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Before I Fall Movie Review (2017) | An Unserious Loop Movie

Frankly, I didn’t know Before I Fall was going to be a chick-flick. 10 minutes into the movie and I was already bracing myself for a lot of teen “Woohoos” and the quintessential “Oh My Gods”. Then I realized I hadn’t stepped into it properly, and these girls were really getting started. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew there were going to be a lot of selfies, presumably “cool” talk, and all that nonsensical high school BS that you grow out of at some point.

Then unfurled the plot of Before I fall movie that was nothing but a loop story. To live all of that high school madness every single day, now that was a testing time. Seriously, I hoped the movie to go somewhere with its climax, but unfortunately, it fell dead without a logical explanation to tack it upon. The movie feels like a flippant affair that doesn’t let you become serious.

Plot and Theme of Before I Fall Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

The story is based on the novel written by Lauren Oliver. A 17-year-old girl Samantha portrayed by Zoey Deutch wakes up from a car accident where she has been killed, only to find out she is well intact. Her day goes on, as she gathers her friends Lindsay (Halston Sage), Ally and Elody to begin her regular day at school. It’s Cupid Day at school and in the evening there’s this huge party thrown in by Kent McFuller portrayed by Logan Miller the guy in love with Sam.

For some of us, there’s only today and what you do today matters, in the moment and maybe to infinity. But I didn’t know any of that until I fell.

They have a rough night with Juliet Sykes played by Elena Kampouris, the school psycho girl, showing up at the party as they end up in a scuffle with her. They leave early only to meet a car accident, yes it’s the one that kills Sam.

However, when Sam wakes up, she realizes it is the same day all over again. Even though she does things differently she ends up with the same result. The same day repeats itself. When she refuses to go to the party and stays home instead, she gets a message about Juliet getting killed. The following days see her trying things differently so as to try and figure out what is she missing on. But at the end of the day Juliet dies, and she has to relive the same day all over again.

image of Zoey Deutch and Halston Sage in Before I Fall

Doing the Right Thing

She realizes that in focusing on being a part of the “Mean Girls” group she has been missing out on so many good things in her life. She has unknowingly turned into someone else.

It is only when she realizes the truth behind Juliet’s insecurities that she understands what is causing that accident. It is a pissed off Juliet who is running towards the road that seems to be the reason for her clogged fate. With hopes to make amends, she does all the things the way they should have been done in the first place, where she appreciates her little sister, her mother and father.

I see only my greatest hits. I see the things I want to remember and be remembered for. That’s when I realize that certain moments go on forever, even after they are over they go on. They are the meaning.

She tells everyone why they are important to her. She does right by kissing Logan and telling him that she loves him too. You know all the good stuff! Then this time when Juliet shows up she runs after her coaxing her not to suicide which she nevertheless attempts to do. However, Sam pushes her away just in time only to kill herself in the process.

Obvious Flaws

Before I Fall is a fully flawed movie; you can’t just pinpoint one. The first question that pops in your mind is why Sam is not sharing whatever she saw with her friends or family? Why is she not telling anyone about her day, that she had been living the same day over and over again? If she had, maybe it would have gone in a different way. Because that’s the natural thing and the first thing that you might do instead of trying to figure out everything all by yourself.

That angle was left out altogether. Doing so would have at least made her into a superhero, as she would have predicted everything like a boss.

Isn’t that how it always works out? There’s somebody laughing and there’s somebody being laughed at?

Characters in the movie are very thinly made too. It is hard to feel for them when there is nothing solid to chew upon. Like that of Juliet Sykes who starts abusing the gang, out of the blue. It appears very much contrived.

The Million Dollar Question

Then the movie goes in an apparent diegesis of sorts where a dead Sam is actually speaking to the audience. She admits to being killed and then talks about her choices. It’s the afterlife she tries to speak from, but why do her choices matter then when she has clearly died? She states in the end that she has learned how to live, but there’s no life left, right? Then what’s the point?

If saving Juliet would have stopped the loop, she could have done that without killing herself. Like the sanest thing to do would have been to tug at her, stopping her from going to the road in the first place. You don’t reason with a person who is destined to kill herself at a particular time when she is standing so close to the road. You just stop her from going anywhere near the road. Period.

Then there was nothing out of the ordinary in the screenplay too. Nothing intelligible about Ry Russo-Young‘s direction either.

The Final Verdict

I personally loved all the actors though. They were not only gorgeous to look at, they were capable of bringing a smile to your face. For instance how Elody played by Medalion Rahimi would come running and dancing to the car from her house. Or how Sam was really tight with Lindsay. It was lovely seeing how they used to be around each other.

Then again, there wasn’t any morsel of intelligence to Before I Fall movie. It seemed to have been created just for the heck of telling a loop story tacked with personal choices. Doing the right thing, being who you are, are some of the most cliched topics that are floating out there. You literally feel your IQ degrade after watching Before I Fall.

It might appeal a lot to the younger generation though. Watching it or not watching it is entirely your choice.

You can check out the trailer of Before I Fall Movie here:

The Great Wall Movie Review (2016) | Typical Monster Flick

The Great Wall movie is one of those monster flicks that starts abruptly without offering you any perspective. Unlike mythical horror movies that are built on sheer horror and tons of suspense, The Great Wall movie doesn’t bank on the fear factor rather chooses to go with the action platitude to the finish line. It ends up becoming a resounding dud shot when you can see through a plot that sounds very cliched, can feel the shallowness of its scenes and literally read the flick’s apparent contrivance.

Theme and Plot of The Great Wall Movie

The Great Wall movie tried to cash in on the myth surrounding China’s biggest miraculous defense. It created a story out of a mere lore and tried to throw in some tangible veracity to it. Yes it shows the wall in a light that would leave children fantasizing for days.

In doing so, its writers made the wall something it couldn’t have possibly been even in a dream. The movie tried to aggrandize the then extant Song Dynasty scenes with epic armies that acted tough and in unison. They responded pretty well to each other using signs and noises a normal guy couldn’t possibly register.

