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.

Arrival

Arrival

Rating: 4.85/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.

Review:

Having heard about this movie and seen part of the trailer I had written it off as yet another sci-fi movie featuring aliens. There were people running around and being violent and aliens talking about weapons and an explosion and everything was frantic and I just did not feel like it was my cup of tea and that other similar movies have been made.

I could not have been more wrong and I am so glad I read a review on IMDB that changed my mind and made me want to watch it because that is so not what it is like. This is not just another movie about aliens. It is so much more than that. It is absolutely stunning. Mysterious and heartbreaking and everything comes around at the end. I honestly don’t understand why try to pass the movie as something it is not.

There are very suspenseful scenes indeed where you can feel the sense of urgency and it is totally justified but ultimately the vibe of the filme is awe-striking and somewhat dreamy, which has a reason why and is made clear as the movie comes to a closure.

The close-ups are incredible, moving, and the soundtrack blew me away. Oh my gosh. It gave an entire new dimension to the movie and completely involved me and intensified the alien atmosphere.

There is only one scene that I did not like because it felt like it did not belong, and the slow pace was a struggle sometimes, even if it was part of the movie’s charm, but overall this was an absolutely incredible work of art and I hope you will watch it. If you stick to the story and pay attention, it will stay with you and you will want to discuss it after sitting on it. I know I do!

Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic

Rating: 4.9/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Review:

Well, I have to say this one blew me away.

Other than the opening scene where the CGI seemed fake and one scene where what happened was logistically impossible, there isn’t much I can point out that was wrong with this movie. I am still unsure whether the kids, apart from Bo who still lived the first years of his life in society, were even registered but maybe I missed that or it just wasn’t important to the story.

When I first read the blurb for some reason I figured this was a movie featuring wild children who pretty much only knew how to survive and whose parents maybe taught them how to read. Instead, I am presented to a father who does his best to, yes, teach them how to survive in the wild, but also educate them and get them to think for themselves. These children are cunning and some of their conversations left me dumbfounded.

The movie evolves with a series of emotionally packed scenes, particularly following their mother’s illness and subsequent death. Some events are full of teenage angst and you can definitely see the dynamics changing, with Ben keeping to his beliefs while being open to to something different as long as it is properly argumented.

Everyone is just plain brilliant in their performances, both main and supporting actors. Viggo Mortensen is amazing. You can clearly see this father’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that what he believed was best for his children may not actually be so.

Whoever cast these children – kudos. I was particularly awestruck with the eldest and the two youngest, but in general everyone was so darn expressive. I cannot even conceive how such young children could possibly memorize such lines while maintaining natural facial and body expressions. My chin actually dropped during some scenes.

I cannot really say much more without spoiling the movie for you. Captain Fantastic is simply amazing. It is shocking, at times even macabre, enthralling, thought-provoking and beautiful. You really need to watch it as soon as possible, don’t let this one slip by!

Doubt

Doubt

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A Catholic school principal questions a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student.

Review:

Doubt was at the same time brilliant and exasperating.

There isn’t much I can say about this movie without spoiling it. I believe I have never watched a movie that featured such ambiguous dialogues, which for me was at the same time genius and nerve-wrecking.
It was a very powerful movie and there were scenes when the characters never said a word but you could feel a range of emotions coming through the screen. At times, the tension was palpable.

I am still trying to process it all. It is a solid film with impressive interpretations, a controversial main theme but so much richer than that, as it confronts the spectator with several serious issues to which you may never get a right or wrong answer.

In the midst of it all, I think I found Viola Davis’ character the most shocking and emotionally packed. Both Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman blew me away with their performances throughout the entire film, and the way they played their characters was brilliant, particularly Streep’s. Sister Aloysius sure goes through a troubling development.
However, Davis as the altar boy’s mother, in perhaps five minutes in the entire movie, was something completely out of any league, so disturbing and heartbreaking, and she was so freaking good.

I hope you will watch Doubt as it really is an excellent movie, but please know you may be disappointed in the ending. I know I was. I understand the conclusion and it was quite powerful in its own way, but I am still sad about it. I think with time I will learn to move past it and fully appreciate it for its brilliance.