Quote of the Week

“A film is – or should be- more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”       — Stanley Kubrick

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Quote of the Week

“TV shows and movies are a rare form of atemporality, and in an ever-changing, always on world, spoilers feel irrefutable – sheer access to them gives the illusion of control.”   —Jenna Wortham

Wonder Woman Movie Review

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I’m baaaack! Well temporarily for now, but back nonetheless. To kickoff my return, let’s dive straight into a review. Today I’ll be discussing the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. Here’s the thing, I know it came out a few months ago. But I’ve already reviewed even older things on this blog, so why not this movie.

With that said, for those unaware, Wonder Woman is a movie about the comic book hero Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince. If you’ve been on this blog before, then you probably know that growing up, I was a big comic book fan. So I was already familiar with Wonder Woman. While she wasn’t my favourite superhero, I did always have a soft spot for her. It always felt really nice to be able to look up at a girl comic book hero who actually had powers of her own accord. There’s nearly not enough representation of strong women with powers in media. But I digress, let’s get into the movie.

I was actually really excited to see this movie because it was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. However, at the same time, my expectations weren’t that high. Wonder Woman often had the tendency to be sexualized and as a young girl, it wasn’t something I was super fond of. I mean her outfit itself speaks to this. But I figured that since a woman was directing it, this element wouldn’t be as noticeable. And to my great delight, I was right!

Basically, the movie sort of functions as an origin series/ introduction to Wonder Woman. The daughter of Greek God Zeus and Hippolyta (played by Connie Neilsen), young Diana (wonder woman), grows up on the all-women island of Themyscira with the Amazons. The Amazons, it is explained, were originally created to protect man-kind. When one of Zeus’s children, Ares, the God of War, got jealous of humankind, he tried to destroy them. The Greek Gods and Amazons all fought back against Ares. Ares managed to kill all of them, except Zeus, who managed in his dying moments to defeat him and gave the Amazons their island and a secret ‘God-Killer.” The idea was that Ares would return to destroy mankind against one day and only the “God-killer” could destroy him. Diana sees this “God-killer” sword and hears of this story and becomes determined to train, to be able to defeat Ares when he returns. Although her mother objects at first, she is eventually won over by her sister, Antiope (played by Robin Wright) and Diana commences her training.

Meanwhile, on the run from Nazi’s, UK WWII spy Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), manages to somehow break into Themyscira. Diana, now an adult (played by Gal Gadot), rescues him. However, Steve also inadvertently leads the Nazi’s to Themyscira and a battle between begins between them and the Amazons.  Of course the Amazon’s end up winning, but at the cost of Antiope and other Amazon’s deaths. After the battle ends, Steve fills in Diana and the others of WWII. Diana is incredibly surprised at this (the Amazons were isolated from the rest of the world) and convinced that Ares is behind it. Hence, she grabs the “God-Killer,” determined to defeat Ares and end WWII and escapes with Steve to meet the rest of mankind.

The rest of the film deals with her adventures in meeting and discovering the rest of man-kind and her journey to deal with Ares.

There were a number of things I liked about this film. First off, the costumes for the Amazons. One of my biggest issues with Wonder Woman has always been her costume — it reveals far too much skin and seems so impractical to move in. In other words, it’s incredibly unrealistic. However, the movie sort of rectifies this. While the costumes still show skin, they also seemed a lot more sturdy. Plus the costumes didn’t really function as the main point of scenes. In other words, when the Amazon’s did their stunts, the costumes didn’t distract the viewer from seeing their amazing fighting abilities. A thing I’m sure had to do with the fact that a woman directed the movie.

Secondly, I really liked how it was so obvious that Diana was the hero in this film. She had the cool powers, she did the amazing stunts and she ended up saving the world. I don’t know, I just thought it was so cool how it was so in-your-face that Diana was the hero. She was the main star and main lead. Maybe I’ve been watching too many male-oriented films or I need to watch different movies, but I’ve become so used to seeing men as the heros of films with the women relegated to being the side characters. But in this movie, Wonder Woman was front and centre with Steve being her supporting side character. It was a nice change and felt good to see.