Max Brooks, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz created alien mythical monsters that visited every 60 years trying to overrun the planet with huge numbers. At the center of them is a queen, a gigantic monster who stays protected by her very own circle of trust er…monsters who do not let anyone get near her. She is calling the shots for her race and yes, she is literally yowling for a boss fight.

matt damon and pedro pascal in the great wall movie

Imperial Court has assigned the job of protecting its realm to a military order called The Nameless Order. Our hero William portrayed by Matt Damon who is way too heroic for a hero, and who barely makes mistakes, is a complete badass with his bow. He has Tovar played by Pedro Pascal for a sidekick who keeps questioning his choices. Both are mercenaries who accidentally run into the Imperial Court in their search for black powder, an ancient moniker for what we brand today as gunpowder.

Willem Defoe‘s character Ballard was terribly written. You could feel him disappear without any bang, oh wait! there was one for him alright. Pleasant escape!

The Good Things

If you try to focus on the good things the movie retains the first thing would be the music by Ramin Djawadi. He is capable of giving you goosebumps with his score. You could feel that emanating through the reverberation that drums produced in The Great Wall movie’s trailer.

Then there is that rare grim attitude Matt Damon wears most of the times, where you can see him delivering lines with a steady resolve. There is one particular scene where we find Lin Mae portrayed by Tian Jing trying to make William understand trust. She tries to coax him into jumping that she wouldn’t let go. But William, who is used to not trusting anybody chooses not to, and responds:

I’m alive today because I do not trust anybody.

Then you cannot overlook the colossal army of The Nameless Order either. It’s huge. The way they move, the way they walk, the grandeur and the resplendence is beyond comparison. It is enough to put you in awe.

Then there are the monsters that are intelligently thought of with the concept of the queen at the center of it. A well thought of fantasy.

You can order The Great Wall here:

Other Issues

Now that we have good things out of the equation, let’s move on to the ugly part. There were plenty of issues starting with the creation of fear. With movies that deal with monsters and aliens, there has to be that morsel of fear lurking that should terrify its viewers. With the Chinese finding it not a big deal since they have always imaged beasts and monsters all their lives, it ends up becoming kind of a big deal, a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Everything happens too fast, there is no slow graze to help one experience that fear. That’s one of the most important points that the flick overlooks. Apart from that you have the cliched storyline. You have seen this happen so many times that it compels you to yawn your way into it. Heroics included are too childish to be true. Also, climax isn’t exactly the movie’s forte. You know what will happen. No element of surprise there.

Then one of the most daft things the movie does lost in its splendour is with the human harpoons, the acrobatic soldiers or the crane troop. When you are left on the mercy of a rope and an army of monsters below you don’t go spearheading straight into their jaws. No matter how cool it looks. That’s leaping into the mouths of death. That’s what they do, and many pay the price too as was expected.

The Final Verdict

The Great Wall ends up becoming really mediocre if you look at what it has in store for you. A predictable story, monsters that you are going to probably forget with time. Some heroic stunts with arrows that look good but too good to be true. It all becomes forgetful in the end which should have been exactly the opposite of what we all wanted.

You can check out the trailer of The Great Wall here:

Hell or High Water Review (2016) | David Mackenzie Helms Another Masterpiece

Another great year for Taylor Sheridan as he writes another gorgeous piece Hell or High Water right after registering the extraordinary 2015 flick Sicario in the Hollywood books. The movie directed by David Mackenzie is a story of two brothers who set out on a bank robbery spree to save their family ranch in West Texas.

The beauty of Hell or High Water lies in its rugged originality, in its deadpan words that reflect reality. The way the movie trundles on its Western look and feel without losing sight of its true objective makes it an outright winner.

Direction of Hell or High Water Movie

I just love David Mackenzie’s direction. It pays utmost attention to character bearings, their talking mannerism, calm comportment at adverse times and the right on delivery of their dry humor. In his direction of the flick, he doesn’t miss out on acing the Western vista. The effortless flair is invariably there.

hell or high water brothers chris pine and ben foster

Then it is the way he lingers on a scene, until he squeezes out every bit of acting from his characters. His every scene stays definitive and complete giving the viewers plenty of perspective into the tale. Then the context of a relationship that he binds so beautifully with its characters goofing around with each other is amazing too. Even though there was a lot of Taylor Sheridan to it, Mackenzie just nails it, hands down.

Plot and the Pairing Up

While the movie banks on its robbing brothers Toby and Tanner portrayed by Chris Pine and Ben Foster perfectly to show one side of the tale, we have Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham as Marcus Hamilton and Alberto Parker silently working for the right side. The Howard brothers are the rampaging loners who steer the story forward.

Lord of the Plains.

Constantly pulling each other’s legs are Alberto and Marcus who are trying to hunt the brethren down. It is their chemistry that makes the movie a genial hoot.

Whilst the plot might sound like a bit cliched given the number of “bank job” movies that are out there, the reason here is a tad different. Toby and Tanner are trying to save their ranch, that is up for foreclosure. They have found oil in it, meaning a perfect life  for posterity. The only way out they see is by plundering banks. They are burying their four wheeler alibis in their property that can’t be touched. They wipe off their traces making it impossible for the cops to figure out the who. In short, they are really smart.

But with an even smarter cop they don’t stray far away. You can see Marcus getting closer to them with his instincts. Eventually a shootout breaks wherein Tanner loses it. Sniping Alberto he tags himself under the cross-hair of Marcus. And pays the price with his life. Toby goes on to purchase the ranch, thus earning loads of money, securing the future of his estranged children.

We are served an awesome standoff in the end where we find them pressed against each other. Yet the movie just ends with a threat in disguise leaving of what might ensue to viewer’s imagination.

Crime Movies

It must be very well understood what a crime movie tries to achieve. There’s always going to be the good side as long as their is bad in the world. There needs to be someone or something vilifying and cooling down the damage done . So no matter how badass the villainy might seem, or how likable a wicked character ends up becoming, eventually it has go down under the truck.

Toby: You talk like we ain’t gonna get away with this.

Tanner: I’ve never met nobody who got away with anything, ever.

