Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974)

Heidi, Girl of the Alps Review……………………………………………………..

Heidi, Girl of the Alps Review

Heidi, Girl of the Alps is a 1974 anime series directed by legendary Isao Takahata. It is a very good, wonderful adaptation of the classic book.

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“Is it all right with you that you’ll never be able to walk?!”

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Heidi, Girl of the Alps Review……………………………………………………..

Because I loved the book, I naturally enjoyed this show a lot. It has its differences, but most of the book was faithfully adapted which I immensely appreciated. To me the anime is so good that it is almost of the same quality of its literary predecessor which just goes to show how great a director Isao Takahata is and certainly one of my favorites when it comes to anime.

I will now talk about each and every character in-depth and thus I will also comment on the storyline as a whole through those characters. Heidi is as great as she was in the book. Her look got me some time to get used to, but I liked her personality and I admired that she was more flawed than she was in the novel. Clara is also very good and the relationship between the two is expectedly touching and wonderful to witness.

As for Peter, I was so disappointed that they excluded his terrible treatment of Clara and how he threw her wheelchair. That was one of the highlights of the novel as it made him more human and relatable. But even though they got rid of that point, he is still pretty good and memorable here and I loved his interactions with the two girls.

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Heidi, Girl of the Alps Review……………………………………………………..

The grandfather is also very good and faithfully imagined, but I wished to have seen more of his spiritual rediscovery as seen in the original. Miss Rottenmeier is excellent and one of the rare characters that is actually improved here as she is less theatrical and more realistic and I loved that. The voice acting is pretty good and mostly very professional.

The animation is excellent for its time period. I loved its pleasing colors and I especially adored some of its imagery. It wonderfully recreated the mountain scenery as the Alps are wonderful here. And I liked the use of the animals too. Frankfurt was also very well depicted.

The soundtrack is one of the show’s greatest accomplishments. The sound effects and the score are great, but the closing theme is pretty good and of course the opening theme is just amazing. It is so immensely catchy, perfectly fitting in tone to its country origin and filled with wonderful imagery. That whole opening was one of the standouts of the anime.

Heidi, Girl of the Alps has a pretty solid structure in that most of the episodes work as standalone stories, but they still are coherent and lead to an overall firm storyline. I liked that and even though that meant that some episodes were less interesting than the others, that was expected for a series with the high amount of 52 episodes. But they covered most of the storylines and subplots of the book and I was eventually pleased by it. The anime is emotional, wonderfully childlike, always endearing and sometimes even pleasantly humorous.

In the end, Heidi, Girl of the Alps has its problems, but it is overall a stupendous anime series that is one of the best from the seventies without a doubt. It is also one of the best children’s anime with wonderful characters, a faithfully adapted plot, charming animation and such a good score with a catchy and fun opening theme.

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Worst Episodes: One More in the Family, I Want to Fly and Clara Walks.

Best Episodes: To the Mountain, A Visit to Grandmother’s House, Another Grandmother, In a New House, The Doctor’s Promise and Until We Meet Again.

My Rating – 4.5

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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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Monsoon Wedding (2001)

Monsoon Wedding Movie Review…………………………………………………

Monsoon Wedding Movie Review

Monsoon Wedding is a 2001 Indian film directed by Mira Nair. It is a pretty good, but still flawed movie that could have been much better.

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These are my children,

and I will protect them from myself even if I have to

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Monsoon Wedding Movie Review…………………………………………………

We follow an Indian wedding in New Delhi and all its traditions as the cousins from all around the world come to attend it. I liked that the film realistically portrayed one Indian wedding and everything that comes with it. It was well executed and the film works as a strong, sometimes even emotional drama. There are some discussions and conversations that are so good here.

However, what I didn’t like is the film’s lack of focus. Having in mind that it has such a large number of characters in it, I guess I should forgive them for that. But still I wished for a clearer and more focused narrative. For example, the sexual abuse that happened in this family came out of nowhere and although it does have its tragic effect, it was still thoroughly underutilized and needed much more screen time just for itself.

