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13 Reasons Why (2017)
Love and Kindness can go a Long Way in this World
There is so much I want to say about this show. First of all is its subject matter. There is not much out there on the topic of suicide, it's uncomfortable to talk about and in cinema, this a topic shyed away from in the most part, and I believe it's a subject that should be explored more and 13 Reasons Why really shows us it's importance. I really like how they have additionally created a webpage for suicide prevention. This is one of the great things about this show; if you are struggling, it could help to make you feel less alone and if you are know a friend who is struggling, the show comes packed with a great message on how to help someone; to just listening and be there for them. That can go a long way.
Now on to the show itself; The story follows Clay Jensen, a high school student who is suffering from the loss of his friend Hannah, whom he was also in love with. Clay gets passed on 13 tapes Hannah recorded before she committed suicide. The tapes get passed onto people she lists as reasons for her suicide. As there are 13 tapes, there are 13 episodes that depict what happened to Hannah and the reasons why she chose to end her life. Although Clay is at the center of this story, it also follows 11 of her classmates and their involvement in her choice. The good thing about the show that they show every character on a very humanistic level. None of the characters were portrayed as bad people, but people with emotions of anger, jealously, shame and people who are imperfect and real. A quote from the series that I love is from Clay: "We all should be better, treat each other better, if one thing went differently we could have prevented it." It further emphasizes how suicide effects everyone else around that person. Family, loved ones and friends.
This is a really good quote to reflect on. Throughout the series there seems to be an ongoing concept that "everything happens beyond people's control." I got sense when watching that nobody knew or could have known what Hannah had felt before the tapes. And this is evident when she says "You know what empty looks like? It looks like nothing." It's very powerful and thought-provoking because depression looks like nothing, depression is masked with a smile, depression is often unseen and sometimes ignored or brushed off and what this show emphasizes is that this is the very reason why we all need to be good to one another. No matter how someone may appear, we never know what actually goes on beneath the surface, or what kind of traumas they may have experienced in their lives.
It's a very painful show to watch, you will need tissues but very true to life experience, especially as a teen and in High School. The show depicts how these teens also come from backgrounds where they have been damaged, for instance, take Justin, who comes from a broken home with a mother who doesn't care and an abusive step father. And then you get it, why Justin sometimes acts the way he does and by seeing the other end of spectrum... it can help people to understand why people may behave wrongly sometimes. It's a reflection of what goes on in the part of people's lives that goes unseen.
It further comments on how schools sometimes ignore students in need, for instance, take the school counselor who Hannah consulted and the routine of putting on posters around a school when there has been a death, rather than before-hand when it was needed. Which I thought was very true to life, it suggests that schools need to take better care for the mental health of their students.
The theme of love is very big throughout this series too. It's apparent that Hannah felt isolated and to herself, she was but to the audience watching, we can see that Hannah was very loved, by her Parents, her friends and Clay, but it went unnoticed and when someone is suffering from depression it's very hard to notice. It's a brilliant message that shows us the importance of being there for our loved ones.
This is further brilliant for it's genre; mystery. It really keeps you hooked, you want to uncover Hannah's reasons and you want all the characters to heal. The characterization is excellent, each character comes with emotional complexity and a strong background, they are all very believable and relatable. One major thing that makes the characters excellent is the actors. You could not have chosen a better casting for the characters. They really get into their characters. It's really amazing to watch such talented people. Cinematically, it's amazing, the scenes from Hannah's past and the present merge together through the editing, it really puts you inside the head of Clay and it shows so much emotion.
The show ends with Clay reaching out to a woman in his life who he hasn't connected with in a while and she has felt down about it throughout the series. It's a very powerful ending as it shows that the smallest thing, can go a long way, just reaching out can help a lot.
