We choose for the June Movie Night three very different movies in different genres. How did the viewing work out?

First up, “Pinocchio

This is a classical telling of the Italian fairytale, based on the 1883 book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian author Carlo Collodi, with live actors playing humans, magical beings, and animal characters (the latter get very Chromian!) The film is so skillfully dubbed in English, you won’t notice the actors are speaking Italian. The film was a big hit in Italy over Christmas, 2020.

Impoverished and lonely old woodcarver Geppetto is given a magical piece of wood and carves a boy-puppet, Pinocchio, who magically comes to life with dreams of becoming a real boy. Innocent and inexperienced at first, Pinocchio embarks on one misadventure after another as he is tricked, kidnapped, and chased by bandits. The beautiful Fairy often intercedes and comes to his aid.

The magic is subtle but mind-boggling to this sympathetic viewer. The film takes its time with the plot, but I didn’t mind. Pinocchio’s adventures were engrossing.

The film is rated PG-13 for several disturbing scenes. And the scenes were disturbing. But there’s a Happily Ever After ending that was very satisfying.

Recommended especially for fans of fantasy and fairytales.

Next up, “News of the World

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images.

Five years after the Civil War, when the Union military is still stationed around Texas, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a former Confederate officer (Tom Hanks, who is terrific), ekes out a living traveling from town to town with a bundle of newspapers from the East Coast. He assembles an audience for a dime per person, leans over a desk with a newspaper with magnifying glass, and reads “the news of the world.” He entertains the townspeople, sometimes riles them up, and makes moral points that sometimes get him in trouble. It’s a fascinating idea. I’m not surprised that the film was adapted from a novel, News of the World by Paulette Jiles.

He crosses path with a ten-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) with straw-blond hair and blue eyes. The Union soldiers liberated her from the Kiowa tribe where she has lived for years after her German settler family were all killed by the Kiowa (“She’s been orphaned twice,” Kidd says.). She speaks only Kiowa, eats a bowl of stew with her hands, and hates the Western dress in which a woman assisting in the rescue dresses her. She is “wild.”

The girl is identified but the Union Army can’t help place her with her remaining German family, so the Captain reluctantly agrees to deliver her to them. The two face many dangers, including a settlement that remains defiantly Confederate and three thugs who want to buy the girl and, when Kidd refuses, want to kill him and kidnap her. She shows ingenuity in helping him defeat the three thugs.

Like the first film, this film takes its time to let the plot unfold, sometimes getting slow at times. But I generally didn’t mind.

There’s a Happily Ever After ending that was very satisfying.

Recommended especially for fans of offbeat Westerns and Tom Hanks.

Finally, “The Little Things

This film is rated R and is a film with cop-detectives after a psychotic serial killer like “The Silence of the Lambs”.

An African-American Kern County deputy sheriff, with tragedy in his past (an excellent Denzel Washington), is called to help solve multiple murders in L.A. that have the stylistic touches of a serial killer and an unsolved case of his. The deputy sheriff is almost visionary in his methods, sitting in the morgue “talking” to the victims’ corpses—“You knew him, didn’t you? How did you know him?” And finding an apartment across the street where the killer could look at his victim propped on a door—the killer came back twice to reposition her.

At first, the white L.A. cop-detective (Rami Malek) has a prickly relationship with the deputy sheriff, but he invites him over to his beautiful home for dinner with his wife and teenage daughters (who scarily resemble the killer’s favorite type of victims) and they fairly quickly learn to work together. I found it a touching depiction of people of different races collaborating.

The L.A. cops are puzzled about what the multiple victims have in common and the sheriff deputy examines the quotidian details of their lives prior to their murders. And he finds it—a prosaic detail in common. He tells the L.A. detective, “It’s the little things.”

Sure enough, he focuses on that detail and zeros on the creepily psychotic killer (Jared Leto in a convincingly evil portrayal) and the chase is on.

No plot spoilers, but Justice is done. Very satisfying ending.

Recommended especially for fans of hard-hitting detective mysteries.

So there you have it, my friends. Three different movies, in different genres, very well done. Very satisfying. I haven’t a Movie Night like that in a while!

Enjoy your Movie Night!

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