Movie Review – Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu)

TL;DR – A beautiful yet deeply sad film that never quite escape its emotional weight      
Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu). Image Credit: Madman films.

Review

Several films came out around Christmas that I wanted to see but I could not make it work because my new job didn’t start till the end of January. Well thankfully a lot of them are now making their way to video on demand (at a reasonable price unlike some other films) so I get to jump back in and fill in those gaps. The first film in that group is full of mood and tension and 18th century France.

So to set the scene, in the 18th century of the coast of Brittany, France a woman takes the long trip across the ocean in a rowboat. Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is a painter and has been hired The Countess (Valeria Golino) to paint her daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). The painting is to be sent as a part of Héloïse’s wedding present, an arranged marriage to a noble in Milan. However, there is a catch, because Héloïse sent the last portrait painter off in disperse with an unfinished work hanging in the house, Marianne has to paint Héloïse in secret without her knowing. 

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Movie Review – Coffee & Kareem

TL;DR – When you can make a running tally of bad paedophile jokes and that is not the biggest problem with your film then you have some real problems.    

Score – 1.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Coffee & Kareem. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Have you ever watched a film that is filled with talented people with an interesting concept, but it fails on almost every level. Well if you haven’t, I have the film for you, which shows you that you need to pick a tone when you start rather than trying to find one in production.  

So to set the scene, Officer James Coffee (Ed Helms) is going through life, and not succeeding bar the fact that he is dating Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson). Well in one day Vanessa’s son Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) found out they were sleeping together and he became the laughing stock of the police force when Orlando Johnson (RonReaco Lee) escapes from the back of his police cruiser. To get back at Coffee, Kareem sets it up so Coffee would take him to a friend’s place but instead it was to a place so he could get a beat down. Well, it all fell apart and now Kareem and Coffee are on the run.

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Movie Review – Sol Levante

TL;DR – An interesting vignette, but more focusing on the style than the substance      
Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Sol Levante. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I mentioned earlier this week with Familiar Strangers, that it was the shortest film that I had ever reviewed for the sight, well not three days later we are going to beat that record with Sol Levante. An animated short made in 4K HD that I don’t think anyone in the world is going to see at 4K at least not for the foreseeable future.

This is an interesting film to review because there is not a whole lot to it, but then it also feels like there is a bit more to it than first appears. There is not a story, bar a young woman fighting I want to say demons across a shifting landscape. There are quite a few of these set-piece moments that the fit into the three minutes run time that hint at things. It is a film that fits into the sort of nexus of fantasy, science fiction, and spiritual genres and is steeped in symbolism if nothing else.  

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Movie Review – Alive

TL;DR – A short film that explores the important bond between people    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Alive. Image Credit: Distribution with Glasses.

Review

When it comes to films, if it can get to that core emotional note and thus resonate on that deep level, well that will always hit that much harder for me as a viewer. This is because if the emotions work, then so much more of the film will flow from there. Today we explore a short film that knows this and focuses in on it as the core of the film.  

So to set the scene, Viktoria (Eva Johansson) lives her life in a wheelchair and needs around the clock support to live her life. During the day, her assistant Ida (Madeleine Martin) was walking through the park when they run into Ida’s boyfriend Björn (Joel Ödmann). Later that day, Viktoria admits that she feels alone. So Ida sets her up with a Tinder profile to find someone.

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Movie Review – Familiar Strangers

TL;DR – An interesting experimental film that hits that overlap between film and a technology demonstration    

Familiar Strangers. Image Credit: Murat Sayginer.

Review

I have seen quite a few films that you could call experimental in my time but today might take the cake as one of the more weird concepts that I have ever seen. Something that at first sight is deceptively simple but then it is clear a lot of work has gone into making it come together.

Familiar Strangers might be also one of the shortest films I have reviewed, clocking into only four minutes. However, that is just the right amount of time for you to process what you are seeing on the screen. Which is row upon row of actors faces apparently rendered using deepfake technology while Air on the G String by Johann Sebastian Bach plays in the background.

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Movie Review – Maska

TL;DR – A nice story that does tread some well-worn ground    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Maska. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

So to set the scene, we open in on Rumi Irani (Prit Kamani) who is living in his late father’s shadow. Like all things, he is fated to take over the family business which in this case is the Café Rustom an Irani café in Mumbai. His mother Diana (Manisha Koirala) cannot wait till he can take over the café and breathe new life into it. However, one night Rumi won the Mr Firozsha Baag and in it, he discovered his dream, he wants to become an actor. Of course, it does not hurt when he discovers that at his acting lessons not only is this his passion but one of his classmates Mallika Chopra (Nikita Dutta) might be his soul mate.

One of the things I like about Maska is how is it is about breaking out of the bubbles of our life. I once heard that tradition is just peer pressure from dead people and in this film that is both a metaphorical point and also a literal one as he sees an apparition of his father Rustom (Javed Jaffrey). It is about balancing the expectations of your past with the realities of the future.

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Movie Review – Dragons: Rescue Riders: Hunt for the Golden Dragon

TL;DR – A perfectly bland film    

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Dragons: Rescue Riders: Hunt for the Golden Dragon. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Without a doubt, the How to Train Your Dragon film series is one of my all-time favourites. So when I noticed something new from the universe on Netflix, I knew I had to check it out …. And well that was a thing.

So to set the scene, we open in on Waldondo (Carlos Alazraqui) a former antagonist. He is on a ship, stealing a map, when he arrives at Berk, to let people know of a problem. For you see the map leads to the golden dragon who only lays their egg once every 100 years, a dragon in a golden egg. They have to go save the egg because pirates are coming to steal the egg.

When you go into a film like this, you kind of have to reassess your level, because it is clear that this would not have the same about of money behind the production. Also, because it is a kids film it is going to be focused more on broad moments than nuance.

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