The Second Mother (2015)

The Second Mother Movie Review

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The Second Mother Movie Review

The Second Mother is a 2015 Brazilian drama film directed by Anna Muylaert and starring Regina Casé. It is one of the year’s best and most interesting dramas.

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Can you hear?

Yes, I’m in the pool.

I’m so happy

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The Second Mother Movie Review

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It follows the housemaid of a wealthy family who lives and works at their house. But tensions arise when her daughter moves in with them and unspoken class barriers are suddenly evident. This is such a clever, sophisticated movie that is seemingly simplistic on the surface, but actually explores its subject matter in the best way possible – by letting you witness and realize it for yourself instead of preaching about it with a big message. I loved that sophisticated approach.

But the film also succeeds because it is such an engaging, dialogue-driven, character-driven drama in which characters are so real that I felt that I’ve just met them. Yes, the character development is really strong. Val is amazing and grounded in reality. She is never made a caricature here as the director herself said she did not want to ridicule her. And she succeeded in that task as the character is so real, but also so likable and endearing.

And her change in personality near the end is achieved wonderfully and it never feels abrupt. Jéssica is also really good and although extremely unlikable at first, you can see near the end why she was acting like that. She was unhappy because her mother was never there for her and their relationship is so heartwarming and ends on such a wonderful note. And the members of the wealthy family are all very well portrayed.

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The Second Mother Movie Review

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The acting is magnificent. Everyone here delivered a superb performance as Camila Márdila did such a good job in the role of Jéssica and Regina Casé is of course fantastic. She is so believable and gave a powerhouse, wonderful performance that is one of the best of the year. So good.

There are some parts in The Second Mother that I found annoying and problematic. Carlos pursued Jéssica here and that I disliked as it was a totally unnecessary development that wasn’t important for the overall story. But they still did a good job with that as well because the scene in which he proposes to her is so realistically executed that I really appreciated it. Another thing that I found somewhat unnecessary was the twist with the baby in the end. That was also not too needed for the story, but it still added to the overall highly emotional, wonderful finale.

The Second Mother is a wonderful chamber drama where the characters are the most important aspect and they are basically always in one house. I really liked that and this is one of the better chamber dramas in recent years as it makes use of its setting and approach to the fullest extent, creating such a sophisticated, involving drama in the process. The tone I also really liked as the film is quite comedic in tone at times. Val’s fearful attitude produced many laughs and the clash between the two was funny in some scenes.

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The Second Mother Movie Review

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The dialogue is terrific and there are some very interesting lines said in the movie. The film is also very realistic, but also emotionally investing and ultimately immensely heartwarming and satisfying. It is also mostly well paced and the directing from Anna Muylaert is excellent. It is such an engaging, thought-provoking movie and one of the best films of 2015.

The Second Mother is terrific. The dialogue is so good, the performances are phenomenal and the characters are so well developed and so real that the movie is a perfect chamber drama that is always involving, emotionally investing and sophisticated. It does have some unnecessary plot points, but it is nonetheless one of the best and most satisfying films of the year.

My Rating – 4.5

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It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie BrownIt’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown Review

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is a 1974 animated television special and the twelfth entry in the Peanuts series. It is such a strong entry that is the finest one in the series in years.

The gang prepares for Easter and the short is fantastic as all of the characters get such a good treatment. Snoopy is really good and he and Woodstock have rarely been this endearing and funny together. Their scenes were so much fun. Charlie Brown himself is present not so much, but those scenes with him are so good with the final scene being hilarious. The same goes for Lucy who shares the last scene of the special with Snoopy and it is such a great finale.

Sally and Linus are fantastic as well. Linus believes in the Easter Beagle just as he did in the Great Pumpkin and Sally is hesitant to believe him after that failure. But their relationship still continues to be strong as they are so cute together. And we get Peppermint Patty in probably her finest episode yet. She and Marcie are so funny in here and her endless frustration with Marcie produces many big laughs. It is a hilarious entry that isn’t perfect because it does have some prolonged sequences and the first half is weaker, but it is largely such a great entry with some good score as well.

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is a hilarious entry that is also the finest Peanuts special in years due to all of the characters getting a great treatment and many funny scenes.

My Rating – 4.3

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The Night Before (2015)

 The Night Before

The Night Before Movie Review

The Night Before is a 2015 comedy film directed by Jonathan Levine and starring Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It is such a good, stupendous comedy.

It follows three friends who decide to spend one last Christmas together. The plot is fairly simple, but is satisfying in the end due to some solid execution of it. First, let’s talk about the flaws. The first act is so mediocre that it ruined this movie for me. Neither of the characters was likable or interesting or funny at the beginning and it was even annoying to watch. That seriously hurt the movie as it could have been even better had it started off strongly.