Which brings me to the acting. When Gal Gadot was initially announced as Wonder Woman, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I had only seen her in the previous Fast and Furious movies and her small cameo in Batman vs. Superman. She was pretty enough but I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her as Wonder Woman. However, she completely won me over. Gal was so incredibly charming. She imbued within Wonder Woman the right amount of innocence and determination. It was just so easy to root for her and like her. Same with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. However, that was to be expected. For some reason, I always end up adoring Chris Pine in whatever character he does, even if I don’t want to. I remember hating the idea of his character in Princess Diaries 2 (because I was a devout lover of those books) but then being completely on-board with him later on. The exact same thing happened with him as as James Kirk in Star Trek. Even in The Finest Hours, while I found his character a little annoying, I couldn’t help but be charmed by him. There’s just something about him that gets me every time and this time was no exception. However, I was surprised by how much I liked Robin Wright. I generally have tended to not like her —  I think it’s a side effect of being introduced to her in The Princess Bride where her character was unlikeable. However, I really enjoyed her as Antiope. Plus her fighting scenes were incredible!

Which on that note, is another thumbs up. The fighting scenes in this movie were incredible — especially the ones with the Amazons. There was no random focusing on the women’s bodies as they fought or anything. It was just pure fighting without any sort of sexual element and it was fantastic! I loved watching those scenes so much!

However, there were also things I didn’t like about the movie, namely the 3rd part of it. Prior to watching, I had read a lot of reviews that said that the 3rd act of the movie brought it down. However, I figured that those comments were just by non-fans or people who love to criticize popular things and/or subject to a bandwagon effect. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The 3rd act was really weird and did bring down the whole movie. While I can sort of forgive the Ares cop-out, the entire battle between Ares and Diana was so weird. Just stuff flying around? And some hand to hand combat? But more flying? I don’t know what I expected, but it really wasn’t that. Plus, Steve’s sacrifice at the end was so horrible! It basically ruined my mood. In general, there was just so much happening in the 3rd act that it got a little hard to focus. It definitely ended up bringing down the movie a lot.

My rating: Watch it to enjoy another comic book hero origin stories, or to see Chris Pine charm the socks off you but don’t expect to be completely thrilled.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

spider-man-homecoming-posterWhen I was growing up, superhero films weren’t really a big thing. Superheros mostly existed on tv shows or within comics. Other than the iconic Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve, I don’t really remember seeing any other big superhero films. However, this changed with the advent of the 2002 Spider- Man movie starring Tobey Maguire. As a kid, it was a formative movie and changed my life in two ways: 1. It kickstarted my interest in comics and 2. It caused me to form a soft spot for spiderman. With hindsight, I recognize that the movie had some faults (it’s so over the top and the MJ storyline is weird), but I still think it’s a fantastic adaption. It just has so much heart. So when the 2012 movie came out, I was game. It was a good adaption, and I particularly liked the direction the director/writers went with Peter’s character. However, I felt that Andrew Garfield looked a bit too old and I didn’t feel “wowed” by it, like I was by the 2002 movie. Similarly, when Spider-Man:Homecoming was announced, with Tom Holland as Spiderman, thereby making Spiderman younger (his actual age in the comics initially), I was intrigued as well. I watched the movie last weekend and I gotta say, I was quite impressed and felt a review was due.

Unlike the previous spiderman movies, this one doesn’t really go into Spiderman’s origin story. There’s no big spider-biting-Peter scene or anything. Instead, the movie picks up near the ending scene of Captain America: Civil War. We don’t really see the fight scene again; rather we see Peter’s reactions as he is first taken to Germany, his feelings before the fight, his journey home, etc. (Peter makes a sort of home movie LOL). Afterwards, Peter neglects school in an attempt to be a superhero — moonlighting as a vigilante. It it through his vigilantism that he first notices the activity of the Vulture and his team, who use leftover Chitauri technology to create insane guns to sell to people. He attempts to tell Tony Stark, but Stark brushes him off. So spiderman then attempts to fight Vulture’s sidekicks, but ends up almost drowning until the spiderman suit Stark gave him saves him. Tony warns Peter to stop moonlighting as a vigilante and start acting like the high school student he is. Of course Peter ignores him and continues on. The rest of the movie deals with the Vulture conflict.

