The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Rating: 3.75/5

From IMDB:
A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.

Review:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe started SO freaking well. I was enthralled right from the opening scene, which first few seconds played with perspective and focus. We are carried from a peaceful environment to a grotesque scene where I jumped a little from my seat just by the exacerbated sound of a camera flash. The photography was stellar. The detail, the angle, the light, everything was superb and simply chilling. There’s a lot of play with perspective and the close-ups of simple objects contribute to the eerie atmosphere. For me, it was easily worth 5 stars till then point.

When we meet our two protagonists, father and son who will perform the autopsy on Jane Doe, I was still excited and in awe. The interaction between characters was believable and I enjoyed seeing how those two handled the work and each other, Austin his father’s pupil, trying to learn his father’s business as best as he could. The photography was still amazing and I was immediately hooked by how familiar the creepy workplace worked. These guys could not be more normal and this was their home. Sure, it had the potential to be creepy, but it felt safe and normal, if that makes any sense.

Throughout these scenes there were several suspenseful moments where the director had me slowly nudging towards the edge of my seat. I never knew if something really bad was going to happen. And the fact is, it usually did not, not in the way I am used to. There were no easy scares up to this point. There were several freaky elements that contributed to a creepy atmosphere but all in all it was a serious approach to the reality of two coroners. The gross stuff came so naturally I didn’t ever see it coming until it was in my face. The sounds were so graphic that I actually gagged on more than one occasion.

I really enjoyed the movie till about two thirds or so. Then it all started going downhill for me.
The father’s theory about what was happening seemed farfetched, Austin annoyed the heck out of me cause he kept putting his face in harm’s way and the acting or script was just bad, I still can’t figure out which. I mean, who peeks through a hole, suddenly sees a corpse looking back at him, just nonchalantly begins to figure out the next step? I am ashamed to admit I shrieked in that scene because I was firmly convinced nothing would happen, considering the previous setup, and that guy does even twitch. Eurgh.

Towards the end I felt like such a great work of art was being mistreated for no good reason. The film just became a mockery of what it had been until then – even though the scariest scene of the movie, for me, came then. And when I thought I could not be more annoyed, the last second of the movie proved me otherwise.

I don’t get it. I swear I don’t get how anyone could butcher such an awesome movie, a gem amongst all other horror stuff out there. So yeah, I am still a bit upset.

Fences

Fences

Rating: 3/5

From IMDB:
A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.

Review:

I actually watched this movie a couple weeks ago but I have had trouble putting my thoughts about it on ‘paper’.

It’s not that I think the movie was bad… It actually surprised me quite a lot on more than one occasion.

However, even the performances were not very satisfying and I can’t even say why. Everyone was amazing, as was expected. But it’s almost as if some scenes were made to make the authors shine, especially Washington and Davis.
No matter how much I absolutely love Denzel Washington, at some point I just wanted to say okay, I get it, you’re the protagonist! And Viola Davis, who has left me awestruck in performances such as Doubt and The Help, here just came across as either bland or over-dramatic on several occasions. In others I have to admit she was fabulous, just like Denzel.

I really wish I had seen more of other characters and their own story, especially Troy’s son.

Most of the scenes took place in their backyard and boy there were some lengthy monologues. Memorising those lines must have been a pain! But yeah, I actually yawned a couple of times.

Still, I appreciated the events that unfolded and there was plenty to appreciate in the movie. Some supporting actors were pretty darn amazing, especially Stephen Henderson and Mykelti Williamson.
Some close-ups of the characters were chilling and the ordinariness of the scenes portrayed made everything more relateable.

After a point things did feel rushed, though. I had hoped for more closure and, again, to have better insight into the lives of some characters. And the final scene felt almost cheesy and utterly unnecessary. I could not look at Viola Davis’ obviously strained expression.

Fences has an out-of-the-ordinary approach, that’s for sure. Maybe because it’s adapted from a play?
The movie took some turns I had not expected, it is very rich in content, and it addresses many issues that everyone can relate to in one way or the other. However, for some reason I still can’t properly identify, to me, it just failed to completely deliver.

20th Century Women

20th Century Women

Rating: 4.9/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
The story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s.

Review:

My goodness, what a lovely movie! I adored pretty much every single part of it. It made me laugh out loud on several occasions, grow sad, shocked, amazed and nostalgic for a time I didn’t even live. Wow, just wow.

All the actors were absolutely wonderful, in my opinion. All the characters were very different, they had their own voices and struggles and I enjoy getting to know each and every one, even when I could not sympathise with their actions. Everyone is just so real, so genuine.

The camera work was very good as well and the visual effects were appropriate and entrancing. That scene of the ocean… I could almost smell the saltiness in the air.

This movie made me crave for a time when things were so much simpler and reminded me how we take happiness, family and friends for granted until we no longer have those things and are left to contemplate them from afar. It could be a depressing movie, but it is not. I hope you will watch it and that it will have you go through that kaleidoscope of emotions.

