Movie reviews

Grandma: A Movie Review

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Some movies are nice to watch because you can relate to the characters and/or the situation. You think, ah I know how that feels, I know what it’s like to go through that/have that happen to you/ have a horrible boss, a selfish ex, a nosy step-mother and so on. Others you like to watch because their reality is so far from yours that that is the aspect which hooks you. For me, Grandma the movie was exactly that. Grandma Elle (Lily Tomlin) is a poet, an academic and a widowed lesbian with a twenty something girlfriend. Her daughter is an extremely busy career woman who, too busy for a proper relationship had her daughter through a sperm donor. Elle’s granddaughter Sage is now pregnant, naturally terrified of her mother’s reaction and so, seeking solace in her. Unfortunately for Sage, turns out grandma Elle is broke and complicated.

In other words, the storyline is anything but cliched. In fact, I haven’t really seen much else like it. I recommend it to anyone looking to watch something cool and fresh.

5/5

A Brilliant Young Mind: A Movie Review

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I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, it can be interesting or informative to an outsider of Autism/Asperger’s and perchance relatable to those familiar with said conditions. But, on the other hand, it feels kinda forced, sorta unrealistic and rather unfinished. Why Rotten Tomatoes? Why 86%?!

Inspired by real events, A Brilliant Young Mind follows the relationship between an Autistic student and his clicheingly (is that a word?) troubled teacher – whose roles are often reversed which makes you ponder and all that shizz.

Moreover, obviously looking to please a broad audience, it taps into the unfathomable power and experience of first love – a possible explanation of the overly generous 86%.

Now, of the many aspects that don’t work this film…
One, how do all of the Chinese students speak perfect English? That, I can tell you from first-hand experience is not how it is. Two, Nathan isn’t “close” with his mother. Well, in the sense that he was with his deceased father (sorry, not much of a spoiler). And as awkward as their relationship is to watch, with his mother frustratingly trying and trying and trying to win him over – to the point where she is stuffing fries up her nostrils, yep – nothing happens. Actually, the relationships (except for the minor exception of Nathan and Jo’s) go nowhere. The characters don’t change from beginning to end. I’m no writing expert but isn’t that, like, a major requirement? Which brings me to my next point…The characters are shallow. For example, Nathan’s mum has just one expression: a sort-of chirpy desperation which she wears from beginning to finish. Lastly, I felt awful for that show-offy (though he couldn’t help it? He was clearly troubled) kid who everyone ended up shunning in the end. Whatever happened to him? Last we saw, he was cutting himself? Where is my closure Mr. Director? Where?

All in all, it’s watchable and at times even sweet. It can allow you to think outside of your own perception and into the lives of those living with/around “disorder” or help you relate your own personal experiences if you’re already familiar but as farm as e film goes, it does not break new cement. In my South African bestie’s lingo, “no ways”.

2.9/5

Enough Said: A Movie Review

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If you’re anything like me and you love “chick flicks” but still think they’re unrealistic and “probably never going to happen” then you should definitely watch Enough Said. This rom-com OWNS realism. You know how Hollywood’s recently been trying to create “realistic” characters but horribly failing? Like, when they pick a really hot model actress and give her a lisp or make her snort in between her laughs in the hope of having a character that’s original and quirky? Who are you kidding, I can see right through you Hollywood, I think. Anyways, Enough Said isn’t like that. Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is real real and her character and her actions so utterly believable. And, because the movie is truthful, it’s relatable. And funny, and cute, and feel-good and last but not least, moralising but not in a preachy way. In a really sweet and light-hearted tone, Enough Said teaches us to think for our own and to love unconditionally, flaws and all.

5/5

Dope: A Movie Review

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How can a movie starring ZERO (Tony Revolori) from The Grand Budapest hotel not be good?! Dope is a 2015 coming-of-age comedy-drama with a plot-line similar to the Jump Street series but more funky, more original. In my opinion, Dope is, well, dope! The soundtrack is awesome, the story unpredictable, the characters quirky, the events cool. This is not your typical “hood” story. I am so glad I watched this movie and totes recommend you do, too. Though do be aware, she’s a bit rude.

