Movie Review – The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她)

TL;DR – A truly emotional work of film that affected me in ways film rarely does.     

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

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

The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她). Image Credit: A24.

Review

Wow, just wow, I thought I had some handle on how this film was going to affect me when I walked in, but I had no idea. I didn’t know I would be tearing up in the first five minutes and that it would not stop until the credits rolled. It is a film like this that shows the power of the medium to tell stories that can affect us on our deepest human level.

So to set the scene, Billi (Awkwafina) is struggling to find her place in the world after failing to get the fellowship that she was after. While at her parents to use their washing machine she notices that her mother Jian (Diana Lin) and father Haiyan (Tzi Ma) are acting odd. Wounding the worse, Billi discovers that her beloved Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) has been diagnosed with late-stage cancer, but also that the family has decided not to tell her. Using a wedding as an excuse the whole family is going over to China in part to say goodbye without actually saying goodbye.       

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Exploring the Past – Into the Wild (2007)

TL;DR –.A really frustrating film that nevertheless sucks you in and leaves you heartbroken. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Into the Wild. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

Well, last night I noticed Into the Wild had come onto Netflix. I had heard some good things about it a couple of years ago and I thought it would be a nice relaxing film to put on before going to bed. Oh wow, did I ever get that wrong.

So to set the scene, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) gets dropped off on an Alaskan trail and walks into the wilderness a lot less prepared than maybe he should have. Ignoring the concerns from the guy that dropped him off he begins the march into the wilds of the north until he finds an abandoned bus and uses that as a base of operation. When then jump two years into the past and see why it is Christopher set off on this journey.

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Movie Review – The Red Sea Diving Resort

TL;DR – A really ambitious film that unfortunately falls into the same traps as a lot of Hollywood films do when depicting Africa’s history.    

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures of the resort during the credits

The Red Sea Diving Resort. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Tonight we take a look at a film that attempts to discover a part of our history that has not been explored at all. However, Hollywood has a very poor history in exploring Africa’s history with film after film glossing over the complexities for hero moments of usually a white protagonist saving the day. While The Red Sea Diving Resort attempts to step away from this past it can’t help but fall into the same traps.

So to set the scene, in the 1980s Ethiopia was tearing itself apart during a bloody civil war, a lot of the innocents were being caught in the crossfire, especially minority groups. One of those groups that were targeted was Ethiopia’s Jewish community. However, there is some hope with Israel’s Mossad sending agents like Ari Levinson (Chris Evans) in to help them get to refugee camps in Sudan. However, this is just a temporary measure, they need a way to get them out of the country. So a plan is set in motion to set up a fake resort on the coast of Sudan as a front to help them smuggle them out to waiting boats. However, this is not something that you can do forever without attracting notice, made worse when actual tourists arrive at the fake resort.

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TV Review – When They See Us

TL;DR – This is a series that I think is important for everyone to see because what we do has consequences and those consequences can be ruined lives.

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

When They See Us. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

When I loaded up this limited series, I kind of had an idea of what to expect. I had heard about the Central Park Five before and I thought I had a rough framework as to what happened and of course, having the blowhard-in-chief double down on it helped bring it all back into focus. However, while I understood what happened, it was an intellectual knowledge and not an emotional one. While I walked in here with what I thought was understanding, I now know I had no idea, none what so ever.

So to set the scene, one evening in April in New York City a group of young people of mostly African-American decent came together to have a bit of a raucous in Central Park. Soon the police arrived and brought a bunch of them in disturbing the peace after roughing more than a few of them in the process. However, later that night in the north section of the park woman was found clinging to life after being raped and assaulted. It is at this point that detective Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) draws the connection between the two incidents. Soon Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris), Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse), Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez), and Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome) are dragged in front of the police, with no adults present. Soon the police would have their confessions, for assault and rape, confessions that looked dubious even under the most cursory inspection.

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Movie Review – Rocketman

TL;DR – It is a film of great character moments, wonderful music, and an interesting story of someone going from low to high to low and then back again. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Rocketman. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Review


It looks like it is going to be the decade of cinematic superheroes and also of the musical biopic. Especially a musical biopic of a seminal rock superstar from England that took the globe by storm only to discover a world full of drugs and dodgy management. Given they have been so far Oscar gold and have made bank at the box office we are sure to get a couple of these and today we look at one that is taking the standard biopic and twisting it up.

So to set the scene, we open with Elton John (Taron Egerton) exploding through a door in full orange sequined devil glory. You expect him to be doing a grand entrance into a stadium, but instead we soon find out that he is at group theory session when the first question was asked “what was your childhood like?” and we drop through the floor back to the 1950s when a young Reggie (Matthew Illesley) lived with his mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard), grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones) and occasionally his father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) when he comes back from the army. Elton says he had a happy childhood, but we soon find out there is a difference between what Elton says and reality.

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Movie Review – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

TL;DR – While it focuses on the charismatic nature of Bundy and his toxic effects, that is all the film has going for it, and that is not enough when you are exploring a narrative like this.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

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

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Murder, it is a topic most foul, but it is also one that is ripe for adaptation. We have seen this time and time again, and today we are looking film depicting the life of one of the most heinous serial killers in American history. There is a lot of obsession around him due to his charismatic nature and the way he used the media in his trial, after numerous escapes from custody. Quite often this obsession is deeply problematic, so when you are dealing with a film in which he is the core subject you have to be very careful. Today we are looking at Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a film that attempts this but does not quite succeed.

So to set the scene, in the middle of the 1970s and Liz (Lily Collins) is out at a bar with her friend Joanna (Angela Sarafyan). Joanna wanted Liz to have a little fun, instead of being stuck at home with her daughter and there is one man that has not taken his eyes off her. He walks over and introduces himself as Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) and the two instantly hit it off. However, not long after they move in together Ted is arrested in Utah on what he claims are trumped up charges. This begins a long march for justice and the long decline of Liz’s health.

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Movie Review – Hotel Mumbai

TL;DR – This is an incredible, violent, and emotionally visceral film that will grab you in the first frame and not let go  

Score – I honestly don’t know how to score this.

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

Hotel Mumbai. Image Credit: Screen Australia.

Review

In a now previous life, I taught international relations to university students. This is a large discipline and one of the areas we looked at was terrorism, which happens to be one of the most pressing security issues in the modern world, or not, it’s complicated. All of this meant that when I walked into the theatre to review this film I thought I had a pretty good handle on what I was about to see, as I was quite familiar with the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and well I could not have been more wrong.

So to set the scene, we open with a boat slowly making its way into one of the many harbours on the Mumbai shoreline. On the boat are eight well-dressed young men who could be there for work in the financial capital of India, but immediately you know that is not the case. Each of them carries a large duffel bag and they are listing to someone give them instructions, directing them to different landmarks across the city. Meanwhile, across the city everyone else is just going through their day as normal, Arjun (Dev Patel) is trying to get his dastaar perfect as he gets ready for work at the Taj Hotel, Zahara (Nazanin Boniadi), her husband David (Armie Hammer), and their nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) are arriving at the hotel after a long flight and everyone is racing to get the room ready for her as her mother is a VIP, and the hotel head chef Hemant (Anupam Kher) is just trying to work out how to get everything done in such a short time. None of them knows the hell that is heading for them.

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