A Summary of Film Reviews

Okay. This is me being lazy. I’m watching movies faster than I can write — and I’m starting to realise that I probably don’t enjoy writing my opinions on films, which could turn out to be a serious problem for me. But nevertheless, I’m going to hang in there, I’ll force myself to keep writing if I have to. I don’t want to look back and regret. So here goes.

Lady Bird (2017)

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This film was a real disappointment given all the hype that has surrounded it. I was hoping it would be like 20th Century Women or Boyhood. I’m not sure what made it so special to it’s American audience, but the people I know (in Singapore) who have seen the film mostly agree that this film was kinda bland. There wasn’t anything special, nor impactful, nor philosophical about the script. The plot was predictable, and the relationships we see in this film just didn’t feel real (even though I’ve heard that this was almost a memoir of Greta’s life?). I still love Greta Gerwig very much, and would like to see what else she makes in the future (I’m not giving up on you!).

Maurice (1987)

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Ah, I loved this film. Of course I decided to watch this because of James Ivory. Call Me By Your Name is still haunting me and I knew I had to see more of what James Ivory has written. Once I find a director/screenwriter who has a particular worldview that I admire, I’d find myself chasing all his works. Just like CMBYN, the world of Maurice is hypnotic and immersive. James Ivory puts a lot of importance in eye contact exchanged between his characters, WHICH I LOVE, because it’s sweet without being cheesy, and it respects the audience’s intelligence to understand what is going on. I thought this film gave a very interesting insight on what it was like to be a homosexual in those days, a much less forgiving context than the one CMBYN had. I highly recommend watching this film if you’re having CMBYN withdrawal symptoms. The Remains of the Day is the next Ivory film I’m definitely watching — but I’m going to have to finish reading the book first. Which might take a while.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

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While I finished this book a really long time ago, I procrastinated watching the film because I was afraid it’d ruin the book for me. Of course I’m referring to Andrew Garfield. Hacksaw Ridge, Silence and Breathe have done enough damage on my opinion of his acting. I still enjoyed this film very much nevertheless! Largely because Tommy (Andrew Garfield’s character) doesn’t talk very much and Carey Mulligan stole most of the limelight. She was AMAZING. Credit must also given to the editing and cinematography… I thought this film was absolutely beautiful. Seeing the novel come to life in this manner was quite a dream come true. As a fan of the novel, I was mostly worried about the ending. The ending of Never Let Me Go was so beautifully written it really is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the entire book. But okay to cut to the chase, I thought the movie handled it very tastefully, and I was very relieved. I would love to buy the movie in Blu-Ray, so that I can put it alongside Ishiguro’s book on my shelf. Wouldn’t that be nice?

A Ghost Story (2017)

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This was a slow but beautiful film. I made a mistake on my part, choosing to watch this film at night. I had to put in a lot of effort to stay awake and not fall asleep. Off the top of my head, the pace of this film is comparable to that of Amour. I saw the ending coming, at about midway, which was a little disappointing to me, for I thought I was holding out for something more. But I still thought that this film was an interesting experience, and it brought up a few things for me to think about. Rooney Mara’s delicate approach of her role was very heartfelt and honest. And the ghost! (I hope it really was Casey Affleck under the sheet for the most of it.) Despite being totally covered, I could feel emotion coming from the character. I thought that must have been incredibly difficult to do, and the actor’s efforts must be recognised.

Annihilation (2018)

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This is a story that I feel might be better read than watched. Especially when there isn’t enough budget. I mean, I haven’t read the book but I know for sure that the mutated plants/animals looked really fake and the contrast of the the light was just weird throughout the entire film. Even if it was meant to look like that, it seemed unprofessional and if anything, it distracted me the entire time. Actors wise… it felt like only Natalie Portman knew what she was doing. The rest of the actors were either doing too little ( e.g., Jennifer Jason Leigh) or way too much (e.g., Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez). The story is very ambitious but somehow I just wasn’t impressed. Sure, there are many ways to interpret what actually happened, but no one knows the truth right? It could be anything. All the arguments online are going nowhere, it’s wasted effort, and I still don’t think this film is worth it. I’d rather listen to an argument about the spinning top at the end of Inception.

