movie reviews

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird

Lady Bird is a witty coming-of- age drama set in Sacramento, California. The eponymous “Lady Bird” (Saoirse Ronan) who’s given name is Christine, is a senior at a Catholic school from “the wrong side of the tracks.” She dreams of leaving home and going to college on the East Coast. She feels that her life sucks and is extremely bored with living in Sacramento. She is dissatisfied and often disappointed, but she is also resilient and a dreamer. On a recommendation from a nun, Lady Bird and her best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein), sign up for a theater programme. Lady Bird falls in love with her co-star, Danny (Lucas Hedges). She experiences her first love, but also her first heartbreak.

This a s brilliantly scripted, witty film with fantastic dialogue, well-drawn characters and a good dose of dark and dry humour. This young adult drama is filled with teenage angst, a girl just trying to be cool, making friends, losing friends, being young, having fun and discovering sexuality. It is also about family, roots, home, spreading your wings and making your own way in the word. The significant relationship between Lady Bird, who just wants to fly away, and her mother (Laurie Metcalf), who has trouble letting her go, is a strong thread that is woven throughout the narrative. I found Lady Bird and the other characters in the film be extremely relatable. Saorise Ronan and Laurie Metcalf both give stellar performances in this well-cast movie.

It’s a must see movie for anyone who feels stuck in their life. If you like Lady Bird you might also enjoy: Juno, Rushmore, Orange County, Ghost World and Gilmore Girls .

Writer & Director : Greta Gerwig
Duration: 1h 35m
Rated: R
Release: 2017 (USA)



movie reviews

The Next Three Days (2010)

next 3 days

The Next Three Days is an enthralling action movie set in Pittsburgh. Lara (Elizabeth Banks) is sent to prison for the murder of her boss after they were seen having an argument at the office. An eye witness has also placed Lara at the scene of the crime. The evidence against her is pretty condemning. Her husband, John (Russell Crow), a teacher at a community college, fights ferociously to prove her innocence. He is now also effectively a single father taking care of their young son. When every legal recourse fails and Lara attempts suicide, John has starts making a different plan to get his wife out of jail. He gets involved with some dangerous characters and sets down a road there is no turning back from. When he learns that Lara will be moved to a different prison withing a few days, John has to floor the accelerator on his plan.

The Next Three Days is a story about love, faith, family and fortitude. It’s about the people who believe you even if all the facts seem to scream that they are wrong. The people who will be there for you even when you push them away. A hero who keeps fighting for the people he loves and for what he believes is right, even when all the odd are stacked against him. A discussion John has with his students about Don Quixote is a perfect parallel for his own situation. The film has plenty of suspense, action, violence, chases and nail-biting moments.

Is it super realistic? Perhaps not. Though,  it is well-written, well-made, edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

Cast includes: Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Jason Beghe, Aisha Hinds, Helen Carey, Brain Dennehy…

Director : Paul Haggis (Crash)
Screenplay: Paul Haggis (Crash, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Million Dollar Baby)
Based on the Screenplay: “Pour Elle” by Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans
Release: 2010 (USA)
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 2h 13min


movie reviews

Seven Pounds (2008)


Seven Pounds is an intense, heavy, human drama. Ben (Will Smith), a IRS agent, is a man on a mission who harbors a dark secret. He goes around investigating a list of people. We soon learn that these people have something in common, they all need help. There is a blind vegan meat salesman, a battered woman trying to get away from her abusive ex, a frail old woman and several other people in difficult circumstances. When Ben investigates Emily (Rosario Dawson), a sweet, charming woman with a heart condition, he finds himself being drawn to her. When they fall in love it is a big stick getting stuck in the spokes of the wheels of his plan. His feelings for Emily and the happiness he had been experiencing and throws him into doubt. For the longest time he had been racked with guilt, neglecting himself, focused only on his plan, believing that he could not have anything for himself. Ben is not entirely who he seems to be and it soon be comes clear what he is planning and why.

