Posted in 2 Stars, Film Reviews

Belladonna of Sadness – Review

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I could only have guessed as much that Belladonna of Sadness had played a critical factor in bringing attention to adult animation back when it had come out but for as beautiful as it may have looked, I also had found it extremely unappealing. It was a troubling experience because I recognized that there was so much about Belladonna of Sadness that was absolutely masterful, but it also mixes together with so much that also did nothing else but leave a bad taste in my mouth as they went on. Considering how this subject matter was taboo at the time for an animated feature, there’s still a reason to find one’s interest in Belladonna of Sadness growing because if went beyond such for the time, and it still does feel provocative but not for the best.

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Posted in 2 Stars, Film Reviews

I Love You, Daddy – Review

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At the hands of the much publicized sexual misconduct allegations against writer, director, and star Louis C.K., I Love You, Daddy feels difficult to look at without said context. Evidently, this film is a very self-deprecatory look at its own creator commenting on the idea of idolizing celebrities within the entertainment industry, but when I’m still trying to adopt a neutral perspective when looking at I Love You, Daddy, I haven’t found myself getting much out of Louis C.K.’s odd and outright uncomfortable project. It really isn’t possible to remove the icky taste of Louis C.K.’s personal life out of I Love You, Daddy upon watching this considering where the film seems to build itself on, the discomfort is only set to make oneself want to distance themselves from the work and it isn’t helpful in this scenario.

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Posted in 5 Stars, Film Reviews

Lady Bird – Review

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NOTE: This is a review I wrote from the Toronto International Film Festival, which I  had delayed posting here.

It’s probably just my own love of Greta Gerwig that’s taking me in, but I never expected Lady Bird to be a captivating experience in the manner in which it was. The whole night after watching Lady Bird, to say the least, I was in shock because I never expected something to play out to become nearly as resonant as it was – it wasn’t just simply funny anymore. But to see that Greta Gerwig managed to touch me in such a manner right on what was her directorial debut effort, I think the safest thing for me to say is that I’m already going to love what her output will present within the future. I was left thinking, perhaps this was something I needed my whole life – and for Greta Gerwig, I couldn’t possibly be more thankful.

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Posted in Blog Entries

In Support of Net Neutrality, and a Free Internet

Within less than a week, the FCC will be taking a vote to slash net neutrality rules in America as proposed by chairman Ajit Pai on May 18, 2017. Unfortunately, this issue seems to have garnered more attention just recently on the count that it will ultimately be posing a threat to freedom on the internet as we know it, because this vote is set to take place on the 14th of December. I’ve been particularly vocal about how I feel about net neutrality because even if it weren’t to affect me directly in Canada, I can still feel that a part of me would be affected considering how many of my own peers come from America and will most likely be unable to continue their work on the internet as actively as I would normally see.

So what is net neutrality, in a nutshell? Net neutrality is, putting it slightly, the freedom for people who browse the internet on a regular basis without any bias. That means that our access to social media sites such as Facebook or streaming sites like Netflix all are free of charge without any form of bias coming on the ends of our Internet Service Provider. And it’s something that we haven’t been brought aware of because of the fact that the net is used by people like ourselves on a regular basis with the comfort that we can go ahead and look up whatever we wish.

And what happens the moment in which net neutrality is repealed? To put it bluntly, access to many websites that you use on a regular basis will end up blocked off, slowed down, or sped up unnaturally because your Internet Service Provider has a bias against how you use them. In our current political climate, it is even more worrying because Donald Trump can just shout “fake news” at anything that goes against his record whether it be the many sexual assault allegations or his plans to wage war with North Korea. In a world where Donald Trump is the president of the United States, the repealing of net neutrality is dangerous noting that he can use this to silence out people at his own will primarily because they will put his position in danger.

I don’t really mean to make this a political post, but it’s especially worrying because human beings have the right to know how their politicians plan to run what they have for their own people. The Internet does not belong to one sole being nor an entire corporation, and net neutrality is the sign that it represents freedom for the people. Net neutrality is the freedom of speech for people of any side of the political spectrum – and many people are at the risk of losing that freedom because of the fact that they merely cannot afford to pay just to access whatever sites they wish to use. It’s like having to pay just for your own right to your own personal security – which I’m pretty sure is something that you can determine on your own without needing anyone to decide.

One is told that from signing up onto social media or even as much as a Google search that what they do on a regular basis is monitored by another authority. Those people aren’t wrong, but the fact that net neutrality may end up being repealed is also putting these monitors in more power over the people. And referring to the last paragraph, it’s also far more of a threat to one’s own personal security because the repeal of net neutrality would only remind the average citizen that they’re being watched by people who help in providing the internet to them. Sure, one’s own search history isn’t something private even opening an incognito browser in Google Chrome can hide that – but it’ll put one’s own life at risk because their providers have a bias against the services that such people have access to on the regular.