The Help (2011)

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Once again, a film that I’m watching only after I’ve read the novel. I really enjoyed Kathryn Stockett’s book, despite the cheesy ending. I thought the film handled the ending in a more tasteful manner. When I read the book, I pictured Octavia Spencer as Minny, and I honestly can’t think of a better actress to play Minny (my favourite character!). I recommend watching the film if you’ve read the book, it’s a really good adaptation, where they kept the best parts and focused on the right things. The casting was done really well too, though I’m not sure Emma Stone was the best choice as Skeeter. If you haven’t read the book, and don’t intend to, just watch the film then. It’s funny, fast paced, and you would have a lot of fun watching it. I might even think that the film was a little better than the book!

Polina (2016)

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This film is for the days you feel like watching people dance beautifully in a film, but you don’t want something horrifying like Black Swan, nor something cheesy like the Step Up franchise. Polina felt almost like a documentary at times. It’s very beautiful. By the end of the film you’d feel like you’ve matured with Polina, because you were with her at every step of her exploratory journey, from ballerina to a contemporary dancer. There is a lot of passion in this film, and together with the seamless cinematography, I often found myself gawking at the screen, mesmerised. I wouldn’t go so far to say this a super exciting film, but it surely is an engaging one.

My Life As A Courgette (2016)

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I have always been a huge fan of stop-motion animation. They create this imaginary world that is so endearing and vibrant, you just want to jump right in. This film, I believe, is not for kids. Either that, or French parents are really liberal. This film goes to really dark places at times, because of it’s context. The story is meaningful because it paints a realistic picture of the lives of these orphans. Surely there is nothing pretty about the truth. These kids live in a world surrounded by irresponsible adults who drink and take drugs and hurl vulgarities at them. And of course, colourful stop-motion is the best medium to convey such a story because of the juxtaposition. I appreciate the contrast, very much, and I recommend this film to anyone who loves Coraline.

The Three Colours Trilogy (1993-1994)

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Gosh I tried, I really tried. But I can’t. It would be far too pretentious of me to say I loved them. The only one I could tolerate was Blue. I hated White and I gave up on Red halfway. Maybe I’m not old enough or smart enough to appreciate these films just yet. Even though I’ve only seen these films just a couple of weeks ago, I honestly can’t remember what they were about. Sure, I remember some scenes here and there. But if you asked me what the stories were about, except for Blue, I’d tell you that I’ve thrown everything out the window. Let me watch this trilogy again when I’m thirty and maybe I’ll tell you something else.

West Side Story (1961)

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I had the privilege of watching this film alongside a live orchestra (the Singapore Symphony Orchestra) at the Esplanade theatres last night. So this is still fresh in my memory. What a life-changing experience! Prior to this event, I have never seen this musical/film… not even a single clip. So I had no idea what I was in for. I loved the set, the costumes, the music, it was all very elaborate and engaging. I especially loved the acting of Rita Moreno as Anita (who, I found out, won an Oscar for this role) because she was the only actor who performed realistically, which apparently wasn’t the acting “fashion” at that time. I mean if you looked at the other actors, they were doing that typical over-the-top performance done by most actors back in that day, which is the main reason why I struggle with old films. Okay moving on.

Did I like the story? No. I thought it was stupid. That’s the cold, hard, truth. I hate cheesy stories and West Side Story was so, so, so cheesy. I was hoping Maria would take Chino’s gun to shoot herself in order to make a statement to the young punks. Their love didn’t make any sense to me either. Maria met Tony only the night before, and apparently they’re in love, so much that even when she found out he killed her brother, she’d still forgive him and sleep with him that very same night? I call this bullshit! Tony and Maria are idiots and I hate stupid characters. I love Anita the most, I wouldn’t have forgiven Maria if I were her. To all the fans of this musical, I’m sorry for my outburst and also apologise if my insensitivity has offended you. If it makes things better, I actually really loved the music of West Side Story, minus the lyrics. Leonard Bernstein is a GENIUS.

 

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