Movie Review – Ali & Alia (علي وعليا)

TL;DR – A difficult film to watch at times but an interesting look at power, addiction, family, and abuse.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

Warning – Depicts scenes of abuse

Ali & Alia. Image Credit: Number One Films.

Review

I had realised that my drive to experience more of world cinema has taken a back seat for a while, so today I decided to change that. More than just change that, I thought it would be best to dive into a cinema I haven’t really explored before. As if on cue, Ali & Alia appeared and well one does not look providence in the face and then blink.   

So to set the scene, we open flying through a town until we land in a football field where two sides are drawn together in opposition. On one side is Ali (Khalifa Albahri) and on the other is Aboud (Mayed al Ali). What is the fight about, well we jump back a little time and we see the start of it all. One day as Ali is escorting Alia (Neven Madi) to the local clothes shop when he is accosted by a bunch of layabouts. Instead of standing up for himself, he says nothing. This upsets Alia because he is not acting like a man. This rebuke starts a spiral in Ali’s life that affects everyone around him.

Continue reading

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

Exploring the Past – Stardust (2007)

TL;DR – A pure fun ride from start to finish, the kind that leaves a smile on your face for a time after you finish watching it.   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Stardust. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

There are some films out that that you can only watch once and then there are those that you can watch any time someone suggests it. Today we are looking at the latter, a film that is full of joy from start to finish.

So to set the scene, in the 1800s in Great Brittan there was a little town called Wall. It was a mostly unremarkable little hamlet bar for one odd feature an old wall that runs along its boundary that has an old man (David Kelly) guarding the only opening. Well, one day a young man from the village call Dunstan Thorn (Ben Barnes) decided to go see what was on the other side of the wall. Here he found a marketplace full of bizarre creatures for sale and also servant girl (Kate Magowan) enslaved to an evil witch Ditchwater Sal (Melanie Hill). It was almost a fever dream until nine months later when a baby arrived at Dunstan’s door. Eighteen years later and the young boy Tristan (Charlie Cox) is now grown up and trying to court Victoria (Sienna Miller) when he makes a suggestion that he chases down a falling star and brings it back as proof of his affections. The only problem is that the Star fell across the wall in Stormhold, the star is not an it but a she in Yvaine (Claire Danes), and also Stormhold’s king (Peter O’Toole) has just died and the remaining heirs are trying to track down the necklace that brought Yvaine crashing to the ground, and also also, there is a witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is very interested that a new star has fallen because she would very much like to cut out its heart and eat it.

Continue reading

Movie Review – End of the Century (Fin de Siglo)

TL;DR – A very erotic look at the past and what choices led us to where we are and where we could have been    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

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

End of the Century (Fin de Siglo). Image Credit: Stray Dogs.

Review

So when you blindly pick from a film festival line up without researching anything about films you are about to see, there are some interesting choices that you could end up watching. For me, it was sitting down at watching what might be the most erotic film I have ever seen in a cinema. Like I don’t think you could show this film on late night SBS. But while there is that component it was also a look at what could have been.

So to set the scene, Ocho (Juan Barberini) is an Argentinean poet now living in New York. After reaching the end of a 20-year long relationship he has decided to take a short vacation to Barcelona after having to do some work in Madrid. While looking out the balcony of his Airbnb he notices Javi (Ramon Pujol) walking by in his Kiss shirt and well one thing leads to another (this might be the most glossed over of details sentence that I have ever written in a review). But as they are talking Ocho discovers that this is not the first time they have met.

Continue reading

Movie Review – Solteras (Ready to Mingle)

TL;DR – An interesting concept that is held back by deeply unlikable characters.     
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

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

Solteras (Ready to Mingle). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I should open this up with the clear proviso that I am not the target audience for this film so that might have had a big impact on my enjoyment or lack therefore of. However, I really struggled with this film from the start until maybe the last ten minutes.

So to set the scene, Ana (Cassandra Ciangherotti) is the last of her friends/cousins to get married, but that is okay because she is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend Gabriel (Pablo Cruz). Well she was right up until he dumped her in the middle of a wedding. Well, during the middle of the alcohol drinking stage of her break up she discovers her ‘less attractive’ cousin Tamara (Lucía Uribe Bracho) is also getting married. After an altercation, Tamara gives her the details and she shows up not quite ready for what is about to happen.

Continue reading