Category Archives: Movies

The Imitation Game: Oscar Nominee 2015

Synopsis: Mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, is recruited by the English government, to help crack the Nazi code, Enigma, during WWII. Quad_BC_AW_[26237] Imitation Game, The Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode.

I can’t even begin to comprehend the vast abundance of subtext present in this movie. But, we have to begin somewhere…

Having never read the book myself and being aware of the often dramatised events in movies, I was thoroughly amused at the way Alan Turing was portrayed to have solved the Enigma code. There’s fantastic Christopher, the machine to which at first seems is just the most brilliant piece of technology ever built- until it starts taking weeks or months to even crack one code from millions of possibilities. The solution came to Alan in the most strangest way possible: flirting. Let me explain. From a young age, we can see Turing struggling to make friends and was always pointed out as the odd duck. He wonders how people are able to talk so easily to one other when they never say what they mean, yet, the other person understands what is being said. I never really thought about conversations being codes swapped from one another and then our brains deciphering the meanings behind them. It’s so normal and automated- the deciphering, I mean- that most of us probably aren’t aware that we do it on a daily basis. Because Alan Turing had problems with this, he was able to figure out how to solve Enigma, hence the running theme through The Imitation Game, “Sometimes it is the very people no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine”. Alan, obviously not knowing how flirting worked, watched and listened as his friend, Hugh, showed and explained to him how it worked. This is how Alan solved Enigma:

  1. The woman, Helen, smiled at Hugh and didn’t look back in 15 benedict-cumberbatch-imitation-game-3minutes.
  2. Helen sent a coded a message out to Hugh and Hugh read the coded message
  3. He understood it as he knew what the input the message had been in the first place before coding
  4. She wanted him to come over.
  5. Alan watching this exchange was able to figure out this was exactly the case with Enigma.
  6. Enigma had the same whether words (or “cues” in the case of flirting) when the coded message came through.
  7. He knew then, that he just had to watch out for these words rather than the millions of millions of possibilities beforehand (if we are still going with the flirting comparison, he just had to watch out for the flirting cues, rather than aggressive cues or anxiety cues of conversation).
  8. He also knew someone used the same 5 letters when transmitting because they had a girlfriend hence why he later says, “Love may have cost Germany the war!”

That’s pretty impressive. The reason the Germans got caught in the end was simply because, they were so sure it was impossible to crack Enigma, they became complacent with the coding and used the same words over and over again. Imagine if they had used different words other than whether vocabulary and “Heil, Hitler”? That would have been extremely bad luck for the English.

Now, the morality. Based on a true story and adapted from the book, 2014-12_turing_bookAlan Turing: The Enigma” written by Andrew HodgesThe Imitation Game reveals the government’s actions at winning WWII. Initially, we are faced with the question, “What is he on about?”, as Alan asks to “listen closely” and not to judge. After the amazing feat of solving Enigma, however, they were faced with a dilemma. There was no way they could save everyone or the German’s would become suspicious and change the Enigma’s settings. And now it becomes clear why they asked the audience not to judge in the beginning. How could human’s ever decide who gets to live and who doesn’t? What gives us the right to make that judgement? That sinking feeling hung heavily in the air as they let one of their own cryptographer’s brother die. All these self-righteous thoughts began popping in my head, “How could the government let this happen? How?!” After much deliberation, it became apparent to me that they probably had no choice. Statistics really was the only way to go. They could either use the secret they held to save all the people but then the Germans would change their settings, and they would end up back to square one. And then more people would have died as a result. They had to sacrifice the few for the good of the many. I really hate that saying. It shows just how unforgiving the world can be sometimes. Of course, keeping in mind that this movie is probably in favour of the British Government, it begs the question: Have we just been bombarded with propaganda in the form of a movie so the audience wouldn’t be outraged? Let me know what you think in the comments. At this point, I’m just speculating. 🙂

There is one very unsettling factor, apart from being able to sit and watch mass murder knowing you can prevent it, that becomes quite tumblr_n92l5pLgTP1r1eamko2_500apparent through the movie: the extent of homophobia. I mean, I understand back then it would be pretty bad considering there are still countries today where it is still illegal to be homosexual. But it is still absolutely shocking how people were, and can still be, so blinded by their own self-righteousness, that they fail to see the achievements people have done, the amount of lives they have saved and, instead, judge them for who they are and put them on hormonal therapy?! Whether I agree with homosexuality or not is irrelevant but what I do believe is, if they are not harming or doing any injustice to other humans they should be allowed to be who they want to be without having to live in fear of it and not be driven to suicide. I know this wasn’t explicitly stated, but I felt this was what Alan Turing was trying to tell Detective Robert Nock when he was being interrogated. When Turing asked that just because machines cannot think like humans, does this mean they cannot think at all? and asked the detective to judge him whether he is a human or machine, I think Alan was referring to his difference of sexuality, rather than machine and human. Just because he is different to the majority of humans, does that not make human? After hearing the story Alan Turing had to say, the detective could not judge him. And rightly so.

I enjoyed the way the movie swapped between flashbacks and o-the-imitation-game-facebookpresent day rather than a linear timeline. It allows the audience to develop questions and stay compelled, which is definitely what The Imitation Game did. Fantastic performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as always and was delighted to see him be nominated for an Oscar. He was very well practised for the role considering the character of Alan Turing and Sherlock Holmes are both very similar. Keira Knightley was wonderful as well and her talent as an actress truly shone in the film.

The Imitation Game, being the complex film that it is, rightly deserves to be nominated for an Oscar. Whether the movie is propaganda or not we can never really be sure, but one thing is for certain, is that it gives a shout out to those of us in this world who are different to fight to be themselves and that, hopefully, we can reach a time, that they do not have to fight any more.

Verdict: 10 of 10 kicks

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The Purge: Anarchy

Does morality come from within?

Synopsis: A group of people try to survive as the annual Purge commences…

purge-anarchy-posterCast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez

Why am I so excited? Shouldn’t I be more horrified than anything? It is under the Horror genre after all…” While contemplating my sanity, it occurred to me the reason as to why this movie is thrilling; because instead of the supernatural evil against humanity…it’s humanity evil against humanity.

purge-2-party-finalThe biggest controversy of the film is “whether morality is intrinsic?” If the film is somewhat accurate on human motives, does that mean we are only civilised, responsible beings…because there is punishment if we are not? Anarchy suggested that this was not the case. There were nut jobs that genuinely enjoyed “purging”, but the main character that had set out to kill someone, ended up being a semi-protagonist with helping people on the way and not killing his victim. On the other hand, we were presented with the rich who had “personal purges” and even auctioned killing for entertainment. This would be the flip side of the “intrinsic moral” debate where it is the law that prevents us from going on crime sprees- or it could just be the “being rich means you are evil” cliché that every movie has. But even if morality is learned, I would like to think that the law provides a guideline to what is right and wrong. What would the kids think if the law made an allowance to slaughter people once a year? Would they grow up with the same sense of justice as we have?

I liked the concept of masked gangs going round killing people. Masks tend to make peopleThe-Purge-Anarchy (1) uncomfortable, at least me, due to their ambiguity as we are social creatures designed to instinctively be able to read faces; with a mask on, you can’t tell people’s expressions and motives. They are unknown to us. And this is where fear would seep in. Anything unfamiliar would make us feel uneasy.

The movie starts off with a “fact” that fewer crime occur and less people living below the poverty line. Regarding the poverty, if the poor can’t afford security- or even middle-class as we see in the film- and gangs are out for random blood to spill, then mathematically, the population of those classes would drop. But is that necessarily a good thing? Most likely they are the people that work in restaurants or pick the garbage on your street or maybe a teacher. If it weren’t for these unsung heroes, our community would be a great mess. Even if, as the movie hinted, the government was going round killing low-paid people, what would be the point? They are low-paid. It’s not like they are taking up chunks of the government’s money. And they certainly can’t start employing the rich to do those jobs; they will just ask for thousands of dollars for every Pepsi can they pick up. So that really doesn’t make sense the government would do that.

I’m skeptical on there being “fewer” crime. Sure, there would be less as they can just do it on The Purge day but I refuse to believe that majority of the people would just wait an entire year to do crime (note “crime” and not “murder”). Again, does it have to be defined by the government as “crime” to be a crime? Isn’t it like saying “It’s okay to do it as long as you don’t get caught doing it?”

Personally, while a unique and great idea to play with, if an actual Purge Act was instilled, it wouldn’t really work. If criminals were smart, they could just spend the entire year cooking up a magnificent heist and be able to pull it off. Important people and celebrities might go missing. The damages to houses, the bodies and blood on the street…not taking into account of the obvious issues with people dying, there’s just too much chaos.

Nevertheless, as a film, it was very compelling. I was actually disappointed when it ended because I would have loved it to be longer. Not only just being a thriller, it makes you wonder at whether human’s are really capable of doing such things. Now that I come to think of it…Isn’t war kind of a Purge Act? I’ll let you decide that one.

