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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A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)

A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review

A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a 1969 animated comedy drama film directed by Bill Melendez. It is the first Peanuts feature film and actually one of my favorite animated films period.

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Well, I can understand how you feel.

You worked hard, studying for the spelling bee, and I suppose you feel you let everyone down,

and you made a fool of yourself and everything.

But did you notice something, Charlie Brown?

The world didn’t come to an end.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

I love this movie so much! To me it was such an almost perfect way to transition from specials to a feature and surely enough, this film is better than the majority of specials themselves, at least when it comes to my opinion. They managed to include as much of the classic Peanuts characters and humor and situations as possible and thus becoming a quintessential Peanuts outing.

I loved that it focused on the spelling bee instead of sports as that made it much more enjoyable for a non-sports fan like me. Every spelling bee scene was just terrific. Another highlight is Lucy’s scene in psychiatric booth, that was genius. To me this film is far from perfect and surely it does have too much musical numbers in it and the first act is sorely lacking in comparison to the rest of the film, but the rest is so great that I forgive those flaws.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Of course the ending makes this movie. Wow, rarely have I seen a better conclusion in an animated film. Charlie Brown loses the game and closes in his room and refuses to ever come out. Linus comes in and tells him that he failed, but the universe didn’t come to an end because of it. That line in a nutshell is the reason why I respect this series as a whole. It never sugarcoats, but actually truthfully explains to children that they may continue losing and that winning is uncertain, but it isn’t the end of the world if you lose and that you should continue trying. A fantastic message in such a brilliant, wonderful ending.

Let’s talk about the characters. Charlie Brown is excellent! Rarely has he been this good in a special before or after. I loved that Peter Robbins voiced the character and I loved that he was at his angriest and most depressing mood here. He was relatable and you root for him throughout the entire movie.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Peppermint Patty was surely missed here, but all of the others are here thankfully. Lucy is as hilarious as ever and some of her lines and moments made me laugh out loud. Snoopy was solid, but not as great as the others were. But thankfully this time around his scenes did not take as much screen time as they usually do. Schroeder and Sally are well used, but Linus is one the highlights in one of his best roles ever. I loved the emphasis on his security blanket and he is so endearing here, but he is also there for his friend which made him even more lovable.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown has a couple of songs in it so let me touch upon all of them. The Star-Spangled Banner was out of place and Failure Face is forgettable, albeit being a great scene, but I Before E is very catchy and a great way for children to learn spelling, Champion Charlie Brown is solid and the titular number is certainly quite charming and endearing. The songs are actually quite solid here, at least half of them are.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The animation is really good and as pleasant as usual with the character designs being faithful and top-notch. The voice acting is of the best variety and using the best of the earlier voices. The score is quite good and the film is stupendously well made in terms of the technical aspects. It is not only well directed, but also polished in its shots and so deft in its editing as it is never slow and never rushed, it lasts for just the right amount of running time. It is always wonderful to watch, the dialogue is as clever as you would expect from the series and the humor is some of the best of the entire series as it made me laugh more than a couple of times with many hilarious parts. I loved its skillful tone too as it balanced light tone with humor and serious tone with drama and messages beautifully. It is overall a tremendously well realized movie and one of my favorite Peanuts stories and one of my favorite animated features as a whole.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown managed to bring everything you want from Peanuts to the table and it did that beautifully. The humor is excellent and some of the lines were hilarious, the characters are superbly utilized with Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus being the highlights, the film is very well made technically and of course the standout is the final scene which features such a respectable, truly great message for children and it was a beautiful, brave way to end the movie.

My Rating – 5

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My Man Godfrey (1936)

 My Man Godfrey Movie Review………………………………………………………….

My Man Godfrey Movie Review

My Man Godfrey is a 1936 screwball comedy film directed by Gregory La Cava and starring William Powell and Carole Lombard. It is definitely one of the finest screwball comedies.

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Godfrey loves me! He put me in the shower!

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 My Man Godfrey Movie Review………………………………………………………….

The story is about a socialite who hires a homeless man to be her family’s butler. She eventually falls in love with him, much to his dismay. The script here is so stellar and just perfect. Not only do you have a very entertaining and funny story populated with highly likable or amusing characters, but you still have a satire on class relations and truly its social commentary is not only smart and funny, but relevant to this day, thus only further adding to its timeless quality.

My Man Godfrey features absolutely amazing character development, truly an example of how to properly develop characters in a film. Almost all of them are likable, memorable and even funny plus they all felt like genuine human beings and I’ve felt in the end that I’ve just met them. Everyone gets a moment to shine.

Godfrey is fantastic and he carries this entire movie, the same goes for Irene and the two are such a charming couple. I loved his seriousness and elegance and how it clashed well with her childlike and energetic personality. Cornelia is quite memorable as this cold and manipulative brat and their father is very likable. And of course the mother is such a hilarious personality and she made me laugh the most. I liked Molly quite a bit as she’s so sweet to everyone, but only Carlo is the weak link as I felt that he was unnecessary for this movie and that is the only flaw I can find here, but a minor one nevertheless.

The acting is just marvelous with everyone delivering a terrific performance. Alice Brady steals every scene she’s in with a comedic gold of a performance and Gail Patrick is beautiful and memorable. Carole Lombard delivered her finest performance of her career in Godfrey as she’s just a force to be reckoned with. But to me William Powell is the most outstanding of the bunch as he’s one of my favorite comedy actors. Here his seriousness clashed well with the craziness of the others and his facial expressions are just priceless.

My Man Godfrey features probably the best humor of any 1930s films and that is in and of itself a major accolade. Everyone made me laugh and most especially Brady, Lombard and Powell’s characters. So good. The humor is so strong, yet also smart and sophisticated propelled by such a great dialogue. The facial expressions of Godfrey and over-the-top antics from the crazy family were the highlights. Such a memorable and hilarious crew of characters.

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 My Man Godfrey Movie Review………………………………………………………….

