Arrival (2016)

Arrival Movie Review……………………………………………………

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival is a 2016 science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. It is an uncommonly smart sci-fi feature.

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If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?

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Arrival Movie Review……………………………………………………

Now of course there is a lot to talk about when it comes to Arrival so I will try to organize this review the best way that I can. First I have to say that I thoroughly dislike Denis Villeneuve as he is the director who makes very uninspired films (mostly crime, thriller and drama) and all of his films I really didn’t like and found them to be pretty weak.

But having in mind that I am a big fan of hard science fiction, I was naturally interested to see this film despite my dislike for the director. And thankfully he did a good job, a great job actually which I didn’t expect as he is a newcomer when it comes to this genre. I ended up liking the film even better after thinking about it afterwards and that is always a great sign for the longevity of the film.

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Arrival Movie Review……………………………………………………

The plot is absolutely amazing and there truly is a lot to talk about when it comes to story and its structure. Yes, it’s a very original film which is evident from the beginning, but becomes even more authentic as it progresses. So the twist (spoiler alert) I found to be absolutely terrific and so unique. And it ended up helping the movie which was great to begin with. And even though I predicted it at some point thanks to a couple of awesome hints, it is still a fantastic, very clever twist that changed the game entirely. Suddenly those flashbacks became flash forwards in probably the most inventive twist ever leading to such a unique plot structure which is non-linear as is the time with these aliens.

Speaking of aliens, that is where the movie shines. I guess that the octopus with a dash of whale in it look isn’t that original, but it is still interesting and far from derivative. It also begs the question of whether or not everything in the universe is truly paired in two as these aliens have seven legs and seven tentacles. But how they speak and how they communicate is just fascinating and the most authentic thing about them. The pictographic approach to their language is intriguing and it made the movie a very dazzling visual experience. I also adored their ships as they had such a mysterious, otherworldly quality to them.

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Arrival Movie Review……………………………………………………

Of course you have to talk about Arrival’s themes when talking about the movie. I just loved that we finally get a truly smart alien encounter movie as there is no invasion here, but the encounter itself still felt much more plausible than is usually the case with these kinds of movies. The use of linguistics and language is stunning and so important as we have really seen a nod to this area of expertise before in a major movie. The mixture of physical science and linguistics was interesting for the two main characters to have and everything here is very accurate not only in terms of science, but most importantly in terms of language as they perfectly show us how language works and what an important tool it is, but also how difficult to grasp a non-native language can be. Very smart script.

If there is one thing I didn’t like about the movie is its treatment of other countries. Yes, the film has such a great message and it rests the case for how important the relations between the countries are and how humans should be united and how all of the nations should work together as the divided nature of Earth is problematic in and of itself. But in the treatment of its rival countries, it becomes a despicable display of prejudice. Of course Russia and China are going to be the enemies and the two countries who become unreasonable and the two want to start a war with the extraterrestrials. That is just ridiculous having in mind that Americans themselves would definitely be the first to attack aliens if they ever would arrive in real life. So basically it is untrue and another strong case to be made for how Americans are totally incapable of making a unpatriotic/truly realistic movie.

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Arrival Movie Review……………………………………………………

But that is admittedly the only problem I’ve had with Arrival as the film is otherwise great. The characters are solid, I liked the relationship between the two and Jeremy Renner is likable in his role. Of course it is Amy Adams who shines here in another great role giving an Oscar-worthy performance. The direction is also strong which was unexpected and the film is a visual masterpiece.

There aren’t a lot of effects here, but the ships, the signs and the aliens themselves looked great and they were well incorporated into the imagery. Speaking the imagery, some of it is even artistic such as those views of the ships as well as the zero gravity sequence inside the ship. Those moments pleasantly reminded me of ‘2001’, but there is a lot of ‘Contact’ and ‘Close Encounters’ to be had here too. It is an original mix of familiar ideas. And the score is just amazing, so well done. I have rarely heard a better sci-fi score. Ominous, otherworldly and just so menacing, it is a memorable music to accompany the imagery and it is also perfectly misleading. Overall, Arrival isn’t a perfect movie, but it is one of the best science fiction films of the decade and possibly of any decade as it is so admirable in its intelligence and realism.