Verdict: 7 of 10 kicks

 

 

 

Maleficent

Destroying the pixie-boy dream, shifting cultural conventions and…assault?

Synopsis: The beloved fairy tale is being narrated from the point of view of the evil fairy who starts it all…

Maleficent_live_action

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley.

At first glance, this movie seems to be a very original way of story-telling the fairy tales but Disney has managed to go way deeper than that-whether intended or not.

The most obvious is the straying from the pixie-boy dream and that all girls have to be rescued by the “one”. I always celebrate these kind of messages to the world, especially in this day and age. My heart swelled with pride for Disney (as I have stuck with their movies despite a few minor hiccups) when Maleficent was the one to break the sleeping curse and not the Prince. This is proof, that our culture is changing and for the good; that true love within families can be even more powerful that true love with someone else. Finally, the kids of this generation do not have go through being brainwashed like we were.

Now, I’m not saying don’t fall in love with someone because your family love you more. No, I’m not saying that all. But what I am saying, you don’t have to be with someone to feel loved, because you have others that love you just as much and more. This thought process is empowering; it helps us girls- and even guys probably- be independent and do what we want, without having to sit around and wait for the “one” to show up at our door.

The scene that some people call “assault” or even “rape”. To be honest, I agree with theseI-had-wings-once-They-were-strong-But-they-were-stolen-from-me-Quote-by-Maleficent-Movie statements whole-heartedly. When Stefan drugged Maleficent to cut off her wings- sure it was the basis to her revenge- but Disney on purpose or accidentally started a buzz with it. In modern days, women have to walk in fear and be extremely conscious when approached by men. The scene I’m referring to in Maleficent instantly triggered vivid imagery of her being given Rohyphenol or Roofies or Date-Rape drug– whatever you want to call it, but you know the one I’m talking about; the one that comes with the saying “Don’t keep your eye off the drink”. True, he stole her “wings”. But what do wings represent? Freedom, angelic innocence and power. A women that was stolen of these attributes by a man? Now where have we heard that before? And it is only women facing these problems, men do, too. Some can say that the scene is reinforcing the assault culture- but I think it’s just pointing out that it exists; to help us become more aware of it, which is just what women might need. And before people get crazy on me for stereotyping men, I’m not. Thank you, to the guys that do something about it.

The story has an incredible theme of redemption and forgiveness- that evil is never born 1394820240_angelina-jolie-maleficient-zoombut rather made in a person and they can change. The turning point for Maleficent to realize her mistake was when Aurora called her “fairy godmother”. The child’s innocence and unassuming nature showed Maleficent that all humans are not the same and all should not suffer because of it. This was her trigger and ultimately came to love Aurora enough to break the curse which she had bestowed in the beginning. Origin stories like this are crucial because it teaches us to never take things, especially people, at face value. Everyone has a past, everyone has something that made them into the person they are today. When some evil “villain” like Maleficent appears or the Evil Queen in Snow White or even the Green Goblin in Spider-Man, everybody asks “How could you?” not “Why would you?”, which is the question we should be asking.

This does not only come with a theme of absolution but also a very basic form of stopping stereotypes. In a world where people of different races, religions, classes and even gender face stereotyping all the time, it is evident that this issue must come to an end for true harmony and balance to be restored.

The Moor’s represent the forests in our world with all the beautiful thousands of species present and the kingdom represents, well, us. This war between us humans conquering and taking the forests with nature trying to protect itself from us (although in real life, nature does not have a Maleficent to protect it, but they do have organisations devoted to protecting such places). Iron burning fairies in the movie is symbolic of what the industrial revolution and the development of technology is doing to the earth. It weakens it.

Maleficent-(2014)-59

There is also much to learn about the world and ourselves as fairy tales are ways of expressing psychological processes. If you would like to learn more,  click here.

Maleficent is a much-needed film in our society, to restore the mindset of the children and reflects deeper issues present in our world. I am very pleased with this movie, as with Frozen, and I hope Disney continues to break the chain of some more fairy tale beliefs that have been circulating in society for far too long.

Verdict: 9 of 10 kicks

Leave a comment below to tell me what you guys think!

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Amazing Spider-man 2

What was going on?

Synopsis: Spider-man returns to battle the villains Oscorp threatens against him…

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane Dehaan.

amazing spiderman 2

Gwen’s death. Whether you have read the comic book or not, it was pretty obvious what was coming for Stacy, with Peter having “visions” and all. The difference, however, with someone who knows the original story and someone who just saw the movie comes with how she actually died. This is my problem. Spider-man has always been very wary about using his web on people.

gwen stacy death

In the first Amazing Spider-Man and the series with Tobey Maguire, you can see Peter hesitant about this. Ultimately, in the comic book, this is the death of Gwen Stacy: when she falls of a bridge and Peter uses his web to save her, except, the velocity at which she was falling at and the sudden shock to instantaneous rest, caused her neck to snap back, killing her. So, in summary, Peter had accidentally, and extremely tragically, just killed his first love.

In the film, however, it was glaringly obvious it was the impact of Gwen hitting the floor that killed her, rather than the web. This changes the image of Spider-man himself. The hero, at least to me, has always seemed to be the most humane out of all. He’s conscious about what the media says about him, he wonders and searches about his parents like any orphan would and the fact that he is an orphan makes him even that much more real. He is the only superhero that has honestly ever had to deal with these kind of stuff, so naturally, the most “human” hero I’d like to say rather than superhero, would make a mistake. But I guess for these new reboots, they want to keep the precious image of the hero intact. After all, we can’t have the kids think Spider-man is flawed now can we? There is something inherently wrong with that because if kids think all superheroes are perfect, then there is this subconscious pressure to be that. I suppose this was compensated by the too-many-times Peter was on the brink of sobbing.

The plot wasn’t intricately woven as other marvel films. Many unnecessary scenes with Peter and Gwen. I would have loved to see more of Peter discovering and exploring his the-amazing-spider-man-2-villainsdad’s lab, more time spent with Parker and Harry perhaps. Electro’s story was definitely rushed. Seemed a bit sudden and out-of-the-blue how he happened to hate Spider-man. And also, subtle way of introducing the Sinister Six i.e. Green Goblin, Electro, Rhino, Dr. Octopus, Sandman and Venom. Although, to my knowledge, there are others. Also, just as a random thought, why is it that Oscorp felt the need to capture Electro and do tests on him without thinking the same thing about Spidey? Clearly, Spidey has powers beyond the average human, so what makes him different from Electro? The fact that Electro looked alien and Spidey is in spandex?

All the actors were absolutely brilliant in the film, my favourite being Jamie Foxx and Dane Dehaan. Specially like to mention Dane because he spiced up his character to be so different from James Franco’s Harry, that I can’t compare them.

The graphics and sound team deserve much recognition. Of course, with the villain being Electro and “electricity” a recurring theme, it is a given that the music would feature heavy dub-step. I understand not everyone is a fan of it, but when you are in the cinema, buildings are falling and the bass is thumping, your heart has no choice but to hypnotically beat in rhythm as well. Pure.Genius.

With all that is said, I still can’t shake the thought that they shouldn’t have rebooted these films. Yes, money, I get that. But the original series didn’t even have a proper send-off, in fact, it didn’t even have an ending. Why would you remake something that didn’t end? Plus, the original with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were great! Sure, the graphics weren’t that striking but the plot was still much more interesting than the newer releases.

Overall, it is an entertaining film. That’s about it. It is certainly not winning any Oscar’s but it is about the money after all, isn’t it, Sony?

Let me know what you guys think!

Verdict: 6 of 10 kicks

 

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Philomena

Synopsis: Exhausted from the politics of the world, a journalist follows a woman on her search for her long-lost son, who was forced to live in a church, only to have her son taken away from her.

judi-dench-philomena

Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford.

Just…wow. I am in awe-struck. The story definitely pulled some heart-strings as I thought of how realistically close the movie must come home to some people.

The most striking message of the film: forgiveness and faith.  After everything the church traumatized Philomena, she still respects them, so much so, as to try to sugar coat the horrendous events that occurred. Even when Martin Sixsmith called the church “evil”, she despised him for it. Her faith in god and the church were extremely passionate- I feel like using “brainwashed” might come off as a bit harsher then I mean it to but it is my opinion. Nothing wrong with god. Or the church, for that matter. In fact, it seems that having some belief does help people to be the best they can (when she forgives Sister Hildgarde for keeping her and her son separate- even when Anthony was on the brink of death).

It doesn’t always have to be in a divine higher power; even the hope that her little boy was out there, being fed and loved and the possibility of him thinking about her, was enough for her to live 50 years without him. What I found devastatingly moving was, when it seemed that Anthony didn’t think about his birth mother, Philomena was ready to accept that. But not him. When the church told Anthony that his mother hadn’t come looking for him, he didn’t take the rejection; he still wanted to be buried there because he trusted his mother, a stranger he never met before but hoped regardless. That is the epitome of belief.

