Review : The Beguiled 

“The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls’ school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.”

The Beguiled 2017, not the be confused with the 1971 movie of the same name, is the latest from Sofia Coppola. The movie even won nabbed her the coveted best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. And honestly, that shows because this movie is really a directors showcase. That’s not to say that there isn’t great acting on display here, there certainly is, but this movie is all about directing and directorial choices. The first two acts of this movie as completely soundless, in terms of musical score or the like, all we get is either dialogue or something like birds chirping. When we get to the third act however, the reason for that decision becomes clear as when the first horn blast hits us, it really rocks us, in a way it wouldn’t have if we had it all movie. And that really is the corner stone of this movie in its strong, purposeful, and definite directing choices. It’s also a really hard movie to review in terms of trying to rate it. It deliberately paced, but it’s also only about 90 minutes. It has distinct directing, but great subtle acting (most of the time). This is a movie I think that’s really made for certain people. Some people will see this movie as boring and a bit silly, others will see it as tense, suspenseful and unnerving, and in there somewhere is this movie. All in all, The Beguiled is a real showcase of directing, with enough great acting on there too for good measure, and a story that’s definitely something else.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : War for the Planet of the Apes

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“After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.”

I don’t think back in 2011, with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, that I would have ever though that movie would be the start of one of better trilogies to be had in a long time. Rise, and then Dawn, and now War, have all set up and advanced the same plot for the last 6 years. War brings us to the conclusion of a body that was set into motion in 2011, and is finally built up a full head of steam and looks to come crashing down on humanity. The story follows the titular Caesar, played masterfully by the ever amazing Andy Serkis (who really should just have an oscar by now for this) who fully becomes the messianic figure that his legend will tell years from now in the apes history and lore. This movie also portrays an extremely conflicted Caesar, mirrored by a conflicted world around him. He is entrenched on each side by both sides of humanity. The larger and more obvious side lead by Woody Harrelson, and the smaller but equally as important opposite side showcased almost entirely by Amiah Miller’s Nova. The movie also leads the story of the apes forward closer to the point where the classic movie takes us to. This movie is also something to behold with its special effects. There is honestly never really a point in this movie where you would or could ever question if what you were seeing was real or not and thats really impressive seeing as how many apes there are in this movie. That matched with some wonderful and intriguing cinematography, and some real haunting imagery, help this movie do a lot of its story telling without characters ever saying a word. All in all, War for the Planet of the Apes is a great movie and fitting end for this Apes trilogy, and definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Incase You Missed It!

American Honey :

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How can I explain the film that is American Honey…Firstly, I’m not sure there is anyway to really know what you’re getting into going this movie. American Honey to me really feels like an experiment more than anything else. Its almost like a case study, in character studies, in character journeys.

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One part of this movie, is its road trip of misfits. Like if the Goonies were teenagers, but also gutter rats, really poor, had no general direction in life, and were stranded in middle America. The movie does a very interesting job at presenting the dynamic between such a group of youths. And as over the top as some of their personalities might be, their interaction comes across in such a sincere manner, like they really have been sharing the same van and motel rooms for months together.

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Another major aspect of this movie is love, but love in a few ways. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a representation of love like this movie portrays in any other movie. For one, it goes after the concept of love when contextualized by your financial stature, but it goes further also and looks at both young love, and the way in which that can shape our lives. It doesn’t try ever to romanticise it or make it seem like something to fight for, but more as this force of nature that sometimes we just can’t fight, and we can’t leave alone.

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Thats why I say its so hard to describe or explain what this movie is to people. I don’t think I know myself, but, I don’t think that means that this movie shouldn’t be seen. I think there needs to be some warning that this movie can be very explicit and its done in such a real and honest manner that some people might not be expecting based on what I’ve said before. American Honey I think is a movie about ideas and experimentation, and if you’re a fan on film and film making on a whole, then give this movie a look.

Review : The Lost City of Z

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“A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.”

Based on the trailers for this movie, I thought I had a good idea of what this movie was about, but I was wrong. This movie is much more a character study than anything else. It about the acting here, the introspective and reflective moments juxtaposed with the larger than life events of Col. Percival Fawcett’s life. And the acting here is where this movie really shines. Charlie Hunnam does a really great job at portraying the character here, giving him both subtle and more striking features and behaviour. The real stand out performance here however, is Robert Pattinson’s Henry Costin. The role in itself is very subtle, but it plays deftly by Pattinson and is honestly award worthy. All the performances here are honestly top notched, but it must be said that Pattinson is a cut above. The Lost City of Z is a real slow burn also, and that’s something I think you should know if you’re going to watch it, because it is also a long film (2 hours 21 mins) and as such it feel extra long at times. The movie itself spans much of Col. Fawcett’s life and it has a distinct feeling of having a beginning, middle and end. All in all I think if you like these kind of movies (slow burn dramas, that are about the acting more than the pay off) then you will be intrigued and impressed with this movie as I was, if not, you might find this one a bit much to sit through.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10

Léon: The Professional

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Léon: The Professional is a 1994 film by Luc Besson, who would later become most famous for his movie The Fifth Element. It tells the story of a young girl (12 from most accounts) who trough a series of events is reluctantly taken in by a hitman called Léon. The pair (not sure I want to use the word couple) then are beset down a path that neither of them can seem to veer off of, down a road of revenge, love, family, and many other themes as they both grow and foster a real relationship.