But that all changed in the second half with the characters becoming much more likable and much more interesting and with the jokes finally starting to hit. Chris was very boring at first, but he grew on me later on and the scene in which he defends his friend is genuinely sweet. Ethan is also a straight man here delivering just a couple of jokes, but he is a typical Gordon-Levitt character for the better as I like his characters. He is realistic, likable and even charming and the relationship between Diana and him is genuinely romantic and I rooted for them to end up together and I rarely do that. That’s how charming those two were. And I love that Diana practically said no to his public proposal as that was so realistic.

Isaac is a typical Seth Rogen creation, but I liked him as he is really well realized and, despite his drug-obsessed behavior, he is quite likable and endearing. And he was really funny and is literally the only truly hilarious character here and the movie rests on his shoulders. Thankfully, Seth Rogen delivered and gave one of his finest performances to date. He has rarely been this sympathetic or this funny. He made me laugh so many times and I really enjoyed his performance and his character who is the heart of the film. Anthony Mackie is good as well and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is naturally good as he usually is. And I liked Jillian Bell as well, although she could have been funnier this time around. Lizzy Caplan was also good as was Mindy Kaling, but I have to say that I did not enjoy Michael Shannon’s role here. He is definitely very good in it and he plays a different character than usual which is great, but I did not find that character interesting at all and he’s one of the weakest links in The Night Before.

The Night Before is solidly directed, but really weirdly edited and paced. It just doesn’t move at a polished pace. The tone is good as the film is thankfully mostly a pure comedy which I loved as the humor is really good. There were many laugh out loud, really hilarious lines and scenes here with Rogen’s drug-oriented scenes being really amusing and his gay texting being hysterical. The character interactions are really good in this one and the three share such a lovable relationship. The film also has a heart and is really sweet, but never too emotional. It perfectly struck a balance between a traditional Christmas family movie and a drug-oriented, crazy mature movie with sexual jokes. That balance is really difficult to maintain, but The Night Before managed to make it seem seamless. Sometimes the movie was too loud and inconsistent in structure, but it is mostly incredibly entertaining and funny. It is such a pleasant surprise and one of the year’s finest comedies.

The Night Before is very inconsistent and its first act is really weak, but the other parts are really good with such likable and funny characters, a great relationship between the three friends and many hilarious scenes. It is a stupendous movie that perfectly strikes a balance between a traditional Christmas tale and a mature, adult-oriented comedy.

My Rating – 4

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Bridge Ahoy! (1936)

Bridge Ahoy! ReviewBridge Ahoy! Review

 Bridge Ahoy! is a 1936 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is one of the best and most hilarious Popeye shorts.

I loved this entry as it is absolutely magnificent. In fact, it is the best Popeye short in years, there is no doubt about it. Everything here works from the action to the humor to the characters. It has a great setting and the bridge is used to its fullest extent. I also loved the animation and its score as well. And it is without a doubt one of the funniest Popeye cartoons and the scene in which Wimpy chooses to get mustard instead of helping Popeye is one of the funniest scenes ever in the series. And I still do not understand why they don’t use his character more often as he is hilarious whenever he is on screen.

But it also has Bluto tickling Olive in a really phenomenal scene and that whole middle section as well as the ending is so good and even unique as Popeye takes more than one can of spinach which is highly unusual. All of the characters are well utilized and the action is excellent. The only flaw here is the beginning which is very subpar and too dialogue-driven, but the rest of the picture is terrific leading to one of the best Popeye shorts in recent memory.

Bridge Ahoy! is one of the best and funniest Popeye cartoons with many absolutely hysterical moments, well utilized characters and superb action.

 My Rating – 4.4

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Youth (2015)

Youth Movie Review

Youth Movie Review

Youth is a 2015 drama film directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. It is one of the most annoying and boring films of the year.

It is about two friends who reflect on their lives while holidaying in the Swiss Alps. As with any Sorrentino flick, there is absolutely no story or point to be had here whatsoever. What we get is some nice scenery and pretentious dialogue. Yes, the dialogue annoyed me so much as it basically consists of annoying, old, rich people who just complain about everything and do not ever say anything that is remotely interesting or impactful. Their conversations frustrated me.

And those characters are all just so incredibly irritating. Not one of them was even a bit interesting or likable to me. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel give solid performances, but I was never a fan of either of those actors and I certainly did not find them likable here.

