Movie review: Joker

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to review of Joker or my ramblings about the dangerous appeal of anti-heroes and the limits of empathy!

IMDb summary: In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”.

Writing

Joker was written by the director of the film Todd Phillips and Scott Silver. Phillips is best known for writing and directing The Hangover trilogy as well as dark comedy War Dogs – however, Joker seems to be his darkest and most dramatic comedy yet. Silver has previously written the movie 8 Mile as well as sports dramas The Fighter and Bleed For This. Looking at the previous works of both of the screenwriters, it really seems that their collaboration should be the best of both worlds for Joker – comedic and dramatic in equal measure whilst grounded in gritty reality (though in the streets rather than a boxing ring). And there is certainly a lot to love in the writing for this film – if not to love than to hotly debate about.

I believe that the crucial topic of Joker is empathy, both within and outside the movie. The film seems to be suggesting that the lack of empathy from the people around him was the main reason for Joker’s turn to the dark side. Moreover, the film invites the viewers to be empathetic towards its main character. Should the viewer feel in such a way? Do we correct the mistake of the people within the film’s world by empathising with Joker? Or are we making a new mistake by doing so? Does Joker deserve empathy at any point of this movie? What is the breaking point after which empathy is no longer the desired response?

Related to the idea of empathy is the concept of agency. A lot has been said in the media about worry-some copycat behaviour that this movie might inspire. My initial thought was that such a narrative is problematic as I do believe that people have the agency as well as the cognitive tools to recognise right from wrong. And yet Joker seems to suggest that one cannot escape the environment one is exposed to: if Joker became Joker by seeing the world of abuse and hatred, it not might be that far-fetched to be fearing the effects that Joker might have on some people. Or maybe Joker is wrong by suggesting that one cannot escape a cycle of abuse and violence – maybe it underestimates the agency of individuals.

Not only does Joker have some interesting thematic concepts that raise a lot of questions (and this review is mostly just that – questions), it also has a fascinating relationship to the Batman mythos. While the film certainly does not feel like a comic-book movie in the typical sense, it is nevertheless rooted in a world of comic book origin. Joker’s father is positioned as a key issue for the character and the reveals and twists surrounding it will certainly get a response from comic book fans.

SPOILER in the next paragraph

Is there a familial relationship between Joker and Batman? Or was Joker truly adopted and abandoned? Neither of the sources in the film are really trustworthy, thus, leaving the question quite ambiguous. The movie’s decision to relate Joker to Batman’s parents’ murder is also interesting. While in the comics, Joker has sometimes been responsible for the murders of Thomas and Martha, the more accepted version is that the criminal Joe Chill did it. I feel like by positioning Joker as the one who created the conditions of chaos which inevitably led to the murders, the movie does justice to both versions of the story: it keeps Joker as separate yet involved with the inciting incident of his main enemy.

Not only are the sources within the story not trustworthy, but the way the whole narrative is framed by its ending scene calls into question the reliability of the entire thing. Was the whole movie and the sympathetic storyline just an imagined version by Joker himself? Is his origin story truly multiple choice? That would go in-line with Alan Moore’s as well as Christopher Nolan’s takes on the character.

Does this film have the potential for a sequel? It certainly does but I fear that a sequel would have to pit Batman against Joker and we have seen that done a l o t. And yet, I don’t really see how this franchise could move forward by not doing that, as, I have mentioned, even though Joker doesn’t feel like a comic book movie, it is still enmeshed in the comic book lore.

Directing

Todd Phillips showcases some great directing talent with Joker. The movie is gorgeously shot and feels very appropriately 80s. The pacing is lacking in some respect – the movie is a bit slow and doesn’t really have a strong third act – it builds to a very predictable moment. The usage of gory violence is also present in the film but not to the extent I was led to believe by a lot of the critics. It may be a personal thing, but I have seen films with way less justified usage of gory violence – and too way lesser effect too. The soundtrack is great though – it adds a lot to the feel of the picture.

Acting

Joaquin Phoenix is the undeniable star of this film. Everyone else truly fades into the background, including Deadpool’s Zazie Beetz and even Robert De Niro. Phoenix’s performance is praise-worthy though some of the media coverage regarding his preparations for the role leaves a lot to be desired. I guess it is easy to create clickbait stories about someone’s preparation to play such a psychologically challenged character. It’s Jared Leto-esque debacle all over again.