Here’s the thing, this movie is very different from its predecessors (can you even call them that?). Firstly, as mentioned, there’s no mention of spiderman’s transformation (aside from when Ned asks and Peter quickly explains). Secondly, there’s a few pivotal spiderman characters missing — namely Harry Osborn and Mary Jane. There do exist some characters who occupy their roles (i.e. Peter’s best friend and love interest), but they don’t have their typical characterization. For example, Ned (played by Jacob Batalan), who is Peter’s best friend, isn’t some super rich dude and instead is incredibly smart — functioning as Peter’s “guy in the chair”. Similarly, MJ’s character is taken for an entirely new spin with Zendaya playing Michelle Jones (MJ), an observant, activist, unpopular smart girl. On the same note, some of the characteristics for other known characters change, such as Flash. Instead of being the physical bully, Flash Thompson (played by Tony Revolori), is a social-media bully, who bullies Peter for being a dork/ nerd and shows off his wealth.

Which brings me to another point — how relatable the movie felt. Of course superheros don’t exist and genetically modified spiders don’t go around biting people and changing them. However, there was an element of realness in the movie. It was present in the humor — the jokes the characters would make and the things they would talk about (i.e. Peter and Ned were really into Star Wars and superheros). It was present in the characterizations of the characters — a social media bully is far more likely and actually prevalent today than a physical bully, plus it’s easy to imagine activist and “woke” girls like MJ existing. It was present in the diversity among the cast — where white people mixed with black people and spanish people and asian people. It looked and felt like a real high school.

On that note, the acting was pretty good in this movie as well. Tom Holland was pretty good in making spiderman likeable. The supporting cast, Jacob Batalan, Tony Revolori, Zendaya and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, were great as well. However, the stand out actor for me in this movie, was probably Michael Keaton. Fair warning, I might be a little biased when it comes to Michael Keaton because his Batman movies are among my favourites. However, he was just fantastic in this role. Here’s the thing, you know that spiderman isn’t going to die in any movie adaption — it just doesn’t happen. So the threat of anything very serious (like death) happening to spiderman isn’t really real. Yet, when Michael Keaton was onscreen, particularly in the car scene where he realized that Peter was Spiderman, you felt real terror for Peter. You, as the audience, were terrified for Peter, despite knowing that nothing absolutely terrible would happen to him. This was because Michael Keaton was able to imbue his character with a menacing nature that genuinely terrified. Plus, his character was also understandable, to an extent. When Adrian Tooms/ Vulture talked about how the rich only get richer or about how poor people always suffer, you could see his point. He wasn’t some two dimension villain (which by the way, are totally fine as well), despite the fact that he was indeed a killer. To me, that’s the mark of a fantastic actor — one who makes you forget the constrains of the script.

Speaking of which, I actually liked the small community aspect of this movie. Not only did it speak to spiderman literally being the “friendly neighbourhood spiderman,” but it was also a good break from the big Marvel superhero movies. There were no high stakes, or too many characters crowding out the scenes. It was literally just spiderman and his problems, which included navigating through being a student and a hero, dealing with a criminal, and learning to be spiderman. Of course there were a few scenes with Tony Stark, but mercifully, they were limited so the viewer did not get the chance to tire of Stark.

All that said, there were some negatives for the movie as well. One that particularly stood out to me, was the emotional aspect. While the movie was relatable and funny, its emotional scenes did not have the impact I suspect the director wanted. For example, there’s a scene where Peter is crushed by steel beams and attempting to save himself without the spiderman suit Tony Stark gave him. Peter cries, yells for help until ultimately taking all of strength and belief in self to rescue himself (there’s this cool shot of Peter’s face mixed with the reflection of the spiderman mask in a pool of water).  It’s supposed to be a big moment — the moment where Peter realizes that he’s not just “a guy in a suit” (LOL). However, it didn’t feel like that. It just felt like any other sort of scene — the heart was missing. Similarly, the acting/ storylines were a bit uninspiring at times. For example, Laura Harrier as Liz Allen was just so boring. It made no sense why she liked Peter plus Harrier’s acting left a lot to be desired. Additionally, I’m not quite sure what the makers plan to do with MJ’s storyline. I’m wary that they’ll pull the whole geeky-girl-transforms-into-beauty with her. However, this is speculation on my part so not a real negative. Yet, even with the real negatives, the positives for the film completely outweigh them.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a fun summer movie about spiderman and high school kids.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story Movie Review

47980728Movies about depression are always iffy for me. A lot of the time, I either find them too optimistic or I find them too dramatic. Maybe I haven’t seen enough of them. That’s why I was a little hesitant to begin It’s Kind of a Funny Story, as I didn’t want to be disappointed.