It was heart-warming to see the spiritual journey of Martin Sixsmith; how he went from philomena-image01heartless journalist to tender friend to Philomena. He was so heartless that, in the beginning, he calls human interests section of the paper “weak-minded, for and read by ignorant people”. In the end, he becomes empathic but certainly not any of the adjectives he used to describe such people. He started to genuinely care about Philomena; when his boss at the newspaper told him to keep her there no matter, it broke him to deceive her so he let her make her own decision to stay; when he offered not to publish the story, knowing he was putting his career on the line. This is a prime example of how a person can change; different things will change different people. For Sixsmith, it was observing someone else’s life change, to change himself.

Even if Philomena disliked the anger with which Martin was threatening Sister Hildegarde, you can glimpse the purity of his intent: to bring justice to those who have been wronged. I believe that kind of passion to do what is morally right is appreciated, even if the way he went about to bring it was aggressive. It’s hard- exceptionally difficult– to forgive and forget. Sixsmith was exasperated and it wasn’t even his child that was taken away from him! Again, I’m marvelling at the strength with which Philomena just turned away…an inspiration to all of us to get over the petty little things in life, I’d like to hope.

It nearly killed me to hear that her dad had told everyone she was dead because he was so embarrassed by his daughter. I’m not promoting promiscuous sex- don’t do it- but something like that is utterly destructive to a person’s sense of self. There are worst things in life people have done. There is a difference between hurting yourself and hurting others. If you aggrieve yourself by having promiscuous sex, fine, it doesn’t really affect anyone else but yourself. And possibly your parents. But if you lie to others, treat them badly or injustify people, that is worse than hurting yourself. Maybe this belief is inherent in people and, so, without realising it, most people would side with Philomena than the church, because the church was causing sorrow in others.

On a different note, when the church told Philomena that her son’s records had been destroyed in the great fire, but only the contract that she couldn’t go after him remained

Judy Dench and Philomena Lee
Judi Dench and Philomena Lee

(how convenient)- the reason they gave for this was because the church was ashamed foe having sold babies to Americans. Keeping in my mind this is a true story, does anyone else think , say for example, if a person does something wrong and feels ashamed about, wouldn’t the next instinct be to try to help what or who you have wronged, however possible? It took me by surprise when the church was still trying to hide the babies from their mothers if they were sorry…maybe their true intention was to burn all those documents so there was no written proof that they ever did sell the babies. Maybe that’s just my crazy conspiracy theory. Anyone has any extra information on this topic, I would appreciate it greatly 🙂

One aspect I have to really hand to the cinematography team is when they ran clips of Anthony’s life throughout Philomena. It’s a very brief, but sure-fire way, of helping the audience discover him as his mother does. Very clever.

Overall, an emotional-roller-coaster of a movie. A part of me had wished that this movie had won in the Oscar awards; but then again I have a soft spot with anything with kids in it. Brilliant performance by the main actress and deserves the recognition that she got from the Oscars. I hope for all the separated mothers and children that they shall find each other one gloriously beautiful day.

Verdict: 10 of 10 kicks

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Blue Jasmine

Jasmine? Janette?….Delusional?

Synopsis: A narcissistic New York socialite attempts to mend her relationship with her sister after a life crisis occurs. However, things aren’t as clear as that….

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale.

blue jasmine movie poster

Cate Blanchett plays fantastically the demented woman who is Jasmine…Jasmine…hold up- what is her last name? The odd thing I realised was none of the characters in the film had last names. I mean, sure not everyone has to have a last name…but at least the people who’s lives take centre frame in the film. But, of course, something as blatant as forgetting to give your characters a bit of history is probably intentional.

Our last name is our heritage; it places us within a community, it identifies us with our past blue jasmine and halgenerations and, regardless if you want to accept it or not, it is a part of us (whether it should be or not is another topic, for the sake of the movie, we will say it is). So, the fact that every character does not actually “belong” anywhere, is extremely synonymous with the identity crisis, among the many other crises, that Jasmine has. The most obvious? Changing her name from Janette to Jasmine. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this; perhaps you have an unfortunate name or you feel like reinventing yourself for the better. But changing it because your husband likes the name Jasmine? Clearly, in my opinion, you must have a real low self-esteem. Throughout the movie, we see Jasmine continuously telling her sister, Ginger, off for choosing “loser ” men and that she has no dignity, when actually, from the non-subjective point of view, she’s the one with lack of pride. When asked about her and her life, she starts babbling about Hal. As if she identifies with Hal and needs him to define her. Just like that, she needs another person to define her.That’s why she is so reluctant to stay with Ginger, because it means, at that moment, she is her sister.

But this isn’t only for Jasmine. We glimpse as the down-to-earth Ginger associates more with her sister, she starts adopting the same thinking pattern as well, dumping her guy for someone “better” only to realise that Jasmine’s way of living isn’t as happily-ever-after as it seems. Can we come to the conclusion that the longer you are in a volatile environment, the more you behave like them as well? In an attempt to fit in?

How often do you pretend to be someone you are not? At least, wish you were someone else? Studies show that strangers lie to you at least 3 times within the first 10 minutes of meeting you. Another one shows you may be lied to a minimum of 10-200 times a day. Which is exactly what Jasmine does to Dwight. She creates this perfect person, to Hal or to Dwight-and deludes herself,too-and then runs away from the persona when things start shaking up. But she was so intent on keeping the façade of a happy married couple, that she kept turning a blind eye, until, it jeopardized her status in society; in this case, ” What would people think if Hal left me?”. God, that’s vain. Of course, if you don’t eventually become the person you are acting as, it will be exhausting to continue. However, interestingly enough, when she’s acting superficially, she’s perfectly fine; no need for pills, deep breathing, sweating. But when she is confronted with her real life, she freaks out.

The first thing I think of when Jasmine is talking to herself is schizophrenia. However, that really isn’t what it is. We all talk to ourselves, some more often than not. Heck, I do it whenblue jasmine cate blanchett crazy there’s too much in my mind to process internally, I find it helps me to understand better. Which is probably what Jasmine is doing but more intensely. She’s stuck up, narcissistic, vain…but she did go through a major crisis. Her husband was cheating on her and a criminal? Her son abandons her? She loses her money…eventually, you’re going to have to come up with a mechanism to cope with all that stress and talking to herself is what her mind does to protect her from completely breaking down. (If you want to know more about the benefits of talking to yourself, click here.)

In the film, I got the impression that if you have power, in any form, you have control over things less powerful than you. And can easily discard them. Using examples from Blue Jasmine, when Jasmine was wealthier than Ginger, she had the authority to throw her as she pleased. When Hal became “useless” to her (as in, fell out of love with her) she used her power of knowledge to discard him. Even Ginger who is of higher status than Chili, can dump him and he would come back running like a puppy. Did you guys also feel this abuse of power was a running theme in the film? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

To be honest, I was surprised to see myself enjoying Blue Jasmine as much as I did. I really didn’t think watching a “blue”, depressed socialite going nuts was going to be captivating. Cate and Sally Hawkins really made the film with their superb acting. Especially for Cate, I know it isn’t as easy as it seems to act like your losing your mind, when you aren’t actually. A stunning performance for a stunning movie and her Oscar award is much deserved.

Verdict: 9 of 10 kicks

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Nebraska

Simplicity at its greatest hour.

Synopsis: An old man who is an alcoholic, takes a trip from Montana to Nebraska with his son to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize.

Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach.

Nebraska movie poster

Probably one of the most realistic films I have ever seen- and will probably ever. The most outstanding feature of the film was, of course, that it was shot in black and white. However, at first, it took time getting used to since everything in the movie was modern, plus it was HD quality and it did not match the grey-scale. Why black and white in the first place? Why take a risk like that? Well, here it is: the movie is about the harsh reality of life- and the simplest joys take can make our life, as well. What better way to emphasise the theme than to put it in black and white? The most prominent colours of all. Life can be viewed as complicated like the spectrum making white light; it’s long, tiresome and overwhelming…or, it can be as effortless as black and white.

Woody Grant goes through an elaborate journey for one modest reason: to leave something for his sons when he dies. If you keep looking ahead (very ahead if you are young) then, isn’t this the basis we all strive in our intricate lives? To leave the younger with a happy life? Only for them to do same, too?

Talking about grey-scale not matching time period, there are many things that seem out of nebraska watching tv old peoplebalance. Major one being the distinct age gaps between characters. There were people in their 30’s and then there were people in their 70’s/80’s. And that was it. There is a saying that your 30’s will be the most thriving years of your life. So there is a clear-cut contrast between the thriving years  and those when your…not so young any more. Just like there is between black and white.

