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A Dog's Purpose (2017)
So, I am a big dog lover. I would love to pet all the fluffy (I'm biased) dogs I meet - and have pretty much done so. This movie, is good enough for any dog lover to watch, as you get plenty of puppy action. Anyone who has ever had a dog or just like dogs in general, will feel the feels when watching this movie.
The trainers for the dogs, and the directing of them is fantastic. A plus for all the dogs who acted in the movie, and for all the trainers and pooch directors who helped to make the film. Hallstrom did a great job at using certain angles, and close-ups in order to transfer the delivery of the lines convincingly as thoughts of the dog. Some of the wide shots in the wheat fields were nicely taken too - props on cinematography.
As for the cast, they did a pretty good job. Gad was a good choice as the voice of Bailey, and I'd say Gheisar, as the 8 year old Ethan, was my favorite. He was very expressive, and the perfect companion for Bailey.
While the story isn't anything exciting, it is excusable because all the audience is concerned about, is the dog. It is pretty much a predictable story (as one can see from the trailer), but I enjoyed it well enough. The different reincarnations give people a sense of how different the lives of dogs can be. From being in a loved family, to the police service, or a neglected home; a dog's purpose - as I understand it, is determined by us humans.
Overall, this movie doesn't pretend to be anything but a fun, fluff- filled film.
Get Out (2017)
I am definitely not one for horror films, and if you take a look at my other reviews, there is only one other review that would fit the horror genre - The Exorcist. And I only have that because I was forced to watch it for a film studies class, which in hindsight, I may have been able to request to not watch it.
Anyway, the reason I am saying this, is because I looked online beforehand to research extensively, how much horror this movie contained. I read a review that said it was more thriller than horror, and the person wrote in detail the parts which would frighten. It wasn't much of a spoiler for me, because I usually don't remember the things I've read or seen when watching a movie. Anyway, I decided to trust this person, because they sounded quite honest. And it was worth it. For anyone out there who cannot stand horror movies, I am with you, and this film is OK to watch. There are a few scenes that initiate jolts - and this is mainly accompanied with loud sound effects. But for the most part, these scenes are quite troll like, in the sense that Peele wanted visceral reactions (as heard in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel), and inserted these loud, abrupt sound effects in order to achieve that.
What I can't stand about horror movies, is mainly the horrific make- up/ costumes, and of course, the eerie soundtrack which no horror movie is complete without. But for this movie, it focuses more on the story, rather than the actual scaring part, and so I would say they wrongly categorized it, as it is more thriller than horror.
Moving on, Kaluuya puts on an amazing performance. I previous saw him in an episode of Black Mirror, and have to say that he is really talented. His expressions in Get Out, and especially the iconic 'sink' scene (which can be seen in the trailer), is phenomenal. Williams too, does a great job, and their chemistry on screen is well established. I would have to say that Gabriel was another actress of which the film would be incomplete without. Her emotionless stares are super bizarre, but is what makes her character. Howery, plays the comic relief for this film, and his personality really shines through. His character helps the movie stay above the line into total darkness.
However, the ending pushed it over the edge into ridiculousness. It was bordering between being realistic but freaky, and sci-fi comedy throughout the film, but the ending just pushed it all the way into the sci-fi comedy realm. I'm not saying that the genre is bad, but it was so good at giving that thrilling atmosphere, until it just gave it away.
So, in general, I'd say that this is a great thriller, with amazing acting, directing, and cinematography, but a poor ending.
Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016)
I absolutely, thoroughly, seriously, enjoyed this film. While the story may not be anything new, and certainly isn't a film with a lot of depth, the performances, direction, script, and the editing, all but made up for it.
Simply put, the movie has a lot of absurd happenings told with such straight faces, that it makes it so hilarious to watch. I watched this on the plane, and I am sure, I must have disturbed some people. I might have even forgotten I was on the plane - I was laughing so hard (but silently).
Galifianakis and Fisher have great chemistry together. Their ridiculous reactions, and how their characters are so bad at being discrete, is such fun to watch. On the other hand, Hamm and Gadot are a little like trolls. They act badass well enough, but their characters are overly serious most of the time. It's just too much to handle mixed together (in a good way).
What makes the film great is the subtle, and not so subtle jokes that come one after another. And what makes it perfect, is the delivery of them. Michael LeSieur did an amazing job with the screenplay. The cast envisioned the characters flawlessly. This is what comedy is.
As well, the film is very stylishly made, and has great scenes. The cinematography, sound effects and visual effects complement each other well. Plus, there is quite a bit of great action scenes that are nicely done too.
Overall, I just genuinely loved this film. It was a great fun to watch.