But then there is that character akin to Robin Hood, who did whatever he did for the impoverished and the weak. He justifies the things that he has done. He is exonerated in the eyes of the public since he was doing the right thing. And not doing it just for the heck of it. He did not kill anybody and did not commit a crime so horrendous that could not be forgiven.

Toby and Tanner are paragons of such characters. Also, there is nothing above the law. No amount of good you do after you have done something bad can wipe that slate clean. Here, Marcus stays the epitome of law.

You can order Hell or High Water here:

Awesome Scenes to Watch Out For (Spoilers Ahead)

Hell or High Water doesn’t run short on its ultimate tinge of badassery. Like that scene wherein Tanner Howard stares blankly at a sporty car that stops at the gas station. And the owner is a bloke with a gun who feels offended of him gawking.

Boy, you’d think there were 10 of me.

The camera is placed such so you can see Toby making his way back from the shop. And then as things were beginning to get ugly Toby arrives just in the nick of time to literally destroy the poor guy. That’s one hell of an adrenaline rush.

Then there is that slapstick wit, that savoury tang that is always lurking in Tanner’s mouth. Like the time when he is intimidated by Bear who says:

I am a Comanche. Do you know what it means? It means ‘Enemy to everyone’.

Tanner who can’t be messed with either responds almost immediately with a comeback:

Do you know what that makes me? A Comanche.

The Final Verdict

Hell or High Water is a beautiful movie that is made even better by its entire Western setup and its splendid screenplay. Powerful performances by its characters make it thoroughly enjoyable. It never strays from its cardinal crux – come what may , thus justifying the title as well. A David Mackenzie beauty that should not be missed.

You can check out the trailer of Hell or High Water movie here:

 

The Founder Movie Review (2017) | The Gruesome McDonald’s Story

The Founder movie jumps into the detailing of how one of the most successful American dreams was built, pampered and then snatched. Did you ever stop to think that McBurger you have been devouring voraciously was once greased in dreams, fried in resilience and then eventually toppled over by a spatula of greed? That a man named Ray Kroc coveted for someone else’s dream, and then swept it away from right under their nose. No! You just want to eat that burger!

It is a biography of the journey of McDonald’s and the big role Ray Kroc plays to make it into this humongous fast food chain. But his path to success would repulse you because it plays unfair games.

Plot of the Founder Movie (Spoilers)

The Founder movie begins with Kroc trying to sell his Milkshake Makers always pushing for that one shot that would change his destiny. Always on the lookout for that big thing! That’s when he comes across the place that were to change his life forever.

A small diner serves extraordinary burgers and amazingly fast too. He gets smitten with their idea of serving food so fast and decides to pay the owners a visit. McDonald’s is run by Maurice McDonald portrayed by John Carroll Lynch and Richard McDonald played by Nick Offerman. They let him in on their secret and tell him how they run things. It’s one of the cardinal stories of how McDonald’s was dreamt and built from scratch. It is beautifully run, a tad lengthy to be honest, but crucial given the theme of the flick. You can sense how much energy, time and effort was spent in their moulding of a dream.

image of Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch in The Founder Movie

When that bit gets over, we see Kroc rooting for them, beseeching them to run a franchise. When they tell him they  tried and failed at it miserably, he reassures them that this time they won’t. With that he signs a contract with them, and expands. The expansion rakes in more moolah and suddenly he is at the top of the world. The franchise grows however so does the dispute between Kroc and the McDonald’s. The former used to earn a meagre percentage off the benefits reaped in, which forces him to consult someone who changes his life. In comes Harry J. Sonneborn played by B. J. Novak who flings an idea that makes a wolf out of Kroc.

The Real Estate Bolster

The ravenous Kroc as suggested by Harry starts buying chunks of land by creating his own company thereby not falling under the radar of the brothers. Thus the real money begins to flow as he keeps expanding the company all over states. He names the company “The McDonald’s Corporation” without consulting the brethren and rips them off paying them 1.35 millions each taking the reins of the company entirely in his hands. He shakes on 1% of future earnings to be given to them as well however doesn’t sign on it.

With that he announces himself as the “Founder” justifying the titular movie name, gloating his win with a trophy wife Joan Smith played by Linda Cardellini by his side, who he steals away from one of his business associates Rollie Smith played by Patrick Wilson.

We see his gradual decline into this monstrous image that we expected him to be the opposite of. Business is a vile thing. It creates fiends out of human beings. That’s what the Founder proves to. The final moments see the brothers changing the name of their diner as per the contract. It’s a sad sight watching their dream tumble down like that. Also since that 1% was never actually written down in a contract, they are never really paid for it as well.

The Unscrupulous Precinct

When you try to pay attention to what Ray Kroc was all about, you cannot really blame him for what he did. He was a businessman who tasted success. He abided by the laws of business wherein he was ready to take desperate measures to stay at the top. In his own words:

“If I saw a competitor drowning, I’d shove a hose down his throat.”

If you were to justify his decisions, he seems right on a lot of points. McDonald’s lacked vision until Ray Kroc walked in. If it weren’t for him, people all across the globe might not even have heard about it. So even though his steps seemed kind of desperate and immoral, ultimately it helped in getting the job done.

But then again, he brought the original brothers to his knees which makes him demonic in a way. Building an empire by stepping on someone’s chest. It is unscrupulous of any human being to do such an inhumane act, and that’s why you can’t really come to terms with it too.

I am afraid the movie shows Ray Kroc in a little bit of bad light, but that’s the beauty of John Lee Hancock‘s project. It leaves us with questions on what we should call fair, and what not.

You can order the Founder movie here:

Screenplay and Drama

The movie scores a tad low in the drama front. The primary reason for that being that half of the time you are made to believe that it’s actually comical. But what’s happening is far more grave. It is the brothers Mac and Dick that make it sound like that, but slowly the movie steps into ghastly waters when things start looking up for Ray. With the tone of the flick it was hard to tell however.

Laura Dern is shown in a bleak light, with dramatic vibes missing in her character of Ethel Kroc. It is sad how Ray picks her out of his life and throws her away like dirt.

