Jackie (2016)

Jackie Movie Review………………………………………………………

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie is a 2016 biopic directed by Pablo Larrain and starring Natalie Portman. It is a solid, but inherently troublesome film.

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There comes a time in man’s search for meaning when he realises that there are no answers.

And when you come to the horrible and unavoidable realization,

you accept it or you kill yourself. Or you simply stop searching

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Jackie Movie Review………………………………………………………

I liked that the film followed just the assassination of Kennedy and how Jackie dealt with it. That decision led to a much more focused and interesting film. And certainly more dramatic and emotional. Some scenes here are so good with the highlight being the entire third act which has some truly moving moments and even a couple of interesting things to say.

However, Jackie still suffers from the regular problems of these political biopics and that is of course its dishonest approach. The film is basically a glorified and even at times propagandistic and plain aggressive case for how great of a president and man he was when in reality he had a number of affairz with different women, but of course that fact was entirely omitted from this film.

And Jackie herself felt overly sympathetic which is where lies the movie’s biggest problem. Clever and truly great biographical films present their subjects as human beings, both admirable and flawed. Here however, she is basically a saint with no flaws whatsoever. That was so problematic. And all of the other characters are exactly the same, but unlike her, they are forgettable and do not impact the film’s plot at all.

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Jackie Movie Review………………………………………………………

There is one superb thing in this film that nobody can deny and that is of course Natalie Portman’s performance which is simply astonishing. It is one of the best performances of the year and I honestly think that she should have won an Oscar for this film instead of ‘Black Swan’ as she is so much better here. She not only became this person and entirely sold her movements and her speech patterns, but she also sold those highly emotional scenes and was just a force to be reckoned with. She is the reason to see this otherwise so-so film.

Jackie’s Oscar-nominated costumes are certainly exquisite and the year’s best. The film is surprisingly well edited and involving for a political biographical piece. It succeeds as a historical picture as it transports you to its time period really well with a good eye for detail. It is very well made for sure and it features some pretty interesting conversations owing to a solid script and dialogue. It is a shame then that some other lines ring so false and propagandistic.

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Jackie Movie Review………………………………………………………

Two of the biggest offenders here are the overabundant graphical details of the murder which were thoroughly unnecessary and the score which is simply horrible. How it was nominated for an Oscar I will never know. It is so aggressive, moody and dangerous that it suits the science fiction horror sensibilities and genre much more than a historical drama. Truly, the musical choice is so bad that it actually becomes distracting. But thankfully the film is well made in other technical areas. Overall, I liked Jackie to some extent and some scenes are even commendable in their dialogue, but the biased approach hurt it in the long run.

Jackie is a solid and sometimes even great, but obviously very flawed movie. The performance from Natalie Portman is truly inspired and she is simply phenomenal here, some conversations were quite interesting, the film is emotional and it is pretty involving which I did not expect, but the score is horrible, they almost entirely glorified her and it is so annoyingly biased and even propagandistic at times with a couple of lines that rang false.

My Rating – 3.5

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Moana (2016)

Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana Movie Review

Moana is a 2016 animated musical fantasy adventure film that is the 56th Disney animated feature. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned Disney film which I liked a lot.

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If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I found the plot to be very good, if some plot points felt obvious. To me, the film succeeds the most as an adventure owing to its pure, unabashed sense of fun and discovery. I loved that about it as nowadays we rarely see these kinds of films and here we’ve got a grand sea adventure for the ages.

Of course the Polynesian setting is beautiful and highly authentic and intriguing. I loved that we got to meet this culture and their traditions, it definitely felt original and refreshing in that aspect. Another strong thing about it is its lack of villains. Moana has no villains whatsoever in it and that was great and realistic. The villain is the nature and its forces which was great to witness and so refreshing. I loved that the film focused more on the relationship between its two characters than on action. But the action is great too and actually the entire last battle and especially the final appearance of the goddess was just beautiful to behold and it was the best and most epic scene in the entire film.

Let’s talk about the characters. Moana is pretty good as the newest Disney princess. Yes, sometimes she felt too arrogant and annoying to me in a typical feminist fashion. But she was mostly likable and I liked that the movie was about her for the most part and her journey is so well established and her ups and downs are dramatic and emotional.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

As for Maui, I don’t know about this one. Mainly because I dislike Dwayne Johnson and his voice so much, I did not care about this character much. Auli’i Cravalho did a much better and more natural job in her voice performance. But even though the two are great together and their tumultuous friendship feels like one of those classic Disney friendships from yesteryear, I still did not like him individually. He had some great moments, but was overall too unwilling to help her at first, too selfish and his humor felt forced to me. Really not a fan.

