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‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ Review

by Emily Keen

Unwed teenage mothers fighting for the life of their unborn child against the impositions and pressures of the society is a narrative extensively exhausted in movies. NRSA breaks the pattern and brings us a girl who is not ready to be a mother. With no support from an adult, it is just her and her high school best friend by her side, battling the stringent laws of abortion in America.

Since the state of Pennsylvania won’t let her abort the child without the consent of a parent, she travels to New York in the hope of facing fewer hindrances while going about the process. Eventually, we all know that won’t be the case.

NRSA finds its title from a heart-wrenching sequence in the film where Autumn is made to answer a questionnaire about her sex life at a clinic. The questions are along the lines of – Has your partner refused to wear a condom/Has your partner made you have sex against your will? And options that follow are Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always. You can almost feel the power of her being been crushed to the ground as she answers each question.

The film has limited dialogue and much of the story is expressed through the subtle cues in the actions of the characters. Like when one BFF is seen applying an eye shadow for the other or the scene where Autumn throws up in the bathroom and Skylar just knows what it means.

The brilliance of the fare lies in the mastery with which Eliza Hittman overlays the themes of friendship, social indifference, political system and toxic masculinity over a largely subversive plot. The impact created by the bleak silence in the frames will stay with you even when the film is over. And there is nothing deficient about the character study of two young women who seamlessly carry the film to the end.

Hélène Louvart’ s cinematography elevates the desolate mood with the coarse, gritty frames and while keeping it vibrant at the same time. That helps us feel that hope is not dead after all. Hittman plays to the pulse of her characters and draws up eloquent setpieces even with no monologue. Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder are a talent to behold. All in all the film is a poignant tale of teenage pregnancy which has its disconcerting and reassuring moments. We have to give it up to Hittman for creating a melancholic and devastating affair with minimal violence and almost no aggression.

Watch the movie trailer here: 

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Downhill Review: A Misguided Remake

by Kaylen Summers

Downhill is the American remake of the  2014 award-winning Swedish film, Force Majeure. The original film was brilliant with its character interplay and biting dialogue. Unfortunately, the searing drama and dark humor of the original is lost in the new movie’s Hollywood remake.

For those who were expecting a bog-standard goofy chuckle fest, the movie comes with great disappointment. The movie entirely depends on marital tension and this limits the possibilities of humor.

The premise of the movie is actually great and fairly similar to the original. However, the writing and execution make the movie mediocre. This is surprising, considering the great talents involved both in front and behind the camera.

The screenplay co-written by Oscar-winning directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash feels average. Their pacing, script, and casting are out of place and even the ninety-minute runtime is not enough to save the movie.

Downhill is about some serious themes. However, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell are better known for their comedies. This contradiction is evident in their performances. The lack of chemistry between the two actors leaves the narrative slow and dry. Both actors seem to be too subdued within the characters.

Though the actors are great, it obvious to feel whether they are fit for the characters. The directors should have given them space for the actors to improvise. For many fans, this will the movie in which Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Will Ferrell are the least humorous.

The best part about the movie is the character of Louis-Dreyfus’ mother. She is the heart of the movie with some sensible pathos and relatable exasperation.  The majestic beauty of the Alps adds strength to the movie. For those who haven’t seen the original, Downhill will not be that much of set back.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

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Call of the Wild Review: A Classic Tale Ruined With CGI

by Kaylen Summers

The Call of the Wild is a mesmerizing classic novel from Jack London about a dog’s journey to primal nature. The novel was a thrilling experience for readers with its brave canine protagonist and rich descriptions of the Klondike Gold Rush. However, its latest film adaptation was nothing more than an assemble of overused CGI.

In a time when movies like Lion King (2019) showcased photorealistic CGI, The Call of the Wild’s visual effects are cartoonish and make every critter and setting look fake.

The abnormal mix of CGI  and live-action are supposed to make the adventure more immersive for the movie-goers. Unfortunately, it ends up doing the opposite. The clumsy, cartoonish CGI makes Buck look unrealistic throughout the movie. His facial expression are rendered to look more human-like and you will not feel him like a real dog even for a second of the movie. During the moments when Harrison Ford hugs or physically interact with Buck, we can clearly see him also becoming CGI. The bright lit background setting makes this even clearly visible.

Many of the major action scenes of the movie are also ruined by the CGI visual effects. The scene where Perrault and François are escaping from an avalanche looks more like a video game.