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in The founder movie

Screenplay isn’t that exciting either except for cliches of success going on in the backdrop that are actually pretty great. The most heartfelt moment of the movie however stays in the struggling moments of Ray when he bends down to pick a fistful of sand, and with all his heart says,

“Just be right this one time. One time.”

It makes his character instantly relatable. All those dreamers who are struggling in life, waiting for their big moment to hit them, for their right decision to happen, would empathize profusely with his state of mind.

The flick might be vexing for some who are not used to watching lengthy biographies. This is however for the visionaries, and those who wish to grasp what really goes down in a business, and also for those who wish to know the actual story behind McDonald’s fame.

The Final Verdict

The Founder movie stays uplifted owing to Michael Keaton‘s mesmerizing performance as Ray Kroc. You can see him transpire into a wicked businessman gradually which suits his persona perfectly. It is a rip off for the original owners, a story that a lot of people don’t know about. Hence, if you wish to know how it all came into existence, whether it was an egg or a hen that led the pack, this movie should not be missed for the world.

Check out the trailer of The Founder Movie here:

 

The Lobster Movie Review (2015) | A Satire on Human Relationships

The Lobster Movie is a stunning satire. It is a metaphor on relationships, of how humans are always under constant peer pressure of finding that one true soul mate that has the same mental disability or defining characteristic as theirs. It is a society that’s divided into two major factions that calls shots on the relationship game – one being that of a loner, whilst the other cohort belongs to that of the couples. The Lobster movie is an unbiased therapeutic journey of David played brilliantly by Colin Farrell who stays influenced by all the rules, and takes decisions complying to set ordeals.

Direction of The Lobster Movie

What Yorgos Lanthimos does with his mammoth project is absolutely breathtaking. His choice of plot projection is simply ravishing too. He chooses to pick a monotonous mannerism to reflect on life’s bleakness. Our pointless gestures captured in one single dull tone. Every character is written in morose vibes except when they are pretending. Then there were his subtle lighting effects to assist him with his gorgeous setup.

still of Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell in The Lobster movie

His story chugs forward in decisive emblematic frames. There’s a reason every frame is there, silent metaphors lurking inside them. And he manages to leave you mesmerized with his product. At the end he leaves you guessing too, finally dropping a possibility of a big ‘what-if’ thus throwing you in a whirlwind of thoughts. You come out wondering, questioning, assessing and re-evaluating what the director had in his mind, and how everything sieves in to fit the bill.

Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou come up with this beautiful screenplay that goes hand in hand with life’s countless equations. They trace us in a way, stay comical at times and yet so profound that it is hard to shake their thought off.

We all dance by ourselves, that’s why we only play electronic music.

Theme and Comparisons

The comparisons that Yorgos Lanthimos intends to make and so effortlessly puts out there will compel you to question your life’s choices. Imagine a hotel, a mental institution of sorts, where people come out to meet their right fit. They are allotted a fixed amount of time to set their life in order, by finding a partner – a requisite to stay complete and fulfilled in a world obsessed with relationships.

“She feels nothing at all.”

The Hotel

The hotel forces upon its rules and regulations creating its very own set of theories and beliefs to establish its ordeals forcing people to act on them. People act as sheep following ways laid down by the Hotel. They have their very own idea of eternal bliss sprawled out on their brochures compelling others to think of yachts as their ‘happily everafters’. That finding a companion is the ultimate thing that needs be done. If by chance you couldn’t find a companion by the end of 45 days of hotel stay, you will be deemed unfit and turned into an animal. Animal here is a subtle wink at people who are looked at by our current societal set of mind as goners.

the hotel in the lobster movie

Loners

Au contraire to hotel’s belief, stands resistance. Rebellions known as loners (aptly named) who prefer to stay alone, dance alone in their misery. They are constantly hunted by the hotel residents as a sport. It is a way of Lanthimos implying society constantly picking on singles every now and then, turning them into animals. The juxtaposition of a world right outside that of hotel is beautifully done. You think that maybe the resistance would be the good guys, but no! Though liberal in their outlook they have their own set of regulations that take punitive measures for those who do not abide by their own laws.

“You can be a loner until the day you die. There is no time limit.”

City

City life here is another clever allusion at the world out there, where people judge you based on your relationship status. Staying single is a crime there. It works entirely on the lines of hotel beliefs. To them it is more of a preparation to set you out for sea. All the happy couples live, work and shop there. If you somehow are spotted single, cops start prodding you asking questions to establish if you aren’t an outcast, a loner which is a punishable crime in their eyes.

Then there are missions which are analogous to life’s menial purposes. Whilst the hotel is bent on hunting loners with tranquilizers, the mission of the loners is to bring chaos into the lives of those in relationships. The latter tries to open the eyes of those blinded by the concept of love. All of it is astoundingly directed.

“It is more difficult to pretend that you do have feelings when you don’t than to pretend you don’t have feelings when you do.”

With horrendous choices like the two factions, you can’t understand which one is right? Which one is the perfect one? Which one you should opt for? Because the idea of both of them are equally abysmal.

Beautiful Allegory

There are tons of allegorical slaps strewn all across the movie that makes you ponder on how things work in real life, and how pretentious we consider some things to be.

It also intelligently hints on how we are not supposed to be dependent on others for anything. This clever remark has been wrapped in the following extraordinary quote:

“Don’t expect anyone else to dig your grave for you or to carry your corpse. We’ll throw some dirt over you but that’s about it.”

That we should take matters in our own hand, always be prepared for the worst, and try to find a way without expecting someone to help us out.

Then there are numerous human emotions that come part and parcel of a relationship. Like the apparent jealousy, anxiety and distress that bothers you when you see someone talking, gifting, and caring for your partner more than you. It is perfectly shown when David goes over the top to find out if a person had the same distinctive feature as that of his love interest.

What is worth appreciating is the fact how Lanthimos uses ointments as an exemplary wink at single people in pain. How they can’t reach it by themselves, and are forced to live with it.

“He didn’t know how much it hurts to be alone, how much it hurts when you cannot reach to rub pain-relief ointment on your back, and you are constantly in pain.”

I intend to write a proper explanation of the movie in detail to help you fathom The Lobster movie completely. Keep your eyes open for that post.

