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The Best Picture Reviews: Arrival & Manchester by the Sea

2017oscarsYes, I’ve been absent again for a while but let’s get back to that later. It’s the Oscars week and I’m so behind. Here are my thoughts on the first two best picture nominees that I saw. And what are their chances on Sunday evening.

arrivalposterARRIVAL (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Eric Heisserer
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Forest Whitaker

Denis Villeneuve’s last two films I liked a lot. His style is extraordinary and in Arrival it is on its full potential. Arrival is astonishing. I absolutely loved it! It will probably be at least in top-3 of my films of 2017 or if not, this will be helluva year. I think Arrival deserves every praise it gets and then some more.

First of all, Villeneuve obviously is the master here, it’s his vision that shines through. Also the screenplay is spellbinding. I was totally hooked. At some point I had grabbed the seat on front of me (in cinema) and was sitting right on the edge of my own seat without realising that I was doing that, I was so absorbed into the film. And that’s what I talk about when I say it is Villeneuve’s vision. Unbelievable. And to support that there’s beautiful production design, simple but effective.

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Cinematography. Well, of course. If you’ve seen the film, you know how suitable eerie it looks. And editing obviously clearly makes the pace, perfectly. Sometimes dwelling in feeling, sometimes throwing the viewer in the middle of a mess. And again here we can see how cleverly the script is written. The film never lets you off the hook. And it makes you think. And feel. And perhaps, if you think and feel hard enough, understand. It is actually hard to write about it as it is that kind of a film you need to use all your senses and no words would do honour for it.

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What still makes me angry, is that Jóhann Jóhannsson wasn’t eligible for the score because it’s stunning! He is quickly becoming one of my favourite composers if not the one. In Arrival music and sounds are so, so important. And that’s why I really feel that it should win for the sound editing at least and also for mixing.

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It bums me out that Amy Adams wasn’t recognised as she is as good as ever. She’s my favourite actress and I don’t think she’s ever bad and surely she wasn’t here. But thankfully it’s been a very good year for female leads as there were too many to choose from. Adams is the player here, everyone else is just there to make the story go further. Except the aliens. They’re important. And I never complain when I see Mr. Renner on screen.

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So, to sum it up. I would love to see Arrival to win for cinematography, maybe editing, both sounds and as I appreciated its simplicity, also production design. And tie with directing. I think. I still haven’t seen all the nominees (yeah, I know, so late!!!), so it’s hard to say yet plus there was one that I also loved, so…But still, perfection.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016)

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams & Kyle Chandler

So, I saw these two films in a row and in this order. That might have affected somehow how I viewed Manchester by the Sea. I can’t really say if I’d liked it more if I hadn’t watched Arrival just before it. Or maybe I wouldn’t have liked it as much as I did because I was already in the mood to watch great movies. I don’t know but I know I did like Manchester quite a lot. It was a good cinema day.

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Manchester by the Sea is nominated for six Oscars and will most probably win for the leading role for an actor as Casey Affleck is impressive. It is his show as much it is director-writer Lonergan’s. Affleck is mesmerizing. He does so little but tells so much. All those suppressed feelings are there for the viewer to see and feel. Manchester by the Sea is heartbreakingly sad story of ordinary people. People who are like anyone of us. Besides Affleck, Hedges and especially Williams have earned their nominations. That scene in the movie poster is perhaps the most moving scene in the film and it’s such a showcase for Affleck and Williams; they’re so authentic, so raw, so full of emotion. If Arrival is a story of human kind, Manchester by the Sea is a story of humans.

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Besides acting, Manchester is nominated for the original screenplay, directing and the best picture. It could win for all and I wouldn’t really mind. But I think it will win for the screenplay and it definitely should. I adored it. I loved the way the story was told the way that it just began, like when meeting a new person. And then you get to know them, little by little. You start to understand why they do something, why they say something, why they like or don’t like something. Manchester is like that. At first you are like “who the f is this guy and why he is there” but then, a little by little, you start to understand and sympathize. Life is life and you just have to live it. Also, big points for the ending.

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This has nothing to do with the film but she’s beautiful. From January Elle magazine.

One thing that I didn’t really like was the music, it’s too hard. It annoyed me. But otherwise, beautiful film and sad story about life that I think I will definitely see again. And I’ll be mad if Lonergan won’t win for the screenplay and Affleck for the lead actor, they are THAT good.

Rating: ****½

P.S. 2017 is already better movie year for me (as I’ve seen all nominees this year) than the last year was. Yay for that!

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

The Oscars Nominations Predictions 2017

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.Here we are again. The best time of the year, the Oscars time! And here are my final nominations. In few hours we’ll be hearing what the Academy picked.

