Joe Wright’s films come off to me as the sort that show off whatever is possible without offering much beyond that. I remember trying to watch Atonement for a history class and I was struggling just to stay awake, and his Pan film was just about one of the most awkward experiences for myself (I think the anachronistic soundtrack was already jarring enough whether it be the inclusion of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or the Ramones’s “Blitzkrieg Bop” that gave everything away for me) – and yet I find Hanna strangely enchanting. Quite frankly I also remember it as the first time I had seen Saoirse Ronan in anything, and her performance here was enough for me to say that Wright had opened me up to what seems missing from the action genre in this day and age. She doesn’t hold back and it only creates something all the more tense in Hanna.
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I haven’t always been on board with Netflix’s run of original feature films but amidst a group of entertaining and otherwise mediocre genre efforts, a standout comes by and The Meyerowitz Stories is yet another one of these. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach and starring a frequent collaborator of his in Ben Stiller, he hits once again with yet another comedy-drama about a family broken apart on the count of an artist of some sort having been a part of why everyone is so distanced. While I still believe that Noah Baumbach has yet to top The Squid and the Whale, his work continues to remain charming enough yet still feel meaningful. But Baumbach also seems to carry a great power in drawing empathy from his viewers towards what they see on the screen, and it works wonders once more.
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Rian Johnson’s latest film, a Star Wars film for the matter – isn’t the sort that one would expect him to pull off, but even for those who have stuck so closely with the Star Wars franchise, they didn’t get the same story that they would have wanted. If The Force Awakens only was the welcoming return for the franchise to the big screen after George Lucas’s prequel trilogy has come to an end, through the reintroduction of nostalgia – then what Rian Johnson has set his audience in store for is more possibility, all from the fact that he of all people had went behind what we would want to recognize on the surface as a Star Wars film. But nevertheless if this film were proof of anything, it would be that Star Wars finds its way of speaking to many generations over the years.
Continue reading “Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Review”
Annihilation is a strange product, the sort that would be expected from Alex Garland after Ex Machina – but maybe for the very best at the same time. I’ve admittedly never always been sold in on Alex Garland, so it was one among many reasons that I was unsure as to how Annihilation would have turned out for me, although what I still find fitting enough to say about it is that it’s a commendable effort. Nevertheless I think it’s only fitting that the experience that Annihilation is set to provide will be discomforting for the senses from start to finish, even if I’m not exactly sure I would say that everything about it works. Nonetheless I feel bad for those who won’t be able to witness it on the big screen as per their own wishes, but alas the experience it is set to provide is one not to be easily forgotten.
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The king of Wakanda himself finally takes the screen as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after having appeared briefly in Captain America: Civil War. Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman as the titular king, the most pleasing thing to report about Black Panther is that they had indeed given royalty the proper cinematic welcome for audiences of all sorts. It feels relieving to see a Marvel Cinematic Universe that I can comfortably say that I liked, without any “buts” to get in the way – for after this and Taika Waititi’s entry with Thor: Ragnarok, it would be easier to hope for more superhero films that give their own directors enough room to express themselves properly without much interference getting in the way.
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The first Paddington film took myself by a rather nice surprise, given as I’ve had no connection with the titular character and walking out, I saw a sort of charm that loads of modern family films have lacked. It wasn’t merely a family film that kept itself limited to children but created an entire world in itself where everyone felt welcome – bringing out the sense of warmth and fuzziness that one could only imagine an actual teddy bear can bring. Coming into Paddington 2, I expected more or less the same and Paul King certainly didn’t disappoint. It felt nice watching this to let go of my usual cynical self all in the favour of a cute little bear who wants to find only the good in everyone that he meets.
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I’m not really sure what I was expecting from Paddington as I first watched it, but it reminded me of something that I wished more family films had carried in this day and age. It carries all the best aspects of any family movie so that kids can enjoy it, but even adults would be left in awe as they watch together with their own children. It’s a film that knows how to invite a new audience to come along the ride, because it’s hard not to be won over by the sweetness of the presence of Paddington Bear himself. Those of you who would come into Paddington only expecting as much as a cute film about a bear coming into England will end up finding something more special, because what that sets oneself up for is a live action/CGI hybrid for the family done right.
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If Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth hasn’t already made clear the influence of Ingmar Bergman’s masterful Persona on modern independent American cinema, then perhaps a more chilling approach can be found in Sophia Takal’s sophomore directorial effort, Always Shine. But among many reasons this underseen psychological thriller has indeed made itself shine as one of the most intriguing films of the past few years, it’s the commentary it states about the industry it is set within for even if it not particularly anything new, it never shuts down the viciousness of the content which it displays. But even in the somewhat derivative nature there’s still a feeling of freshness that makes Always Shine a thoroughly compelling watch.
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James Franco goes behind and in front of the camera to tell the story of the making of the infamous 2003 cult film The Room, often regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. But Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has enjoyed another reputation of its own because it’s already an enigma, it’s difficult to truly put together how it was even made because even the most skilled filmmaker couldn’t have been able to replicate its wonder. It was easy enough to be skeptical that a film about something of the sort would only be none other than a vanity project showing how well can Franco perform an imitation of such a unique entity, but through The Disaster Artist he also created a more empathetic and even cynical picture that goes beyond my expectations.
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The film’s title is already prophetic in some sense, “souls for sale,” because it matches the subject matter that we see in Rupert Hughes’s Souls for Sale in such an eerie manner and that’s a good part of why this film was on the verge of becoming a heartbreaking watch just to think about. Even to this day we recognize how celebrities are affected by the images that they display of themselves on the screen, based on how they interact with people and in a sense, they are people who are putting their souls out for sale to the general public’s amusement. Perhaps the subject matter feels dated right now, but I wouldn’t want to imagine such a film fade into obscurity or go lost because of how it addressed the material in the day.
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