Call Me by Your Name (2017)

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Call Me by Your Name Movie Review

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 coming-of-age romance film directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. It’s a very overrated movie.

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We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things

faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty

and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.

But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!

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Call Me by Your Name Movie Review

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So the film is about a 17-year-old boy named Elio who enters a romantic relationship with Oliver who is much older than him. This all happens during the eighties in Northern Italy. Basically the film is your regular, old-fashioned romance but just with added gay characters. And by regular and traditional, I mean that it is very much an Oscar bait movie and an extreme case of it.

The film relies so much on its beautiful scenery for one. Another point is that it is sprawling, overlong and very deliberately paced. And of course you get those typical “artistic” and “weird” scenes such as the last scene as well as the peach scene which is more ridiculous than anything else. And also the titular scene annoyed me. Whenever it tried to be deep, the film failed miserably and was actually more funny than sophisticated.

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Call Me by Your Name Movie Review

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That is not to say that Call Me by Your Name is a bad film. It is perfectly solid but I expected greater things from it given all the hype that it received. It is in no way better than all the famous gay movies that came before it and even in 2017 we got a better gay film in ‘God’s Own Country’ in particular.

What I liked here is its first half which was deliberately paced but not boring, it was filled with good attention to detail and it chronicled their growing feelings and sexual confusion and repression so well. But the second half ruined all of that for me as it became very slow and boring plus it was never as romantic as it promised us.

So the two characters aren’t particularly likable to me personally, but the acting is undeniably phenomenal and the biggest reason to see the film. Armie Hammer is excellent here and very sensual and charismatic in the role. He was superbly cast here. Timothee Chalamet is also very strong in his first major role. He killed it and gave a very nuanced, complex and powerful performance which was deservedly Oscar nominated.

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Call Me by Your Name Movie Review

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Michael Stuhlbarg is also terrific and should have been nominated as well. He was superb and wonderful in that major scene where the father has a talk with his son about romance and life. That scene is honestly fantastic and the only truly deep, sophisticated part of this entire film. It stole the show for me and was perfect in every way.

Call Me by Your Name doesn’t state clearly enough that this is the eighties and that is why they are hiding their feelings. Some of the scenes here are very unrealistic and highly cliched for this type of film. The filmmakers made it seem too universal when in fact it is a very specific film. By that I mean that it is a film about two gay men living in 80s Northern Italy who are rich, artists and scientists and who have had very specific life experiences. Nothing about this film spoke to me as relatable or universal and that’s why I was distanced from it emotionally.

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Call Me by Your Name Movie Review

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There is no denying that the film is gorgeous to look at as the Italian scenery is lovely and some of the scenes are beautiful to behold and very well shot and constructed. The direction from Luca Guadagnino is also solid and the score is definitely very strong. I also really liked the tone of the film and some scenes are undeniably effective in what they are trying to accomplish. But some are silly and pretentious or even preposterous. The film is too slow to be enjoyed more and too much of an Oscar-bait made for gay people and especially women alone with no universality to it whatsoever. And it needed much more dialogue in it. These are smart people so why do we not hear them talk more??

Call Me by Your Name has undeniably gorgeous scenery, a strong first half, one very powerful scene and terrific performances from Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg. It’s a solid film. However, it’s far from great as it’s basically an extremely overrated and incredibly obvious Oscar-bait with too many silly, pretentious and even preposterous scenes, an extremely slow pace and a tendency to focus on scenery and sensuality instead of dialogue and true romance. Watching this film felt like watching a three-hour 80s Oscar-bait and it is just a very specific film with a very limited appeal.

My Rating – 3.5

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Three Billboards (2017)

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Three Billboards Movie Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a 2017 crime drama black-comedy film directed by Martin McDonagh and starring Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. It’s fantastic.

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Well, who the hell else would it be?

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Three Billboards Movie Review

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I expected great things from this film judging by the premise and those terrific trailers and for once I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the film exceeded my expectations and is in my opinion the best film of the year! It is that great and that important so let’s talk about it in length.