The main characters of the movie are played by Harrison Ford, Bradley Whitford, Omar Sy, and Cara Gee. The performances of the actors feel odd logically from time to time. It is clear that they are on set, in front of a green screen. But, onscreen the actors fail to make us feel that they in a snowstorm, freezing. This adds to the failure of the movie to generate a successful suspension of disbelief.

The makers of the movie are pushing more political correctness and family friendliness into the movie than its source material. The characters are made racially diverse to appeal to a global audience. This is ironic considering the fact that Jack Landon was notoriously racist. The battles between Buck and Spitz are less deadly and the violence in many other scenes are toned down.

The Call of the Wild was one of the definitive novels of American Literature. The movie, however, fails to capture the essence that the classic novel put forward.

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Sonic the Hedgehog Review: An Adventure You Don’t Want To Miss

by Kaylen Summers

We all remember the onslaught that happened when the Sonic movie dropped its first trailer. The main criticism was about how the CGI depiction of Sega’s classic video game hero looked.  Surprisingly the makers of the movie took the fans’ reactions seriously and reworked on the character. And we are happy to say that their efforts have paid off well.

With a clever plot, stunning visuals and an amazing performance from the fabulous actor Jim Carrey, the movie is panning out to be a blockbuster at the box office. Being the first surprise hit of this year, the movie is being praised as Jim Carrey’s return to his comic form.

Sonic, as you all know, is a blue hedgehog with unbelievable speed abilities. As his world is being destroyed by a devastating tragedy, he escapes from his planet and reaches ours. However, the danger is still not over. In the new world too, bad guys are after him to steal his powers.

Ben Schwartz voices the beloved hedgehog onscreen, with James Marsden playing the role of Tom Wachowski, the sheriff of Green Hills. Jim Carrey plays the maniacal sociopath, Dr. Ivo Robotnik.

What makes Sonic the Hedgehog stand apart from most of the live-action movies is its script. The movie has a terrific script and its credit goes entirely to screenwriters Patrick Casey and Josh Miller. Rather than sticking on to the Japanese source material or completely revisioning the plot, the writers infused their creativity to give out the best of both world

Sonic is established as a compelling character who is desperately lonely. He is still a boy who wants to understand more about humans, make friends and have lots of fun. This makes the character more endearing to the audience. The amazing acting by James Marsden makes the anthropomorphic, supersonic, CGI hedgehog more convincing and sells the relationship between the two characters even further.

Jim Carrey’s performance as the hysterical and threatening Dr. Robotnik is the main highlight of the movie. The actor has never been this funny since Dumb and Dumber. He steals the show fare and square. Anyone else as this diabolical, but the knockdown funny character would have looked foolish. But, Carrey’s brilliance made the character unique and acceptable.

Among so many movies with more CGI than creativity, Sonic the Hedgehog remains a well-balanced fusion of both. The movie is entertaining through out and has the right pace and runtime to keep both adults and kids enthralled.

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Crawl Review

by Kaylen Summers

It was a pretty disappointing summer for mainstream movies, as the massive, big-budget studio tentpoles kept on failing one after the other. Thankfully, the small-scale Crawl was a refreshing surprise to the summer box-office season. The movie has everything from the backing of a major studio like Paramount, to the feeling of watching those indies that people love to rave about.

Directed by Alexandre Aja, the movie features a brilliantly simple B-movie premise. A Florida college student Haley (Kaya Scodelario) returns to her former family home to check on her divorced father, Dave (Barry Pepper). A Category 5 hurricane is underway and he has not been answering any calls. The trip eventually turns into a rescue mission when she finds him trapped in the house’s crawlspace. His leg is broken and has a rather nasty looking bite mark from an alligator that found its way indoors. Things get even worse as more of the gators make way into their home, while the floodwaters rise.

With fast, action-packed, white-knuckle thrills, and plenty of people-chomping toothy reptiles, the movie is successful in delivering exactly what it had promised. It also gained quite a fan base by doing so.

Writers of the movie Michael and Shawn Rasmussen has successfully made a fool-proof plot which has no shortage of ways to put their characters in jeopardy. As the movie moves forward, the plot keeps the stakes high but refreshingly simple: don’t drown, escape the house, and avoid getting eaten.

The summer box-office needs more movies like Crawl. It is a relief for viewers from the intellectual burden of superhero movies and over-meddling CGI blockbusters. Though the movie is not a patch on Lewis Teague’s charming Alligator, a steady dose of more action-thrillers like this may help send comic-book carcinoma into remission.

