Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jungle VIP

The Jungle Book (1967): Not the best Disney cartoon feature, but in its defense it's trying to weave together a coherent plot out of a series of loosely-linked short stories, and also trying to make a crowd-pleasing kid-friendly film out of a pair of books which are, essentially, about colonialism and the loss of innocence, and rather disturbing in places. The two main points in its favour are a) Baloo, who is really seriously cute, and b) the "I Wanna Be Like You" song and dance number, with jitterbugging monkeys and a scat-singing orangotang. The close-harmonising vultures based on The Beatles, though, have not exactly stood the test of time.

Catch Me If You Can: Reasonably good Spielberg film; the father issues are strong with this one, but it does actually work pretty well in this case, as Spielberg interprets the case of Frank Abagnale Jr. as being about a young man with an inadequate father; he first denies and then tries to make up for his father's inadequacy through impersonating authority figures and engaging in successful cheque fraud (as contrasted with his father's failed tax evasion), but he only achieves closure by recognising, in Tom Hanks' FBI agent, his true spiritual father and giving up a life of crime for an even more lucrative legal job.

The caveat, though, is that the whole thing is relentlessly cheery and feelgood, even though I kept having fridge moments afterwards about the people damaged by Abagnale's schemes. What about the college girls he, at one point, duped into believing they'd won a competition to be stewardesses and then, apparently, dumped in an airport somewhere? What about his fiancee, who accepted him in good faith as being someone he wasn't? Or her father, who helped him through his bar exams and took him on into his law firm? We're never actually shown any of this, and yes, this does bother me, in that it means we're continually being given an image of Abagnale as a likeable, lovable sort, and never asked to consider the harm he's done beyond the financial.

Movie count for 2010: 125 (both Spielberg and Disney in the same post, the very evocation of the Hollywood commercial juggernaut.)