Read more movie reviews at: championangels.wordpress.com
The Space Between Us (2017)
Typical teen movie
The concept of the film is pretty intriguing, but once you actually watch it, there are a lot of flaws that appear. The big one being: no female astronaut would have been able to go to space while pregnant. It was also quite dramatic, the way they made that scene. Anywho, you'll just have to excuse all the questions that may arise when watching this film in order to enjoy it. I have been a fan of Asa Butterfield since watching him in Ender's Game, and then realized that he was in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, as well as in Hugo. All films that I enjoyed greatly. He's making a lot of movies in different genres which show his versatility. While I did not especially like this film, he did his part pretty well. A true 'Martian', the filmmakers knew how to play this to their advantage, to create some comedic scenes. And Butterfield did well at expressing the emotions of his character to portray his cluelessness of being on Earth.
His chemistry with Robertson is awkward at first, and doesn't get much better. To be honest, they don't really seem like a good fit together. She does look quite mature for him, and according to the dates on IMDb, she's about 7 years older. She doesn't look it, but he definitely looks quite young.
Also, I guess there isn't much substance behind the story. They are focused on that one mission to find his dad, and while obstacles come, everything is eventually fine and dandy. More backstory on the other characters would have been appreciated.
Nonetheless, the visuals are quite well done, and some of the aerial shots provide a nice touch. There are also some songs in the soundtrack that I enjoyed listening to.
Overall, an intriguing concept that suffers due to an insubstantial story.
The Girl on the Train (2016)
A very intriguing premise for a story. I'd admit that the suspense is well done, and the story well planned out. However, I think the marketing buildup brought my expectations up higher than it should have been. The trailer gives nothing away, and you expect something amazing, and to me, it fell a little short of that. Don't get me wrong, I still think it was a good movie, just not great.
I could not relate to Blunt's character, and felt disconnected from her. Her acting was well done, but having a protagonist like that makes for a very confusing watch for readers. Basically, throughout the whole film, the audience follows along with Rachel as she tries to piece together what happened. Really quite perplexing. I did feel frustrated at some points, because it is slow to give information.
The rest of the cast did their parts well too. However, because there are so many characters, it doesn't feel like the connection is there. It might be because of the heavy mood of the film that suppresses the connection, or it may be Rachel's cloudy perception. Whatever the case, a few characters seemed to be brooding with some darkness in them, which was very unsettling to watch. As well, there isn't enough depth given to the supporting characters. It seems like all the attention was given to Rachel.
The overall tone of the film, is what I would describe as intense. A lot of intense emotion hidden in the shadows that reveals itself bit by bit, and then exposes itself completely at the end. The dark colors and sometimes first person shooting, helps with creating the atmosphere, and there are also a lot of close ups for Rachel, which helps us to grasp her state of mind.
Overall, the premise of the story has a lot of potential, but fell short. If they had picked up the pace a little, and given the characters more depth, it would have been better.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Great pool of characters and witty screenplay, but not my thing.
While I would consider myself a fan of superhero shows and some of the comics, I am not a fan of these Lego movies. Perhaps it is the fact that they are Lego- something that is associated with my childhood, that I feel like I have grown out of. Plus, I find it hard to relate with Lego characters on screen as they have jerky movements, and very unreal expressions. Mostly over the top and exaggerated. It might also be the fact that Lego movies are made with a certain type of humor in mind, one that comments on material outside of the narrative, and which make me feel disconnected from the narrative. Essentially, this movie was a parody of everything Batman.
I appreciate that the animations are not easy to do, and admit that the visuals are very detailed and precise. The colors are vibrant and sharp, making the Lego pieces stand out. As it is an animated film, every little detail had to be designed, and so I give props to the editing theme. The unique movements of Lego pieces are also captured nicely.
This type of film is done just for fun, and to, literally, entertain. There is not much substance to the narrative, and the plots are pretty straight forward. The movie is basically a big joke, in a good way. But also, can be in a bad way, if you're not one for, some would call it, 'stupid-comedy'. I enjoy some stupid comedy - mostly the ones with Melissa McCarthy in them; but, stupid-comedy in animation isn't my cup of tea. I admit, some scenes are funny and did make me laugh, but overall, I was a little bored and got tired of watching. I even actually, slept for a few minutes while a fighting scene was going on. It just seemed very childish to me.
Also, since all the characters in the movie are well established, the movie doesn't spend time introducing them, or going into their background etc. Which is fine, but then, there isn't any depth to the movie. At least a focus on a few characters might have helped to give some substance. But then again, that's not the purpose of the movie.
Moving on, Arnett does a tremendous job as the voice of Batman. He really captured that throaty voice and delivered his lines perfectly. His persona is basically the one who sets the comedic mood of the movie. A serious looking, but also not so serious, Batman. Other voice actors and actresses did their parts well, and their voices matched nicely with their respective characters.
Overall, just a fun movie for those who like cartoons and the DC comics.
Queen of Katwe (2016)
An inspiring story of a slum girl who, with coaching, is able to bring out the chess genius in her. Given the opportunity, talents can arise in anyone. The depiction of slums in this film didn't leave much to the imagination. It showed very harsh living conditions and was very realistic.