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‘Cats’ Review: Not The ‘Pur-fect’ Musical You Were Expecting

by Kaylen Summers

There is no doubt that Cats was one of the most highly publicized movies of this holiday season. However, all came crumbling down when the movie finally got released on December 20. Opening to a poor performance both critically and commercially, the movie only made a little over $38 million worldwide. This is nothing compared to its huge production budget of $90 million and another estimated $115 million spent on prints and advertising.

According to a popular online entertainment-news website, even if the movie is able to hit $100 million worldwide ($40 million domestically and $60 million internationally), there will still be a loss of about $71 million. Let’s not forget that the star-studded movie also ended up giving many of its actors a career lowest performance yet.

Directed by Tom Hooper, the movie is produced by Working Title Films and Amblin Entertainment. Both these studios are backed by Universal Studios. Hopper is known for his Emmy nominating works for Prime Suspect and John Adams. He also won an outstanding directing Emmy for Elizabeth I.

 Cats was getting a lot of thrashing even before its release. Most members of the audience felt that the early trailer of the movie was weirdly disturbing. The actors’ costumes and make-up effects are enhanced by CGI and people were not liking it. Though the makers of the movie took efforts to correct the CGI before release, it now seems like it was all in vain. The movie is at a critics score of 18% and a 54% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It also received a C+ on Cinemascope.

The narrative of the movie is quite simple and adapted from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s incredibly popular musical of the same name. The musical, however, was inspired by T.S Elliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Unfortunately, the real problem in bringing such a musical fantasy to the screen is that it requires an enormous amount of willing suspension of disbelief. This live-action movie about singing cats fails to conjure that. The CGI actors’ are enhanced to look like cats and are also cat-sized. They sing and dance under the huge set of towering trash cans, tables, etc. That is really too much for the general audiences to handle.

Another major flaw is how the movie lacked better transitions between the musical numbers. This is evident in the disrupted narrative flow of the movie.

With that being said, if you are a fan of music and dance, you should definitely give this one a try. But, for the makers-this is one gigantic box office bomb that Universal will not be forgetting for a long time.

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7 Psychological Thrillers That Will Surely Spook You

by Kaylen Summers

Identity (2003)

Complete strangers stranded at a remote desert motel during a raging storm soon find themselves the target of a deranged murderer. As their numbers thin out, the travelers begin to turn on each other, as each tries to figure out who the killer is.

The Machinist (2004)

The Machinist is the story of Trevor Reznik, a lathe-operator who is dying of insomnia. In a machine shop, occupational hazards are bad enough under normal circumstances; yet for Trevor the risks are compounded by fatigue. Trevor has lost the ability to sleep. This is no ordinary insomnia.

Shutter Island (2010)

World War II soldier-turned-U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels investigates the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane, but his efforts are compromised by his troubling visions and also by a mysterious doctor.

Split (2017)

Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him — as well as everyone around him — as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Insomnia (2002)

Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Clarice Starling is a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Jack Crawford wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, maybe just the bait to draw him out.

1408 (2007)

A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

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‘The Aeronauts’ Review

by Kaylen Summers

Set in the 1860s, The Aeronauts is an original movie from Amazon Prime, that aims for high-flying adventure. But, its dull and predictable narrative keeps on pulling it down.

Directed by Tom Hooper, the movie is scripted by Jack Thorne. Hooper is an Academy Award winner known for films like John Adams, The Danish Girl and The King’s Speech. Thorne, who is a well-known playwright, made his movie debut by penning the critically acclaimed The Scouting Book for Boys.

Mostly a fantasy tale, The Aeronauts is an account about the Victorian meteorologist James Glaisher and his record-breaking balloon ascent. However, there are many changes from the original story and the major one is how Glaisher’s actual partner is replaced with a fictional female character. There is now nothing wrong with this gender swap. But, the problem is how they executed it. With the newly added B-plot overshadowing, the already exciting story of Glaisher appears less relevant.

The Aeronauts has a top tier cast and good visual effects. Yet the makers have failed to make the characters interesting. This critically affects the movie, as the plot has nothing more to offer than just a balloon hurtling into the unknown. If the characters we more engaging, then the movie would have become much more entertaining.

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne had a remarkable performance together in The Theory of Everything. But, the same pair fails drastically onscreen this time with characters that lack substance. The audience, as a result, will find it hard to root for such boring protagonists.