I liked the fact that the movie chose to focus mostly on these two as that led to a better developed relationship between these two, but it still has a couple of memorable supporting characters in it. To me Moana’s parents and especially her father was a walking cliché, but the grandmother was such a kind and wonderful person and their relationship was so sweet. Her death scene was really impactful and tragic. Tamatoa as this gold-obsessed coconut crab was the closest that this movie came to having a villain and I really liked him. He was a memorable and sometimes even funny character and he served his purpose and made an impact for a short screen time he received. I would have really liked for them to have focused on Pua instead of Heihei and that was unfortunate as Pua is such an adorable, lovable pig whom I liked a lot. But Heihei is also pretty good as this incredibly stupid rooster and some of his gags were quite funny. He truly is the dumbest Disney characters of all time.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana is a musical and to me it succeeds as such much more so than ‘Frozen’ did because it has more than one really good song. The overall score was really good too. Tulou Tagaloa is a short, if good opening for the movie, but I loved its Polynesian sound and language. That is the major strength of this movie – finally we see a Disney movie that utilizes the culture it depicts in its soundtrack!

An Innocent Warrior is another strong Polynesian number, it has beautiful vocals and is really moving. But I disliked Where You Are quite a bit as it is so bland, so forgettable and it is probably the weakest song in the entire movie. I also disliked You’re Welcome which featured too much rap and Dwayne Johnson singing is not my cup of tea. That sequence is comedic and it explains his character well, but the tune as a whole was annoying.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Shiny is a much better rap song. I still dislike that that genre was featured here as it does not fit, but I found the song’s chorus to be very catchy and memorable. But I have to say that I strongly disliked how this song started, but more on that later. I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors) was to me such a powerful number and not that much in the tune itself, but in terms of storytelling and characterization, it probably succeeds the most out of any song here as it perfectly helps us prepare for the storm and is so emotional and with beautiful vocals.

Logo Te Pate is also such a catchy, fun number that I liked a lot. But the highlights are naturally How Far I’ll Go which was Oscar-nominated and We Know the Way. How Far I’ll Go is such a classic Disney song in its style and it perfectly helps develop the character of Moana while also having a great scene to accompany it with good imagery and such good lyrics. But it is so immensely catchy too.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

But to me We Know the Way is easily the highlight. I love this song so much! With superb lyrics and a great usage of Tokelauan language, it features such a great scene as a whole and I just loved that backstory in this movie. But it is such a catchy tune, so catchy and so fun that I actually have listened to it at least fifty times so far. It is a new Disney classic song in my opinion.

So naturally I love these songs so much and I think the soundtrack is mostly superb and stupendous, but I really disliked the musical direction in this film. For example, We Know the Way just sort of started and those transitions were not the most polished. But as I said above, Shiny starts in such an unappealing way with the character basically saying that he is going to sing. I disliked this meta approach to the songs so much as it basically adds another strong reason for musical haters to hate the genre. I would have liked a more respectful approach.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I liked the humor in Moana quite a bit, but I liked that it was mostly dramatic and that it focused on adventure and drama the most. It is a high-spirited adventure, but it succeeds in emotion as well because a couple of scenes are just so powerful, either poignant or uplifting. And some scenes, such as the last couple of them, are grand and majestic in both scope and emotion. The film is definitely ambitious in some areas.

The animation is gorgeous to behold. I loved its use of hand-drawn animation, but this is the first computer animated film from Ron Clements and John Musker and the results are more than stellar. The character designs are pretty good, but the highlights are some of the highly memorable imagery and the ocean. The water is so well animated and a character in its own right.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The film is well edited and well directed, I found the tone to be well handled and diverse and the film is emotionally engaging, but the dialogue needed to be much bigger to sell those abundant conversations and emotional scenes better. And because the film was too simplistic and definitely unoriginal in its storytelling, it never achieved the status of those Renaissance flicks from the nineties, but it came actually pretty close at times which I did not expect. And I loved that it was a return to classical Disney musicals and that is the major reason why I liked it more than Zootopia’ from the same year. it has its problems, but it is so wonderful and adventurous that it mostly succeeds.

Moana has its problems such as some typical plot points, a lack of stronger dialogue and I really dislike Maui and the film’s annoying meta approach at times, but the film succeeds as a high-spirited, grand adventure and it is a return to those classic musical adventure films from Disney which is why I loved it so much. The characters are mostly good, the film is very emotional at times, its lack of villains is admirable, some scenes are just beautiful and majestic to behold and the film’s Polynesian setting is so well utilized and intriguing. But the soundtrack is just fantastic with so many great, catchy or emotional numbers with the highlights being How Far I’ll Go and especially We Know the Way which are definitely future Disney classics.

