Movie review: Okja

Movie reviews

Hello!

When the international release schedules fail me, Netflix provides. Let’s review their newest original picture Okja!

IMDb summary: Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a fascinating animal named Okja.

Writing

Okja was written by the director of the film Bong Joon-ho and the author/journalist Jon Ronson. The narrative they crafted was just extraordinary. At a glance, the film appeared to be a live-action family adventure. However, in addition to being very entertaining all ages film, Okja was also unique, different, clever, innovative, and very topical. The premise, given in the opening, sounded insane but also sort or realistic (honestly, humans have come up with crazier solutions to the global problems). The familiar family film elements, like the child-animal bond (which sorta reminded me of The BFG), were mixed with the concepts of the corporate world, like bureaucracy, advertising, social media impact and public image, and GMOs – the ideas usually found in dystopian movies. On top of it, the distinct shades of the Korean culture, starting with the Korean language being used alongside English (I loved how the language barrier and translations were part of the plot), added another layer of uniqueness to the picture (it might not seem that out of the ordinary for anyone familiar with the cinema of the Far East).

Okja’s relationship with the vegetarian/vegan movement was super complex too. The film definitely placed the horrors of the mass meat production to the forefront and destroyed the barrier that the supermarkets have created between the production of meat and the consumer. The animal abuse was also hard to witness (tbh, now I am wondering whether animal rape is a thing) but it helped to prove a point that Okja was going for. The ideas expressed through the inclusion of the Animal Liberation Front were also fascinating. It is important to note that the screenwriters wanted to portray this group as peaceful yet still found ways to show its radicalness (beating one of their own for betrayal, starving to not leave a carbon footprint). I also appreciated the partially ambiguous ending of the film: while the personal win was achieved, the broader battle was lost. And yet, as the post-credits scene suggests – the fight continues.

Even though the movie was quite serious, it still had a few chuckle-worthy moments. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the poop jokes in Okja were adorable rather than annoying. The company’s driver, who was completely done with his job, was also a hilarious addition.

Directing

The South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho directed Okja and did an excellent job. He is probably the most well-known to Western audiences for Snowpiercer – another topical and unique film that is still accessible because of its cast of well-known Hollywood actors. While I liked Snowpiercer a bit more, I still have plenty of good things to say about Okja. First, the tone – a weird mixture of satire, theater, and realism ( a less kooky version of A Series of Unfortunate Events). Second, the action – the chase sequence through Seoul was was both fun and entertaining yet still had a lot of heart to it. The score, which accompanied the said sequence, was also magnificent, from the trumpets in the instrumental score to the usage of the song ‘You Fill Up My Senses’. The design of the Okja animal was good too – she was a cross between a hippopotamus and pet pig. The CGI was okay too – not super photo realistic but good enough for the movie.

On a side note, the story of this film’s release is almost as fascinating as the film itself. Okja was first booed at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for being a Netflix film and then received a standing ovation for being a movie of extreme quality. Not only do the festival goers can’t seem to make up their minds, they also appear to be living in the last century. The film release practices are changing and they should catch up to that or risk becoming irrelevant in their field.

Acting

The movie had an ensemble cast, lead by a young actress Ahn Seo-hyun, whose performance was so pure: full of innocence and wonder. The Hollywood heavyweights like Doctor Strange’s and Hail, Caesar!’s Tilda Swinton (once again, completely transformed for the dual role) and Life’s and Nocturnal Animal’s Jake Gyllenhaal (in an eccentric and cartoonish performance that still somehow worked) provided the support. Swiss Army Man’s Paul Dano also starred (he is always really good in non-mainstream/indie films), while Lilly Collins also had a small role – she is actually headlining the next Netflix original film – To The Bone.

In short, Okja is a delightfully smart and entertaining picture that you can watch from the comfort of your own home. The best Netflix film so far!

Rate: 4.2/5

Trailer: Okja trailer

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Movie review: Alien: Covenant

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to a review of Alien: Covenant – an apology for Prometheus or its continuation?