The plot is fantastic. This screenplay is very original and very well thought out with no flaws to the story whatsoever. The film is famous for having a lot of twists and turns and although none caught me by surprise too much as I know my movies, they were still phenomenally executed and made the film very exciting and entertaining. I rarely like crime films, but this one is so amazing that I ended up loving it. It is also a strong, moving drama and a terrific black comedy.

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Three Billboards Movie Review

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The character development is superb across the board as is the acting. Mildred is such a great character and one example why this film is so brilliant – I rooted for her at first and actually got her as I think I would react the same, but as the film went by, I started to question her actions and thought that she was going too far. That goes for the whole movie – you never know whether or not the actions are justified and that grey area presented here is like real life so the film is as real as they come.

Red Welby serves his purpose and Willoughby of course is the most likable person here and I really liked his character. Robbie is also quite realistic and likable. And of course Dixon is phenomenal as this racist, redneck, abusive policeman and one of the film’s highlights. Many accused the film for being racist when it comes to his character as he did not get his proper due, but that is a stupid argument and the film is just very realistic. It portrayed policemen as they are and most get away with their hatred. But I really liked his character growth or the beginning thereof.

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Three Billboards Movie Review

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Three Billboards is undoubtedly the best acted film of the entire year. There is just no question about it. It’s the ‘Fences’ of 2017. Everyone did a terrific job with Woody Harrelson stealing the show when it comes to supporting roles. He got a couple of moving moments and he sold them so well with a powerful, nuanced and believable performance.

But its two leads are the big reason why the film is amazing in the first place. Frances McDormand is simply superb. Always believable and nuanced and consistently enthralling, her character is fascinating because she acted the hell out of her. Whether scary and dangerous or heartbroken and confused, she sold all of it and gave what is arguably the best female performance of the year.

Sam Rockwell is just as strong and I did not expect that at all. At first I thought he was miscast and he definitely was miscast as he rarely plays this type of pig character, but his performance is so real and powerful that I ended up believing him in the end. And that is a testament of a great performance. He particularly sold those emotional scenes as well as the humorous one-liners.

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Three Billboards Movie Review

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Three Billboards is brilliantly edited and paced with never a single rushed or prolonged moment. The film is honestly incredibly engaging to watch and for me it just flew by. That’s how involved and invested in this story I was. And I have to congratulate Martin McDonagh who shamefully did not get his Oscar nomination. His direction is amazing. He not only directed all these phenomenal actors to give spectacular performances, but he also directed the whole movie to flow really well and to send its open questions and confusion to the audience successfully.

Speaking of the Oscars, the film received seven nominations but it honestly deserved more. The acting nods are all very much deserved as are the screenplay, editing and picture nods. Just the director nod is lacking unfortunately. As for its score nomination, it is earned of course but I have mixed feelings about the score. On the one hand, it doesn’t quite fit this film and the genre, but on the other hand, it is undeniably memorable and wonderfully old-fashioned in its feel. I also really liked the songs they used in the film.

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Three Billboards Movie Review

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One of the scene highlights is the ending which is one of the best film scenes of the entire year: it is moving, ambiguous and also very funny and emotionally rewarding. It’s a perfect conclusion to a great film. But I also loved the letters scenes as well as the hospital scene which is very emotional and simply beautiful.

Three Billboards is a very funny film which most people have also pointed out. It is mostly a crime drama, but sometimes the humor is pretty evident and the film uses its humorous tone to counteract the more serious scenes so well. It is tonally a very diverse film and thus is like real life – it can be tragic, sad, heartwarming, brutal, hilarious and serious. Its black comedy worked for me stupendously as it made me laugh more than a couple of times with the highlight being that Dixon’s line in the final scene. It’s a very smart, observational humor which I love.

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Three Billboards Movie Review

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The dialogue is stupendous as well. It is very much grounded in reality as is the whole film and it’s believable and sophisticated. The film is not only moving, but also thematically rich and it doesn’t give easy answers to its difficult questions. Life is messy and unforgiving and so is this film which has its many twists and crazy turns which to some may be off-putting but to me felt fresh and they gave edge to the film. I can see how some may dislike the film as it isn’t for everyone but for me it’s the year’s finest achievement.

