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Average User Score: 7.3Nov 25, 2018This is one of those films where you will end up confused. Why, you ask. Well, for one you will not be certain of what is going on, or ratherThis is one of those films where you will end up confused. Why, you ask. Well, for one you will not be certain of what is going on, or rather why things are going on. And secondly, you will not be certain whether you are supposed to feel uncomfortable throughout the film, or it is just a possible result of your own interpretation. It bodes that age-old question: what did the author want to say? Or in this case, the director.
I am not sure. Truly, not. Of course, there are traces of feminism here, socio-cultural critique, reclaiming Africanism rather than the post-colonial structures in place in Africa. That is all great. The story, however, is too rigid yet too vague. It doesn't make sense, does it? That's my point. Acting is excellent, especially the young Maggie Mulubwa, who says more with her eyes than many actors can in any monologue or dialogue. Cinematography is beautiful, especially in relation to the ribbons that are allocated to the witches. Otherwise, the film's story is quite disturbing and disjointed. I felt uncomfortable throughout but was not quite sure if that was the feeling intended or just a mixture of discomfort and confusion as to what is going on.
Definitely worth a watch, but it is not something that would be easily understood or easily appreciated for its vagueness. Considering it is Rungano Nyoni's debut feature, I am sure she will easily build further on the fundaments she has established through I Am Not a Witch.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Jan 3, 2017Going into an 'Oscar baity' film during the Oscars winter season is always an experiment: is this going to be one that will allow you to fullyGoing into an 'Oscar baity' film during the Oscars winter season is always an experiment: is this going to be one that will allow you to fully immerse yourself into the fibre of the story or will you be severely frustrated by all the teary closeups followed by the string score?
Lion, for better of for worse, does both. The first half of the film is absolutely splendid. Raw, poignant, emotional. It has it all. A fabulous lead actor in the young Sunny Pawar and a heart-wrenching story to go with him. Things go a bit wonky once the film shifts time and place to Australia. While Dev Patel is splendid here, after Sunny's performance, it is difficult for him to live up to what has been presented. Rooney Mara is excellent, albeit rather tangential (potentially, actually unnecessary as a character). And that is where the problems lie. That strained relationship they have is just not meshing well. It does not progress the story anywhere. There are glimmers of hope in that Australian section, though. The dinner scene when Patel's character has a fit and Nicole Kidman, playing his adoptive mother, has one of the most expressive 30 second performances seen in a long time. Her "big scene" is also quite good but was too much of a tear-jerker moment for my taste. From the technical side - the cinematography is excellent (again, especially in the first part of the film), and the original score is mesmerising and gives a wholly new dimension to the film. The bottom line is that this film is all well-intentioned, and that is the problem probably with it. It veers on the edge of being fully committed to the story and characters, but then kind of drifts away to be "a film". Basically, it is overly obvious and cliche at times. And I bet that the real-life story was not a cliche at all. The film just does not fully realise itself as an excellent one. A good film, definitely. A very good film, surely. But not an excellent one.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.3Dec 11, 2016As a Harry Potter fan since the pre-film Harry Potter times, I was clearly extremely excited about the expansion of the magical world that IAs a Harry Potter fan since the pre-film Harry Potter times, I was clearly extremely excited about the expansion of the magical world that I had come accustomed to explore in the film theatre. The awe-inspiring creativity and ability to project a completely new world onto the screen was what kept on bringing me and millions others back year after year to watch the next installment of the Harry Potter saga.