This movie is in a word brilliant. The title, “Seven Pounds”, refers to the expression “seven pounds of flesh”, which in the case of this film is both metaphorical and refers to something slightly more literal. It is a story of love, guilt, kindness, contrition and redemption. The story line is slightly non-linear. Action starts with a flash forward f and then jumps back in time to where Ben is busy investigating the people on his list. The editing between flash the investigation, the execution of the plan, Ben’s dark secret and the aftermath of his plan.

Seven Pounds is extremely intriguing and incredibly well written. The story gut-wrenching especially upon subsequent viewings, when you already know what Ben is up to. The score underline the emotion of the film. Is it melodramatic? It could potentially be given the story and the messages it contains, but I think it was executed in very well.

The director, Gabriele Muccino, did a wonderful job with orchestrating such a beautiful film and getting great performances from the actors. Will Smith gave a very emotionally charged, sensitive performance as Ben (comparable to his performance in The Pursuit of Happyness, also directed by Gabriele Muccino). Rosario Dawson is perfect. The supporting cast also did a great job at creating a touching experience.


Cast includes: Woody Harelson, Micheal Ealy, Barry Pepper, Elpidia Carrillo, Joe Nunez …

Director: Gabriele Muccino (The Persuit of Happyness * Remenber Me, My Love * TheLast Kiss)
Screenplay: Grant Nieporte
Release: 2008 (USA)
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 2 h 3min



movie reviews

Birthday Girl

birthday girl_poster


Birthday Girl is a sexy suspense thriller set in England. John (Ben Chaplin) is a socially awkward bank manager (for instance, fails to notice a co-worker’s interest in him). John has a good job and a comfortable life, but he is lonely. John signs up for a Russian mail-order bride on the internet. When Nadia (Nicole Kidman) arrives John realizes she doesn’t speak a word of English and he wants to call the whole thing off. Nadia is determined to make a life with John and he is completely charmed by her, so she gets to stay. On Nadia’s birthday her two Russian friends, Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and Alexei (Vincent Cassel), show up to celebrate her special day. Ben is uncomfortable with the unexpected arrival of these strangers, but his bride seems happy to have her friends from home in her new world, so they get to stay. Following an incident with Alexei, John fears he might be a bit volatile and he asks the strangers to leave. This sets off a serious of precarious events, which forces John into a criminal act and throws his entire world into upheaval.

Birthday Girl is a slightly dark, crime thriller, packed with suspense and several twists and turns. There is a good dose of romance, suspense and dry British humour. The plot device of the pair of binoculars is woven quite well into the fabric of the narrative. The sound track also makes use of Russian and instrumental music to underline the various stages of the plot. Even though he doesn’t seem to be delusional, for me, the character of John slightly evoked Lars (Lars and the Real Girl).

I quite liked this movie.


Cast includes: Stephen Mangan, Alexander Armstrong, Sally Phillips, Kate Lynn Evans

Director: Jez Butterworth
Writers: Tom `Butterworth & Jez Butterworth
Release: 2001 (UK)
Duration: 1h 33min
Rated: R




movie reviews


chocolat poster

Chocolat is a period drama (with a touch of comedy and romance), set in a small French country village. The village is traditional and deeply religious. Piety and tranquility is at the order of the day. The mayor, Comte de Reynad (Alfdred Molina) keeps a firm hand, controlling every aspect of the villagers’ lives including the priest’s sermons. Vienne (Juliettee Bincoche) a  rootless, free-spirited, single mother arrives in town with her daughter, Anouk, in tow. Vienne rents out the village patisserie and movies into the apartment upstairs.  Vienne is a passionate chocolatier and opens a chocolate shop, where she whips up the most divine and decadent chocolate creations. Reynaud is not happy with this at all, since it is time for Lent and such indulgences are most improper. Vienne also does not share in the religious values of the town and this is somewhat troublesome. Despite resistance the villagers find themselves been drawn to the chocolaterie. Vienne’s charm and kindness finds it’s way into their hearts. Small changes begin a ripple effect in the life of the villagers.  One day a band of drifters arrive on their river boat. Vienne and Anouk befriend Roux (Johnny Depp), a charming, guitar playing, drifter. Reynaud is deeply uncomfortable with the presence of the drifters in his pristine village and he becomes more embittered against Vienne. Reynaud spreads his poison against Vienne, her patisserie and the drifters, making the outsiders feel even more unwelcome. Can Vienne find a home in the village or will the status-quo keep the upper hand?