In short, Joker raises a plethora of questions and answers none of them. It might be one of those movies that is interesting to talk about rather than to watch.

Rate: 3.2/5

Trailer: Joker trailer

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Movie review: It Chapter 2

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of a sequel to a movie that got me into horror movies (somewhat). This is It Chapter 2!

IMDb summary: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Writing

Gary Dauberman, the writer of the first It from 2017, penned the script for the sequel, once again, using the original material by Stephen King. After watching the first It, I went out and got myself a copy of It, the book. Even though it took me a solid 4 months to finish the 1000 page long novel, I did enjoy a lot of it (minus some weird and now infamous sex scenes). Thus, going into this film, I could predict a lot of the story beats, yet so much of the plot was also changed and, dare I say, for the better.

Stephen King’s cameo in the film, as well as his stand-in character’s demeanor (Bill’s) towards the critique of the story’s endings, tells me that King himself might be salty about fans’ complaints aimed at his ending. Yet, while I do think that his extremely supernatural ending to It (the turtle) is an interesting choice, I feel like it kinda betrays the psychological concepts of the whole novel. Thus, I quite enjoyed the film’s ending where it’s the characters’ strength of will and personal overcoming of fear that defeats Pennywise. At the same time, while these psychological concepts are present throughout the film, I do think that the first It did more in exploring them. Chapter 2 seemed to be more plot rather than idea-focused. While the ultimate topic of the film remained the same as in the first one – friendship and human connection – the movie did have a lot of narratives to cover. Not only did it have to tell the story of the adult characters but connect it to the arcs’ of the younger counterparts of the first movie. This seems like an insurmountable task and I feel like Chapter 2 (and the writer) did the best they could with the task. Yes, the movie was quite long and full off sidetracks involving separate characters reliving their memories. But could it have done without them? I don’t think so. The characters needed their solo times and to be developed further, especially when the cast of the movie was so stellar. You just kinda naturally want to give them a lot to do.

Directing

Andy Muschietti directed a follow-up to his own movie and did a good job. I don’t think he managed to create as tight of a final product like last time, but once again, like with the writing, I don’t think he ever could have topped the first film. Chapter 2 was quite long (almost 3h) and while it did start out really strong and had a nicely paced second act, I felt like the different stages (like in a video game) of the third act were quite obvious and made the finale feel a bit formulaic, less like it flowed naturally. The film as a whole did have a nice flow to it, though – I quite enjoyed the visual transitions between the different characters as well as timelines. On the horror side, It 2 had everything: some psychological suspense, some gore, and some jump scares. For horror purists, this might be too much of blend of all the different things, but for me as someone who appreciates horror movies at a distance, the mix of the different horror techniques was cool and just what I needed to feel both uneasy yet comfortable watching the film.

Acting

Both the child and adult casts were stellar. I don’t know whether the filmmakers originally planned on including the children actors in the second film but I’m glad that they did: the child-actors have proven themselves so much in the first film and have only gotten better in the second one, even if they had less to do. Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff all did a great job. The adult cast – both the big names like James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader and the lesser-knowns – Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, and Andy Bean (and this is a very subjective categorication btw) – did brilliantly. Not only did they look like the grown-up versions of the child actors but they truly acted like them too. My personal favorites were McAvoy and Hader. Bill Skarsgård came back as Pennywise and was amazing once again even though this time around he seemed to have fewer scenes. I feel like It Chapter 2 featured more of CGI Pennywise, with some of Skarsgård’s features (face or voice). The acting was truly the best part of the movie and saved or enhanced its other parts (mostly carried the writing).

In short, while not as good as the first film, It Chapter 2 carries the emotional weight of the first film that is sometimes lost in all the plot but found in abundance in the cast’s performances.

Rate: 3.8/5

Trailer: It Chapter 2 trailer

ItChapterTwoTeaser

Movie review: Spiderman: Far From Home

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to my once in a blue moon movie review blog! No surprise in what movie I’m reviewing – I’ll always crawl out of the cave for Marvel – so let’s discuss Spiderman: Far From Home!

