Pinocchio (1940) — PICK
Queen of Katwe (2016) — PICK
The best live-action family film of 2016 is now on home video — and believe me when I tell you that every single person I’ve heard from about this film has thanked me for highlighting a film they loved and wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of an illiterate girl from an impoverished Christian family in the Katwe slum of Kampala, Uganda, who becomes a chess champion.
Yes: Disney made a film about an African Christian female chess champion.
Newcomer Madina Nalwanga, who is actually from a Kampala slum, plays Phiona Mutesi, a half-orphan who lives with her fiercely protective mother (Nyong’o) and young brother. Phiona sells maize in the streets and has no hope of a better life — until she meets an African missionary, Robert Katende (Oyelowo), whose outreach program uses sports and games to connect with kids.
“In chess,” a young player says, holding up a pawn and a queen, “the small one can become the big one.” Don’t miss this one — you won’t be sorry.
Returning to home video, Disney’s great masterpiece Pinocchio is available in a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Signature Collection edition. No other Disney fairy tale offers such lavish animation, such overtly Christian moralizing, and so enduring a sidekick, Jiminy Cricket.
Caveat Spectator: Pinocchio: Fairy-tale scariness and frightening images. Queen of Katwe: Frank depiction of grinding poverty and desperation; some suggestive references regarding exploitation of women; a fleeting but traumatic accident. All fine for older kids and up.