Given how prominently Johnny Depp features in the poster and promotion of this film, his character shows up fairly late in the game. Though, Roux is a catalytic element in the plot and an essential part of the film. The brilliant performances from Binoche, Molina, Dench, Olin and Depp (but also the overall stellar cast) are skillfully directed. There is so much to the characters of this wonderful story: The young, slightly dark, boy who secretly is a sketch artist. The young village priest who listens to Elvis. The old woman, estranged from her daughter, who badly wants to see her grandson. The friendless, mousy, kleptomaniac who emerges from the shadow of her abusive tavern keeper husband and finds a best friend in Vienne. The old man with the little dog who is in love with a grieving widow.

Chocolat is as rich and beautiful as artisanal hand-made chocolates. Like chocolate the film is both bitter and sweet. It is a tale of repression, prejudice, conformity, individuality, resentment, friendship, acceptance and kindness. This is the perfect movie to watch when you feel stuck in a rut or if you just need a little bit of sweetness and inspiration.

You would probably like this film if you liked Pleasantville and Amelie.


Cast includes: Judi Dench, Carrie Ann Moss, Lena Olin, Peter Stormare, Hugh O’Conor

Director: Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules)
Screenplay: Robert Nelson Jacobs (The Shipping News, The Water Horse)
                     – Based on a novel by Joanne Harris
Duration: 121 mins
Release: 2000 (UK)
Age Restriction: 12



movie reviews

Punch-Drunk Love

punch-drunk love

Barry Egan  (Adam Sandler) is a lonely awkward business man who works for a company that sells plungers. He is skittish,  spooked by loud noises, constantly wears the same outfit and is really uncomfortable with any kind of change. He  suffers from anxiety, he has a lot of anger issues, seems to be depressed and wonders if he should talk to someone about his issues. He has seven sisters and he seems a bit subdued by the women in his life. It doesn’t seem like he can  really stand up for himself.  Barry Egan  (Adam Sandler) is a lonely awkward business man who works for a company that sells plungers. He is skittish,  spooked by loud noises, constantly wears the same outfit and is really uncomfortable with any kind of change. He  suffers from anxiety, he has a lot of anger issues, seems to be depressed and wonders if he should talk to someone about his issues. He has seven sisters and he seems a bit subdued by the women in his life. It doesn’t seem like he can  really stand up for himself.

Barry discovers that he can collect airline miles using coupons in a food product  promotion and he becomes obsessed with collecting these airline miles… even though he doesn’t plan to ever go anywhere. When Lena (Emily Watson) shows up one morning to bring her car to the next door auto repair shop, Barry agrees to take her key and hand it to the mechanic, though he feels clearly uncomfortable with the situation. Barry calls a phone sex hot-line, because he is just looking for someone to talk to. The next day the woman from hot-line calls him back asking for money. In a panic he cancels his credit cards.  Lena shows up on the scene again and Barry finds himself agreeing to go out on a date with her, despite his trepidation and self-doubt.  When trouble arrives on Barry’s doorstep, he decides it’s time to take a little trip.


