Tag Archives: Taika Waititi

Jojo Rabbit – A Novel and Brilliant Work of Art!

It has been such a long time for me to see that kind of a brilliant work of art moving through the lovely gyri of the brain with such an amazing imagination and based on a bright idea!

Sorry for waiting all that time after its release in 2019, but all this period just made my feelings stronger to say that it already made its way into the classics of all the times!

Genius plot is created by Taika Waititi (also director), based on the novel Caging Skies (2008) by Christine Leunens. However, the movie differentiates a lot from the novel with a sparkling variety in it. Several structural evidence of that can be observed as including an imaginary harlequin Hitler (played by Taika Waititi himself), physical removal of several family characters such as father and grandmother, no “Jojo rabbit” in the book, and ignoring the second half of the novel and developing its first half which is another brilliant decision to bring into the screenplay. To mention about the tone, trace amount of the irony that could be smelt in the book becomes also the very backbone of the screenplay.

These golden ideas during the adaptation brought Waikiki a more than well-deserved Academy award (Best Adapted Screenplay) on Feb 9th, 2020.

A ten-year-old boy Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) joins a German yooth camp (Jungvolk) of Hitler during the late World War II. While a buffoonish Hitler version is his imaginary friend, we are introduced to the environment where Jojo lives with his Jungvolk supervisors (for instance, perfectly acting Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorff), his friends (best friend as Yorki [Archie Yates]), and his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson). Then one day, Jojo discovers a Jewish girl, Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in their attic!… And the story develops on and on…

I will stop telling about it in here not to spoil the audience’s joy in advance. However, I should express that if the art overall is to look at the events through a child’s eye, then this is what Waititi is exactly doing in here. It is shot from Jojo’s point of view and naiveness, and also gathers us around the same matter of issue like a rock.

Jojo, this innocent, pure boy like any child of 10 years old, is being brought up by a good mother (Rosie) who also represents the good and well-mannered people of that time. On the other hand, he has a strong Nazi idealism in his mind (recall: Hitler as his imaginary friend) which he wants to become one quickly.

One of the most valuable tag line of the film is to show how a child chooses the right path between his mother (right) and Nazi fascism (wrong) side. It is how a mother teaches to treat a person (Elsa) like a person. It is where smart and joking moms, moms who look a tiger in the eye and trust without a fear always win to inspire their little children. Or it is when Rosie says to Jojo “Ten year-olds shouldn’t be celebrating wars, talking politics. You should be climbing trees, and then falling out of those trees.. Life is a gift. We must celebrate it. We have to dance, to show God we are grateful to be alive.”

Even just that standalone tag line is more than enough for appearing on best ever classical lists. Together with cleverly considered additional details such as the following, Jojo Rabbit is simply one of the best of its kind:

  • “shoes metaphor” (from dancing & freedom to that sentimental scene),
  • referral to those times of revealing all abnormalities as normalities (e.g., a group of people greeting themselves with more than 30 Heil Hitler!s in like 1 minute time, or e.g., “kids, it’s time to burn your books” call to children in Deutches Jungvolk),
  • that solid connection to Jojo’s dead sister,
  • racist and “Aryan” believer Hitler’s alliance with Japanese that do not look very Aryan indeed,
  • when times have changed and when it became definitely not a good time to be a Nazi, noone or no nation else but the unforgettable final touch of Captain Klenzendorf to Jojo

World War II days were undoubtedly the wacky days what the earth had witnessed. Some that did not belong to a certain “race”-called thing were not allowed to breathe anymore under the same trees and the same blue skies with the other human beings. Race discrimination resulted in madly deaths in the most cruel ways. These mass murders were insanely rationalized by some “fat man with greasy hair and half a moustache” as described in the movie. Further scarry thing was perhaps the inconceivably accompanying number of hostilely people that went along with that lunatic dictatorship.

Anyway, numerous World War II related pictures have been on silver screen until now. However, none of them like this well-planned and perfectly written and directed plot. Jojo Rabbit has certain things to address, but not in a bold and splashing way that we know up to know. It constructs the story in a child’s mind, and passes it very consistently with a sense of humor and irony.

Cinematography (Mihai Malaimare Jr) was fit for the purpose as well as the editing (Tom Eagels) as editing should have been a bit effortful in particular for such a dynamic flow. Music (Michael Giacchino) or song choices should be acknowledged as well (as this cannot be deemed a spoiler, I am sure that you will enjoy I wanna hold your hand by Beatles and Heroes by David Bowie regardless of any chronological obsession as the film is not intended as a docu-drama obviously).