Highly recommend this show
Hilariously funny comedy
Drifters follow three friends who share and flat after university and have not yet got their lives quite figured out. As they try to progress in their lives they encounter many downfalls in their lives and relationships. You can really relate to the characters in Drifters, we have all been Meg, Laura and even Bunny at some point in our lives. We get ourselves into tricky and embarrassing situations which we don't know how to get out of and end up embarrassing ourselves even more... and this is what is great about this show... the characters are believable, flawed and unbelievably relatable. It's unlike a polished comedy where everything is canned laughter and sunshine, it really shows you the awkward, messy and laughable side of life, especially as a woman, there are not many comedies out there that show that actually, women can just be as immature, awkward and embarrassing and funny as men (haha) The performances are great, you can tell the actors really enjoy their roles and that's what brings a show to life. You can just imagine how much fun they must have on set. Not to mention, the hilarious story lines. It's easy to get into and binge on and it really helps to brighten your day.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
A Clever Self Reflexive FIlm
The Cabin in the Woods is a film of the unexpected. The title itself is conventional for a horror film. However it's the clichés and conventions are exactly what makes it clever, as it turns the nature of a horror film around and exposes it for what it really is.
The cabin in the woods follows 5 friends who take a trip to a Cabin in the woods... We all know how this would go in the context of a typical horror film... they get to the cabin, murderers or monsters are waiting to kill them after they discover a secret. And this is exactly what happens until more layers of a bigger narrative are unpeeled.
There are several intertextual references in the film, such as the trap door, it makes you think of the film Evil Dead, as well as the book and the Latin description the character shouldn't read out, but is anyway. It causes you assume that the narrative may go a similar way but this is a trick of narrative, as the film actually reveals that behind everything that happens, there is someone "pulling the strings" and this is a phrase said numerous amount of times by the characters. There is a concept that emerges, that they are the puppets and there are This concept reveals itself in a bigger way as previously thought throughout the movie. From the very start we know something is off, as the teens are being monitored and watched. We know that voyeurism Horror's trope and therefore it appears throughout the movie; the mirror in which you can see the bedroom, but you can't see the person watching from the otherside, the eye in the reflection of the small mirror and the constant viewing from the "puppeteers."
This film is essentially jumping up and down and screaming "I'm a horror film." People expect films to be realistic, and it's precisely the realism of the horror that people get the scare from. However the cabin in the woods takes all the clichés of a horror and I mean every cliché possible and serves it on a plate for you.
This is most evident in the scene where they are surrounded by every single monster that could possibly exist in a horror movie. And this is to the point where it makes you laugh out loud.
"This is something of a nightmare" one character says, another say's "No this is where nightmare's are from!" This points at the fact that horror film's can be the cause of nightmares; again pointing at itself as a horror film and the fact that it is not real.
The film goes as far as changing the nature of characters completely, to fit filmic clichés. A character says; "Since when is Kurt an athlete, his a sociology major." in addition, the fact that the cliché of the fool, is actually clever-- as he grasps what it is happening before the other characters is yet again screaming to the audience "I'm a horror film and this is how you'll notice me!"
In the big reveal at the end, it shows that they need a certain stereotype to sacrifice. "The whore, the athlete, the scholar, the fool, and the virgin and for her, fate decides whether she dies or not." Even though this is shown not even be the true nature of the characters.
There are attempts for the characters to escape, and they literally put a barrier created by special effects (which is not remotely believable) when they try to leave the area. This is the film again saying, "I'm a film, of course there's no escaping the set, or there's no movie."
So why does film take all of conventions of horror, over-play to say I'm just a film?
We see the "puppeteers" as the controller's of the character's fate. Then we realize that there is something larger at stake, that the puppeteers are actually puppets, that the god's are controlling and in the end... but wait, there is something even larger than that. This is ultimately a metaphor for the filmmakers who control everything within the film and that us audience are the puppets-- they have the ability to scare and frighten us-- they are physically doing something to us, in which there is no escape! We are ultimately the voyeurs, and the watchers of cinema, but we are also the puppets of the filmmakers. and this is what makes it clever.