A well crafted, artfully  directed film with a wonderful screenplay and fantastic characters. The art design makes great use of colour to set tone and mood.   Barry is dressed in a blue suit for the majority of the film.  This resonates his discomfort with any kind of change, but also gives him a bit of a cartoon character feel. Lena, as the romantic interest,  is dressed in warmer tones: white and shades of red and plum. As far as the lighting goes, there is a brilliant interplay between shadow and light. The transitions between scenes are beautiful  paintings, a symphony of of colours and music.  The score  and sound editing  beautifully support  the story.
I’d describe this incredible movie as a work of art. It’s a sweet, off-beat  little romance with amazing moments with sweeping romantic music. There is a beautiful first kiss that will make your dorky little heart smile. You will find your self being really happy for Barry when he falls in love  (while also smiling and cringing at his awkwardness). You will want to cheering when he stands up for himself and directs  his anger in the right direction.
See its if you like weird characters and off-beat romantic comedies  Though sensitive viewers should  be warned that it also has some violence and strong language.


Cast includes: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luiz Guzman , Robert Smigel, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Julie Hermelin, Rico Bueno

Director & Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There will Be Blood)
Release: 2002 (USA)
Rating: R
Duration 1hr 35min



movie reviews

10 items or less (2006)


A famous actor, credited simply as Him (Morgan Freeman), who has been out of work for a few years, considers doing a small, low-budget, independent movie. The driver drops him off at a ranch market to research his role as a store manager and get a feel for the location. While waiting to speak to the manager he notices the no-nonsense woman operating the 10-items-or-less aisle. He immediately finds Scarlet (Paz Vega) fascinating. He starts studying her with bemused interest, while she regards him with annoyance. He notices that she seems to be really great with numbers and that she is handling all of the customers as well while the other check-out girl does nothing. He shadows and studies, Lee, the stand-in store manger and interacts with store customers and seems to be having a marvelous time. When Scarlet’s shift is over he finds that he is still stuck at the store, without a way to reach the driver. He convinces Scarlet to give him a lift. The actor accompanies Scarlet as she runs errands, sees her ex-husband, prepares and goes for a job interview. They spend the day bonding and have some great conversations.

10-items-or-less is a brilliantly crafted character and dialogue driven movie. The actor is a real people person, a student of human behaviour, who charms and in a way flirts with everyone he encounters. He also has commitment issues and hasn’t done a movie in years. Scarlet, who is originally from Spain, is honest, cynical and frustrated. She is stuck in a crummy job and cannot afford to get divorced from her ex-husband, who she still has to see on a regular basis. I really enjoyed these tow characters and watching the connection unfold between them. The supporting characters where really amusing, some of them are quirky and sweet, while some are quite loathsome.

I really love this movie. It has a great script and the movie was made on a low budget. It was mainly shot on hand held camera, which also suits the plot regarding the low budget movie the actor is considering. The movie is both English and Spanish and is set somewhere around LA . The soundtrack has some great music on it and features the hip-hop track “La Receta” by Kemo the Blaxican.

See it if you like dialogue driven indie movies and people driving around in cars.

Director: Brad Silberling (City of Angels, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Moonlight Mile, Land of the Lost, An Ordinary Man )
Writer: Brad Silberling  ( Moonlight Mile, An Ordinary Man)
Duration: 1 hr  22 mins
Language: English/ Spanish
Rated: R (language)

Release: 2006 (USA)


Memorable dialogue: 


HIM: This is amazing
SCARLET: It’s Target
HIM: Fantastic.

Let me tell you something. I may not know my phone number. I may not know what f**king day it is, but I know people. I mean the minute I see somebody I know how to cast them. I see the role. Don’t you do that?

HIM: We could meet for breakfast once a week.
SCARLET: We’ll never see each other again.
HIM: Bullshit
SCARLET: Don’t say that. Let’s not say what is not true. Not here.

HIM: I don’t think I even have a real friend I could call. And I realize I could just disappear.
SCARLET: I don’t have any friends.



movie reviews

The Town (2010)

the town

The Town is set in Charlestown, a blue-collar Boston neighbourhood, which is known as “The bank robbery capital of America.”The Town is set in Charlestown, a blue-collar Boston neighbourhood, which is known as “The bank robbery capital of America.”