Spoilers for Endgame and Far From Home!

Writing

The Spiderman sequel was written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers – a duo that was also part of the Homecoming writing team. They did a great job following up both their own first movie and Endgame. Far From Home was undeniably rooted in MCU and dealth with the aftermath of Endgame in an interesting and meaningful way. It also somehow managed to take Iron Man’s legacy (both legacy of his movies and legacy of the character) and do something unexpected with it. And yet, I do wish that for the third film, Spiderman would attempt to move away from Iron Man’s influence a bit more – he has to grow into his own at some point (and I think that that is exactly what’s gonna happen – the basis for that type of story was already laid in Far From Home). The way Mysterio was handled in the story was interesting too – I felt that his character development lacked in the first act but his story kinda found its footing after the twist. Thematically, Far From Home was all about fake narratives and people believing in them – quite a timely topic if I may say so.

Directing

Jon Watts returned to direct the Spidey sequel and managed to mush two distinct genres – a teen comedy and a superhero epic – even more perfectly than the first time around. Far From Home felt like a decade defining teen comedy drama overflowing with awkward encounters and timely problems for teens everywhere. It also felt like an amazing superhero flick that was both sophisticatedly high stakes enough and also silly and comic-booky.

The humour of the film, while a bit cringey cause of second hand embarrassment, felt light and easy-breezy – a nice and much needed break after engame. Still, the action scenes in the film were great – not Endgame levels of epic but highly deserving of praise for a standalone film. I especially loved how the illusion sequences were both visually interesting and carried an emotional weight to them. I also loved the European setting of a lot of the action scenes – it was a nice and familiar trip for me as a European (especially remembering how I walked on the same bridge in Prague when I was the characters’ age – I always appreciate a personal touch in movies).

Mid-credits and Post-credits

Far From Home also had two quite shocking ending scenes – dare I say, we haven’t had post credits scenes that raised so many questions in a while. The mid credits acted as an amazing twist and a set-up for a Spidey sequel (and featured a long awaited cameo from a fan favorite), while the post credits gave us hints about the future of the wider MCU (I say ‘hints’ but, personally, have no idea what the scene means exactly).

Acting

Tom Holland proved everyone once more that he is the best Spiderman we ever had. He was endearing in the role and handled both the awkward comedy and the heavy drama so well. Jake Gyllenhall was also amazing: really enjoyed all the layers of his performance. It was also nice to see so many familiar MCU faces – Samuel L.Jackson and Jon Favreau – whose characters both had interesting small arcs. Zendaya shined as MJ while Jacob Batalon was a friend we all wish we had.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Spiderman: Far From Home trailer

In conclusion, Far From Home gives Marvel fans a deserved break after Endgame while simultaneously building on the legacy of it.

Movie review: John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of John Wick 3: Parabellum! The first two films have been pretty great but can they stick the landing of the trilogy?

‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’

IMDb summary: Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.

Writing

John Wick 3 was written by Derek Kolstad (who created this series), Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, and Marc Abramshile. While the first film introduced us to the character, and the second one did wonders for word building, the third film had a goal of separating the first from the second, meaning it tried taking out the character out of his world. And while the film separated John Wick from the rules of his world of assassins, it only expanded the viewers’ familiarity with the different aspects of it. Thematically, John Wick 3 looked at what happens when human connection interferes with the rules and how order can never fully account for the human factor.

Also, apparently it’s not only Wick who loves dogs in this assassins’ world. In summary, the plot was perfectly fine for an action film. It was mostly there to enable the action but I don’t think it was purely there just to serve the action but could actually stand somewhat on its own. However, I don’t think the plot will be able to do that much longer. The ending of the third film made it appear as if John Wick 4 is in the plans and I feel like they maybe should have stopped with 3. I’m afraid things from now own will start making less sense or require even more suspension of disbelief.

Directing

Chad Stahelski returned to direct John Wick 3 and gave us what we expected: some finely choreographed and filmed action. The action scenes throughout the trilogy have certainly gotten more and more ridiculous. It’s a shame that the franchise is leaving its somewhat realistic roots behind as I thought these particular roots were one of its major strengths. I understand why they are moving away from them, even if not consciously: topping the action of the first two films is difficult when the bar they set themselves is this high. And yet, it’s becoming more and more obvious that some of the sets in this film were there just to look cool rather than to make sense. Also, some of the injuries really should have been deadly.