You can order The Lobster movie here:

 

The Final Verdict

The Lobster makes for a very satisfying watch owing to its extraordinary comparisons, its dark parables and its unsettling irony. The final climax, leaves you in a cliffhanger posing a question as to what the protagonist might have really done. It leaves you to decide and that’s what a good movie should always do. Make you think for hours!

You can check out the trailer of The Lobster movie here:

 

La La Land Review (2016) | An Exhilarating Dramatic Musical for Dreamers

If there’s a definition of astounding in your head, then La La Land simply surpasses it. It’s literally spellbinding! And we aren’t only going by the story here. The music, the setup, the acting, the metaphor, the screenplay, the editing, the choreography, everything has been given ample thought and scrutiny before the actual execution. And you can expect only a genius like Damien Chazelle to ace everything to perfection.

Theme of La La Land Movie

La La Land carries that quintessential dream every dreamer has. It is about not giving up even when the whole universe seems to be plotting against you. The flick is about following your dreams till the end, about you being willing to take risks and make colossal sacrifices to reach there. It being a musical is often sprinkled with gorgeous songs that are well executed and complemented by Justin Hurwitz‘s stunning compositions. Even whilst you listen to the Jazz play, you can’t help but time travel two years ago when Whiplash had showed up. Amazing exhilarating music!

image of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Sebastian and Mia in La la land movie

Fascinating Drama (Spoilers Ahead)

La La Land will rip you apart, tear you down to a million pieces. It is so profound that it touches just the right chords. And it does so by its genteel build-up. There is that thrill of a growing relationship, the perfection that seems to have been made in the stars. It goes on like that, reflecting life, and when you are least prepared, it drops the real bomb on you. Climax becomes havocking all of a sudden. It leaves you grieving, forcing you to feel its pious pain. It ends up talking to your cheeks with those teary beads.

This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise. It’s very, very exciting!

It is when you listen to Ryan Gosling play his song “City of Stars” on the piano for the first time, that you understand the level of uprooting music La La Land packs in. It is sad, profound, soothing, and in a way really satisfying to listen.

You can check out the music here:

His character Sebastian‘s way of re-imagining a life with Mia played stunningly by Emma Stone is what gives the movie a gloomy punch. It is the most nerve-racking moment of the movie. You feel the sudden gush of emotions burst all dams when you realize Sebastian wished everything undone, unwritten and then rewritten in his memories with Mia in it. I ended up in tears. It’s really that profound.

You can pre-order La La Land movie from here:

The Chemistry

Whilst there are movies that skip the chemistry to feast its plot, we get served a perfect one here. Both Sebastian and Mia create such a beautiful world that you forever stay on their high. There are metaphors galore that Chazelle uses via his songs. Like the time when they start flying in the air, even though they were actually sitting. They dance their way into the stars and cross galaxies together. It leaves things for viewer’s imagination, and it hits just the spot.

Ryan Gosling simply steals the show. There is something about him that captivates you almost instantly. You feel his pang, if he is sad. You feel his vibes when he is happy. Even when there is nothing to show but sarcasm, you feel him there too. He brings that uncontrived flair to his work that is just remarkable! When you watch him go psyched about Jazz, he makes you reflect on things that you have been passionate about all this time too.

You could just write your own rules. You know write something, that’s as interesting as you are.

Emma Stone is an equally great performer. Twice does she go into that full-blown acting mode, whilst giving those powerful auditions. The aura that she retains and the energy that binds her makes you want to give her a standing ovation every time she slithers into that mode. With that you just know the casting for La La Land was done perfectly.

The Final Verdict

La La Land deserves all the accolades! It is a movie that makes you want to retrace your dreams, inspires you to go after them. It’s romance acknowledges that perfect key that awaits your lock. It shatters you to pieces when it tries to showcase unfulfilled possibilities. Musical lover or not, it is a movie that needs to be immediately seen. Grab some tissues before watching this beauty of a movie.

 

Kubo and the Two Strings Review (2016) | Bewitching Animation

Words bereave me as I try to put this one together. Kubo and the Two Strings had me mesmerized. And not just by its breathtaking realism, but by the calm in its thoughtful direction, and the peerless work that it tagged along. Very satisfying!

The movie forever carries a hint of grim element, and is not afraid to walk across dark enclaves in order to provide us with an amazing tale of a one-eyed young boy named Kubo who is on a magical quest to find his father’s armour to defeat a wicked Moon King.

Extraordinary Animation

Looking at the animation of the movie, you can’t help but wonder – Can stop motion really reach such fascinating levels of allure? Well, Kubo and the Two Strings surpasses all! Who makes that possible? None other than Travis Knight the lead animator, also the actual mind behind exceptional movies like Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls.

You can’t applaud Travis Knight enough. Apart from the fact that he can ace Herculean jobs as an animator, he can also direct better than most of the directors out there. So, he proves with his sharp presence of mind. The transition of frames happens through walking into a tree or a wall. And it does so with such a peaceful nimble snap that it is hard to tell if the frame had actually changed in that teensy swift scale.

What I also loved about Travis’s direction was how he imparted Kubo and the Two Strings with a charming gait. The movie is literally abounding with focus. It lets you feast on every single frame letting things percolate beautifully. You can perceive minuscule details in his frames, and that’s what makes his frames stunning to look at. Owing to that, even though Kubo and the Two Strings banks on a fictitious tale for its plot, the movie doesn’t falter at all at any point.

Plot of Kubo and the Two Strings

The story is more of a fantastical take set against the backdrop of ancient Japan. One-eyed Kubo takes care of his ill mother. He uses a Shamisen to bring inanimate papers to life. He performs in a nearby village to get himself and his mother by.

If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem. And please be warned, if you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you, even for an instant, then our hero will surely perish.

Kubo is a storyteller and he barely knows his past. In her mother’s ephemeral jovial moments is he able to fill himself up with stories of the past. He is fascinated by tales of his father and yearns to meet him in person. But her mother warns him not to venture out when it’s dark coz that’s when the moonlight shines bright meaning the Moon King, his grandfather and his aunties might see him. His mother tells him that they are after his other eye, and that this rule be followed at all costs.