The point of this? To be honest, I’m not very sure myself. Perhaps to outline that at every age, even those which you think you can’t change who you are or where you are at, especially after 30, you can be who you always wanted to be, no matter the age. There is a tendency for us to give more attention to little kids and to be forced to give attention to teenagers because without it, let’s admit it, they’d go off the rails (although I am not disapproving of this. It is perfectly normal). By depriving us of the ages we tend to notice, we start glimpsing at the real, hard, yet inspiring, years of a person’s life.

There is a theme of acceptance throughout the picture. When Ross Grant tells his brother woody grant nebraska and sonthat he “paid his dues”, I immediately recognised the foreshadowing of searching for validity. Woody, ultimately wants to be accepted by his sons; not as the booze-addict but as the father that left them with something to remember by him- in this case, millions of dollars. We see as time continues, the son, played fantastically by Will Forte, becomes increasingly receptive to his father’s plea to drink with him and eventually does. The old girlfriend of Woody accepts that she will never have him. And, the most obvious, Woody has to accept that he hadn’t really won a million dollars.

We all want to be embraced by our society, family and friends; to prove to ourselves that we are normal and haven’t disappointed anyone. But what Nebraska invited us to do was think this: “If we are searching for approval from other people…why don’t you just ask for it?” Simple. Easy as that. Now I can understand the counter-argument “But then you would be vulnerable!”. Well, if someone doesn’t want to accept you, then surely they aren’t worth your time any more, right? So instead of  wondering if they will accept you, either ask them straight out, but if you know they aren’t even worth that, just walk away and never look back. In this case, Woody wasn’t going to walk away; it was his own son. The part that the search for approval becomes prevalent, is at the restaurant when Ed Pregram announced Woody’s fortune and when everyone started clapping, a smile of pleasant surprise came over his face.

The plot itself was just beautifully modest and sincere. Often movies come up with heavy sci-fi stories or action films with drones, but before contemplating possible threats, why don’t we try to solve the actual issues in people’s actual lives? Like debt, divorce, unemployment, drinking- you get the idea. Nebraska focuses on the everyday folks; the ones that are overlooked when “aliens land”, the ones that nobody ever notices when superman is busy saving people, the ones that struggle day in and day out just to save themselves and their families. These people, much like Woody Grant and his family, are their own heroes. They have more strength and courage than superman, just because, they do the things he does, but with much less.Showing us our own lives, this is why the film is nominated for an Oscar. And why it should be.

Let me know what you guys think in the comments below! 🙂

Verdict: 8.5 of 10 kicks

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Catching Fire

Fire, fear and…President Snow

Synopsis: After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are set for a Victory Tour. However, not everything goes smoothly…as the whisperings of a rebellion arise, President Snow causes havoc in Katniss’s life.

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks.

catching fire movie poster

One really obvious theme is fire. The fire-blower at President Snow’s house, fire being catching fire costumes dressused to make a statement with Katniss and Peeta’s clothes for the parade, the burning down of the houses with it…fire is one of those symbols that is just ever so fundamental and yet so complicated at the same time. Fire brings destruction, fear, ruin, it eats anything in its way having no mercy; in my opinion, President Snow has a lot of these qualities as well. When they say “Catching Fire”I believe it is a war between Katniss and the Capitol. However, the title can be interpreted two ways: 1) something that is caught on fire (snow having control of Katniss) or 2) something that is trying to actually catch the fire (the people of the districts outsmarting the Capitol at the end of the movie). Ofcourse, fire doesn’t only represent desolation; what about the light and warmth it provides? the fact that burning something purifies it? Or that love is spoken as an eternal flame of fire? So, we can say that it shimmers with hope as well. Which is, cleverly, what Katniss Everdeen is to the people of Panemhope. We get to see the characteristics of fire been played side-by-side by two different yet very similar characters.

Friendship was expressed significantly in both the movie and book. And rightly so. Nobody ever realises it but we need contact and relationships to survive not only in this physical world, but for ourselves to live because the need to be with other humans is instinct. Just like Haymish advised Katniss:

It’s not about trust; it’s about staying alive

Her friendship with Peeta (although by the end of the film, I was beginning to think if it was something more) and keeping the other tributes as allies. Our world can be taken as metaphorical comparison to the days in the arena; there are people who want to take you down, you have to make and keep your life while bearing the competition of others (what I mean is, the weapons they have to run and take in the beginning) and make friends to keep you sane and alive. Ofcourse, the movie exaggerates it, but our lives are alot like the mini battles tributes have with each other, the glimmer of hope and joy as someone sends a package…it’s all there. Other people may be the destruction of us- but they also happen to be the strength within us. I quote I like to live by is “Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame. Whatever the cost.” 

Was it just me, or was Katniss a bit pathetic in Catching Fire? I understand that she’s catching fire wedding dress katnissbeen through the games which have scarred her for life, but trying to run away with Gale leaving her family behind? Really? Already, we are starting to see that Everdeen doesn’t really fit the profile of the stereotypical hero; she’s deceitful to Peeta, selfish to want to run away and is really depressing at certain moments to watch. I felt Primrose was more capable of coping with all the stress for god’s sake. I’m not saying Jennifer Lawrence isn’t a brilliant actor; she’s bloody amazing, especially her performance in American Hustle. This is the director’s choice to make her persona like this but I don’t recall the book being like that. I wonder where they are going with the direction of the character because, I know this is going to sound a bit odd, but she’s almost too human to be a hero; too faulty and not really inspiring.

capitol catching fire parade stadium

 I loved Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, because she was so innocent. Even in my own review, I referred to the wrath of President Snow as “The Capitol” as a whole but really, it is one individual that happens to be the face for several individuals. The population of the Capitol may all be as naive as Effie, sure they throw up food so they can eat more, but that’s their environment; they don’t know better. For example, if you say Kenyans are terrorists (random and false by intention), you may be referring to a minority in the country that is just really prevalent, yet degrading the rest of the population to their level as well. See what I mean by unfair?

In terms of it being a sequel, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, what could you expect? The book wasn’t marginally better than the movie either. The majority of Catching Fire was spent…talking. And fighting. And threatening. It doesn’t even deserve to be under the genre “Action, Adventure, Sc-Fi”; more like “Drama”. It is just a bunch of politics. Only the last 30 mins of the movie was spent in the actual arena which was well done. Although, I don’t blame them either for the lack of action; they couldn’t have the second film be all about the arena because that was the first film. So it is understandable that they didn’t have much to work with. Apparently, the movie just got away without an R-rating because of all the killing in the arena and the whipping. It was definitely more gory than the first film.

The elements I truly enjoyed were the costumes, effects and cinematography. The Capitol scenes have got to be my favourite, ironically, due to their sophisticated technology and the way they dress, talk and act. The movie wasn’t better than the first Hunger Games, but it wasn’t that much worse from the book either. Ofcourse, this is just my opinion. Let me know what you guys think in the comments below 🙂 [mild spoiler for Mockingjay] Hopefully, the next movie will be able to sort through the chaos that is Mockingjay because the book itself was pretty hard to follow.

Verdict: 6.5 of 10 kicks

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August: Osage County

Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Synopsis: Raised by the mentally impaired woman they call their “mother”, 3 strong-willed daughters return back to Oklahoma after a serious crisis occurs. Women are all sugar and spice…right?

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor.

august osage county movie poster

What really caught my attention even before I started the movie, was the star-studded cast. This usually leads to the saying , “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, but I was pleasantly wrong.

Let’s get straight to the point: I have never seen a movie so devoted to trashing men in general. From the first scene itself, we see Violet Weston stretch the word “woman” into something that actually sounds like “woe-man”. Bit of a give away, isn’t it? I mean, the amount things that are wrong with the men in the movie? Shall I give a list? Here’s a list:

  1. Poor Little Charles Aiken- he doesn’t even deserve the respect of being called a man with  “little” being insisted in front of his name
  2. Criticised for watching TV and drinking beer- even when relaxing
  3. Bill Fordham is the reason why his daughter is smoking and is leaving Barbara Weston for a younger gal.
  4. All the women envy men for “not growing ugly and fat” when older
  5. Can’t even say grace properly before a meal
  6. At one point, Violet blames her husband for being selfish for killing himself!

Doesn’t really paint a positive light on the male population…but neither on the female. I meryl streep august osagethought I was going to puke with the constant complaining and antagonizing by the women, me being female myself. It was appalling. But this actually happens in the real world. I agree, women should be treated equally, but that doesn’t mean we should expect “special” treatment as well. In the film, if it’s not okay for a guy to strip down to his shirt front at the table, then it shouldn’t be okay for the women to be wearing bath robes. You get the idea. I am sure this was intentional in the film; to expose the bitter-sweet ideals of our society. But they may have over done it a bit in this film; it just made the women seem monomaniac with loathing men and Meryl Streep appeared to be in screaming mode 95% of the time.

