Walt Disney’s animated film ‘Dumbo’

The fifth movie released by the studio created by Roy and Walt Disney was the animated movie Dumbo (1941). With the live-action Dumbo (2019) coming to theaters later this month, we watched the 64-minute feature film originally released 78-years ago.

Dumbo 2 - Mr. Stork(Mr. Stork as voiced by Sterling Holloway in Dumbo).

The story of the original Dumbo movie began with the tale of the circus at winter’s rest in Florida. We are introduced to the fact of the circus with many storks bringing joyful packages of new animal kids for the animals in the circus. Arriving a bit later than the other delivery storks was the flying character of Mr. Stork, bringing to the circus the title character of the movie, our very own Dumbo.

Dumbo 4 - Dumbo(Dumbo as voiced by Mel Blanc in Dumbo).

Dumbo was delivered to his mother for nurturing, raising, and the emotional support one would expect from her mother, Mrs. Jumbo. Dumbo begins his time rejected by the adult elephants within the circus with his mother, though Mrs. Jumbo takes it upon herself early within the sequence to shelter her boy with big ears from the jokes that come his way for his looks as well as the clumsiness that become a part of his experience.

Dumbo 3 - Mrs. Jumbo(Mrs. Jumbo as voiced by Verna Felton in Dumbo).

The circus lacked a way to Dumbo into their show, and with the cultural norms of the period went about movie the big eared little buy immediately into an attraction for the circus with all the full grown elephants. This initially included interacting with the circus patrons, which led to a dimwitted, big-eared boy teasing Dumbo for Dumbo’s big ears. After coming to her son’s defense, Mrs. Jumbo was declared a mad elephant and separated from her son.

Dumbo 7 - Smitty, the kid who bullies Dumbo(Smitty the bully was not voiced in Dumbo).

Separated from his mother, the adult elephants would not give Dumbo the emotional support or friendship he needed to learn how to interact with his ears in the circus. Seeing the struggle that Dumbo was experiencing, the larger story of Dumbo began to take a more positive turn when a mouse came to the first level of rescue with friendship.

Dumbo 8 - The adult elephants who bully Dumbo(The adult elephants who rejected the character Dumbo in the movie Dumbo).

Timothy Q. Mouse sized up the predicament in a way that no elephant, adult, or other animal in the whole circus would. The fundamental need for any person is to be liked for who they are, and the larger aim at redemption for Dumbo the movie rested right here. Timothy makes friends with Dumbo, helps get Dumbo into see his isolated mother Mrs. Jumbo, and even speaks into the ear of the evil ringmaster at the center of the circus.

Dumbo 5 - Timothy Q. Mouse(Timothy Q. Mouse as voiced by Edward Brophy in Dumbo).

It was Timothy Q. Mouse who whispered to the Ringmaster of the circus as the ringmaster slept one night between after Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo were separated. Timothy suggested ways to incorporate Dumbo into the circus act, which the ringmaster proceeded to heed. While this first effort did not work, the effort did lead to Dumbo being paired with the clowns in a prophetic sequence for the story.

Dumbo 6 - The Ringmaster(The Ringmaster as voiced by Herman Bing in Dumbo).

Dumbo would be paired with the clowns after being rejected by the adult elephants for a second time. After dismissing all concepts of feelings in Dumbo and seeking to have him jump from ever higher heights, one careless night the clowns managed to get both Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse inebriated with some special water.

Dumbo 9 - The Clowns(The clowns who worked the character Dumbo  into their circus act in the movie Dumbo).

The special inebriation led to an extended and disconnected dream sequence for Timothy and Dumbo. Much fanciful music and imagery followed this sequence. The prime delight of the sequence as experienced was the Pink Elephants on Parade.

Dumbo 10 - Elephants on Parade(The pink elephants on parade in the movie Dumbo).

When our movie heroes awoke, confused and high above the ground within a tree, they met a new set of friends. The crows had the wisdom to suggest flying to Dumbo and Timothy as the means to escape the tree, return to their circus, and survive the risk introduced through the circus clowns interested in keeping their places within the circus.

Dumbo 11 - The Crows(The crows with friendship and support for Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse in the movie Dumbo).

The out-of-sight outcome that won the movie was when Dumbo and Timothy needed to jump from their highest height in the movie to survive the fall demanded of the clowns. Dumbo’s had learned to use his ears as wings, took flight to win the esteem of the audience and his circus mates, and was rewarded with an outcome that recognized who he was and what he could do in earning love.