The only positive aspect in Youth is most certainly its scenery. It is always beautiful to watch and the Swiss Alps are just gorgeous to behold. There are some visually interesting sequences here and there as well. But most of those scenes are “artistic” and just pretentious. The whole film is like that – pretentious and annoying. The directing is problematic as usual and I strongly dislike Sorrentino’s direction as I also found ‘The Great Beauty‘ to be incredibly overrated and annoying. He basically copies the style of Fellini and never has anything authentic in his movies.

It is also so slow paced to the point of being a chore to sit through. It is one of the dullest films of the year and I was so bored from beginning to end. It has that leisurely pace that is irritating instead of being pleasant and the movie never has any sort of structure or message or point in it. It just consists of various tedious characters complaining and moaning about their past interspersed with some odd imagery and a great scenery. And that is this movie in a nutshell. Needless to say, it is very overrated and I strongly dislike the director’s work.

Youth is such an annoying movie. It has a typically irritating style of Sorrentino which basically consists of various incredibly irritating people complaining about their past mixed with some odd imagery and a great scenery. It is such a boring and pretentious movie.

My Rating – 2

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Safety Second (1950)

Safety Second ReviewSafety Second Review

Safety Second is a 1950 animated short that is the 50th Tom and Jerry cartoon. It is one of the funniest and most purely entertaining entries in years.

The plot is pretty good and I really liked the use of Nibbles here. He is probably the best used here since he has been introduced. He is just so endearing to watch. And the relationship between him and Jerry is so sweet. Jerry continues to be the highlight this year with Tom being in the background and I really liked that here.

As for the action, it does use some rehashed scenarios from its previous entries which I really disliked, but the action is for the most part superb in Safety Second and it is such an entertaining cartoon. The dynamite exchange was awesome and so well executed with fantastic humor. I laughed a lot during its running time as it was pretty hilarious at times. In fact, it is the funniest Tom and Jerry short in recent years for sure.

Safety Second has a superb use of Nibbles along with some spectacular action and superb humor with many truly hilarious moments to be had.

My Rating – 4.2

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Mr. Holmes (2015)

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Mr. Holmes is a 2015 drama mystery film directed by Bill Condon and starring Ian McKellen. It is quite a good movie and such a pleasant surprise.

Holmes is now 93 and he tries to recall the details of his final case. This film is very interesting and such an unusual Sherlock Holmes flick. It focuses more on drama instead of detective mystery and I absolutely loved that as it led to such great character development and an emotionally engaging approach.

But that formula does have its flaws and that is its mystery. The whole Japanese subplot is lacking when compared to the bee one because the mystery is just never as interesting or as involving as it should have been. It does have some fine moments here and there and its details led to that beautiful ending, but this is still the weaker subplot here and the film’s biggest detractor.

But that second subplot is just wonderful. I loved the characters in particular. The mother was too vilified at first, but she thankfully got better treatment as the story progressed. Roger is so good as this incredibly smart British kid and Holmes is fantastic here. The film is the best when it deals with his problems from mind deterioration and aging to his last case to the things that he regrets. There are so many scenes in Mr. Holmes that are just so heartwarming and the highlights are the scenes with Roger, the dialogue he has with the mother near the end and of course that tender finale. He is such a complex, fascinating character and the best reason to see the film.

But the relationship between Roger and Holmes is so endearing and their scenes also have such a wonderful and charming humor to them as well. I just loved that relationship and it is the heart of the film. The acting is great as both Laura Linney and Milo Parker did such a good job and of course Ian McKellen is terrific in his role. He not only delivered in those more dramatic and emotional scenes, but he was also perfectly cast as he suits this role so well.

Mr. Holmes is leisurely paced and although that was problematic, especially in the first half, the film is still never boring as it plays as a character-driven, warm drama that I love. The dialogue is really good and the tone is great as it wonderfully shifts from dramatic to comedic. The score is also solid and of course the film is visually magnificent with such wonderful natural scenery and some great interiors as well. It is always beautiful to watch and it is so well shot. The first act is never as good as the other two, but that third act is just perfect as it ends both of its subplots in such a satisfying manner. In the end, Mr. Holmes is such a good movie that caught me by surprise as I never expected it would be this good, this heartwarming and this charming. It has such an immense charm and coziness factor to it that it is a perfect film for Sherlock Holmes fans and also for those who aren’t ones as well.

Its Japanese subplot is lacking in comparison to the bee one, but Mr. Holmes benefits from such a unique approach with a larger focus on character-driven drama instead of detective mystery and I loved that about as it led to such good character development, terrific character interactions, some heartwarming scenes and a moving ending. It is also a beautiful to look at and charming movie and overall such a pleasant surprise.

