Category Archives: Drama

Vortex (2022) Review

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Vortex

Time: 136 Minutes
Cast:
Dario Argento as Lui
Françoise Lebrun as Elle
Alex Lutz as Stéphane
Director: Gaspar Noé

A retired psychiatrist with dementia and a struggling author with a heart condition live their final days together in an apartment.

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Gaspar Noe is one of the more notable infamous and provocative directors, known for Irreversible, Enter the Void and more recently Climax. His latest film Vortex did interest me, partly because I had heard that it is relatively subdued compared to his past work. I watched the movie for myself, and I can confirm that this is true. Make no mistake though, this is very much a Gaspar Noe film, and one for that matter, one of his best.

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As said, Vortex is subdued for a Gaspar Noe movie. It does away from the extreme violence and in your face visuals that his films are known for, and this is his tamest movie to date. That being said, it might be one of his more disturbing, gruelling and bleak films, with it focussing on an elderly couple with dementia. Throughout the movie, there is a real existential dread as we follow the two elderly protagonists. While I was initially intrigued with the way Gaspar Noe decided to tell the story (which I’ll get to later), it was hard for me to get into at first. It is very drawn out, particularly near the beginning. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, I think its a bit too long and could’ve been a little shorter. However, it picked up for me from the point where the couple’s son first appears. Like with Noe’s other films, Vortex contains familiar themes of life and death, and with particular emphasis on morality. It is a grim watch but it’s still a very thoughtful and human movie, and an emotionally devastating portrait of dementia. While there’s a few of his movies I haven’t seen yet, it’s safe to say that this is Noe’s most contemplative, mature and personal film yet (even more so after hearing that beforehand he nearly died from a brain haemorrhage).

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The cast is very limited, it mostly comes down to Dario Argento (yes, the director of movies like Suspiria and Deep Red) and Francoise Lebrun, playing the older husband and wife respectively. Their nuanced and real performances added so much; helping to bring across their characters in a believable and heartbreaking way. Alex Lutz is equally great in his scenes as their son.

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Gaspar Noe’s direction and style isn’t nearly as explosive or in your face as his other films, not to say that its standard by any means. With Noe’s movies, he usually has some notable stylistic or narrative technique throughout. Irreversible had its scenes played in reverse, and Enter the Void was first person. Vortex is no exception, almost all the movie’s shots are split across two separate screens. Its usually showing two different perspectives on these split screens, the husband in one screen and the wife in the other. This choice is to keep these two characters separate, conveying that although they live in the same house, they practically live in separate worlds. The shots have longer takes and brief cuts, that combined with the relatively minimalist approach helps you feel grounded and in the moment. It’s definitely a bold stylistic choice, and it definitely does convey what Noe was going for, but it can be a little distracting. The long takes are impressive but do admittedly get tiring after a while.

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Vortex is a bit overlong, but overall is an impactful and painful yet humanistic and contemplative film about mortality. It’s uniquely directed and benefits from the amazing performances from Dario Argento, Francoise Lebrun and Alex Lutz. One of Gaspar Noe’s most restrained films, and one of his best. If you haven’t watched any of his movies, I can say with confidence that it is his most tame content wise, but isn’t an easy watch at all. Great film, but not one I would want to watch again.

Till (2022) Review

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Till

Time: 130 Minutes
Cast:
Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till
Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till
Frankie Faison as John Carthan
Haley Bennett as Carolyn Bryant
Whoopi Goldberg as Alma Carthan
Director: Chinonye Chukwu

The true story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was brutally lynched in 1955 while visiting his cousins in Mississippi.

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I’ve been hearing a bit about this movie, mainly from hearing that it was getting some awards attention. I heard that it’s about the murder of Emmett Till in the 1950s; while it could’ve easily been mishandled, it ended up being a devastating but necessary and well made movie.

