Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of December 11, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 11, 2023

Rated PG for some violence, mild language and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
In Theaters

The Christmas holiday season kicks off this week with this prequel attempting to tell the story about how Roald Dahl’s most iconic character got his start as a magician and chocolate-maker. Starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, Willy Wonka immigrates to a new city where he intends to start his new chocolate factory, unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. Full of ambition and creativity, but no money, he gets himself into a bit of fraudulent debt, which only serves to propel him forward as he naively seeks his way out. But attempting to stop him at every turn are the chocolate cartel, three businessmen who will stop at nothing to keep new chocolatiers from gaining any traction in their town. From the opening moments of the movie, you discover this is actually a musical (much like the classic 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) with motifs from that movie floating around the lovely score by Joby Talbot, while a brand new set of musical numbers by Neil Hannon whimsically pop up to propel the story forward. Written and directed by Paul King, whose Paddington franchise represents a modern genius in family-friendly storytelling, Wonka has much the same feel. It’s sweet and uncomplicated with a sophisticated sense of humor, and thanks to the very nature of the lead character, a touch of magic. As for the cast, it is an exceptional group of actors, especially Chalamet, who proves again why he is the most charming young man working in Hollywood today. Special props also go out to both the casting and the performance of Hugh Grant who plays the original Oompa Loompa. He gives the film that extra something, sailing it over the top. It’s hard to imagine anyone watching this movie with anything other than a smile on their face and it should be, if my prediction holds, the biggest hit of the Christmas holiday season. A

Leave the World Behind
Rated R for some sexual content, brief bloody images, language and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
Streaming on Netflix

This high-profile thriller from Netflix stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke as a married couple determined to take a short vacation out of the city, just to get away from it all. But when the owner of their rental house (Mahershala Ali) shows up to hide from what’s going on in the city, things start turning south with a hint that the world is potentially about to end. It’s hard to know what to make of this film until you really understand what is going on, which does’t happen until the very end of the film. Let’s just say that there is some very good tension and excellent acting, making the film work pretty well as a thriller. What makes the movie interesting is that the plot has its political motivations, but also its supernatural elements, and since the characters don’t actually know what is happening, it all works together, providing some nice scares and even better food for thought. While it does have its problems, for the most part it is well-paced and smart enough to make you try to figure it out. And even better, it might even spur some nice conversations as people see it and start to ponder upon its relevance. B