Tag Archives: Sam Rockwell

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.).

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Disturbing but Not Taking Sides

British-Irish playwright and film director Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has earned seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture (interestingly, not Best Director) in 23rd of January 2018. This is his third silver screen piece written and directed by him, also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay in the same 90th Academy Awards.

A neurotic mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) whose young daughter is raped and killed feloniously seven months ago feels defeated by the lack of any progress on the case and no arrests by police. She believes that police department is too much busy with arresting and torturing colored people rather than solving her daughter’s murder. Therefore, she makes her way to the local advertising agency of the town, and hires these three billboards that are located right out of the town across a God forgotten traverse. And here starts the movie then! She puts up the following three sentences in three billboards separately:




They are emphasized by a striking black, bold, all caps text on a blood-red background which look quite odd and disturbing against the pastoral tones of the sky and trees, as intended plausibly. Moreover, the selection of the billboards and these particular colors are the main metaphors of the movie itself.

There is nothing surprising from the point of the writer (and director) McDonagh since The Beauty Queen of Leenane, his play in 1996. There is this apparently neurotic lady in the front and a story around that. However, when digged, the underlying problem comes to light in several aspects:

Sometimes what we see on the surface is different from what others may feel in depth…

McDonagh has strengthened his proficiency in asking questions during all these years and all the way from his plays. Although there is an important weak point in the plot (cannot give a clue not to spoil), his noteworthy success in writing is his ability to get the audience to ask questions about the situations and people’s reactions to them in a neutral manner.

The tone exclusively is rough but not tiresome. Probably, Ben Davis (cinematography) has a major and positive impact on that. A flavor of “A Serious Man (Coens, 2009)” can be sensed overall. It may be due to these photography comparison as the latter was by Roger Deakins with whom Davis had the opportunity to work in the past. Slow tempo songs and predominantly The Last Rose Of Summer performed by Renee Fleming can also support this similarity for its resemblance to the Coens’.

McDormand’s acting is flawless as always. However, it is not very much clear whether her perfect voice and pronunciation -as not expected from such a character- is either part of the directing or an unscheduled left out.

Both Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are performing very well. In terms of cogency, Woody Harrelson was one step further.

This Oscar nominated movie written, directed, and produced by McDonagh is made available under the wings of Fox Searchlight Pictures within Fox Entertainment group owned by 21st Century Fox (such as the competing 90th Academy Award nominee, The Shape of Water).

One can feel uncomfortable while watching this film, however cannot judge either of the parties or take sides since there is always this distance kept in the script. Worth seeing!..