My Rating – 4

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Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Moonlight Movie Review

Moonlight is a 2016 drama film directed by Barry Jenkins and starring Andre Holland, Naomi Harris and Mahershala Ali among others. It is a flawed, but ultimately very good film.

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You’re the only man who ever touched me

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Moonlight Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

It is a coming-of-age story concerning growing up of a gay black man who is shy and bullied at school while also having problems with his mother who is a drug addict. Now the film is acclaimed but is to me just good and never great mainly because of that drug subplot. To me it had that great, emotional scene between adult Chiron and his mother, but other than that, it was thoroughly underutilized and just took away the running time needed for its first and more important story.

Another problem is that the first half or so, especially its first vignette, felt way too conventional. The film is said to be unconventional and unique, but I never saw that as the first vignette felt clichéd and like a typical coming-of-age flick adding nothing new to the table.

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Moonlight Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

But the second vignette is much better and it featured a good intimate scene between Chiron and his friend. The bullying aspect was also well done and it was overall much more memorable than the first part. But the third vignette is easily the standout one. It is the part where the film truly shines. Watching the two reunite after ten years was just so emotional to watch. It featured a couple of memorable lines, it was so well filmed and the ending and the entire part was so tragic, yet subtle. It definitely elevated what was otherwise a standard picture.

This film is light in characterization, maybe too light, but it still manages to make this characters feel real mostly thanks to its great attention to detail and excellent, subtle work done in dialogue and script. That was best exemplified in the last part where we get to know both of them really well despite only being with them for a short time.

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Moonlight Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Moonlight is naturally very well acted. Naomi Harris did a very good job and she deserved her nomination. However, Mahershala Ali really disappointed me. I do not get why he was Oscar nominated as the role itself was very weak. He was good in it, but the role was so typical and the character was forgettable. To me Andre Holland is the true standout here and he deserved a nomination for sure. His facial expressions and eye contact is phenomenal and he helped elevate an otherwise strong material even more with his excellent performance.

Moonlight is technically well made. The score was forgettable, but the direction from Barry Jenkins is strong and the editing is really good. It is well edited for sure, but the film’s structure isn’t as terrific as everyone said it is. It felt unoriginal to me personally. But the dialogue is fantastic, truly accomplished because with a few lines, the characters said everything we needed to know. That is because the script is clever and understated. But some things still felt unexplained with him being bullied because of his sexuality never being properly established.

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Moonlight Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Moonlight is really well shot with good cinematography. And it was very realistic in its characters and story. The film is also very sentimental, but in a good way. “You’re the only man who ever touched me” is the highlight in terms of the quotes, that moment was so powerful in its tragedy and it is the highlight and the most fantastic thing about the entire film. To me, just that line lifted the film to a much more accomplished status. Overall, I found the film to be superb in some areas and truly special, but overall it is not great and is a bit overrated.

Moonlight is quite a good, but honestly a bit overrated film. It features excellent performances from Naomi Harris and Andre Holland, it is very well edited and directed, the script is excellent and the third vignette was just fantastic, so tragic and wonderfully conveyed as a whole, but the first two vignettes (especially the first one) felt overly conventional, the drug addicted mother part was never utilized properly and was rushed and the entire structure of the film was typical to me. The film is clever and sometimes with just a couple of lines it perfectly explained everything we need to know about its characters, but sometimes because of its structure, it skipped too many things and definitely felt underutilized.

My Rating – 4

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The Eagle Huntress (2016)

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress is a 2016 Mongolian documentary film directed by Otto Bell and telling the story of Aisholpan Nurgaiv. It is a pretty good, if inherently flawed flick.

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This is no ordinary bird.

This was a tough endeavor

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The Eagle Huntress Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

It is about a 13-year-old Kazakh girl in Mongolia who became the first female eagle hunter in her generation and country. Naturally it has a feminist message, but that message is conveyed in a good instead of overly aggressive or expected manner. She truly is an inspirational person and that is why she was a great center of this fascinating story.

The movie is controversial for supposedly featuring staged sequences and events and many even question whether or not it is a true documentary and whether it is factual or exaggerated. In my honest opinion, there are definitely some forced scenes here and I agree that it should have felt more like a documentary, but more on that later. However, I still think that those criticisms are a bit unfair and I choose to believe that the film is factual. And whether or not it is real, it still remains an inspirational story for women everywhere.