BEST PICTURE

  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Hidden Figures
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

  • Silence
  • Deadpool

I couldn’t pick my 10th option because I’m hopeless optimistic and actually think they would go for R-rated comic book movie. Right yeah? I kind of wanted to leave Hidden Figures out as well but this is where the final list now. At the moment it’s either La La Land’s or Moonlight’s to lose.

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DIRECTOR

  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Longergan
  • Hell or High Water – David McKenzie
  • Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

  • Hacksaw Ridge- Mel Gibson
  • Fences – Denzel Washington
  • Silence – Martin Scorsese
  • Lion – Garth Davis

By far the hardest category to predict this year. The three of them are absolute locks (Chazelle, Lonergan and Jenkins) but the two others… I believe that Villeneuve is due with a nomination (I haven’t seen Arrival yet but I’m only hearing good things plus he’s done great job with previous films that were nominated, Prisoners and Sicario) but the last slot was hard to decide. I played a wild card.

ACTORryan_gosling_hot

  • La La Land – Ryan Gosling
  • Fences – Denzel Washington
  • Manchester by the Sea – Casey Affleck
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Andrew Garfield
  • Captain Fantastic – Viggo Mortensen

ACTRESS

  • La La Land – Emma Stone
  • Jackie – Natalie Portman
  • Arrival – Amy Adams
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Meryl Streep
  • Elle – Isabelle Huppert

Loving – Ruth Negga

Because of the story of Loving, I wanted to give a slot for Ruth Negga but Huppert has been really strong and one can never leave Streep out, especially when she gave amazing speech at the Golden Globes in the middle of voting of the Oscars nominations.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Lion – Dev Patel 10
  • Moonlight – Mahershala Ali
  • Hell of High Water – Jeff Brigdes
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Hugh Grant
  • Nocturnal Animals – Aaron Taylor-Johnson

  • Manchester by the Sea – Lucas Hedges

I just might be hopeful here again but if Nocturnal Animals will soar at least a bit, Taylor-Johnson will be in. And the Academy has avoid to nominate younger actors in this category like Tremblay last year. But Hedges has been strong so far, so this is a game.

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SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Hidden Figures – Octavia Spences
  • Fences – Viola Davis
  • Manchester by the Sea – Michelle Williams
  • Naomi Harris – Moonlight
  • Lion – Nicole Kidman

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Manchester by the Sea
  • The Lobster
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Captain Fantastic

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Moonlight
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Arrival

  • Hidden Figures

OK, I have a thing for Nocturnal Animals even I haven’t seen it, so again, I’m putting it ahead of probably stronger contender.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • La La Land
  • Silence
  • Arrival
  • Lion
  • Moonlight

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EDITING

  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Arrival
  • Moonlight
  • Hacksaw Ridge

 

COSTUME DESIGNjackie_costumes

  • Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
  • Jackie
  • La La Land
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Allied

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • La La Land
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Handmaiden
  • Jackie
  • Arrival

 

MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING

  • A Man Called Ove
  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Star Trek Beyond

I asked my make-up artist friend’s opinion here and she chose Deadpool instead of Star Trek Beyond. I’ll blame her if I’m incorrect.

SOUND MIXING

  • La La Land
  • Arrival
  • Rogue One
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Deepwater Horizon

SOUND EDITING

  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Roque One
  • Arrival
  • The Jungle Book

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Rogue One
  • The Jungle Book 5
  • Arrival
  • Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

SCORE

  • Moonlight (Nicholas Britell)
  • Jackie (Mica Levi)
  • La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
  • The BFG (John Williams)
  • Rogue One (Michael Giacchino)

 


 

  • Lion (Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka)

I’m still a bit annoyed that Jóhann Jóhannsson is not eligible for Arrival as he is these days one of my definite favourite composers. Love his work! I wanted to leave John Williams out but you know, you just can’t. And it’s traditional that the composers branch always vote for their own and already now there are THREE new comers. I hardly see that happening but I don’t know who else to pick. Justin Hurwitz all the way, I looooooove La La Land’s soundtrack!

 

SONG

  • Moana – How Far I’ll Go
  • La La Land – Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
  • La La Land – City of Stars
  • Sing Street – Drive Like You Stole It
  • Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling

  • Sing – Faith
  • Hidden Figures – Runnin’

Always hard category to predict. I gave a chance to Sing Street’s 80’s sounds, it’s a gamble, I know. I hope that the song above wins, I can’t get enough of it.

ANIMATED

  • Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Red Turtle
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini

  • Finding Dory

Yes, I left out a Pixar film. I’m aware.