Basically, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (IKoaFS), is about high school teenager Craig (played by Keir Gilchrist) who checks himself into the psych ward due to his fear of him committing suicide. However, the teen ward is closed for renovations, so he is instead admitted to the adult psych ward. In the adult psych ward, he meets with a number of people and forms bonds with them. There’s his mentor, dealing with his own problems, Bobby (played by Zach Galifianakis), the nice and pretty Noelle who struggles with self-harm (played by Emma Roberts), his bed-ridden roommate Muqtata (played by Bernard White), and his psychiatrist Dr. Minerva (played by Viola Davis). Craig stays in the ward for about a week and the film deals with his life. Although, the supporting characters do get some great work to do, particularly Bobby.

What I liked about the film, was how relatable Craig was. Craig was an incredibly anxious, stressed out, depressed and suicidal teenager. He felt like an outsider among his peers, his friends, and even with his family. The pressure of performing well in school, of thinking of about his future in terms of academics, or even asking out a girl, all seemed to mount on him, until he had difficulty coping. Although I’m not a teenager anymore, I could definitely relate to Craig. In fact, a couple of times, I had to do a double take because some of the things he said/ thought actually reminded me of when I was still in school. He feels like an incredibly realistic character.

I also really enjoyed the take on depression this movie had. Although Craig’s story-line left a lot to be desired, I liked how it was contrasted with others. Craig’s storyline actually slightly related to one of my annoyances about movies about depression. Craig stayed in the psychiatric ward for a total of five days and left the facility feeling happier and less depressed than before. According to his final voiceover, it taught him a lot about his life, about the things he had that he could look forward too. While it’s a good message, I also felt that it was a tad too optimistic. I wish the movie had maybe pointed out how his meds were also a reason why he felt better (it was implied slightly), rather than him just learning to be appreciative for the things he had in life.

That said, the other takes on depression in this film were fantastic. One of them was Craig’s roommate Muqtata. Although we weren’t ever given a backstory for Muqtata, he spent most of his time at the facility in bed. He was too depressed to even get out of bed. He did attempt to walk out of his room, once or twice. However, he’d always lose his nerve and go back to bed. It was only through Craig’s interference (he brought music that Muqtata liked), that Muqtata finally found something to get him out of his bed/ room. I thought it was nice of the writers to show how depression effects people differently. In Craig’s case, it manifested as anxiety and eventually evolved to fuel his suicidal tendencies. With Muqtata, on the other hand, it manifested as a debilitating melancholy that made it difficult for him to even get out of bed.

The other take on depression, was Craig’s mentor, Bobby. Like Muqtata, we weren’t given a backstory for Bobby. However, we did see the effect Bobby’s depression had on his family, the depth of his depression, and his struggle to get better. In fact, I think Bobby’s story was actually the most emotional of them all (it probably also helps that Zach Galifianakis acted really well). Despite Bobby’s easygoing demeanour and his attempts to help Craig with his depression, Bobby himself suffered keenly from depression; having attempted to commit suicide six times before. We were also shown the struggles Bobby went through, with finding housing after his release from the facility, with finding a job to support himself, and with his wife’s constant belittling of him and attempts at eliminating his daughter’s relationship with him. It’s an incredibly depressing, but also realistic look at the way depression can really seem to take over your life. It’s not just about dealing with it in facilities, it also affects your everyday life. Plus, it doesn’t always end with a happy ending. In one of my favourite moments, during Craig’s last night at the facility, he throws a pizza party for everyone. Bobby refrains from participating, despite the fact that he is also being released the next day. The audience is shown that Bobby was unsuccessful in landing a job and securing housing. Although it isn’t necessarily spelled out or even explicit, the next morning, when Craig asks for Bobby (just to see him one last time), it’s implied that Bobby killed himself. Although it’s incredibly sad, the movie handles it really well, just hinting at it and showing how depression isn’t just a simple issue; its complex.

On that note, the movie does have some unlikeable elements. There’s this semi-love-triangle thing that happens between Craig, Noelle, and Craig’s former crush, Nia. Although thankfully this story-line isn’t stretched too far, I also felt it was sort of unnecessary? I just wasn’t a fan and didn’t see its need. I’e already mentioned how I didn’t like how the movie was seemingly so optimistic towards depression recovery. It only hints at struggles (through Bobby for example) rather than providing an in depth look at them. I also thought it was a little odd how Craig seemed to be so incredibly talented at drawing and singing when he claimed to not be. It wasn’t bad per se, but just odd. Actually, while talking about that, I liked the animations in the movie when depicting Craig’s maps. I thought they were cool.

