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Everyone’s watching


Luca is “Pixar’s shortest, sweetest film in a very long time”, says Robbie Collin in the Telegraph. Young friends Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) enjoy a formative summer with a twist: they’re not mere boys, but scaly, rainbow-hued mer-boys from an offshore colony of sea monsters. They turn into humans whenever they set foot on land, slurping ice creams and clattering bicycles around a picturesque 1950s Italian fishing village. It’s just a shame the 101-minute film can only be streamed via Disney+. “Its breezily beautiful sequences are crying out to be experienced in a cinema.”

Expect a “very Pixar” parable, says Kevin Maher in The Times. The village’s pompous, pitchfork-toting fisherfolk aren’t fans of monsters, even little ones, and the boys must avoid discovery at all costs. (Water turns them back into their fishy forms.) Luca’s worried parents (Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan) come hurrying after them. Like Woody and Buzz in Toy Story, our heroes must hide their real selves whenever the humans are watching. But the villagers need a hug too. The message is a familiar one: everyone is an outsider, even the insiders. Pixar remains the “inviolable master of cinema soul food for kids of all ages”.

This is a classic fish-out-of-water comedy, says Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. Some wondered if Pixar was sneaking out “a stealth PG-rated riff” on Call Me by Your Name, involving first love and the Italian countryside. Not quite: the child-centric studio has little time for romance “and no room for sexuality”. But the subtext is clear. Luca is about “the thrill and the difficulty of living transparently”, and the consolations that friendship, kindness and decency can provide. It’s big “in all the ways that count”, even if it is confined to the small screen.

Luca is on Disney+. Watch the trailer here.

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Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Anthony Bourdain was “your brother, your rad uncle, your impossibly cool dad”, says Helen Rosner in The New Yorker. The chef, TV presenter and food writer committed suicide three years ago. All 12 seasons of Parts Unknown, his cooking and travel show, are on Netflix. In the most famous episode he sits on a low plastic stool at an unadorned noodle shop in Hanoi, Vietnam, eating bun cha with Barack Obama, two great men hard to separate by their easy, worldly charm. But of the two, I have long maintained a theory that Bourdain “was the best-known celebrity in America”.

He was humble too, says Greg Morabito in Eater. In Peru, Bourdain takes his friend to a museum of ancient erotica and eats sizzling beef hearts on the streets of Lima. In between steaming bowls of khao soi and charcoal-grilled squid skewers, we hear the tragic story of how Laos became “the most heavily bombed country per capita in the history of the world”. And in Rome he meets, on camera, his future girlfriend, actress and film-maker Asia Argento. They go to a boxing match and eat spaghetti. “He kept exploring, never talked down to anyone, and always brought us along for the ride.”

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is on Netflix. Watch the trailer here.