China and Russia are vilified and presented in the most stereotypical manner possible which just goes to show how Americans are incapable of accurately portraying other countries on film without bias, but other than that, Arrival is a must see. It is a great, amazingly clever, hard science fiction film that uses familiar ideas to create an original mix along with such an otherworldly, ominous score and some terrific, even artistic imagery. The script is so clever, the twist is awesome, the plot structure is unique and it is very realistic and admirable in its portrayal of linguistics and science and finally we have a truly serious alien encounter film that is made for the ages.

My Rating – 4.5

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Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann is a 2016 German comedy drama film directed by Maren Ade and starring Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller. It is the year’s most acclaimed foreign film that is actually bad.

It follows the relationship between a father and his uptight daughter who is very successful and her work life prevents her from having any joy, but the father helps her loosen up through a series of practical jokes. Now this is the kind of film that is at its core good and its heart is in the right place, but the execution is absolutely horrible and is so awful that it made the entire movie almost unwatchable and hurt what could have been a good message film.

The characters are just so annoying. I get her and she is a memorable, realistic character, but they unfortunately added her affair in the mix which was totally out of character and that sex scene or masturbation scene to be exact is not only disgusting, but also pointless and just plain stupid. The father is so annoying, he frustrated me immensely and this is the kind of person that easily gets on my nerves and he did do just that very frequently. The acting is definitely good and the film is well made, but that is the only good thing I can say about it.

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Toni Erdmann Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Toni Erdmann starts off pretty fine and actually had the potential to be a great movie, but with every next sequence the movie became more ruined than it had been previously. Literally every next scene was even more ridiculous and over-the-top than the previous one. And that is the problem with these kinds of directors and filmmakers – they want to make a shocker that only offends people without actually being realistic and authentic. It was all done for basic shock value which just appalled me.

The humor here is absolutely horrible. Rarely have I seen humor that is worse than this one in an acclaimed movie. Again I of course despise needless nudity and sexual scenes, but here that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that those scenes were stupid and pointless in and of itself. So over-the-top. And totally unrealistic. In real life she would learn to loosen up and start partying or something. But here she decided to get naked in front of all of her friends and boss and colleagues. Needless to say, the film hasn’t heard of the word nuance whatsoever.

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Toni Erdmann Movie Review………………………………………………………..

The film admittedly would have been okay as a drama, but as a comedy it fails on every level as it isn’t funny and is more obnoxious than anything else. That entire party sequence was painful to watch and there were more than a couple of times where I wanted to leave the theatre because that is how uncomfortable and annoyed I felt. Not only that, but you have a typical problem in pretentiousness as the film somehow makes it seem that it is smart, but is actually pretty simplistic and never really clever. It is also way too long as this kind of story is more than enough suitable for a two-hour format, but adding another half hour to it made it prolonged. Such an annoying, frustrating German film that just might end up being the most overrated film of 2016.

Toni Erdmann is one of the most overrated films of the year and one of the worst. Its core is good and its heart is definitely in the right place, but it doesn’t matter because the execution is so horrible and actually couldn’t have been worse with many ridiculous scenes that were just there for shock value, an extremely annoying main character, absolutely stupid, painfully unfunny humor and the movie is so bad as filmmakers here seem to be clueless and fully unfamiliar with the word nuance as the film is totally over-the-top and unrealistic that it becomes a joke and a chore to sit through.

My Rating – 2

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Graduation (2016)

Graduation……………………………………………………………..

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation is a 2016 Romanian drama film directed by terrific Cristian Mungiu. It is one of the year’s finest movies.

It follows a doctor who delves deeper and deeper into corruption in order to secure his daughter’s degree and future after her unfortunate sexual assault. This is such a powerful, deeply unsettling human tale that I enjoyed immensely and I was riveted by its sheer power and how engaging its dialogue and story is.

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Graduation Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Once again we get the signature hyper-realistic dialogue from Mungiu and he truly excels at creating real-life dramas that not only seem realistic, but the characters and the situations as well as the acting seem truly real and it was like watching real life unfold right in front of you. That’s how powerful his direction is.