Anyways, moving onto the acting. If it’s not clear, the acting was pretty good across the board. All the actors were believable. I’d say a special mention probably goes to Zach Galifianakis, just because of how great his Bobby was. But then again, he is a good actor; it just gets hard to remember that because of how many comedies he chooses to do. Also, I think props also go to Keir Gilchrist who makes Craig so relatable. I haven’t really seen him in other things before, but he was really good in the movie and managed to carry most of it on his shoulders. Similarly, directing was great as well. Also, this is probably not the best place to mention it (my bad in not planning out this review better), but this movie was actually based upon the book of the same name, written by Ned Vizzini, who actually spent a few days in a psychiatric facility. So it’s actually semi-autobiographical I believe. Unfortunately, Ned died in 2013 after his own intense battle with depression.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a light but good look at the way depression can manifest itself differently in people, but don’t expect to be blown away.

The Wave Movie Review

92a84ca10642fc94a905a44af57a1c8eI feel like everyone likes a good disaster movie. In my experience, it’s been the single type of film that people watch without fussing. So when my family sat down to do a movie night and I recognized The Wave, after hearing good things about it, I figured it would be a good bet. And, turned out, it was. So let’s get into the review.

In essence, The Wave is about just that, a huge tsunami wave in Norway. Apparently, the Akernes crevasse is due for an avalanche sometime soon, and it is expected that this avalanche will trigger a huge tsunami wave. This wave is expected to hit a few closeby cities, such as Geiranger, where this movie takes place. This event actually hasn’t happened yet, so this movie is sort of a guess as to how it will happen/ what it’ll be like.

Anyways, the movie focuses on geologist Kristian (played by Kristoffer Joner). After working in Geiranger, on the Akernes crevasse for years, he decides to take a job in Stavanger, Norway and move his family. His wife Idun (played by Ane Dahl Torp) seems to be the only one excited, as Kristian, his son Sondre (played by Hoff Oftebro) and young daughter Julia (played by Edith Haagenrud-Sande), are not as happy. During his retirement party, some of the sensors monitoring the crevasse show groundwater disappearing. Kristian is worried but his coworkers (who are all also working on the crevasse), assure him that everything is fine and that he can leave free of worry. However, Kristian is still worried and feels that the groundwater disappearing is the beginning sign of the avalanche. While driving to the ferry with his kids to go to Stavanger, he has an epiphany and instead drives to his old workplace. There, he explains his theory of how groundwater doesn’t disappear and how instead it’s moving through the rocks. Which also implies that the rocks themselves are shifting and thereby an avalanche is upcoming. His coworkers refuse to believe him but he flies to the crevasse with a coworker, and it turns out that their wires have broken. By this time, Kristian is convinced that the avalanche is coming, along with a tsunami, and that the town must be evacuated. His boss, Arvid (played by Fridtjov Saheim), is not as convinced, although he agrees to closely monitor the mountain 24/7.

Meanwhile, after getting tired of waiting for their father, his kids call their mother. Idun has a few days of work left (she works in a hotel), so she didn’t leave for the ferry with them. When she finds out that Kristian never took the ferry and instead is at his old workplace, she is angry and has the kids come to the hotel she works at. When Kristian arrives at the hotel, Idun and Sondre are still quite angry at him and decide to stay overnight in the hotel, instead of going back to their house. His daughter Julia, however, agrees to go back to their old empty home with him and spend one last night there. As Julia sleeps during the night, Sondre feels bored and wanders to the hotel basement to skateboard and puts on his headphones. During the night, Arvid and another coworker sense some problems with the sensors and go to the crevasse. Over there, the rocks begin shifting, thereby signifying that the tsunami is nigh. Similarly, after doing further research, Kristian also realizes this and quickly calls his coworkers to let them know. During this time, Arvid actually ends up dying because of the shifting rocks and one of their coworkers finally sounds out the tsunami alarm. At first, the people of Geiranger are confused, but then they quickly start evacuating and attempting to get to high ground. However, at the hotel, because of his headphones, Sondre doesn’t hear the alarm and does not show up at the hotel evacuation bus. Idun gets worried and leaves the bus to look for him in the hotel. Kristian also realizes that his wife and son are in danger, so after securing Julia’s safety, he goes to rescue them. The rest of the movie deals with their survival.