My Man Godfrey is brilliantly made as there isn’t a single flaw in it in terms of the execution. The direction from Gregory La Cava is simply great, the acting is exceptional and the editing is stellar. Truly nothing felt rushed nor prolonged. It lasts for just the right amount of time and is always absolutely compelling to watch.

The script is so good, but it is the dialogue that is one of the standouts. It is as brisk and as sophisticated and biting as you would expect form a 30s screwball comedy which is why it thoroughly succeeds in this genre and why it’s one of its finest representatives. It is also one of the very best that 1936 has to offer and shame on Academy for not nominating it for Best Picture.

Speaking of the Academy, it was nominated for six Oscars. I do not agree at all with the nod to Mischa Auer as his character is the weakest link as I’ve said above, but I thoroughly agree with other nominations with Powell, Lombard and Brady’s performances all being deserving of the nomination. The same goes for the director and the script, but it is ridiculous that it didn’t win any and it just goes to show how clueless they often were during this decade.

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 My Man Godfrey Movie Review………………………………………………………….

The tone is great as it shifts to dramatic and serious at just the right times. The themes and message are evident and of course the film looks good and works perfectly as a chamber drama and a theatrical one as it revolves almost entirely in one house and it makes use of that setting so well. And I have to say that the movie is so charming and so romantic as its romance is so well developed and so wonderful. I loved the ending where she chased him and made him marry her. Hilarious and beautiful.

With such a stellar script, sophisticated and hilarious dialogue, phenomenal humor as the movie consistently made me laugh and such outstanding performances from Alice Brady, Carole Lombard and William Powell, My Man Godfrey is an undisputed classic and one of the finest screwball comedies that is always funny and charming, yet smart and so polished technically too. It features characters that are all memorable, likable and funny and the film is almost flawless in execution and just brilliant.

My Rating – 5

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Ringing Bell (1978)

Ringing Bell Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

Ringing Bell Movie Review

Ringing Bell is a 1978 anime film directed by Masami Hata. It is such an underappreciated, masterful move that is one of the finest animated films I’ve seen.

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Someone has to die so that someone else can live. That’s the law of nature

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Ringing Bell Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The film is about Chirin who is an adventurous little lamb. After the wolf kills his mother, he goes after him and requests that he teach him how to become strong like him. He eventually becomes a very strong ram and the two live together and kill mercilessly, but when asked to kill the sheep in his home place, he struggles to do that and confronts the wolf. Yes, that is the plot here and, needless to say, it isn’t a children’s film despite it being categorized as such. It is not only very violent and mature, but also incredibly deep and sophisticated.

I admired its sophistication. The film shows us the wilderness in an extremely realistic manner. This is not your typical Disney animal feature. In fact, it can’t be more opposite to that. It shows you how life truly is for these animals and I loved how it makes a statement telling us that only the strong can survive in nature and the weak are destined to either death or a life full of fear and suffering. That is hard to accept, but truthful.

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Ringing Bell Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

But what took me entirely by surprise is the territory to which the movie went in its third act. I never expected it to go that dark and deep. Chirin basically becomes a wolf in his way of life and behavior. However, when he decides not to kill the sheep and confronts and kill the wolf, the other sheep won’t accept him back to the barn as they fear him and they don’t recognize him. He has become something entirely different – not a wolf, not a sheep. And that is the major theme in this film – you can change the inevitable and you can try to become someone you aren’t supposed to be, but that is not going to work out as you can’t fight against nature.

In Chirin we have someone who just doesn’t want to sit back and wait for his death and that is very relatable which is why he’s such a strong character. His journey from an innocent lamb to a strong ram and an almost mythical like creature is so well executed that it is believable and emotionally rewarding. Woe is such a great mentor in a typical anime fashion and I loved that he took his time deciding that he wants to teach him. That was much more realistic than I thought it would have been done. The relationship between the two is so strong and it is as if you are witnessing something truly unique, one of a kind and special unfold before your eyes. And the entire movie feels like that. I also liked Chirin’s mother and her death was of course devastating to watch.

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Ringing Bell Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

Ringing Bell is technically phenomenal and superbly animated. The animation here is simplistic, but still exceptional. The character design in particular was the highlight as all of the animals looked very real. The lambs looked sweet and innocent and the wolf and adult Chirin looked so powerful and majestic, not to mention menacing. The backgrounds are also nice and the film is very smooth and polished with some really striking imagery. There were a couple of sequences here that were just breathtaking and so commendable in their apparent artistry and sheer power.

The highlights for me were the death of Chirin’s mother which was very well done and of course that ending is so powerful. I loved the symbol of the ringing bell and that is a perfect title to this movie. That ending was so mystical and a perfect conclusion to this authentic movie. Woe’s death was also really powerful and every scene between those two was just phenomenal. You can easily see the admiration the wolf has for Chirin as he shows some real strength and perseverance and Chirin sees Woe as a father figure and that may seem odd, but was done really well here that it becomes understandable.

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Ringing Bell Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

Let’s talk more about those themes of Ringing Bell as I only touched upon them before. Overcoming your weakness is one theme very well explored here, but then you have the laws of nature and how unforgiving and cruel it truly is which is a great lesson for kids and I really would show this movie to children despite its awfully dark tone as it has a lot to teach them. Another great theme here is revenge and how it can destroy your life and overcome you to the point of an obsession. You have the loss of innocence and the turn from childhood to adulthood. And I loved its message about pain. It tells us that life is cruel and it can be quite awful, yes. But by surviving the more darker chapters of your life, you only become stronger which is best described here by ‘the fangs of your heart’. The film is just so deep and layered that it really took me by surprise.

The score is breathtaking! That theme song is just so good that I was just moved by it immensely. The score is awesome, the sound effects are great and that theme song is perfect with or without lyrics/singing. It is also a great showcase of the universality of this movie. It feels Japanese in some areas, but it mostly feels universal in that everyone can appreciate it, no matter the nationality. And that is something that most Japanese and American animated films fail to accomplish.