IMDb summary: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Writing

Alien: Covenant was written by John Logan (The Last Samurai, The Aviator, Hugo, Spectre, Genius) and Dante Harper (a production manager), based on a story by Jack Paglen (Transendence) and Michael Green (Logan and Green Lantern – what a combo). Similarly to how the previous filmography of these screenwriters is a mixed bag, Covenant is also a movie of mixed quality. It just mostly rehashes the plot of the original Alien and throws in some Prometheus themes. I, personally, liked the ideas of the film Prometheus but didn’t feel like they were executed particularly well. Same happens in Covenant – the potential is there but the attempt at the backstory of the xenomorphs just convolutes the plot too much (how many unpredictable experiments have to happen for their final version to appear?). The idea to have a crew/cast of 10+ people also means that none of them receive any development. We do find out some traits of a few characters, but I am not even sure what roles did the majority of the crew members had on a ship. They all could have been scientists or sheep herders. The couples idea is also just plain stupid. Why would you have a bunch of couples on a dangerous space mission? Wouldnt’ they judgement in a difficult situation be impacted by the fact that their significant other is also on board?

Having bashed the plot, I would now like to praise a few good moments of the film. The discussion about creation was an interesting and promising concept. The faith and rationality divide was also a good idea to introduce. The decision to include another character played by Fassbender was the best judgment that the filmmakers made. While I am not sure when did David turn so purely evil, I liked seeing the David v Walter interactions, even if they were quite creepy.

Directing

Ridley Scott has made some amazing (Blade Runner, original Alien, and Gladiator) and less than amazing (Prometheus, Exodus) films throughout his career. His last picture – 2015’s The Martian – was one of my favorite movies of that year. Alien: Covenant falls somewhere in the middle on a quality scale. Visually, the film was gorgeous: the landscapes, the scope, and the scale were just breathtaking. (Prometheus was also visually stunning – I actually visited the filming location of the opening sequence – Isle of Skye). However, I felt that the action scenes could have been better – more suspenseful and intense. There also could have been more of them to replace some of the creepy dialogue sequences. And yet, at least Covenant was way grittier, gruesome, and more stylistically in line with the original two films than the squeaky clean Prometheus.

Acting

The cast of the film was quite big but not a lot of the actors delivered memorable performances (which was partially the blame on the script). Michael Fassbender (X-Men, Assasin’s Creed, Steve Jobs), not surprisingly, was the standout in his double role, while Fantastic Beast’s Katherine Waterston was also quite good. Billy Crudup (Spotlight, Jackie) and Danny McBride (Sausage Party) were the only two other actors from the cast who I remember as doing something of significance in the film. James Franco was probably featured more in the extra promo materials than in the actual film, while Noomi Rapace had a picture cameo only.

In short, Alien: Covenant was mostly disappointing. It had some good elements, but, ultimately, everything was ruined by the awful script full of laughable but not funny moments. If you want to watch a straight-up sci-fi horror, check out Life instead (even though it is just a knock-off of the original Alien), or if you want a more PG space movie, Passengers should do.

Rate: 3/5

Trailer: Alien: Covenant trailer

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Movie review: Life

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to a review of the annual space movie. For the year 2017, it’s Life.

Life follows in the vein of the sci-fi space films, like 2013’s Gravity, 2014’s Interstellar, 2015’s The Martian, and, I guess, 2016’s Passengers. It’s also kinda similar to the earlier pictures, such as 2009’s Moon and 2007’s Sunshine. Life is the most similar to the last one because both films feature diverse groups of astronauts stuck on a space ship and have horror/slasher elements in addition to the sci-fi themes.

IMDb summary: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

Writing

Life was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the duo previously co-wrote Zombieland and Deadpool). Story wise, the movie was not the most original but the narrative was still interesting and exciting. The two major themes were human intervention and survival. The character development was minimal but there were still a few nice character moments dispersed throughout. In fact, the movie’s main star was the alien – all the set-up focused on it rather than the humans. Life definitely depicted life beyond earth in an old-school way: the creature was instantly violent rather than communicative like the ones in Arrival. Whether the actual alien of this movie was just the rip-off of the Allien, I don’t know. It definitely appeared similar to that one and it was probably a good idea for this film to come out before Allien: Covenant.

In addition to there being some scenes to depict the character’s backgrounds, the picture also had a couple of sequences of the astronauts doing both scientific experiments and publicity for ISS. I really loved those parts and appreciated the fact that the scriptwriters attempted to show a variety of activities done by the astronauts. The ending of the movie was also interesting. I don’t know whether they didn’t explain what actually happened with the pods (how did they switch?) because they are hoping for a sequel or because they wanted to leave it open for speculation/discussion?

