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)

 

©2018

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movie reviews

Seven Pounds (2008)

7pounds

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

 

©2018

movie reviews

The Wrestler (2008)

wrestler

Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is an aging professional wrestler. He struggles to make rent and has to pick up extra shifts at his day job.  The years of beatings to his body, steroid abuse and hair bleaching is taking its toll.  He seems to be pretty lonely.  He has regularly visits a stripper, Cassidy (Marissa Tomei), whom he develops an interest in.  His doctor recommends that he quits wrestling and Randy makes an effort to adjust to “normal” life. He tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), but she’s not too keen.  As things go awry, Randy finds himself being drawn back into wrestling.

The Wrestler was a big comeback for Mickey Rourke (actually his comeback was in 2005’s Sin City, but The Wrestler is a bigger role) who was quite popular in the 1980s (see 9½ Weeks and Angel Heart).  Rourke won best actor Golden Globe, BAFTA , Screen Actors Guild Award, etc and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Randy.  The lovely Marissa Tomei was nominated for and/or won several awards for her performance as Cassidy.

I’m not really into wrestling, but I thought the movie is quite brilliant. Like other films from director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), The Wrestler is a portrait of human obsession and habit. It’s not a feel-good movie.  Randy’s world is pretty bleak. It is gritty and feels very real.

I would recommend this movie if you’re into serious human drama.


Written by: Robert Siegel
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Release: 2008
Rating: R
Running time: 1h 49min.

©lowercase v  2017 

book reviews

The Book Thief

book thief

The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany and is narrated by Death.  The main character is a little German girl named Liesel Meminger, who goes to live with foster parents. Her mother is gone and her brother is dead.

She steals her first book off a corpse and the rescues/ steals some subsequent books.  Her foster father, Hans, teaches her to read and she becomes an avid reader. She is a smart, tough little girl who likes to play football with the boys.  She befriends a boy called Rudy, who is her neighbour, and they become inseparable.  She and her foster family do not share the Nazi ideals. They hide a Jewish man, Max,  in their basement who becomes a very good friend to both Liesel and her family.  Though, hiding Max does put them in a very precarious situation.

The novel is perhaps a little heavy for vacation reading, but it has many light moments and is really well written.  A very intriguing and mesmerizing read.  The book includes German phrases, but they are also explained in English.  It is a beautiful story about humanity, love and friendship.

You would probably like this if you like The Boy in Striped Pajamas.  I would recommend this book.   There has been a movie made about this book, but I haven’t seen it yet.

I would highly recommend this book.

©lowercase v    2017 

book reviews

A Man Called Ove

ove.JPGA grumpy old widower who has lost his job, just wants to kill himself and die in peace, but his neighbours keep interfering.

The book is somewhat episodic, though it does follow a solid narrative.  It is well-written and the characters are well drawn.

This is a funny and touching story about being human. I enjoyed reading it and found that I could greatly relate to Ove.

I would recommend this book.

 

 

©lowercase v   2017 

movie reviews

Excess Baggage (1997)

Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13

Excess Baggage was released 20 years ago…

excess baggage

To get her father’s attention, a spoiled rich teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is hiding out in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a bond as they spend more time together.  In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate,  “Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

I saw this movies as a teenager. I definitely wanted to have Alicia Silverstone’s outfit, which I thought was very cool.  The soundtrack is enjoyable and features the song “All Mixed Up” by Red House Painters . Benicio Del Toro gives a very sweet performance as Vincent. Alica Silverstone is very cute and was extremely popular at the time of this film, due to her movie Clueless (1996).

The whole poor little rich girl thing is a bit of cliché. Excess Baggage is not exactly a cinematic classic, but it is  very entertaining and a easy watch.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast also includes:  Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson, Nicholas Turturro.

*A film with a similar premise, A Life Less Ordinary was released also released in 1997. Look out for my review and my comparison of the two films.

©lowercase v   2017

 

movie reviews

Moonlight

Rated R.
A coming of age story of a young black man living in a rough neighbourhood in Miami. We first meet Chiron, aka Little (Alex Hibbert)  as a small, sensitive boy living with his drug-addict single mother (Naomi Harris) .  He befriends a couple, Juan (Mahershala Ali) and Teresa (Janelle Monae),  who become like surrogate parents to him.  He also befriends a boy named Kevin (Jaden  Piner).  We next encounter Chiron (Ashton Sanders) as teenager, being bullied at school. Kevin (Jharell Jerome), who is now a big-talking “womanizer”,  becomes his love interest. They, however, live in the cruel, fit-in-or-suffer world of high school and things get ugly. We next meet Chiron, aka Black (Travante Rhodes) as a muscle-bound, tough gangster. Kevin  (Andre Holland) calls him out of the blue…

Well scripted.  Well directed.  Beautiful cinematography and score.  Great acting performances. Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role. The child actors are sweet, but not overly precious or cutesy.

This is a story about fear, prejudice, anger, betrayal, friendship and love. While it may be a “gay movie”, it is also a very beautiful human movie. There are some scenes of violence which might be difficult to watch.

While it’s not necessarily some action movie or thriller that has to be seen on the big screen, I would still recommend supporting it in cinema.

Memorable quote:
“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”

Moonlight has won several awards including the 2017 best picture Oscar and Golden Globe, as well as the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.
Running time: 1 hr 51 min
Release: 2016
Screenplay & Director: Barry Jenskins   (Based on a story by: Tarell Alvin McCraney) 
Full list of cast and crew:  imdb

 

 

©lowercase v  2017