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Ringing Bell Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

Ringing Bell is tonally perfect, going from cute and innocent to dark and violent deftly. The action/fight sequences are so well realized and some of its images are unforgettable. It is thoroughly unpredictable and oh so authentic. The dialogue is amazing in that so much is said in so little lines. The emotion is powerful to the point of being overwhelming and truly I felt overpowered after I finished watching it. That is the effect only true masterpieces can accomplish and Ringing Bell is that masterpiece. It is one of the best animated films of all time and easily the most shamefully underappreciated.

Mature, dark and so honest and just real, breathtaking in its music and oh so unforgettable in its imagery, powerful in its characters and so deep and sophisticated in its themes, Ringing Bill is just fantastic in every aspect. It is a film that deals with the cruelty of nature, the dangers of anger and revenge, the need to overcome your given nature and weaknesses, grief and sorrow and the loss of innocence and it deals with all of those issues in the short running time of 47 minutes which is beyond impressive and achieved by using such powerful dialogue. Its characters are strong and mystical, the animation is phenomenal, the score is beautiful and the tone is admirable. It is one of the best animated films of all time and undoubtedly the most shamefully underappreciated. I was deeply affected by this movie and only true masterpieces can have such an effect on you and I am deeply saddened and frustrated that I live in the world where this film has been seen by just a handful of people.

My Rating – 5

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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review

The Cranes Are Flying is a 1957 Russian war romance film directed by Mikhail Kalatozov and starring Tatiana Samoilova. It is a masterpiece of Russian cinema.

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Look! Look! The cranes are flying!

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

It follows a young woman during WW2 and how she struggles when her boyfriend goes to war. This film manages to transcend its admittedly simple and predictable storyline with a perfect execution. Everything here is phenomenal, but what is the most admirable is how anti-war the picture is. I loved its critique of patriotism as well as war in general. The war here is portrayed as damaging to each and every person and that nothing good can come out of it.

That is why it succeeds as a great anti-war film, but also succeeds as a strong romance because this couple is so charming to watch and root for. The tragedy is evident from the beginning, but still deeply impactful. My favorite sequence has to be that ending which was just magnificent to behold. Veronika learns that Boris truly is dead when the soldiers return and the juxtaposition of her devastated face surrounded with joyous people happily reunited with their loved ones was just so powerful, brilliant and heartbreaking. But it then ends on a high and still optimistic note when she gives the flowers to the people around her and gazes upon the sky to see the titular cranes that are the symbol of their everlasting love so greatly established in the movie’s opening scene.

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The character development is very strong. Tatiana is such a phenomenal character and a very strong, admirable female protagonist for the time. Her coping with uncertainties over Boris’ fate was so well realized and I found her to not just be a helpless woman waiting for her man, but a strong woman who meanwhile worked at the hospital and never lost hope.

Boris is also really good, excellent for the little screen time that he got. The two are such a great couple which is important for the movie to work. Fyodor Ivanovich is very likable and of course Mark is despicable and I liked how they dealt with him in this movie. That entire subplot worked against all odds.

The Cranes Are Flying benefits from terrific acting across the board. Aleksey Batalov is really good and Vasili Merkuryev is excellent, but of course the standout is Tatiana Samoilova who didn’t start off as strong, but as the movie progressed, became better and better until delivering in spades during the third act. She is beautiful, charming and she managed to carry the entire movie on her shoulders which is so commendable.

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

Another thing that makes The Cranes Are Flying a classic is its look. The movie is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The cinematography from Sergei Urusevsky is so strong that it manages to become the most memorable aspect of the entire film. The camera movements in the outdoor sequences are phenomenal, both regular and handheld. The imagery is superb and that crane scene is amazing and beautiful, both in the opening and ending.

The film is so polished not just in its cinematography, but also in the direction which is very strong, acting and of course editing. It is masterfully edited with each and every scene lasting for just the right amount of running time. The movie is never abrupt, never dragging and never dull. It is involving from start to finish owing to that superb editing.

The tone is great as it’s wonderfully lightweight and romantic at first and then serious and dark and still ending on a positive, moving note. That ending was heartbreaking, but wonderful and it almost made me cry how powerful it was. The movie isn’t original, but it is so fantastic in almost every way that I thoroughly enjoyed it despite me being somewhat tired of World War II movies. But when you have a movie done this well, you can’t help but appreciate it.

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The film is also realistic, it is well established in its characters and all of its plot points and some scenes are visually very intriguing including that supposed rape scene which is very authentic in its look. The dialogue I loved and I respect the movie for its great sentiment. The score is also quite good and the emotion is so strong that it starts to become overwhelming later on, positively so of course. The movie has that timeless quality to it and is just such an undisputed classic that is so far my favorite Russian film.

With deft editing, excellent direction, amazing cinematography from Sergey Urusevsky and such a strong performance from Tatiana Samoilova, The Cranes Are Flying is an undisputed Russian classic that is so moving, heartbreaking and powerful. It is a film that is perfect in almost every way, it succeeds as such a great anti-war film as well as a beautiful romance and it has such a breathtaking ending scene that almost made me cry. A masterpiece.

My Rating – 5

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The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The Little Mermaid is a 1989 animated musical fantasy film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. It is the 28th entry in the Disney canon and it is undoubtedly one of the very best Disney films of all time.

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The human world is a mess.

Life under the sea is better than anything they got up there.

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Let’s talk about the story. It is one of the most well crafted and most entertaining of any Disney film. I loved the beginning with that music instantly reminding you that you are about to witness something special. I also really liked the choice to not feature Ariel in its first scene as that led to a great development of other characters. The relationship between Ariel and King Triton is wonderfully established in the first act and the romance between her and Eric developed quite smoothly in a very satisfying sequence in which she saves him from drowning. That whole prolonged sequence is absolutely fantastic.

Next we have that famous scene in which Ursula gives Ariel her legs.  This is probably my favorite sequence in the entire movie for many great reasons – it is perfectly executed from beginning to end, the visuals are gorgeous, the imagery and the overall tone of the sequence is suitably dark and Ursula is just fantastic.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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I really found the scenes with human Ariel to be excellent as well. They somewhat slowed the movie, but in a good way as they were romantic and this was the time where I started to genuinely care and root for her to succeed in her task and that is a testament to how likable this character is and how great the script is. The romantic sequence where the two almost kissed is another highlight.