 

DOCUMENTARYoj_madeinamerica

  • Cameraperson
  • I am Not Your Negro
  • 13th
  • OJ: Made in America
  • The Eagle Huntress

  • Weiner

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • My Life as a Zucchini (Switzerland)

  • It’s Only the End of the World (Canada)

I have a feeling I should not count out Xavier Dolan but I don’t know what else to do.

 

ANIMATED SHORT

  • Inner Workings
  • Piper
  • Blind Vayasha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pearl

 

LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Graffiti
  • Nocturne in Black
  • Sing (Mindenki)
  • Timecode
  • The Way of Tea

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • White Helmets
  • Joe’s Violin
  • Extremis
  • The Mute’s House
  • Watani: My Homeland

 

Agree, disagree? We’ll now soon enough how I did this year.

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The Best of the Best – Films of 2016

Gosh, I’ve been away again for ages. There’s a reason for that but I’ll get back to that later. Now it’s time for the traditional best of the best in the end of the year. Mine is so sad, though. As I live here in the middle of nowhere (that’s Finnish Lapland to you who don’t know), I haven’t been to cinemas for over two months and haven’t seen the latest, like Rogue One for example. Or Arrival. Or Nocturnal Animals. As said, my list is sad but here it is anyway. And yes, I know that some of these came out in the States in 2015 but not in Europe or at least in those countries that I go to.

10)

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The Lobster

9)

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Steve Jobs

8) 

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The Revenant

7)

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Son of Saul

6)

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The Invitation

5)

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Doctor Strange

4)

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Captain America: Civil War

3)

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The Big Short

2)

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Deadpool

1)

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Spotlight

Not a very good year as the number one is the only one with total 5/5 (or 10/10 at IMDb) and I’ve given 9/10 only five films this year. Sad. Let’s hope the next year will be better. And in February I’ll have a chance to see all those films I’ve missed during the last couple of months.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

(Left to right) Ben Foster and Chris Pine in HELL OR HIGH WATER. [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

The Oscars 2017 – The Best Pic #3

It’s been over a month since I did parts two and one. And here’s finally the last part of somewhat-early look on the best picture candidates.

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Hidden Figures tells a story of “a team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.” (IMDb). It’s starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson from Empire (series) and Janelle Monáe who has a part in this year’s Moonlight that has gotten great reviews. The trailer looks nice mix of emotion and vibe, not too serious but not too light either. It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. There’s music made by Pharrell Williams, so at least the best song category should be a lock.

Hacksaw Ridge has Rotten Tomatoes score of 85% and tells a true story of “WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to win the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.” (IMDb) Andrew Garfield seems to be having a strong year with this and upcoming Scorsese’s Silence.Hacksaw is said to be a comeback of Mel Gibson who directed the film. The film even has a average of 8.7/10 at IMDb which means it’s liked by audience and critics, so it’ll be hard for the Academy to pass it by.

I’m not sure if this should be on the list or not. It might be too much of sci-fi and to be honest, I’m not sure if Chris Pratt is that kind of an actor who’ll stars in Oscar-worthy films but I didn’t think of that of Bradley Cooper, who is now a three-time nominee, so… But anyway, Passengers also stars bona fide Oscar-girl, Jennifer Lawrence, and is directed by Morten Tyldum, who’s last film, The Imitation Game, got eight nominations, so let’s not count this out yet. IMDb describes the film: “A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.”

Live by Night is a film I just don’t want to count out as it’s directed by Ben Affleck and as a director he hasn’t made a bad film. He hasn’t even made an OK film, he has only made really good ones. So no way I’m not including this one too. The film opens widely in January but has it’s limited run in December to be an eligible. IMDb synopsis says: “A story set in the Prohibition Era and centered around a group of individuals and their dealings in the world of organized crime.” The cast is promising, besides Affleck there’s Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson and Elle Fanning. If the film delivers, one or two of them will be surely nominated.

And the last but not the least, there’s Hell or High Water that is out on DVD this week (the States). It’s raved by the critics and has RT score of 98% and impressive cast of Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster. And apparently all of them deliver. For some reason this reminds me of No Country for Old Men. I guess that’s a good thing. Synopsis says: “A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.”

Here we are. Those are my picks for the Best Picture of 2017. I have already dropped one of them, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk as it sank when it opened and is rotten in Rotten Tomatoes, so let’s just forget it. And La La Land got another lovely trailer:

 

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Person of the Day – Martin Scorsese

It’s Mr. Scorsese’s birthday today. So, Happy Birthday, Marty!