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Some people might be a bit reluctant to watch this movie, understandably so. On top of it being about a tragedy like this, plenty are tired of movies focussing on black people’s suffering, especially in the past decade. For what its worth though, I wouldn’t put Till in that category. Its respectful and tasteful to the true-life events as much as possible and treats it with the thoughtfulness it deserves. They could’ve gone the graphic route by showing Emmett Till being killed on screen, but the film just show the lead up to his death and the aftermath, while his death is kept offscreen. It also serves the movie better, capturing the emotions of his mother Mamie Till rather than focussing deeply on the brutality inflicted on him. It is very much a character driven movie as it follows Mamie as she’s going through all this. At first it takes time to establish Emmett and Mamie’s life in Chicago before he goes to Mississippi, then after his disappearance and then death, it focuses on her search for justice. Till is painful to watch but affecting and moving. There are times where the movie can be slow, mainly in the second half, but the majority of the slower pacing works well enough.

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The story is really led by the performances, each actor delivers a convincing performance that leaves an impression on you, no matter how small their screentime might be. Of course, the highlight is Danielle Deadwyler who is great as Mamie Till, and delivers a powerhouse performance. She has you invested in her fight and delivers a genuine and sensitive portrayal of grief and conviction. The rest of the performances are also top notch, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, Jayme Lawson and Haley Bennett.

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The direction from Chinonye Chukwu is great. It is very well shot, and there are even some stylistically interesting things that are done here. Abel Korzeniowski’s score was great too, making already powerful scenes even more powerful. However, probably the most distinctive directing choices had to do with what Chukwu decided to show and not show, which was very important. As previously mentioned, they concealed certain things so as to not be exploitative, but doesn’t shy away from the brutality of it all.

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Till is a hard hitting and affecting movie which sensitively tells its real life story, and benefits from the excellent performances, especially from Danielle Deadwyler. It is definitely a hard watch, but I think it is worth seeing.

The Fabelmans (2022) Review

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The Fabelmans

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Gabriel LaBelle as Samuel “Sammy” Fabelman
Michelle Williams as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman
Paul Dano as Burt Fabelman
Seth Rogen as Bennie Loewy
Judd Hirsch as Boris Schildkraut
Director: Steven Spielberg

Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.

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The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg’s latest film; I knew of it starring Paul Dano and Michelle Williams, and it would be a semi autobiography about his own life growing up. Even though it was Spielberg and he delivers consistently solid movies, I didn’t know how I would be finding this one. Coming of age stories for the most part don’t do anything for me, and I was a little over “love letters to cinema”, which the film looked like it was going for. The Fabelmans however ended up as one of my favourite movies of 2022.

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The script from Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner is clever and well written. As to be expected, The Fabelmans is clearly deeply personal to Spielberg and feels like a reflection on his life, very heartfelt and with a real vulnerability to it. Effectively, its part family drama and part coming of age story. As expected going in, it is a love letter to movies, with protagonist Sammy Fabelman having a childhood which centred around falling in love with cinema and filmmaking. The movie portrays the inspiring nature and passion of filmmaking, as well as the pursuit of fulfilling one’s dreams. The Fabelmans does more than just showing “the power of cinema”, by highlighting the cost and sacrifice that comes with pursuing that dream. Spielberg recreates his childhood memories and presents the personal struggles within a dysfunctional family life. The movie serves as a love letter to his family, as he looks back on his childhood with bittersweet nostalgia. In fact, the movie is at its strongest when it is focussing on the family dynamics. The whole movie also feels very authentic; it easily could’ve been self-indulgent or an ego trip, given that Spielberg is making a movie about himself being interested to become a filmmaker when he was younger. However, it is genuine and compelling throughout. There’s a lot of depth to it, and its earnest and touching. It jumps between various tones, there are plenty of moments of levity, and overall, it felt like a very complete story. Honestly, there’s a lot to like here even if you’ve never heard of Steven Spielberg or aren’t as passionate about cinema. However, I can definitely see aspiring filmmakers connecting with a lot of the movie.