What was particularly great about the film’s action was that the movie made its violence count: the breaks, the cuts, the bullets – all left an impact not just on characters’ bodies but had a physiological impact on the viewer. In short, don’t watch this movie if you are squeamish. While some R rated films just work to desensitize the viewer to violence, John Wick 3 uses its R rating to make us care and think about that same violence.

Acting

Keanu Reeves shined for the third time as the titular character. Man of little words, Reeves was still both believable and enjoyable to watch in an action film that was made to serve his talents while hiding the things he may be lacking (action above dialogue). Ian McShane came back to sprout some cool sounding one-liners that one cannot think about for a long time. While the second film helped to kickstart Ruby Rose’s film career, this one seems to attempt to help Halle Berry resurrect hers (decently successfully too). Laurence Fishburne returned as the crazy pigeon dude. Asia Kate Dillon played the main villain role in the film and was fine but quite annoying.

On the representation front, John Wick 3 had a diverse cast. Still, I wouldn’t stay it had diverse representation, more like diverse inclusivity? More importantly, I don’t think John Wick 3 is the type of film that one really wants to be represented in (this being a movie about assassins and all).

In short, John Wick 3 might not live up to its predecessors but is a decent action film overall. Still, if the filmmakers are planning on moving forward with the series, they should go back to the drawing board and see what made the first films better: in my mind, a tighter plot and more realistic action.

Rate: 3.7/5

Trailer: John Wick 3

5 ideas about a movie: Hellboy

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a movie that I heard so much bad stuff about that it took me its whole theatre runtime to finally watch it. This is Hellboy on the last day that it’s playing in my local theatre!

IMDb summary: Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

  1. Hellboy was written by Andrew Cosby and directed by Neil Marshall. Cosby is both a comic book writer and a screenwriter, while Marshall is best know for directing some of the most amazing Game Of Thrones’s episodes. The 2019 movie is not only a comic book adaptation but a reboot of the previous early 00s adaptation – one that I really enjoyed. Sadly, I cannot say the same about this one.
  2. A lot of the faults with the movie are rooted in its script. Fantasy writing is not an easy thing: when done right it makes the viewer believe in the craziest things. When done like it was in Hellboy, it just comes across as illogical and stupid. Additionally, Hellboy also commits the sins that would break any movie: it has too many characters, too much-forced exposition, and too many steps in its plot (it feels episodic and choppy – maybe better as a TV series). It also has a hidden King Arthur movie within cause Hollywood just love making those (in actual King Arthur films and others, like Transformers 6).
  3. Hellboy has a plethora of action which would be quite good if it wasn’t trying so hard to be edgy and brutal. The film goes for cheap gory horror and I guess it delivers on that front. However, the movie is not better because of that achievement. In addition to nasty but still fake looking (some awful CGI is on display in this film) action, Hellboy also makes use of swear words that are just there to justify its R rating rather than to tell us something about the characters that use them. Hellboy also tries to tell the viewer how cool it is by having a rock-y score which is one thing I’ll let slide just because I did like the soundtrack separately from the picture.
  4. Hellboy features some scenes of set up for the future and also has a mid-credits stinger. That scene is just wishful thinking on par of the filmmakers: both wishful thinking in terms of expecting the viewers to be not bored enough to sit through the credits and for anyone to care about the sequel. And that sequel is never happening – the rotten tomatoes score and the box office made sure of that.
  5. Hellboy’s cast is not bad, its just too big. Stranger Things’s David Harbour is good and deals well with acting with so much makeup. Ian McShane is good too but it is him so are we really surprised? I also really enjoyed Daniel Dae Kim’s performance. The rest were so replaceable including Mila Jovovich who is just proving everyone that she will never do anything better than a B actioner (if Residential Evil is even a B level movie rather than D. Oh The Fifth Element times, how far gone they are).

In short, Hellboy is not worthy of attention (didn’t get any either) and forgettable.

Rate: 2/5

Trailer: Hellboy trailer

Movie review: Avengers: Endgame

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review 11 years in the making. This is Avengers: Endgame!