Even with decent production value, The Aeronauts is neither entertaining nor engaging.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

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Doctor Sleep Review

by Kaylen Summers

There is no doubt that The Shining is one of the scariest movies to have made. From the legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, the movie has undoubtedly terrified us as a kid and still continue to do so. ‘Redrum’, ghostly twin girls, and the unforgettable “Here’s Johnny” are all now part of cinema history and no movie has ever made such an ever-lasting impression on us like this one. Thirty-nine years after the theatrical release of The Shining, we are now finally getting a sequel. Directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep is brilliantly crafted with a riveting story.

The supernatural thriller is the film adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel and stands as a sequel to his previous book, The Shining. So in the traditional sense, we cannot say that the Doctor Sleep movie is a sequel to Kubrick’s The Shining (since Kubrick made a lot of changes in the source material.) However, the movie does recreate the atmospheric darkness left by its predecessor. Both fans of the original film and novels will be pleased.

The major portions of Doctor Sleep take place thirty years after the events at the Overlook Hotel. Danny Torrance (Roger Dale Floyd) is an adult now- but is traumatized into a broken shell of a man. He is struggling with his drinking habit and is moving from town to town. Eventually, a strange feeling brings him to New Hampshire. There, he finds out about a terrifying group of predators who hunts people with the ability to “shine.” The True Knot cult is led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), and they suck the life essence out of the gifted for their immortality. Danny starts communicating telepathically with a mysterious girl (Kyliegh Curran) who Rose is obsessed with finding. Danny must now save the girl from the True Knot.

The plot of the movie is intricate and is skillfully fleshed out. The narrative branches at the right pace with proper character development. Danny has a proper arc from being a despaired broken man to the hero of the story. Flashback scenes with his mother (Alex Essoe) from his childhood add an intriguing layer to the whole narrative.

Doctor Sleep is not about cheap scares. It is skilfull in building on the established lore of The Shinning and taking the story forward. The lack of CGI gimmickry is a blessing. Excellent performances from the lead actors and brilliant visual style from Mike Flanagan make the movie perfect. Considering what happened with It Chapter Two, Doctor Sleep is undoubtfully worthy enough to be called a classic movie adaptation.

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Midway Review

by Kaylen Summers

Timed specifically to release on the Veteran’s Day weekend, Roland Emmerich’s Midway is the adaptation of the Battle of Midway. The original battle was a turning point for the United States Pacific campaign in World War II. Though the movie is intended to honor the warriors of the combat, it fails to do so on so many levels.

Everything from the actor’s lousy performance to a Wikipedia-like screenplay makes this movie sluggish. The narrative was saved from being a total clunker with the blockbuster visual effects. However, there is only little it can do to cover up the content and performance.

The plot of the movie is much similar to the 1976 film. Yet,  Midway appears as if it is a Wikipedia history lesson with dates, times, and ships presented before the battles. Instead of keeping the audiences apprised, these elements act more like a crutch for poor storytelling.

The dull dialogues and acting is evident throughout. The movie is divided into segments and it only makes it less cinematic. For any audience, it will be appearing more like a History channel dramatization of Midway.

Ed Skrein seems forced into his New Jersey accent. It is obvious that the actor doesn’t have the skill to perform better with the poorly written material. It remains one of the critical flaws of the film.

Midway might generate some patriotic sentiments, but it will clearly just be on the subject matter. The characters in the story are made one dimensional. The soldier’s wives are not given any space and there are no people of color anywhere in the narrative. 

Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, or Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge are better examples of Pacific theater movies. Midway belongs with Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

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Charlie’s Angels Review

by Kaylen Summers

Set as the continuation to the 2000 reboot, Charlie’s Angels is more of a era incarnation of the franchise from writer/director Elizabeth Banks. The flick is a decidedly aggressive retreading of the same old plot points from the last movie. With that being said, the new trio lacks the chemistry of their predecessors. Though there are a few fun moments from the big action scenes, the actors’ uneven performances stand out really badly. The added star power didn’t help at all and the movie would have been the same even without it.

The plot of the new installment is pretty much the same as the previous two theatrical releases. They are a bunch of bad guys (no bad women of course) with dangerous tech, the angels pull off a complex burglary, only to realize that the real villain is someone close to them. However, Elizabeth Banks did hammer in some woman empowerment here and there. Unfortunately, it didn’t affect the movie’s stale formula in any way.

The movie has plenty of action sequences, but nothing we haven’t seen before. As expected from a franchise movie, everything is over the top. There are bullets flying, cars exploding, and hapless men getting beaten mercilessly. At times, we feel like the movie is made out of the same Fast & Furious template- for the silliness in plot and definitely the car chases.