While the trope and narrative arc of this movie are showing the age of being almost 80-years old, the movie was well-constructed and seemingly appropriate for the time it was written. From a young age, this film has not been a favorite Matt Lynn Digital contributor Lynn. Overall, our movie rating of the animated Dumbo as 3.5-stars on a scale of one-to-five stars.

Matt – Saturday, March 23, 2019

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Leonardo DiCaprio and the film ‘Inception’

The movie Inception (2010) won four Academy Awards, including honors for best sound editing, best sound mixing, best cinematography, and best visual effects. These qualities along with a decent story line make for an entertaining if dreamy cinematic experience that works well in movie or home theaters alike. For the kind folks at Matt Lynn Digital, the movie garners mixed reviews following a recent screening of the film.

Inception 2 - Leonardo DiCaprio(Leonardo DiCaprio as Dominick Cobb).

The movie starts with the premise that the character Dominick Cobb, as portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a thief with a secret. The secret is one withheld from many in Cobb’s ring of helpers involved with a dream-sharing technology called inception, which is the inspiration for the film’s name. As with other films written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the story pushes the boundary of science fiction in a nuanced and speculative manner.

Inception 4 - Tom Hardy & Ken Watanabe & Dileep Rao(Tom Hardy as Eames is seated on left. Ken Watanabe as Saito stands at center. Dileep Rao as Yusuf stands at right).

Cobb’s inception service is solicited in the story of Inception by energy businessman Saito, who is portrayed by Ken Watanabe. The pretext for Saito’s illicit service request is to help counteract the world marketshare of Australian energy conglomerate Fischer Morrow for his company, Proclus Global. Saito argues that Fischer Morrow becomes the equivalent of a governmental superpower without the intended planting of an idea into pending Fischer Morrow head Robert Fischer.

Inception 5 - Cillian Murphy & Tom Berenger(Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer, left. Tom Berenger as Peter Browning, right).

Cillian Murphy portrays Robert Fischer, the foil upon whom the theft of idea implantation through the inception dream-sharing technology is to be shared. Tom Berenger plays Peter Browning, the longtime legal council to Robert Fischer’s dying father, Maurice Fischer. Browning also is Robert Fischer’s godfather, surrogate father, and trusted confidant governing the sensitivity Robert feels surrounding what feels like an emotionally neglectful relationship.

Inception 3 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Ellen Page(Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur and Ellen Page as Ariadne).

The team that is tasked with helping Cobb perpetuate the theft against Robert and Maurice Fischer’s company includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur, Ellen Page as Ariadne, Tom Hardy as Eames, and Dileep Rao as Yusuf. Arthur and Eaves (a forger) have the most personal relationships with Cobb among the theft crew. Arthur works to make sure everything is in its proper place. Yusuf formulates his own brand of dream-sharing drugs that become important within the context of the intended theft proposed by Cobb on behalf of Saito.

Inception 7 - Michael Caine & Leonardo DiCaprio(Michael Caine, left, as Stephen Miles. Leonardo DiCaprio as Dominick Cobb, right).

Michael Caine portrays Stephen Miles. Miles serves as mentor to Cobb as a fugitive outside the United States following the death of Miles’ daughter and Cobb’s wife, Mal. Marion Cotillard portrays Mal. Miles, as a college professor, introduces Dominick Cobb to a star pupil of his, Ariadne. It is Ariadne’s intellectual curiosity that leads her to join the Fischer idea planting project. Critical pieces to multiple parts of the story are shared only after this introduction.

Inception 6 - Marion Cotillard(Marion Cotillard as Mal Cobb).

Many personal stories among the characters get explored through the really interesting notion of the dream-sharing frames within the film Inception. The creativity of the hook and the storytelling that follows really captured my imagination in a positive and unique way. The hook made Lynn of Matt Lynn Digital uncomfortable to the point of choosing to stop watching the movie.

Inception 8 - Cillian Murphy, Leonardo DiCaprio, & Tom Hardy(Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer, front. Leonardo DiCaprio as Dominick Cobb, center. Tom Hardy as Eaves, back).

The images within the story, which are reflected with the Academy Awards for best cinematography and best visual effects identified earlier in this piece, supported the story to an outstanding degree. The different landscapes and bending of physical concepts on-screen were dynamic and appreciated. The layering of dreams within dreams, and stories within stories, engaged me to a high degree. The notion of tying characters to reality with a totem, though applied differently that the dictionary definition of totem within the movie, was appreciated.

My sense for desiring adventure and playful boundary-pushing in movies has me wanting to rate Inception highly. That Lynn felt uncomfortable with a large concept of the storytelling has its place in my applying my grade to the movie. Overall, I offer Inception 3.75-stars out-of 5.