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The Eagle Huntress Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

There is no denying the film’s technical aspects. The Eagle Huntress looks amazing. Its cinematography is so good that it is one of the best shot movies of the year. Its crane and aerial shots are absolutely gorgeous and watching the snowy mountain imagery was beautiful. The film is also well directed and edited and although it should have been shorter, it is mostly really entertaining and interesting to watch.

It was to me interesting because I didn’t know anything about Mongolia and eagle hunters before and now I am acquainted with it quite a bit so the film did its job and succeeds as a good documentary. The highlights are definitely those hunting sequences which are phenomenal and so fascinating, if brutal to watch. I thought that the film explained to us the viewers everything we need to know about this interesting Mongolian tradition.

Where the film isn’t as great is in its interviews. As I said before, it isn’t much of a documentary because it plays too much like a live-action film and that wasn’t the problem, but my biggest issue was the lack of more interviews. I think the film does have enough of Aisholpan and her family, but the interviews with the other people are sparse and lacking.

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The Eagle Huntress Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

But it is so well made and it looks splendid. It deals with an interesting subject matter and was thus intriguing and always engaging to me personally. That is why I honestly think it was snubbed for Best Documentary by the Academy as its inclusion would have led to a much diverse list than the one we unfortunately got. Overall, I really liked this film and even though it is filled with some pretty big issues, the overall experience is wonderful, fascinating and ultimately emotionally rewarding.

Regardless of its controversy which is unfortunate, The Eagle Huntress is still such a good and mostly satisfying documentary. It needed to have more interviews, but it tells us everything we need to know about this Mongolian tradition and it is always fascinating and very involving to watch. It is also emotional and its biggest strength is the cinematography with aerial shots which are absolutely stunning leading to one of the best looking films of the year.

My Rating – 4

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The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

The Lego Batman Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie is a 2017 animated superhero comedy film directed by Chris McKay and starring Will Arnett and Michael Cera. It is a pretty good film.

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Black. All good movies start with a black screen

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

I liked the plot here quite a bit. It was definitely typical and so obvious in a couple of its plot points, but the overall storyline is actually quite dramatic and more meaningful than I thought it would be. Along with less action and better humor, its big heart is the reason why it is ultimately better than ‘The Lego Movie’.

As for the characters, most are really good, but some are lacking. Batman is absolutely fantastic and possibly one of the best interpretations of this character yet. He is a hero, but also arrogant and selfish. He has his problems, his past is explored and I loved his humor. He was the funniest and deepest character here and the heart and soul of the entire film.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

Joker is phenomenal as well. I loved how he was funny and amusing here and what they did with their relationship was genius. They basically have a bromance here which was so great to witness, not only in terms of the humor, but also in terms of characterization as it fits these characters and explains a lot about them in a comedic manner.

Robin is funny, typical but funny at times. And I loved his relationship with Batman and how they eventually became father and son. Alfred was also excellent and his interactions with Batman were some of the best here. I loved how they made him a guardian and Bats was an angry child, so funny, yet again fitting and clever.

Barbara Gordon is okay and serves her purpose, but she was somewhat typical and I wasn’t the biggest fan of her as she is ultimately too forgettable in comparison to the other major characters. Harley Quinn and most of the other villains were seriously underutilized and there lies the problem – the film is crowded with too many characters and cameos, but unfortunately most of them come and fly by quickly and just are not memorable enough.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

What they did with non-superhero villains is a two-edged sword. Again they were underutilized as there were too many of them and they weren’t as funny as they should have been. But I liked the overall idea behind it and that subplot was actually pretty intriguing and was very well incorporated into the overall story. Lord Voldemort and Sauron are the highlights there, both are frequently funny and the best used of these villains for sure.

The voice acting is phenomenal here. Rosario Dawson is forgettable as her character is and I wasn’t the biggest fan of Zach Galifianakis’ voice or performance here, but Michael Cera was suitably casted in this role and he did a really good job. Ralph Fiennes was also very good. But naturally the standout actor is Will Arnett. I just love his work here and he carried the entire movie on his shoulders. An excellent voice and an overall terrific comedic performance.

The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t have the most memorable animation in it. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly fine and respectable with the character designs again being terrific, but I wasn’t blown away by it as a whole with not enough particularly memorable imagery or sequences.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

Again the film has too much action, overwhelming at times. Its overall emotional arc is also typical and predictable, albeit very well done and with a lot of heart. As for its humor, I liked it quite a bit, but sometimes it was overly childish with typical jokes and slapstick oriented too much for the younger audience. The film overall should have been a bit more mature.

