Movie review: Lion

Movie reviews

Good day!

Another potential awards contender – the motion picture Lion – has landed in the UK cinemas, so, let’s review it!

IMDb summary: A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

Writing

The biographical drama Lion was written by Luke Davies (an Australian film critic, novelist, and poet) based on the memoir ‘A Long Way Home’ by  Saroo Brierley
(co-written by Larry Buttrose). The film’s narrative is divided into two parts. The first hour- long story revolves around the child Saroo. The viewer gets to see Saroo’s relationships with his birth mother, sister, and brother; and witnesses the unfortunate accident of him getting lost and trying to survive alone and away from home. This first-half of the movie is very well written: the audiences are able to form a bond with the main character and become emotionally invested in the boy’s journey.

Lion then flashes 20 years forward: Saroo is now an adult and lives with his adoptive parents in Australia. This part of the film is not as solid when it comes to writing as the first part. To begin with, the audiences don’t get to see a lot of Saroo’s life as an adult, so his change of heart (from not caring about his birth family to desperately trying to find them) seems a bit sudden. A few extra scenes, maybe showing a different stage in his life, like the teenage years, would have helped to solidify the fact that he never really felt at home in Australia and always wanted to find his family. The second part of the narrative also has two other important storylines which don’t get enough of screentime. First one is Saroo’s relationships with his adoptive mother and his adoptive brother (who might have a mental illness?) and the second one is Saroo’s relationship with his on-and-off-again girlfriend. Both of these plotlines had to be included in the film (bio-dramas try to be as accurate as possible) but I wish that they would have been given more screen time because that would have made them more compelling. Maybe the movie could have been 15 minutes longer or maybe the first story could have been shortened by the same amount (if they wanted to keep the film at 2h).

Even though I have found some problems with the technical structure of the narrative, I found the narrative itself to be very interesting and fascinating. The fact that the modern technologies actually brought people together instead of separating them was just amazing. In general, the whole Saroo’s story was both heartbreaking and hopeful. It had more than a few tear-jerker moments, especially at the end. The inclusion of real-life counterparts of the characters was nice too.

From the anthropological perspective (sorry, I can’t turn it off, if you study anthropology you are basically living it), the film was also very valuable. It mostly felt like a documentary with a higher budget and a fancier production design. Nevertheless, the ideas on privilege and poverty and on the adoption across countries/cultures are just two of the concepts that could be considered in an anthropological discussion in relation to this film.

Directing

An Australian TV and commercial director Garth Davis made his very successful feature film directorial debut with Lion. I loved how he realized the shots of the nature of India. That whole opening sequence was just beautiful and very classic. The pacing could have been neater but it didn’t bother me much. Basically, if this was his first motion picture, I can’t wait to see what he will do next.

Also, on a side note, guess whose song was playing during the credits. If you said Sia, you either read my blog a lot or just go to the movies a lot. Sia wrote a song called ‘Never Give Up’ specifically for this film. Her songs have also been used in Sing, Star Trek Beyond, The Shallows, The Neon Demon, and Finding Dory. You will also be able to hear her during Fifty Shades Darker.

Acting

Dev Patel played Saroo in the second half of the film and did an amazing job. After seeing the film, I finally realized why he is being nominated in the supporting actor category, even though he is playing the lead. Well, the answer is simple – he only plays the lead during the second hour of the film, while the viewer spends the first hour with a 5-year-old Saroo played by an adorable child actor Sunny Pawar. So, on the whole, if we add up Patel’s scenes, his screentime probably comes closer to that of a supporting rather than a lead role. Anyways, despite the fact that he is not in the first half of the film, Patel delivers his best performance yet. He has really matured as an actor since the days of Slumdog Millionaire. His best scenes that were most likely included in his awards reels were  1. the montage in which he finally reaches the breakthrough on Google Earth. The way he whispers ‘Mum’ is just breathtaking. And 2. the final meeting sequence – he showed a lot of acting skills in that one too.

Moving forward, I would love to see Patel cast in a racially blind role, meaning that I would like to see him playing a character whose ethnicity is not his main character trait. Up until this point, Patel played characters whose ethnicity was really important character feature, like in Slumdog Millionaire, The Man Who Knew Infinity and even The Exotic Marigold Hotel films. I’d like to see him take on roles similar to the one he had on Chappie, but it looks like that is not on the horizon, as his next film is also India-centric and based on true events – Hotel Mumbai.