Matt – Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Sunday Afternoon with Alexander McCall Smith

On a recent Sunday afternoon at a public library near my home, Lynn of Matt Lynn Digital and I accompanied her mother, Eastern Mom, to see acclaimed Scottish and bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith speak. McCall Smith made the visit in support of his famous No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series of books. The recently released book The Colors of All Cattle is the nineteenth release in the series.

AM Smith 2(Alexander McCall Smith)

McCall Smith has written or contributed to more than 100 books during his prolific writing career. The afternoon included a two-hour session of moderated questions in the main auditorium of a public library. The Colors of All Cattle was for sale with autographs and pictures offered to an eager crowd following the discussion.

AM Smith 4(McCall Smith‘s new book The Colors of All Cattle).

During the conversation, the author read the closing paragraph of the book The Colors of All Cattle. The larger point of reading from this paragraph was to offer insight into his female protagonist from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series, Mma Precious Ramotswe of Gaborone, Botswana. The larger point shared through Precious Ramotswe was to anchor yourself with pride to home. Have pride like Mma Ramotswe in your home, its traditions and teachings. Let that pride pour out with distinction and honor as that place, along with a sense of it and the people there, form part of your unique identity.

Eastern Mom and Lynn, mother and first born daughter, have enjoyed the books from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series since I have known them. Eastern Mom praises the simple sense of things, sensibility, and contentment that comes with the ladies of Botswana. Lynn relates to the strength and the fastidious correctness of both Mma Ramotswe, the No. 1 lady of the detective agency, as well as her friend and assistant Mma Grace Makutsi.

AM Smith 3(Books from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series.)

In his recent Sunday afternoon visit to the Midwestern United States, Alexander McCall Smith spoke of taking inspiration from 20th century writer R.K. Narayan. Narayan is from southern India. His English prose is said to have been in a “simple and modest writing style.” Eastern Mom referenced this in her discerned sensibility of the ladies of Botswana. McCall Smith‘s “Botswana Books,” or the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series. The fictional south Indian town of Malgudi in the writing of Narayan is clearly seen in McCall Smith.

McCall Smith further praised the poetry of W.H. Auden, the sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the undervalued career of English writer Barbara Pym. McCall Smith offered Pym the high praise of considering her the Jane Austen of the second half of the twentieth century.

The Sunday afternoon that I shared with Lynn, Eastern Mom, and Alexander McCall Smith was a delightful gathering enjoyed, at minimum, by the ladies and me. We three are better for the experience, and we look forward to the last little nugget of possibility raised by McCall Smith when asked about the HBO series around the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series (TV Series 2008-2009). While the series is not likely to come back, the a musical based on the book series is possible.

Matt – Saturday, November 17, 2018

Film review for a winner of four Academy Awards, ‘Platoon’

Director Oliver Stone and Producer Arnold Kopelson first released Platoon on a limited basis in movie theater’s in December 1986. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning for Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound, and Direction. To underscore that this movie was well received by the academy would be a disservice to the film.

Platoon 8(Oliver Stone in cameo in Platoon)

While arguably first a movie with an ensemble cast set in the Vietnam War circa 1967, the story of the movie is a tale of idealism and innocence lost in the jungle of Vietnam as seen through the eyes of Chris Taylor (as played by Charlie Sheen) and others. The character of Chris Taylor volunteers for service after dropping out from college with little worldly experience, which in my opinion serves as a metaphor for much of how the United States viewed itself at the time.

Platoon 3(Charlie Sheen)

While the enemy that the United States was fighting in Vietnam was the communist ideal and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the argument offered in the movie was that there was an internal struggle within America for the fight. The movie wasn’t aiming to argue those politics, though the internal American struggle was viewed through the lens of youthful innocence and some degree of rich versus poor.

Platoon 2(Willem Dafoe, left, and Tom Berenger, right)

Sargent Barnes as played by Tom Berenger serves as the jaded by war experience and morally corrupted platoon leader. Barnes has a quite unsympathetic and unfeeling attitude toward the Vietnam natives in country, and takes ruthless and criminal actions against the people of a farming village that the platoon in the movie comes upon. Sheen’s Taylor finds sympathy with the platoon faction lining up behind the more sympathetic Sargent Elias, who is played by Willem Dafoe.

The characters of Elias and Taylor take illicit drugs during the course of the movie. Barnes does not take that step, receives praise for his toughness within members of the platoon, and is shown for moments of leadership fallibility and moral turpitude, especially amongst the Vietnamese farming villagers as well as in the fate of Sargent Elias.