My Rating – 4

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El Terrible Toreador (1929)

El Terrible Toreador ReviewEl Terrible Toreador Review

El Terrible Toreador is a 1929 Disney short film and the second entry in the Silly Symphony series. It is a typically gag-oriented short of the time.

The short is quite typical in its nature. It does not have any plot or point to it whatsoever and it basically consists of gag after gag. And although those gags are solid, they aren’t particularly funny which is troublesome as the film was supposed to be funny. Its structure is too unconnected and too scattershot and it is definitely a much weaker entry than the much appreciated debut in the series ‘The Skeleton Dance‘.

But it does have its strengths which are mainly the score and the animation. The character design is pretty unappealing to me, but the animation overall is pretty good for the time and the movements are well handled. But the score is the highlight as it wonderfully accompanies the action scenes and it has so many great tunes in it. In the end, El Terrible Toreador is a basic entry in the series, not bad, but certainly far from great or inspired.

El Terrible Toreador does have a good animation and a great score, but its haphazard nature and a too gag-oriented approach hurt it in the long run.

My Rating – 3.1

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South Park Season 11 (2007)

South Park Season 11South Park Season 11 Review

The eleventh season of South Park is another great season with many fantastic episodes and a fair share of memorable classics.

With Apologies to Jesse Jackson isn’t the greatest episode. It is very relevant and incredibly smart and sophisticated in exploring the word nigger and its impact, but that word is still repeated far too much and the entire episode is a bit repetitive from time to time. Randy is excellent here and the beginning alone is priceless, but it isn’t a great episode. Very good, but not great.

Cartman Sucks is absolutely fantastic and the season’s first truly phenomenal episode. What I loved about it is its perfect mix of socially conscious subject matter that is very well explored here and they have a great message and the simplest hilarity that ensues with Cartman being hysterical this time around. The beginning is just brilliant and the ending is also pretty fantastic. But it is Cartman’s facial expressions and some funny lines that make this episode a classic.

I really enjoyed Lice Capades. It isn’t the funniest part, but what it lacks in humor, it more than compensates with such an original and truly fantastic setting and interesting main characters. It has a great world building and the ending with Angelina Jolie being ridiculed is so funny. But ‘The Thing’ is also greatly parodied here with Cartman of course and some scenarios with the lice and their post-apocalyptic setting are wonderfully done.

The Snuke is too political. I loved everything that they did with Hilary Clinton and the endless repeating of that sentence made it hilarious instead of repetitive because it was that good in the first place. Cartman’s racism provided many amusing moments throughout The Snuke, but it is too political and too action-packed in my opinion to be enjoyed even more.

Fantastic Easter Special ridicules Easter in such a ridiculous, but still clever way. Randy is naturally the highlight here, but this whole plot is so silly and ridiculous in the best South Park way possible. Jesus has this crazy ninja moment here in a scene that is one of the best of all time in my opinion, so instantly recognizable and so hilarious. It is a typical South Park episode, but in the best and most entertaining way possible.

D-Yikes! is a masterpiece! It has possibly the best use of Garrison ever and that is really saying a lot. His whole journey from a closeted to openly gay man to a trans woman to a lesbian and then man again is so crazy and wonderfully entertaining and that wild sexuality of his produces the most laughs in this particular episode. The way D-Yikes! ridicules Persians and lesbians alike is ingenious and the scissoring jokes as well as the scene in which Garrison explains that he’s now a lesbian first to a class then to mayor is just priceless and unbelievably funny. It just might be one of my top ten favorite episodes of South Park ever.

I changed my mind upon the third viewing of Night of the Living Homeless. I really wasn’t a fan of it before and I still think it is far from great, but it is still such a fun episode with the homeless people being depicted as zombies being one of the smartest things the creators did in this season. Gerald and Randy are so funny here and that line about change is so funny and memorable.

Le Petit Tourette isn’t the best episode of its type, but it still produces a handful of terrific Cartman moments. The illness is so well explored and put to use and the conflict that Cartman finds himself in later on is so interesting. But the scenes of pedophiles shooting themselves are so funny and despite being repetitive, they are some of the highlights here.

More Crap is an absolute classic! Yes, it is disgusting and definitely too harsh towards Bono, but he is still one of the most memorable and best spoofed celebrities on this show. Randy is so good here and that exploration of male fascination with disgusting things is very well explored here along with producing many absolutely fantastic and hilarious scenarios. It is one of the best and most brutal South Park episodes of all time.