The cast mainly consists of youth, and though their inexperience does show, their portrayals are well done. For her first film, Nalwanga does a good job at displaying tenacity and innocence. Her expressions are natural and she has good chemistry with the other actors and actresses. As a biographical movie, the kids in this film added a sort of purity that helped the movie have a sense of reality. Nyong'o as the mother, and Oyelowo as the coach, also did well at displaying passionate emotions.
Location and scene settings help to anchor the story and create the small town feel. The atmosphere that the cinematography brought out was one that was very natural, with slow pans and long shots.
Not only does this film tell an inspiring story, it gives a cultural education, shedding some light on slum life in Uganda. The customs of the culture and the way the people express themselves are a great fun to watch. As well, the screenplay did a good job in incorporating the difficulties of a small town girl competing in the big world, as well as displaying cultural sensitivities.
Although some scenes are just slow in developing, and some issues seem to be repetitive, this film is overall, is a great portrayal of an inspiring story.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
Great cast, amusing story, but slightly dull.
A rather unique story based on true characters. The cast is fitting, and produces great portrayals, while the mise-en-scene really encaptures the time period. Although it presents itself as a comedy, Florence Foster Jenkins is more sad drama than anything else. I won't say it is a bad film, but I guess, it just isn't my cup of tea.
Streep is an unrecognizable character in this movie. She embodies Jenkins so vividly that I thought it was bad acting at one point. But it is the character she portrays - the character is quite annoying. It makes me think that perhaps the real Jenkins had some sort of delusional disorder of some type. It really made me cringe to watch her sing so boldly in front of an audience. Kudos to Streep.
Grant as well did great in his role. I'm not generally a fan of his, but he fit his character well. What surprised me, was Helberg's performance. I couldn't be sure if he was indeed the same actor as the one in The Big Bang Theory, as he looked like him, but his persona was vastly different. An unsuspecting side of Wolowitz, I guess he wanted to have a break from that character. His character as McMoon, is, I would say, as important as both Jenkins and St. Clair is in the film. All three had great connection which helped to sell the characters.
The mise-en-scene too, was very well established and helped to create the atmosphere of the 19th century, and early 20th century. The costumes and dress styles are very prominent, and maybe it is the cast themselves, but I was thinking that this was set in Britain. Most likely this was just a thought influenced by Grant being in the film.
While it isn't a horrible film, I didn't really like it. The character of Jenkins is quite complicated, and perhaps with more of a backstory, I might have been able to sympathize with her more. Also, I did not realize that this story was biographical at the time that I watched it. I thought it was some random movie that I found on the plane. With more of a backstory to the character of Jenkins, I might have guessed it was based on a true story.
Overall, a well made film with a great cast, but not to my liking.
Kimi no na wa. (2016)
When the movie started, I was a bit disoriented, as the first few scenes had fast cuts, and I hadn't been grounded yet. There is a lot of time travel and this does get confusing throughout the film, but I wasn't very bothered by it. I'd say that the constant time shifts actually add to the mystery of the story, as you're always trying to figure out where in the timeline you've jumped to.
The animation is great, with vivid colors and great lighting effects. I can't imagine how difficult and time consuming it is to make graphics look realistic. I just enjoy the finished product. Very detailed work. I think there is more of a 3D depth to anime than there is with cartoons. Just something about their technique gives it so much more aesthetics. Or perhaps it is also the vast range of colors that are used.
The story keeps you guessing as it progresses, and that's what makes it so magical. Anything can happen next, and you don't see it coming. I was thoroughly invested with the story and found the script to be both comedic and culturally aware. The two main characters are quite different from each other, but both are headstrong and their stubbornness is fun to watch.
Overall, this is a great fantastical film to watch, for both the old and the young.
Suicide Squad (2016)
The suicide squad has been around for a long time now, and it's great that they managed to create a movie with all these characters! While I do not follow the comics, I do watch some of the superhero series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It is, in my opinion, very stylish and so well put together.
The best part of the movie for me was, hands down, Harley Quinn. There is a great cast in this, and I wouldn't have imagined that Margot Robbie could pull off such a perfect Harley. Her persona, and her delivery certainly embodies the character, and she did such a tremendous job. Leto as Joker as well, was magnificent. It must be something about the crazy factor that makes it so captivating. Other cast embodied their characters well too, though none stood out like Harley Quinn did for me.
The other great thing about this film is how stylish it is. Visuals and editing are on point, and most importantly- the soundtrack adds so much personality to the film. Just by watching the trailer, you get a sense of the kind of cheekiness that is embedded into the atmosphere. Which I think is mostly due to the fact that the Joker and Harley are unpredictable. Anyway, there is great music that accompanies the movie and adds to its style.