And now we come to the ending. I have to say that it isn’t my favorite part of this movie for some obvious reasons such as Ursula’s demise which is disappointing and a somewhat too rushed final scene. All of those moments were pretty good, but they weren’t as great as was the rest of the movie. But I still liked the action here as it was dramatic and mostly powerful.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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With the plot now out of the way, let’s talk about the characters. The Little Mermaid is such a classic for various reasons, but one of the big ones is character development. The movie is blessed with such a great characterization and many not only memorable, but also extremely likable characters. Let’s start with our heroine – Ariel. I just adore Ariel. She is to me the cutest and most beautiful Disney princess of them all, but she is also one of the most charming ones too. She is so endearing and so wonderful. I rooted for her the entire running time as I was so invested in her story and I found her so lovable that I wanted her to be happy. That strong reaction rarely happens to me which is why this is such a masterpiece.

King Triton is just superb and he, along with Sebastian, is the finest character here in terms of complexity and development. He is never made a one-note bully father type as he showed emotion and evident care for his daughter from the first moments, but his conflict and eventual sacrifice is all the more powerful because of that strong connection between the two that was established before. And that brings me to my next point – the relationship between King Triton and Ariel is the emphasis and basically the heart and point of this movie. Most people criticize The Little Mermaid for being sexist in its rushed and one-note portrayal of romance, but the romance is not the point here and many miss that. The major and most important storyline here is that father-daughter relationship and the growth that Triton gains. He has to learn to let go and to give some freedom to his daughter and let her make her own choices and all of that is beautifully explored and just so touching to watch.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Now, Sebastian is amazing. I don’t know why, but many people fail to recognize the strength of this character as he is without a doubt the best Disney sidekick ever in my opinion. Only Baloo from the ‘The Jungle Book‘ can compete with him. Sebastian the crab is a departure from the silly sidekicks that were usual for Disney Animation of the time and is instead realized in the vein of Jiminy Cricket from ‘Pinocchio‘. He is never just the servant of Triton and is never just the sidekick. He genuinely cares for Ariel and he wants her to be happy and he also learns to let go and be more relaxed and more fun. I just loved that Triton/Sebastian/Ariel dynamic and it is so strong that it drives this whole film.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Ursula is one of the strongest Disney villains because she is original in her appearance, but also genuinely charismatic and posing some real threat. If it wasn’t for that disappointing death of hers, she would have been one of the very best Disney villains, but she ended up being near the top of the list because of that. But she is still excellent, very menacing and extremely memorable. Flotsam and Jetsam are quite solid henchmen, but are fairly underused.

I wasn’t such a big fan of Flounder as he was never really utilized and is just there to be cute. Also, apart from that first act, he is quite underused later on. But Scuttle is absolutely hysterical! He is easily the funniest character here as his advice and false knowledge of human things led to many hilarious moments. Chef Louis is okay and those scenes with him and Sebastian are definitely fun and pleasantly childlike, but I still found them to be detours and almost unnecessary to be honest.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Prince Eric is quite solid. He isn’t that well developed, but as Disney princes go, he is quite good. I liked the romance between the two. Yes, I get why some would take fault with it as it truly is troublesome that Ariel practically changes her species to be with the person that she’s just met. However, on the other hand, people fail to notice that the film is progressive in featuring a princess who chases after the prince and not the other way around. That made her character a strong female character and it was refreshing to see a more active Disney princess. It definitely ushered into a new era of more progressive female characters for Disney. But as I said, I liked the romance between the two and, although rushed, it isn’t as contrived as it could have been and it is genuinely sweet and romantic at times.

The Little Mermaid’s animation is splendid. It isn’t as great as the one in ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but it’s still phenomenal and gorgeous to the eye. I loved the character designs and the imagery is fantastic. It was so great to go under the sea and Disney took us there in a suitably adventurous, very detailed manner. Ursula is my favorite character in terms of design, but Ariel is, as I said, simply beautiful and all of the animals are really well animated as is the underwater scenery. The film also has a great color palette with dark colors replacing the lighter ones at all the right points.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The soundtrack is brilliant! The Little Mermaid has to be my favorite Disney film in terms of the songs as there are so many songs here that I just love. Fathoms Below is okay, but forgettable. It does set the mood well though. Les Poissons is also solid and satisfying for that scene, but also forgettable and not that great. As for the big ones, Poor Unfortunate Souls is the weakest one, but it is still a very solid villain song that perfectly accompanies that amazing sequence.

I just love all three major songs here. Under the Sea is so incredibly catchy. Yes, it is childish, but more childlike than childish and it is again a perfect song for that scene in terms of storytelling and characterization. Yes, The Little Mermaid absolutely succeeds as a musical because it understands what the songs are supposed to do – be fun, catchy and memorable, but also drive the plot forward and help develop the characters more. In Under the Sea we get a great look at Sebastian and his Jamaican accent is quite amusing.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Kiss the Girl is a perfect romantic song. This film also succeeds in having different songs of different styles and tones. Poor Unfortunate Souls is a villain song for a darker and more mature scene, Under the Sea is a more childlike and innocent one etc. Kiss the Girl serves the romance of the movie, it flawlessly accompanies its beautiful sequence, it is not only catchy, but also wonderfully sung and it is just wonderful to listen to.