Dark and violent yet also heartbreaking and sweet, dramatic and serious yet also very funny at times, Three Billboards is such a tonally diverse film which fires on all cylinders and succeeds both as a terrific crime drama as well as an effective black comedy. It is undoubtedly the best acted film of the year with the performances from Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell being the powerhouse standouts. It has a number of memorable scenes, it deals with complicated issues in a sophisticated manner and it’s superbly directed by Martin McDonagh while also being very well scored and brilliantly paced. Consequently, Three Billboards is the very best film of 2017.

My Rating – 5

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Justice League (2017)

Justice League Movie Review

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Justice League Movie Review

Justice League is a 2017 superhero film directed by Zack Snyder and starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot among others. It is a very flawed, but pretty solid team movie.

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What are your superpowers again?

I’m rich

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Justice League Movie Review

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As DCEU’s fifth film and the culmination of all previous ones, Justice League obviously still came out too early and once again it would have been a better choice to see most of these characters in their own solo films first as this way they are pretty underdeveloped.

The film is extremely simplistic for better and for worse. On the one hand, it is so simple that it doesn’t have any surprises to it which is quite troublesome and it plays too much like a regular comic-book or a simple video game storyline. But on the other hand, that led to a much better crafted and much more entertaining film than usual for the DCEU.

Let’s talk about the characters. I liked seeing the Amazons once again and especially seeing the Atlanteans was a lot of fun and those underwater sequences stole the show. Alfred is still boring, Martha serves her purpose and Lois Lane is somewhat dull here. Amy Adams is underutilized way too much.

As for Steppenwolf, he is a pretty bad villain. He was competent and menacing enough, but he looked ridiculous with bad CGI on his face and no motion to the face whatsoever. The lips also did not move too well. The character is your typical superhero bad guy who wants to conquer the world.

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Justice League Movie Review

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Batman is pretty good once again and I like Ben Affleck in the role even though I did not expect it. He had too many comedic moments here which doesn’t suit the character, but otherwise he was quite good. Superman obviously came back from the dead which was typical, but at least he was memorable and him unleashing power and beating up the rest of the team was one of the action highlights.

Wonder Woman is not as good as she was in her own movie, but she still did get a lot to do here and Gal Gadot is still quite charming in the role. As for the new characters, the highlight is Flash who is quite funny at times and should have been used much more. Ezra Miller was so well cast in this role. Cyborg has an interesting backstory, but is very underutilized unfortunately and overall forgettable. And Aquaman is your typical Jason Momoa character with some fun moments, but overall he’s forgettable.

Justice League has a very short runtime and it definitely needed more build up, but still we got here a couple of calmer moments and not every scene was an action scene which I appreciated. The scenes with the team members talking were the funniest and most impactful with some great lines of dialogue.

The film is definitely very comedic and too much like a Marvel film, but because it was at times quite funny, it worked and it brought a lot of charm and playfulness to the whole affair. The acting is mostly very good and I have to say that most of the action scenes are excellent and a lot of fun.

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Justice League Movie Review

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However, some are pretty bad and they reminded me too much of games. Couple that with very unfortunately visuals and you get a video game look here which is ridiculous for such a high budget. They poured so much money into this film and what we got is a video game movie with too many saturated colors in its third act (which is again bombastic and annoying in typical DCEU fashion) and too much use of CGI and a bad one at that. It truly was baffling to witness.

Justice League is baffling when it comes to its special effects. They poured enormous money into this production and the end result looks like a video game with too many saturated colors and an over-reliance on (bad) CGI. But it’s still a pretty solid team movie which is overly simplistic, but that also led to a much more entertaining than usual film. The villain is poor, but most of the action is a lot of fun, the humor is quite solid and in terms of characters Wonder Woman, Batman and especially Ezra Miller’s Flash stole the show.

My Rating – 3.5

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Lady Bird (2017)

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Lady Bird Movie Review

Lady Bird is a 2017 coming-of-age film directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saiorse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. It is a hugely overrated film.