I've seen mixed reviews for the film, and admittedly, the story itself isn't very good. The hook for this movie though, is the all star cast portraying various big shot comic characters. I loved it, simply because it's a fun film with a bit of darkness, but in essence encompasses the DC world. I liked how other superheroes (Batman, and the Flash) would casually make appearances, and there would already be that sense of history present, like it is in the comics.
So overall, not a great story, but a fantastic squad and a well made film.
La La Land (2016)
From watching the trailer, it gives off a very enthusiastic and fun mood, however, that may be slightly deceiving as the movie goes through a range of emotions. Some will be unexpected, and that is what makes this film so great. A must watch till the end, even though the beginning half may be a bit slow, it is worth it. If they had cut out some details or made the beginning half a little shorter, then it would have been perfect.
The musical numbers are plenty, and all very well executed. I absolutely love the soundtrack. Here is a movie based entirely around the musical element, and it is phenomenal. As I write this now, I'm listening to the soundtrack. As all (or most I presume) of the songs are original, they are able to create the song to suit each character. Not only that, but choreography throughout is simply amazing. Those like the beginning scene is simply to initiate the audience as to what they are getting into. Others like the tap dancing scene with Gosling and Stone, are infused with feeling and flirtation.
The cast is perfect. Gosling and Stone complement each other so well - they were previously paired in Crazy Stupid Love. Gosling is such a versatile actor; just looking at his IMDb history is so impressive. He can encompass a range of personas, and is great at portraying characters with a lot of passion. Stone is also quite a versatile actress, and it is hard not to like her.
I heard from my friend that there area also quite a lot of distinguished dancers in the movie, and that doesn't surprise me. It is a musical after all, and that requires great dancers, not just great actors and actresses. So overall, everyone did their parts extremely well and was able to bring a lot of energy to the story.
What makes this such a classic, is that it pays homage to many eras in the Hollywood film industry. There is a bit of film noir, quite a few scenes depicting the silent era, there is of course the sound era, and the introduction of technicolor, and what makes it so classical is the fact that it mimics the style of Singin' in the Rain. What with the musical numbers, and also the self-reflective aspect of the story. While in Singin', the characters were actually making a movie, in La La Land, they show some behind the scenes of how Hollywood is like. There is also quite a few instances where characters break the fourth wall, and this is done so smoothly that it doesn't really affect the diegesis. The ending scene as well, is very much like the one in Singin', though produces a different effect.
Overall, this film is definitely a new classic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone I knew was saying how good it was, and I can't agree more.
Gong fu yu jia (2017)
Not really my type of movie, but I had to accompany someone to watch this. The story isn't all that great, as it is quite predictable, and the characters themselves are quite shallow. The kung-fu part takes up the majority of the movie, which is no surprise. However, the 'yoga' aspect of it isn't so much there in the literal sense. I gather that the 'yoga' was just there as a nudge to the joining of the Chinese-Indian cultures and stars.
Jackie Chan plays mostly the same roles in movies like these, and he's OK for the most part. He has earnest expressions, but I feel pretty neutral when it comes to him. I neither like or dislike him, and he is still able to perform stunts pretty well. Other cast members did their parts well enough, and the story was easy to follow along with. However, Patani, Dastur, and Muqi all look like participants in beauty pageants, a very specific type of female casting going on in this film. Zhang as well is a member of K-pop group EXO-M, which is the Chinese sub-group of EXO, and Rahman (Almost Malaysian represent!) and Sood, also all look like they can be in various modelling competitions. Not unpleasing to the eye, but the lack of diversity (in regards to looks) make this movie seem quite fake.
In addition to that, I am unsure if this happens to all Chinese made films, however, there always seems to be trouble with audio syncing. Not only do voice speeches sound unnatural (too smooth), the rhythm and timing of the speech in accordance with the mouth motion is out of sync. This happens throughout the whole movie, and is very disconcerting to watch. You can tell that the audio itself is not taken at the same time as the video filming.
As well, while the story itself isn't very engaging, it can be forgiven given the genre of the movie. However, the script is quite poorly written as there are many instances of abrupt changes in topic. What's more, a lot of the time there is no flow in the way the conversation progresses. A person would say one thing, and then the other person would respond by saying something that doesn't seem to relate to what the first person actually said. But after awhile, the conversation kind of circles back, which is quite an odd way to hold conversations.
One thing that I enjoyed in the film, was the landscapes. Some are obviously green screens - or maybe they all were, but they give off the intended effect. There was no problem with diversity in landscapes. Cinematography wasn't bad either. And there were some successful comedic scenes, mainly to do with a lion.
Overall, a plain story with unsettling audio, but great scenery.
This is a really well made film.It is impressive at being full-on creepy, with many thriller elements, but also shines the light of hope which teases the audience. It is hard to believe that communities like this exist around the world - even today, but are hidden from sight. As they say,"out of sight, out of mind". How do we prevent such communities from existing and gaining power when corruption is so abundant in many of these countries? It just gives me the chills and makes me feel so sad and helpless to know that this is real life.