How the movie fails to see any woman character as a strong villain is a shame. It is clear that Elizabeth Banks was cashing in on the current woman empowerment trends. However, the movie was a good platform to work out something that is really empowering and not just some popular studio gimmicks.

In short Charlie’s Angels is not as fun as its earlier versions. It is obvious that the new cast is struggling to look charismatic in the recycled plot. The girl-power message is overboard and the film fails desperately to keep the audience in interest.

What do you think about the movie?! Let us know in the comments below.

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‘Ford V Ferrari’ Review

by Kaylen Summers

With equal parts character development, burnt rubber, and historical drama, Ford V Ferrari is Hollywood’s high octane tribute to auto racing legends Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby. The movie is directed by James Mangold and features a glorious tale of the true competition between two car companies to build the fastest car. Ironically, the movie runs a sluggish pace at times and struggles hard to reinforce the stakes for everyone involved.

 However, this all-star movie is sure to make you laugh more than expected and even shed a few tears in between.

The movie takes place in 1963. It was then that race car driver Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) decided to start a career in automotive designing and specialty manufacturing due to his health issues. Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), a marketing executive at the Ford Motor Company approaches with a stunning offer.

Sales were declining at Ford and there was a general poor reaction to new Ford cars. In order to revitalize the company’s image, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) decided to buy Ferrari, the bankrupt Italian sports car company. However, the owner Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) saw this as an insult and loudly shared his low opinion of Henry Ford II. This provoked the arrogant and domineering Ford CEO, and he wanted to beat Ferrari on a public forum at any price.

Shelby was asked to design a Ford car that could beat Ferrari at the grueling twenty-four-hour Le Mans race in France. Previously, it was Ferrari and his racing team, who had been dominating the prestigious competition for years. Shelby takes up the challenge to design the car, but his choice of the primary driver was Ken Miles (Christian Bale). He was a supremely skilled hothead British driver who was flat broke with his devoted wife (Caitriona Balfe) and son (Noah Jupe).

The film explores the characters very deeply. Christian Bale astonishes everyone again with his cockney accent and brash behavior. Matt Damon’s performance appeared graceful and spot-on. But, let not forget to mention the contributions of actors like Tracy Letts and Caitriona Balfe. Their supporting roles catalyzed the story’s successful conveyance.

Another notable aspect of Ford V Ferarri is how the racing scenes were like a breath of fresh exhaust. For those who were flooded with CGI Fast & Furious garbage over the years, this movie is gratifying. CGI effects are obviously present in Ford v Ferrari, but it’s done in a more realistic and convincing way.

Apart from the uneven level of pacing, the movie is masterfully done. It is deservingly a full-throttle awards contender. Ford V Ferarri is undoubtfully one of the best films of the year, and you don’t need to be a gearhead to enjoy this one. 

Do check out this movie before it leaves theaters and let us know what you think about it.

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REVIEW: ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ (2019)

by Kaylen Summers

Rating:⭐⭐☆☆☆  (2/5 stars)

Actor Edward Norton’s new directorial attempt, Motherless Brooklyn is painfully slow and boring. Motherless Brooklyn is the big-screen adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s period crime novel. The movie is set in 1957 New York City where a private investigator with Tourette syndrome tries to solve the murder of his mentor. Norton also stars in the film, along with Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Alec Baldwin, and Willem Dafoe.

Departing from the original source material, Motherless Brooklyn takes the story further back to 1957 from the novel’s 1990s setting. Norton plays the role of Lionel Essrog, a detective with Tourette syndrome. His involuntary tics and outbursts have made him into a ‘freakshow’ for others. However, his ‘broken brain’ gives him a photographic memory and a keen ability to line up details.

During one of the assignments, best friend and mentor Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) is shot. However, before he dies Frank whispers scant clues to Lionel. From there, the mystery is set up and Lionel is on the pursuit to uncover it.

Though the film has some great performances from actors, it’s another miss for Edward Norton as a director. It is clear that he has lost focus on the pacing and structure of the whole movie. The movie drags its audience through the two hour and twenty-four-minute runtime. Yet, the mystery doesn’t provide any big reveals in its ending. This is what makes this movie fails as a detective story in the first place. Many key clues are revealed in the first act itself. Any casual moviegoer can easily solve the so-called mystery in the first 20 minutes into the film and this predictability affects the flick’s ending punch severely.

The movie’s exploration of themes like racial subjugation and oppression feels clunky and heavy-handed at times. Rather than treating these themes with more subtlety, they are hammered into the audience scene after scene.

