Based on Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson’s 1936 children’s book The Story of Ferdinand, this gently subversive Madrid-set feature from animation studio Blue Sky and frequent collaborator Carlos Saldanha (the Ice Agefilms, Rio) follows an adorable, flower-sniffing bull named Ferdinand. “Is it OK if that’s not my dream?” the baby bull asks his father of fighting. When he discovers that he has no choice, Ferdinand scarpers, hoofing it to a flower farm, where he befriends a human girl and her shaggy sheepdog. Ferdinand’s passivity (and flower obsession) isn’t explicitly coded as queer, though the film hints that this might be the case.
Either way, Ferdinand celebrates his mild temperament and non-confrontational masculinity, which remain unchanged as his bull’s body grows resplendently large. The adult Ferdinand (voiced by WWE superstar John Cena) ends up causing a ruckus at a local flower fair (and offers viewers a very funny scene in a china shop) and so is carted back to the ranch he came from. Other fun characters include a neurotic, calming goat voiced by Kate McKinnon, a trio of bitchy German horses with swishy pastel manes, and mischievous, pilfering hedgehogs Uno, Dos and Cuatro (“We do not speak of Tres”).
John Fusco has been hired by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment to adapt the popular children’s book PAX which the production company wrangled away after winning a bidding war last year. The book was No. 1 on The New York Times best-selling children’s book Pax from author Sara Pennypacker. It will be produced as a live-action feature through SKE with Carla Hacken.
Based on Brian Selznick’s 2011 children’s book of the same name, Wonderstruck tells the story of two children separated by time and, initially, by space—but brought together by a history of feeling.
It’s simply not the kind of movie we typically give to children—primarily because we underestimate their intelligence. Brian Selznick also wrote the book that became the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which is a good movie (especially for film history nerds) but not, to my mind, a satisfying children’s feature. Something about it feels too anchored to the real world—Scorsese flirts with fantasy and the fanciful, but the movie doesn’t really fly off the rails.
Wonderstruck, by contrast, seems to play by its own rules. Its high emotional stakes make sense, in the end, but it’s Haynes’s wide-eyed filmmaking that makes the job of guiding these young adventurers through a vast, complicated world feel like an adventure in itself.
Samantha Ellis, author of How To Be A heroine, lists 10 Things reading the Annde of Green Gables series taught her:
I read LM Montgomery’s 1908 novel and its seven sequels over and over as a girl. I’d get to the end of book eight and start again, with plucky red-headed orphan Anne Shirley waiting at a train station for her new life to begin. She taught me things I still think about every day.
Hynden Walch from Adventure Time and Shaun Tan consider the adult appeal of children’s entertainment.
A radio broadcast from ABC Australia
Anna Leszkiewicz, writing in
The finished product is far more faithful to the Snicket series, which is defined by Snicket’s dense voice. The books were thick with literary allusions (including but not limited to Dante, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell and JD Salinger), and this series includes discussions of the themes and metaphors of Herman Melville, Haruki Murakami and F Scott Fitzgerald. But they are most frequently self-referential: Snicket constantly draws attention to his writing process.
Where the 2004 film merely nodded to Snicket’s presence with cameos from Jude Law, the Netflix programme fully engages with the postmodern ideas of metanarrative that make the original books so memorable. Patrick Warburton plays Lemony Snicket with a raised eyebrow, framing each episode with woeful warnings to switch off the TV, interjecting with plot spoilers and esoteric definitions. There is a whole sequence devoted to explaining, and then demonstrating, the concept of dramatic irony. Another scene sees Snicket step in to clarify that what we are watching is a flashback, “a word which here means ‘taken place during the events of the last episode, shortly after the Baudelaire fire, and during the Baudelaire children’s unfortunate stay with the Poe family’”.
There are hints at the concerns of “television executives”, and Snicket sometimes physically grabs the camera and pulls it away from horrifying events on screen. Aunt Josephine implores the children to close their eyes, “as if we’re watching some on-screen entertainment that’s too scary for our age!”, while Count Olaf has lines like “As an actor, I think live theatre is a much more powerful medium than, say, streaming television” and “In all honesty I prefer long-form television to the movies; it’s so much convenient to consume entertainment from the comforts of your own home.”
These nods to the Netflix format are simply much funnier than Jude Law bashing away at a typewriter, which is how the film tries to capture Snicket’s voice.
Two PW writers were invited to a recent screening of the film adaptation of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, directed by J.A. Bayonne, with a screenplay written by the author. For more behind the movie, read our Movie Alert. Here our moviegoing duo talks tear-jerking scenes, monsters, morality, and sharp acting. Be warned: spoilers from the book and movie are below!
In bringing together a 15-year-old author, a toon production company and the world’s largest SVOD service, new young-adult film The Kissing Booth tells a lot about evolving creative processes in 2016.
Netflix is adapting the novel written and published by rookie teen author Beth Reekles on Wattpad, where it garnered more than 19 million views on the online free publishing site. UK-based film and TV production company Komixx Media Group is producing the feature-length film for the SVOD, with writer/director Vince Marcello (Teen Beach Movie) on-board to direct from his own screenplay.
For Komixx, which produces preschool series Toby’s Travelling Circus and Wanda and the Alien, the Netflix commission represents a milestone in its strategy to acquire and produce more YA drama for tweens and teens.
Netflix finally released a look at Neil Patrick Harris in The New Lemony Snicket Series and our expectations are now, incredibly, extremely high.
Netflix issued a trailer for the eight-part Lemony Snicket series, and Neil Patrick Harris is exactly and perfectly right as The Count.
The latest attempt to adopt the popular children’s book series holds true to the traditional aesthetic of the book illustrations and the first film, starring Jim Carey. What’s so different in this version is the the multi-talented and super creepy, Neil Patrick Harris playing Count Olaf.