animal movies

REVIEW: The Rider (2017)

After suffering from a near fatal head injury from the rodeo, young cowboy Brady (Brady Jandreau) tries to find a new identity for himself when he is not able to do what he’s always known and loved.

The Rider is interesting as it blurs the line between documentary and drama. Jandreau plays a version of himself, it’s his real-life head injury you see at the start of the film, staples in his head and all. This realisation that this story is so close to home for all the cast involved makes it even more touching and brilliant.

The Rider is about the American heartland and what it means to be a modern cowboy. The dangers these young men face and the difficulty of finding another purpose in life when the rodeo is all they’ve known. Brady is an amazing rider and horse trainer, seeing him with the animals, their connection is clear, so watching him struggle when he can’t do that anymore is tough to watch. Jandreau gives a subtle yet brilliant performance, he’s often quiet and controlled so when the tears or frustration appear it’s even more powerful.

The Rider is just a beautiful film in every way. A beautiful story, stunning cinematography of a gorgeous landscape and haunting music. You don’t need to love horses to fall in love with this film – I certainly don’t. The performances and characters and the subtleties of this film stick with you. It’s a brilliant film about a group of people and a career that seems to be dying out, a very different kind of Western. 5/5.

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REVIEW: Blackfish (2013)

blackfish-movie-posterDocumentary following the controversial captivity of orcas, aka killer whales, and the dangers it presents for humans and whales.

The focus of Blackfish is on Sea World and the whales there including Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca that was involved with the death of three people including two experienced whale trainers. Interviews from former Sea World trainers paint a picture of how all orcas were treated and trained in Sea World and you also get to see their thoughts on the attacks and how they didn’t always know a lot about them when they were still involved with the whales. It’s clear that the former trainers cared about the whales but they were also deceived by their employers on how safe being so close to the whales were. Tilikum wasn’t the only whale involved in attacking and killing people, video footage shows other incidents in Sea World and in other parks across the world.

The film does a great job of showing actual footage of the trainers with the whales when everything’s normal and before or after an attack. It’s doesn’t go for the shock value that an animal attacking a human can bring, it’s very sensitive to those who have been injured or have lost their lives to an orca but remains critical of Sea World’s practices and the act of keeping whales in captivity in general.

Blackfish has a range of people interviewed, animal trainers, psychologists, marine biologists and lawyers from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Together they show the mental trauma these huge creatures go through when they are taken from their families and put into small enclosures. How capitalist organisations will risk human life if it means they can make a lot of money and will even go so far as to try and cover incidents up or place blame elsewhere.

Blackfish really makes you think. I know when I was eight years old and my family went to Disney World in Florida, we spent the day at Sea World and saw the shows where trainers are in the water with killer whales, dolphins and sea lions. It’s a big money business and the way it’s presented to you as the paying tourist, you don’t comprehend what the animals are going through. You see the animals doing their tricks and you don’t really think about where they sleep or how they’re trained.

Blackfish is an important yet disturbing and powerful documentary that will change the way you look at killer whales, and animals in captivity in general. 5/5.

A is for: Favourite Animal Movies

I have always loved animals. When I was a child I wanted to be a vet before I realised that I would have to put cute, fluffy animals to sleep and put my whole arm inside a cow. I then thought I could be an RSPCA Inspector but that would’ve been horrible seeing the badly treated animals every day. So when it comes to films, both when I was growing up and today, I loved films with animals in them – I far preferred the animated Disney animal films rather than the Princess movies. So without further ado, here are my favourite films starring some furry friends.

The Lion King (1994)
My favourite animated Disney film ever. The Lion King has the best music, the best characters, and the animation. When it was rereleased a few years ago in cinemas in 3D I ended tearing up when Mufasa died – something I never did as a child. Lions are just great and have a large cuddly Simba that guards my bed.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Homeward Bound scared me when I was a child, what with Sassy getting swept down a river, Chance getting Porcupine needles in his face, and Shadow falling down a hole so close to home. But it also made me laugh, Michael J. Fox was a brilliant choise of voice actor for a hyperacticve dog. It also taught me (with help from my mum) who Arnold Schwarzenegger was – what with Chance calling the mountain lion Arnold Schwarzen-kitty. To this day, I automatically refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger as Arnold Schwarzen-kitty – it gets some confused looks if I’m with anyone else but my mum.

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