IMDb summary: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

Disclaimer: this review is going to be super vague as I’m trying to avoid spoiling even the smallest moments of the film. Still, I might not always manage to do that, thus, proceed with caution!

Writing

Endgame was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The duo has written a lot of previous MCU films, so they certainly have a good knowledge of this universe and these characters. And that shows as the script is just spectacular. So so so much happens in this movie: it is complex yet clear. Also, being the ‘end of an era’ type of a film, Avengers 4 really focuses on the core original Avengers, while the new characters kinda fade into the background. Focusing a film in this way makes sense to me: the newbies have to earn their right to be at the forefront. Moreover, Endgame also does a great job with setting up the future: both a couple of concrete films and just concepts that will hopefully turn into movies. Quite a few very comic-booky concepts too!

In my opinion, where Endgame shines the most is by being the sequel to end all sequels. It continues Infinity War perfectly and deals with all the issues head-on (like the ‘should have gone for the head’ gripe). It also references so so so much stuff from MCU that it makes Easter Eggs a part of the plot. Everything is referenced: lines, whole scenes, and Internet/fan jokes. It is so satisfying spotting the references or the subversion of the references: Marvel really rewards the loyalty of its longtime fans.

While I cannot really talk about the ending in this spoiler-free review, let me just say that it feels poetical. And though it may hurt, we all know it’s right.

Directing

I truly bow my head to Anthony and Joe Russos for giving me my new favourite MCU film (and their previous 3 films – Captain America 2 and 3 and Avengers 3 literally take up all the runner-up spots). The fact that they manage to portray such a complex story with clear editing is unbelievable. Plus, the fact that they succeed in making a 3h movie so engaging is also an achievement. I also appreciate all the different tones/genres that they squeeze into Endgame.

First, Endgame is a comedy: it has so many amazing comedic moments and is also a perfect conclusion (even if a temporary one) to MCU as the more family-friendly/lighter franchise. It takes that statement (that some use as a compliment and some as a critique) and owns it. I believe that these comedic undertones to the film come from The Russos’ directing roots as they did, in fact, made a name for themselves with Arrested Development and Community – two beloved comedy TV series.

Endgame is also a drama: it has depth and character moments aplenty. When I say there was no dry eye in my midnight screening, I mean it.

Endgame is also a superhero actioner through and through. It has all the CGI one would like but it also enhances it by actually making the viewers care about the characters involved rather than the third act just being a clash of random pixels. It has so many goosebump-inducing or so-called ‘money shots’. I especially loved one female empowerment shot that is hopefully not a one-off, but rather a signal to the changing times (though there was a severe lack of female viewers in my screening: really wanted it to be a 50/50 split but it was more like 80/20).

Acting

There is no way that I can possibly name all the cast members involved with this film but I believe that they all did a great job, no matter how short their involvement might have been. The core 6 – Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner – them I will mention by name because their performances should go down as one of the best ever in movie history. The actors got to showcase their dramatic chops so much because we really see the characters as just completely broken people. The fact that the actors also have perfect comedic timing (some especially) make their overall performances that much greater.

Post-credits

With Endgame, Marvel breaks the tradition that it created, and doesn’t have a post-credits scene. And I think that’s perfectly fine: there is nothing to promote or tease moving forward (Spiderman 2 is so separate and also already being promoted with trailers that it doesn’t make sense to stick it on there): Endgame is the end of not one but 3 phases, so let it feel like a definite ending. Besides, there are setups for the future before the credits roll. Also, I believe that the lack of post-credits is also good in that it doesn’t undercut the emotional weight of the ending of the picture. The last scene one sees and remembers is the end.

In short, Avengers: Endgame makes you laugh and cry and everything in between. It also makes sure that you will come back again. Not only for future films but to rewatch this one. Again. And again. And Again. (at least that’s what I’ll be doing).

Rate: 5/5 (I mean, are we surprised? Also, that number rating has never been about objectivity but rather included by necessity).

Trailer: Avengers: Endgame trailer

P.S. If you would like to take a trip down memory lane, these are my previous MCU reviews: Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Civil War, Doctor Strange, The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Age of Ultron, Guardians 1and 2.

Movie review: Eight Grade

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of Eight Grade or the age I might be stuck in (spoiler, self-realization occurs in this review)!