The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother

Rating: 4.5/5

From IMDB:
A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.

Review:

Boy, am I glad I watched this in daytime.

To say The Eyes of My Mother was chilling is a gross understatement. To think that a child could evolve into something that morbid is absolutely terrifying and even though this is fiction it definitely had me wondering about all sorts of things.

The fact that the film is entirely shown in black and white added to the isolated and grisly atmosphere. The sounds, especially the wind, had much the same effect. And the way the scenes were filmed, following Francisca around, emphasised her gracefulness in all movements, regardless of whether affection or horror inducing.

Being Portuguese, it bothered me that the mother and child characters did not speak the language well, especially when the grown Francisca was obviously native. However, they were both amazing and I only wish I could have seen more interaction between them.

From then on, most of what happens is very disturbing but also very subtle, requiring you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. I had not even grasped that Francisca’s mother had died until a couple of scenes later. However, there is also plenty of gore, even if muted thanks to the B&W, and the result of this delicate balance is a gruesome film that I am so glad I managed to watch, as it is truly special. There is such a psychological depth to this movie, and a perfect balance between macabre and normalcy that I never knew was possible in a horror film.

Even if not perfect plotwise, The Eyes of My Mother will surely stay with me for a long time. It is one of the few I can safely say I would like to watch again.

Now let’s just hope I won’t have any nightmares tonight.

Rings

Rings

Rating: 3/5

From IMDB:
A young woman finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in seven days.

Review:

Rings was a pretty solid horror movie. It would have been a lot better had the original ones not come first. As a remake it is not that good because at least the american version was extremely scary (I didn’t watch the original, original one). There were many reasons why it was so terrifying; in part because you just could not escape, also because it was pure evil, and because there was no chance to explain said evil.
Here it all changes.

Still, Lutz and Roe make a good couple and despite the several plot holes it can be quite entertaining.

Also, it was great to see Johnny Galecki in a more serious performance, I think he did absolutely amazing. And the role of his character in the story was quite intriguing.

I do have to mention that, once again, I have a big issue with the trailer. I am pretty sure a couple of scenes were not featured in the movie and that it did not portray accurately what happens there, showing scenes in the beginning that only show at the end of the film.

All in all, Rings is certainly no masterpiece, but it has its moments.

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann

Premise:

From IMDB:
A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO’s life coach.

Review:

Maybe I went into this with too high expectations but the fact is I was not sold on the direction the film took. I had expected there would be slow moments but not that many and not for such lengths at a time. I had also expected more interaction between father and daughter.

Still, Toni Erdmann is very special. It’s amazing to what great lengths a father will go to help his daughter. I could say there were many unexpected scenes but the fact is, to me, the entire movie was unexpected. Both characters never seemed to do what I thought they would and that was a great feeling.

From that opening scene I could see this would be a special movie if only I could stand the slow pace. Even though at the time I kept wondering how long till it was over, the more I think about it the more I like it and think about all the issues subtly approached there.

All performances were terrific, even the supporting ones. I am still in awe at the amount of realities portrayed in this movie and how genuine they felt. They spanned cultures, social status, age, etc, etc. And then there are all the other issues addressed, besides the obvious one of whether we are happy. There’s work, family and friends relationships; the struggle of a woman to be seen as equal in her workplace; casual relationships, never getting attached; globalisation, outsourcing and everything it entails; what you are willing to do to achieve your goals and so, so much more. It is such a deep movie.

I really wish it had been further edited, though. It would have had more of an impact, at least on me.

I am not going to rate this one as I feel I would be doing it a disservice.

Moonlight

Moonlight

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

Review:

I can see why Moonlight is seen as one of the best movies in 2016. All performances were exquisite and it is so thought-provoking. It addresses race, sexual orientation, family, and so much more. And it does that in an intrinsic manner through this young boy who is trying to figure out who he is. These issues are approached subtly because this is all about Chiron finding who he is. And it is this level of subtlety – which is not just present in the main character’s story but those around him – that makes this movie stand out.

All three actors who played Chiron were stellar but the teenager one took things to a whole new level. He conveyed a level of emotion that I did not get from the other two and I really felt for him.

The music enveloped me in the narrative, making me shiver on a couple of occasions, and all the play on sound was amazing, like the time when Chiron was at the principal’s office and her voice progressively faded away.

The camera work was stupendous. The way some scenes were filmed made them more genuine and the lyrical tone of some of them was just beautiful.

This is heatbreakingly realistic too. I am sure stuff like this happens everyday.

The film dragged on a bit at times, and the highlights are definitely the first two stages – child and teenager. Once we get to adult Chiron everything that happened felt quite purposeless. I kept waiting for something meaningful to happen that would wrap up the story nicely but that was not the case.

Also, some things did not add up, like Chiron’s backpack being obviously brand new and he is always so clean despite his living conditions and his mother’s neglect.

It is still an amazing movie and I highly recommend it.