So how come I’m commenting even if I’m in Canada? It’s because the last thing I’d want is to be unable to communicate with many through this blog, which is run by Americans – and many services that grant me the access to the many films I am able to watch whether it is Netflix or FilmStruck, are American. I have become a prominent presence all over social media, via Facebook or Twitter – and they also happen to be American services. The last thing I would want is for even myself to be shut down from the outside because of what Ajit Pai wants to plan for Donald Trump, he wants to shut down any sign on the internet that would go against his permanent record because he insists that it is “fake news” and it’ll even put more than just the United States inside of a world akin to John Carpenter’s They Live where one’s participation in society is spelled out to them via subliminal messages that have a single instruction: “obey.”

And not only that, many of our services wouldn’t be available to American users which would even put us at the risk of having net neutrality taken away slowly. It isn’t only going to make our access to American services more expensive, but Americans trying to find a way to reach outside of what’s restricted to them will end up being charged more by their internet service provider. Because of this, the Internet is also at the risk of turning into a prison for the average American citizen, the sort that some say it’s necessary to “stay off your phones.” Ajit Pai is looking for more reason to render the silliness of that argument valid and it’s something I cannot stand for.

Only one day remains in which you can join the fight. Every voice, American or not, is welcome. We need it in order to keep the Internet free – because it shouldn’t belong to authority. It belongs to the people that keep it as diverse as it is. Join the fight for net neutrality, and write to congress. It isn’t too late. If I’ve been able to sign up and write a letter constantly from Canada, then you can too from America.

Posted in 5 Stars, Film Reviews

Personal Shopper – Review

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I’m still trying to piece together what exactly it was about Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper that didn’t work so well for me on my first viewing, because on another go I suddenly had found myself loving it to the point I don’t even remember what I thought was wrong about the film in the first place. And knowing already what Olivier Assayas had managed to bring out of Kristen Stewart from Clouds of Sils Maria, it was only fair to expect more greatness coming along from both one of the most fascinating directors working today as well as one of the most interesting actresses of her own generation. To say the least, there was a resonant effect present in Personal Shopper that only kept it lingering in my head since my first viewing, and on rewatch I quickly saw why it begun to stuck with me.

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Posted in 4 Stars, Film Reviews

Souls for Sale – Review

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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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Posted in 3 Stars, Film Reviews

The Bling Ring – Review

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Sofia Coppola has always been an interesting if inconsistent filmmaker. Following up 2011’s Somewhere, Coppola offers her own perspective of the American dream – and its effect on youth. For as much as this could easily have led to one of her most interesting films, it only satisfies on one end and the other it only falls dreadfully flat. When The Bling Ring is at its most intriguing it offers a biting satire regarding how celebrity culture has affected the youth but at its worst it also feels rather incomplete. It doesn’t help that within the same year, Harmony Korine had tackled similar subject matter via the brilliant Spring Breakers and right next to such, The Bling Ring feels far more underwhelming.

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Posted in 5 Stars, Film Reviews

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Review

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At first I thought I knew what I was expecting because of the fact that Martin McDonagh was writing and directing. From In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths I would already have expected yet another dark comedy reveling in bloody violence and clever dialogue. What I didn’t expect was for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to also have much more of an emotional arc on its own behalf – all in order to back up what might also be one of the year’s most sociopolitically relevant films. This is a film that builds itself on anger, but it all seems so controlled to the point it even finds the perfect time for us to laugh. But many contradictions come along the way and soon reveal something all the more insightful and even if it may be drenched in what we’ve come to recognize from McDonagh’s trademarks it still feels so beautifully refreshing.

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Posted in 4½ Stars, Film Reviews

Coco – Review

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I think it’s only fitting enough for me to admit that I’m a total sucker for the films of Pixar Animation Studios because of how much of an impact they had left on my own childhood. Toy Story was the first film I had ever seen as a kid and Finding Nemo was the first film that I had seen in theaters, so to say the least, I do owe them a great lot for forming many fond childhood memories. That having been said, what I miss greatly is the time in which they had been able to present one wonderful film after another and the Cars films had broken that streak of success. After a string of disappointments one after another with the exception of Inside OutCoco is yet another hit – and hopefully a sign that Pixar may be back to what they had always been best at. It seems both blessed and cursed in the sense that it may hint at Pixar finding a sense of consistency once again, but a curse upon the thought it may merely be a fluke but as far as Pixar’s future is concerned I am hoping only for the best.

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Posted in 2 Stars, Film Reviews

Justice League – Review

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My friend Noah Miles wrote in his Spider-Man: Homecoming review, “I don’t know if Jon Watts is a good director. I really don’t. It’s impossible to tell from this, although the direction here is probably the worst I’ve seen so far this year, because Marvel reshoots everything and rarely allows directors creative freedom to take risks and do something visually interesting.” It was the first thing that came into my head after having left Justice League, because from the many reshoots that came along since Zack Snyder left the production after the death of his daughter, you can really tell this isn’t so much of a Zack Snyder film. As a matter of fact, it seems more like the traces of a butchered plan that were haphazardly stitched together as a means of trying to appeal to the masses. The sad thing is, there’s barely enough about Justice League as it stands that truly works.

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