The picture’s supporting cast also delivered brilliant performances. Rooney Mara (Carol) starred as Saroo’s girlfriend and was great in the few scenes she had. David Wenham (recognized him faster than another LOTR alumni – Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic) appeared briefly as Saroo’s adoptive dad but it’s Nicole Kidman as Saroo’s adoptive mother who stole all the attention in their scenes together. Lion also spotlighted some lesser known (in the West) Indian talent (as it should): Abhishek Bharate, Divian LadwaPriyanka BoseDeepti NavalTannishtha Chatterjee, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui all co-starred and did a great job with their limited screentime.

In summary, Lion was a lovely picture with an amazing story at its core. Sadly, this story was not represent as cohesively and compellingly as it could have been. However, the flaws in writing were covered up with great directing and amazing acting performances.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: Lion trailer

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Eurovision 2015

Music

Hello!

Some of you may know that I live in Europe, so this post shouldn’t come as a shocker, although, now you can live in Australia and be a part of Europe. Anyway, I am a huge Eurovision fan, I have always watched it as a kid, but I remember 2005 being the year that peaked my interest the most and that interest never diminished. You want proof – read last year’s coverage of Eurovision 2014.

To begin with, I believe that Eurovision allowed me to get to know so many artists that I wouldn’t have know otherwise,. I listen to pretty much only US and UK musicians, so Eurovision broadens my musical taste and cultural perspective.

This years contest, to my mind, was the best of the decade song wise. I have never had so many favorites. So, my top 7 songs were from:

  1. Sweden 
  2. Belgium
  3. Estonia
  4. Latvia
  5. Russia
  6. Denmark (they weren’t in the final)
  7. Australia

Other countries which had good songs were Romania, Georgia, The Netherlands, Greece, Belarus, Hungary, Austria, Norway, Israel, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Poland. – I warned you, I had a lot of favorites:) This year also had a variety of different types of songs: some were really fun and happy while others spoke about serious issues.

The inclusion of Australia, in honor of this being the 60th Eurovision and because of the fact that Eurovision is very popular in Australia, was a very nice touch.

The winner was Sweden and that’s one of a few times when my favorite song wins. The last time this happened was in 2012 when Loreen won -also from Sweden.

My own country finished in the 18th place, despite quite an extensive media coverage on my country’s representatives. The 3 kisses didn’t help and they just sparked a lot of fights in the comment section of a variety of articles. However, our song This Time was definitely the best entry we ever had. I was really happy that other Baltic States did so well – Latvia and Estonia finished in 6th and 7th place respectively.

Austria  did a great job as a host country.The stage looked unbelievably great. I am just sad that they didn’t got any points and finished in the last place together with Germany. The motto Building Bridges was also a cool one.

Eurovision being a political contest as much as it is a musical contest, the voting didn’t surprise but infuriated me. When are we going to stop voting for our neighbors and when are we actually going to vote for the songs and not for the countries? With all the developments with Russia and Ukraine, I am shocked that Russia did so well. The song definitely deserved the 2nd place, but I have no idea how it got it.

To sum up, Eurovision Song Contest 2015 was a fairly good one. Nothing really surprised me, except the quality of the songs. I got a chance to add some new songs to my playlist, refreshing it before summer starts. Rate 4/5

Have a great week!

Movie review: Mad Max Fury Road

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to the summer movie season! Prepare for a plethora of movie reviews during the next 3-4 months! This time, we are talking about the amazing, the incredible, the unbelievable Mad Max Fury Road.

Fury Road is the 4th film in the Mad Max franchise! However, the 3rd film came approx. 30 years ago. For this reason, I haven’t seen the old trilogy with Mel Gibson. Though, I might watch it when I have time.

Anyway, the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the concept or the world of this film didn’t stop me from enjoying it a lot. I’m a type of person who likes historic and futuristic action movies but isn’t keen on everyday-type-of-situation turning into an action piece. So, this film, which is set in the future but brings back humanity to its roots, was a great combination of all the things I love. Moreover, it has a dystopian vibe which I dig a lot.

George Miller – the creator of the original trilogy – directed this film as well. He did an exceptional job. This film is basically one big action sequence but it never gets boring, it never slows down. It keep you interested and amazed all the time. All the stunts and crashing cars looked extremely realistic and the 3D really enhanced that. There was also quote a lot of grotesque imagery so I can definitely see why the film has R rating. I also really enjoyed the visual pallet of the whole movie (colors brown, orange, yellow) and smooth transitions between scenes (cutting to black and appearing again).