Doug Macray (Ben Affleck)  is basically a decent guy with a good heart, who has taken a few wrong turns in his life. He is a recovering addict who is trying to get his life act together, but he is tangled up in a life of  crime. He commits robberies with his best friend since childhood, Jem (Jeremy Renner), and two of their friends. In their free time the guys hang out in bars and at barbecues. Doug also has some sort of  non-committed  relationship with Jem’s sister, Kirista (Blake Lively),  who is the mother of a small child and addicted to oxy.

During a bank robbery, the gang takes a bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall),  hostage. Afterwards, they fear she might be able to identify them and Doug decides to check up on her. He starts talking to her to ascertain what she has been telling the cops. A determined FBI agent, Frawley (Jon Hamm), is questioning Claire about the bank robbery and starts sniffing around Doug and his friends’ lives. As Doug spends time with Claire he soon falls in love with her.  Doug wants to get out of his precarious situation, but he and his crew is hired by a dangerous man, “Fergie  aka The Florist” (Pete Postlethwaite),  to do a big heist and if he doesn’t play a long, Claire is in danger…
The Town is violent with strong language. This script is well written, with some well-drawn characters who I  found myself caring about. It is a hard crime drama with some moments of sweetness and some humour in the dialogue. The score underlining the film is used effectively to create tension during action scenes, but subtle and sparse during conversation scenes, so that you can really focus on the characters and the great dialogue. This also gives theses scenes a real and raw feel.  The film is well directed and the cast gave some pretty decent performances.

See it if you like heist movies with a bit of human drama.


Cast also includes: Chris Cooper,  Slaine, Owen Burke, Titus Welliver, Corena Chase

Director: Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Argo)
Writers: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard (screenplay)
             Chuck Hogan (novel)
Release: 2010 (USA)
Rated: R 
Duration: 2h 5min 
Crime, Drama, Thriller



movie reviews

Land of the Dead (2005)

land of the dead

The city has a zombie plague.  Cholo (John Leguizmo) and Riley (Simon Baker) go into dangerous and zombie infested  zones to do pick-ups and deliveries. Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) is tycoon who divided the city into fenced off zones and militarized the whole shebang. Riley tries to help Stack (Asia Argenta) a woman who is used as bait in a blood sport arena and they both end up in jail. Cholo blackmails Kaufman for a large amount of money. Kaufman has Riley released from jail and hires him to hunt Kaufman down.

Packed with gun violence and cheesy gore. The score and sound editing was used fairly well respect to the narrative. The movie was neither particularly scary nor funny. It is not the worst thing you could watch, but it’s not a film I’ll be rewatching or remembering lines of dialogue from.

Writer & Director: George A Romero
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: R





movie reviews

Thor: Ragnarok


Thor finds out he has an older sister, Hela, who is the rightful heir to the throne of Asgard. Hela is hella evil though and bent on destruction. Suddenly his black sheep brother, Loki,  who Hela usurps, doesn’t seem all that bad. Thor finds himself imprisoned.  Easy going Thor realizes he’ll have to take responsibility,  make haste to get back home and prevent Ragnorok (the total destruction of the world and life as he knows it). He charms a beautiful, but tough Valkyrie into helping him. He meets up Loki, as well as with Bruce Banner, aka Hulk… and he assembles a team to join him in his epic battle against his sister.

Thor: Ragnorok is a fun action-packed movie that will have you laughing throughout. The way the characters teleport is really cool.  There is some awesome scenery and great editing. I loved the dialogue in this movie, it is incredibly funny.   I was told that it was apparently mostly improvised… This speaks of great cast chemistry.  This is some pure sit back and relax entertainment. See it if you love super heroes and funny action movies.
Cast includes:
Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban… 

Director: Taika Waititi
Writers:  Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle &  Christopher Yost
  — based on comic books by:  Stan Lee, Larry Lieber& Jack Kirby

Release: 2017 (USA)
Running Time: 2hrs 10 min
Rating: PG -13