Why can’t you call people what they want to be called?” is a running theme in the film. Basically, why can’t people be who they want to be? Everyone is constantly trying to prove themselves to other people that they aren’t who people say they are. Constantly. Bill to Barbara, Violet to Barbara, Ivy to Violet, Little Charles to his mother… At face value, I got irritated with it but then I came to realise we do this all the time in our daily lives, I wonder how sad it must seem to other people…then I thought “hang on, if everyone is busy proving themselves, then the people who we are trying to prove ourselves to won’t even notice because they are probably doing the same thing, too”. It is a huge risk putting such a raw human quality into the film because not everyone will necessarily glimpse the reality of the situation; most people may think “this is too depressing/overwhelming. I’m going to watch a rom-com”. And I appreciated the director’s take on the characters. But just barely. I could tell that this script was made for broadway- and should have stayed at that. It was too theatrical to be a film, too long-winded..

The chemistry between Ivy Weston, played by Julianne Nicholson, and Little Charles, august-osage-county benedict cumberbatchplayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, was so upsettingly pure . I nearly had a coronary when I found out they were brother and sister. I can’t even begin to fathom what a traumatic experience that must be. But this movie was so honest and tragically real, in that, it took literally every family issue that could ever occur and stuffed it into 2 hours; from the fighting, swearing and divorcing to the suicide, drugs and accidentally falling in love with your own half-brother. It must have really hit home for some people and that breaks my heart.

There were these little moments that don’t seem so significant at first glance but really, they are the basis of the movie. The Native Indian that is always watching over the family- there’s even a graffiti of a Red Indian when Charlie Aiken goes to pick up his son, as if Johnna is their guardian angel. Then there is mention of the invaluable books and references to writing- all symbols of knowledge, power and wisdom. When Jean Fordham brought up how by ingesting animals, we are devouring their fear…or when Barbara said that family is a random selection of cells that happen to meet- that sent me reeling. These small points that were made, they don’t seem to mean much, they are just random sentences floating in all of time and space…but that is the sheer genius of it. See, the movie begins with a quote from T.S. Elliot, where Beverly is commending the poet for being the only one brave enough to write ““life is very long”. But the special moments I mentioned above? This film is one of the bravest to speak aloud these things. Utter brilliance right there.

julia roberts and meryl streep

I have to especially point out Meryl Streep’s acting. I was so impressed I could barely keep my eyebrows from rising with awe every 5 seconds. Such a talented woman, if she doesn’t get the Oscar for best leading actress, the awards would be a sham…and Julia Roberts. They acted so well together, I am running out of words to praise them with. Their performances made this movie and, without the chemistry, it would have been very dry. I hope these two actresses get the recognition they deserve because they made a broadway play, that shouldn’t have been turned into film, into something decent.

Verdict: I’m going to give two scores: 10 of 10 kicks because of the compelling acting                                                                        6 of 10 kicks for the movie as a whole

Check out the Oscar 2014 nominees here!

Let me know what you guys think? 🙂

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Dallas Buyers Club

Do you agree with the healthcare laws?

Synopsis: 1985, Texas, Ron Woodroof, a man diagnosed HIV-positive, bends the law in order to help him and people suffering from the virus to survive. Based on a true story.

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Denis O’hare.

dallas buyers club DBC

When Woodroof realises that ATZ, the drug that supposedly helps with the symptoms of Aids, actually decreases the number of white blood cells (those that fight infections), he comes across a doctor whose license to practice has been revoked. Except, this doctor, instead of trying to eradicate the virus itself, he works on building the body against disease. As Ron says, “Who are we kidding? Once you get the disease you are married to it”. How terrible should it be that you have to learn from your mistakes (mistake being not aware of the consequences of his actions leading to HIV)  by living with it forever…nobody can find hope unless there is a second chance. But somehow, he finds, not a second a chance, but a way of surviving with the mistake. Now, I’m not saying that making a petty everyday-mistake is the same as acquiring HIV- never make that degradation. What I’m saying is, if a person that is terminally ill can learn to live with it, especially if they didn’t even make the mistake and were born with it, those of us who are fortunate to have good health should be able to recover rapidly after any fault.

So many people suffer from all sorts of diseases. Shouldn’t it be allowed for a dead-man-walking to choose their own medicine? The law doesn’t allow for drugs that have not been FDA-approved to be sold commercially. Should the FDA be the sole authority that determines whether a drug be retailed? Ofcourse, I’m not going to sit here and trash the drug companies because, honestly, without them, we wouldn’t be here to trash them. We need the medicine and they are able to provide it and that’s how it is. There is not a drug that doesn’t make money. However, It scares me to think that drug companies may be selling medicines that temporarily- or don’t- work to keep customers coming back for more. And charging high prices for them as well? That is poor morality. They are playing with people’s lives and that is what Dallas Buyers Club exposes.

Here is a video that will help shed some light on the Healthcare system and drug companies:

Ron Woodrof, along with his transgender partner, Rayon, sells drugs that actually do help dallas buyers club DBCpeople live longer, but they aren’t FDA approved. They spend a long portion of their life fighting to live by evading the law, travelling to get the medicine, while barely being able to live the life they are fighting for. Rayon died fighting.  It really gives insight to the audience how we should live life in the moment. Now, I know what probably comes into your mind: Yolo. But most people use this as an excuse to do terrible things; drugs, take ridiculous risks and be selfish. But to the people who actually know the meaning of “you only live once”, would know that those things certainly don’t cut the to-do list. Woodroof used to indulge in extreme debauchery before hand and was homophobic. As the movie goes on, you can see him coming to accept- and implement- things he didn’t believe in before; he comes to gain respect for those that are different in our society (race, gender, etc.) and grows to be wary of drugs. What he realises is, the latter will definitely kill but your life is not going to end just because you shake a homosexual’s hand.

He observes the world in a different manner, symbolised by the increasing use of glasses which helps him see existence with absolute clarity.There is actually a pattern in the movie with representation: the butterflies in the movie depict the fleetingness of life (butterflies live for only about a month which is coincidentally- or not- the amount of time Ron was supposedly to live). A sad moment in the film when he looks at a clown that is crying; more commonly used in conversation as “tears of a clown”. This paints a picture of how Woodroof puts up a brave front and suppresses the feelings of his own tragic circumstances.

The acting was what really made it into an Oscar-nominee. Steller performances from dallas buyers dbc jared letoboth Matthew and Jared. Matthew shed 50 pounds for the role. But more impressively, Jared Leto shed 40 pounds, waxed his entire body including eyebrows, altered the pitch of his voice and spoke with a dialect. Nothing screams dedicated more than that. In my opinion, these two actors or Wolf of Wall street’s Leonardo Dicaprio and Jonah Hill are the most likely to get their nominated awards.

Generally and intricately  (apart from some of the hilariously out-of-time objects, which you can check out here) an empowering and borderline overwhelming film. It does tug on those heart-strings of yours- how could it not?- but living for 7 years after they said you wouldn’t has got to be inspiring in the midst of the tragedy. It is great to glimpse the few of us who are brave enough to stand against the government for what’s right. I hope we can soon take the moral of this movie to heart and make the world a better place for the people of the planet.

Verdict: 8.5 of 10

Tell me what you guys think! 🙂

Check out Oscar 2014 nominees here!

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Her

Are you willing to broaden your mind?

Synopsis: Theodore Twombly, is a writer who is in the process of divorcing his wife. In a moment of loneliness, he buys an operating system with artificial intelligence, Samantha. Soon, he develops a relationship with her; the perfect woman to meet his every need.

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara.

Her theodore

From the opening credits soundtrack, I felt a little apprehensive. The creepy robotic music wasn’t comfortable to listen to but that symbolises the point of the film: from the strangest thing ever, to the most humane of emotions.

In a world of fast growing technology, he happens across an OS system, Samantha. There are many questions and concepts that have to be accepted when watching this film. It is not for the narrow-minded. Sure, it is strange to see a grown man having an actual relationship with a computer. But here’s the question, was she not real? Samantha, voiced beautifully by Scarlett Johansson, is the product of several human consciousnesses put together. So she thinks like a human…but what does it mean to be “human”? Our species have a basic form- arms, legs, torso, head- and we know that is human. But there are people in this world that do horrific things that are what we would call “inhumane”. But they look human; just don’t think, feel or act like one. So, clearly, from a socially-accepted viewpoint, human conciousness is what defines us. And yet…Samantha is missing the typical mould of a person. And that scares us. But even the soundtracks became less robotic and more musical as the film went on, suggesting Samantha’s humanization.