There is a great cast in this - looks like Emma Watson's name is coming up more often nowadays. Her and Bruhl have great chemistry on set, and are able to pull at the audience's heartstrings. What really sells the story though, is the expressions of Nyqvist. He sends chills through the screen with his cold stares and lack of empathy. Carey as well, does well as the harsh and unfeeling matron.
However, it isn't really shown what Daniel was protesting against, or his motivation in doing so. We understand that both Daniel and Lena are foreigners, but how or why they came to Chile is a mystery.
Additionally, the cinematography is great. There are quite a few scenes shot on a hand-held camera or that have unique angles and movement to them, and this goes well with the subject of the film. It helps to emphasize the desperation and panic that the characters feel in that particular moment.
The visuals and color aesthetics serve well to compliment the film as well. With a lot of gray-scale and dark scenes, the movie takes on more of a thriller atmosphere. The screenplay and directing is great too, as filmmakers didn't explain things explicitly, but tended to show and imply things instead - involving the audience more by making them question what may be happening.
Overall, a very creepy situation which was depicted impressively in this film.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures is an incredibly well shot, directed, and edited movie, with great cinematography, acting and soundtrack. It is always great to learn about names who helped to deliver outstanding human feats, and to recognize them for their contribution.
Right from the beginning of the film, it establishes the tone of the movie, one in which people of color must be wary of authoritative figures. The opening scene set the theme of the film, and forebode the prejudice and discrimination these women would face throughout their career. I have to say, I am very impressed by this movie. The way in which it tells the story, and by the screenplay: self-deprecating and blunt, yet truthful, is very effective. The screenwriters did an excellent job at finding that balance between humor, passion, and suffering. I'd also like to note, that the story is based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Cinematography and directing are major contributors to the success of this film, with the use of well thought out shots to create maximum effect. The use of long shots are well positioned, and enhances the effect of individuals being empowered, or of isolation. For example, there's a shot where all the African-American computers are walking to another building, and the scene shows them walking into a hallway using a long shot from some distance away, depicting a sense of power in numbers. However, in another instance, Katherine has just had a door shut in her face, and when she turns around, a long shot is used to emphasize the empty space around her - this time, depicting desolation. The cast as well is simply amazing in the film, and pretty much everyone fully embraces their characters. Henson, Spencer, and Monae, depict an easy bond between their characters, and their banter is seemingly effortless. They deliver their lines with appropriate amounts of sass, wit, and intelligence in respect to each of their individual characters. Monae, in particular has a very strong headed character, and she pulls it off perfectly. Costner does well in his role as project leader too. However, Dunst and Parsons give more of an average performance. Dunst's accent is quite weird to hear, and Parsons might just be better of sticking with being a comedic physicist. Also, it would have been better if more information was given as to what these two characters actually did. They are in positions of relative power, but don't really seem to be doing much except sit around and give orders.
I also have to say, that the soundtrack greatly complements the theme of the movie. Apparently, Pharrell Williams, a producer, oversaw all musical elements of the movie, including the soundtrack. Kudos to him, the music was enjoyable and added character to the scenes.
One of the main things that may or may not be an issue, but which I consider important in noting, is that John Glenn, the astronaut, is seen and preserved as a hero. When he is introduced on screen, he shakes hands and chats with the three women - showing that he harbors no prejudice towards their gender or skin color. While this may have happened, I have an inkling that it probably didn't, and that Glenn would more than likely have had the same prejudices as the others. However, to preserve his hero status, filmmakers/ screenwriters made sure to keep him on the 'good' side.
Overall though, a very powerfully themed movie with great acting, music, and cinematography.
This must have been the original version of 13 Going on 30, which was very enjoyable for me when I was younger. While I probably relate more to 13 and wouldn't watch Big over that, it was enjoyable as well.
Hanks does a great job at acting as a kid trapped in an adult's body. His innocent expressions, and characteristics are typically boy like. However, it does seem to me that young Josh acted a bit more mature than the big Josh. It was more like young and old Josh could have been anyone, as the movie's concept was just to show a kid being put into an adult's body. Because if you look at 13, the young and old lives interact and affect the overall story, while Big doesn't. The only overlap in characters is Billy, who also does a great job. The connection between Rushton and Hanks is well bonded and shows on screen.
The concept was unique for that time, and is relatively non-cliché for today's world, making it still enjoyable to watch in the 21st century. The humor mainly comes from the discrepancy of an adult figure behaving, a little exaggeratedly, as a kid would. For the most part, the story presents itself as believable. However, the romance line is a little overboard for me, and felt quite disturbing to think about. Also, the character of Susan, is very questionable, especially since she's the only main female character in the film. It doesn't seem as if her character does much and she is predominantly used for as the typical female role.