Romanian cinema is truly reaching greatness and although I simply loved ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’, Graduation might even be better which is a huge accomplishment. It is one of the year’s finest movies and it quite possibly could end up being the year’s best foreign feature.

Graduation is such a thematically rich work that I was enthralled by its relatability and clever script and dialogue. First of all, I thought that they perfectly showcased corruption and its consequences and how it is always wrong no matter how right it seems. I loved its take on parenting issues and truly these parents felt super real and incredibly flawed as is the case with almost every parent out there. They basically shielded their daughter and thus ruined her capability in the real world and she definitely felt too vulnerable which was all the fault of her mother and father. They even hid their break-up from her which was just tragic to behold and super relatable as that sort of scenario happens all the time.

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Graduation Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

But I just loved every conversation regarding Eliza’s future. We see wonderfully the conflicting nature of this situation. Her mother doesn’t want her to go to Britain and she thinks that life in Romania can be perfectly solid whereas Romeo the father is desperate that she leaves the country for a better future. That despair the people here feel about their home country and how they think that in terms of finance and fine jobs good life is almost impossible in Romania is perfectly in line with my own country Serbia which is the reason why I found the film incredibly relatable.

What I also found relatable is the film’s handling of corruption in the form of business connections. That also felt really relatable to me as that is also something that these two countries share. How the people talked and how they helped each other was on point and incredibly realistic.

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Graduation Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Romeo is such a great character and I felt sorry for Magda and she in particular was a tragic figure as her entire life is basically wasted and I found that sense of despair in the air palpable and oh so hard to watch. The same goes for Sandra and her problems were very well incorporated into the movie too. All of the characters here, even the minor ones, had purpose and felt real which is a testament to how strong both the dialogue and the character development here is. And of course the script and acting. Adrien Titieni is so memorable and very strong in a difficult role, but all of the others did a great job as well and everyone felt like a real person.

Now Graduation isn’t a perfect movie. It is as close as a newly released movie can get, but it still had its problems which prevented me from giving it the highest grade. Its major flaw is the complexity of the plot which is commendable, but comes with its shortcomings. I am of course talking about the somewhat implausible aspect of the plot in which everything clashed down on the characters and they were hit by one accident after another. I get that the director wanted to include as many real life issues as possible, but it still felt a bit unrealistic and a bit too much. And no matter how much I loved its crime elements (that sequence in which he chases a suspicious man was immensely intense), it still felt tacked on and almost unnecessary, especially because they didn’t resolve the crime which again felt realistic, but it also took away the needless amount of running time from the more important goings on in the story.

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Graduation Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

But Graduation is otherwise an immaculate movie that is almost perfectly constructed both in terms of storytelling and pacing. It is incredibly involving and always engaging to follow. Its editing is very deft and its cinematography was very memorable. Some of the scenes were wonderfully shot and even intense, the camera angles were excellent and the movie has no score which worked in its favor as it wasn’t needed for this type of story. And the direction from Cristian Mungiu is simply amazing and professional as is the entire movie on all levels. The tone is overly serious, but the film demanded it. And it is so unpleasant to watch at times, but in the best way possible as it emotionally devastates you, but not that you need to cry, but that you become overwhelmed by the tragic, awful lives the characters lead and that feeling is indescribably sad in its own right and the film evoked it magnificently.

Graduation is an almost immaculate movie. It is perfectly acted, so well shot and magnificently directed by always fascinating Cristian Mungiu, it is a movie that skillfully evokes that awful sense of despair and regret which is a testament to amazing character development, thematically rich script, many relatable and painful situations and such a hyper-realistic, just fantastic dialogue. It is the best 2016 film I’ve seen so far and it is the work that sharesboth immense emotional power and tough realism.

My Rating – 4.5

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Happy Together (1997)

Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Happy Together Movie Review

Happy Together is a 1997 Chinese romance film directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung. It is a very good, poignant film.

It follows a Hong Kong couple who visit Argentina hoping to renew their ailing relationship. The two share a very tumultuous relationship full of abuse and breakups. Now frankly this plot is nothing remarkable nor is it original. And we’ve seen relationships and characters like this before in a number of movies. But the film is still very good as it makes the most use of its situations and characters and, thanks to Wong Kar-wai’s direction, it becomes an understated, elegant work.