The movie itself is actually quite interesting and has fantastic visuals. Norway is an absolutely beautiful place and the movie definitely takes advantage of this by adding in some great landscape shots. Similarly, the tsunami is filmed in a decent manner as well. It’s not the imposing and impressive display that was in The Impossible, but it is decent and enjoyable enough. That said, I would’ve probably liked some more scenes of destruction, but that’s just my personal opinion and doesn’t really reflect badly on the movie.

Additionally, coming to the acting, it was decent as well. Kristoffer Joner is a fantastic actor and I actually have seen him in some other things, so I wasn’t too surprised. A large portion of the movie focuses on him and he manages to hold the audience’s attention. Ane Dahl Torp was also quite good as Idun. The only actor I was iffy about, was Hoff Oftebro, and I think it might have something to do with his character.

On that note, I thought Sondre’s character was SO unlikeable. Seriously. First he’s upset with his dad for moving them across the country. Which okay, makes sense. But still, Julia was so much younger and she acted more mature than him. Secondly, it was because of his idiotic need to skateboard with headphones that his mother and some guests missed the bus. In fact, he’s actually indirectly responsible for the death of around 3 (or even more if you count the hotel guests who had to wait for him initially) people. On top of that, he is just so whiny when it comes to survival. His parents have to literally coax him to hold on for a little longer and his father almost dies trying to rescue him. The only redeeming scene he has I guess, is when he saves his father. But even that is marred for me by the fact that the reason his father basically died was because he gave his oxygen to Sondre. I just found him so unlikeable and annoying. I think part of the reason why was because of Hoff Oftebro. Sondre’s actions would’ve been more palatable if he was around 12 years of age or so. However, Hoff looks like he’s around 18 and so instead of feeling sympathy for his character, I just felt annoyed. Like grow up man. Plus, Hoff just looked snobby and whiny through the movie that I had a difficult time connecting with his character. Honestly, he was probably the worst part of the movie for me.

My rating: watch it to enjoy a decent disaster film and to enjoy Norway’s great visuals.

Comet Movie Review

comet-movie-poster-2014-1020771449I first heard of the movie Comet in 2015 and I was immediately hooked. The trailer, music, mood, cinematography all seemed so intriguing. Unfortunately, it was not playing at any theatres near me, and nor could I find it online. Hence I assumed that it would fall into the ‘movies I might watch years later’ category, like Proof did. My assumption was right, but I was off by the number of years, as I was able to watch it just three years after it was first released.

Comet is about two individuals, pessimistic, anxious, super-smart Dell (played by Justin Long) and his girlfriend Kimberly (played by Emmy Rossum). The opening scene alleges that this movie takes place over six years in parallel universes. As such, we’re treated to five different scenes of Dell and Kimberly. Among them, are when they first met, which was during a comet shower where Kimberly saved Dell’s life and Dell managed to talk/ distract Kimberly from her date and convince her into going out with him. We also get their “reunion” scene on a train where they presumably get back together after breaking things off, preventing Kimberly from getting with a new guy. There’s also a scene of them breaking up in Paris, where Dell is attempting to propose while Kimberly talks about her dissatisfaction with their relationship and breaks up with him. Similarly, there’s another break-up scene where Dell is in Los Angeles and Kimberly is in New York and the two are on a phone call where it is revealed that Kimberly’s been texting an old flame (the guy she was seeing during the train sequence) and Dell decides that they should break up. Finally, there’s a scene where Dell comes to meet Kimberly after they’ve been presumably broken up for years, but Kimberly’s in a relationship with the old flame this time.

These events don’t take place in chronological order and the movie flashes back and forth between them. So for example, we’d get one scene of Dell and Kimberly talking during the comet shower and then abruptly flash to Dell following Kimberly to a train. Once on the train, we’d flashback to the two of them in the Paris apartment before flashing back to the comet shower scene. Although the events seem to take place in one universe, the movie alleges that they took place in parallel universes. Building on this feeling (I guess), is the fact that the outside scenery sometimes changes during scenes. For example, while Dell and Kimberly are sitting together on the train, the train window appears to be showing a spot of space vs. the actual route of the train. Furthermore, the scenes sometimes break up weirdly. There’s static during some transition scenes, and even during some scenes in general.

