Thursday, November 25

Tag: Rating: 4

Review: Minari (2020)
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Review: Minari (2020)

Hope takes root. That's how Lee Isaac Chung's Minari roots all the stories of struggling Korean-American family in the early 1980s trying to settle in and chase the American Dream. Chung transports his childhood memories of moving to Arkansas into a semi-biographical drama that exudes grace, innocence, and enough authenticity in delivering a sentimental yet beautiful story of hope. It warmly sparks spell-binding moments from the beginning until the end, but always focus on where the roots are. (more…)
Review: Nomadland (2020)
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Review: Nomadland (2020)

"I'm not homeless; I'm just houseless," Frances McDormand's Fern explains her situation—or more accurately, her way of life to her friend's daughter amidst Chloé Zhao's absorbing feature, Nomadland. Her words sound sentimental but never melancholic; and, so does her journey. House is a place, but a home is where the heart is and Fern's journey is best defined with that. She leaves her old life, hits the road in her versatile van, and lives a nomadic life in the spirit of American West. After all, her journey is a elegiac ode to the beautiful life, pensive memories, and to the sense where people actually belong. When "living" means settling down at one place for the roof, the comfort and the money, it's utterly absurd to imagine living without the confining space. And yet, for those who ch...
Review: Another Round / Druk (2020) – Denmark’s Oscars 2021 Submission
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Review: Another Round / Druk (2020) – Denmark’s Oscars 2021 Submission

Under Thomas Vinterberg's direction—also co-writing the screenplay with Tobias Lindholm—Mads Mikkelsen is another unhappy teacher struggling with midlife crises. Unlike The Hunt (Jagten) where the unhappiness roots from innocently vile, external threat, the roots of despair comes from within his character's mind this time in Another Round. Once a prominent figure with charisma and sexual charm when the grapes are ripe, Mikkelsen's character, Martin, becomes less of himself in his midlife period. Now he's a mere shell of his former self; he's soured himself to be a dull person through and through—an unattractive spouse, a passive father, a boring teacher, everything he can think of. This lead to the vaguest tragicomedy premise that this film offers: Martin dozes off his insecurity by resor...
Review: Corpus Christi (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Corpus Christi (2019)

Corpus Christi, written by 27-year-old Mateusz Pacewicz, probes a thought-provoking clerical question: what makes someone qualifies as a Catholic priest? Aside from the long seminarian study and some formal background check (this would include marital and criminal history), there's almost no natural qualification to deem someone a priest material. There's this priesthood vocation—some sort of God's call for someone to shepherd the churches—plays part in the making of a priest. But, what if someone hears and answers to the divine vocation but, according to historical record on paper, is ineligible to become a priest? (more…)
Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Nobody has the idea that Sacha Baron Cohen has been cooking a follow-up to his shamelessly controversial yet hilarious shockumentary, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan as simply known as Borat (2006), until a few months before its release on Amazon Prime Video. When it arrives, it arrives as timely as possible bearing a predictably longer title than the predecessor, albeit eventually known simply as Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. As it arrives, it takes everybody by surprise by going where nobody has dared to think of. (more…)
Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Movie Review

Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

"I'm thinking of ending things," Jessie Buckley's character mutters to open the movie with the titular quote. When her character, referred only as a Young Woman when not going by inconsistently different names throughout the movie, utters the sentence, it radiates ambiguity—not some sort of sinister feeling the title has suggested. A dark sense, however, still looms everywhere in the movie as the young woman and her lover, Jake (brilliantly versatile Jesse Plemons), as they embark on a bizarre road trip. (more…)
Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods, Spike Lee's 2020 joint, couldn't be more timely. Released at the moment when the Black Lives Matter peaks after the murder of George Floyd, this joint serves as a poignant reminder of how African-Americans always fight the battles that aren't theirs and ends up being the victims of unfairness. The story of 4 black Vietnam veterans returning to the battleground that unite them carries the message—on America's repeatedly poor war policies and the impacts on black communities—perfectly. (more…)
Review: Little Women (2019)
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Review: Little Women (2019)

For all the perpetual sensibilities, Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel, Little Women, is undoubtedly a timeless story; oftentimes, it feels ahead of its time, even when it sets strictly during the American Civil War period. The story of Marches girls tackling the views of freedom and love admirably resonates with the struggles of female emancipation in each era that follows. Therefore, a new iteration of the story seemingly arrives from time to time with specific messages injected in, including the 2019 adaptations by Lady Bird's director, Greta Gerwig, which features the most stunning young casts in the recent history with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh (Midsommar), Eliza Scanlen (HBO's Sharp Objects), Timothée Chalamet, and Laura Dern. In the not so distant past, Gilliam Arms...
Review: Uncut Gems (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Uncut Gems (2020)

