Soul (2020)



Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

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Director :
Pete Docter, Kemp Powers(co-director)

Writer :

Pete Docter (story and screenplay by), Mike Jones (story and screenplay by), Kemp Powers (story and screenplay by)


Actors :
Jamie Foxx| Tina Fey| Graham Norton| Rachel House|

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Best Review:

When describing Pete Docter and Pixar’s Soul, it will be categorically difficult to avoid epithets derived from its title. Because all of them, as one, will be honest and disarming. “Soul” hits you in the soul, if you have one. And if you are not six years old. But more about that next.

The school music teacher Joe Gardner died. But since he played his dream gig shortly before he died and was offered to play in the coolest jazz band on a permanent basis, Joe strongly disagrees with this state of affairs. By some miracle and stubbornness, he escapes the travelator that leads straight to the Great After, the Great Before, the wondrous place where souls are nurtured to be sent to Earth. It’s just a matter of bringing up one pest soul number Twenty-Two, stealing her pass, and returning in time for the evening show. Do you think it’ll work?

It is clear that the life of the human soul has stirred the minds of all creative people for centuries. So many theories: religious, philosophical, fantastic. But the main thing is to have this very life. How else can we explain where our consciousness goes when we fall into creative ecstasy? And it is not necessary to play the piano. You can also saw with a jigsaw. And in general, you can do anything you like, as long as you do it with your soul (Ugh! How can you get rid of this word?) Pete Dockter is the illustration of this uppercase truth. Or rather, the truths that make up his cartoon. Except that he talks about obvious things in a non-obvious, tragicomic way which you could already notice in his own “Puzzle”. And his artistic method communicates a distinctly authorial handwriting. “The Soul Totrrent” is like the next chapter of Docter’s research (he has a good last name, of course) under the conventional title “What are people made of?”

 

In “Puzzle,” Pete used the example of his daughter to study emotion, for which he won his cinematic Nobel Prize. In “Soul,” he says in an interview, he reflected on how human personality is formed by watching his son. And since the son is now 23 years old, it makes sense that the main character is also already a big kid.

Joe Gardner is an over-the-top character, at least for Russian audiences. He is an overgrown child, a grown man, even too grown up, but who has achieved nothing in life, not only by conventional social standards or by the standards of his portly mother, but even by his own. Infantile genius, who lives only at the piano and resents the whole world, unable to appreciate him. It is difficult to be charmed by him, because he is too, to the point of insulting realism. It is the sarcastic Soul Twenty-two – the great denier of authority, the author of the wittiest excuses and reactions to the world around her in pastel colors. That’s who one wants to emulate…at first. Because the further the action unfolds, the more obvious it becomes that Joe and Twenty-Two are kindred spirits in their most uncomplimentary qualities. Namely in their inability to live. And because the dialogues and monologues in Soul are written with masterful wit and irony, the laughter is ultimately born with a bitter aftertaste.

 

But does everyone? The existential problems of two souls will hardly captivate an audience that is marked minimal on the age marker. “Soul” is really a cartoon for adults. It’s just that Pete Docter is obviously more comfortable conveying his thoughts to the audience. Of course, as the director and producer of a major animation studio, he has a healthy understanding: animation = children. And for them, the movie has its own sources of pleasure. There’s the colorful world, the cute, even funny rudiments of souls, and the comical “they switched bodies” style castling. But for two hours of speculation about what we live for, it’s clearly not enough.

For an adult audience, all this animation is like a colored and sweetened shell of a bitter pill, and there are far more jokes for an educated audience than there are for children. Not to mention the production details, which children, by virtue of their beautiful naivete and open-mindedness, simply won’t pay attention to. And for the authors, it becomes a statement about their social position. “Soul” is the first Pixar studio movie to feature many black characters. The creators paid special attention to make the skin of all shades look as natural as possible on the screen. And at the head of the jazz band with a saxophone in his hands put a woman. But the main plus of all this is that all these details are not conspicuous, do not shout “we are the manifesto”, but look completely natural, thereby taking the position “above the agenda”. In Pixar’s perfect world, this is what it looks like, all people just live as equals. And their main problem is not skin color or gender, but harmony with their soul.

 

But Pixar wouldn’t be themselves if they hadn’t conceived and implemented at least one new idea. The filmmakers have shown us their “stairway to heaven” more than once, but if this film had come out a little earlier, they would have been the first to show it. Although in Russia an absolute minority had seen Edson Ode’s Nine Days. So let’s assume that the premiere of The Great Before will be at The Soul. The rounded world in gentle colors, where it is impossible to hurt anyone, perhaps, looks too perfect. Thanks to the author’s irony: Dockter inhabits it not only with gentle souls, but also with thin, two-dimensional Jerry, whose transformations can be watched endlessly, like the shuffling of crystals in a kaleidoscope.

Of course, one can sympathize with “Soul”: this cartoon will not gross a huge box office. It is too philosophical, which means that the word-of-mouth will not work for the children’s audience. But it’s hard to believe that smart people like the producers at Pixar didn’t calculate all the risks. “Soul” wasn’t created for money, but for dialogue, or maybe just as self-fulfillment, when an idea already needed to get out of your head and onto the screen. That, too, is one of the thoughts in the movie. To top it off, the jazzy roulades of John Batiste’s authorship and performance give rise to this simple but obvious metaphor only after watching it: maybe our whole life is jazz in a way? After all, we are free to improvise through life every minute: when to keep a crisp rhythm and repeat the leading melody, and when to let our fingers go free-wheeling on the piano. Joe Gardner had to die to understand all this and really start living. I wouldn’t advise you to do that. Just watch the movie Soul.

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