As well, it was insinuated that she was a corporate climber which I was not expecting, and was surprised by. I understand that women like her do exist in the world, but to have the only female in the movie be of this character, is definitely questionable. Plus the fact that she has low self-esteem is a double whammy. Having been made in the 80's it is expected, and so I won't comment any further on that.
Another thing I didn't really understand about the film, was the search for the arcade machine. How would there be a record of where the games are, and why would it take so long to get the results back? That was brushed over pretty quickly. Plus, in that time, the mother would surely have described her son's disappearance and linked it to grown up Josh who appeared to know where her son is.
Overall, it is an enjoyable that's fun to watch, but has many questionable traits.
No Reservations (2007)
Good acting, but typical story
At first glance, this is a pretty standard rom-com drama. Woman has trouble finding love, is in distress, and a man comes in and saves the day. Blah blah. The first glance is all there is to it. Therein lies the problem though. These rom-coms are all perpetuating the norm of heterosexual relationships, and the concept of the nuclear family. Woman can succeed at work, but cannot have an equally successful love life. A man has to come to the rescue.
This interpretation generally found in rom-coms has really opened my eyes when watching any film, as I have realized that an uncountable number of films follow this ideology. Especially since they're all coming from Hollywood. I'm not saying that this film was terrible; it's actually quite enjoyable, but once you realize the underlying ideology, it gets tiresome to watch.
Zeta-Jones does a good job as the perfectionist chef who needs everything done her way. Eckhart is charming and the chemistry between them is solid. Breslin is a great actor, and does well in family type roles. She has a talent for making the audience sympathize with her, and is definitely one to keep an eye out for.
I'm also glad that the 'rom' in this rom-com wasn't that heavily emphasized. Though it is definitely one of the main factors, it's good to see that the family part was slightly more hard hitting than the romantic aspect of the film. As well, screenplay is quite comedic, especially in scenes with the Therapist.
Overall, a pretty enjoyable film, but a tiresome ideology.
Arthur Christmas (2011)
As the film title suggests, this is a festive film, dedicated to that of Christmas. And it definitely takes on a unique approach to the concept of Santa and gift-giving. With a military like procedure, the elves act as soldiers under the command of Steve, to safely deliver presents without exposure. However, this is jeopardized when a child is missed, and chaos breaks loose.
The animation is cute and the colors are very complementary to the tone of the film. The characters however, are too stock like and have very stereotypical shapes; the stick, the oval, and the upside down triangle. A bit too much cartoon-like for my taste, with the emphasis on shape matching personality.
The voice acting is pretty good. I couldn't tell that it was James McAvoy, and I think he might have altered his voice to match his character. Some of the voices of the elves are a little too squeaky for my taste, but they certainly match - once again, the size of their respectable characters.
As for the plot, it isn't anything outstanding. While the idea behind having a story centered on the son of Santa helps to bring a new perspective on things, I didn't really like how Santa was depicted. Logically, Santa would have been doing this for decades, but it was depicted that he didn't really know what he was doing. Also, the military take on delivering presents might have been a cool idea, but it implies a sort of invasion and detracts some of the warmth that is associated with the event.
It doesn't help that this is a truly patriarchal film, with Mrs.Santa doing predominantly housekeeping, and Bryony having special 'gift- wrapping' ability.
Overall, it's a fun film to watch, but it won't be my go to Christmas movie.
Collateral Beauty (2016)
There is more to this film than meets the eye, and while I was thoroughly thrown off guard by its many intricacies, and by the ending, the emotional connection fell short for me. It might just be me, as I don't show my emotions much, and am not easily affected by others. But the chemistry between the characters are OK at best, not great. My friend on the other hand, cried about three times while watching this; I think both of us are on opposite sides of the spectrum.
The acting is pretty great, as Smith portrays the figure of a grieving father in pain incredibly well. The emotions he displays, and the hurt you can see in his eyes, is remarkable. Other supporting actors do their part well too, though not as strong emotions emit from them. At first, Knightley didn't stand out to me and I was a little disappointed by her acting, but when she had that final confrontation with Howard, that was an amazing scene.
It might have been all the cuts in the film which detracted from the emotional climb for me, as there are many characters, and the movie cuts here and there. Not so drastically that it is disruptive, but enough so that there isn't much emotional climax. At least for me anyway.
Having said that, I did enjoy how the movie seems to be straightforward and almost cliché like, but turns out to be something different. So, I applaud the way in which it has been put together, through the directing and storytelling.
Dealing with such a vulnerable and tragic topic, the movie explores the depth of human emotions, and how the lives of those around are affected. Overall, it is a pretty great drama to watch.
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
I'm going to be honest, (not that I would be anything other than honest), the trailer is the best thing about this film. It shows all the best scenes, which depicts and deceives a different story. I would have definitely liked it more if the film was just about pets at home, rather than making it into an adventure.