The Imaginationland trilogy is naturally a classic and one of the best trilogies there is. It benefits from some strong world building, an excellent use of many different characters and a perfect story mixed with a wonderful message as well. Imaginationland Episode I starts off the trilogy wonderfully and in a slow, but intriguing pace. This whole trilogy works as one movie which is fascinating. The highlight here is the scene where the directors are parodied with Shyamalan and Michael Bay being ridiculed in such a funny and satisfying manner.

Imaginationland Episode II has some terrific Pentagon scenes, but it also saw the return of Woodland Critters and they are as delightfully twisted and evil as ever. Al Gore is also here and his ManBearPig and that was also incredibly satisfying along with seeing countless of familiar made-up characters. Aslan in particular is really good.

Imaginationland Episode III has a great use of Butters and I loved the fact that he was the hero here and that white sequence is so unique. But Cartman’s mission which includes Kyle sucking his balls comes to a close here and ends in such a phenomenal and clever scene. The whole trilogy is wonderful and incredibly entertaining and of course appropriately imaginative.

Guitar Queer-O makes fun of the Guitar Hero game wonderfully. The whole parody of those sports movie clichés has been done before on the show, but they did it again with style and although it didn’t produce quite as many laughs, it is still a very good episode with a particularly good ending scene.

The List puts the girls of the school to use for a change and it was a refreshing change in pace. But the whole premise is absolutely amazing and leads to many laugh-out-loud moments with Clyde, Lincoln and of course Cartman and Butters getting the best parts. It is a great episode because it is just fun, no parody or politics here. But it still puts a great message near the end which was awesome.

South Park Season 11 has a couple of flawed episodes, but not one of them is bad which is a huge accomplishment. Randy, Cartman and Garrison are once again the highlights here, but this season also saw the return of some previous side characters and it also saw some great world building with many intriguing and imaginative episodes. It is yet another admirably strong season with many classics.

Worst Episodes: With Apologies to Jesse Jackman, Lice Capades and The Snuke.
Best Episodes: Cartman Sucks, D-Yikes!, More Crap, The List and the Imaginationland trilogy.

My Rating – 4.8

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Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Movie Review

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a 2015 action spy film directed by Christopher McQuarrie and starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson and Simon Pegg. It is easily the best entry in the entire franchise.

This movie surprised me on so many levels. First of all, it is so admirable that a franchise can become better and better as it progresses instead of being the other way around which is more usual. The first and the second movie were quite bad, the third one was okay, ‘Ghost Protocol‘ was pretty solid and Rogue Nation is the only one that is clearly quite good and the most entertaining of the bunch as well. The story here is quite solid and the character interactions are once again pretty good. The characters are mostly pretty good with the newly introduced Ilsa Faust being the highlight of the movie and the only memorable female character in this entire series. She is so good and such a complex and well realized character.

The acting is pretty good. Tom Cruise is solid and of course respectable in his action stunts, but he and his character is unfortunately overshadowed here by Ferguson. Ethan Hunt has always been such a bore, but Ilsa is not and Rebecca Ferguson is so good in her role, delivering in dialogue as well as in action sequences. And Simon Pegg continues to be one of the highlights in this franchise as he is so incredibly likable. Jeremy Renner is also pretty good, albeit underused. But the relationship between Brandt and Hunt I really liked and especially their facial expressions towards each other which are so endearing and the highlights in this movie when humor is concerned. I loved that the we finally got a lightweight entry in this usually dull and serious series. That was a lot of fun.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has its problems mainly the pacing which is problematic and the film is overlong. Some scenes are unnecessarily long and some are quite boring. Also, there are many typical action scenes here as well. Ethan Hunt is again so incredibly boring and the villain in this movie is forgettable and not particularly well utilized.

But the action is very good and the fights in particular were some of the best in the franchise as they were so thrilling to watch and so well executed. The tone is also good as is the direction and acting. I liked the score as well, but the music was admittedly overloud at some points. The use of various locations brought a lot of eye candy here with London, Vienna and Casablanca all being really well utilized and beautiful to watch. It is a fun and very entertaining and even charming movie that even has some classy feel to it which was so refreshing to witness. It is undoubtedly the finest entry in the franchise and I respect the filmmakers for managing to make such a good and fun fifth film in a mostly dull and weak series.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has its problems which are some typical action scenes, still boring Ethan Hunt, some too prolonged sequences and a weak villain, but it has such well executed action sequences, an excellent female character in Ilsa Faust and such a charming feel to it that it is undoubtedly the finest entry in the franchise which is so admirable and it is not just the only Mission Impossible film that is quite good, but also the only one that is immensely entertaining as well.

My Rating – 4

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