Review : The Cutlass

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“Inspired by true events, THE CUTLASS is a dramatic thriller set in the tropical wilderness of Trinidad and tells the story of a young woman who falls into the grasp of a dangerous sociopath. She finds herself isolated and musters the courage to emotionally battle the unsettled mind of her abductor.”

As the summary implies, this movie both takes place and was made by and in Trinidad and Tobago (so if you’re not from or in the Caribbean you might not be able to see this one). Its written by Teneille Newallo, and directed by Darisha Beresford, and it boasts a genuinely diverse cast across all levels. The movie itself is definitely more good than bad, but first, the good. Arnold Goindhan who plays the antagonist here, has the meatiest role, and the most heavy lifting, acting wise to do here, and he does a pretty good job. He does come across as sincere in his more vulnerable moments, and when he keeps his portrayal subtle, he really shines. He does this across from Lisa-Bel Hirschmann, who definitely keeps her acting as subtle as possible, but for the most part doesn’t have as much to play against. Her most emotional scene however, is done really well, and she does tug on the heart strings with her performance there. I do think some of the cinematography does lack a bit of imagination, as I think it would have allowed for some more powerful scenes with some better framing. I also did have some problems with the sound, not in that it was bad, or not done properly, there just were a few times when I felt in either the ADR, or straight audio mixing of the audio, that some dialogue didn’t feel like it was happening in the situation, but sounded more like a voice over. The score I also wasn’t too impressed with, for the most part it was very subdued and subtle, and thats fine, but I felt like when it really needed to swell and help impart some emotion or suspense, it came off a bit lack luster. And lack luster is how I would define the ending of this movie, for most of it, everything in the movie is building towards to a head, towards some kind of resolution, and you just never get it. There is an ending here, and there are definite resolutions in the script, but things don’t feel resolved, they feel like what we invested in before, was fully paid off. I know I probably sound like I really don’t like this film, but I did like it, the things that it did well, it genuinely did. There are some problems here yes, like any movie really, but this movie definitely shows the raising levels of Caribbean film making. Production wise this is one of the best local (local meaning Trinidadian) films I’ve seen. All in all, I do encourage anyone who has the opportunity to check this movie out to do so, supporting local industries is important for growth, and there is definitely enjoyment to be had in this movie.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Trailer of the Week!

This week we have a trailer that came out of no where, but is looking to make a big splash:

Suburbicon (Trailer #1)

Suburbicon is film, written by the Coen brothers, and directed by one of their favorites in George Clooney. It stars Matt Damon, Oscar Isaac, Julianne Moore, and more, and centers around the central plot of a home invasion gone awry, but of course with the quirks and flare of every Coen script ever. Just from what we see in the trailer here, its so full of the Coen-isms, that it will also be really interesting to see how much of Clooney’s directing we can see though this mist of Coen.

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Matt Damon of course is a consummate professional as always. He does ever seem to phone in a role, and he can really can excel when asked to play roles so varied as this one seems. Setting him between the like of a Julianna Moore, and a Oscar Isaac, will also allow him perfect sparing partners to work off of when he tries to flex his acting muscles here. We’re going to need a more story oriented trailer to get a real better idea of what the real narrative here is, but so far, I know I’m hooked.

Review : Okja

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“Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a fascinating animal named Okja.”

If you needed any more evidence that Netflix wants to take over the world, just look at what they are trying to do with not just series, but feature films. One of their latest production is that of Okja. This movie is also an interesting one in that its a two country production here. Written and directed by Joon-ho Bong, with a both international and Korean cast, and also set in both south Korea and america, Okja is a truly global film. This movie is many things, but its definitely two things. Firstly, its a movie about a girl and her family, and what she is willing to risk to save that. Secondly, its a movie with a message and an agenda (but not so severe that it can’t poke fun at itself), that it weaves throughout the plot line. The movie also jumps back and forth between english and Korean, further highlighting the duality at play here. This movie is also told on two levels. The top level is the plot, which is very solid and keeps itself nice and lean. The second level are the characters, and this movie is FULL of characters. These characters are also juxtaposed against each other in their performance and their grounding. Those who are on the right side of the story are definitely played more down to earth and much less of a caricature than those on the wrong side of it, and while that can come off like they are trying to tell a one sided story, but their absurdity is contrasted by the rest of the cast. That is the one place where the movie can fall apart for some viewers, as some of the characters are genuinely over the top, and it can be too much at times. All in all, Okja is a movie with heart, and with a message. Its equal parts heart felt and PSA, and definitely worth a watch…and its on Netflix, for like..free (ish).