And the finest song here has to be Part of Your World. It is a perfect Broadway-like, serious song and the most impressive piece of music to be had here. The music is just splendid and the song is impressively sung by Jodi Benson, but the lyrics are the standout aspect here as they are so well written and serving the plot and the main character perfectly. For all of those reasons, it is one of the best Disney songs ever in my opinion. And it also accompanies the sequence which is even poetic in nature. The song and its lyrics have a couple of hidden meanings. It reminds us that we humans also share the same problems that Ariel has and the juxtaposition of our understanding of ourselves and hers of us is brilliant. But it succeeds because it gets us to the heart and soul of Ariel and it perfectly showcases her wander and awe of the upside world.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The Little Mermaid is a technically polished movie. It is well directed and so well acted with Jodi Benson, Pat Caroll and Samuel E. Wright being the major highlights. The imagery and animation are splendid, the details are evident and the score is great. It doesn’t just have great songs, but it also has a great score and an excellent use of the wordless composition of Part of Your World. The tone is deft, ranging from comedic to serious to darker to romantic at just the right moments. It is also wonderfully paced and mostly not rushed. The dialogue is good, the film is memorable and also quite powerful at times. It has such a big heart and such a strong emotional approach being one of the most emotionally investing Disney flicks. And of course, its humor is great. It isn’t present as much, but when it’s there, it is so good and it made me smile and laugh a couple of times. But I’ve held the smile on my face throughout the entire running time because this is just that beautiful a movie. It possesses such a strong fairytale feel to it and it just draws you in its world and in its story and never lets go due to a great world building and excellent script. It most certainly is one of the best Disney films of all time.

With beautiful animation, great humor, excellent score, strong emotional investment and many powerful sequences, The Little Mermaid is an undisputed classic that has such lovable and incredibly well developed characters, excellent script, such a great varied tone to it and an absolutely fantastic soundtrack that is Disney’s finest to date with so many amazing songs with Part of Your World, Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea being the highlights. But the movie also has such a big heart, it also possesses such a strong, welcome fairy tale feel to it, the character interactions and relationships are superb and the film is very romantic as well. For all of those reasons, The Little Mermaid is a masterpiece and one of the best musicals ever made while also being one of the very best that Disney Animation has to offer and one of the finest animated films of all time.

My Rating – 5

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The Vanishing (1988)

The Vanishing Movie Review

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The Vanishing Movie Review

The Vanishing is a 1988 Dutch thriller film directed by George Sluizer and starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu. It is an amazing movie that is undoubtedly one of the best modern thrillers.

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The best plans can be wiped out at any moment by what we call fate.

I confess, that saddens me

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It is about the disappearance of a young Dutch woman and her lover’s obsessive search for her which leads him into increasingly dangerous territory. This film is deceptively simple, but is quite sophisticated when you think about it. I just loved its plot as it is thankfully devoid of any ridiculous and unrealistic trappings of the genre leading to such a grounded in reality film that feels real from start to finish.

The Vanishing is psychologically deep and so disturbing. The characters are so well developed and the conflict of the main character is wonderfully presented to us. His dilemma near the end is so dramatic whereas his relationship with Saskia is really well realized for such a short period of time in its beginning. She is likable and the two are great together and you get why her disappearance destroyed him afterwards. But I just loved those scenes with his coping with it, his obsession and the eventual chase of the killer. That was all done in such a terrific manner.

I loved everything about Raymond Lemorne. The movie is at its finest when dealing with his character. He is portrayed as a seemingly harmless person and I really found that to be great as it shows us how the biggest murderers can be seemingly normal and family men as everyone else. But I really enjoyed the flashback structure as it is superbly employed into the narrative here. It is never boring and it gives you everything you need to know about the character and the eventual crime.

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As for said crime, this is the perfect example of a perfect crime and how some crimes and disappearances never get resolved as they were so perfectly executed to begin with. And that makes the movie all the more disturbing and scary as it shows us that it can happen to any of us, anytime and anywhere. That is one of the reasons why I increasingly felt unease as the movie progressed. I was also shocked by its ending and not only that, but the movie impacted me so much that I was clearly shaken even after watching the film. And that is a true testament to the power of this thriller – when it impacts you so much that you feel that impact even after watching it.

The ending is awesome and The Vanishing is one of the first movies, I think, to use that scenario. But the whole dilemma near the end and the eventual frightening conclusion is so disturbing and so horrifying that it is one of the scariest endings ever which is really saying a lot because the film is not a horror one. I loved that about this movie. It is a thriller, but the one with a spectacularly great atmosphere that is better than most horror movies that rely even more on it. The whole atmosphere is so creepy and the film was always very strange and unsettling which is so admirable given that you basically know what happened from the start. I felt unease throughout the whole running time and that is why it succeeds in spades.

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The only flaws I could think of here are twofold. First of all, I wanted more scenes from the protagonist’s point of eye instead of the murderer’s. And secondly, that beginning was great, but I felt that the promise he makes to her that he will never abandon here was just too on-the-nose and too convenient having in mind the next plot point was her disappearance. But even those two flaws are basically me nitpicking as this film is so great and so powerful in almost all of its aspects.

The Vanishing is a technically stupendous work. The acting is excellent with each and every performance being very good and the directing from George Sluizer is just so superb. But the biggest accomplishment here is the editing. This film is expertly edited and crafted with the film’s running time being perfect and its flow being smooth. Each and every scene starts and ends at just the right time and it just feels so polished and professional.

The cinematography is also excellent and the film is so well filmed with some of the shots and takes being amazing. Its thrills are definitely there, but they are more psychological in nature and the film benefits from that more sophisticated approach a lot and it never has any violence in it whatsoever which is so commendable. The tone is great, serious and thrilling, but also poignant and tragic at times with that last shot being just heartbreaking and disturbing at the same time. I really liked its dialogue as it had some really interesting lines in it and it was always clever and sophisticated. The Vanishing really is very smart.

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The Vanishing Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Its script is just phenomenal, but the execution of it is even more so as the film is wonderfully simplistic on the surface, but actually much more complex than it seems. And the film is quite unpredictable in its very ending and even though we know that the outcome will be bad, the film is great for it. Why? Because it never uses the annoying structure of twists and turns and crazy scenarios that the genre is famous for and settling for more serious, more realistic and thus much more disturbing approach. In those ways, the film ended up being original even if it may not seem like it at first. Overall, this Dutch film is a masterpiece of suspense and one of the best films of the eighties that I’ve seen so far.