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The actors are all amazing in their parts. Gabriel LaBelle plays the lead role of Sammy Fabelman and he’s fantastic and believable. While Sammy is clearly modelled on a much younger Steven Spielberg, he is a great character. We are emotionally invested in his journey, and LaBelle holds his own against the older actors. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play his parents and are equally stellar, delivering some of the best performances of their careers. Seth Rogen is great and memorable in a supporting role, and Judd Hirsch is good in a smaller role. Other supporting actors like Julia Butters and Chloe East are also good, while David Lynch is incredibly memorable in a cameo appearance.

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Unsurprisingly, Steven Spielberg’s direction is as strong as ever. Everything from Janusz Kaminski’s stunning cinematography to the editing and John Williams’s solid score was top notch, and I think its safe to call The Fabelmans one of the best crafted films of 2022.

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The Fabelmans is an intimate, personal, and earnest film and love letter to cinema and family. It is directed to perfection by Steven Spielberg and has excellent performances from everyone, especially Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams and Paul Dano. It’s one of 2022’s best, and one of Spielberg’s best.

Babylon (2022) Review

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Babylon

Time: 189 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sex scenes, violence, drug use, offensive language & suicide
Cast:
Diego Calva as Manuel “Manny” Torres
Margot Robbie as Nellie LaRoy
Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad
Jean Smart as Elinor St. John
Jovan Adepo as Sidney Palmer
Li Jun Li as Lady Fay Zhu
Director: Damien Chazelle

Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.

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Babylon was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. Of the “newer” directors, Damien Chazelle is already proving himself as one of the best, with Whiplash, La La Land and First Man. His next movie looked to be interesting, set in 1920s Hollywood. I will admit I had some doubts, especially with some questionable marketing which didn’t exactly make the movie look good. But I was still interested in seeing it for myself, and the very divisive reactions only intrigued me further. After all that, Babylon ended up being one of my all-time favourite films of the year.

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Babylon is by far Damien Chazelle’s most ambitious work yet, and even if I didn’t like the film, I would still applaud it for the massive swings that he takes with it. It’s an epic which covers multiple characters and their stories, and Chazelle did a really good job at making them intersect and cross over with each other. Some have called the movie messy and chaotic; I definitely agree that it’s chaotic but I wouldn’t call it messy, the story is still coherent. It is a very funny and entertaining movie, with some outrageous scenarios and moments. Babylon portrays the debauchery of the film industry, which is made immediately clear in the very in-your-face first 30 minutes. It also explores the eras of cinema and shows how film has changed, especially with the transition from the silent era to talkies. Part of my reluctance going into Babylon was that it was a movie about movies. That doesn’t inherently turn me off from a film, but there’s been so many love letters to cinema recently that I admit that I’ve been getting somewhat tired of them. But I still ended up liking this aspect in the movie. As expected, Babylon does celebrate cinema and so you can call it is a love letter to movie, but it also serves as a condemnation and scathing hate letter to the filmmaking industry and Hollywood. The film is essentially about outsiders navigating an ever-changing industry, and shows their rise and fall as their sense of self is slowly stripped away, often with their sacrifices to film. It is a very funny and entertaining movie with some surprising optimism even by the end, but the story is sad and tragic. It is a very long movie at over 3 hours and this will definitely be an issue for people who aren’t invested within the first hour, but I was enthralled for the whole runtime. I’ve noticed that some are a little divided over the ending, even among people who like the movie. While I was initially not sure what to think of it, I thought it worked, even if it’s a little drawn out.

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Babylon has a massive and talented ensemble cast, with most actors being used to their strengths. Diego Calva and Margot Robbie give amazing performances, with Robbie quite possibly delivering her best yet. The relationship between their two characters is the heart of the film, and they share incredible and convincing chemistry. Brad Pitt is the other main protagonist, an aging movie star who is struggling to adapt to cinema’s change from silent films. Pitt fit this role well, and he delivers a restrained, lived in and believable performance. Some of the other prominent actors include Li Jun Li, Jean Smart, and Jovan Adepo; they are really good and help to bring their characters across. Even other actors with smaller roles like P.J. Bryne, Max Minghella, Katherine Waterston, Eric Roberts, Samara Weaving, and Spike Jonze work to make their roles stand out. Out of the supporting roles however, Tobey Maguire is the standout to me, delivering a weird, unhinged and creepy performance, and it certainly helps that he’s involved with one of the most memorable segments of the movie.