On that topic, it’s also revealed that Dell’s been having dreams of the scenes we’ve been shown. This fact is actually revealed near the middle/end when Dell is in Kimberly’s apartment, where she lives with her boyfriend. Therefore, Kimberly posits the idea that maybe Dell is still dreaming (and dreamed all those scenes we witnessed as well) and kissing her will wake him up (because his dream ended before they kissed). This is supported by the fact that when Dell picks up Kimberly’s thesis book, all the words are gibberish, which is commonly assumed to happen in dreams (can’t read stuff in dreams). She also postulates that perhaps Dell died during the first scene (where he and Kimberly met, during the comet shower), and all the scenes Dell’s been dreaming of/ that we’ve been shown, are in fact those “life flashes right before you die” things. In fact, the ending scene seems to sort of echo this, as when Kimberly and Dell are talking on the roof of her apartment, there are two suns rising and the two suns could perhaps be the lights of the car hitting Dell? Or maybe the two suns are signs of the parallel universes that the movie implies?

Furthermore, the end scene itself presents a number of confusing interpretations. I’ve already mentioned the two suns rising theory (car vs. parallel universe). However, the scene itself also presents vague implications for their love story. On the roof, Dell confesses his love for her and asks her to come back to him, but she reveals that she’s pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. However, in the beginning of the movie, Dell told Kimberly that all relationships have a lie. He already confessed his lie to her in the beginning of the movie and told her to tell him a lie that he would believe when he was vulnerable. So maybe Kimberly’s pregnancy announcement was her lie to him? This is supported by the fact that while Dell ponders her pregnancy announcement, his hand touches his stomach, he pauses and then looks back at her and then walks toward her determinedly. Thereby, the assumption is that he realized that she lied and that he kissed her. Or maybe, he didn’t kiss her at all and decided to finally let her go? Or maybe, none of this even happened?

If you can’t tell already (LOL), this is a very confusing movie. However, the confusion actually works really well for this movie, at least in my opinion. Earlier in the movie, Kimberly had expressed a desire for time to cease existing and instead viewing life as a painting, with no discernible beginning, middle or end (“it’s just there”). Thus, one can view the entirety of the movie as that of a painting. We’re not really shown the chronological movements of their relationships (hell it’s not even clear if what we’re shown is the truth or not LOL), but we are shown moments. And I think the beauty of the movie lies in just that; the moments in their relationship. They just feel so real, despite the fact that the entire film is just so surreal (with the background scenery and musical score).

On that note, the acting was just absolutely phenomenal in this movie, especially Justin Long. He knocked it out of the park spectacularly. His quick-talking Dell was so great. On paper (Kimberly actually mentions this too LOL), Dell is a pretty horrible character. He’s selfish (he claims that he loves Kimberly because she loves him), cynical, and rude (he actually stalked her on the train). Yet, Justin Long makes him somewhat likeable. You actually feel for Dell and root for him. You want him to get his happy ending with Kimberly. On top of that, the entire movie basically rests on his shoulders. There’s really no other actors besides him and Emmy Rossum. Coming to talk about her, she was fantastic as well! Although Kimberly didn’t have much to do, other than reflecting Dell’s thoughts, Emmy still managed to imbue her with charm.

That’s actually a negative for this film though. It’s not visible immediately, but on reflection, it was quite obvious. Kimberly is really not fleshed out as a person. We don’t know much about her, especially compared to Dell. All we know, is that she used to be superficial when dating guys, wrote her thesis on the “Art of Science,” goes to a gun-range, and wasn’t a fan of MTV. That’s it really. She’s just a collection of random traits and thoughts. Whereas Dell is more of a cohesive character with a more distinctive background. For example, we know that he’s super smart, works in pharmaceuticals, created a wonder drug that “cured” his mother’s cancer, goes to therapy, has a motor mouth that gets him into trouble, is self-destructive, etc. In fact, a lot of the dialogue in the movie is mostly just Dell sprouting his thoughts and Kimberly reacting to it.

Yet, even with this critique (which is actually quite significant if I’m being honest), I still really like this movie. Not only are the performances fantastic, but the entire movie itself is really great, especially some of the quotes. Plus, the surreal feel and soundtrack are a treat to feel and watch too.