With a great script, expert editing, a terrific flashback structure, good characters and a powerful ending, The Vanishing is an absolutely spectacular film that benefits from such a realistic approach to it with a great emphasis on psychological horror instead of stupid violence and twists and that is why its impact is even more heightened. It is such an atmospheric, increasingly disturbing movie that is also sophisticated and never even slightly disappointing. It is without a doubt one of the finest modern thrillers I’ve seen, a film that left me shaken and disturbed.

My Rating – 5

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The Lion in Winter (1968)

The Lion in Winter Movie Review

The Lion in Winter Movie Review

The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama film directed by Anthony Harvey and starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. It is an amazing film and undoubtedly one of the best movies of the decade.

The Lion in Winter is set in 1183 and it follows Henry II and his family, but it mostly focuses on his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine. I was blown away by the immense quality of this work. First and foremost, I am and never have been a fan of historical films and especially the ones set in the Middle Ages. However, this one I absolutely loved for various reasons. The obvious ones are the great focus that it has. It never has any wars, battles and action in it, at least for the majority of the running time. And it never has any violence in it. That was great as I usually dislike those things.

What it has on the other hand is great dialogue and emotion in spades. The dialogue in particular is the reason why this movie works so well. It is just so phenomenal and filled with so many quotable and witty lines. The film has such a talkative approach to it with one scene of just the two spouses talking running for at least 15 minutes or so. And I loved that as I love talkative films and especially those that are this smart and this sophisticated. Instead of focusing on politics which is the usual route for these period flicks, it focuses on the relationships in this family and that is why it is such a great, refreshing picture which is such a great family drama above all.

The character development is absolutely magnificent with the relationship between the husband and wife being just spectacular and the film’s highlight. The Lion in Winter is basically the medieval version of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe‘ which isn’t to say that the film lacks originality, but that the relationship at the center of the film is similar in style and the relationship in the aforementioned film is the only one that can be said to be better than this one when 60s are concerned. King Henry II is such a great character and you can easily see his pain as he is so relatable. Queen Eleanor is very mean at first, but once you get to know her better, you see that there is far more there than what is on the surface. She is a woman that has gone through a lot and just the scene where she breaks down in tears sums her up the best.

They are fantastic together and their fights are at once funny, but at other times also heartbreaking and truly sad. But they still love each other despite all of those hateful comments and they are the best example of one thing in which I myself believe whole-heartedly – those who truly love each other are capable of hurting each other the most. That is evident in their relationship and you can easily see that they love each other so much and it is such a great love-hate relationship.

The three boys are solid. I wanted more from them besides Richard who is very well realized and he shares many great scenes. But the film is about Eleanor and Henry first and foremost and that is why others did not get more treatment. And that is fine as they aren’t as important. But as I said, Richard is very good and what they did with him in terms of his sexuality is also very interesting, albeit historically dodgy as is the entire film.

Now, the acting. The Lion in Winter has a turn from then very young Anthony Hopkins and he is excellent here, but it also has two of the best performances of the entire decade in Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Peter O’Toole is too young for the role, but he gave such a terrific performance that shamefully lost at the Oscars that year. He really surprised me as I did not expect such a fantastic performance from him, but he delivered and is great in every scene he is in. But this is Katharine Hepburn’s vehicle and she steals the show from admittedly terrific O’Toole. She’s a great actress for sure, but what she did here is just miraculous to behold. She created this complex character and delivered in every single scene which is saying a lot as the role is extremely difficult with her character going through an emotional rollercoaster. The scene in which she breaks down in tears is the highlight of her acting skills and she had to do so much here. This is without a doubt her finest performance ever, but it is also one of the best performances ever in a film. She is simply that good and the fact that Peter O’Toole is also magnificent really says a lot about the acting caliber of this movie and it truly is one of the greats.

The Lion in Winter is a technically terrific film with great cinematography, some really memorable imagery and a great use of interior design. It also has a superb score that deservedly got an Oscar, it has great costumes, some superb set designs and is stupendously well edited and paced with never a wasted or abrupt scene. The emotional investment is evident and there are some truly powerful sequences with the ending being just so satisfying. The film is also really well directed and phenomenally adapted from its source material. It can easily be recognized to have originated from a play, but the movie is still a movie with all of the technical aspects being very strong. The film is also highly memorable with some moments being unforgettable.

The tone is the only small problem I have with this film. It is in its first half very comedic and often even verging on becoming a full comedy, but later on it becomes a straight drama that loses its humor and is way more serious. That does feel jarring a bit, but I still loved that the film was both dramatic and comedic and I loved its humor. It is just terrific across the board. Hepburn and her character basically carries the whole picture on her shoulders when humor is concerned and some of the lines she says are just so quotable and simply hilarious. I loved the film’s meta humor a lot with the line “A knife! He’s got a knife! Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians.” simultaneously being so wonderfully self-aware and very funny. Hepburn has such a brilliant comic delivery in the film.

The banter between the spouses is so good, but those scenes also have a big heart. That whole very long, but very involving conversation of theirs when they insult each other in many hurtful ways and seemingly end their relationship is by far the highlight of the entire film. It sticked with me long after I’ve seen it and I will remember it for a long time as it is that good. But all of the scenes after that one are also brilliant with the ending being powerful and some of the scenes in the dungeons being visually memorable. The Lion in Winter has just fantastic character interactions all around and the themes are excellent as the film wonderfully explores the failures of a marriage and it showcases how even the most powerful people in the world have personal problems. The various conversations the two have about their children are also powerful as they show deep dissatisfaction parents could have with their children while also the kids themselves can feel forgotten and rejected. All of those themes are definitely here and the film is just beautifully written from beginning to end.

The Lion in Winter received three Oscars and all three are well deserved with Actress, Screenplay and Score all being magnificent. But it deserved to win Best Picture as well and it is such a shame that it lost to such a mediocre movie. This is to me even an underrated film because, although highly appreciated, it is still rarely on the decade best lists when it so clearly is one of the greatest works of the 1960s and it just might be the finest film of 1968. This is a classic and one of the finest films of all time.