One fine day however in an attempt to rekindle with his father’s soul, Kubo ends up staying out late.

I just wish you were here, so I could talk to you, see you, find out what I should do.

A big mistake! That’s when the attack of the aunties happen. His mother pays the price for it as she intervenes just when things were about to go south. She saves him asking him to find an armour, the only way that can possibly defeat the evil Moon King.

Ensuing Magical World

still of monkey and kubo in kubo and the two strings movie

As Kubo wakes from a tumultuous backdrop, he finds a monkey voiced by Charlize Theron calling out his name. He realizes that the monkey was in fact none other than a toy he used to carry around with him at all times. The talking monkey tells him that she was brought to life by his mother before she died. The only thing Kubo is left with is a strand of her mother’s hair.

This bracelet, her hair, it’s a memory. And memories are powerful things, Kubo. Never lose it.

On their quest to find the armour they find a human soul trapped inside a beetle. He claims to be working for his father Tatsu but isn’t sure because of a memory wipe out scene.

Thus the ultimate quest begins to find armour elements that are placed at unusual places, as magic and perversion from Moon King and his mother’s sisters try to stop them from achieving that goal. In a life that had reeked of loneliness almost all the time, Kubo reflects of how amazing it was for him to be a part of someone’s company, with:

I have never had a meal sitting between anyone before.

Sentient Kubo

Kubo is so thoughtful that it syncs you instantly with his feelings. His one eye can grasp little things that are of colossal import to him and you can’t applaud him enough for that.

Sometimes I would tell my mother stories about little things. Like skimming rocks across the river or catching fireflies in the mulberry fields. And when I told those stories, I could see her eyes were mostly clear. I could tell she saw me. Really saw me. I could see her, too. Her real self. Her spirit trying to fight its way out. It was beautiful.

Tiny lippy movements of the protagonist are so beautifully done that it almost makes you feel as if he is an extant creature.

You have to give it to Tatsu voiced by Matthew McConaughey who makes his character even more lovable. The story of his mother that climaxes with:

You are my quest.

and which is soon followed by:

I had seen the wonders of the universe, but the warmth of his gaze as I looked into his eyes. That, that I had never known. It was his humanity I saw. And it was more powerful than anything in my cold realm.

brings power in his story and it makes it even more warm.

still of all characters from kubo and the two strings movie

Then it has that contemplative paragon of a song as well which is depicted by flying golden heron that are believed to carry the soul of the departed.

How do you see a song?

To which the reply goes:

You look.

That moon reflection, water droplets falling everything was beautifully imagined and executed.

Downsides

Trying to look at the downside, things escalate too quickly. For example you are not really prepared for a whimsical alteration, but then it happens which kind of kills the mood. And then the final bits with the Moon King doesn’t fill you up with wonder much since you are prepared for the cliched ending of the tale. There is nothing eye-candy like about it and you can’t help but wonder if the trouble to reach that grimy end justifies truly.

Also the fact that the gloom that comes right after when his parents get killed hasn’t been shown properly makes it even less plausible. The story however nibbles such drawbacks.

The Score of Kubo

What makes stop motion frames of Travis even better is Dario Marianelli‘s outstanding score. It imparts depth to his ethereal animation. It complements the actual story-line of Kubo, and gives much more meaning to it. Even when Kubo is simply walking down a forest or a desert there is always that beautiful composition playing wonders in the backcloth.

You can check out the trailer of Kubo and the Two Strings here:

 

Doctor Strange Review (2016) | Benedict Cumberbatch Uplifts the Uplifted

Doctor Strange is as badass as Marvel gets. You take the inbred flamboyance of Benedict Cumberbatch into consideration and remove those palisades of expression that bind him, you take his innate knack for humour and let it flow with his perfect timing, you let him really get under the skin of a character that you so profusely adore, and lo! You have got yourself a winning movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch: The Winner (Spoilers Ahead)

Haven’t we always secretly wished Benedict Cumberbatch to portray a superhero at some point? With a diverse portfolio like that of his, that keeps getting better every day, playing a superhero for him was always on the cards. Yes, he gives you more reasons to love him every day. This time by joining forces with the Marvel golden goose that has never really missed. It doesn’t miss this time either.

benedict cumberbatch as doctor strange in doctor strange movie

When you take a good look at the movie, Benedict Cumberbatch is it. He is there in the entire movie. In every frame, in every act you can feel his strong presence. That being said, Doctor Strange is all about it too. Such a great sorcerer he is that you can’t want him enough. And so he delivers! His solo movie that runs all by his magic fuel.

Humour in the movie is just the right amount as Marvel prefers. Melodrama is superbly complemented by Benedict’s knack for it. You can’t help but feel sorry for him when you see him completely decimated by that car accident in the beginning. The seemingly torture that follows is havocking for him, and he makes you feel all of that. It is a relief when you find his life head towards a different purpose.

Characters in Doctor Strange Movie

Rachel McAdams does a great Christine Palmer, firing up that fun element whenever Strange’s strangeness is around. Scott Adkinson as Lucian gets another ephemeral yet a fairly good part with Marvel; he doesn’t go unnoticed. It is Tilda Swinton however as The Ancient One that steals the show forming the primal carver of the story. The part where she wishes to go, when time stops has been gorgeously manifested. The screenplay there reaches levels of awe.

still of mads mikkelsen as kaecilius in doctor strange

Mads Mikkelsen invests himself well, doing a powerful Kaecilius but unfortunately gets a very limited part to prove his perversion. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo looks very promising and has a bright future ahead with Marvel.

Astounding Bits

Even in those rare vexing fight scenes, Scott manages to hold everything together. The depiction of the Sanctums, and the confusion of topsy-turvy worlds have been helmed with a superlative touch. One of the finest things that happen to Strange is the Cloak of Levitation. Instantly takes you back in time to remind you of Aladdin’s Magic Carpet. Extraordinary stuff!

Steve Ditko’s original comic series has been paid plenty of tribute on numerous occasions. That scene where they fight in an Astral plane as Palmer operates on him, is so intelligently thought of that you cannot applaud the creator enough.