IMDb summary: An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school.

Eight Grade was written and directed by Bo Burnham – a creator that actually got his start on YouTube. Eight Grade is his first feature film. You might also know him from his stand-up work.

Writing

I thought that Eight Grade had a brilliant script and a lot of its success comes from the fact that it was just so real and relatable. I saw myself on that screen in more than one scene and it wasn’t a comfortable (actually, rather cringe-y) experience but it was absolutely necessary. Necessary in terms of making me realise that I’m actually quite happy with being an adult and shouldn’t really pine away after my own lost childhood. Putting some distance between all the versions of you is not a bad thing. It brings clarity and this clarity also leads to the film’s message. Eight Grade tells the viewer to move on from the past if it wasn’t great and to be okay about the uncertainty of the future.

Not only does the film have an appeal towards someone who isn’t in Eight Grade (like me), but it should also be a must watch for all those in middle school, more or less as an example of all the things you shouldn’t be doing. But I guess it’s hard to learn from others’ mistakes so go on forth children and make the wrong friends, say the wrong stuff,  and embarrass yourselves. And if it seems like the end of the world then, trust me, it isn’t. You are your own version of cool and no one else’s. Furthermore, don’t ever let anyone critique you for caring about your teen problems as they are highly important to you and should never be trivialised. Your anxieties are valid and should not be overlooked because of your age.

The film’s appeal doesn’t stop with someone who is in 8th grade or just a bit older. It should also be watched by parents. While parenting isn’t a very obvious topic within the film, it is always there, just like your parents (hopefully) are (so be nice to them!). The scene by the fire has some spectacular dialogue and some neat lessons too. The dialogue in general was really good because it wasn’t completely coherent and eloquent: it was sincere and real instead.

Directing

Eight Grade also has some stellar directing. The film’s usage of online video makes it feel contemporary. However, all the jokes (oooh the dabs) might make the film age quite badly and quickly. It’s a good thing that it has some timeless topics though, John Hughes-esque. However, where Eight Grade tops Hughes’s films is in its portrayal of a real school. There is no Hollywood glamour: there are awkwardness and acne. The clever ways Burnham decides to portray first crushes (with that fabricated tension and dramatic music) are spectacular too as they are both accurate and also funny.

Acting

Elsie Fisher is absolutely magnificent in the role. She looks the part and acts the part impeccably. I really hope she has a long and successful career ahead of her. Josh Hamilton is also really good as the single dad!

In short, Eight Grade is an incredible coming-of-age story for everyone, including but not limited to middle schoolers, new adults (me, an almost uni graduate), and parents!

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Eight Grade trailer

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5 ideas about a movie: Five Feet Apart

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to my comeback no.3 at this point. This is Five Feet Apart!

IMDb summary: A pair of teenagers with cystic fibrosis meet in a hospital and fall in love.

  1. Five Feet Apart was written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis and directed by Justin Baldoni (the actor from Jane the Virgin). The film follows in the vein of such movies as The Fault in Our Stars (probably one of the most famous pictures of the genre), but also Midnight Sun and Everything, Everything (or A Walk to Remember if you want to go more old-school). The aforementioned films as well as countless unnamed others all tend to be cringe-y in some capacity. They also sometimes are very sincere and sweet. This one, to my surprise, leaned more towards the second option.
  2. Instead of cancer (the usual illness of YA romances), this time the main characters suffered from cystic fibrosis. I am no medical professional, thus, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information portrayed on screen. Nevertheless, I felt like I did learn something about the disease. The response from the cystic fibrosis community towards this movie has been mixed like the response in general. I have to admit, I cannot understand those arguing that the film idealizes illness: I have a hard time seeing how a portrayal is automatically an idealization or promotion. Isn’t it up the viewer to critically engage with a story?
  3. On the romance side, the film was both cute and cliched. It undeniably appeals to its target demographic by walking the line between the two. The ending was also both uplifting and heartbreaking.
  4. Directing wise, the script was handled well. The cinematography was clear and the editing – cohesive and concise. I also enjoyed how the production design of hospital rooms was used to enhance and develop the characters. My one gripe with the film was its length – it could have been a tad bit shorter.
  5. The appeal to the demographic also very much depended on the cast of the film. Yup, I’m talking about Cole Sprouse – he was really good in the role and fit the requirements of that particular character perfectly. However, the lead of the film – Haley Lu Richardson – was the main reason why the film felt sincere. You might remember her from Split as one of the cheerleaders James McAvoy tortured. Moises Arias, who I still remember from his Hannah Montana days, was also good in the supporting role.