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Turns out that lonely people are all the same.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

If I have to be honest, ‘In the Mood for Love’ is to me a much better crafted movie. I know this is the first movie to be released, but the aforementioned movie has a much more memorable ending which is very similar here, but never as epic. The score is the reason why this movie is inferior as it is never as beautiful as it was there.

But that ending is still strong and this is the first time we see the director tackle with his signature style of mixing romance and moving human drama with powerful landscapes, good music and an otherworldly atmosphere. And he did once again mostly a great job here and did elevate this familiar material in the process. In the hands of a different director, this would have been a standard romance. But in the hands of Wong Kar-wai, it becomes something much more than that.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

I loved Happy Together’s theme of loneliness. It beautifully showcases romantic yearning, but also a yearning for home country and both are the strongest forms of loneliness, both very well utilized here. As for the characters, both are typical, yet very well developed and you really feel like you met them. The relationship between the two is so strong and I like that it ended on a sad note as a happy ending here would have been out of place.

The subplot with Chang definitely feels like it is tacked on suddenly as that literally happened because the director had to fill in space because Leslie Cheung was away and couldn’t film during that time. But even though it does feel far from obligatory, it is still very beautiful and this character is so tragic and I just loved the scenes with him and Lai.

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Happy Together Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Happy Together is exceptionally well filmed and well paced as well. It is another slow, but deliberately slow paced movie from the director, but it is still very involving and never boring to watch which I admired. But even though the cinematography is strong and I loved its use of black and white and found it to be polished and esthetically pleasing, I still had trouble with its presentation of Argentina as it was portrayed as too poor and dirty. The acting is one of the strongest aspects here with everyone doing a great job, but of course Tony Leung steals the show and delivers another great performance. He truly is a great actor. And I liked that the film was very erotic, but never too much and it was more sensual in quality. It isn’t a great movie, but it most certainly is very good and quite respectable at times.

Happy Together does have a familiar story and characters, but Wong Kar-wai lifted this material with an expectedly terrific direction, the film is emotional and very sensual, I really liked its subplot, the ending was satisfying and it deals with tumultuous relationships and loneliness in a very realistic and heartfelt manner. 

My Rating – 4

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Ghost (1990)

Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Ghost Movie Review

Ghost is a 1990 romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. It is a pleasant, authentic blockbuster film.

It follows the woman in jeopardy, the ghost of her murdered lover and a reluctant psychic who assists him in saving her. The plot here is incredibly original and never have I seen something like this in a movie before. Basically it is a romance, it has a chick flick gene to it, but it is also a thriller in most of its parts while being a fantasy and even a comedy and horror in the process. Needless to say, the film’s very diverse genre mix makes it very unique.

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I love you. I really love you.

Ditto.

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Ghost Movie Reviews…………………………………………………………

Now of course it doesn’t always work and it is stronger in some genres than in others. For example, not every fantasy element here worked and truly the object moving could have been better utilized with the Subway Ghost becoming ridiculous whereas he was before pleasantly creepy in the only horror scene in the movie. As for its thriller elements, they are solid and are definitely well executed, but that is the element that reveals its age the most.

The romance here is strong, not as strong as it needed to be because they couldn’t quite develop their relationship with the little time they got. But it was still pretty moving and epic. What I didn’t like was its ending, the previous scenes leading to it were pleasant and romantic, but the ending itself I found to be overly emotional in a typical romantic comedy manner.

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Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Ghost surprisingly enough succeeds as a laugh riot the most as it is just so funny and so inherently amusing in many of its scenes. Whoopi Goldberg and her Oda Mae Brown are the reason why this movie is so good and so incredibly entertaining. She is absolutely fantastic and deservedly got an Oscar for this wonderful role. She is much better than both Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and much more memorable. The relationship between her and Sam Wheat is excellent and I just loved their scenes and her character who is so funny while still being caring.

Ghost has solid effects for its time, but now some of them are admittedly cheesy. The mythology here is solid. It is never as explained as I wished them to have been, but still for a blockbuster like this, the plot is actually really well crafted. The editing I found to be exceptional as the movie is never rushed and never boring. It is actually the most purely entertaining film I have seen in a long time. Its screenplay isn’t as sophisticated and some of the physical humor and action was over-the-top, but most of it was fun and charming instead of obnoxious.