There is beauty in Scott’s depiction as Strange bends time to his will experimenting with the fate of an apple. The final climactic scene to force Dormammu to bow down to Doctor Strange’s bargain was one of the most brilliant ways to vanquish someone. It goes on to show how insane Doctor Strange’s powers really are. You can’t help but wonder how strong is Doctor Strange really?

You can pre-order Doctor Strange movie from here:

Direction of Doctor Strange

I have always admired Scott Derrickson’s direction. Even in a movie as powerless as Deliver Us from Evil we found him steady as a rock, working hard. He never lets his sobriety wane, and that shows in his diligent work. Thus Doctor Strange has been helmed too. Right from the point of giving us a badass perspective into the life of the extraordinary yet egotistic surgeon Stephen Strange to the point of him coming to terms with subsequent dimensions in our reality, scenes have been brilliantly directed.

Downsides

It is what follows immediately after however makes you wish there was a better visual exploration about the things we don’t know, rather than immediately getting up to speed with Strange quickly packing in powers, and heading towards unveiling the secrets of the Eye of Agomotto. It seemed as if that was the only thing left to do at Kamar-Taj. Forced!

still of tilda swinton the ancient one showing doctor strange astral plane

With that awe-inspiring push into the extant multi-dimensions, Doctor Strange’s vision is something that will give you goosebumps. It makes you think of all the possibilities that stay hidden from naked eyes. Till that point of time you are gnawing at a lot of plausibility. But then it bereaves you when things kind of speed up. You don’t see the Ancient One taking Strange for a ride after he begins learning stuff, which in fact, sadly pulls off the plug from reality.

You come back wondering – it’s a comic after all. Stephen’s transformation into the superhero we think he is, gets affected owing to that, and it heads into your vantage of Marvel’s illusion almost immediately.

Doctor Strange Movie Editing

Editing, I am afraid, hasn’t been done properly either. As the movie quickly gallops towards an astral perspective, you see a lot of scenes getting chopped off mid-way, in order to move on. Viewers aren’t allowed to have a proper focus when it’s the learning hour for him.

To the point where the learning of Dr. Strange begins, the flick works seamlessly with ample plausibility. And then in order to move the story forward you see frequent time lapses making it chug at the speed of bullet.

Also, the fact that there is no calm sieving explanation of how and why laws of physics are bent in their worlds or how it all functions. I wish Ancient One had taken him for a ride explaining their ways of living, even though it would have been a spiritual sojourn, it would still have made things a tad more believable.

The Final Verdict

At the end of the day, Doctor Strange remains a character in Marvel’s colossal database. And that too one of the finest ones! MCU has been blessed with Benedict’s presence now. I guess it is time to show him crossing ways with the other Sherlock. Can’t wait for that!

With Benedict joining the elite house of the Avengers, things are endearingly heading towards the ultimate act of badassery.  And Thanos wink intended.

Yes there are end credit scenes. Two of them. So you can wait if you like fitting pieces in the puzzle.

You can check out the trailer of Doctor Strange movie here:

Jack Reacher Never Go Back Movie Review (2016) | Reacher is Lost

We have lost him! I repeat. We have lost him! Jack Reacher Never Go Back movie has forced one of the most badass protagonists to fade into vacuity. All that smug style and mannerism whilst fighting and figuring out crime has lost its shine in this garish sequel. Jack Reacher that Christopher McQuarrie had so beautifully carved in the first one has been completely obliterated. And you can’t just blame the movie’s direction for it. Somewhere the plot asks of you to hold it against the wall too.

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher

Even though we hadn’t aced the Reacher Lee Child had created by taking Tom Cruise in the vanguard, he still looked fine in the first one. Primarily because Tom Cruise had created a different grim persona altogether that held him apart from his other roles. He let Reacher stories bank on his dour comportment and McQuarrie made sure of that with his subtlety. He wanted people to fall in love with him all over again.

Edward Zwick, au contraire, let go of that ingenuity. His frames miss out on the subtlety. The story chosen doesn’t give you the adrenaline rush either. It ends up becoming just any other movie, and not what Jack Reacher truly deserves.

Jack Reacher Never Go Back Movie has taken the heroics of the super human Reacher to new lows. We don’t see his intelligence unspool much here, which kind of beats the movie’s purpose in the first place. Jack Reacher has to be complete badass. Period.

Plot of Jack Reacher Never Go Back Movie (Spoilers)

A huge conspiracy is at play. It has swallowed up and is in the process of subjugating Major Susan Turner, played by Cobie Smulders. Jack believing her, since they used to talk on phone on numerous occasions in the past, ends up trying to save the wrongfully accused Turner. Jack is being pinned on a murder of Turner’s attorney as well with whom he was seen a couple of times before. With the intent to get Turner out, Reacher reaches in and sweeps her away to figure out who is trying to play her.

still of Cobie Smulders as Turner in Jack Reacher Never Go Back Movie

Unfortunately things are strangely contrived in Jack Reacher Never Go Back Movie, giving you an impression that every set up has been placed in order to create individual scenes. That being said, it lacks a natural flair of frames that is supposed to continuously hunt for awesomeness. We don’t see much of that going on here.

Another one of the greatest bummers this movie packs in is via its subplot. A stale tale of a daughter angle! There is literally a non-existent chemistry of father daughter relationship present in the movie. It wasn’t shown or acted properly. What would really make one shake their head is the climax scene, which you see coming BTW. You know you are supposed to feel for both the characters Samantha (Danika Yarosh) and Reacher, but you just can’t. Because in the entire movie there wasn’t anything solid given to you to chew on. How could one feel for its absent drama?

Screenplay

Looking at the screenplay of Jack Reacher Never Go Back, there isn’t much in that department either. One of the coolest lines in the flick, however, gets delivered by The Hunter portrayed by Patrick Heusinger.

still of Patrick Heusinger as the hunter in Jack Reacher Never Go Back Movie

It’s people like us. We can never go back to the world.