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The only thing exciting about 2002 is that it’s a palindrome

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Lady Bird Movie Review

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The film basically follows the life of a 17-year-old girl and especially focuses on her turbulent relationship with her mother. Now I liked that relationship and it was very well done, but it was obviously the highlight of the film so they should have focused entirely on it as the rest could just never compete.

The rest of Lady Bird is your typical coming-of-age flick – she experiences her first sex, she is hanging out with her best friend, she is attending a theatre production and she is getting ready for university. All of those things are everyday things that most of us get through meaning that the film should be universal but it just wasn’t in my opinion.

It was meant just for teenage girls and those girls like Lady Bird herself which is why someone like me couldn’t possibly love this film. Its limited appeal hurt it in the long run. It was too detailed and it focused on all the uninteresting things such as theatre and complicated relationships with her friends and school life. The film just wasn’t deep enough, it was rushed and it never explored any of its themes properly.

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Lady Bird Movie Review

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The protagonist could be annoying at times, but overall she is a very well developed and utilized character. Kyle is quite boring and Danny’s problems are well explored but somehow his story felt like a detour and it wasn’t really needed here. Of course Marion is excellent and very realistic as this tough, complicated mother. As I said, their relationship steals the show and I wished that the film relied more on the two of them and it would have been much better.

I am not a fan of Saiorse Ronan if I am to be honest. However, I couldn’t deny that here she gave such a strong performance that she entirely deserved her Oscar nomination. Her performance in ‘Brooklyn’ is much inferior to this one. Some of her scenes are just wonderful to witness. And of course Laurie Metcalf also stole the show with her terrific, nuanced performance in an interesting role and she also deserved her nod.

Nonetheless, apart from those two nominations, the rest of its three nominations are ridiculous to me. Of course the Best Picture nomination is ludicrous as the film is just solid and so far from great that I do wonder why it got 99 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes when it is such a standard teen flick. But the screenplay nod is even worse as the film is quite weakly scripted and Greta Gerwig shouldn’t have been nominated as well.

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Lady Bird Movie Review

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I am a big fan of her as an actress, but as a director I’m not. Unfortunately she did not make a smooth transition and this film is quite clearly a work from the debut director. Her direction is very problematic as the film felt rushed and oddly paced and structured and her only strength is that she got two excellent performances from these two ladies, but other than that, the film is very weakly directed and when it was over, I asked for more as what I got was just not enough to deem it very good, let alone great.

Lady Bird features two terrific, deservedly Oscar nominated performances from Saiorse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf and the relationship between the two is so well realized and it steals the show here, but the rest of the film is uninteresting and your regular coming-of-age flick with nothing new to offer. The film is rushed and it thus doesn’t explore its themes to the fullest extent plus Greta Gerwig’s direction is not great. It’s a solid, but incredibly overrated film which is immensely inferior to much better and criminally underrated ‘The Edge of Seventeen’.

My Rating – 3.5

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Coco (2017)

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Coco Movie Review

Coco is a 2017 animated fantasy musical film directed by Lee Unkrich. It is a strong film from Pixar, but far from their best works.

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I thought I was related to a murderer!

You’re a total upgrade!

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Coco Movie Review

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I was tremendously excited for Coco and I have been looking forward to it for a very long time. It was actually one of my three most anticipated films for 2017. But unfortunately it ended up being a disappointment for me. The film is quite good, don’t get me wrong. But it is just not great and certainly not amazing. My expectations were too high I guess.

So it follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is transported to the land of the dead where he seeks help from his ancestor to return him back to the living world. The boy wants to be a musician, but his family disapproves. Now basically in that disapproving part I found it to be disappointing as I never really got why they opposed music so much. And I also found the first act somewhat lacking as it was too rushed and lacking in characterization.

The film definitely became much better in the second act and that second act is easily the highlight for me as the third one was overly emotional. I do realize now why so many people are getting frustrated with Pixar’s emotional manipulation. Coco isn’t manipulative, but certainly its last scene is overly sentimental. But I do think they somewhat earned that emotion, but not fully for sure.

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Coco Movie Review

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The second act is where the movie shines because it features wonderful fantasy and adventure elements and very memorable plot points. The twist itself I did see coming. I mean I didn’t predict it fully, but I did expect the darker turn and that obviousness was problematic for me. However, they still did the best they could with it and although somewhat soapy, it made the film very intriguing nonetheless.