But the film did frequently make me laugh. The highlights were of course Batman, Joker and Robin. Everything surrounding Batman was great as he was hilarious with his larger than life, crazy personality. I loved his calmer moments, but his interactions with everyone were great. I loved the opening and closing credits, so humorous. His relationship with Joker also provided many chuckles and I liked the film’s various superhero and movie references, some were overwhelming, but most were clever and memorable. The film isn’t hilarious, but it is very funny at times and mostly satisfying in its humor.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

The Lego Batman Movie features sometimes interesting soundtrack, but it was mostly too angry and loud in tone, albeit that was fitting for the protagonist. The film is mostly quite well paced and is well directed and well scripted with some solid dialogue and a great emotional investment to it. Overall, it thoroughly succeeds as a spin-off because they picked the best character from the original and let him have his own movie and the results are more than stellar.

The Lego Batman Movie again has overwhelming action at times, it is definitely crowded with too many characters and some plot points are typical and obvious, but this is mostly a very good, satisfying spin-off with excellent voice acting, very good humor with many very funny lines and a great use of its characters with Batman in particular being not only funny, but also surprisingly well developed. It is ultimately an improvement over its predecessor because it is funnier and it has a much bigger heart.

My Rating – 4

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Lion (2016)

Lion Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Lion Movie Review

Lion is a 2016 drama film directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar and Nicole Kidman. It is one of the year’s best films.

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Every night I imagine that I’m walking those streets home

and I know every single step of the way, and I whisper in her ear – I’m here

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Lion Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

It follows a true story of an Indian boy from a small village who, while waiting for his brother on the street, boards a train and accidentally ends up in Calcutta. Eventually, he gets adopted by an Australian couple and he decides to search for his village and his mother with the help of Google Earth.

The story is so powerful, human and extremely emotional that I was blown away by it. The fact that it is real and that it did in fact happen only bolstered its power to me. Those final images of the real people were so moving to watch. This is one of the rare movies that made me cry and I almost never cry watching movies. That’s how powerful it is. But the reunion scene just made me tear up how wonderful and emotional it was. Truly one of the best scenes of any 2016 film.

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Lion Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

I loved the film’s structure. Some may say it is problematic that the second half is more dramatic and slower than the first one, but I liked that quite a bit. To me the second half is even stronger than the first one as I thought that his journey as a small child maybe could have been trimmed down a bit. But I still was fascinated watching it. He truly had a crazy, difficult life and following him from one city to another, encountering many bad people and terrible poverty and situations on the street was devastating to behold.

But I loved the second half. It featured excellent dialogue and it just phenomenally put into perspective the issue of adoption. When Kidman’s character makes that speech why she chose to adopt, well, that is probably where the movie shines the most in terms of sophistication and message. She tells us that having biological children is actually a very selfish decision as you bring a child to an overly populated planet when you can help a child that is already born and struggles in poverty and is parentless.

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Lion Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

The movie showcases how difficult and emotionally exhausting adoption can be which is here best exemplified in their second adopted son Mantosh who is very problematic as he has self-harm and anger issues. As Saroo states – by adopting them, she also adopted their previous, troubled and difficult histories. Yes, the movie truthfully showcases both the pros and cons of adoption, but it still ends it on a positive note, by telling us that it is still a beautiful, human thing to do and I was just inspired by that sentiment.

I loved the characters, so well realized and having read the interviews, it is evident that real Saroo and others are happy with this adaptation which is another proof of its greatness. It is faithful. He was great here, but I liked his girlfriend quite a bit too and their relationship was well developed. Everyone else was excellent, but the highlight is Sue naturally as she is such an inspirational person and a beautiful sole whom I respect a lot.

The acting in Lion is as great as the various accolades have been telling us. Rooney Mara and David Wenham are quite good, but Priyanka Bose was superb in the mother’s role. I dislike Dev Patel personally, but I couldn’t deny how superb he was here, delivering a very good, respectable performance.

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Lion Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

However, Sunny Pawar is so underappreciated here. He gave such an amazing performance for a child actor and he even stole the show from Dev Patel as he was more memorable in the first half. A very underrated child performance once again. But to me Nicole Kidman is easily the standout actress here. Wow, she was fantastic and she probably delivered the year’s finest supporting performance. She was subtle when needed and emotional when the dialogue and the scene demanded. Her speech sequence is really something special.

Lion is also beautifully made. The cinematography here is absolutely stunning and is probably the year’s best looking and best shot movie. Whether in India or in Australia, it was beautiful to witness, but also realistic in its sequences. I loved that it didn’t shy away from Indian problems such as child sex trade and slavery, both presented here.