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Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

The characters are strong. The villain reveal was expected, but he was still a solid villain. And I found the tone to be really good as the film is definitely very lightweight and humorous, but never too much and it knows when to be serious and sad. The score is absolutely fantastic and that theme that was repeated throughout was really beautiful. The dialogue is solid, but in the romance department, it can be too maudlin. And the romance between the two is definitely solid, but never as great as the script demanded it to be. But the film is so good in so many areas that I’ve had a great time watching it.

Ghost is overly emotional in its ending and sometimes a bit silly, but the film is such a terrific, one of a kind, hugely entertaining experience with such an intriguing mix of thriller, fantasy and romance, but its humor is also very strong and that is actually the best part here with Whoopi Goldberg being amazing and she easily steals every scene she’s in. 

My Rating – 4

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Clannad (2007)

Clannad Movie Review………………………………………………………………

Clannad  Review

Clannad is a 2007 drama anime show directed by Tatsuya Ishihara. It is the most disappointing anime I’ve seen so far.

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Clannad Movie Review………………………………………………………………

Everyday people keep hurting each other.

It’s no wonder why you doubt what other people in the world tell you.

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The story follows the life of Tomoya Okazaki, a high school delinquent who meets many people during his last year of school and helps them resolve their individual problems. Now this is famous for being one of the most heartbreaking anime shows and because I didn’t connect with the characters, I naturally didn’t feel anything myself. Both the characters and the story left me cold.

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Clannad Movie Review………………………………………………………………

The premise is excellent, but the execution of said premise is very weak. Instead of being a drama, Clannad is too lightweight and sometimes verging too much into comedy territory. It was just your typical silly anime that is sometimes way too tween-like in its approach.

Now of course the characters are okay, some of them are actually quote solid as the characterization is pretty good here. However, the overwhelming presence of moe really annoyed me and that is the major reason why I disliked the series. The girls looked too cute, too young and too silly. Not to mention that their hair color is almost exclusively blue which was definitely ridiculous despite the fact that it fits well into the whole Japanese idea of hair colors being defining personality traits, in this example blue means hidden talents as is the case for all of these girls. But that whole concept is silly and here it was more silly than usual.

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Clannad Movie Review………………………………………………………………

The voice acting is good and the main character is solid. Some of the girls are also pretty sweet, but most are too similar to each other and way too moe to my taste. But I really liked the main comic relief here as it was hilarious watching him get beaten up constantly by a girl.

Speaking of hilarity, Clannad is much more a comedy than a drama. However, it is rarely really funny with just a couple of scenes being funny and most of the characters and the dialogue were trying too hard. The drama here is solid and it may be relatable to some, but to me it wasn’t and I found it to be a typical high school drama for teenagers. In the end, I was thoroughly disappointed in Clannad and it is the anime show that is the most overrated of those I’ve seen thus far. It has its moments and the first half is solid, but the second half is weaker and the entire series is dull, uninvolving with the most unfortunate comedic and silly tone to it thus successfully rendering its emotion ineffective and its true drama mild and not as relatable as it could have been had it had a different, more serious approach to it. It is the definition of lost potential as it is disappointing on the all grounds you could think of.

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Worst Episodes: Stuck Problem, 3 on 3 and A Room Without Anyone.

Best Episodes: Once Again After Crying, The Girl Genius’ Challenge and The After School Rhapsody.

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My Rating – 3.2

 

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Jellyfish (2007)

Jellyfish Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Jellyfish Movie Review

Jellyfish is a 2007 Israeli drama film directed by Etgar Keret and starring Sarah Adler. It is a very good, moving drama.

Jellyfish follows the lives of three women in Tel Aviv. As is the case with any anthology movie, some characters and stories are more interesting than the others, but more often than not, the film succeeds as such a solid, emotional and at times even poetic work.

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“A ship inside a bottle cannot sink or collect dust.

It’s nice to look at and floats on glass. No one is small enough to board it.