Let’s talk about its characters. Miguel is very good and likable. He’s a standard, but still a good protagonist. Ernesto de la Cruz is very memorable and effective. Hector is easily the best character in the entire film as he is very well developed, immensely likable and the relationship between him and Miguel is fantastic. The grandmother is too strict, the parents are boring and of course Coco herself is a fantastic plot device. The film needed more characters and better characterization of the supporting players.

Coco is definitely a musical as it relies on music so much, but I have to say that it does that with mixed results. For a film which literally is about music, you would think that we would get a great soundtrack, but what we got was a pretty weak, forgettable soundtrack which is never, ever on par with Disney’s classics.

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Coco Movie Review

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La Llorona is the only song apart from the main one which is even remotely memorable as Everyone Knows Juanita, Un Poco Loco and all of the others are so forgettable that I already have forgotten them. They really needed stronger songwriters for this film.

Of course Remember Me is the standout song. It isn’t great, but it is pretty good with moving lyrics and I particularly liked how it was used so well in all those different sequences in different contexts. But I still had a problem with that approach as using mostly this one song meant that we got less of the other songs which was a giant problem the movie never overcame.

The animation is the best reason to see Coco in my opinion. It is phenomenal. It isn’t as inventive as ‘Inside Out’ was but it’s still very strong and particularly polished and colorful with a great use of many wonderful colors to accompany its Mexican setting so well. The colors of green, yellow and orange were the highlights. The character design is solid and I loved how the skeletons looked and moved.

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Coco Movie Review

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The world building is amazing and they created this whole world populated with the dead beautifully. That is actually the highlight of the film along with its animation – the mythology. I loved the concept of fading or second death after all living people forget you. That was a very powerful and sophisticated approach and I loved it. The film does deal with the theme of death so well and cleverly which is why its final emotional scene is not manipulative.

The voice acting is especially strong and emotionally evocative. The direction from Lee Unkrich is very good as well and the pacing of the film apart from its beginning is pretty good. The score is also very good, but not as great as the trailers promised me. The whole film is just never as fantastic as the trailers were leading to an eventual disappointment for me.

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Coco Movie Review

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Coco is a very good, but unfortunately disappointing film which is far from Pixar’s best works. The standout aspects are its world building which is amazing, its animation which is beautiful and pleasingly colorful and its mythology which has some very interesting concepts very well explored. The film explores death so well, it is sophisticated in that theme and it is particularly effective in the portrayal of Mexican culture and Día de los Muertos. The characterization is good and I particularly loved the second act with the fantasy adventure angle to it. But even though its emotional ending was somewhat earned, it was still too sentimental. The twist is also quite easy to predict. And its major problem is the soundtrack. Remember Me is definitely a good, well utilized song, but the rest of the songs are very weak and never at all comparable to the works of Disney. And when you have a film that is literally about music, you need to have a killer soundtrack which sadly isn’t the case with Coco.

My Rating – 4

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Wonder (2017)

Wonder Movie Review

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Wonder Movie Review

Wonder is a 2017 drama film directed by Stephen Chbosky and starring Jacob Tremblay and Julia Roberts. It is a very good, but overly sentimental film.

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Auggie can’t change how he looks.

Maybe we should change how we see

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Wonder Movie Review

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It follows a child who has Treacher Collins Syndrome and is trying to fit in school. In my opinion, this film is at first great and then it becomes very standard. The first half is fantastic and the second one is so typical. So let’s first talk about the first half.

I absolutely loved the first half of this film and for many reasons. One is that it was subtle and not too sentimental while always being very realistic and filled with a great attention to detail in its character interactions and their problems. But I particularly loved the choice to give us different points of view and the film goes from Auggie to his sister and best friend’s point of view as well. I loved that as it made the film very unique and different.

However, the second half ruined all that owing to its sudden shift into predictable, typical melodrama and sentimental drivel even. The death of a dog was too melodramatic and it did not need to happen as we already had a lot of drama in the family. But the biggest problem is that ridiculous ending which is overly inspirational, so clichéd and the entire film suffered from it which is unfortunate.

