cinema

TAXI: A MOVIE REVIEW

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Jafar Panahi is a badass Iranian film director, screenwriter and film editor. Wikipedia tells me, after several years of making short films and working as an assistant director, Panahi achieved international recognition with his film, The White Balloon (1995), which I am yet to see and which won the first major award won by an Iranian film at Cannes. Nice one Panahi, way to represent!

This accomplishment alongside his later films constructed Panahi as one of the most influential film-makers in Iran. And Although his works were often banned in his own country, Panahi continued to receive international acclaim.

However; in 2010, after several years of conflict with the Iranian government over the content of his films (including several short-term arrests), Panahi, his wife, daughter and 15 friends were arrested. Panahi was sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media, or from leaving the country except for medical treatment or making the Hajj pilgrimage. While awaiting the result of an appeal he made This Is Not a Film (2011), a documentary feature in the form of a video diary in spite of the legal ramifications of his arrest. It was smuggled out of Iran in a flash drive hidden inside a cake and shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival the same year. In a cake! Need I even continue?

Panahi’s new film Taxi premiered in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015 and won Golden Bear, the prize awarded for the best film in the festival.

If these facts alone haven’t got you dying to see his films/this film. Let me assure you that Taxi is great. It is so beautifully balanced; strong, strange, serious yet at the same time, subtle and humorous. Taxi excels at what good art does best. It delivers important ideas with modesty and laughter.

Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the little girl’s performance. Her sharp chatty manner is not uncommon of a young Iranian girl. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing one, no doubt you would’ve found yourself at one point or another, blocking your ears or shutting off your brain! My mother often recalls memories of my own sister speaking too fast and too much in such an adult-like manner at such a young age and being shhhed on public transport by the old and impatient.

Go see it. So totally worth it.

5/5

The Last Samurai

So I haven’t actually seen this movie.. but now I have a reason to! Yesterday I visited one of the apparently iconic sites of The Last Samurai at Mount Shosha in Himeji city. And it was really something! Here are the pictorials… for reference, the first dish is Japanese soba with wild vegetables and the second, prawn pizza and third, the love of my life, tirafreakinmisu.
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Spotlight: A Movie Review

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Spotlight is a must-see. Even without its two 2015 Oscars: Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Why? Because, here I go again, it means something. It’s based on the true story of the year-long investigation by Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team headed by Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) and his crew Mike Rezendez (Mark Ruffalo) Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) of child molestation by Priests. Wow, I have goosebumps just writing that. With such a dynamite topic and a talented cast giving much realistic performances, we as an audience can’t help but watch with good nervousness and hopeful longing as the four labor to uncover secrets and publicize the unbelievable case.

After watching this movie, I started thinking about religion and in particular the affect human beings have on religion. This concept, of people’s actions tarnishing Religion’s good name is not a new phenomenon. It has been around since the very day said religions originated and has unfortunately continued through to this day. The terrorist group Isis, acting in the name of “Islam” is one example, for instance. Because of such individuals, the word “religion” has acquired negative connotations. Connotations of war, disunity and injustice. Which is so utterly unfortunate as true religion is the very opposite with its sole purpose being unity and togetherness.

When I was an even younger girl (wink wink) growing up in NZ, I often felt scared to tell others I was religious. I knew that the very word would connect me with the corupt government of my birth place (Iran). When I attended university, my nervousness remained for a single mention of “God” sparked hateful debates. Today, I like to think I stand strong in my faith. I stand strong because I have realized that it is foolish to let said individuals win. I know what my religion is about and I firmly stand by it. To finish, I’d like to share a quote from the Baha’i Faith in relation to this idea:

Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure; but if the remedy should only aggravate the complaint it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Sorry about the tangent. Spotlight is not only entertaining but informative. And as you can see, thought-provoking as well! He-he.

The Revenant: A Movie Review

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WOW just wow just wow finished watching the movie Jack, I mean Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for and oh my freakin’ goodness. It was definitely Oscar worthy.

First off, it stars the finest gentleman in the history of television: Leo and Tom Hardy. Also, the ginger dude form The Vow except he’s all bad ass in this film and the eyebrow dude from Meet The Millers. Hehe sorry, I am as much a film reviewer as I am a chef (i.e. forever winging it). Anyways, apart from the killer (excuse the pun) cast, the film itself is bloody (oops, there I go again) unbelievably great. In cinematography and in content. Though I’m warning you, tis no light shit. I don’t know how I managed to watch the whole thing alone in bed. Am most likely going to have nightmares. Involving animals and death. Especially, seeing as my village pretty much, exactly resembles them forests and BEARS. Seriously, there are so many bears here! Though I haven’t seen one yet… but they are there. Here. ARGH HELP.

100/10

The Little Prince: A Movie Review

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Where to start with this one?! The Little Prince is my favourite book of all time. It is so simple yet so profound. Imaginative, meaningful, intelligent and sweet. All at the same time. No wonder it is a classic and no wonder it can be built upon to make more great art. If you haven’t read The Little Prince then I urge you, with all my heart and soul to go out right now and find it at a bookstore or library near you, and do. Definitely do that before you watch the film.

Welcome back! Now that The Little Prince has forever changed you, you are ready to take on the world. And watch the film. The film which could have easily sucked for attempting to remake a classic but did not.