However, this is a new saga, and, unfortunately, as the reviewer from Entertainment Weekly aptly described, this one seems "numbingly inconsequential." Do not get me wrong, this is not a bad film. But it is not a *good* film either. It is just fine. And that is disappointing. I found it hard to get into the story for the first hour or so. It just did not grab my attention, despite of all the action going on. Later on, I did find myself engrossed in the film, but that was not quite enough. The darkness that the HP films went to by the end is well maintained here. The visuals are beautiful. The CGI is amazing and even a notch better than the last couple of Harry Potter films. There is nothing wrong per se. It is just lacking an emotional connection. And that may be because it is compared to Harry Potter and if we are holding the film to that standard, it never will live up to it. It just cannot. The most redeeming factor for me was the feeling that it was very appropriate to have such a bleak view of the U.S. in the wake of Donald Trump's election. While this was overall not quite as exciting nor engaging as I had hoped it would be, it did set a stage with enough unknowns about this new wizarding world of the U.S. that it will probably easily give itself to the other 4 sequels. Maybe they will develop this emotional connection that this first installment failed to achieve.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.7Dec 11, 2016There is very little in this film that would warrant the word "fabulous" in its title, aside from the fact that it is the name of the 90'sThere is very little in this film that would warrant the word "fabulous" in its title, aside from the fact that it is the name of the 90's British sitcom. It is an utter mess from start to finish and I am frankly quite surprised that the critics gave this average reviews.
Granted, the basic plotline is not too bad: Edie and Patsy are old and slowly losing their fabulous lifestyle they used to enjoy. There is quite a few important issues here: ageing, careers, sexism, materialism, etc. However, that is where the ingenuity ends. The execution of the film is utterly ridiculous. While the show used to be very sarcastic and basically make fun of people like Edie and Patsy, now that aspect of the story is lost. Their characters are shallow. There was no *real* character development from when the show ended in the 90's up until this moment - something that was supposed to happen.
Otherwise, the acting is a bit too slapsticky from everyone, as well as the entire production just seemed somehow as fake as the CGI background behind Kate Moss. And where does this ridiculous premise of Kate Moss come from any way?! Anyhow, aside from a chuckle here and there, and some fabulous outfits, there was little to take home from this. Which is a pity, as this could really have been fabulous...… Expand
Average User Score: 6.3Jan 30, 2016All through watching Mockingjay I thought somehow it feeling familiar... and I realised it reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter series andAll through watching Mockingjay I thought somehow it feeling familiar... and I realised it reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter series and the point where Harry Potter got darker and more grown up. While the Potter franchise successfully transitioned from it's 12-year old demographic, The Hunger Games, did not quite manage so well.
Not all is bad. There is some interesting criticism here of media and propaganda, but those are all smack -in-the-face type of observations. The film makes no secret of it. The darkness comes from the topic itself: the film is set in the aftermath of a violent crackdown by the Capitol onto the rebelling districts. It is dystopic, but what is missing is the emotion behind it. Jennifer Lawrence is more Jennifer Lawrence than Katniss, and when she is Katniss...well, Katniss is annoying. The consistent need to push her into doing what she has to do is quite frustrating. Mind you, it is (probably?) a limitation imposed in the Hunger Games books, but that still does not make her any less annoying and infuriating when she'd rather choose Peeta over the future of the whole world.
Technically, the Hunger Games have polished up quite nicely. The CGI does not look as dated as it did in the first film, which is good. This film is very grim and dark - the colourful costumes of the Capitol have been replaced by the darkness of the underground shelter and the military uniform. Overall, though, the film sustains the continuation of a mediocre, yet entertaining, franchise. That being said, this one is the least entertaining film so far. The whole "Part 1" charade is a charade at its best. Not much really happens here, beyond some character "development" for Katniss (also known as everyone pushing her to get her act together).
The first film is still the most engaging and entertaining one - let us hope they will end the series on a better note than Mockingjay Part 1, because otherwise, it will be a snooze.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.6Jan 30, 2016An excellent woman-centric film, which is quite a breath of fresh air in the male dominated field, especially when it comes to "coming ofAn excellent woman-centric film, which is quite a breath of fresh air in the male dominated field, especially when it comes to "coming of (sexual) age" films. It is a strange concoction, yet a very effective one. Marielle Heller, the first-time director, does an excellent job with intermixing beautiful cartoon artwork which enriches the film quite well. While sometimes the artwork does not quite transcend itself to give the film deeper meaning (e.g. 2010's "Rabbit Hole"), this is a rather successful merger of art and film.
In terms of production, the film is very good. Excellent editing and cinematography are aided by well thought out production design and excellent costumes. The lenses used give that "70s hue" that compliments the overall storyline and makes the film somewhat more believable.