The pets, for the most part, have fun characters. Max and Gidget, are for sure my favorite two. Max is the ever loyal human's best friend, and Gidget has the most character out of all. Her persistence is admirable, and Slate does a great job with dialogue. On the other hand, the other group of pets - led by Snowball, was a bad choice for the film. When Snowball is introduced, it just brought the film down so much in my standards. I have nothing against Hart (he is a rather funny guy), but his voice and the character did not fit at all into the overall tone of the film. He is just so much more vulgar than a kids show should be, and his character was so obnoxious and loud, it made me cringe.
The animation itself is vibrant and colorful, which fit well with the characters. The scene settings had great detail, and the characters' movements were smoothly done. Filmmakers definitely did their research (in which they may have just observed their pets), and it was great to see the little things that dogs and cats usually do. The way Max's ears droop is so cute, and how Chloe plays with the toys around her reminds me of my cat. It was also fun how they contrasted the attitudes between cats and dogs.
As I said, the main issue I have with this film is the character of Snowball, and how typical the plot is. Everything else was enjoyable and cute to watch. It was just a disappointment to watch a film that promised to show what pets do at home when they're alone, but didn't deliver. Would have liked to see more of that, and more of the owners too.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
Quite and enlightening film, showcasing a story I wasn't aware of. While the film was nicely made and had a great cast, I feel like it fell short. The genius factor is pretty much thrust upon the audience , and while I had an inkling of what the math geniuses were working on, the rest of it went over my head. If they had gone into a bit more depth about what it was that made Ramanujan a genius, it may have worked out better.
There was a great cast overall, which really helped to sell the time period of the film. Patel is quite the actor, and the earnest passion of his character shines through his performance. I had thought his Indian accent would be a off-putting, but he does it quite well. Just discovered that he adopted an Australian accent for a previous movie, and it's quite good. Irons as well does a good job at being a posh professor, but it is hard at times to discern if he is with or against Ramanujan. Devika Bhise who plays Ramanujan's wife, Janaki, adds a soft touch to the masculine world of scholars (at that time).
Apart from the lack of detail/explanation in reference to the mathematical formulas, it would have been good to explain a little of the Indian culture depicted. I understand that the subtlety may make the culture more mysterious or authentic, but I was especially confused by the chemistry between some characters and a little clarification would have been nice. Furthermore, Patel's and Bhise's characters are very awkward with each other, and the story there isn't explored enough.
Overall, a well put together film with great acting, but just lacking in detail.
The Big Short (2015)
While the subject matter may be a bit dense and unappealing to most, this film does a magnificent job in dumbing it down for us regular folks. One of the unique ways in which they do this, is by bringing in well known stars (not only those in the film industry), to explain or demonstrate technical words and theories. Stars such as Anthony Bourdain, Selena Gomez, and Margot Robbie.
Following the theme of breaking the diagesis of the story, and bringing in people unrelated to the narrative, the film breaks the fourth wall multiple times. Normally, this is unnerving and unwanted (as seen in Experimenter). However, it was done so effortlessly, and with so much charm, that it succeeds in this movie. This may be a trend in documentaries, unless it is a tendency that has been around for awhile now, which I am just discovering. The Wolf of Wall Street also breaks the fourth wall smoothly, and perhaps it is the best - or only, way to truly explain real world applications.
As for the portrayals, Gosling and Carell play similar characters they have done before (with a bit more exaggeration), but are nonetheless engaging. The two most surprising performances for me, came from superstars, Bale and Pitt. They looked completely different, and encompassed their characters wholeheartedly. Perhaps it is because that they are seasoned actors, which is why they are able to come off so completely as their characters.
The screenplay, soundtrack and cinematography makes this a very stylish biopic. Though not as ostentatious a story as The Wolf, this brings us behind the scenes before the market crash, and depicts how fraudulent the system actually was - that it went on a further 2 years than it should have.
Amazing storytelling and film-making, which manages to absorb the audience while still using financing jargon. The subtle comedy is injected parallel to the serious and dramatic undertone, creating a blend which will captivate viewers.
Oranges and Sunshine (2010)
Good portrayals, but slow progress
The film took awhile to start off, and I almost switched it off. When I found out that it is based on a real story though, I got more intrigued. But, this was only possible when I decided to search it up on Google. A film that needs more explaining , and is better understood from the internet than from watching the film, makes it a hard watch. I would have guessed that it is made from a British company, but apparently it is from an Australian company. The reason I say this, is because American cinema likes to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion, while British films tend to be more subtle which also makes it hard to keep up with sometimes.
In addition to the slow start of the film, I had a hard time comprehending the speech from some characters. Especially from Weaving, and the male characters in the film, who tended to murmur with their low voices. I couldn't catch what they said, and also, was not really that bothered by it. I didn't feel like I missed much, but only towards the end of the film did I realize I had missed some key elements. Again, this was rectified by online sources.