I positively adored how they used the eyes of a computer to help the audience marvel at the beauty of our world. I bet if a baby could articulate perfect speech, they would say a lot of what Samantha said.  If they used a person, it would be like, “he’s on drugs” but using something that doesn’t have a body helps us truly realise what it is missing out on- and what we should be grateful for. The one element that Samantha wished she could do over and over again, was touch. Such an important sense. There have been studies showing that babies who were cuddled more often, were shown to have healthier immune systems and less likely to develop depression in adulthood. Need more reason to appreciate what we have?

I was intrigued to observe Catherine, Rooney Mara, tell Theodore that he was hiding away her samantha from having to deal with the challenges of a real relationship and as the movie went on, it became clear that this was what many people were shying away from. Everyone was seen with an operating system , hardly glancing at where they even put their foot down let alone have an actual conversation with another being. And yet, in the end, even the OS’s blossomed a need for collaboration with others and ran off with their own kind. The need for collaboration, so human! And yet, at that moment, it seemed that people were less in touch with who they were than a bunch of computers. It would be disappointing to catch this occurring in our race, but we see it happening now: people using TV or the internet as an excuse not to go out and meet people. How are we ever supposed to evolve if we don’t challenge ourselves to things that frighten us the most?

There was one moment in Her that completely took me by surprise: when Samantha asks Theodore whether she’s been programmed to feel this way. It really got me thinking; aren’t we programmed to feel certain things in certain situations? Or do we do it instinctively? For e.g. if we didn’t think being overweight was “unacceptable”, would we be insecure in public? Or if we didn’t know we were supposed love, would we still? Is it instinct or have we been fixed by society-norms? And if it is inherent, has that intuition been programmed within us? I’m going all crazy here with the philosophy 😀

Most of the film is kind of dissociate, but I enjoyed the moment when the OS tells Twombly that she s “finding herself in the infinite spaces between the words in a book”. As if to say, we discover ourselves between moments of pain, anger, tenderness, confusion…every moment is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. The book she refers to is obviously a representation of our story; our life. There is a lot of reference to writing as well; Theodore is a letter writer, constantly writing emails to one another, referring to your past as “a story we just tell ourselves”…just a little thought. Let me know what you guys think about it!

The plot is basically the synopsis. Nothing much happens in terms of a storyline and there her theodoreis a- somewhat- happily ever after. But for some reason, the ending was not satisfying to me. It just seemed so fleeting and where would the operating systems go? Is there some cyberspace that I am not aware of? For a person not looking for depth, the movie could even be considered depressing. However, the soundtracks as symbolism were excellent and Scarlett Johansson’s voice fits perfectly. There was also a cool bit of cinematography where, Theodore is sitting on the steps, after having a scare whether Samantha left, and the people going up and down the stairs in the background are noticeably going faster or slower depending on the intensity of his emotions.

Ultimately, a very philosophical movie. With my review, I have barely scratched the surface of the depth but you get the gist of it. If you’re looking for an eye-opener, this movie is for you, if not, maybe some other time. It is interesting to see this film and Gravity nominated for the Oscars; both seem like they don’t have much going on but there is a lot more than meets the eye.

Note: Just to be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean I support having a relationship with technology…just open-minded enough to speculate about the theme behind it.

Verdict: 8 of 10 kicks

Check out the Oscar nominees here!

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American Hustle

Reinventing: One word to describe this entire movie.

Synopsis: Based loosely on a true story, Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser are two very clever con artists. But when they get caught by FBI agent, Richie Dimaso, they agree to give up a couple of other white-collar criminals. Things get out of hand when Dimaso pushes to go after some of the biggest names in New Jersey…

Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner.

american hustle cast

 I have never seen hair being over used to signify a hidden mask- I have never thought about it either. But it’s so glaringly obvious; girls (and guys) often straighten, curl, dye, gel bradley cooper hair curlerstheir hair on a daily basis. We have all been guilty of this self-deception. Irving uses a wig to cover up hair loss and Richie and Sydney are curling their hair constantly. This tendency, especially with a dramatic change in hairstyle, usually comes from wanting a fresh start when just coming out of an unhealthy relationship or when you move places. Appearance is the most significant change we can make and wear on ourselves as we see our image all the time in the mirror. But there is a subtle difference discerned between change and hiding behind a mask:

We realise quickly that American Hustle is all about the pros and cons about pretending- about the world being your stage. It can be a good thing but mostly, time would just catch up with you, as observed closely in the film. Rosenfeld pretends to be the happy man in a loveless marriage that has an affair; Richie goes through the motions of being a highly respected FBI, all while living with his mum and a neglected fiancée; Prosser, the ultimate sham, who completely faked her identity. All three people running away from who they really are and in the end, it gets them into trouble, especially Irving, who gets tired of the façade and admits his doing to Mayor Carmine Polito.

There is one extremely striking scene, when Richie starts screaming violently on the phone with his supervisor in front of Sydney. But when Sydney tells him she’s not the person he thought she was, he says “stop freaking me out”. Fascinating that games with the mind is thought more scary than someone being physically hostile.

On the flip side of the coin, however, there is change- which is highly celebrated in the movie. Change isn’t self-deception any more; it polishes the internal system, getting rid of the bad- and sometimes good- that resides within a person. But in this flick, reinventing does wonders for the characters. Jennifer Lawrence‘s persona, Rosayln Rosenfeld, learns to let go of her past with the symbolic use of nail polish. Sydney and Irving change by adopting his son and living together. The only person that change didn’t serve, was Richie. Yet, there’s even an explanation for that. Everyone else was willing to reinvent, they had a goal of who they wanted to be; but he changed unconsciously with the people surrounding him. So now there are two types of reform: intentional and unintentional. It just gets more complicating.

The storyline was interesting. It is true though that most people who end up going after mayor american hustlepoliticians, even if they do take them down, get burned one way or another. I guess there are always going to be certain people with power who get what they want, so if power corrupts everybody, doesn’t that mean, even if a good guy comes to power, he would still end up being corrupted? As with Carmine, he genuinely believed he was doing things for the greater good and it was sad to see someone so passionate-even for the wrong reasons- get into trouble. But maybe, because he was a good guy, they shortened his punishment, generally symbolising the good guys don’t always lose. Greatly. This was very similar to The Wolf Of Wall Street, in the sense, that they used manipulation and deception to get what they want. But instead of deceiving the mass population, they conned politicians. These guys are power brokers.

There are few things about the movie I didn’t quite get. I noticed that there were a few scenes where the camera would focus in on the hand gestures for a split second. Not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean, if it means anything at all. And was it supposed to be taking place in the 80s? Also, the ice fishing story, it kept recurring throughout the picture. So…what was the ending? They lived happily ever after? They got ice burn? If you guys figured it out, please let me know 🙂

Primarily, an amazing flick designed to show the difference between change and deceit to survive life in the long run. You as a person gets to decide whether you want to pretend to reinvent yourself- or actually do it and American Hustle brought that question out in the light for the audience. No wonder it has been nominated for the Oscar awards.

Verdict: 7 of 10 kicks

Check out the Oscar 2014 nominees! Are your favourites on here?

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Wolf Of Wall Street

Synopsis: Based on Jordan Belfort‘s story, Leonardo Dicaprio plays the sly and clever stockbroker from his first days to his retirement. Over the years, Belfort sinks into a spiral of extreme debauchery and finds himself being chased down by the FBI.

Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey.

leonardo wolf of wallstreet

This film defines entertainment. I was in stitches from laughing for so long, my jaw dropped when I saw the runtime had been, in fact, 3 hours! I hadn’t noticed the time had flown by so quickly! A big round of applause is well-deserved for Leo and his co-star, Jonah. Not in a million years would I have even dreamt they would do, erm, all the things they did.

The film follows the journey of a young stockbroker’s ambition to make it in Wall street. However, he quickly realises it “swallows you up and s**** you back out again”. But this doesn’t stop him, oh no… Instead, he moves to Long Island and starts his own stock business in the back of a garage, having being “trained” by one of Wall Streets finest, Mark Hanna-I say “trained” in quotes because, while Mark did offer stock tips, his ” two keys for success” were a bit…dubious and it became to be Jordan’s ultimate downfall.; being addicted to drugs and sex. Eventually, he ends up taking a sort of “revenge” on Wall Street with his business, Stratton Oakmont, hence the “wolf” tabloid name.

Belfort used penny stocks where he started selling them to the rich- all illegally of course- “A twisted robin hood” so eloquently put by Forbes magazine. To a degree, I’m quite impressed at their level of psychological understanding of the general population. The way they never put the phone down or always let the customer speak first when presenting a deal…I’m not sure if it’s clever or just sick. His wife had the heart to beg him to sell garbage to the rich because they can afford it, than to the poor. But he twisted that round, doing it for the wrong reason: because the rich, well, had more money. I guess it’s true when they say behind every successful man, is a woman. Although, said woman does end up being cheated on and he leaves her within 3 days for another…who, in the end, divorces Belfort. I think it’s safe to say that corruption and drugs cannot maintain a healthy family.