With that being said, there are a fair amount of memorable moments that the movie does offer. One of these includes a scene where Lionel tries to light a showgirl’s cigarette and fails desperately. This scene is both humorous and heartbreaking, making the audience care for the character more. Unfortunately, these minor, necessary detailings are the same factor that made the movie more sloppy altogether. Instead of spending too much time on such smaller details, Norton should have focused on its critical plot point.

For a casual moviegoer, Motherless Brooklyn will be a tiresome theatre experience. However, if you a movie buff looking to see some awesome performances, then you should be giving it a shot.

  • Rating: R (for language throughout including some sexual references, brief drug use, and violence)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Directed By: Edward Norton
  • Written By: Edward Norton
  • Runtime: 144 minutes
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Cast: Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Alec Baldwin, and Willem Dafoe.
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The Lighthouse Review

by Kaylen Summers

Directed and co-written by Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse is dark and not just in its overall color tone. The period psychological thriller is skillfully crafted in grainy black and white to give a unique theater experience.

The movie revolves around a retired timberman Ephraim Winslow, who is on a contract job as a ‘wickie’ for four weeks on an isolated island with a gassy elderly man named Thomas Wake. For Winslow, Wake appears to be a strange and superstitious fellow, going up to the top of the lighthouse at night and stripping nude.

As days pass by, Winslow’s chores increase and he is constantly attacked by a seagull. He eventually kills the bird, even though Wake warned him that it would bring bad luck. From there, Wake becomes paranoid that a storm is destined to attack the island and this causes his psychological descent into insanity. His hallucinations and the terrors caused by it are the real spooks of the movie.

The enthralling performances of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are enough to immerse you into the disturbing environment of the narrative. Their performance deserves universal acclaim and is worthy of contending any acting award out there. However, the intensity they had build-up was wasted in a bizarre and somewhat predictable climax.

The movie doesn’t belong in the typical horror movie genre. Yes, there are some dark, horrifying elements present in it. But, The Lighthouse stands much closer to the reality-inversion of psychodrama character studies like Repulsion. In fact, just spending 110 minutes is enough for even us to doubt our sanity.

However, the movie will undoubtfully be marked as Pattinson’s complete transformation into a captivating character actor, which he had already initiated in features like High Life.

In short, The Lighthouse is raw, powerful, and brilliantly cinematic. The mastery of the character’s journey is truly appreciable. Robert Eggers has done a brilliant job in giving his lead actors the platform to show their remarkable talent.

If you are ready to witness some true movie magic, go for this one without any hesitation. The movie may be in black and white, but the art of it is vibrantly colorful.

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Ad Astra Review

by Kaylen Summers

To put it in a nutshell, Ad Astra is more of an Interstellar version of Apocalypse Now, with the scope of 2001: A Space Odyssey, telling the story in the tone and inner monologues of a stereotypical Terrence Malick drama.

There is no doubt that James Gray is successful in presenting a visually dazzling and thematically rich outer-space action drama. But, it will not be complete without Brad Pitt’s starring performance.

The movie shows Pitt as Astronaut Roy McBride, a mystery man to most who know him. He is on a covert mission to save the world by talking up the seemingly impossible task of finding his astronaut dad (Tommy Lee Jones). His dad is thought to have died 16 years ago while working on an old mission to find alien life. Realizing that his dad is still alive, now Roy must defeat space pirates, combat some space primates, and sneak onto a ship to Neptune to finally get him back. Well, like every other movie hero, he does all of this deftly without breaking much of a sweat. (James Bond in space?!)

While space-exploration themed movies like Gravity, Interstellar and Martian focus on the protagonist’s struggle to return back home, Ad Astra is relief in its core plot and theme. Rather than being just a journey across the universe, the movie is a rumination on loneliness under the guise of a space mission. It is about self-discovery and of course, there is the ‘save the planet from spontaneous electric storms’ part.

To put it in short “Ad Astra” isn’t for everyone. Yes! there are many moments in the movie that are sure to set you off on an existential quest of your own. And if you’re a fan of Pitt, this is definitely a must-watch performance for you from him. However, what makes the movie really beautiful is how it makes you want to reach out to loved ones that you haven’t talked to in a while.

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The Kitchen (2019) Review

by Kaylen Summers

The American gangster movie genre is popular for its morally challenging convections. With its giddy whiplash through the attraction-repulsion cycle, each gangster movie gets viewers hopped up on power fantasies, adrenaline, and the rush of taboo fantasy. The Kitchen follows the same recipe that audiences have seen countless times.