FIVE OUT OF FIVE.

The Intern: A Movie Review

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Building on from my Valentines Day post, I think Nancy Meyer’s new movie, The Intern makes a suitable first date film and that is all.

In my opinion, it is the baby-food of the movie world. That is, it’s easily digestible, in fact, watching it, you do not need to use your brain at all and often times, flavorless and monotone. Except, for the occasional sweet blueberry or two (let’s call them Zack Pearlmans) that find their way through, The Intern doesn’t have much going for it at all. Why? Well, I’d say, watch it for yourself and you’ll know but since I don’t like wasting your time (oh no she didn’t) I’m-ma just go ahead and tell you:

1. It is trying too hard to be cool. Packed to the rim with modern stereotypes (hipster office-space, stay-at-home dad, career woman vs. judgemental stay-at-home moms, sickly adorable child, social media, social media, social media), it’s almost uncool.
2. Unrealistic relationships. SPOILER ALERT: her husband cheats on her and they get back together as if he’d simply misplaced her hairbrush. Sure, these things happen and people resolve their issues, they forgive and forget but not that soon? Surely, not?
3. It’s too long. Thirty min shorter and it could have been good.

To close on a good note, Anne Hathaway’s outfits, her office-space and De Niro’s face are pretty cute.

2.9/5

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter: A Movie Review

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There is dark side to Japan which you won’t get to know by simply sight-seeing Tokyo. Behind the lights, tall-rise buildings and kimonos are literally millions of overworked citizens eating a plain dinner of instant ramen (not just a stereotype) while still wearing their monotonous uniforms, alone, in their crammed match-box apartments in the early hours of the morn.

I had been seeing the red and white movie poster for Kumiko everywhere, all the while thinking that it was a modern remake of little red riding hood, meaning to watch it but never getting around to it. Last night, alone in my apartment, I finally had the chance to and I wish I hadn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film and by great I mean, so artistically able. Rinko Kikuchi (Kuniko)’s acting is incredible and the cinematography just as good with little dialogue, a gorgeous soundtrack and many many beautiful shots from crowded Japanese subway stations to frozen ski lifts.  But, living and working in Japan and watching a movie based around a young individual driven mad by the vicious Japanese work-system just wasn’t good for my soul.

I’d recommend Kumiko to those who enjoy and appreciate the art of film, who are either interested in Japan or and especially for those who have lived and experienced Japan; the good and the bad. Also, to the patient viewer as the build-up is gradual.

5/5

Anomalisa: a movie review

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If there’s one thing I learnt from my University creative writing course it’s that it’s important to make art relatable. Which, if you’re good at what you do, doesn’t necessarily have to be non-fiction or truth. This is how stop-motion films with a puppet cast like Anomalisa, become more relatable, more human, more real than movies with Tom Cruise. At first, watching Anomalisa I was confused. Mainly because every character (boy, girl, child) all had the same voice. WTF, I thought. But isn’t that wonderful? That I thought? That I actually used my brain. Okay so there is one other learning I can conjure from ENGL112 and that is to assume your audience is able. Show don’t tell. Actually, come to think of it, we already learnt that in high school…

Anyways, Anomalisa makes you think and more specifically, relate what you see to your own feels. Though each of those (feels) is different for each individual. Oi! You in the corner, yes you! I heard that sarcastic, “well, duh”! SHHH! What I’m trying to say is that it’s pretty darn difficult not to relate to at least one of the character’s problems, anxieties and/or thoughts. For example, how many of us have at one stage or another, felt our life as monotonous? Meaningless? Shallow? Or if not that, who hasn’t felt heartbreak? The desire to love and be loved in return and/or experienced the pain of finally letting that special someone go? What female (or male! Don’t attack me) hasn’t felt insecure in front of an ex lover after years of physical change? See, it’s relatable.

HOWEVER; it’s almost entirely relatable of negative feelings, of human shortcomings. So, put simply, watching it made me feel worse. I mean, I could and I am appreciating the incredible creativity and value of it all but it is what it is, raw, tear-jerking, heartbreaking, (negative) human truth.