Horror has become very predictable and playing on all this predictability has resulted in something that is utterly unpredictable. The god's fist the emerges from the hole at the end is a metaphor for the filmmakers and the film's ability itself to "tear open" the nature of the horror genre and a film's affect itself.
and it is very entertaining to see!
Take This Waltz (2011)
A brilliant story about complexity of love
The story follows Margot (Michelle Williams) who without doubt loves her husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), and has been married to him for years, one day she meets who turns out to be her new neighbour on a plane Daniel as she gets to know him more she cannot deny her feelings for him.
The story focuses on the married couple's relationship and their attempts to reignite a lost spark between them. It's daring for the filmmaker to portray a story about infidelity in love. Many love films portray infidelity as something committed by the antagonist or villain of a film, yet this film seeks to, on a very human level, understand how this can happen in long loving relationships by inviting us into the mind and heart of Margot.
A moment in the film that really resonated with me was when she was the most joyful and with Daniel, when they were on the fair ride with the song "Video Killed the Radio Star." By Buggles playing. It's the moment that the film invites the audience to see what's important as they can relate it to a previous sequence where she explains how much the song meant to her and her brother. This emphasized by the end sequence as the song is playing at the end, telling us how important Daniel is her happiness.
It's a love story like no other, as it is about loving two people. There is an overall sadness about the marriage and that she wants it so much to work, yet she has love and desire for another man. The husband is portrayed as understanding to her by the end of the film as the have realized their unhappiness.
It's a very powerful and enjoyable film that explores the nature of love and relationships.
This Is England '90 (2015)
Gripping, Emotionally charged and Brilliant!
One thing that has always striked me about This is England is how real to life the characters are. You become so emotionally invested in each of the character's lives. As a show that does not focus on just a single protagonist This is England 90' pulls this off very well.
Shaun (the lost pre-teen from This is England, '86 and '88 has grown up and Thomas Turgoose manages to keep the very essence of the character alive- he delivers this performance brilliantly. In many subtle ways it shows even though he is growing up, that he is still that lost boy trying to find his purpose and way in the world. It follows Shaun's journey from experiencing rejection; from college and in love, to accomplishment; from finally achieving getting into college and finding a new girlfriend; and this is very gratifying as the show really makes you feel connected to Shaun. As this is a Multi-Stranded narrative; we also follow Lol's and Kelly's revisit to a deeply saddening- yet well portrayed past trauma. (This show effectively shows the long term effects on trauma and it's effect on family and relationships.) It also deals with Lol's and Woody's relationship and portrays its ups and downs. It further deals with the healing and growth of an individual ( We take from the recoverance from broken relationships, traumas and in Combo's case hurt & criminality.) Keep in mind that This is England 90' portrays all this in just 4 episodes! and I'd say that is the only downside, that there isn't more! This shows deals with very deep themes of trauma and change. It uses real archive footage to depict the struggles of time. It brilliantly depicts life in England was in the 90's. It goes on to show the emergence of rave culture and accompanied with it such as the the increase in drug usage and the effect it has on lives.
The ending will make you smile and have you in tears! Lol's and Woody's wedding will melt you heart! The characters love and friendship with one another will have you in awe. It is very real and such a brilliant show with a really talented cast and I hope they will make more in the future.
My Beautiful Broken Brain (2014)
Beautiful documentary about the reality of brain dysfunction
One of the things that struck me most about this documentary is how the filmmakers capture and recreate the experiences after Lotje Sodderland's hemorrhagic stroke and make it real and comprehensible for those who wouldn't understand how it feels for Lotje and others who suffer from this. The usage of colour and amplification of sounds help the audience to not only understand what it is like for her but to also be able to hear and see it. I imagine that was her goal for making this documentary, to share her story and feel less isolated in it all and it truly pulls at your heart strings. She said it was also a way of making sense of it all for herself too in the documentary.