Directing

The Swedish director Daniel Espinosa directed Life. This was his second US-based picture, but he has also directed Child 44 in the UK (really enjoyed that one) and made a couple of films in both Denmark and Sweden. I quite liked what he did with Life. The visuals were just absolutely gorgeous and not once did I think that we weren’t in the real ISS. The pacing and the intensity were also great. The horror elements of the action weren’t cheesy either and didn’t rely too much on the jump scares but used the technique of suspense building and the visceral imagery to elicit a reaction. In fact, some of the scenes were quite gruesome and uncomfortable to watch but they were effective so I can’t fault a movie for that. The camera work was also pretty impressive, especially one of the early long shots that seemingly went all through the space station. The alien POV was also a neat effect.

Acting

The film had a very diverse cast for a narrative reason rather than just for a financial one. The astronauts were played by Jake GyllenhaalRebecca FergusonRyan ReynoldsHiroyuki SanadaAriyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya.

Seeing Gyllenhaal on screen in yet another movie made me realize that he is one of a few actors who is constantly working. He never seems to fall off the radar even if his pictures don’t earn much. A few of his recent films that I enjoyed are Everest, Southpaw, and, especially, Nocturnal Animals. It was also really nice to see Ferguson in yet another American film (she began her career in Sweden, but has already appeared in MI5, Florence Foster Jenkins, and The Girl on The Train) and I’m excited to continue following her career. For Reynolds, this was his first post-Deadpool film and I think that his role in the marketing campaign for Life was expanded because he is the man behind the Merc with a Mouth. The ad campaign led me to believe that he will be an important part of the picture so I was quite surprised with his character’s story arc.

Sanada, weirdly enough, portrayed a character in Life who very closely resembled his character in Sunshine – a movie which I already mentioned in this review because of its and Life’s similar stories. What a coincidence that these films share an actor too. Bakare has mostly done TV work before now, but he also had cameos in big films like Rogue One and The Dark Knight. Lastly, Dihovichnaya is a newcomer to the Western mainstream cinema but is an established actress in Russian-speaking indie cinema market. I hope that her work in Life will provide her with more opportunities in the West.

In short, Life was a well-made space horror flick. It had a great cast and neat, suspenseful action, which will entertain the majority of the cinema -goers, and an open ending for those who appreciate the intellectual layer in their sci-fi.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: Life trailer

VkEOtTI

Swimming Marathon: Switerzland 2015

Sports

Hello my dear readers!!

Last week, I’ve participated in my first swimming marathon this summer. That was The Swiss Swimming Marathon 2015 (in Lithuanian language – Šveicarijos plaukimo maratonas 2015). I have already explained why this marathon and the village that it is held in has the same name as a European country. You can find that blog post here.

Anyway, since I haven’t been training at all, I chose the shortest 1 km distance and even managed to win it in a women’s group. It was one of the hardest swims of my career. The weather also seemed way too cold. The organizers said that the water temperature was 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), but it felt like 17 C (62 F) at best. The air temperature was 22 C (71 F).

I wasn’t even planning on attending this marathon but then the nostalgia kicked in. This was the 6th Swiss Swimming Marathon and I have participated in all of them since the beginning. Moreover, this is probably my last year of swimming with my team because I am graduating this year and moving to Scotland . So, I figured that this is probably my last chance to swim in that particular open-water competition, so what the hell, let’s do it.

Bellow I will include some links to a few Facebook photo albums where you can see more moments from the event. I will also include a photo of my commemorative T-Shirt, a medal and a diploma. Have a great week!

Photos on Facebook here.

Movie review: Love, Rosie

Movie reviews

Hello!

Couple of months ago, I found a Beyond the Trailer channel’s review of Love, Rosie (directed by Christian Ditter) movie trailer and was intrigued to see this movie. As I always do, I decided to read the book first.

Book

The movie Love, Rosie is based on 2004 Cecelia Ahern’s book Where Rainbows End. (Her first and most famous book is P.S. I Love you which was made into a movie in 2007). Where Rainbows End is written in a different style than you would expect: it doesn’t have a continual, flowing story but is constructed from letters, e-mails and notes from one character to other. When I was younger, I have read a few books written in this style and didn’t like them much but this one was a total exception. I loved the fact that I got to know the same story from various characters’ point of view. Speaking about characters, the book follows the life of Rosie Dunne and those near and dear to her. Most important of them, is her best friend from childhood – Alex. The book covers the period of more than 40 years: from 6 to 50. Rosie overcomes a lot of obstacles in life and she is a truly inspirational woman. Her relationship with Alex is also one of a kind.

