A Man Called Ove

En man som heter Ove

Rating: 4.75/5

From IMDB:
Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave, has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.

Review:

This was my first experience with Swedish cinema and I have to say I am so pleasantly surprised. I absolutely loved this film.

It portrays the life of 59-year-old Ove as he gives up on life; his routine is interspersed with scenes of his past that tell us how he has become the man he is today. I have to say the performances were right on top. The two actors that portrayed this character were right on. I can see how the young Ove became the older one and why he resents everything and everyone – the light of his life, who made him the way he is, has gone.

I thought this would be more depressing than it actually was. Yes, there were moments when I got teary-eyed because you can’t help but relate to this guy and everything he is and has been through. However, I laughed out loud in more than one occasion and so did other folks in the audience. At the same time it is so tender and touching. Ove struggles all the way but his new neighbours, particularly the mom with her perpetual sunny smile on her face who is not afraid to rant right back at him cannot help but snap his out of his bad humour and make Ove open up to life.

The photography is beautiful. The pace is as well. I thought there would be slow moments but there was no such thing. The scenes are every-day stuff for the most part but the interactions of Ove with other characters or animals or even his monologues at his wife’s grave always have an element or two to perk things up, usually Ove’s humour.

There were only a couple of things I thought were overdone, like the bureaucratic character that seemed too vilified and a few other occasions that were exacerbated for comical value. However even despite that I cannot recommend this movie enough. It really is brilliant, a work of art. I am sure there is something in it that everyone can relate to.

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.

The OA

The OA

Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie returns home, now in her 20s with her sight restored. While many believe she is a miracle, others worry that she could be dangerous. – IMDB


I came across this by accident. I was curious that Brad Pitt was an executive producer for it and the premise really intrigued me.

The pilot reassured me that this was something I would enjoy. A young blind woman who had been missing for 7 years not only returns but is now able to see. As she comes across the least expected secondary characters, the story evolves into something unique, pure even, with a hint of sci-fi/fantasy.

The more you learn about what Prairie endured the more heart-breaking but also hopeful you feel for her. Each episode left me wanting more and I struggled to pace myself and leave another episode for next time because I wanted it to last.

The OA is truly a true piece of art that demands your full attention. I absolutely love the camera work here and above all the sound production. When you consider the two together it is really something special.

There are so many plot holes, though. There were just so many things that did not make sense like there is no way she could reach to her back to make those scars or we never even get to know why she jumped to the water on that first episode; maybe one of the most blatant ones is Steve being sent away, Betty pays 50k for him, and then he is back to normal life – just to name a couple.

Also, I could never relate to the characters and still don’t know how they got pulled in to all the craziness.
I don’t remember any episodes focusing on Jesse at all so that one’s a complete stranger for me.

And finally, the last episode was a big let down for me, and I can see why several people wrote reviews stating that the entire thing was an enormous waste of time.

I don’t regret watching it. I still think it is beautiful to watch, the image and sound are amazing, but the content could have definitely been improved.
I believe I would watch a new season.

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.

Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

Review:

This movie was such a pleasant surprise. It was riddled with beauty and sorrow and I was just hypnotised throughout it.

We are presented to Susan Morrow in such a subtile manner. We get a glimpse of her current life and then the action is interspersed with bits of her past as well as scene’s from her ex-husband Edward’s novel. Everything is just so smooth. You are presented with just enough to understand the dynamics in her life and what she and Edward have felt. Every scene is precious and engaging and I did not want the movie to end but at the same time I did because the tension was just so rich.

Some images are quite shocking, starting with the opening one. The soundtrack is quite enthralling and, much like the narrative, it wraps up nicely towards the end. The sobriety of Amy Adams’ character’s look, as well as her surroundings, as well as other very clever scenes add to the dark atmosphere but not in a in-your-face sort of way. The film is just so well made. Everything comes together to produce an entrancing work of art. It is an intense and powerful movie with little clues scattered throughout that will make most sense towards the end but that you can definitely take with you and mull over.

There were a couple of cheesy lines both in the ‘real world’ and the novel one but overall I am blown away by this movie and so glad I managed to watch it. The ending caught me off guard but once I digested it I saw it made sense.

And the performances. Amy Adams stunned me and Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing as always but I absolutely have to mention Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. My goodness, they were stunning in their role. Pretty much everyone was superb, but these guys shone extra bright and I hope Shannon wins the Oscar. I will also definitely be looking out for more movies by Tom Ford.

I hope you watch it. Nocturnal Animals will hopefully stir your emotions, as it did with me.

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Rating: 4.95/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.

Review:

This is probably my favourite Tim Burton movie.

I hadn’t watched it in many years but that scene of Dianne Wiest going Avon calling! always stuck with me.

The visual impact of this movie is mind-blowing. Paired with an enrapturing soundtrack makes this film a modern day (at the time) fairytale that will capture your attention and never let it go.

There is a hint of magic and sadness and innocence and danger throughout the narrative while people first go around their normal lives and then try to get to know this mysterious character.

The colour details are simply mesmerising. The gaudy coloured houses and cars, the lawns and dogs and everything that makes this the perfect neighbourhood where lonely housewives don’t have much to do but gossip. Everything is bright and everyone is the caricature of happiness, but in a very realistic manner, if that makes any sense.

As soon as things begin to turn darker for Edward, so do the colours around him. Then of course there is the magical scene of Winona Ryder dancing in the ‘snow’ and the crescendo up to the gruesome finale just sucks you in. The eeriness that kept creeping with the mansion’s flashbacks finally culminates into a very broken heart for yours truly.

It is not meant to be a realistic story. Yes, people do very dumb things in this movie. But nonetheless you can take much from this tale and it will surely stay with you for years and years to come.
I know it has for me.