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It took a while, approximately 25 years for me to understand the art of Scorsese. And I still haven’t watched all of his masterworks but these days he’s definitely one of my very favourite directors. When I explain what I want to do as my work, I always describe it the way that “I want to do something that I really love, that I really don’t want to quit doing ever, I want to be Martin Scorsese, who still at age of 74 keeps doing the most inspiring stuff.” So, I basically want to be Marty.

So, here’s to celebrate his amazing career and all those great things to become, my top-3 Scorsese films:

CAPE FEAR (1991)

I already saw this back in when it was released and I was only something like 12, so probably I shouldn’t have. But I did and I was so scared of Robert DeNiro’s Mad Cady but I also found him awfully attractive, especially when he was seducing this teenage girl played by always a bit dirty Juliette Lewis. Good stuff.

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THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)

When I reviewed Wolf I’ve never gotten that much comments on any of my reviews. I know the film is still kind of wrong but I absolutely loved it! I don’t think any film that long has gone by so fast. And that drug scene! It is my favourite scene of Leo DiCaprio, who I obviously love, of all time. It is so funny! I need to watch this movie again.

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HUGO (2011)

If you love cinema like I do, or like Marty does, there’s no way you won’t like this film. Or love it, to be exact. It is one of the most heart-felt and the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Truly amazing work and such a love letter to the art of moving images. ❤

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Doctor Strange Review

doctor_strange_posterI should go back to my Oscar predictions but let’s take a look to another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie first.

DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill & based on Marvel comics by Steve Ditko

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams,  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen & Benedict Wong

Synopsis: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. (IMDb)

I didn’t know anything about Doctor Strange beforehand. I’m not a fan of comics, I find them kind of silly. I used to find comic films silly as well but Marvel changed it. Since The Avengers I always have high hopes for MCU film and sometimes I’m a bit disappointed (meaning I give a film 8 out of 10 at IMDb) but usually I’m not and Doctor Strange is not exception. It’s a solid film with great visuals, interesting story and well, with that cast, obviously strong performances.

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I kept thinking during Strange that it is quite an achievement from film industry to make these huge blockbusters with actors who have been recently nominated for Oscars or some have even won some like Tilda Swinton in this case. No wonder characters in these kind of films are not bland anymore like they used to be. There is much more depth to them even if scripts are weak. The script of Doctor Strange is probably the simplest thing in it. And for some reason, villains in recent comic movies have been on the weaker side too. And Doctor Strange is no exception. But at least its villains are not black or white. What brings me to the point of Doctor Strange being accused of “white washing”. What? There’s Ejiofor, there’s Wong and there’s a woman as an Ancient One. And internationality more than most of the films.

Marvel Studios Hall H Panel

The best element in Strange is the pace. I was never bored. The story starts right away, you get the feeling who we’re dealing with Dr. Strange and Cumberbatch draws the character perfectly. We see how he deals with others, what kind of a person he is. And we don’t really like him but we get to know him and see him grow and we definitely start to care about him. I also liked a lot of McAdams’ character even though she’s quite on the side. And there are some very, very nice one-liners. As always when it comes to MCU movies.

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In general Doctor Strange is great! It might lose some of its magic (ha haa) when watching it again (and again which I will probably do) and on the first time, I loved it. Is it perfect? No, but it’s entertaining as hell. I recommend. Half of the star in rating is given because I got overly excited because of the first end-credits scene, it sure was the best one so far!

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

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The Best of the Best – Disney Company Films

To celebrate 93rd birthday of The Walt Disney Company I wanted to list my favourite films produced by the company. Walt Disney is one of my biggest heroes. He was the man who made fairytales to become live. My all time favourite quote is his

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and I always try to keep that in mind when it feels I can’t. We all can. 🙂

There might be some films missing but I blame IMDb if not my fave Disneys are on the list, as these were the ones the search of ever reliable IMDb gave me. There are some minor SPOILERS in videos.

10)

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Ratatouille (2007)

9)

Enchanted (2007)

8)

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Freaky Friday (2003)

7)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

6)

Mary Poppins (1964)

5)

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Frozen (2013)

4)

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

3) (This breaks your heart. The best montage ever.)

Up (2009)

2)

The Lion King (1994)

1)

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Wall-E (2008)

Lovely, lovely films! It’s great that there are still people who make you feel good with creating this kind of films.

And there’s more to come like live-versions of Beauty and the Beast, Tim Burton’s Dumbo or Cruella with Emma Stone starring. Even the trailer for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean looked promising. Mary Poppins also returns and Lasse Hällström is going to direct Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, that should be interesting. And yes, the live version of  The Lion King sounds scary idea.