It doesn’t know where it’s heading. The wind outside won’t blow its sails.

It has no sails, only a slip, a dress, and beneath them, jellyfish.”

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Jellyfish Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Batya is a wedding waitress who finds a seemingly mute child at the sea. Now to me this story is the most poetic and mysterious of the three. I guess that its meaning is ambiguous and left to everyone to find his/her own interpretation, but in my opinion the child is just a manifestation of her long lost childhood for which she yearns for. Maybe I am wrong (and I guess definitely is the better word here), but to me that is the perfect interpretation as it would most satisfyingly explain that wonderful ending where she reaches to save her from drowning, but the child only further drifts apart.

Keren is a bride whose wedding Batya worked at. She breaks her leg and ruins her honeymoon in the process. Her new husband is also seemingly having an affair with another woman he met at the hotel. Now this is the only story that I really didn’t care for and sometimes even genuinely disliked. Why is that? Well, it is mostly because it’s such a tired melodrama about cheating and that I have never enjoyed. I guess it is powerful at showing how once your are on your honeymoon, the relationship can really worsen, but to me it didn’t work as the cheating is left too ambiguous and that other woman is really annoying.

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Jellyfish Movie Review……………………………………………………..

And in the third story, Joy is a Filipina domestic who attends to her employer and she struggles to communicate with her as she doesn’t speak Hebrew and the old woman doesn’t speak English. The woman has a problem with emotion and is cold and calculated thus ruining her relationship with her daughter who is a theatre actress. But the two find comfort in each other as Joy is nostalgic for her home and her child and unfortunately misses to buy him a boat toy he wanted.

Now this is obviously the finest part of Jellyfish because it is easily the most relatable and the most emotional of the three. It is a typical story about people working far from home and about cold people and yes, these characters we’ve seen countless times before. But the execution is so good and their characterization is excellent that it ended up being great and it painted to us their relationship particularly strongly. The last moment with the two crying together and hugging was just priceless to me and the finest scene in the movie.

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Jellyfish Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Jellyfish is, according to its director, named after the eponymous Cnidaria because those animals live unorganized lives and they can’t influence their direction. And that is an excellent metaphor for the aimless lives of these three women. The film is definitely well written, but also very well filmed, stupendously acted and very well directed. It is such a good Israeli drama that was a rewarding experience.

Jellyfish is definitely familiar in its characters and one of its three stories doesn’t work, but the other two are excellent with the first one being such a mysterious, wonderfully ambiguous story and the second one being such a moving, powerful human tale. It is also well filmed and acted, the metaphor is great and it is more often than not a satisfying, even fascinating experience.

My Rating – 4

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Topper (1937)

Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

Topper Movie Review

Topper is a 1937 fantasy screwball comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Constance Bennett, Cary Grant and Roland Young. It is a disappointing comedy.

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I’ll be out before you can say Jack Robinson – only don’t say it for a few minutes.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

It follows a stuffy man who is haunted by the ghosts a fun-loving married couple who want to help him loosen up in order to get to heaven. The premise itself is marvelous and it really had potential for greatness, but the execution is weak and sometimes quite problematic leading to a disappointing movie that is just solid and never as great as it easily could have been.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

The acting is easily Topper’s biggest achievement. Everyone here did such a great job in excellent roles as the characters themselves are easy to define, but memorable and likable. Roland Young is the best and his Oscar nomination is very much deserved. Constance Bennett is also very good and quite charming and she steals every scene she’s in. But Cary Grant disappointed me. Not his performance as he is always great and is the same in this movie, but I expected his role to bigger as I am a big fan of his, but he is the least utilized of this threesome unfortunately.

Topper is well directed by Norman Z. McLeod and mostly really well paced and shot. I really liked its use of nature as that is always hard to come by in a 30s movie, but here it was all the more memorable for it. And I really liked the driving sequences which were of the most entertaining here. All of the characters are great and the wife of Cosmo is also really memorable and sometimes even quite funny.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

So what is the problem here? Well, that is the humor. Screwball comedies are my favorite subgenre of comedy as they are always charming and hilarious. But Topper is never hilarious and is in fact rarely genuinely funny which was so disappointing to witness. I don’t know why they didn’t utilize on this awesome premise, but somehow only the first act was quite funny at times and, as I said, those nature and driving sequences were excellent. But the second half is repetitive in its plot and humor and some of the humor as well as the supernatural aspects are very dated to be honest. Most of its supernatural aspects is solidly put together and the special effects are most definitely terrific for its time, but the rules here aren’t as well governed and the physical humor gets pretty repetitive and for a movie with ghosts in it, it is never inventive which was a real shame to see. Those are the reasons why the film left me unsatisfied in the end.