This is how director, Charlie Kauffman put it in a recent interview:

“People are to get from it what they bring to it, how they interact with it, what it inspires in their minds based on their experience of the world. I’m not going to tell people what they should get from it. I was writing about this character who struggles with this particular problem. We’ve had an enormous diversity of reactions, and it’s not even about I love it or hate it, even though that’s part of it for some people … For me to say what it’s about would sort of preclude the possibility of people having that experience, so I’m not going to.”

So, whether you relate to Michael (the protagonist) as a selfish, egotistical, money-driven, materialistic and unbalanced asshole (Ha perhaps I shouldn’t mention that my ex’s name is Michael) or you relate to Lisa, either by having felt as “the less attractive friend” or made to feel special by a certain individual then suddenly left without a word, you’ll enjoy and by enjoy I mean you’ll pour salt on your unhealed wounds. That, or lemon juice. And, if you don’t feel anything at all, then well, lucky lucky you!

4.5/5

Brooklyn: a movie review

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You know what? I’m gonna be 100% honest with you: Japan ain’t all kimonos and castles. In the same way that France ain’t all berets and croissants and Italy ain’t all sex and pizza. Okay, maybe Italy is all sex and pizza…But what I’m trying to say is, migrating to a new land, leaving your friends, family and everyday comforts behind to start afresh in a faraway foreign land is hard. So so so hard. And homesickness is inevitable and don’t tell me that it’s not and that “home is where the heart is” and all that jazz cos I feel this shit in my bones. Which is part of the reason why I found Brooklyn so relatable. But, you don’t have to have felt that specific homesickness, the one of living 10000 miles from home to get/like this film. In fact, I will go as far as to say that if you do not empathize, sympathize, identify, what have you, with the raw emotion and charm of this film, there is something wrong with you. Yes, I felt that strongly about it!

I found Brooklyn charming, romantic (accents, dancing), emotional, inspiring, thought-provoking (life decisions, priorities) and last but not least, funny (Italian kid Italian kid).

Lastly, I want to mention “the look”. Eilis’s look back, just before setting foot in America (image below) is SO darn beautiful that I would happily watch Brooklyn for days straight just to see her green eyes sparkle once more.
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Oh, and the last scene. The last scene and the last quote.  Oh goodness, I am smitten, bad. Or perhaps, like Eilis I just yearn for an Italian man to fill the dark void that’s materialized in me since leaving home (tehehe). Calm down, I mean FIGURATIVELY…

Here’s that last quote:
“And one day the sun will come out and you might not even notice straight away it’ll be that faint and then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who is only yours and you’ll realise that this is where your life is.”

5/5

Did someone say CAKE?

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The (2015) drama CAKE, you know, the one with Rachel, I mean, Jennifer Aniston has received a lot of criticism. But why? It’s SO brilliant. Okay, so apart from that one lump of unmixed baking soda which we shall call Anna Kendrick, there really isn’t much else spoiling (the) cake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Kendrick hater. In fact, I loved Pitch Perfect as much as the next person. Put simply, I don’t think her sweet personality gels with a mean character. A nasty, self-obsessed suicidal mother? Na, stick to singing songs with plastic cups, I say.

Aniston on the other hand, WOW, what an actress! She, so very accurately, portrays what it’s like to be a chronic pain sufferer; from the way she holds her physical self to the moans and groans she utters to her cold bitter demeanor. And, at the same time as being this inconsiderate sour bitch, Aniston makes us love her, empathize with her, vouch for her and see a little bit of our own tired and defeated selves in her character.

In addition to Aniston’s brilliant performance, I was impressed by the plot itself. Even after a good hour into the film, the storyline still had me engaged with unaswered questions. Why is she in pain? What is her story? What was her relationship to Nina? What’s going to happen? How will it end etc etc.

So, I will not be one a wanna-be hipster and say I hated it just because rotten tomatoes scored it a low percentage. No, I will always, I am always up for another round (slice) of CAKE.

3.8/5