The documentary is very real and deeply meaningful in many ways... you go on the journey with Lotje, and you feel very much for her. You watch her go from not being able to talk very much, go through therapy and experiments, to speaking about her experiences and accepting her new reality. The admirable thing is that she never gave up fighting and hope. She got better through doing so and it is a clear and beautiful message that this documentary gets across. No matter how bad it is, you should never give up hope... Lotje even found love with that beautiful broken brain of hers! It also provokes the question of reality and how brain plays a major part in constructing it. Lotje experiences a new reality, enriched with colour from the right eye and deeper field of vision, she experiences light and sound differently and she comes to accept that reality she has and is still very thankful about life and her journey is inspiring! The medium of film is beautiful to me because of this... so many stories and experiences are shared and can be understood and recreated through film. If you are a lover of documentary, science or life, I'd highly recommend this documentary.
A Country Called Home (2015)
A beautiful film about letting go and moving forward
A Country Called Home follows Ellie, A West Coast furniture designer who gets a call that informs her that her father has just died, she heads back to her hometown in Texas to deal with his death, she reconnects with her roots in ways she did not expect.
This film is very touching and relatable. It deals with themes of family and forgiveness. Ellie has stayed a distance from her father throughout most of her life due to his troubles with alcoholism, despite this, she goes back to Texas and reconnects with her family. She finds that in a way, she has let her father back into her heart. Regardless that town has still a dislike and his girlfriend struggling with alcoholism herself and causing trouble, she defends and still loves her father and does everything in her power to give him a proper goodbye. She also finally meets her grandparents and makes a new friend there, by the end of the film she has gained a new perspective on her life and is ready to move forward.
To me, the message of the film is that we all can overcome the trials and tribulations we face in life, as long as we have love in our hearts and focus on what really matters. Its very much a feel good film that will leave you feeling less alone in life. It's a beautiful indie film, not only because of the story but also the cinematography captures the beauty of Texas.
Silicon Valley (2014)
Original and funny!
Silicon Valley does something that not many comedies shows do; that is making you become emotionally invested in its storyline and characters. it consists deep underlining themes about modern day life, business and friendship whilst remaining truly hilarious! It's why I love this show so much.
It follows Richard Hendricks, a guy with a great idea; to start a tech company in Silicon Valley. He is shy and reclusive but wants to make the world a better place, he at first worked for an internet company named Hooli. On the side, he works on Pied Piper a music app and compression software. It is worked upon in a live-in start up business incubator run by entrepreneur and his friend, Erlich. After a shaky pitch to investor Peter Gregory to get funding for Pied Piper, he agrees, however unfortunately by the end of the season he dies, leaving Richard and his gang of nerdy friends and programme engineers to find investment throughout season and where do they find it? In the hands of a crazy and careless billionaire who wants the company in his vision for one reason only; to get richer and by doing this he inadvertently drives Pied Piper to almost its downfall. On top of this, they have to deal with Gavin Bellson, who runs Hooli and stole Pied Piper's algorithm to sell a similar music compression software; after a lengthy legal battle to the rights to the algorithm Gavin's reputation is compromised leaving Pied Piper safe from his competition and to find new investment. It is a long process but they never fail to keep striving for their companies success.
Silicon Valley comments and makes humour from the hardships of business and starting a company. It's characters seem simple on the surface but are complexly built; their individual dreams and passions are inspiring! Silicon valley has a strong message; no matter what happens; never give up on your dreams! Despite all of the failures and hardships Pied Piper face they never give up and keep pressing forward. All of the characters are uncharismatic and awkward and are often knocked back by those they want support from, they don't giveup or compromise any of their product. It is a truly feel-good and motivating show to watch, and definitely hilarious. :)
Paper Heart (2009)
Paper Heart is a semi-fictional film that follows Charlyne Yi who doesn't believe in love, or so she thought. At the least, she does not believe in a Hollywood romance ending type of love or that of a fairy-tale. But it is clear that love is something she really wants but she remains a skeptic. This is until she meets Mike (Michael Cera) and falls in love with him whilst making a documentary about love with director Nicholas Jasenovec (Jake Johnson) They both search for answers to the question "Does true love really exist?" They ask, a romance novelist, children, judges, couples, strangers, scientists and bikers who share their true love stories.
