach to ambition. He murders his way to the top in an industry of talentless and brain-dead non-starters.

Since we agree with his character that the music itself is commercial crap done by idiots, we can understand how he comes to loathe himself. We do draw the line at bumping off the bad singers and bands.

Hoult’s character is ruthless, an asexual, or pansexual creep. Like Ted Bundy, the character stands out wherever he goes. He has movie star looks written all over him.

Hoult has made a career of fighting his startling blue eyes and natural charisma—as in the new Mad Max movie, or even the trifle in which he played a zombie.

He continues to try to transcend his good looks and expand his acting chops. You don’t find many roles like the Angel of Death beautiful student in A Single Man.

Hoult hopes to strike up superstardom with future roles. He will play J.D. Salinger in the up-coming cult movie Rebel in the Rye, and he will make an equally big splash among gay fans when he plays Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ producer who was in love with John Lennon when it films next year.

We will keep tabs on Hoult.

Cold Script, Warm Body


ImageJonathan Levine directs Nicholas Hoult as the most beautiful zombie in history in Warm Bodies.

Nicholas Hoult forever won a warm spot in our heart for his work in the extraordinary film A Single Man.

We cannot expect every movie he makes will provide us a performance quite as stunning. However, we did not expect his choice of scripts would relegate him to the level of James Darren in a beach party movie.

Warm Bodies gives the vibrant Hoult a chance to play a stiff, literally a zombie. This film is supposed to do for zombies what George Hamilton did for vampires in his day.

Alas, if Nick Hoult aspires to be the next George Hamilton, all is lost. We knew that our situation was deadly when the previews on our DVD were The Hunger Games and Twilight. We were out of our element with a movie about a Romeo zombie and a live Juliet. It would never work, but we have Hollywood magic at our special effects. Heaven help us, but there is a balcony scene with Romeo and his live girl.

Since adolescent boys are allegedly like zombies au naturel, this relationship can work if she can rev up his pulse.

We can see where any number of people thought this was an interesting and unusual concept. The zombie boy likes vinyl music and sensitive singers, which renders him a crossbreed with life and death.

If you believe love transcends death, then this dark humored movie may appeal to you. The zombie eats the brains of his paramour’s boyfriend (Dave Franco in a thankless role) to ingest his rival’s memories to better appreciate his girl.

The brain is the center of all life, and to watch this movie kills brain cells, even if Nicholas Hoult’s eyes are among the liveliest in the world. With a little makeup, his zombie can almost pass in the living world.

Finally the idea of a loveable zombie is ultimately metaphorically unsustainable. Love as a panacea is the ultimate romantic fallacy.

 For more movie reviews with a twist of the knickers, try MOVIE MASHUP: Streaming Views and Demanding Reviews, now available on Amazon.com in softcover and ebook.