Topper is very well acted with Constance Bennett being very memorable in her role and Roland Young being deservedly nominated for an Oscar, the premise is terrific and some sequences here are charming and funny, but most of it isn’t as funny as it should have been and it is never as inventive or as entertaining as the premise demanded it leading to a disappointing screwball comedy.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a 2010 fantasy adventure film which is the third installment in the Narnia franchise and undoubtedly the weakest one.

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You know, extraordinary things happen to extraordinary people.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

I was immensely disappointed in this adaptation. I adore ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ and it is one of my favorite Narnia novels. But this movie adaptation fails on many levels and rarely succeeds at bringing this wonderful source material to the big screen. Now, the book is so wonderfully adventurous, but the movie isn’t. It is much more boring and slower than the novel and despite a couple of great sequences, most of it is uninspired and ruined.

The movie fails in terms of the character development. By bringing this ridiculous green mist, they sacrificed the true drama of the novel in favor of some stupid fantasy exposition. In the novel, all of the characters are on an ordeal and they have to conquer their worst tendencies and become better people in the progress. But here some of it is only present, but most of it is done in a supernatural manner which leads me to believe that the filmmakers didn’t even understand Lewis’s work.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

It was absolutely ridiculous to me that Edmund of all people gets to battle his inner demons the most when he should be the calmest and most sane person of the group as he had already conquered those doubts and fears in the first book and movie. Lucy is better developed, but even she isn’t as great as she was in the book. Caspian has his moments, but is boring. The only ones who weren’t destroyed here were Eustace and Reepicheep who are both terrific. Eustace is excellent and, though most of the actors were weak, Will Poulter was pretty good and was brilliantly cast. All of the drama surrounding him was very well put to use and he remained a dragon much more in this movie and that is the only change that is done even for the better as it strengthened his relationship with the mouse who was here as memorable as in the book.

The ending was emotional as in the novel and I loved Aslan’s role and how everything ended. The movie also starts well, but everything in the middle is very unfortunate as it tended to focus on action instead of adventure. Yes, the sea serpent is memorable, but that action sequence is awfully prolonged and boring and to me they ruined this material and presented it is in the worst blockbuster fashion. Almost none of it is as magical as it should have been and even Coriakin and Dufflepuds were too me weakly put to use.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

Now frankly, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does look good. I imagined it even better as the descriptions were so vivid, but they mostly managed to make it right with good special effects and some pretty solid scenery. The ending and the boat in particular looked fine. I liked that the running time wasn’t as extended this time around and although somewhat slow, the film isn’t boring and is even more engaging than sometimes pretty dull ‘Prince Caspian’. But having in mind how the book was simply magical, the charm was lost in this very disappointing adaptation.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does look good, Eustace and Reepicheep are very well utilized and some scenes are moving and great, but this is mostly a very disappointing and weak adaptation that is more likely to please those not familiar with the source material, but to me it was such a problematic adaptation of a great novel with a poor focus, very badly interpreted message and a tendency to focus more on action instead of adventure. It is okay as it has its moments, but it is never as magical as it should have been.

My Rating – 3

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Girls Season 2 (2013)

 Girls Season 2 Review………………………………………………………………

Girls Season 2 Review

The second season of Girls is a very troublesome, yet at times very interesting and even admirable season.

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You are the most self-involved,

presumptuous person I’ve ever met

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 Girls Season 2 Review………………………………………………………………

It again consists of ten episodes, but the reason why it is weaker than the first season lies in its uneven nature. It is a very weird season that is at times much better than anything in season one, but at times much worse. The first season was consistent, but this one isn’t. This season has a couple of truly great episodes and a couple of truly mediocre ones whereas the first one had neither of those two which makes them much different. But even though this season deals with some much darker, admirable themes, it still has many episodes that almost serve as boring filler which troubled me.