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Monsoon Wedding Movie Review…………………………………………………

As for the characters, they are mostly really well developed for the short time that they received. I loved the parents, they are the most memorable and well realized of the bunch and the scenes between the two were very strong. Of course everything surrounding the marriage with the daughter was also well executed. But everything with the wedding planner was frustrating to me as he is such an annoying, pointless character and I disliked that part quite a bit.

Monsoon Wedding isn’t an Indian film, but it is a coproduction between different countries and that is evident in its execution and tone. The film is certainly very Indian in the wedding scenes and especially in the music as it utilized on their traditional music and dances, but it is quite American in its characterization and especially in the dialogue which contains more curse words than you would expect from India and its erotic sequences and talk about sex and abuse.

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Monsoon Wedding Movie Review…………………………………………………

It is very well directed by Mira Nair and is so well acted. The acting is strong across the board with each and every performance being satisfactory. The script is also pretty strong and I liked that it dealt with a lot of different things such as arranged marriage, the costs of a traditional marriage, the future of the children as well as sexual abuse. The film works as a pretty solid and sophisticated examination of its subject matter and I guess that it is immensely relatable to Indians in particular. But it still feels universal enough in its themes and emotion that everyone from all around the world should enjoy it like I did. Some scenes were even touching and romantic. Overall, I really liked Monsoon Wedding, but I just wished that it was less convoluted, more focused and it would have been much better. Some scenes were also too laidback owing to its slow pace.

Monsoon Wedding executes its subject matter really well with a strong script filled with many interesting themes. The performances are very good across the board and most of the characters are well realized. The film definitely lacks focus and is filled with too many characters and subplots, but it mostly managed to make use of them all with some scenes being quite emotional and powerful and the overall film being very dramatic and ultimately satisfactory.

My Rating – 4

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Ball of Fire (1941)

Ball of Fire Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Ball of Fire Movie Review

Ball of Fire is a 1941 screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. It is a very charming and endearing screwball comedy.

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I love him because he’s the kind of a guy that gets drunk on a glass of buttermilk,

and I love the way he blushes right up over his ears.

Love him because he doesn’t know how to kiss, the jerk!

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Ball of Fire Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

It follows a group of professors who are writing a big encyclopedia. A nightclub performer then comes to live with them for a while in order to provide her knowledge of slang to the linguistics professor and eventually the two fall in love. I found the film’s plot to actually be kind of genius. It is basically a modern retelling of the tale of Snow White and even though it is sort of a parody, it still managed to be original and interesting in its own right. I really liked how both of the subplots were well incorporated into a coherent whole even though its conclusion felt typical and somewhat unbelievable.

The characters are so great. All of the professors were wonderful and endearing. I liked their dynamic and that they worked superbly as a group. They never approached the quality of the dwarfs from the original fairy tale film, but they were still pretty good and memorable in their own right. I also found the gangsters to be surprisingly solid.

Professor Bertram Potts is such a kind and wonderful soul. He is such a likable protagonist. And of course Sugarpuss is the highlight and she is such a phenomenal character. I loved her conflict, the relationship between the two was wonderful and truly all of interactions between her and the others were fantastic.

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Ball of Fire Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

The acting is terrific. Every one of these talented older actors did a great job in their roles. Dana Andrews is also pretty memorable as the main villain. As for Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, I was surprised at how amazing this mix turned out to be. Naturally the clash between personalities is obvious and somewhat unrealistic, but it was still endearing to follow. Gary Cooper is as immensely likable as ever in this movie, if not the most likable. Barbara Stanwyck gave one of her finest performances here, she is professional, charismatic and she carried every scene she was in, whether emotional or comedic. She entirely deserved her Oscar nomination and truly the film’s acting and especially casting are top-notch.

Ball of Fire is truly such a great movie, but it isn’t fantastic as it just never reached that greatness somehow. I guess because it was way too predictable and because I never laughed out loud. The humor is actually very good and some lines and jokes were pretty funny, but none of it was as truly hilarious as I’ve come to expect from screwball comedies. But still, it came close and when screwball comedies from the forties are concerned, the film is definitely one of the best examples.