The majority of the film is spent exercising the debauchery of his life. Extraordinarily funny,wolf of wall street funny it almost seemed to be a sequel from American Pie. Apparently, the reason Leo couldn’t get funding for the film for a long time was due to it being heavily R-rated! Also, I’m not sure if these were supposed to be mocking, but I found it quite comedic to hear phrases such as “Deal with your problems by becoming rich” or referring to stockbrokers as the masters of the universe and calling the 1% of America “Moby-Dick”. But that’s because I have certain beliefs while other people may agree with Jordan Belfort. I also thoroughly enjoyed the little insert-clips of mini adverts. That was pure creative genius.

wolf of wallstreet FBIAdditionally, once you get past the 506 F-bombs and the wtf?! moments of the movie, it is actually a real eye-opener into the co-operate world. Definitely not watered-down, I would say this is probably the most honest film I have seen about business; the shady, not-quite-so-legal proceedings, the lies, the manipulation, as well as the heartbreak and depression that comes along with it. In the beginning, I was thinking “My god, do they actually laugh at us behind the phone?” and my already-strong dislike for salesmen grew more intense. But towards the end, you start to see that, this film isn’t mocking the gullibility of the general population (although thank you for making it glaringly obvious) but pointing out how unhappy someone of these guys actually are. Since first starting Stratton Oakmont, for about 5 years he was having the best time of his life, beautiful wife, friends, the money, the publicity, the parties…until the law caught up on him . Then he spends the rest of the time evading the FBI and fighting with his wife and eventually goes to prison. Actually, he even came close to having a psychotic meltdown. Was the short-term bliss worth the long-term sorrow after? Now, would the perks of Jordan’s life be possible if everything was done legally? Yes. But it would’ve taken a lot of effort and a lot of time to get there. It’s all about choice.

There was one problem I had with the film: wasn’t it supposed to take place in the 80’s? Other than one or two soundtracks and Belfort’s wife’s hairstyle, I was having trouble believing this took place anywhere other than the 21st Century. Apart from their slightly error of time, I would say some explicit scenes were just a bit too much? Well, it is R-rated and you could always just skip the scenes if you are watching at home…but still.

Ultimately, the movie had the potential to go sideways but the cast was what really sealed the brilliance of the film and I really loved the exposé-of-co-operate-business feeling it had to it. I have never seen a comedy film that I have thought was in deserve of an Oscar award, let alone one about stocks, but this movie was one hell of a roller-coaster. There was never a moment that bored me!

Verdict: 9 of 10 kicks

What did you guys think? 🙂

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12 Years A Slave

Synopsis: Based on a true story, Soloman Northup was a free black man living in New York when he is abducted and sold into slavery. Soloman struggles against the cruelty of man, the unexpected kindness of some and glimpses at the rarity of honourable men. He strives for dignity all while trying to survive and longs to see the day when he returns to his family once again.

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch

12 years a slave movie poster

Brutally truthful, the film spares no gory detail in recounting Soloman’s painful years. The torture scenes were long, violent and not for the faint-hearted. To think this actually took place, even if once upon a time, is utterly horrific.

Sentimentality is a recurring theme seen through out and should be as empathy and sentiment is what separates us from animals. Northup wistfully remembers the beautiful moments with his family as he carves their names into wood. Even Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, Ford, cannot bare seeing a mother part from her children and disagrees with the tradesmen who says, “sentimentality does not exceed the length of the coin”. How discouraging that the core of humans can be so fragile and overturned with something so materialistic as money. Soloman is in an even worse state than the rest because he knew what it was to be free and having known that freedom, for a long time he refuses to be in the same category as a slave from his name, to the clothes, to the writing, until one day, a fellow slave dies and he starts to sing with the rest of them at the funeral, acceptance of what he is.

Sleeping in one room with no beds, very little to eat and tortured if not obeyed- indistinguishable from the way we treat animals. Referring to them as “niggers”, even when talking to an individual strips them of any identity they ever had and becomes as similar as saying “sheep”. The thought of the slaves being able to read and write frightened their owners as being literate is always a sign of intelligence and determination, so they deprived them of education as well.

Ford is the first master that Soloman encounters and we realise quickly that he is made offord and soloman violin kindness, mercy and is a man of god as he recites the bible to his household staff. The scene where Soloman was on the brink of death from being hanged, standing there for hours and hours while everyone, including the rest of the slaves, not dare to help him in his horrendous ordeal, with Mr Ford being the only to put him out of his misery. While Ford does offer him tenderness, it is the bare minimum of what man is actually capable of doing- he hates in his heart of the circumstance but does very little to do anything about it.

Mr Epps, played by Michael Fassbender, represents the worst of humanity- from epps and solomanmerciless beatings to rape, he is ruthless in his dealings with the slaves, only barely redeemed by the woman, Patsey, with which he rapes and has feelings for- but even then, he beats her when is wife urges him to. He uses the slaves for entertainment and forces them to strip in order to be beaten- all dignity gone. A massive amount of time is drawn out and stressed on Mr Epps’ story- perhaps that is to depict how common it was to have the misfortune of falling into the hands of a master like Epps. Additionally, even though the slaves are seen being treated like animals consistently, Mr Epps allows us to perceive something different: the slaves were not only treated like animals, but they were being treated by animals.

bass 12 years a slave brad pitt

Bass, acted by Brad Pitt, encompasses the nobility of mankind and the rarity of that nobility. He insists on putting himself in the slaves shoes, working the hot long hours with them in the field and defending their rights as human beings when being attacked. Ultimately, this just man is the one to free Soloman.

These three white men, Ford, Epps and Bass were probably the three type of men you were likely to encounter in pre-civil war America; the kind, the ruthless and the honourable. By displaying these three characters side-by-side we are able to observe without great difficulty the contrasting nature of man; that one point in our history, the morals of man were tested to limits; will they feel in their hearts but turn away from the horror? Will they succumb to the animal-behaviour of torturing? Or will they be gallant?

Once or twice in the film, Soloman is presented with the opportunity to escape but he doesn’t take it. Sacrificing what is probably short-term freedom, for long-term freedom, he survived with what dignity he could posses as a slave until the time came when it was legally free of him to leave. Intriguing how at such unjust times, he still felt the law will come through for him and wanted to leave an honest man. As Bass stated, “the law changes but universal truths are constant”.

The ending was a bit abrupt I admit but maybe they wanted to emphasise the shock of his freedom? It was a bit disappointing to see that he got his liberation from the hands of the law rather having taken it himself. As he left, all he could offer the slaves he left behind was a hug and a look of pity and forgets about them as he rekindles his relationship with his family. It wasn’t an ending of victory but of mercy. He survived and that is triumph enough I suppose but it still felt lacking. They should have spent a little more time on the how Soloman went on to lecture and fight for liberty of his race and less time on the gruesome, torture scenes. This way, the film might have felt a little bit more empowering when ending with the strength of the best of us rather than the disgust at the worst of us.

Ultimately, a raw and powerful film on our growth as human beings from history. Watching this film has made me realise what a long way we have come from those treacherous ages. There is still human trafficking and slaves in today’s world but at the very least, it has become illegal and we do the best we can to protect the people of this world from the worst of humanity to this day, inspired by the heart-breaking but great history of our planet.

Verdict: 8.5 of 10 kicks

What do you guys think of the movie? Feel free to leave a comment 🙂

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Gravity

Synopsis: Two astronauts attempt to survive as a series of misfortunes occurs- drifting in space, certain sacrifices are made and hardships test the very core of humans.

Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen.

Gravity, sandra bullock

Before saying anything, I want to point out that the movie isn’t an action film or thriller so please do not be disappointed. It is a drama-based film. The setting of space is more of a metaphor than anything; a platform for her journey of overcoming grief. Ryan Stone had lost her child and, as she says in the movie, that she just keeps driving. In fact, she “drives”, for so long and so far out, that she finds herself in space, running away from her grief and distancing her emotional pain.

When she is in the Hubble and is taking of her spacesuit, there are a few seconds where she is curled up on herself, like a foetus in a mother’s womb- very symbolic of regeneration and, from that moment on, you know she is going to be reinventing herself. We can also see this journey from a “baby” to “toddler” in the end of the movie, where she crawls to the beach, struggles to stand up and is seen taking her “first” very wobbly and shaky steps on this earth. She has been born again and wiped away with a clean slate to which she starts life.