That’s when you realize how odd Reacher is, and how he doesn’t fit in the normal world. Amongst other ones, most of them are laughable, the others are pretty cliched like when he is bowing The Hunter out with a final blow, he says:

Look at me! Look at me!

It lets you in on the burning wrath in him. But it gets over in a jiffy with his blow, and dies down just like the antagonist.

Bright Sides

To look at the shimmering horizon, the plot was well kept under the wraps. And everything keeps happening for a reason. It doesn’t break the order as some movies often do by jumping to different frames to vex people. It is a gradual unfurling that makes everything perceptible. When you look at the fight scenes, even though there is nothing memorable that you go home satisfied with, it still is very natural, and that’s where the flick manages to keep up.

still of jack reacher in never go back jack on following him

There are some thrilling moments that are squeezed in as well. Like Jack’s disappearing act followed by him bashing a car window to warn those who follow him. Also, the unfazed jump at The Hunter in the end where they both fall off a roof. It goes on to show the colossal import of the concept of saving lives, and sacrificing himself for others without worrying about his well being or safety.

You can pre-order Jack Reacher: Never Go Back here

The Final Verdict

When you don’t go with high expectations to watch Jack Reacher 2, you will be surprised that it’s fairly enjoyable. But when you do, that’s when you begin to see its shoddiness, and how there isn’t even a pinch of subtlety in it. The movie doesn’t do anything to beckon ogles. It ends up becoming too mediocre for a character like that of Reacher’s.

Jack Reacher Never Go Back is Lee Child’s 18th book in the Jack Reacher series.

Check out the trailer of Jack Reacher Never Go Back movie here:

 

The Girl on the Train Movie Review (2016) | A Whodunit Thriller That Leaves you Guessing

The Girl on the Train is a whodunit mystery. Tate Taylor tries to keep the real murderer well under the wraps at all times in the girl on the train movie, trying to do ample justice to Paula Hawkins’s novel of the same name. However, in an attempt to cover up, and tie everything down to the story’s culminating point, he seems to be unknowingly rushing towards the ending. That leaves Tate Taylor’s work a tad impoverished for its grim theme. Characters of the movie don’t get a proper focus, and you kind of hate every one. Nevertheless, when you focus on its fine plot you realize that Paula Hawkins had weaved one hell of a tale, and for that you cannot praise her enough.

Characters in The Girl on the Train Movie

The Girl on the Train movie commences with a slow jerk, with overwhelming thoughts of Rachel portrayed brilliantly by Emily Blunt. I am pretty sure it would have sounded a bit different if the screenplay had zoomed in on her broody thoughts more than focusing on just the materialism. Her yearning to live someone else’s life, her vantage that sees a stranger’s rewarding world and tries to compare it with hers, her perceptive theories that try to write stories on already written pages, and her constant yammering and reasoning with herself in search for a direction were all literally shouting for better subtle and artful frames. Unfortunately Tate didn’t realize that.

still of emily blunt as Rachel in the girl on the train movie

We move on just like that speeding train without getting a hang of her emotional trauma. Then we see Tate introducing us to the second most crucial character, Megan portrayed by Haley Bennett. She is a perfect fit with a constant gloom that looms over her. She tries to display all phases of her life, the past, the present and an impending horrible future in her countenance. Her comportment is that of an intense indifference that lurks somewhere in the hollows of her eyes.

Other Characters

Anna played by Rebecca Ferguson on the other hand gets the least amount of focus. You don’t see her unfurling that well. Tom’s character portrayed by Justin Theroux seems most of the time absent. Edgar Ramirez creates Dr. Kamal Abdic as Megan’s shrink, and is a guy who basically listens to her, and given his profession, understands her troubling woes more than anyone else. Scott played by Luke Evans is simply a guy who ends up being cheated upon, and later lied to by Rachel. He doesn’t get a proper screen time. With such cameo kind of roles you feel like, it is the director and not the story that is basically trying to steer you towards the enigma.

The Inebriated Plot (Spoilers Ahead)

Rachel is an alcoholic, and she drinks so much that she has become amnesic. So much that she is in a constant wont of blacking out every day. It is then others who fill her in about her acts. That’s like a curse per se. She has been divorced by her husband, who has married Anna now and has a baby with her. Glimpses from the past haunt her, and it is hard for her to move on.

still of haley bennett as megan in the girl in the train movie

Megan is a gorgeous lady with a troubled past. She babysits Anna and Tom’s child, and lives a few blocks away from their house. But her backstory will bring tears to your eyes. I just wished her dismay to be captured better than what Tate showed us. She lives with Scott, the guy with the perfect body, but unfortunately she has been cheating on him.

In a series of fuming events, Megan disappears and nobody seems to know where she is. Rachel who had unknowingly bonded with her, (a one way) by simply staring at her life through the panes of a train ends up blacking out on the very night of her disappearance. And sadly she was the only one who could have guessed the culprit.

The movie is then her attempt to figure out who the real murderer is, and she doesn’t rule herself out as well.

You can pre-order the movie The Girl on the Train here:

Other Issues

The thing with crime drama is that it mostly revolves around characters. And each one demands irrefutable attention. But there is so little to the character development here that makes you hate each and every one of them. There is nothing relatable served to you, and that’s where the disconnect lies.

The timing of this movie is also one of those issues. It was released alongside Inferno, another movie that had belied memories to blame for, almost a same amnesic plot build up. The similarity is very uncanny.

still of Rebecca Ferguson as Anna the girl on the train movie

Another vexing fact is that Tate Taylor tries to confuse the viewers even more by showing glimpses from the past in constant running frames. Even though it’s a ballsy attempt at subtlety, trying to dislodge the timeline into dissonance, it sometimes becomes too much. As if trying to figure out what’s happening wasn’t enough!

The Final Verdict

A movie like The Girl on the Train needs a profound calm. Something that lets you think alongside the protagonist, or may be relate to her character, by understanding her.  Sadly that’s profusely missing. However, the movie still remains a very intriguing crime story that will leave you wanting to know what’s coming at every juncture.

Bottom-line is, The Girl on the Train movie could have become so much great, but it ends up becoming a mere adequacy instead.

Check out the trailer of The Girl on the Train movie here:

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