Tag Archives: review

My Choice for One Film to Rule Them All

August 8, 2021

Roque Recommends

I was recently asked by a friend to think of one film that I would recommend to everyone. She thought to ask me this since I am a filmmaker, and, as such, I might have a good answer. The question became a wonderful thought experiment and a tall order. By my estimation, my choice would have to be both entertaining and a representation of what I believe a good film is. I came up with a short list of films right off the top of my head, but there is one that I kept going back to over and over again. That particular film had to fly through the following criteria:

  1. Does it have an engaging story and a satisfying ending?

    Yes. It certainly does. From its opening scene and all the way through the end credits, the viewer will certainly be enthralled. This film is imaginative and does not hold back.

  2. In terms of film craft, is it visually and technically well done or even masterful?

    Yes. Virtually all of the elaborate sets were custom built and every sequence (including crazy action sequences) needed to be carefully choreographed in order to work. It took a massive army of a creative team to bring this film to life. I am humbled and in awe of what these filmmakers accomplished.

  3. Does the film still hold up many years after its theatrical release?

    Yes. It is still entertaining and, sadly, as relevant as it was when it was released.

  4. Does the film embody different ideas and layers, as opposed to being shallow and one-dimensional?

    Yes! In addition to being a brilliant satire of real life, it is an action movie, a theatrical musical (with the best songs EVER!), a romantic film, and a hysterical comedy. It takes every Hollywood cliche and turns each one up a notch. It’s basically a satire of everything, and it does not get more ambitious than that.

  5. Does this film appeal to a large cross-section of people?

    I would say it would appeal to any adult anywhere in the world. As a comedy and geopolitical satire of America, this film would have strong international appeal for anyone who looks at America with a critical eye. Anyone within the US could benefit from seeing a satire such as this. For them, this film is a mirror image of what America projects onto the world, for better or worse. It’s also incredibly funny and quite a sight to behold. However, I would strongly caution against young children watching this because of its adult content and language (even though they would be highly entertained by it otherwise.)

Well then, my choice checks all of the boxes. So, without further ado, here is the theatrical trailer for the film I would recommend to everyone:

Team America: World Police

Yes, this film uses puppets. Yes, it looks ridiculous, but you have to watch the whole thing to understand where I am coming from. The musical sequences and the songs (which are not mentioned in the trailer) are brilliant. (AMERICA! F__K YEAH!!!!)

I give mad props to directors Matt Stone and Trey Parker. They took every risk imaginable, and it all paid off.

Honestly, I can’t believe this is my choice, but I keep going to back to it in my head.

If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend watching the extended and uncensored version. (It has a lengthy sex scene that will leave you ROFL and LOL’ing for sure, among many other tidbits.)

So, based on the criteria listed above, what is one film that you would recommend to everyone? Leave a comment here or on the Facebook to let me know.

Thanks for reading, and please, grab some popcorn. Gather up a few friends and watch “Team America: World Police.”

You will certainly be entertained, if nothing else.

Roqué’s Sunday Book Review: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

July 18, 2021

Culture and Society / Reading Books / Roque Recommends

Writer Kazuo Ishiguro is as accomplished as an author can get. As a winner of the Nobel Prize in literature (among several accolades), he has written novels such as The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go that have resonated with audiences all over the world.  Each novel submerges the reader completely into the mind and sensibilities of its characters. Ishiguro’s writing is self-assured and crystalline in its delivery and style.  In his new novel just released this year entitled Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro is in mighty, top form.

The story of this novel takes places somewhere in the not-too-distant future. Ishiguro incrementally unravels what this future world looks like, and it is striking to see how believable he makes it all feel. Klara, the titular character, is a robot—one that was designed to act as a companion and confidante for children and teenagers. She is an incredibly sensitive and highly sophisticated piece of machinery that can engage with humans in, well, very human-like ways. 

Klara conveys empathy by remembering every nuance of behavior that she observes around her. She aggregates all of the data she compiles to inform how she interacts with the child who keeps her. Internally, she actively questions all she sees and any contradictions she comes across. Her mission is to support the child and his/her wellbeing as completely as possible. The sun and its solar energy are her power sources, and as such, she is a robust and efficient machine that can run itself for as along as possible.

This premise alone is fascinating, but the story itself is incredibly well-crafted. I found myself sighing at the end, which I will not give away here. What Ishiguro offers up in this book is an analysis of the shortcomings of humanity, despite its blistering ambition and technical powers. 

If you are looking for an absorbing book that is as tenderhearted as it is disturbing, this book may be right up your alley. Ishiguro, once again, schools the rest of us over how it’s done. He builds depth and complexity out of subtlety and nuance. What appears to be a gentle slap to the face is actually a tight-fisted, forceful punch to the gut.  You won’t know what it you.  

This book is masterful indeed. 


Roqué’s Sunday Book Review: The Wanderer by Peter Van Den Ende

June 27, 2021

Culture and Society

Today’s book recommendation is for no ordinary book.  I’d say it is a children’s book for all ages—a whimsical, spellbinding, and imaginative tour-de-force!

The Wanderer by Peter Van Den Ende is one of those rare books in which its author and illustrator are the same person.  (This is not often the case, and by my estimation, this work is of the same caliber as that of the legendary author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg.) Peter Van Den Ende has crafted a marvelous tale in which the detailed images tell the entire story. No words are needed.  

In its story, a tiny paper boat sets off on an epic voyage across an enormous ocean filled with strange creatures. The boat floats and scurries along while getting much-needed help in the most unlikely and magical ways.  The artwork is meticulously detailed and awe-inspiring.  Each page and vignette can stand alone and still be more than enough.

I am a big fan of children’s books, and I have a small collection of ones that are unusual and incredibly beautiful. This book checks all of my boxes and has a permanent home in my collection.  To me, a children’s book is a work of art. The good ones tell a story poignantly in as succinct and eloquent a manner as possible. The best ones are fueled by striking imagery that is both visionary and skillfully rendered. 

If you know of a child who would love a book as amazing as this, I highly recommend that you give that child this book. He or she will find their own imaginations wandering out into the most fantastical places fearlessly and boldly—just like the little paper boat in this book and just as every child’s (and adult’s) mind unabashedly should.


(P.S.—I am what most people would consider a grown-ass man, and I bought this book for MYSELF. You don’t need to get this for a kid.  If you are an art lover like me, you’ll love this book. It is literally EVERYTHING.)