However, there is a pretty strong cast. Watson shows her character's tenacity and dedication well, with good supports from her husband, played by Richard Dillane. Another notable character, would be Len (David Wenham) who we find has many depths to him - that of which I am also unsure of. Thinking back, I did not get much of the film, but just the overall picture.
While it is a good watch in that it made me aware of the situation that happened, and that is still ongoing, the film just progressed too slowly for my taste. I also noticed that there is very limited background music for certain scenes. This definitely makes the audience more aware of their own time and space, making scenes dry and unfinished.
A fun, fantastical film that extends the universe of Harry Potter. With the screenplay written by J.K. Rowling herself, you can expect some 'Harry Potter' talk in the film. Honestly, being someone who isn't educated with the world of Harry Potter, some terminology did get lost on me. There are too many creatures with names that you can't really follow which they are referring to.
In regards to the cast, I do have some doubts. While I agree that Redmayne has the ability and look to fit his character, I think his role in The Danish Girl may have affected his acting here. His tendency to bow his head, and tilt it to the side is characteristic of his previous role, and is out of place in his character as Newt. A bit more charisma from him as the protagonist could have helped the flow of the movie. Farrell, and Waterston did their roles well enough, and while Morton portrays a typical character, she was likable. Another likable character is played by Fogler. His role as Kowalski is pretty much to provide the laughs, and he is easily the best character in the film.
I was quite surprised to find out that Miller was the actor behind Credence, as I did not recognize him. He did extremely well in his role of a disturbed child seeking guidance. The emotions he portrays are intense, and fit that of his character perfectly.
Visuals play a major element in this film, and the creatures are all agreeably detailed. Some are anthropomorphized (given human attributes), while others are more animal like. Either way, the detail is impressive, and you can tell from the overall shape what type of animal inspired the different creatures.
The wizardry effects of magic are also well done. It is nice that the filmmakers included mundane uses for magic (like housework), and not just that for fighting. All the fancy light effects add to the overall theme of the film, and bring color to certain dark settings. I also noticed the soundtrack at certain points - especially during comedic scenes. The background music during these scenes are quite amusing, and definitely exemplifies the atmosphere.
Overall, a funny and magical enough film.
Trophy Kids (2013)
The documentary starts off with a look at the training some of the kids go through. It is intense stuff, and from their training they look like they could play their respective sport really well. However, I was surprised to see initially, that they weren't doing that well come game time. Also, it didn't help that their parents were on the side yelling at them.
It is very disconcerting to know that children are being raised like this, because I am sure it happens. This documentary does at times feel like a reality show, since the people being filmed obviously know they are being filmed, and sometimes get prompts to answer questions. But, I did like that we could hear the questions being asked, as it did add some 'spontaneity' to their answers.
As well, the editing and sequence of the scenes are well done. I do feel like we see a bit more of the two basketball athletes (which is fine by me), but we see more of their games and not much after game talk. I do wonder where the other half of the kids' parents/ family are. We get glimpses of them on screen from time to time, but they don't give any comment.
For the most part, the cinematography is good, with close ups and long shots. However, there are instances where it feels more like a found film, with the camera handled by a rookie, or teens on the run. Some scenes would start with an extreme close up of the parent, and zoom out, with the camera shaking a bit as well. While that does add to the documentary aspect of it, perhaps it is an indication that this is a low budget film.
Overall, a terrifying watch, with parents thinking they always know the best. Some of their behavior can definitely be contested as emotional abuse to their children.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Knowing Damon mostly from his tough guy roles like The Departed, and The Bourne Series, I was surprised by his acting in Good Will Hunting, especially because he was so young then. But taking a look at the list of movies he has done now, I have to admit that he is one hell of an actor. He has done so many different roles - which shows his capability and proves his talent. Affleck doesn't have much screen-time in this, but plays his character well enough, as did his brother Casey Affleck, and Hauser. Williams will be missed for making these tear jerking moments, as he is able to portray empathetic characters so well.
The film felt very genuine, mostly because it was unfiltered, and dealt with emotions from the perspectives of different people. Damon and Affleck really did quite a good job with writing the narrative, and Gus Van Sant in directing it. However, there are certain scenes where the monologues are just too long. For example, Sean had one when he and Will were sitting on a park bench after their first meeting. He just went on and on, and the close-ups too are a little unnerving. Then there was another monologue by Will while he was sitting in Sean's office, and kind of went off on a tangent to the point where I realized I had lost track of what he was saying.
Also, I could have done without the slow-motion fighting scenes. Whenever there was a cut, you could tell it is obviously choreographed, and that they were moving in slow-motion themselves. That along with the frequent close-ups took me out of the narrative.
Overall, a great watch with a complicated protagonist who has many levels to him. The cast is great, and the cinematography, for the most part, intriguing. The language may be hard to understand though, and the vulgarity is certainly off-putting, but adds to the characters.
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