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Wonder Movie Review

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Some people with the same condition criticized it for being inspiration porn and I entirely agree with that. Basically the kid is being rewarded for just being himself and being different when he didn’t do anything worthy of an award. If they gave the award to his two friends, it would have been a different story, but in this manner the film became unfortunately clichéd and annoying.

Auggie is likable and well developed with Jacob Tremblay once again giving an excellent performance. Of course his performance in ‘Room’ is so much better, but here he is very good too and further proof that he is a major talent to be watched. I liked seeing Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson for a change as I haven’t seen them in a long time and they are great parents with Roberts in particular giving a strong performance.

The bullying angle is well explored although somewhat mild. Via is very well realized and I appreciated the film for giving us an insight into her problems. She is a neglected child for obvious reasons as they shifted almost their whole focus to Auggie and she suffered because of that. Very interesting and truthful. I also really liked her friend’s story. And Jack Will is such a wonderful soul and a great friend. The Minecraft scene is so fantastic, moving and utilizing on modern technology superbly that it’s one of 2017’s finest movie scenes.

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Wonder Movie Review

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Wonder is well directed, well paced and well structured. As I said, I loved its approach with different points of view and character spotlights. The acting is strong, the film is well shot and of course the make-up is terrific and deservedly Oscar-nominated. In the end, I liked Wonder quite a bit, but I do wish that it was subtler in execution and more sophisticated. It was too commercialized as evidenced by its incredibly large box office results.

Wonder features an outstanding first half and an unfortunate second one. The first half is so well acted, directed and structured with an original approach with more points of view and character spotlights. It features subtle filmmaking and heartwarming moments. However, the second half is the opposite – it becomes very unsubtle, too melodramatic and overly inspirational and sentimental in its ending. It’s a good film, but it could have been much better had it been less commercialized.

My Rating – 4

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The Florida Project (2017)

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The Florida Project Movie Review

The Florida Project is a 2017 indie drama film directed by Sean Baker and starring Brooklynn Prince. It is a very strong, deeply affecting movie.

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I can always tell when adults are about to cry

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The Florida Project Movie Review

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The film follows a 6-year-old girl named Moonee who is living in a motel with her problematic mother near Walt Disney World as they are trying to make ends meet. Finally America made a film about poverty as they quite rarely do that subject matter. The movie showcases so well the hypocrisy of modern America – as rich people with their rich children enjoy their time in Walt Disney World, struggling Latinos, single mothers etc. live in a motel nearby in great poverty.

The Florida Project is not in my top ten movies for 2017. It is close, but not in the top ten for one reason alone and that is its overly detailed approach. Sean Baker did not need to show us everything the kids and their parents do and certainly the middle parts can be a bit boring. The film did not need to have a two-hour runtime as an hour and a half was just enough. That was a big mistake and thus the pacing suffered a bit.

But the movie is still so good that it renders those flaws unimportant. Some scenes in the beginning reminded me of my childhood and I connected with these kids on a personal level. It shows us how poor kids can be just as happy as the rich ones and even happier as without electronics they are bound to go outside, play and explore their surroundings. The film portrayed rebellious, bratty children so well and all of the bad things they did rang true for me as I knew kids like that when I was younger.

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The Florida Project Movie Review

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The characters are very grounded in reality and well developed. Halley is definitely problematic with drugs and her prostitution, but she obviously cares for her child as evidenced by the lovely playtimes that they share. That’s why that ending was so impactful.

Speaking of the ending, of course it stole the show. Moonee arrives to say goodbye to her friend and cries and cries but she takes her hand and the two run and run fast, they come to Walt Disney World and enter for the first time. This kind of ending is perfect. It is deeply emotional and heartbreaking, but also fantastical and unrealistic in a way making it a very cinematic conclusion which I loved.

But back to the characters now. Ashley is memorable and Bobby is very well developed, but I found Willem Dafoe’s performance very overrated. He’s good, but not Oscar-worthy. Moonee is of course terrific and Brooklynn Prince gave one of the year’s finest female performances and she should have been Oscar nominated for this great role. Stacey and Scooty are great and the film is at its best when it shows us the kids playing and sharing ice cream with each other. Those scenes are beyond heartwarming. The film surely does understand children.