There's this kind of electric energy in Safdie Brothers' Uncut Gems that makes us anxious for the whole duration. Everybody yells instead of talking; everybody moves frenetically, violently, and urgently. There's Adam Sandler wearing a striking attire seemingly inspired by Lando Calrissian, complete with a full-frontal display of jewelry. There's NBA star, Kevin Garnett, as himself and there are actual Celtics' match footages. There's The Weeknd portraying his younger, rising-to-stardom self. And yet, the centerpiece of it all is a piece of a rare gemstone—the titular MacGuffin. The gem is a mysterious African black opal smuggled from a troubled mine in Ethiopia before arriving at Howard Ratner's gem & jewelry store. Sandler at one of his pinnacle-performances (after Punch-Drunk Lo...
Review: 1917 (2019)
Movie Review

Review: 1917 (2019)

Sam Mendes reinvents World War I movie with sophisticated technical prowess and massive scale of production in 1917. It's a cinematic triumph presented with an illusion of seamless single take for almost two hours, which works more than pleasing the eyes. The technique undoubtedly is the only possible one to narrate Mendes' captivating story and guide the audiences to the harrowing looks of war in real-time. The story revolves on a crucial day back on 6 April 1917, three years into the first great war. Two young British soldiers, Lance Corporal Will Schofield (George MacKay; Captain Fantastic, Marrowbone) and Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman; Tommen Baratheon from Game of Thrones, recently in The King), were in charge to deliver a life-and-death message that will affect t...
Review: The Irishman (2019)
Movie Review

Review: The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman is undoubtedly a Martin Scorsese cinema through and through. Clocking in at 209 minutes, this twilight piece de resistance funnels the director's trademarks and signature theme—making a league with Mean Streets, Goodfellas, and Casino. Extracted by Steven Zaillian from Charles Brandt's book, 'I Heard You Painted Houses', the film reunites Scorsese with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci while gives the director the chance to collaborate with Al Pacino for the first time. This whole gangster cinema, however, is more than a mere reunion; it's a poignant victory lap for everyone involved. With a story that spans for five decades—going in and out from the 1950s to the 2000s, The Irishman follows the story of the titular man, Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a trucker turned a mafia hitman. ...
Review: Knives Out (2019)
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Review: Knives Out (2019)

Those who had ever doubted of Rian Johnson's geeky persona might not see Knives Out coming. The director has always been a classic cinema aficionado, whose cinematic inspiration spawned from adoring Annie Hall. His entire filmography only highlights how rich his references are and how stylish his filmmaking technique can be. Brick is an excellent hardboiled homage; The Brothers Bloom makes an ambitious callback to caper movies; Looper is an instant sci-fi classic, and only toxic Star Wars fans deny The Last Jedi as the finest movie in the canon since the original trilogy. Knives Out takes Johnson's geekiness to the next level and you should be ready to call his new whodunit thriller a new instant classic. Knives Out is a playful murder mystery through and through. Channeling his admira...
Review: Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Ford v Ferrari (2019)

In the 1960s, the deteriorating Ford Motor was desperate to boost their car sales to the first-generation boomers. In their effort, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) had an epiphany to propose participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which leads to Henry Ford II's (Tracy Letts) direct order to manufacture a built-for-speed car to defeat the mogul, Ferrari. There's where the poster guys, Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) make an entrance to this formulaic ambitious story and rev up the engine to make this one of the finest racing movies ever made. Just like Le Mans, Ford v Ferrari (also titled Le Mans '66) is never an ordinary race. Le Mans requires participating teams to race for a full 24 hours using the same car in the same racetrack. The movie, clocking in at ...
Review: Hustlers (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Hustlers (2019)

Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Meddlers) takes the inspiration from Jessica Pressler's "The Hustlers at Scores" article for New York to craft Hustlers, 2019's most exhilarating movie. It follows the story of strippers; yet, at the same time, it observes the picture beyond that scope only. Scafaria, in writing and directing it, interprets Pressler's coverage as a sexy, powerful, clever, and empowering—superlatively—take on how women taking care of each other against America's disaster called 2008. The whole based-on-true-scoop covers the backstory of Pressler's article, alternating between timelines between the interview process and the hustles. The plot follows a crew of NYC strippers who begin to steal money by drugging debauched wealthy men visiting...
Review: Ad Astra (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Ad Astra (2019)

Ad Astra sees director James Gray returning into a grandeur about larger-than-life ambitions and personal bonds. The story shares similar DNA with Gray’s previous movie, The Lost City of Z that follows a British explorer in a voyage dividing the Amazon rainforest to discover a lost civilization; only this time, the setting is in outer space. It’s, after all, the same grand voyage with a different destination, scale, and perspective. As the title suggests, this is a story about a journey to the star. Set in the near future, Roy McBride (Brad Pitt, Gray’s first choice for The Lost City of Z before Charlie Hunnam) is sent to the outer edges of the solar system in a classified mission to find his missing father, a legendary astronaut (Tommy Lee Jones) and, possibly, stop mysterious energy...

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