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Ball of Fire Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Ball of Fire is very well edited and paced, never rushed and never slow. It is hugely entertaining from start to finish and it just flew by how fun it was. It provided me a wonderful and entertaining evening. The dialogue is as great as you would expect from everyone involved. Some of the lines felt overly childish and sometimes the film verged into caricaturing its characters, but it mostly managed to stay away from that and instead offer us such a likable bunch of people. The direction from Howard Hawks is expectedly great too.

Ball of Fire is such an immensely entertaining and charming film. It isn’t as hilarious as I’d come to expect from screwball comedies, but it is still pretty funny at times and it is actually one of the genre’s best when it comes to the forties. Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are superb in their roles as is everyone else too, the story is such a fun rendition/parody of Snow White, the characters are so likable and the film is just so wonderful and fun that you just can’t resist it.

My Rating – 4.5

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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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An American in Paris (1951)

An American in Paris Movie Review………………………………………………………

An American in Paris Movie Review

An American in Paris is a 1951 musical film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. It is one of my favorite musicals.

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I’m a concert pianist.

That’s a pretentious way of saying I’m… unemployed at the moment

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An American in Paris Movie Review………………………………………………………

I really love this movie, but even I have to admit that its plot is lacking. Let me elaborate. I usually really dislike love triangles in a film and find them stupid and dull, but here it was surprisingly handled really well and I mean in a comedic and light manner. That was great. But what wasn’t so great is how the film just ended, in an instant. It was abrupt, sort of unrealistic and just disappointing overall.

The first half is all great and I had no complaints there from the storytelling department. But the second half features another very problematic development and that is Jerry going after Milo after breaking up with Lise. That made him unlikable and of course Milo eventually got screwed over. Yes, she approached him aggressively, but he gave her false hope and that made his otherwise very sympathetic character somewhat unlikable. The film was definitely unfair in its treatment of Milo.

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An American in Paris Movie Review………………………………………………………

But even though the plot is so troublesome in a couple of scenes, that is basically the only problem I have with this film as otherwise I find it to be fantastic. Jerry Mulligan is mostly very likable and such a charming man. Lise is quite endearing and the relationship between the two is great and they are lovable together. Adam has his comedic moments and even Henri can be funny at times. And I liked Milo quite a bit and found her to be a very progressive female character for her time.

I found the acting to be pretty good. Oscar Levant is quite good and humorous at times and Nina Foch is very good with Georges Guetary being the weak link here. Leslie Caron is very likable and I honestly think that Gene Kelly should have been nominated for his performance here which is very strong and charismatic. His dancing is out of this world, but he is also very likable and very professional in his acting as well.

An American in Paris features some of the best dance sequences to ever come from Hollywood. Truly sometimes the film reached not only greatness, but pure artistic achievement. It felt like watching musical art in its highest form. Gene Kelly is such a great dancer and some of his movements here were just incredible to behold. But the choreography of these scenes as a whole is gorgeous and the film is just breathtaking technically.

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An American in Paris Movie Review………………………………………………………

As for the songs, they are solid. Some are great, others are forgettable. Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra totally felt like a detour as a song and overall scene, ‘S Wonderful is light and serves its purpose, but the lyrics are mediocre and all of the other songs are mostly forgettable. Not bad, but not great either.

But Embraceable You is pretty solid and Love Is Here to Stay is such a pleasing, fitting song for the most romantic sequence in the film. But of course my favorite is I Got Rhythm. I just love this song. It has fun lyrics, it is immensely catchy and enjoyable plus it is accompanied by the most childlike and effervescent scene in the movie.

An American in Paris naturally looks gorgeous. The entire last segment featuring the titular number was just breathtaking to behold. It was long, but never boring as those dances and choreography are the most memorable thing from the entire film. And I liked that it was a dream sequence, very fitting to it in style.

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An American in Paris Movie Review………………………………………………………

The film is solidly edited and really well directed by Vincente Minnelli, but the highlights are the cinematography and the costumes. The film’s camera angles and shots are perfect and so inspired and rarely has Hollywood seen better costume design than in this movie. Wow, beautiful to watch. It is one of the rare movies that benefit from being in color and truly the Technicolor here is gorgeous. I loved its artistic side not only in music, but in paintings as well. It is a very sensual and great looking film. It is a proof how strong visually can a film be and that essentially it is a visual medium. The production design is just amazing and some of the scenery here was both exceedingly wonderful and highly memorable. And its humor is just fabulous and it frequently made me laugh out loud. It deserved all of its technical awards and I think I am in the minority here, but I honestly think that it deserved to win Best Picture in a very strong year. It is definitely one of my personal favorites from this genre.