Adapted from the DC Vertigo graphic novel by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, the premise gives a female viewpoint to the popular, machismo infused gangster flick. However, don’t expect Goodfellas from these girls, as most of the vacuous plot is utterly predictable. It is refreshing to see women as the crime bosses, but a gender swap alone cannot make a good movie.

Produced by New Line Cinema and DC Films, and distributed by Warner Bros, the movie is set in the late seventies when the Irish mob ran the unions, protection, and loansharking rackets of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. After three local heavies: Jimmy (Brian d’Arcy James), Rob (Jeremy Walsh) and Kevin (James Badge Dale) are arrested for their strong-arm tactics, their wives sink into poverty and desperation. Though begged for a raise in their scant allowance they are ridiculed and rebuked. One of them even gets racially subjugated because she is the only black woman amongst the Irish. Thus, the women decide to take over their husbands’ business and enlist a cold-blooded killer (Domhnall Gleeson) to back them up.

The movie marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton). Telling the femme-centric story of women taking the reins, the movie is constructed around three strong actresses-Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss. However, it fails when it comes to characters and settings, as they are so overblown that they look more like caricatures. Adding that to the generic gangster plot, The Kitchen feels more trudged than visceral.

Most crime dramas pay more attention to detailed character exposition. This nuance is lost somewhere in the heavy-handed and obvious plot of the movie. But, the overall empowerment theme should be celebrated, though it sometimes becomes contrived with its megaphone delivery.

In short, if you are a fan of hard-R rated movies, then The Kitchen might be your cup of tea. There is plenty of onscreen violence, swearing, and adult themes. With extremely graphical headshots and chopped up bodies, the movie works better as a pulp action film with girl power.

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Itsy Bitsy (2019) Review

by Kaylen Summers

If you have a deadly fear for spiders, then Itsy Bitsy is sure to creep you out. Taking its base from folklore and spinning a web of spider induced nightmares, the movie will bound you to a good watching time.

Directed by Micah Gallo, this low budget indie movie follows a young, single mother of two and her struggles with parenting and drug addiction. While she is taking up a new job as a private nurse to an antique appraiser, little did she know that her family is being stalked and terrorized by an ancient evil entity in the form of a giant, flesh-munching spider. Though it sounds a little too dark, Itsy Bitsy is actually a pleasant surprise for those who have seen giant spider movies like Eight Legged Freaks and Spiders 3D.

In a traditional scene, Itsy Bitsy is definitely not an indie horror movie we have seen so far. For those who are eagerly anticipating the movie’s death scenes, it will be a downside as the movie follows a Spielberg/Jaws approach and takes longer for its evil spider madness to begin. Putting its human characters to the front and center, the movie tries to focus more on drama, as the bulk of the movie’s screen time is used to explore Kara’s drug addiction, the obvious PTSD, and their family relationships. Though there are several creepy moments and effective jump scares, the drama isn’t quite strong enough to sustain the bulk of the runtime.

Though the movie is only his debut as a director, Micah Gallo’s extensive background with visual effects (Hatchet, The Innkeepers) has paid off in creating a convincing onscreen spider monster. The perfect combination of some effective practical effects, Vfx, and makeup effects have made the spider more believable than anyone would expect.

The movie is well shot and looks more like a big-budgeted feature than it is. The spider effects stand out us the true star of the movie above all. The director handled the monstrous creature with terror-filled precision and gruesome effects, making it enough to instill arachnophobia in even the toughest of viewers. Though the scenes that feature the spider are fairly sparse, the movie warrants a watch for creature effects alone. The same cannot be said about the Spencer family as the emotional pull is lost somewhere in-between.

The post-credit of the movie teases a potential bigger-scaled sequel looks more promising than this. Before you go and watch the movie here is the trailer for the movie. You can also find similar movies from our smart movie recommendations app 

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‘Ready or Not’-Review

by Kaylen Summers

With most of the blockbusters gone, the end of summer is a pretty awkward time for Hollywood. It is during this time that studios normally drop movies that they aren’t quite sure what to do with. However, this year things got a little different with movies like Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not appearing on the big screen.

This deliciously diabolical sophomore feature gives the audience a little bit of black comedy, horror movie, thriller and possibly even an action movie. But, don’t underestimate it as 25% of four different genres. Ready or Not is 100% all of them at once.