As for the direction, it is very good and especially great given that it is a directorial debut for Garth Davis. The film features a terrific script which is not only moving, but thematically rich and it features realism and a great message regarding adoption. It truly is an inspirational movie, but also a universal one as almost anyone can relate to the search for parents, coming from a poor area etc.

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Lion Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

I found the dialogue to be terrific as well with a couple of excellent lines and many thought-provoking discussions. The film is also very well edited which was quite an accomplishment having in mind its difficult to adapt structure. Lion was always riveting to me and never at all slow. It is almost perfectly made and I rarely say that. Really, there is nothing wrong with this movie, at least nothing comes to my mind right now when writing this review, though that may change upon second viewing. But for now, it is a great movie that deserved much more accolades than it got and it is quite possibly the best 2016 has to offer.

Emotional, smart, realistic and just so powerful, Lion is a masterpiece of a film. It features such terrific performances with Nicole Kidman being particularly outstanding, it is beautifully shot, so well edited and directed and it features excellent, thought-provoking dialogue and a great message. It showcases both pros and cons of adoption, but that eventually it is a beautiful decision. Everyone can relate to this movie as Saroo’s journey is amazing and heartbreaking and it is all the more powerful having in mind that it really happened. It is one of the rare movies that made me cry and it is quite possibly the very best film of 2016.

My Rating – 5

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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals is a 2016 thriller drama film directed by Tom Ford and starring Amy Adams, Jake Gylenhall, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. It is a surprisingly solid film.

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Susan, enjoy the absurdity of our world.

It’s a lot less painful.

Believe me, our world is a lot less painful than the real world

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Nocturnal Animals Movie Review………………………………………………………..

I liked the plot here quite a bit. It was a very original concept and idea to do a story within a story and this explains the relationships of its characters in the main story. Although that story within a story definitely felt too thriller and gangster-like to me personally, it started off in a really interesting manner and was overall solid. And the main story is the highlight, very well done.

However, the film is a mess regardless of its originality. The film is a giant wasted potential as the execution of its ideas and its concept is never great and is at times even quote mediocre. The editing in particular is very poor and the stories do not mash well together and the transitions are never as smooth as they should have been.

I respect Tom Ford for his idea, but I found his direction to be problematic. It lacked sophistication and the film is never as polished as it should have been and it thoroughly lacks focus. That is why the film is ultimately very flawed, but because I had very low expectations for it to begin with and I dislike thrillers, it was still a pleasant surprise that I liked it as much as I did.

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Nocturnal Animals Movie Review………………………………………………………..

The characters are good, but not as great as the plot needed them to have been. I found the main relationship to be solid at best. And I have to say that all of the characters in the story within a story felt somewhat archaic in their presentations and ultimately uninspired.

The acting is one of Nocturnal Animals’ strongest attributes. Everyone speaks about Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Michael Shannon’s performances and they are fine, but they aren’t the highlights here, at least not to me. The highlights were Amy Adams and Jake Gylenhall, both giving very underrated performances. She is quite good, although she was better in Arrival, but that just goes to prove what an incredible year she had in 2016. But Jake is really good and his character I found to be the most likable and relatable.

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Nocturnal Animals Movie Review………………………………………………………..

From a fashion designer’s point, I expected the cinematography to be much better as the film was overly dark looking. The editing is awful as previously stated and although the dialogue is solid, it was typical at times. The film also needed to be more emotional as I never really connected with either of its characters. Yes, the elements for a strong drama were there, but the film ultimately never succeeds either as a drama or as a thriller as it is only somewhat successful at both of those things. But because the film was so original and because some of its scenes were quite memorable and very interesting to see, I found it to be a pleasant surprise and a solid attempt overall. I think that Tom Ford is talented, but definitely needs more experience.

Nocturnal Animals is an immensely original idea with an intriguing concept to it, the acting is all around superb, some scenes are quite interesting and it is ultimately a solid film, but it is a wasted potential as it could have been much better as the editing is quite mediocre, the film lacked focus, the transitions were poor and its characters are typical.

My Rating – 3.5

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Loving (2016)

Loving Movie Review……………………………………………………….

Loving Movie Review

Loving is a 2016 biographical drama film directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. It is a pretty good, albeit not great film.

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Tell the judge I love my wife

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Loving Movie Review……………………………………………………….

It tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving who fought hard until they won the right to marry and thus entered the first interracial marriage. The story is naturally important and it should prove immensely relatable to anyone belonging in any kind of minority for sure. I liked that emotional tone to it and I liked that it was a very understated drama which I really appreciated along with its accurate portrayals of real-life people and situations.

