‘Inside Out’ Takes Great Trip Into a Girl’s Psyche

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Pixar's latest film, "Inside Out," focuses on 11-year-old Riley.

Credit: Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures

(WOMENSENEWS)– "Inside Out," the latest Pixar animation, is a family drama and a feast of entertaining wit and wisdom for kids of all ages. The story is all about a girl, an 11-year-old named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), who faces the challenges of fitting in when her family moves from their rural Midwestern home to San Francisco, and she is enrolled in a new school. Much of the narrative takes place inside the girl’s head, where five emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) – emerge as an emotional control central, reflecting what’s happening in her day-to-day life. This handful of influencers calls forth dreams and memories to provide a framework for the present. Director/writers Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen and co-writer Meg LeFauve’s dramatic psychological expose is profoundly clever, and it’s great to see the story focused on a girl’s experiences. Pixar’s flawless animation and beautifully day-glo visual representations are superb. Go see this cinematic treat; with your family, if possible.

"The Face of an Angel," based on Barbie Latza Nadeau’s bestseller "Angel Face: Sex, Murder and the Inside Story of Amanda Knox," offers a fictional probe of the true-crime case of Meredith Kercher, the British student who was killed in Perugia, Italy, in 2007. Kercher’s roommate, American student Knox, was convicted of murder, along with her then boyfriend. Both Knox and her boyfriend were subsequently acquitted on appeal. Director Michael Winterbottom’s fascinating narrative feature deploys a fictional journalist (Kate Beckensale) and a documentary filmmaker (Daniel Bruhl) to discover truths obscured by the media’s pandering sensationalistic coverage. This is high tension drama and it is as provocative as it is satisfying.

"Eden" is French actress-turned-director/writer Mia Hansen-Love’s coming-of-age take on music-obsessed youngsters. The film’s focus is on Paul (Felix de Givry), who leaves his rather conventional home to make his way into the trendy contemporary drug- and sex-driven rave music scene. There he finds moderate recognition, romance, personal satisfaction and, ultimately – as trends evolve and young men must grow up — failure. The film itself is something of a rave; an impressionistic psychedelic saga, presented via superb camerawork and visual effects. Its loud and driving soundtrack provides a sort of cinematic magic. But the story is poorly constructed, unconvincing and, ultimately, unsatisfying. This is a real disappointment from Hansen-Love, and a stylistic departure from her "Goodbye First Love" and other films that have been so much more engaging. Co-written by her brother Sven Hansen-Love, the film is in French with English subtitles.

"The Overnight" is a comedy that unveils sexual curiosities and taboos in a most engaging and entertaining way when a rather conventional husband and wife who’ve recently arrived in Los Angeles hook up with a longtime Los Angelino couple through their young kids who take to each other in the neighborhood playground. They decide to get together for a family dinner and playdate. The liberating events that occur during the titular overnight are a hilarious, quirky and unexpected romp, with equal opportunity fun for women. Caveat emptor: serious prudes stay home.

"The Wanted 18" emanates from the Middle East. The documentary chronicles the odd, inexplicable and absurd persecution of 18 Palestinian-owned cows, deemed by Israeli security forces to be of terrorist concern. It is set during the first Palestinian Intifada (1987-93) when Palestinians living in the town of Beit Sahour bought cows so they could produce their own milk instead of buying it from Israelis, who then sought to track down and confiscate the cows. Mixing on-camera interviews with archival footage and appealing animation provided by Palestinian artist Amer Shomali, Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan brings this legendary absurd-but-true story to the big screen. It’s an amazing tale that’s inventively well told, and speaks to ongoing issues that range well beyond the plight of its titular bovines. Moooove over Michael Moore!

Stay tuned for additional June openers.

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