With an amazing screenplay, excellent score, great visuals, absolutely magnificent dialogue with many quotable lines and such a great humor, The Lion in Winter also has great Peter O’Toole and just fantastic Katharine Hepburn who gave one of the best performances ever in a film. It is a historical film, but above all a perfect family drama with such a strong relationship as the center of it. It is also very emotional, so powerful to watch and it has many unforgettable scenes in it. It is so well written, so admirable in every way and it is one of the greatest films of the 1960s and a masterpiece by all means.

My Rating – 5

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Room (2015)

Room (2015)

Room Review

Room is a 2015 drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. It is a masterpiece and undoubtedly the year’s finest movie.

A woman and her 5-year-old son are held captive in a small room and when they finally gain their freedom, they have trouble adjusting to the world, especially the boy who had never seen the real world before. I loved this movie. The story itself is  creepy and disturbing and whereas I usually despise subject matter like this, Room was still a movie for me because it is a pure character-driven drama where violence is never shown which is so commendable.

It also has a very interesting structure. The first half is in the room, in a confined space where the characters shine and the dialogue is at its best whereas the second half of the film is outside when they escape and where we follow their coping with the situation and how it affected them on an emotional level. I loved that as both halves are absolutely phenomenal and both deliver in spades. It starts off really well, those moments in the room are all phenomenal, but the second half is maybe even better with even more emotional and dialogue-driven drama. And that ending is absolutely fantastic as that whole last sequence is so incredibly satisfying and realistic, while also being heartwarming and simply powerful. It is a perfect conclusion to an amazing film.

The character development in Room is magnificent. Grandma is so sweet and caring and I loved her character, but of course Joy is absolutely amazing as this brave woman with an endless, unconditional love for her child for whom she would do anything, but she at the same time has angry outbursts at him which is very realistic. Jack is phenomenal as well and is such a different child protagonist than usual. He is more real and his troubles and his whole personality is so grounded in reality and sometimes so sweet and lovable that I adored him. The relationship between the two is the heart of the film naturally as they are awesome together and you feel their love thanks in large part to the incredible chemistry between the two actors.

Yes, the acting in Room is brilliant. Brie Larson did such an amazing job in her role and she was always so spectacular, in every scene she is in. She was believable and professional and is gave undoubtedly the finest actress performance of the year. But Jacob Tremblay is the better actor here as he gave an even better performance than Brie Larson. He is so natural, so believable, always subtle and realistic that it was unbelievable to watch a 9-year-old deliver such a powerhouse acting performance. And it is all the more commendable because he goes through so much during the movie and delivers in every scene – from angry outbursts to the crying to the more subtle moments. He is to me the lead of the movie, the protagonist and he gave one of the best child performances ever in a film.

Lenny Abrahamson directed this movie wonderfully, but the film is also incredibly well edited and wonderfully paced. Every scene is perfect in its length and execution and the film is beautifully structured as well. The score is absolutely amazing with a great theme and some really heartfelt music that accompanies the scenes in a great way. The tone is also excellent as the film is dramatic and emotional, but sometimes also sweet and funny which is great as those moments were much needed for such a dark movie.

The dialogue is extraordinary and my favorite moments were the ending of course, the scene where the mother explains to him the outside world and the concept of reality is so well realized and the scene with the police woman is magnificent as she did such a great job with the child and his facial expressions are superb. That whole escape sequence is thrilling and powerful and I rooted for them to succeed so hard because the movie makes you care deeply for these characters and what happens to them which is a testament to strong character development and a tight script. Even more admirable here has to be its drama approach. The film never becomes a thriller and this scene alone would be made intense and sensational in almost every other film, but here the filmmakers wonderfully avoided all of that and we never even see the arrest itself because it doesn’t matter. What matters is the relationship between mother and son and their characters and I love the fact that the film remains a pure drama throughout. So original and so sophisticated.

The film is so authentic and original, but in that weird way in which you find yourself asking why someone hasn’t done this kind of story before. It is told through the eyes of a child instead of being from her perspective and that was unique and refreshing. But the whole structure of the movie and the film’s themes lift it to greater heights, being in the process drama instead of thriller. The film is memorable and engaging, but always realistic and impactful. Room is probably the most emotionally draining and difficult to watch movie that I have ever seen. It can make you laugh, smile and of course cry, but it can also make you feel disturbed and afraid for the characters. It is so powerful and heartbreaking, but never emotionally manipulative or maudlin. But it can devastate you and leave you in a very fragile state which is why this isn’t for everyone. But it has its light moments, it has its comedic moments and it is rewarding in every sense of that word. Plus it has a brain along with its heart as it is so sophisticated and always smart and believable. It wonderfully shows every trouble and adjusting difficulty of that terrible situation and the child’s coping problems are dealt with in a careful and realistic manner.

If I had any problems with Room, it would have to be that some of its earlier scenes were a bit too disturbing to me and some scenes later on are not as fantastic as the rest, but for the most part the film deals with its disturbing subject matter in a tasteful manner and for the most part the movie is perfect. It deserved its Oscar nominations with Screenplay, Actress, Director and Best Picture all being deserving of the ultimate award as well, not just the nomination. But Jacob Tremblay was snubbed as he probably gave the finest performance of the year. Room is an almost perfect movie and without any doubt, in a weak year, the best and most impressive film of 2015.

With terrific dialogue, excellent structure and editing, superb directing, fantastic script and moving ending, Room also has the best female performance of the year in Brie Larson and one of the best child performances ever in Jacob Tremblay who gave probably the finest performance of the entire year. This film can make you cry, laugh and smile while also making you disturbed and making you fear for its characters which is a testament to some amazing character development and superb script. It is the most difficult to watch and emotionally powerful movie I’ve ever seen –  a film that will leave you in a very fragile state. But it is also a wonderful mother-son story with a lot of sophistication and a huge heart at its core. It is a masterpiece and of course the finest movie of 2015.

My Rating – 5

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

How To Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a 2014 animated fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation. It is directed by Dean DeBlois and stars Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler. It is the second entry in the franchise and one of the best animated sequels ever.