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The Florida Project Movie Review

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The Florida Project is weakly paced and edited, but definitely well scored and also very well shot. I found the dialogue believable as well as the characters. The story is in the end too detailed, but highly memorable and very emotionally rewarding. It is such a touching film.

The Florida Project is overly detailed in its characters’ activities and its two-hour runtime was excessive and thus some of the middle parts were a bit boring. However, the film manages to transcend those flaws thanks in large part to its evident understanding of children and their behavior with most of their scenes being heartwarming. The central performance from Brooklynn Prince is outstanding and that ending is so heartbreaking and ultimately wonderfully fantastical and cinematic that it’s one of the best and most unforgettable movie scenes of 2017.

My Rating – 4.5

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God’s Own Country (2017)

God's Own Country Movie Review

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God’s Own Country Movie Review

God’s Own Country is a 2017 British drama film directed by Francis Lee and starring Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu. It is a very strong, effective film.

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I want us to be together

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God's Own Country Movie Review

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It follows a young sheep farmer in Yorkshire who is lonely and thus drinks a lot and has casual meaningless sex. But when a Romanian migrant worker arrives, the two start a relationship and he has to change in order to stay with him. Now apparently this story is familiar and I’ve seen similar films before which is why this one never felt original in most ways.

But it was still effective emotionally speaking because it is so well acted and nuanced in its execution. I definitely craved for more dialogue because I am a dialogue-driven person, but still the calmer, mostly wordless approach worked as the film is meticulous in detail, subtle in its facial expressions and very sophisticated that you do understand everything that is going on between these two without them speaking too much.

Marin and Deidre serve their purpose and are very good, but this is the movie that mostly centers just on its two protagonists. I found both Johnny and Gheorghe to be somewhat typical characters and not all that unique, but their relationship is so well developed, so realistic and even deep that they ended up being very interesting to watch.

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God's Own Country Movie Review

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Alec Secareanu is definitely terrific in his role and very nuanced, but I found Josh O’Connor to be the better of the two and basically the focus of the film is mostly on him. He gave a powerful, very underrated performance that is grounded and complex.

God’s Own Country is a country film and thus it has its gruesome scenes. It’s a very interesting film that manages to be both disgusting and beautiful at the same time. The best example of that is when Gheorghe skins the dead lamb and puts the wool on another live lamb to make it warm. The scene is at first overly disgusting and just horrible to watch but then it quickly becomes sweet and simply beautiful. Very weird and I guess it worked as life can be both wonderful and cruel.

But still those animal birth, skinning etc. scenes were too much for me and they did not need to be that detailed. The same goes for the sex scenes. They are mostly too raw, coarse and unromantic but I guess that was the point – to show us how rednecks have sex. That made the film very realistic. That’s how I would describe it best – a realistic, but sometimes too detailed film.

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God's Own Country Movie Review

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The film definitely showcases what’s it like being a gay person in a small village and it did that in a very subtle manner which I appreciated. The highlights are the romantic moments between the two and the final conversation which is moving. The script is sophisticated and the pacing is very good. The direction from Francis Lee is absolutely superb and for a debut he did a remarkable job and is probably the most promising new director of 2017.

God’s Own Country is too crude and raw at times with some of the animal scenes being too disgusting, but that definitely made the film very realistic. I like more dialogue in a film, but still this calmer, mostly wordless approach worked very well here as the performances from both actors are terrific and their interactions are nuanced and thus you understand everything that is going on without them speaking too much. The film is very well scripted but so superbly directed by Francis Lee in one terrific directorial debut.

My Rating – 4

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The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

The Castle of Cagliostro is a 1979 anime heist film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is pretty solid and admirable as the director’s feature debut.

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Lupin! Don’t you dare die before I get to arrest you!

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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It follows a gentleman thief named Arsene Lupin III who heads to the small country of Cagliostro and there he attempts to save the princess from forced marriage. This is a very classical, old-fashioned heist flick with comedy, romance and mystery overtones to it. I definitely liked its charming, old-fashioned approach, but I also disliked its overwhelming action.