My rating: watch to enjoy a surreal drama about relationships and to enjoy Justin Long and Emmy Rossum’s acting prowess.

Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review

silver_linings_playbookI was actually quite excited to watch Silver Linings Playbook as I had heard that Jennifer Lawrence won an award for her acting in it. Plus, the synopsis for the movie seemed interesting enough.

At its core, Silver Linings Playbook is about a man, Pat Solitano Jr (played by Bradley Cooper), who suffers from bipolar disorder. Prior to being diagnosed, Pat nearly beat a man to death. It was actually this incident that put him in a psychiatric facility and caused his wife to leave him. After 8 months in the facility, his mother manages to get him released, against the wishes of his doctors. As his wife is gone, Pat moves in with his parents. In an effort to win back his wife, he begins reading her classroom reading list (she’s a teacher), and begins exercising in an effort to “take care” of himself (including mentally). He also adapts the strategy of “excelsior,” or looking for the silver lining in stuff that happens to him. During this time, he also ends up meeting Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence), who is the grieving, widowed sister-in-law of his best friend Ronnie (played by Ronnie Ortiz).

A lot of other things happen in the movie as well. However, instead of writing out a long summary post (as I tend to do), I’ll just discuss the general story-line and acting.

Coming to the story-line, it was okay. It actually wasn’t all that realistic (save for a few scenes) and featured quite a few cliches (the end dance scene being one of them). Plus, there was also this gambling (?) subplot that I felt was really boring. If anything, the gambling plot itself probably caused quite a few cliches. Hence, it wasn’t the most creative or unique story out there. That said, I will say that there were a few really nice elements, like the focus on ‘excelsior,’ for example, that elevate the movie beyond trite romantic comedies. Additionally, it was also quite entertaining as a whole (if you could get pass the cliches). However, I think the acting may have had something to do with that.

On that note, let’s move into discussing the acting. I’d already mentioned that I knew that Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for her performance in this movie. So I think I watched her performance with a more attentive eye than usual. In my opinion, Oscar worthy performances are those in which a) not only do the actors challenge themselves and their acting chops, but b) they end up disappearing into the role. Also implied in the winning of an Oscar, is that the performance itself is practically perfect. Coming to this movie and her performance, I actually don’t think her acting was worthy of an Oscar. She definitely had quite a few fantastic scenes where she hit the nail on the head, but she also had other moments where she was just there. She didn’t particularly stand out, and that was my problem. It felt like a run of the mill type of role that any young actress could’ve done. I mean, compare Lawrence’s Tiffany to Natalie Portman’s performance in Black Swan or even Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. She just doesn’t live up, at least not in this performance.

Plus, her looks didn’t help either. She just looked so incredibly young in the movie. It was especially jarring when contrasted with Bradley Cooper. If I’m not mistaken, they have an over 10 years gap, and it was quite visible in this movie. Her young looks really detracted from some scenes in the movie. I would’ve definitely preferred an older looking actress. But that’s probably not her fault; it’s the fault of the director and casting director.

In my opinion, the real star of the movie was really Bradley Cooper. As the main lead, his character was far more fleshed out than the others. As a result, Cooper got to show off a lot of his range, all while staying within a singular character. Not only did he manage to nail that, but he also went beyond and made Pat quite a likeable character. Even when Pat does some truly bad things, you still feel for him. If anything, I felt as if Bradley Cooper disappeared into his character far more seamlessly and completely than Jennifer Lawrence did. You rooted for Pat, felt his pain and frustration, and could even relate to him sometimes. It was a fantastic performance.

Actually, now that I reflect back on it, the acting in the movie was quite good on the whole. Robert Di Nero was fantastic as Pat’s dad, along with Jacki Weaver as the mother (although she didn’t have much to do). Same goes for Anupam Kher as Dr. Patel, Chris Tucker as Danny, and John Ortiz as Ronnie. In fact, some of the best scenes in the movie were ensemble scenes, wherein all the actors would be the scene together. One highlight, for example, is the gambling scene in the lower half of the movie (Pat’s father bets double or nothing for Eagles winning and Pat and Tiffany scoring a 5). Hence, I think the highlight of the movie was really the acting from the cast of actors. The directing and cinematography just supported them by being good as well.

My rating: watch it if you’d like to watch a happy romantic comedy and witness Bradley Cooper’s phenomenal acting.