Jessa is the only one in the main cast here that is really bad. I just never got her character and that hasn’t changed during this second season. Because the actress was pregnant during the season’s production, they left her out for the majority of the season, but in those episodes that she’s in, she is again very underutilized and I never get her motivations or her goals.

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 Girls Season 2 Review………………………………………………………………

Jessa and Thomas John break up here and of course divorce. That was incredibly clichéd and expected to happen which again points to how stupid this entire plot point was. The only thing I liked about Jessa here is that she was paired with Hannah in all her episodes which was refreshing and the two got some great moments (the bathtub sequence is really sweet while also being realistic). But that episode where the two went to Jessa’s dad’s house was pointless in my opinion. Nothing of substance happened there and again we don’t learn anything about Jessa. She remains an enigma, but an enigma in a bad way.

Marnie is interesting, yet odd. Her sex scene with Elijah was ridiculous and I found that plot point as well as the whole Elijah’s part in this season mediocre, but her involvement with Booth Jonathan was solid. He’s everything Charlie wasn’t and that is why she for one moment found him interesting. Speaking of Charlie, I thought that his new relationship was well handled and the earlier moments between him and Marnie were all great, but unfortunately them getting back together was somewhat shoehorn into the storyline and it definitely felt too cheesy and abrupt. And her singing talent came out of nowhere and I don’t know what they’re going to do with that. I am looking forward to her potential singing career, but only if it’s done right.

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 Girls Season 2 Review………………………………………………………………

The rest of the characters, unlike those explained above, are all excellent during this season. Let’s start with Shoshanna. She was the weakest and most underutilized link before, but she’s now very strong and she continues to be likable, but thankfully less of a caricature this time around. She’s dating Ray and their relationship was excellent. I loved everything about it and that she eventually left him as that was very much grounded in reality.

She is young and doesn’t want to get stuck with a boyfriend, and an older and un ambitious one, where she could be having fun and dating and having sex and experimenting like everyone else in their twenties. That wasn’t fair to Ray, but it’s an understandable choice. Speaking of Ray, I really like him. He is a very relatable character as there are many people like him, those who aren’t ambitious and lead boring lives and are already in their thirties. Of course these two weren’t going to have a future together and I liked that they broke up, though it was tragic.

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 Girls Season 2 Review………………………………………………………………

And now for Hannah. This season is interesting for not revolving largely around her as she is much less present than before and that led to a better characterization for the others on the show. But she is still fantastic and still the best developed of the bunch. Her relationship with her parents continues to be strong, I liked that incredibly romantic ending and it would be interesting to see whether she and Adam could have a future together.

That episode with her and Patrick Wilson’s character spending two days together was an interesting, but odd experiment. And her episode with Jessa wasn’t good for her, but I liked again her struggles with writing and her major OCD problems were introduced here and in a great way. This is where the series went really dark which was unexpected for a mostly light and even at times comedic show that it had been before. But it was very well handled and it is a testament to some great writing and emotional tone that I felt sorry for her despite me not liking her at all as she’s usually a horrible person. But watching her in pain was heartbreaking and a very mature development for Girls.

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Girls Season 2 Review ………………………………………………………………

Season two is interesting for featuring Adam alongside these four which was very intriguing as we haven’t really seen male characters focused on before. But here he has a new girlfriend and this relationship is so well explored. The two are vastly different and it was evident that it couldn’t last, but that sex scene between the two, although too graphic for my taste, was excellent for portraying everything that is wrong with Adam and what is going on in his head. This season really had some clever writing, at least when it involved some characters.

Overall, Girls Season 2 isn’t as good as the previous season owing to its uneven nature and too many mediocre and forgettable episodes plus Jessa continues to be underutilized, but Hannah is excellent once again as is Adam and also Shoshanna. It was very dark, but interesting and it dealt with some really intriguing themes leading to an odd, yet very solid season of television.

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Worst Episodes: It’s About Time and Bad Friend.

Best Episodes: It’s a Shame About Ray and Together.

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My Rating – 3.7

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