The film is the best at being a mystery as the exploration of the castle and such scenes are very interesting. The romantic scenes are also fine and the heist action scenes are mostly really well done. But still the chases and fights went on for too long and the movie surely needed a more sophisticated, calmer approach.

The characterization is solid albeit far from great. Arsene Lupin III is a pretty good protagonist. He is fun and amusing, but not particularly likable and overly cocky for my liking. Lady Clarisse is a typical love interest meaning that she is just there to be Lupin’s girlfriend. She’s charming, but a weak female character nonetheless. Others are solid and the villains are competent, but none of them stand out from the crowd in any particular fashion. The voice acting is terrific though.

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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The Castle of Cagliostro features animation that most would deem dated nowadays, but for its time it was terrific. This 1979 animation is not as polished and is sometimes too crude, but the character design is solid and some of the backgrounds are very nice. The interiors and the castle are particularly beautiful and some of the film’s imagery truly is arresting. That intriguing imagery definitely helps the plot and mystery a lot in the process.

I found the pacing weak as the film is overly quick and rushed in pace with way too many action sequences. Most of the action is solid and fun, but some of it is overlong and also goofy. The humor definitely is not the strongest and the film is too comedic in my opinion and a more dramatic approach would have been more fitting for this type of film.

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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The dialogue is pretty good and the film has its memorable scenes such as that moving ending and all of the scenes in the castle which are the most memorable parts of the flick. The film lacks any themes or message and is thus far from Miyazaki’s later efforts when it comes to sophistication, emotion and also world building. This film does explore and execute its charming setting superbly, but is definitely confined in space. Overall, I liked the film, but it is just solid and never great. For a debut, it is nonetheless very strong and it proved promising.

The Castle of Cagliostro lacks thematically speaking, the characterization is solid but not great and the film has overwhelming action in it, but it is overall a pretty solid feature debut for Hayao Miyazaki with memorable imagery and an interesting story with a fun heist angle to it with comedic, romantic and mystery elements also thrown into the mix.

My Rating – 3.5

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Black Water (2007)

Black Water Movie Review

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Black Water Movie Review

Black Water is a 2007 horror film set in Australia. It’s a very solid crocodile horror film which is definitely worth seeing for horror enthusiasts.

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I’ll be back.

That’s what he said

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Black Water Movie Review

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It is set in the mangrove swamps of northern Australia where Grace, her sister and husband are going on a swamp tour. Suddenly, a crocodile attacks them, kills their guide and it is up to the three of them to survive. The story is of course slight, but it works as everything we need is the crocodile and this awesome swamp setting which I absolutely loved.

The characterization is of course the problem as I did not care for either of them and I found them uninteresting and poorly developed. Adam is forgettable and Lee is heroic and likable, but in terms of acting Diana Glenn as Grace easily gave the finest performance with the other two being weak.

The film isn’t scary enough and it’s somewhat slow. However, it benefits from a couple of definitely fantastic scenes such as the entire ending which is so well done and hugely entertaining. The highlight for me was the scene in which the crocodile jumped from the water which was unexpected and a great jump scare so well executed.

They made use of this setting so well and I really liked how the film was shot. Some of the low shots are very effective in building the tension. I wanted more action and much more exploration of the swamp, but still the more grounded approach paid off in terms of realism.

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Black Water Movie Review

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Black Water is admirable for using so little CGI in it which I respected a lot. The crocodile is real and the dead bodies are practical effects. That’s why the film felt realistic and the crocodile is in particular very memorable and such a great, menacing villain.

It’s a shame we did not see more of him, but that approach with less instead of more is classic horror which is interesting. The shots of the croc emerging from the water all stole the show here. And of course the scene where you can hear him eating and crushing the human bones was so creepy.

Black Water needed more scares and the characterization is poor with the acting also being weak. But it’s still a pretty solid croc attack film with a couple of very creepy, so well executed sequences, a great use of its interesting setting and an admirable approach with less action, more realistic scenarios and no use of CGI whatsoever.

My Rating – 3.5

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