Charlyne is at first skeptical of her love for Michael, we see their relationship unfold on camera, her skepticism and search for the answer puts their relationship at jeopardy, however she soon realizes the answer lies within her own heart.
It's a very cute, humorous and sweet documentary-style film that supports the notion of true love, although presents love and relationships as being tricky and that they require a lot of work. The message is that love is sometimes simple but relationships need work and to be built upon for that love to truly blossom. The ending concludes nicely with Charlyene concluding on love; she says that love is about risk taking, if you don't take the risks, you can miss out on it. It is clear all throughout the film she took risks, by going out with Michael although she believed he did not have interest in her and more importantly by Going to Michael's house in Toronto and by doing so she rekindles their love.
Scenes in the film are done with paper to show the stories of the couples who are in love,it ends with an exaggerated version of Michael and Charlyene's giving it the Hollywood romance ending she first rejected. This film shows the beauty of love and will truly melt your heart.
Er ist wieder da (2015)
A clever and an entertaining film with a great message
Look Who's Back follows Adolf Hitler who reawakens in Germany 70 years after his death. When reading this film's synopsis, I thought it was a very funny concept, that Hitler reawakens and becomes a popular comedian. I thought it was going to be a silly satire, but to my surprise it has a very deep message interwoven with a great use of comedy.
The film follows the protagonist Benimmcoach who in attempt to save his career in the media industry, finds a man in the back of one of his videos, who he thinks looks amusingly similar to Adolf Hitler, unaware that is actually Hitler. He mistakes him for a brilliant comedian who never wants break his character. He convinces his boss to give Hitler a show,this is where things start to get interesting.
During Benimcoach's and Hitlers travels, Hitler notices the dissatisfaction of the German people, and notices that their views and perceptions are not so different from his. They express dismay about the flood of immigrants coming to Germany, it is here that Hitler reassures them "We'll make Germany strong again." This combined with his old fashioned national socialist attitudes and comical remarks earns him a fan-base of millions of people, albeit there are some who find the idea of using "Hitler" for comedy appalling and a distressing reminder of the time.
Benimmcoach develops an odd friendship with Hitler, interestingly Hitler in the film is portrayed as not a bad guy, in fact, he is shown to be good, he feels strongly about helping people, including Benimmcoach. The film oddly makes you root for him and he becomes a likable character instead of the horrid villain which films usually portray, then the film reminds you just how cruel and destructive his ideals can be.
The film situates you in the place of the German people in the film, you like the character Hitler, for his comedy and his determination to help people, yet you and they are thrown back into the reality of the situation, for instance, When we witness his acts of cruelty, much like the audience of the show in the film witnesses him shooting a beloved dog because it annoyed him.
Once Benimmcoach finds out that it is not someone acting as Hitler, he really is Hitler, he attempts to get rid of him by shooting him in the chest, to Benimmcoach's surprise, Hitler reappears and says to him "You can't get rid of me, because I am in all of you." This is the moment of revelation of a deep and complex message. Hitler isn't portrayed as a vile monster because in fact he isn't, he is like everyone else. In fact it comments on his ideology being at the core of what made the man evil and destructive; this idea is emphasized at the end, where it shows archive footage of countries all other Europe, preaching hatred of Immigrants. The film's message is a powerful critique of our values, it is basically telling us that we need to reevaluate our actions. It proposes that questions "Did Hitler really leave?" and "have times changed much since? Maybe the man is gone, but the ideology lives on through us.
This film is both clever and entertaining, I would recommend it to everyone, it is does what a film essentially should do, provoke thought about our lives and entertain :)