Fox Searchlight Pictures, TSG Entertainment, Piki Films, Defender Films, and Czech Anglo Productions did a great job as the production companies to add such a stylish work to their portfolio!

Final closing remarks.. There is not only one way of telling a story, especially when the tragedy is more than the human kind can bear and swallow… And Waititi did that brilliant story-telling eagerly, and blended with creativity! It is already shoot and awarded in there. Therefore, I may strongly urge you to watch this tasty piece if not yet, and maybe beyond! (e.g., if you are a teacher, have your students watch it according to your local film classification criteria etc.).

Thor: Ragnarok – Is it Asgard or Asgard beings?..

After six years, a new Thor-titled series has been released as Thor: Ragnarok, this time presented by Marvel Entertainment overwhelmingly. For those who are curious, Paramount Pictures‘ support seems to have been replaced by Walt Disney Pictures in the current one.

This piece brings us back to the holy nine realms where Thor, Odinson, king of Asgard (after the former ruler Odin) and god of thunder, is defending against his sister Hela, goddess of death, in order to preserve peace (or questionably his power maybe) and to protect people.

Until Thor and Hela meet for the struggle to boost, here we go with

  • the introduction of Thor in a cage captured by the fire demon Surtur foretelling a dreadful prophecy, Ragnarok, which will be revealed at the end of the sequel for its becoming true or not;
  • Thor‘s interim beating Surtur for the crown of Surtur to prevent his resurrection by the Eternal Flame; and
  • exclusive referrals clearly to Greek mythology (rather than pure nordic myths) such as grape eating Odin watching a classical tragedy in pleasure / the B.C. costumes though all is appearing in smart tech times with various models of space ships that travel at the speed of light etc.

One can even say that the plot is a modified version of the classical Hellenistic plays in terms of design. Just, it likely varies for its complicated frame of the characters: mighty Thor, seemingly peaceful and encouraging Odin, tricky Loki, saviour Heimdall, and she-evil Hela. The main characters are surrounded closely by stronger side ones or villains as mostly intended in Marvel comics: Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) being a prototype for that, there are also some greyish ones like Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) or Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) which serves to add further complexity to the cinematic universe.

The overall flow is well-put. The plot’s dynamic and professional structure pays for the high technology used in shooting. In other words, Taika Waititi‘s directing and the adaptation can be concluded as to cover the expenditure finely.

Cast can be interpreted as pretty much successful as well, in particular having those great actors in place, i.e., Anthony Hopkins (Odin) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange). For instance, a lesson-wise intonation of Odin makes the scene unforgettable during the following conversation with Thor:

Thor (Chris Hemsworth): ”I am not as strong as you!”

Odin (Anthony Hopkins): ”No, you are stronger…”

Or it all changes when the camera is in 177a Bleecker Street, Dr. Strange‘s house in Midgard (Earth) where Cumberbatch shines with his hypnotic ability of acting. Once again, it is proven that the magnitude of acting is not counted by the number of minutes that an actor is on screen, however it stands for the emotional and intellectual impact after the movie ends.

Chris Hemsworth, physically, draws a very American Thor at first glance with a narrow forehead and small eyes. It can be teased as the irony of evolution like what happen to Norse Gods when they come to New World.

I do not want to mention Cate Blanchett as Hela since I am personally more than fed up with her unchanging alto timbre, more or less with the same resonance, for years…

However, aforementioned two gigantic actors and glazing visual effects still save the cast, I can say. Only few comments both to that overused blurry background whilst aiming to emphasize the characters in the front, and the unproportional images of Surtur shots. The idea to exaggerate Surtur versus Thor seems a little bit ”pretended”, unfortunately due to a perspective trap.

In a nutshell, Asgard as the head of nine realms where peace was known to be brought by Odin encounter a ”to be or not to be” problem in Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor: Ragnarok asks: will Asgard kneel before the queen of death or will it fight for survival? Furthermore, is Asgard a place to be saved but the people, or is it the people?.. Or should the enemy that was created somehow be destroyed at a price of smashing Asgardians’ land, perhaps?..

Including the revolutionary IMAX 3D optics, Thor: Ragnarok (2017) holds its own specialties worth seeing.