The characters are solid and I liked both of them quite a bit. They were endearing together and you naturally root for them. However, although some scenes are wonderful, most scenes between them left me cold and I found the film to be sorely lacking in terms of romance. It needed to be very romantic to sell this important couple and their suffering, but I just never got that from these two unfortunately.

But the acting is terrific and both of the actors deserved all of the received accolades. Ruth Negga is as good and as subtle as critics have been saying all the time. She sold those more intimate and moving moments superbly. But I also really liked Joel Edgerton in this movie because he had to play a physical performance and he totally became this redneck from South which was commendable. But he was also great in his smaller moments. Both are so good and they put those supporting actors to shame.

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Loving Movie Review……………………………………………………….

Loving is very well directed by Jeff Nichols and it is actually one of his better movies and much better than his overrated Midnight Special from the same year. I also found the editing to be pretty good, though not great. The film was also pretty well shot and overall it looked great.

But Loving is one of those movies that are more important in plot than truly great and it certainly didn’t deserve those great reviews. It is a good movie, but never great. It is actually very engaging for its long running time which is long for this pretty simplistic story. I was never bored honestly. But I found the film’s lack of better character development problematic as we just never really meet those other people and family members properly and we never really meet the two protagonists quite well and they are actually quite weakly developed. Very well acted, but weak as characters.

It should have been more emotional. I liked its subtle approach, but in terms of their relationship, it was too subtle and it needed to be more overt in order for us to see the importance of their case and how strong their love truly is. But I liked its realistic approach in terms of the costumes and places and it looked like a real 1960s picture which was great.

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Loving Movie Review……………………………………………………….

To me the highlights were all of the sequences between the two as the court and overall politics scene wasn’t the most interesting. And I wished that we got more from these two together. But overall it is a pretty relatable, emotionally strong film that succeeds as a pretty good, even today relevant historical drama.

Loving is pretty good, but far from great. I found that the film needed to be more romantic as it was sorely lacking in that area and it was overall more important than great, but it is very well made, actually commendably subtle and understated in its approach, its subject matter is still relevant and it features very good performances from both Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton who entirely carry this movie on their shoulders.

My Rating – 4

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A Monster Calls (2016)

A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls is a 2016 fantasy drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and starring Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. It is one of the year’s best films.

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Because humans are complicated beasts.

You believe comforting lies, while knowing full well the painful truth that makes those lies necessary.

In the end, Conor, it is not important what you think.

It is only important what you do

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

It follows Conor, a child whose mother is terminally ill. One night, he is visited by a giant monster who begins to tell him stories that serve as life lessons and help him cope with his pain. This film surprised me because it started off in a regular manner, but ended up being very original and smart. It is one of the most sophisticated films of its type I’ve seen recently.

It deals with a subject matter of cancer which is overdone by now, but finds a new way to approach it like all the best films do. It shows us how it is okay to accept death of your loved ones and even wish it to come sooner in order to stop the pain. That emotion makes us human and it shows that none of us is perfect and we are all complex beings. I loved that statement and it was so clever and thought-provoking.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Rarely have I seen a more emotionally raw and dark film. That is why this film is certainly not for children and even not for teenagers. It is adult and mature and intended only for that audience in my opinion. It is actually so dark that it was overwhelming at times, but it was mostly pleasantly serious and in the end emotionally rewarding, even if it can leave you in a depressed state afterwards.

I really liked the characters. Conor was great and such a realistic and complex kid. His mother is sweet and I really liked his strict grandmother too. And even the father had his moments. All of the performances are excellent with the exception of Sigourney Weaver whose accent is just so bad and it took me out of the movie whenever she talked. But Felicity Jones is terrific in an underrated performances and Lewis MacDougall is absolutely fantastic! Wow, I don’t know where Hollywood suddenly manages to find all these incredibly talented child actors, but his performance is once again (after Jacob Tremblay in ‘Room’) one of the best male performances of the year. So strong, so believable and so emotional. He was great in an extremely difficult role which is so commendable.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

A Monster Calls was obviously based on a book and sometimes it was too evident and at first I thought it didn’t translate well into the big screen with those three stories, but I changed my mind after witnessing those story sequences. The visuals there are absolutely amazing owing to some artistic and wonderfully moody animation. And they all served their purpose and actually were very well incorporated into the overall picture leading to one of the best adapted films of the year.