Review Score : 8.5 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

In Case You Missed it!

Your Name (Kimi no na wa)

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Your Name is a 2016 film by¬†Makoto Shinkai, and centers around a two main characters Taki and Mitsuha, and a connection that forms between them. That is to say, Your Name is really a love story, but probably not like any you’ve seen before. There really is something special in what Makoto Shinkai’s has created here. The movie is also based on a Novel and subsequent screen play, all by Shinkai, and that really does show in the story telling, and its adaptation from novel to film. But what does make this such a special movie?

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Now I’m sure, this isn’t the first, last, and only movie to deal with a subject matter like this, or to tell a story that uses similar tropes, but its the way this movie does it that makes the biggest difference. This movie is a love story, but its a love story across space and time. The movie also knows just how much information to deal out, and how fast or slow to do it, and that pacing keeps you both interested and simultaneously allows for the twists and turns in the plot to really hit home. And hit home they do (hard).

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That in itself is another way in which the movie shines. It does such an amazing job bringing you on the journey with these characters, that you feel for them deeply, and the are totally invested in the conflicts that arise. Not only are these characters deeply layered and unique, they are also extremely identifiable with in a way that only draws you further into the plot and intrigue. All of this is then wrapped up in a package that can only be delivered in a medium such as this.

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This is an absolutely gorgeous movie, and not just in its actual animation which is really top notched, but also in the more traditional film aspects like lighting, framing and camera movement, and visual effects. It adds that final layer of complexity and attention to detail, that seals up this movie so tightly. Your Name is truly a movie worth checking out by anyone, not just fans of animation or anime, but anyone who’s a fan of good and compelling story telling, complex characters, and in this case, romance. Yes you have to read subtitles, and yes thats not always anyone favorite thing in the world, but here it actually makes you pay even more attention, to a movie that 100% deserves it.

Review : Baby Driver

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“After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.”

I know this review is late…sorry. That aside, what a wonderful movie. The long awaited return of Edgar Wright is here, and he really knocks this one out of the park. Baby Driver takes us the audience on a full throttle, action packed, tension filled, high energy, but full of fun ride, that starts of hot and sweaty and stays that way till the bitter sweet ending. This movie really does check all the boxes. It has a great sound track, wonderfully done and shot action, amazing driving, and best of all, some really well brought to life characters that were all equal parts crazy, as funny, and dangerous. These characters are more than just caricatures also, as much as they are over the top and intense in their personalities, they also a reigned in just tight enough to fit perfectly into the narrative and only add to the furthering plot. The plot itself is also really tight, and it keeps itself moving at a nice pace, that ramps up and down as the film needs. The entire caste here also from Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Lily James and Kevin Spacey, all do so well to make their characters really feel well rounded and lived in, that as i mentioned before, their sometimes over the top personalities don’t seem so over the top that they feel out of place, they just work. You truly get a feeling for their ideals and beliefs and motivations, and these are the things that keep characters compelling. To be honest, Baby Driver is a damn near flawless vehicle (see what I did there) that allows for fun, action, suspense and whole lot more out of a trip to the cinema.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Spider-Man Homecoming

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“Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.”

While I do think that Spider-Man 2 is still the best Spider-Man movie ever made (just barely really), this movie is the next one up. Spider-Man Homecoming takes us through our first look at a Spider-Man movie that has the influence of Marvel Studios, and not just Sony, and it really shows. This movie gives us 100% the most comically accurate Spider-Man/Peter Parker that we’ve ever seen on screen. For the first time, we genuinely get a well done and fully believable high school aged and set Spider-Man story. Between the physical stature, the rest of the cast, and the genuine young age of Tom Holland, everything works out perfectly to make the perfect Spider-Man. That gives the movie a real sense of fun, but also with purpose, it feels like when the movie ramps things up, that there are genuinely stakes. This movie is also full of surprises, and I mean really full of them, some that I figured, but some I didn’t seeing coming at all. There is a large cast here also, but unless you were really dead set on some particular actor’s role, all the characters here do get either enough time to shine, or you see the roots they have set down for further movies. The movie maybe some could say is missing or lacking just one more action set piece, but I think thats neither here nor there really. This movie does connect to the wider MCU, but it also does a great job of both being its own film, and also setting down great roots for its later movies. All in all, Spider-Man Homecoming is almost the best Spider-Man movie ever made, but definitely the best Spider-Man/Peter Parker ever, and if nothing else, thats worth the price of admission.

Review Score: 9 out of 10