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Casting & Characters

Before reading the book, I knew who was cast to play these roles, so all the time I was imagining Lilly Collins as Rosie and Sam Claflin as Alex. I love both of these actors. Lily captivated me in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie (Yes, that movie wasn’t perfect but the casting choices were amazing and to the point and I adored the books by Cassandra Clare long before I saw the movie). Sam Claflin is my celebrity crush since his role in Catching Fire and from that point forward, I have been following his career closely. (I really want to see The Riot Club but I don’t think it will be showed in my country).

Changes

From what I had seen in the trailer, I came to the conclusion that they changed the story a lot, but I still think it will be quite a nice girls’ night out kind of movie. (Even the toughest girls love a bit of romance). Also, the book took a decade to be adapted to the big screen, so it’s natural that they would change some things to make it more relatable to contemporary movie goers.

Everything above was written before seeing the movie, below is the review.

Love Rosie Australian Poster

So, first of all, as it was expected, the movie covered a shorter period of time than the books. To my mind, this has been done for 2 reasons: firstly, it would be hard to age a 20+ something actor to look like a 50 year old. Even in today’s world with amazing computer effects and exceptional make up, it could possibly look weird and fake. Secondly, the movie would be extremely long if it tried to cover 40 years of story or it would have to make a huge time jumps which would make it hard to follow the story. So, to sum up, I completely agree with the decision to shorten the time period.

Another big group of changes was the supporting characters’ back stories. SPOILERS AHEAD. For example, Rosie met Ruby under completely different circumstances in the book than in the film. The story ark of Brian was given to Greg. Phil was turned into Alex’s friend not brother. They also changed the number of brothers and sisters Rosie had. Movie creators introduced the character of Herb and the whole other plotlines with him and Sally. Alex had no kids. They also turned Phil into love interest for Ruby. All of the characters were British and not Irish. I didn’t mind the changes; however, I wished one particular character from the book wasn’t left out of the movie – Mrs. Big Nose Smelly Breath Casey – Alex’s and Rosie’s teacher form school.

The main plot stayed almost the same with some part being left out. (For instance, the movie left out the plotline of Rosie working at school with her worst enemy form teenage years – teacher Mrs. Casey). This was due to the shortened period of time which I had already discussed. I wished the movie was longer and we could have spent more time with the characters. I also felt that, at times, the movie was a bit rushed because they just wanted to fit all of the big events into 90 minutes.

Acting

I really enjoyed both Lilly Collins and Sam Claflin in their roles and I definitely know what my tumblr dashboard is going to looks like for a few weeks. (If you have an obsession with Sam Claflin you are welcome here :). The chemistry between two main characters was believeable and hearth-warming.

Jaime Winstone was perfect Ruby, I wished I had a friend like her – witty, funny but always prepared to help. Christian Cooke as Greg/Brian form the book was surprisingly likeable character after he came back after 5 year hiatus. However, that changed quickly. The actor who played him seemed so familiar to me and I couldn’t remember why. Turns out he played Mercutio in last year’s Romeo and Juliet alongside Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld. But I still think that I remember him from somewhere else.

Suki Waterhouse did quite a nice job as Bethany and Tamsin Egerton was quite good as a complete b**ch Sallly.

Music

I really loved the soundtrack of the movie, especially the song where SPOILER Rosie punches Greg. Does someone know what song was that?

All in all, I enjoyed a movie a lot; it is definitely one of my top favorite romantic movies for sure. The actors were casted superbly; the story was interesting and entertaining even if a bit cliché and rushed at times. They also added much more funny moments and jokes into the film than there were in the books and these laugh out loud moments really made the movie seem lighter than it could have been. After all, it is the story of a young woman and huge obstacles in her life. To sum up, I recommend this movie for all the hopeless romantics out there and I only wish it could have been longer.

Rate 4.5/5

Trailer: Love, Rosie trailer

Photos: Google Images

Top 6 Favorite Youtubers!!