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Unsurprisingly Damien Chazelle has done another phenomenal job at directing. The technical aspects are all top notch and brilliant, everything from the cinematography, production design, editing and sound are all amazing. It’s a very bombastic and stylish film, at times a sensory overload especially with the portrayal of excess. It’s a feast for the eyes; a lot of the time there’s so much happening on screen, whether that be the parties or filming of movies, and they are all captured excellently. The camera movements are outstanding, especially with the long takes, and there’s this constant frenetic energy from beginning to end. Finally, the music is just phenomenal. Justin Hurwitz’s composed music is nothing short of outstanding, it gave so much to the movie, and I am confident in calling it the best score of 2022.

Babylon

Babylon is an ambitious, bombastic, enthralling, and exhilarating experience, and is amazingly well crafted. Damien Chazelle’s direction and the technical aspects are outstanding, and it has fantastic performances from the ensemble cast. It really is sad (but unsurprising) that it bombed at the box office. The label “not for everyone” for movies can be meaningless most of the time, but it certainly can apply to Babylon. However, it worked for me on so many levels, and it is one of my favourite films from 2022.

White Noise (2022) Review

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White Noise

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Adam Driver as Prof. Jack Gladney
Greta Gerwig as Babette Gladney
Don Cheadle as Prof. Murray Siskind
Raffey Cassidy as Denise Gladney
Director: Noah Baumbach

College professor Jack Gladney and his family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate.

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I had been hearing about White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s next movie which would star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. From brief glances, it looked a little weird and I didn’t pay attention to it much. However, it seemed to be having some split reactions from audiences and I was curious enough to check it out for myself. It surprised me and I’m glad I decided to watch it.

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White Noise is based on a novel of the same name from Don DeLillo, and I read some comments from people who read it saying that it was near impossible to do an film adaptation for it. I’m not familiar with the book so I can’t comment on that, but clearly Baumbach had a specific angle with how to adapt it, especially with how off kilter it is. It is definitely an ambitious film and takes a lot of risks. White Noise is one of those movies where you’ll figure out if you like it within the first 10 minutes, it is firmly in the “not for everyone” camp. It is a difficult movie to explain; it starts out with an initial plot focussing on a family’s lives being disrupted by an airborne toxic event, but that’s just the start, and the plot isn’t really consistent. As I started the movie, I found it to be very messy, absurd and strange; it was perplexing and I had no idea where it was going. However, there was something intriguing, unpredictable and exciting about it that had me curious enough to see where it would go, and I got more into it than I was expecting. I’m not quite sure I understood everything that it was going for, but I got the main points of the story, and I’m sure things will be clarified upon rewatch. It begins as a pure satire before evolving into being more character focused. The first thing you’ll probably notice about White Noise is the dialogue, which will probably make or break the movie for some people. The dialogue is strange, overwritten and overintellectual, that paired with the line deliveries makes it feel unnatural. It’ll particularly throw you off if you’re familiar with Noah Baumbach’s other movies, which had otherwise very naturalistic dialogue. However, it is intentionally written and delivered this way, and eventually I got used to it. There really is a mix of tones throughout, jumping between different genres over the 2 hours and 15 minutes runtime. As a dark comedy it is very off kilter and dry, and I found it quite funny. It also gets dark at points, mainly towards the end of the movie, to the point where it leans towards thriller in the third act. This might also throw people off since it is so different from the previous two acts, but it worked for me. There are plenty of themes at play, including existentialism, mortality, modern anxieties and especially fear of death. Some ideas aren’t as expanded on or fleshed out as they could’ve been, but not doubt they are conveyed better in the book.