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The title character here Léon is played by Jean Reno, and it will probably always remain one of, if not his most recognizable performance. Reno does a lot to add to the character here in his portrayal, and he does so in some interesting ways. The tricky nature of the relationship that develops between his and Natalie Portmans’ character could easily go down certain roads if not for his performance here. He gives Léon an almost autistic (or at least on the spectrum) bend to his behavior and development up to the point at which the film begins, and this keeps his character and his intentions pure and they come across as totally sincere and genuine. This character without such a layer could easily be seen as the one in charge of the situation at all times, and as such, take away from development that they both need. It would also make him come of as much more predatory than his character actually is and should be.

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This movie was also truly a defining and break out role for the young Natalie Portman. She is charged with bringing the character of Matilda to life, but she really does deliver an amazing performance here. She gives Mathilda a genuine feeling of being grown up way beyond her years, while also maintaining the innocence (or what’s left of it) and ignorance of someone so young and so new to the world. This is juxtaposed extremely well against the sometimes “man-childless” of Reno’s Léon, and as expressed in the movie they are almost opposites of each other in many ways. The role also calls for some really tense scenes between the two, in which you see how easily control over the situation can swash back and forth between the grown but child like Léon and the young but way too grown Mathilda. and this is a fine line to walk, one in which the film tries to stay on, and avoid having to really push it to one side or the other. Portmans’ portrayal here is so grounded and honest, and she gives more than I even think the character originally asked for.

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Léon ultimately is a story about love, in the midst of an action movie that never seems short on either. I think it does a great job at asking some questions of the audience, but in a manner that seems both plausible and palatable. It is full of Luc Besson trademark style of action, while also being grounded with really layered and impressive performances but the co-leads here who play really well off each other and add what I truly think is the special sauce in what otherwise would have been a regular action movie without it. Have you seen Léon? What’s you’re opinion on it? The up coming Valerian movie made me want to take a look back at some of Besson’s work, and I think Léon is one of his best.

Review : La La Land

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“A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.”

Do they make movies like this anymore? I guess every now and then they do. And I’m so glad they made this movie. La La Land, to me at least, from all stand points is as perfect as a movie can be. Its production is 100% on point, its directing is subtle when it should be, but perfectly directional when it needs to be. It set design and costuming  is perfect. The acting and singing and dancing is wonderful to behold. And most importantly, it all fits and works together as a whole. Emma Stone isn’t the greatest singer of all time, but the way her vocals are used here fit perfectly, and really make her stand out when she needs to. There is no one that does RE-acting better than Ryan Gosling, and there is probably no one more multi talented. The man can act, he can sing, he can dance, and he did some amazing piano work for this movie also. Enough can’t be said also about the chemistry between Emma and Ryan, they’ve done it before, and they’ve done it again here. La La Land is a real once in a so often kind of movie. Yes it is a musical, and if thats not your cup of tea then you probably aren’t going to be as high on this movie as I am. But even if you don’t like musicals, and you see this movie, and it doesn’t at least strike up some kind of nostalgia, and some kind of feelings in you, then maybe you’re dead inside, but if you’re not, you need to do yourself a favour and see this movie.

Review Score : 10 out of 10

Review : Live By Night

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“A group of Boston-bred gangsters set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the completion and the Klu Klux Klan.”

If there is one thing I should say about this movie right from the start, it’s that if you think this is a shoot-em-up gangster movie, erm…not so much. This is a gangster movie, most definitely, but, its not what you think. Even if you’ve seen Ben Affleck movies before, there is some of the same here, but this movie is also considerably different. For starters, this movie is really slow. This movie is just over 2 hours long, which is really 2 hours sans the credit, but it FEELS like 4 hours. Now I wouldn’t say that the movie really gets boring, but if you need a certain kind of pace to a film, you’re going to be very put off by the pacing here. This movie is slow and deliberate, it takes careful and thoughtful steps. There directing and cinematography here are nothing we don’t expect now from Ben, and we also get some really nice character moments. What this movie really feels like, is an old time gangster movie that has been stretched out to fill it up with great character moments from great actors. All in all, this movie is something you need to ready for, or be in the mood for to really enjoy I think.

Review Score : 7 out of 10