In short, Five Feet Apart was a surprise of a movie. A quality YA offering rather than a cringe-fest.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: Five Feet Apart trailer

Movie review: Glass

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of the most highly anticipated January movie that disappointed a lot of people. This is Glass!

IMDb summary: Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.

M. Night Shyamalan

The movie was directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan – the director that swings from most loved to most hated in a heartbeat. Glass was the third film in the surprise superhero trilogy, also consisting of Unbreakable and Split. Glass was also the film that was supposed to solidify Shyamalan’s return to success after The Visit and Split acted as his comeback (if you don’t remember or have blocked those memories, The Last Airbender and After Earth were the depths he needed to come back from).

Writing

The movie’s script was not great. It had a superb premise and an interesting goal – to create a psychological, realistic, and grounded explanation of superheroes. However, the execution and the final product were questionable at best. While I haven’t seen Unbreakable, I loved Split, and I feel like Glass did injustice to both.

The narrative made little sense. The comic book metaphors sounded cool but fell apart when you thought twice about the . The promise of the big showdown was never kept and the big finale just fizzled out. The twists were not surprising but just a Shyamalan-ian gimmick at this point. The secret society reveal made no sense. The released videos seemed like they would also accomplish the opposite effect – not encourage powers but turn more people against the superheroes. The end that the characters met was cheap: all three of them deserved better, as they all have been interesting throughout these movies.

Directing

The direction of the film was fine. Glass was quite slow and not particularly engaging. The big third act remained just a promise, probably for financial reasons as CGI is expensive and Blumhouse likes making movies on the cheap. Some cool scenes were crafted by the director, I give him that. He also managed to work well with the actors to get amazing performances out of them. But that may be more because of the caliber of the actors.

Acting

Not surprisingly, James McAvoy was truly the standout of the film. Samuel L. Jackson was good too even if a bit cartoonish. Bruce Willis was also good and it was nice seeing him in a film that is not just B level/straight to DVD actioner. Sarah Paulson should get props for playing a senseless character with such conviction too.

In short, Glass was just a glass of disappointment. Wow, that pun makes no sense.

Rate: 2/5

Trailer: Glass trailer

5 ideas about a movie: If Beale Street Could Talk

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to back to my blog that I have neglected for another month. But I’m back (I think), so let’s discuss If Beale Street Could Talk!

IMDb summary: A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk is Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his Oscar-winner Moonlight (remember that La La Land debacle? What a time). The film is based on the book of the same name by James Baldwin. The film is also dedicated to the author. For once, I’m actually somewhat familiar with the source material: while I haven’t read the exact book the movie is adapting, I absolutely loved Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room’. One of my all-time favourites.
  2. I really liked the writing for the movie. I loved how Jenkins managed to tell such a tragic story in such a heartwarming way. If Beale Sreet Could Talk was a romance above anything else: the tragedy and the drama came second and love was the message. Such an emotional response lent a lot to the structure of the film and the clever way Jenkins positioned the narrative non-linearly.
  3. I also loved the mixture of realism and poetics in his directing of the film. The two styles corresponded to the two topical concepts (poetics and love vs tragedy and realism).
  4. The movie was a bit slow but engaging. The slow-moving camera showcased the carefulness and care with which this movie was crafted.
  5. A lot of the film’s success is due to the performances by the cast: the two leads – KiKi Layne and Stephan James – portrayed their respective characters with such innocence and freshness and yet there was also an overlying feeling of sophistication. Regina King and Colman Domingo shined in supporting roles. Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Ed Skrein, and Pedro Pascal make cameo appearances.

In short, If Beale Street Could Talk is a realistically poetical or poetically realistic romantic drama that will break and glue your heart back together multiple times throughout the 2h runtime.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: If Beale Street Could Talk trailer

If_Beale_Street_Could_Talk_film