From wedding cake stuffed with razor blades to blowing up the chapel, the low-budget movie is packed with plenty of subversive pleasure.  Though at first, the premise might seem similar to Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, the movie is a real winner in how it is capable of achieving deep cultural critique with superficial diversion

SPOILERS AHEAD!! The plot revolves around Grace (Samara Weaving) who is getting married into the wealthy Le Domas family. The family’s wealth comes from making games- everything from cards, to board, to professional sports. According to the family tradition, the new member of the family should play a game on their wedding night. Well, it’s obvious that it is not going to be a game of checkers or chess. It is when Grace pulled the “Hide And Seek” card from a special puzzle box that she knew that in this game the seekers are armed, and the one who is hiding ends up dead if found.

Set up like a thriller, Ready or Not is keen on breaking away from the basic plot cliches with some ghoulish alterations. Even as Grace runs for her life from her crazed in-laws, the film sticks to its black humor and has some great laugh-out-loud hilarious jokes. The movie also avoids the usual plotline of the rich hunting for kicks. The Le Domas family does it because of what they fear will happen if they don’t. Such elements of such superstitions brew the possibility of the supernatural, as Grace struggles through scorching confrontations, deadly mishaps, and gleeful violence that can make any horror movie lover cheer!

Any review of Ready or Not will remain incomplete without talking about Samara Weaving’s performance in the movie. The Australian actress gave what can be legitimately termed as a “star-making performance”. Weaving can be seen nearly in every scene and there are a fair number of them which she spends alone. However, the actress gracefully took the narrative on her shoulders and moved it forward in ease and style.

The movie is 95 minutes long and is a relief considering a season full of features well over two hours in length. The script by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy is perfectly paced, with everything serving the unbroken tension built up by the plot.

For a movie made at such a low-budget, Ready or Not deserves not to be missed and to be seen on the big screen.

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Christopher Robin Review

by Utkarsh Bansal

Full disclosure: I did not grow up watching or reading about Winnie the Pooh. In fact, my only exposure to Milne’s world so far has been through the 2011 Disney animated movie. Jim Cummings, who was terrific as the voice of Pooh and Tigger in that movie, reprises both roles in Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin. That’s about all the two movies have in common. Just like its titular character, the movie also seems to have lost something special, something childlike.
As a child, Christopher Robin used to spend his playtime in the Hundred Acre Wood, with his stuffed toy pals Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and others. Pooh is a bear who cares only about honey and his friends, Piglet is scared of things, and Eeyore is depressed. Their adventures always involve the animals being silly and getting themselves into trouble, and Christopher saving them. However, as he grows up, supposedly too old to be playing with stuffed animals, he has to say goodbye to his friends. As an adult, played by Ewan McGregor, he loses sight of the things that are important in life, friends, family, fun, and devotes himself to a dull, thankless job. One day, Pooh crosses over from the Wood to the human world, and craziness ensues as the animals try to save Christopher from unhappiness.

The movie, while pleasant, falls short of the potential of that premise. Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince is another movie that dealt with the idea that growing up should not mean we forget what it’s like to be a child, and why happiness matters more than our day-to-day routine. In fact, this is a fairly common theme in children’s movies. This means that in order to be anything more than just pleasant, the film must either put a new spin on it or simply cover its lack of originality up with charm and manic energy.

Christopher Robin, however, is as by-the-numbers as it gets. Mark Gatiss plays the boss who just won’t give Christopher a break. Hayley Atwell plays the wife who just wishes he would be around more. As talented as these actors are, they can’t help their characters rise above the shallow writing, leading to characters as one-dimensional as the stuffed animals. And as adorable as Pooh is, whenever Jim Cummings uses that deep voice of his to deliver what’s supposed to be a wise, philosophical observation, what comes out is trite.

Christopher Robin. (Ewan McGregor) with his long time friend Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s live-action adventure CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.

When the movie works best is when Christopher is having fun with his friends, reconnecting with his fun side. Even that aspect of the movie isn’t perfect, since at times it feels like Forster is more interested in telling us that his characters are having fun than in just letting us live the moment. That said, it is always, at the very least, endearing, in large part due to Ewan McGregor’s performance. He takes a tried-and-tested mold, the adult who has lost touch with his inner child, and infuses it with heart and energy. Because of this, even when Christopher is being his dull self, McGregor has an arresting screen presence, keeping us engaged in his story.

Read also: Top 5 must have android apps for movie lovers

The 2011 animated Winnie the Pooh is an exuberant celebration of childhood, and stylistically unique. It’s the perfect film to get younger kids hooked on movies. Christopher Robin is a tired, somber return to that world, and while it’s an entertaining ride for both kids and adults, it’s not particularly memorable for either. I recommend watching it, but only if you’re so invested in these characters that your enjoyment of it gets a boost from nostalgia.

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