The editing is excellent and the direction from Bayona is expectedly great. I loved its cinematography as well, some shots were terrific. Even though I loved the dark visuals overall, I found the design of the creature to be overly bland and familiar. I just didn’t like it, though Liam Neeson naturally did a great job voicing the character.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

So the film sounds great and it looks really good, but it also has a great script, characters and acting and it is uncommonly clever for this type of movie. But it also possesses a big heart and truly its last sequence is emotionally powerful and just heartbreaking to witness. I loved it so much. This is clearly a drama instead of fantasy. It has fantasy elements, but they are obviously not real and that was a very interesting development. I found the film’s realism commendable and its dialogue is also surprisingly strong and again very down to earth. I would even call the movie artistic in its storybook sequences which felt inspired even. It is a film that has it all and I am so sad that it was such a huge commercial failure and even the critics didn’t appreciate it as much as it deserved, not to mention that it didn’t garner a single Oscar nomination which is just a travesty.

A Monster Calls features a very bland creature design and a pretty bad British accent from Sigourney Weaver, but Felicity Jones was great and Lewis MacDougall gave one of the year’s best performances as he was so great in a very difficult role. The story is intriguing, the tone is admirably dark and although it is difficult to watch and depressing, it is ultimately emotionally rewarding and it has such a great message and is overall stupendously sophisticated. It is one of the year’s finest and most underrated films.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 war biopic directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield. It is one of the year’s best films and the biggest, most pleasant surprise.

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I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe

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Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………

It follows an American pacifist combat medic who refuses to carry or use weapons of any kind to stay true to his faith and eventually saves more than fifty wounded people by carrying them himself and thus becoming a hero. This is one of those old-fashioned movies that could have come out during the fifties, but that here is a good thing as rarely today do we get great war movies as well as religious pictures.

This one succeeds at both of those fronts. It is such a strongly spiritual movie that I was just blown away at how emotional and powerful it is, yet understated and never sensationalized. This is probably one of the most spiritual movies that I have ever seen. But it succeeds as a war picture too because the action is terrific along with the technical aspects and the film perfectly transports you to the action and helps you realize the suffering as well as the bravery of the soldiers there. So good.

It also succeeds as a biopic as it tells you everything you need to know about Desmond Doss without ever making the whole affair sappy or overly sentimental. He is an important person in history and I am glad that he got the movie treatment and such a great one at that. He is one of the most admirable and purely good men who ever lived and a role model for everyone.

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Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………

The other characters are pretty good as well. I really like Smitty and following their rivalry and eventual friendship was emotionally rewarding, yet realistically portrayed. Sergeant Howell is also pretty good, albeit the character we’ve seen before and done better in ‘Full Metal Jacket’. Vince Vaughn is solid and Luke Bracey is so good in this minor, but important role. Hugo Weaving as the father is also terrific and Teresa Palmer as his girlfriend is quite solid. I wanted more from their relationship in the second half, but the first half, although traditional, was still romantic and well done.

But Andrew Garfield is just fantastic in the main role. He was always believable and not only is his Southern accent strong, but he sold even the most difficult and emotionally exhilarating moments beautifully. It was a difficult role and he got a lot of screen time, but he excelled in it and gave his best performance yet and quite probably the best male performance of the year.

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Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………

Now Hacksaw Ridge isn’t perfect. I wanted more of a closure in its third act. I absolutely loved the interviews of real Desmond Doss, that felt authentic and fitting. But I still wanted more of a fitting finale to this story as the film just sort of ended. It was abrupt. And the second problem is the action which felt highly exaggerated in violence at times. I know that is necessary for a war flick, but it still felt overly gory and violent in a couple of disgusting scenes.

But the action is overall very good and again the film transports you well into the battle arena. The film is technically polished and not only well edited, but also stupendously well shot. It is one of the best shot films of the year with some highly memorable and authentic imagery. But the direction from Mel Gibson is also one of the year’s best, so strong and so professional and I am glad that he is back with this movie in a big way as he deserves it. He showed what a knack for traditional storytelling he has one more time.

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Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………

So Hacksaw Ridge definitely deserved all of those nominations that it received and it is one of the year’s best films for sure. It is also one of the better war films that I have seen which says a lot. But what says the most about its quality is that I liked this movie so much despite being bored personally by World War II flicks. But here he found a new, previously not that well explored angle and brought us a fresh WW2 picture which is a huge accomplishment.

Hacksaw Ridge is the most pleasant surprise of 2016. It is overly violent at times and the conclusion needed more closure, but other than that, this is one of the best films of the year and one of the better war films that I have ever seen because Gibson found a new, previously unexplored angle to a regular war picture. His direction is fantastic, the film looks gorgeous, it is emotional and always understated, it is very spiritual and it features one of the best performances of the year from Andrew Garfield who was just phenomenal here.

My Rating – 4.5

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