Uncategorized

This week I am going to tell you all about my favorite youtubers. I was planning to do Top 5, but I just couldn’t leave out one of them, so therefore, it is Top 6. I believe that this list will appeal to everybody’s taste, because here we have some nerd stuff, some fashion, lifestyle, adventures and some cooking. (I have a serious sweet tooth problem). Enjoy!

1. FASHION and BEAUTY. There are a lot of great Beauty Gurus on youtube like Tanya Burr, MissGlamorazzi, but my favorite one is Zoe Sugg known as Zoella . She is British vlogger and beauty guru currently living in Brighton. She also has a blog www.zoella.co.uk . I love her quirky and girly personality as well as the way she communicates with her fans. She radiates positive energy towards everybody. I love her style too – girly dresses, shirts with collars ( I can die for a great collar shirt), slouchy jumpers and disco pants. Her hairstyles are also very cute – simple but always polished. Messy buns, halo or fish tale braids are my favorite. On her channel https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390 you will find cosmetics’ and clothes’ hauls, DIY videos, “How to” and “favorite things” videos and also little insights into her personal life with Q&As and variety of challenges. Not a long time ago she hit 4 million subscribers and this number is growing everyday.

2.ADVENTURE – when I need some adrenaline the channel I turn to is FunForLouis run by Louis Cole from Great Britain. His daily vlogs show world through his eyes. He has already traveled to every content I think, but right now he is in the USA relaxing after PlaylistLive convention and road trip through out the country. His signature style is dreadlocks, colorful penny boards and a vest t-shirts. I love different intros he does every time and the same line he says at the end of the video : “Peace out, enjoy life and live the adventure. Buuum!”. I believe that this is a great motto for life. He has around 640 thousand subscribers but he deserves a lot more so check him out.: https://www.youtube.com/user/FunForLouis

3. LIFESTYLE – my favorite gay on the whole Internet is Tyler Oakley. He is the person you want to be friends with. His sassy personality, strong opinion and immeasurable love for his people makes him the best there is. His channel is full of everything: challenges, Q&As, fangirling videos, collabs (drunk collabs included) as well as videos addressing important issues (e.g. health care). His always changing hair color never disappoints or bores. Fans love to ship him with other youtubers, but the pair they worship is Troyler (Tyler Oakley + Troye Sivan – fellow South African/Australian youtuber). Tyler’s positive view to life is infectious. The amount of fans he has grows everyday, so become one and SLAY ( I mean join) him here: https://www.youtube.com/user/tyleroakley

4. COOKING – my favorite chef on the Internet is Australian home cook – Ann Reardon form “How too cook that”. On this channel she shows us how to make chocolates desserts and decorations, various theme cakes (Divergent cake, One Direction cake) and other desserts (Facebook dessert, Twitter and Instagram dessert). Her work on youtube led to the creation of her own “Surprise Cakes” app which is really fun for kids and adults likewise to use. Her step by step tutorials while using tools found at hand make everything seem easy and accomplish-able. But be careful – do not eat to much sweets. However, that is a very hard thing to do, when every Friday you find a new indulgent recipe that makes your mouth water. Her half a million subscribers are waiting for you to join right here: https://www.youtube.com/user/howtocookthat

5. NERD – One of my favorite nerd type channels is Emergency Awesome run by Charlie . Here you can find videos about Game of Thrones,Walking Dead,Arrow, Doctor Who and other both fantasy TV series and movies. I really like they way his video are styled. One day you get the review of the episode, the next day Q&A about the review. Here you can get deeper insight into fantasy world. Help to get him to 200 000 subsribers : https://www.youtube.com/user/emergencyawesome

6. NERD – the last channel I want to present is comicbookgilr19 https://www.youtube.com/user/comicbookgirl19 . Her reviews, top lists and other videos make watching TV series and movies even more interesting than it already is. Pre-histories of fantasy worlds, character videos or explanations, “changes from book to a movie” type of videos can all be found on her channel. What I like most about her, is that she is not afraid to be herself and to stand for what she beliefs in : recently she attend SeaWorld protest that want to free sea creatures which are held in captivity.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this list of my favorite youtubers. Find me on different social media sites :
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LunaTheia
Instagram : http://instagram.com/luknexx
Tumblr: http://luna-theia.tumblr.com/