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. 

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Movie Review – Ultras

TL;DR – An interesting film, exploring interesting issues, but does not quite come together   

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

Warning – There is a lot of strobe lighting used in a sequence towards the end.

Ultras. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

For me, sports, particularly football is something that I have only really gotten into recently. So it is something that I have tried to explore more, with what makes it tick, what drives it, and what drives people to love it. Well, today we have a film from Italy that explores all of this, but from a different perspective, that of the hardened supporters of the Italian football league.

To set the scene, we open in as a man walk through a crowd where everyone knows his name, as we wander through the town we arrive at a wedding, where flares are lit and everyone is having a good time. Which is of course when we cut to a montage of the more colourful moments in Italian football history, full of riots, flares, and a long rivalry between teams from Naples and Rome, or Napoli and Roma. It here where we see that behind the bravado is a sadness, a sadness of time gone by.  

Continue reading

Movie Review – Queen and Slim

TL;DR – It is a provocative and powerful film, while it does not hit every note right, when it excels it does so with gusto   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Queen and Slim. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Review

Some films are just there to provide a little entertainment and then to be done and there is nothing wrong with that because everyone needs a little fun in their lives. However, other films want to be provocative, some films that want to educate, some films that want to hold a mirror up to society, and some that want to all of that and more.  

So to set the scene, we open in a diner in Ohio as two people start the awkward banter of getting to know each other. Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) is interested to know why Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) picked tonight to respond to his Tinder request after leaving it on hold for weeks, well Queen just didn’t want to be alone that night. After dinner Slim is taking Queen home when they are pulled over by police Officer Reed (Sturgill Simpson) for a very minor traffic infraction. While the officer is checking the car for drugs (which are not there nor was there any reason to believe there was) Queen, a defence attorney gets out of the car and the officer shoots her in her leg. A scuffle ensues and Slim in self-defence shoots the officer in the head killing him. What do you do? Do you stay and try to explain what happens, or do you run? You run!

Continue reading

Movie Review – I am Jonas (Jonas/Boys)

TL;DR – There is an interesting film here, but it just does not quite come together   

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

I am Jonas (Jonas/Boys). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

In a film, time can be just as much part of the narrative landscape as the words the actors say. It can shape a film, it can direct a film, it can hide and it can reveal. Today, we look at a film that plays with time in its narrative, and while it never quite works it is interesting.

So to set the scene, we open in on a young Jonas (Nicolas Bauwens) playing Tetris on the Gameboy, while his dad fills up the car. Rage quitting he sees something out in the darkness and is attacked by a memory one he can’t shake. Many years later, Jonas (Félix Maritaud) is a very different person, but he is still haunted by the past.   

Continue reading

Movie Review – The Way Back (2020 film)

TL;DR – A film that feels more personal than I have seen in a while and at the very least a loot messier     

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

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

The Way Back. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Review

There are many things that make reviewing The Way Back a difficult prospect. Part of that comes from intentional narrative devices that help the film in some ways and hinder it in others. Also, this is just a really raw film at times looking at a subject material that is both important but also deeply relevant to the lead actor. Which gets us into the realm of how much of this is performance and how much of this is reality thrown up on the screen. All of these are difficult things, but they were because in many respects this is a difficult film.

So to set the scene, Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) spends his days alone, even when he is surrounded by people. He wakes up with a beer, he showers with a beer, he drinks on the way to work, he hides booze while he is working, and he drinks himself silly when he gets home. After Thanksgiving dinner with his sister Beth (Michaela Watkins) who is clearly concerned that he is not seeing anyone after his marriage with Angela (Janina Gavankar) fell apart he arrives home to find an odd message on his phone. His old school wants him to come back and be the new basketball coach.

Continue reading