This movie is very inspiring in quite the literal and metaphorical sense. Literally, we see the gravity-movie-review-sandra-bullock-shiopultimate human instinct to survive; the will to live observed so intensely over the journey. But, in terms of emotional stability, the will to live doesn’t have to be in life-or-death situations; but rather being able to actually live after something as devastating as a loss of a child occurs and the tackling of the grief is played out powerfully in the film. We all have the strength within us to carry on when we feel all hope is lost, but sometimes we need a little push (in the film, it came to Doctor Stone in the form of her friend Matt Kowalski) in order to tap into that strength. Her falling through the skies like a shooting star resembles hope- that she, at that moment, embodies the extraordinary hopefulness that mankind is capable of; She is not a survivor of a dangerous mission in space, but a champion in her triumph of her war with grief. She has finally learned to let go, stopped driving and has come back home

It was intriguing how they kept mentioning things such as “Silence; I could get used to this” or “the view is amazing” While all of that is true, the film seeks to answer the question, could we really live in space? Not in terms of the dangers of lack of oxygen or meteorites but would we be able to leave our earth? To live without contact from others? Humans are creatures of sentiment; it could be the reason for our ultimate destruction- or salvation as we glimpse in the film when she finds the motivation to live in the love of her daughter, rather in her self-pity which is often a paralytic. Upon being able to contact someone on earth, she asks them to make their dog bark and to continue singing a lullaby for their baby. Sure, space is beautiful with its sunrise and its many stars, but we can see all that from earth, too. We are curious enough to explore the universe as there is so much more we have yet to observe and learn. But, just like Ryan, we would start to miss the simple things that make our world; the singing of birds, the colours of the sky, the magnificence of the landscape , the warmth of our loved ones…why would we ever want to leave all that behind?

In terms of science, the movie attempted to be as realistic asgravity-movie-review-space-2 possible- attempted being the operative word. We observe the Hubble and the ISS and the Chinese Space Station all within sight, when in reality, the ISS orbits 400 km above Earth, the Hubble at 560 and the Chinese station simply does not exist yet. In addition, the ease to which she changed orbital planes was exaggerated as they would be really time-consuming and energy intensive. The physics is wrong when we notice tension in the strings when, in space, it should be relatively easy to pull the cables. Similarly, Sandra Bullock’s tear drops would’ve just stuck to her face. I also had trouble believing that a medical engineer, which Ryan Stone was, would be granted permission to accompany the mission, let alone actually leave the interior of the Hubble, even if she had training for 6 months prior.

Overall, a brilliantly executed film with amazing special effects and realistic acting. Like I said before, it is drama-based film and should be judged accordingly. And for its genre, it is one of the best space films I have ever seen.

Verdict: 8 of 10 kicks

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The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug

Synopsis: Having conquered all the dangers of the Misty Mountains, Thorin and CompanyThe Lonely Mountain must travel through Mirkwood Forest and the Town of Lake-Men before entering The Lonely Mountain- without their trusted wizard. And once they do enter The Lonely Mountain, how does our little thief handle one of the most frightful of all dragons?…And what does it lead to?

Cast: Ian Mckellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott.

If you think Peter Jackson out did himself in the first Hobbit film, think again. The story lifts off with Thorin and Gandalf having a heart-felt conversation about Thorin’s dad that may or may not have been seen alive. It was interesting to see how the movie wanted to touch upon this even though the book did not go into much detail (maybe the third movie might feature Thorin’s dad?) This was the perfect place to pick up from the last film, as it did not waste time reminiscing the previous battles, continuing straight into the journey. Basically, what they’re saying is, “Want to know what happened before? See the first film.”

Throughout the film, we see Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins gain more and more confidence and courage, mainly due to the ring but it helps him wield a sword with a warrior’s hand and make intelligent decisions. The dwarves, also, start respecting Bilbo, turning to him in their time of dire need (just like they did with Gandalf) and asking him for his wisdom.

In the book, Kili and Fili get killed in the last battle but this has an intriguing twist with Kili legolas and taurielbeing poisoned and nearly dying…but with the Wood Elves helping out. The Wood Elves certainly had a much more significant and heroic role in the movie, compared to the book, where they were mostly hostile to the dwarves. Not really sure how I feel about this…For some reason,  I preferred the Elves stay arrogant. But humanizing them into having mixed feelings wasn’t terribly bad. After all, the story isn’t about Bilbo’s story alone; it’s about how everyone goes on a self-changing journey, so why not the Elves?

Gandalf going off to sort the Necromancer out is where the movie strays from the book the most. Literally, the Necromancer is mentioned as a justified means of Gadalf’s abandonment of Thorin’s Company; no mention of an epic battle or proper background or intent of the Necromancer. The movie devotes a good amount of its time depicting Gandalf’s journey and a story of how the Necromancer is actually a threat, who and what he is. I have never been more pleased by a stray-off of a book-to-movie adaptation. However, I am worried that in the third movie, the resolution of the Necromancer won’t, in fact, live up to the rest of the epicness of the Hobbit. Even though the Necromancer story won’t really make or break the trilogy, if it did, however, not live up to expectation, it would fall flat and be an unnecessary addition to the film that should’ve just stayed out, similar to the book. But why all the gloom? If it is amazing, it would be just another factor contributing to an already-beautiful film.

Now Smaug, *shivers*, just…absolutely stunning. Benedict Cumberbatch‘s voice as Smaug keeps you riveted in your seat as his words fill the air you breathe with

impending-smaug and bilbo  talkingdoom. Everyone is cast under a spell as the dragon speaks and no one dares make a peep. But that was how Bilbo felt and, damn, did Benedict make us feel that way . I thought it was actually quite hilarious that, initially, Bilbo didn’t seem to realise the complete severity of the danger he was in. He goes in quite confidently and only when Balin ditches him, do warning bells start to ring in his head. The look of utter shock and terror as he realises the full presence of Smaug was just priceless.

The reference to the greed of the dwarves, mostly Thorin, for the treasure and the famous Arkenstone was brilliantly executed with Bilbo always managing to keep his head above it all. We see how different characters- Bilbo, Wood Elves,  even Gandalf who is humbled by the Necromancer – change along their journey, but up until this point you don’t really see the dwarves change all that much. And then they see the treasure. Strange how no matter what creature you are, shiny valuable things have to capability of altering someone’s state of mind. And then, another character-change happens to the dwarves, when- in a moment of desperation to kill the mighty dragon- they melt down all the gold and use it to burn and try to turn the dragon into a big golden statue. Of course, the gold stays where it is, but imagine having to rework all the gold into jewellery, cutlery, cups, crowns…they’ve got their work cut out for them. But that’s what danger exposes: our priories, which in this case, is saving each other and themselves.

The last scene is what really gets to you though, ending the cliffhanger with Bilbo’s words of disbelief,“What have we done?”, as the dragon takes off to kill the Lake-men who so kindly helped Thorin and Company. In the book, the dwarves and the hobbit have no idea that Smaug goes to destroy Lake Town. But in the movie they do, which arises questions: Will Thorin and Company do anything about it? Will we see them take the honourable decision to help Lake Town? If so, how do they plan on doing it? And will Bard be the one to kill the dragon like the book? What about the reference to Thorin’s dad still being alive? And what does the Necromancer have to do in this story?

Oh and can I just say how fitting and lovely the last soundtrack of the film, “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran, is? One of the best film tracks I heave heard in a long time. Made the ending-credits seem utterly compelling.

Verdict: 10 of 10 kicks

 

 

Now You See Me

Synopsis: Four extremely talented street artists are recruited to pull of the biggest illusion of all time. Evading the FBI constantly, how do they manage to pull of such a heist? And is there something larger than themselves lurking in the shadows?

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher.

The movie is, at it’s core, about the ethics of playing on the innocence of the masses. Four cunning illusionists, called the Four Horsemen, put on a series of extravagant performances that leads up to one magnificent global performance. The visuals of the movies was absolutely brilliant, with amazing light shows and unique gimmicks. What was really good about the movie was that it constantly keeps you guessing and answers all the burning questions you have inside your head. The story line has fluidity and consistency which is always a good sign.

It scares me to think that the entire stadium and the French guy was hypnotised into believing that he actually went to Paris. That kind of knowledge and power on controlling the human mind-believing you’ve been somewhere you haven’t; blurting out your deepest secrets uncontrollably- would be devastating in the wrong hands.

Essentially, we see mass manipulation like this everyday, especially with businesses, promising more than they can actually provide for. The beauty industry would be at the centre of this, in my opinion. Maybe this movie is an indirect shout out to that?

There were some bits i would’ve liked them to expanded on such as The Eye of Horus and what does this secret order intend in this world? Or they could’ve possibly gone through a quick recount of how Mark Ruffalo’s character, Dylan Rhodes, plays the FBI a fool, just like they did with Jack Wilder faking his death. Also, with that teleporter contraption, when it pressed together to teleport the person, how did they end up in the air ducts?

Overall, a fantastic film to keep that brain of yours sharp. The acting is excellent, especially by Mark Ruffalo and you may have to watch it a second time to fully understand what’s going on. Or maybe because you want to fully appreciate the unpredictable plot twist at the end of the movie- left me hanging off my seat! Maybe though, their possibly-2nd film could be a bit more fulfilling?The Four Horsemen stand to shock the world

Verdict: 7 of 10 kicks