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Picks of 2023 – Fearsome films & fairytale footie – Kate Cleaver and Julie Brominicks

26 Dec 2023 6 minute read
Nimona trailer

Katherine Cleaver

‘Leo’ and ‘Nimona’

These are both children animated movies that are not that large company headed by a mouse. They are both animated in slightly different styles, but both have a lesson that is told with a certain grittiness not found in other animations.

‘Leo’ is an aging lizard who has been a school pet for decades and sees a glimpse at freedom.

He finds himself reaching his seventy fifth birthday and possibly his last year, so when he is given the option to escape and see the wild, he takes it.

Leo’s story is one of both finding purpose and how people can change, even the cruellest personality.

Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel and Paul Sado handle the concept of life expectancy, animal cruelty, bullying and happiness by creating a character that IS omniscient and charming, yet naive, curious and empathetic.

Found on Netflix I would recommend it for adults and children.

‘Nimona’ handles some large concepts such as race and cultural differences.

Based on the graphic novel by ND Stevenson it is set in a utopian world where the rich and culturally affluent can become knights and defend their world from demons.

This animated film breaks boundaries by being both LGBTQ+ friendly and pro-trans.

Imagine a world contained by a wall that hates the characters on the outside, so much that they have an army of knights who are there to kill them.

Nimona is one such character who isn’t any of the propaganda the knights have been taught, she is a shape-shifting teen who has a slight obsession with murder but has the largest heart.

She hires herself as a knight’s sidekick to help him avenge his wrongful conviction of a murder and get back his boyfriend.

This story must be watched and enjoyed; from shape changing teens to knights wielding lasers, this is an animation that can’t be missed. You can find this movie on Netflix.

‘Bird Box: Barcelona’ and ‘Knock at the Cabin’

Neither of these movies are doing well with the ratings and may be ones that you skip over but I would recommend having a look. ‘Bird Box: Barcelona’ is set at the same time as ‘Birdbox’ with Sandra Bullock so can’t really be seen as a sequel.

The same mysterious forces in the first movie have ravaged Spain but this story follows a very different character, Sebastian.

This is where it becomes difficult to tell you the plot without spoliers, but the movie is about redemption, insanity and the discovery that sometimes the good are not good, and the bad are not bad.

Monsters are not always ugly and evil looking but can be the people stood next to you. Not every monster is lost though, not completely, even a monster can be kind. If you loved the first movie then I would recommend a look at this, it gets five stars from me. Available on Netflix.

I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan so when this came out, I had to watch it. The director has one major rule with his movies, no review can reveal any of the plot twists, ever. So, this is another difficult review to write as the fist plot twist occurs at the very beginning.

I can say that husbands, Andrew and Eric rent a cabin in a forest for a holiday with their adopted daughter, Wen. Then there is a knock at the door and four strangers are there and need to talk.

Dave Bautista gives the best performance I have seen him produce, Rupert Grint is surprising and Kristen Cull, Wen, acts beautifully.

This movie makes you think about reality and fiction. It questions how you perceive personal sacrifice and how far you would go.

A cryptic review but I would recommend having a look, especially if you like M. Night Shyamalan’s work.

Read more from Kate Cleaver here.

Julie Brominicks

Match of 2023 – April 22 Aber Town v Caernarfon Town

Now and then comes a fairy-tale football game with a final-whistle furore, an ‘is-this-really-happening oh-yes-it-is’ pantomime somewhere in the middle, and from kick off, a destiny you sense but dare not dream.

Last day of the season. Seasiders Aber Town need to beat Caernarfon (The Cofis) to stay in the Cymru Premier (though a draw will suffice if Pontypridd win against Flint.)

Aber are a goal down when we get through the turnstiles but there’s magic in the air. An expectant crowd and a Sgorio crew, so the kids usually having their own kick-about or scoffing chips are all singing for the cameras. Sun spangling the tea hut, the club shop, the terraces and bar. The bricks and nets and the ramshackle sheds.

A goal down and who cares. The football is end-to-end, shots and saves and speed. Arnison equalises with a header, but Caernarfon pull in front before the break.

April 22 Aber Town v Caernarfon Town

Half Time Aber Town 1 Caernarfon Town 2

We shuffle up towards Shed End. The kids are lined up behind goal. Pressure from the Cofis. Play gets frantic, fans gets manic. Cymraeg murmurs, English shouts. Deion Ceunant restless in the commentary box.

Cadwalader draws level for Seasiders!

Blistering action breaks out both ends, the kids are roaring, whacking the wall, the bench are bouncing. News in – Pontypridd have scored. Assistant coach Dave Taylor crumples, does a Jacob Marley, head in hands and repeatedly wailing “Don’t do anything stupid lads!” while manager Anthony Williams, moustache agitating, goes full-on 1970 Bernard Cribbins (think Railway Children when he’s late with the signals) – making frenzied bursts down the touchline, shooting wild unseeing looks at the crowd…

Fourth minute injury time it happens. Lichfield blisters down the wing, passes to Evans who so so sweetly chips it back to Lichfield who crosses to Flint who rockets it home with his head. Park Avenue detonates. Yma o hyd.

Full time Aber Town 3 Caernarfon Town 2

Read more from Julie Brominicks here.

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