The plot is quite engaging itself, if for no other reason but for it's female focus. We are used to those awful slapstick men-centric comedies with their fart jokes. This, in comparison, looks like a mature take on a mature topic - sexual development and growing up of a teenage girl. Surely, the actions of Minnie (excellently portrayed by Bel Powley) seem often reprehensible and irrational, but they are also part of what makes the film credible. Teenagers are weird. They have weird logic (or none, at times). They think about sex. They think about sex A LOT. And sometimes, like in Minnie's case, they are not afraid to explore it.
Powley is extremely convincing in an array of situations in the film and, as one character in the film points out - those eyes! She manages to get through that teenage innocence and vulnerability, but also the strength of her wannabe-Lolita independent woman that she wants to be. And that's part of the genius of the script too: why settle for either one when you can be both?
From the rest of the cast, Alexander Skarsgard has the most screen time and he is actually quite good in the role of the enamoured boyfriend of Minnie's mother. The mother, played by Kristen Wiig, seems like the weakest link in the chain. While Wiig does decently, the mother's character seems to be the weakest in terms of being a full person. We see drinking problems and drug abuse, we see the inability to deal with emotions, as we see the need for (male) attention. But that all seems rather limited, especially within the context of a film that has developed its heroine so well, as well as the troubled male focus of her attention.
Without giving away too much - I'd highly recommend this film to anyone, especially teenagers. It makes thinking about sex seem normal and acceptable, which is important. It is sad that that's an important thing we need to remind ourselves of in 2016, but beggars cannot be choosers. An excellent film with an excellent cast, dealing with an excellently engaging topic, done in an excellent mixture of live action and animation - 8/10!… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Aug 2, 2013The Sessions is a great indie film that maturely explores topics of sexuality, with a focus on disability. Based on a true story, as oftenThe Sessions is a great indie film that maturely explores topics of sexuality, with a focus on disability. Based on a true story, as often films like this are, it is truly mind boggling once one realises how ability and disability shape our lives in a lot of ways, and that is exactly what The Sessions brings out.
The screenplay is well written, but it is based on the actual work by Mark O'Brien (portrayed by the excellent John Hawkes). I was one of the rare people who was not surprised in the least with Hawkes' Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for "Winter's Bone" since I believed his performance was superior to that of Jennifer Lawrence. Yet again, he has proven me right. Exquisite, nuanced performance that comes to life out of his eyes. Simply amazing. Helen Hunt, who received a Oscar nomination for portraying the sex therapist O'Brien sees, is also a revelation. A very mature, down-to-earth, "real" performance. She doesn't overact or overly dramatise any single moment. Even her breakdown scene is rather demure and feels incredibly real.
The performances were definitely the highlight of the film, and they truly made the story come to life in the best possible way. Some people might not like the story itself, but that is another issue. I have to give credit where credit is due, though: very few American films deal head-on with sex and sexuality, yet alone for non-mainstream sexuality, such as heterosexual, able-ist and marriage-bound. Sex and sexuality have been European cinema's turf for the longest time, and it is very nice to see filmmakers trying to grapple with it, and actually managing quite successfully. I'd highly recommend this film to anyone. Inspiring and thought provoking, with excellent performances a must see!… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5Jul 27, 2013There are two things that come out of watching "Young Adult." That Charlize Theron is still one of the best actresses around, and that DiabloThere are two things that come out of watching "Young Adult." That Charlize Theron is still one of the best actresses around, and that Diablo Cody is an inspiring screenplay writer.
Mavis, portrayed by Theron, is a successful writer living in the 'Minni Apple,' 'living the dream' of the small-town people of Mercury, Minnesota. As we soon find out, Mavis' success is coming to an end and with that end of an epoch of her life, old news come from her small hometown, colliding the two worlds at the worst time. A stagnant (if not slowly failing) career, a non-existent romantic life and a poor social and health life, all come together in this rather amusing drama. It is not quite a comedy Mavis' delusions, while entertaining, are no joking matter.