Seeing as the original tale was too short for a feature film on its own,  The Little Prince, the movie, is framed by the story of an unnamed girl who lives with her strict mother or in Japanese, her Kiyoikumama (a mother who pushes her children to academic achievements). Actually, her strict mom was not the only thing in this movie with a Japanese feel. In particular, the scenes of the grey and monotonous city and the overworked zombified workers screamed Japan (sorry not sorry, someone had to say it). Anyways, their (mother and daughter) story is shot in modern-style 3D stop-motion whilst the story within the story of The Little Prince steps back to a humble 2D animation based on the author’s own elegant watercolors (as seen in the book’s first printing and all editions after).

In my opinion, in addition to the impressive animation, it is the easy-listening narration reiterating the story’s wisdom, the gorgeous soundtrack and the original concept of the story of unnamed girl and cray mother which make this film so spectacular. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. But after you read the book.

5/5

Inside Out: A Movie Review

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If you’ve been following my movie reviews, you may have noticed that I like it when films mean stuff; touch an emotion in my heart, relate to my daily-life…etc. That said, of course, I enjoy entertainment as well. Inside Out has both.

Inside Out is Pixar’s newest animation. Pixar, animation, for kids right? Sort of. You see, this movie is all about the mind. In particular, Riley’s, an 11 year old girl who has just moved with her parents to San Francisco from Minnesota. Though Riley is not the main focus of the film. The main focus is her mind, an entirely other world (aren’t all our minds?) where Riley’s anthropomorphized (given human qualities) emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust control her life. Reminding me of this wonderful quote by ‘Abdu’l-Baha:”The reality of man is his thought.”

I don’t know about you but I really think Pixar hit the nail on the head (excuse the pun) with this one. So often, maybe more than I ought to, I find my mind full (not to be confused with mindful) and my emotions driving my life. It is as if something up there is in conflict with itself or something else or missing, or lost. Which is exactly what happens to Riley. Her driving emotion, Joy goes missing from Headquarters causing her perception and reasoning to distort.

Though in the end (trying not to spoil it too much for you), both the film’s characters and the viewer (adult and child) receive a psychology lesson to cherish for life. Which is, the world ain’t so black and white: there is no joy without sadness and vice versa. In Carl Jung’s words, “the word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”

Thank you for making such a heartwarming, thought-provoking and witty flick, Pixar.

100/5

And if I were salt, you’d be lettuce, an avocado or at least a fried egg

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I’d like to be a nest if you were a little bird.
I’d like to be a scarf if you were a neck and were cold.

If you were music, I’d be an ear.
If you were water, I’d be a glass.
If you were light, I’d be an eye.
If you were a foot, I’d be a sock.

If you were the sea, I’d be a beach.
And if you were still the sea, I’d be a fish, and I’d swim in you.
And if you were the sea, I’d be salt.
And if I were salt, you’d be lettuce, an avocado or at least a fried egg.
And if you were a fried egg, I’d be a piece of bread.
And if I were a piece of bread, you’d be butter or jam.
If you were jam, I’d be the peach in the jam.
If I were a peach, you’d be a tree.
And if you were a tree, I’d be your sap…

And I’d course through your arms like blood.
And if I were blood, I’d live in your heart.

-A poem from ‘Gloria’ (2013)

Meet the Patels: A Movie Review

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I’m gonna be honest with you. I’m at that stage in my life where every-time, literally every time I have a phone conversation with my mother, she ends it with inshallah (God willing) you’ll soon find a good husband. But that’s Iranian culture. A culture where marriage is just that big and that important. Where parents won’t really sleep until their children marry and procreate.

Meet the Patels is a rom-com documentary on exactly this. The film co-directed by siblings Ravi Patel and Geeta Patel explores the raw and honest expectations of Ravi’s parents (and extended family) surrounding his quest for love and marriage.

And, it is possibly the greatest film EVER.

And not because I can relate to the story. Even though I can (big time) but because some of the absurdities that come out of Patels parents are identical to the shizz my parents would, and do, say. However; amongst the ridiculousness are also a rich array of lessons on love and family to be learnt and cherished.

Ridiculousness include conversations like this where Ravi’s poppa describes the first time he met his wife through the Indian arranged marriage system:

“I go upstairs she’s sitting in a chair, stool or something
probably a little intimidated because this guy is from America…(his wife interrupts: “right away, I’m like, he’s short and he’s a little chubby.”) I was the one who asked the questions and she never asked me any questions which was a big set-up because she never opened her mouth there but she never shut up after the marriage.”

To adorable truths from the same man like the following:

“Bottom line is Ravi, i still believe when you are ready.. you will find a girl. just like a guru… when you are ready for a guru, you’ll never look for a guru, guru will come to you.” 

And…

“The girl you get married, you will never know her enough. Never know enough. Even after 35 year of marriage (his wife interrupting: he still doesn’t know me) it’s still a discovery. So you think I want to know her enough. That’s impossible, that is why you get married and that’s the fun of getting married because you keep discovering…you know, after 35 years we tell each other, “Oh, you don’t understand me!” Now after 35 years, I don’t understand her and you gonna know somebody in two year?!” 

All in all, a sweet and hilarious little movie with Ravi’s parents being the true stars of the film; old-fashioned yet charming and good-humoured – just like my own parents.

6/5 (a first on Iaccidentlyatethewholething)

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