Some plot points certainly felt troublesome and the ending is abrupt, but other than that, An American in Paris is a fantastic film. Gene Kelly is so charismatic and likable in his role and Leslie Caron is quite endearing. The film is very romantic and exceedingly charming in almost every scene with a nice dose of excellent humor, but the highlights are its technical aspects – the costumes are some of the best ever put on film, the choreography is amazing, the dancing is phenomenal to behold, some songs are very catchy and the film is beautifully shot and such a great feast for the eyes. Visually dazzling and even artistic, it is definitely one of my favorite musicals.

My Rating – 4.5

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Contempt (1963)

Contempt Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

Contempt Movie Review

Contempt is a 1963 French drama film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli. It is such a good film that left a big impression on me.

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I’ve noticed the more we doubt,

the more we cling to a false lucidity,

in hope of rationalizing what feelings have made murky

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Contempt Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

It follows a dissolution of a marriage because of lack of trust. Now the reason why I liked this movie is that it is both a talkative and a visual experience and I love both. There is a conversation between the two that lasts for more than thirty minutes and that is probably the highlight of the entire film, so realistic and natural that scene felt. But there is also a sense of space as it is so well utilized in every scene and objects almost became characters in their own right.

I found the film’s parallel to Odyssey really well done. Contempt has such an overwhelming melancholy tone to it that it does leave a big impact on the viewer, at least it did to me. It is even artistic at times and surely it is one of the rare Godard films that are less pretentious and more engaging and truly artistic. His direction here is very strong.

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The film does succeed as a romantic tragedy and I really liked both of the protagonists. It seemed at first that they argued over nothing, but because I myself can be very jealous, I understood her character and why she acted that way. It was a great showcase of how jealousy and lack of trust can ruin an otherwise strong relationship.

Of course the film is phenomenally acted. Everyone did a good job, but Michel Piccoli and Brigitte Bardot carry the entire film on their capable shoulders. He is very good, subtle and his performance is strong and realistic whereas she is so charismatic and memorable in possibly her greatest and most famous role. The film showed her naked butt too much, but despite me not liking nudity in a film, this was mostly well done and more truly sensual than overdone. She is a beautiful woman, but she also could act and her performance here is a proof of that. And she was definitely very endearing in some sequences.

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Contempt has its problems. It is overall too slow and seemingly about nothing. And the first fourth or so is very mediocre. I really disliked that beginning as the shooting of the movie proved to be a bad way to start the film, cold and unappealing. But thankfully those kinds of scenes became much better later on.

Contempt is beautifully made. The score is very strong and its theme repeated throughout the whole picture is fantastic and so melancholic, perfectly fitting its tone. The editing is also pretty good. The film is slow, but it is paced well and it is actually the kind of slow movie that isn’t boring, but that just demands patience and it rewards you afterwards with an emotional ending. It is a film that is layered and that becomes much better after you’ve seen it when thinking about it thoroughly.

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The cinematography is also superb. Everyone talks about the colors used here that represent the colors of the American and French flags and certainly that was an interesting choice, but I myself admired its scenery the most. The Italian seaside brought a lot of memorable imagery to it, the one that is fitting to its story as it felt again poignant and also timeless, fitting to Homer’s work. The film sounds and looks great and its camera movements are so polished. Overall, I really liked it and it is one of the films that surprised me how good it is as I didn’t expect much going to it.

Contempt is a rare Godard film that is less pretentious and more truly artistic which is why I liked it quite a bit. The camera movements and the imagery are stunning, Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli are charismatic and memorable leads, the film’s parallel is well incorporated and the overall story felt at first simplistic, but is actually poignant and clever. It has a very weak beginning, but it is mostly a wonderfully melancholic, sensual and frequently beautiful film that stays with you long after you’ve seen it.

My Rating – 4.5

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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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