Five years have passed since the first movie and now dragons and humans live together peacefully. However, Hiccup now must face Drago Bludvist who is creating a dragon army and wants to conquer the dragons. He also meets his mother Valka. The story here is quite different from the original. Whereas the first movie was slower and relied more on drama, this one has more of an epic feel to it, the scope is much bigger and the stakes are much higher. And I loved that about it because sequels are supposed to be bigger and they are supposed to delve  deeper into the mythology of the world and its characters. And this movie did just that which is why it is brilliant and a textbook example of how to do a sequel to an already great movie properly.

The character are amazing once again. And this is a perfect mix of old and new characters with familiar faces being well utilized and even more explored while the newly introduced characters are very well developed as well and they are all so memorable. Hiccup remains a fantastic main character and one of the best protagonists ever in an animated movie. He is again very realistic and also quite unique in his appearance and behavior, but still retains his heroic nature. I loved the choice to go five years into the future and this was perfect most of all for this character because he has aged now and not just in physical appearance (more on that later), but he also matured emotionally, but still his personality remains intact which is awesome. The filmmakers really know how to age the characters which is really admirable. And his conflict is very well realized.

Stoick is again so sweet and likable. The relationship between him and Hiccup remains fantastic, but the relationship between him and his wife is just so romantic and beautiful to behold. And yes, his death is just such a bold choice from the usually risk averse studio and I really appreciated it. That scene was so well crafted and instantly memorable. It is dramatic, powerful and just heartbreaking. Speaking of Valka, she is amazing and did not disappoint. Her relationship with her son is so well done and you can see that they are so alike. But she is also such a strong and unique female character and I loved how they portrayed her fascination with dragons and her backstory is so well done. Also, I really appreciated how they portrayed her as somewhat crazy and wild because that is very realistic given her dragon obsession. That whole theme of humans and animals getting along is once again very well put to use.

Gobber is so funny and everything he says is either adorable or hilarious. I loved his character once again and he remains the best sidekick of the series. However, his coming out scene is really subpar because it is hinted, but in such a subtle, awfully subtle way that not many people would get that. I appreciate that they went into that territory finally, but it was still such a weak way to do it.

Astrid is fine herself, but the relationship between the two is so strong as it continues to be understated and subdued which I love. As for the supporting characters, they are fine, but Ruffnut is the one who really surprised me as she was so funny. Her annoyance with her admirers is funny, but her infatuation with Eret and his muscles lead to so many hilarious moments and I really appreciate this franchise for being so mature. They not only have real consequences and death, but they also have gay characters and sexual humor which is impressive.

Eret is quite a good character. He is not that much used, but serves fine as the villain’s henchman. Speaking of the villain, Drago is great. His appearance is very creepy along with his voice and mannerisms, but I loved that he posed genuine threat to our heroes as he was quite capable. And he also has a fine backstory that ties well into his goal. The dragons are all amazing with Toothless being excellent. I loved that he was manipulated to kill Stoick as that created so much tension and lead to a great scene between him and Hiccup.

The acting is really good. Jay Baruchel continues to surprise me as he is so incredibly good in this role with some of the moments being very well acted on his part. Gerard Butler is very good, Djimon Hounsou did such a great job as the villain with his creepy voice and Cate Blanchett is also superb as she brought Valka wonderfully to life.

Now, let’s talk about the animation. How to Train Your Dragon 2 looks fantastic, that’s for sure. The animation here improved a lot from the last time and it’s always so polished and beautiful to look at. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous with the dragons and ice in particular being incredibly animated. The flying sequences are exquisite and so moving, but the character design is so strong. As I said before, Hiccup and everyone else aged and they did that wonderfully and in such a believable and realistic manner. The attention to detail is overwhelming from the clothes to the dragons to the landscapes all being superb and filled with realism.

The movie has its flaws which are small. One is that the movie is a but uneven because of all the subplots and action on screen. I would have liked to have seen more of the slower moments. And the action is a bit overwhelming later on. That is why the first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ remains a better movie.

However, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is more entertaining of the two and definitely the more mature and more dangerous one. Also, that action is always phenomenally executed and so incredibly fun to watch, immensely intense and dramatic. And as for the slower moments, there are those present here with the mother-son reunion being a perfect scene, slow and poignant. The death of Stoick also lead to a wonderful funeral which is one of the most emotional moments here. The beginning is also really good. That sport looks too much like Quidditch from the Harry Potter series, but it is still fun.

The scene where Astrid mocks Hiccup by imitating his voice and arm movements is just brilliant and hilarious. The humor is really good and I laughed a lot during the movie. The fights are fantastic and so epic as is the whole movie. I loved how they incorporated the different dragons with the alphas being so cool and the different properties of Toothless being just awesome and well revealed. The movie is solidly paced and structured. The score is once again terrific! It was so beautiful at times and wonderfully accompanied those heartbreaking as well as dramatic moments. The ending in particular is superb. And I loved how the music is Celtic as it perfectly accompanies the time period. The dialogue is strong, the emotion is definitely there, the screenplay is sophisticated, it is unpredictable and bold and the action is very well executed. The movie is also epic, imaginative and ambitious and it wonderfully raised the stakes for the finale which I am anticipating a lot and I hope it is going to be as good as the first two. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the finest film from DreamWorks Animation after the original’ How to Train Your Dragon‘ and this franchise is undoubtedly going to be one of the very best trilogies of all time.

With simply breathtaking animation, amazing score, wonderfully executed action sequences, mature dialogue, phenomenal script, excellent pacing and intriguingly dark approach, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is epic, smart, funny, devastatingly sad, exciting and heartwarming all at the same time thanks to fascinating characters and some refreshingly adult, dark and heartbreaking scenes. It does what a sequel should do – it gives us new and interesting characters while improving the original ones, it improves the technical aspects and it builds on its mythology and explains a lot of the things we wanted to know, while also laying the groundwork for the finale. It is a one of the very best films of the year and one of the best CGI animated films. It is an almost perfect sequel in a trilogy that is going to be one of the best of all time.

My Rating – 5

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