The cast is also really good! Although the movie is called Mad Max, I believe that Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the main character. And she is such a bad ass – probably the best female character this year so far. Tom Hardy as Mad Max was also really good (I don’t know how his portrayal compares with Mel Gibson’s, can somebody tell me that in the comments?). Though, Max was the 2nd main character, more like an important supporting character.

Nicholas Hoult as Nux was also a surprising character. He was probably the character with the biggest amount of character development and that really paid of in the end…I tweeted that I couldn’t even recognized Hoult in his role through all the makeup and he favorited that tweet! That made my morning really happy! I am a huge fan of his because of the XMEN movies but his on-screen transition in this film blew me away.

Lastly, the wives were also great characters – at first I was afraid that they would be just a bunch of pretty girls who not only look the same but are, essentially, the same character in 5 bodies. However, all of them brought something new to the table. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad with her baby story-line, Riley Keough as Capable with her and Nux’s relationship, Zoe Kravitz as Toast with her gun skills, Abbey Lee as The Dag with her seeds and Courtney Eaton as Cheedo with her twist at the end.

The villain of the film – Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe was also really great, he was frightening both to look at and to listen to.

As I have said before, the plot of the film rests on the action pieces and not on the dialogue. However, sometimes actions speak louder than words and we definitely got the message of this film. I enjoyed it immensely and really hope that enough of people go see it, so that we would get another sequel with the new cast. Preferably sooner than in 30 years.

All in all, it’s a great apocalypse movie, it’s a great action movie, it’s an amazing film from the cinematographic point of view and it’s even a great film for discussion: will humanity ever come to the end like this? Will our consumerism and desire for fuel and wealth be the end of us? Is water really such a crucial part of our existence? Will we all end up crazy one day? Are social changes in society happening for the better or for worse? What is the role of women? Can we pick our fights or are they pick us? The end quote also reminds us that we should look for answers ourselves and not wait for somebody else to do it for us. 

Rate: 5/5

Trailer: Mad Max Fury Road trailer

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Kylie Minogue: Kiss Me Once Tour 2014 in Lithuania, Kaunas

Music

Hi!

How is your weekend? Did you celebrate Halloween? Who did you dress up as? In my country, Halloween isn’t a popular celebration, however, some people do celebrate it. The reason, why this celebration isn’t wide spread in my country is because on November 1st (next day after Halloween) we have a serious event – National Memorial day (in English it’s called All Saint’s day in the Christian part of the world and November 2nd is All Soul’s Day). It would be kinda strange to run around dressed up in a weird costume one night and the next morning go visit your relative’s graves, light a candle or visit a church. If my nation had more happy ways to remember the dead (like Mexicans do), we would probably celebrate Halloween too.

Anyway, this post is not about that. It’s about the fact that on October 31st, I attended Kylie Minogue’s concert! Kylie is an Australian singer whose career started over 20 years ago and she is still mega popular today. In 2011, she visited my country with her Aphrodite tour but I wasn’t able to see her concert then. But now, 3 years later, she is back in Lithuania with her new album Kiss Me Once.

After a brief opening from DJ duo Third Party from London (nobody listened to them), Kylie took the stage being just an hour late because of technical difficulties. She rose to the stage on a sofa shaped like lips and started singing Les Sex. Then came In My Arms – a timeless hit. She changed costumes 7 times and with the help of her band, 2 back-up singers and 8 dancers gave the audience an amazing showed filled with both new song form Kiss Me Once album and singles form the past like: All the Lovers, In you Eyes, Locomotion, Spinning Around, Can’t Get You Out of My Head, On A Night Like This, Time-bomb, I Believe In You. She actually invited one fan to dance to Locomotion with her and other pair of fans to take a selfie.

Lights, lasers and smoke effects were awesome and white sprinkles and sparkles falling form the ceiling when All the Lovers song was playing turned the event into a magical wonderland. She closed the concert with Into the Blue and left the audience wanting for more.

I enjoyed the concert very much, I was standing in the fan zone, in the first row, so I saw Kylie from 5 meters distance. She is so beautiful, you couldn’t even tell that she is 46 years old! As much as I had problems with over-sexualization in this years VMAs, Kylie’s sexual performance didn’t bother me that much because it wasn’t as vulgar as, for example, Miley’s.

After the event, I bought a poster as I always do (see my whole collection of posters). Bellow you will find photos and videos form the concert. On Monday, I am going to Vilnius, to the One Republic concert, so now I am super excited for that. See you next week!

More info about the tour: Kylie

Les Sex on my Youtube channel  Sexercise on my Youtube channel 

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