Platoon 5(Forest Whitaker)

In underscoring some of the military policy of integrating the military that was part of the legacy of the Vietnam War, the notion of the larger ensemble cast also sharing in the taking of sides between Sargent’s Barnes and Elias was clear. Big Harold, as played by Forest Whitaker, gave voice to the same inner turmoil that Chris Taylor (Sheen) was experiencing. This was communicated most strongly, perhaps, after the Vietnamese village was raised and farmers were killed.

Platoon 4(Keith David)

In the role as King, Keith David was a voice of moralizing that helped the character of Chris Taylor come to his own sense of moral clarity within the film. David’s initial role was in taking stock of the character that Taylor was as well as helping guide the change that Taylor would experience by the end of the movie. The character of Rhah, as played by Francesco Quinn, was another strong voice for the audience and Taylor in speaking for the directorial messages of immediacy and vision that I heard in the film.

Platoon 6(Francesco Quinn)

There is no question that Platoon lands firmly in the camp of war movie. The scenes of war action were real and intense for their day, though later surpassed by some of the film quality of a picture like Saving Private Ryan. Similar in ensemble quality to Saving Private Ryan, I would be remiss if I were to not point out that Johnny Depp also served as Private Gator Lerner in Platoon.

Platoon 7(Johnny Depp)

Part of the larger power of the movie that worked so well as a war movie is that the experience offered was that of the platoon level combatant. The notion of Taylor losing the ability to write home, and his platoon mates asking him about it were quite real. The notion of staying morally forthright while facing many opportunities to lose innocence and idealism were also fair, gritty, and in ways unpleasantly real. The depictions of combat, of corrupted leadership and the counterpoint rectitude, and the coping with having thoughts on each while feeling powerless to affect the course were strong and cogent messages.

With all these things said, the reason that I watched Platoon without Lynn reflect the same reason that I watched Dunkirk, reviewed here, without Lynn. The violence and sensibility of war that were parts of Platoon and Dunkirk were not things that Lynn would enjoy. Quite easily put, there was nothing to be gained by subjecting her to an experience that she would not enjoy.

Platoon, still, was worthy of Academy Award attention.

Matt – Sunday, March 18, 2018

Offering a Song of Love

Three times before today, we at Matt Lynn Digital have offered a firsthand experience with the speaking and leadership organization called Toastmasters International. This organization has helped me grow personally in confidence, vision creation, voice, and many areas professionally and personally.

There was the time where in this blog where I compared my early experience in confidence finding to peeling back the layers of an onion. There was another time where I was excited to hear the current president of the Toastmasters organization speak to members of my district. There was the time where I mentioned cultivating the relationships formed in Toastmasters to help me land a new career opportunity following a layoff with my employer of more than 16-years.

As you might tell from the opening two paragraphs, my heart wishes to offer a feeling of gratitude for the growth and bridge of friendship that I found during my time there. One of the ways I have given back to Toastmasters is in service to the district where I experience the organization. Stated another way, I aim to give back by sharing my talents and willingness to support others taking or supporting similar journeys themselves.

Finally, I bring myself to the example that brings me to my bigger point. I was giving a speech to my home club on a night when Lynn, the better half of this blog team, visited the club after a rough day at home. Sensing an opportunity to entertain my Toastmaster colleagues and wife at the same time, I chose to sing in public for one of two times I had in my entire public speaking career.

Modifying the lyrics to Bette Midler‘s song The Rose, I sang the song of love to our then 11-year-old dog to my wife. The dynamic of the singing as well as the dynamic of an interplay through unaccustomed presentation style was less than award-winning music while being full blown emotionally dynamic and groundbreaking for a group that had previously seen me take a less pronounced public speaking style.

The Toastmaster Rose 2(Bette Midler)

The speech itself professed my love for Kayley, included visual images of Kayley for the audience to share, and included some precious moments of love and cuteness. The subject matter even included the speech title, which included the simulated barking of the letter R five-times in rhythmic succession.

The entertainment value and coherence of the speech brought itself together in the end by tying the “puppy love” of my affection for our dog into a telling of how it was that my first introduction to our four-legged friend that began to build the affection my wife and I would build from infatuation, to something mature, to the very real decisions to act together as one in marriage. In five-to-seven minutes, I had taken my club and my wife on a journey of puppy love, song, and vision to the mature dynamic of a love story that was unwrapped for everyone to see.

At least, that concept of unwrapping is how I tell myself in my head the speech went. The striving for something that compelling was there. I had given this speech to the members of my club at a winter meeting in December 2016. The time to share it here, with you, was today. Happy new year.

Matt – Saturday, January 6, 2018