Diablo Cody, writer of Juno and this film, has made sure that the characters are all rather complex and stimulating. In one scene, Mavis and her newfound friend from high school, the crippled Matt (Patton Oswalt) mock the apparent happy-go-lucky one-sidedness of Mavis' cousin, who is also crippled but is extensively optimistic to make up for his physical disability. This can be seen as Cody's poking at poorly written characters, as everyone else seems to be rather well-developed, especially Theron's character. Talking of Theron, she gives an inspired performance with a lot of subtle, character traits that create a great sense of who Mavis really is, without over acting or being overly theatrical even in scenes that are rather theatrical themselves.
The film's overall vibe is more something that one would expect from a Noah Baumbach film, like "Margot at the Wedding" or "The Squid and the Whale," not a Jason Reitman film. None of the characters are very likeable. Mavis' is borderline crazy, Matt is a depressed man not doing much with his life but criticising himself and others, Buddy (Mavis' high school fling, played by Patrick Wilson) is disengaged and somehow selfish, and his wife (Elizabeth Reaser) seems manipulative in her overt niceness and unspoken criticisms. It is far from the overt dislike one has of Baumbach's characters, but still it was a resounding theme that was hard to ignore.
Overall, the film is entertaining and gets one thinking, with excellent performances by Theron and Oswalt, and a very well written screenplay that is very much character-driven and rewarding in that sense. There is very little here that does not work, but "Young Adult" is still not necessarily a film that you will want to watch again. If anything, you will cringe at the thought of a re-watch, since it will remind you of your own high school days and lead you to think about your own life and your choices, for better or worse.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Jul 22, 2013While I am no fan of "The Hunger Games" books nor did I really hear about them until the film came out and I took a whole year to actuallyWhile I am no fan of "The Hunger Games" books nor did I really hear about them until the film came out and I took a whole year to actually get to watch the film, I must admit it is quite good. As a matter of fact, I am quite shocked at how good it is. In my head it was somewhat of a "Twilight" phenomenon, so I discarded it immediately. However, it was misguided. "The Hunger Games" has an interesting premise, and a rather well thought out idea. The screenplay is well written and it achieves to keep one fully immersed into the film, and provides necessary thrills throughout the entirety of the film. I was so absorbed and intensely connecting with the characters, I got acid reflux from all the tension. Oh, no, I am not joking.
Anyhow, the technicalities of the film need no discussion, really. A film with such a huge budget will make sure to clean up nicely and "The Hunger Games" is no different. The performances were, surprisingly, quite convincing and were not forced. Jennifer Lawrence is pitch-perfect as the leading lady, and all the supporting cast does a good job. I was especially stricken by the emotional connection with, and performance by the young Amandla Stenberg. It is sad we will not be seeing her in the second instalment of the series, but what can one do.
Overall, it was a real pleasure to watch this film. Not only did it deliver unexpected thrills (at least unexpected to me), but it also managed to take the audience into that dystopian world of the future. How dystopic it really is is another question to be asked, especially in light of reality television and its ever-brutal entrance into the real lives of people. Quite often with dubious ethical, moral and taste breaches that leave one baffled.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.4Jul 20, 2013This is a tough call. While the premise is interesting, and the story quite entertaining, something's just missing with "Chronicle." It playsThis is a tough call. While the premise is interesting, and the story quite entertaining, something's just missing with "Chronicle." It plays around with the whole superhero/villain theme, which is rather refreshing. It seems that in most sci-fi stories that involve sudden gains of power, the protagonist is always somehow good. "Chronicle" plays rather well with this notion, which is a new spin to the story it's the Magneto of regular superhero films. Otherwise, the biggest setback of the film is it's rather poor character development. While we are made to feel sorry for the main protagonist, Andrew, the ways that we are made to feel that way are rather clichéd: no friends, bullied at school, abusive father, etc. His rage and his inner turmoil somehow is multiplied to the verge of bursting, without it quite making a lot of sense. The three main actors were pretty decent, especially Alex Russell who was the most engaging and believable of characters. The hand-held camera, and the very choice to do a camera perspective for the entire film, is a rather divisive choice as I have come to see in reviews, but I did not mind it all that much. The escalation of the story by the end somehow happened out of nowhere and escalated quite dramatically. A bit too much for my taste, with a rather anticlimactic ending. It was a nicely conceived idea and some great visuals can be seen in the film, but this falls into the mediocre bracket easily. 5/10… Expand