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The film benefits from a strong cast who deliver in their roles. Adam Driver plays the main character; it’s a difficult role to pull off, but he is fantastic here, particularly nailing the dry humour. I think this is up there as one of his best performances. Greta Gerwig is great too, especially in the latter portions of the movie. The actors who play Driver’s children including Raffey Cassidy are also on point. The rest of the cast are good, Don Cheadle is also excellent in a supporting role and is a scene stealer.

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One of the more surprising aspects was Noah Baumbach’s direction. From the movies I’ve seen of his, his directing is good, but usually just works to serve the performances and writing. With White Noise however, there is a very distinct style that really added to the film. Noah is working with a bigger budget, and you can feel that throughout. Baumbach does very well at getting the right feelings through visuals alone. There’s a lot in that which feels off kilter, everything is too colourful including the production design, and much looks artificial and unnatural (deliberately so). The cinematography is great, visually stunning and remarkable at points. There are some very stellar and wonderfully filmed sequences, a standout being during the credits. Finally, the score from Danny Elfman is great and really adds a lot to the atmosphere.

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White Noise is a darkly humorous, absurdist, satirical, and wonderfully weird dramedy, with fantastic performances especially from Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. It’s definitely one of the more unexpected and surprising movies from 2022. I admit that there’s a lot that I didn’t understand and much of my liking of it comes from its boldness and uniqueness. Still, the end result just seemed to work for me. It is both awesome and funny that Netflix actually decided to finance such a strange and polarising film, however it is definitely not for everyone. Still, it worked for me, and I am really looking forward to rewatching it.

Triangle of Sadness (2022) Review

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Triangle of Sadness

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, animal cruelty & content that may disturb
Cast:
Harris Dickinson as Carl
Charlbi Dean as Yaya
Dolly de Leon as Abigail
Zlatko Burić as Dimitry
Iris Berben as Therese
Vicki Berlin as Paula
Henrik Dorsin as Jarmo
Jean-Christophe Folly as Nelson
Amanda Walker as Clementine
Oliver Ford Davies as Winston
Sunnyi Melles as Vera
Woody Harrelson as the Captain
Director: Ruben Östlund

A fashion model celebrity couple join an eventful cruise for the super-rich.

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Triangle of Sadness was on my list of 2022 movies to catch up on. I had been hearing about it; I knew that was that it was a satire on the rich, involved a luxury yacht, and starred Woody Harrelson. Most notable however was the fact that it won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. The reactions to the movie also interested me, considering it was mostly positive but not everyone was on board with it. While Triangle of Sadness does have its issues and I don’t love it, I am glad that I saw it.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, as many other summaries and reviews disclose a bit too much about it. It goes in some wild directions and it is best experienced for yourself if you decide to see it. What I can say is that the movie is very much the opposite of what subtle is. It is a bombastic and absurdist satire about the rich and isn’t subtle about its themes at all. It covers elitism, the rich, class, social roles, and power structures. There isn’t any subtext and is very on the nose, but I’m not against that. It is also entertaining and enjoyable, and most of the dark comedy really hits. The middle act involving the yacht was solid, the cast get to bounce off each other and that was the funniest portion of the film for me. That being said, Triangle of Sadness is very flawed. As far as satires on the rich (or “eat the rich films”) go, it doesn’t say anything new. That isn’t inherently bad, but there is a self satisfied vibe to it at times that can get a little grating at points. Triangle of Sadness is a long movie at around 2 hours and 30 minutes long and you certainly felt the length, not helped by the uneven pacing. I do blame the last third of the movie for this. While the first act is decent and the second act is really good, the third act was a bit aimless. I was wondering where it was going, and not necessarily in a good way. It wasn’t as interesting or entertaining compared to what came before, and so it felt a bit of a slog. It certainly doesn’t help that this portion is around an hour long. Not only that, but I felt that there was a lot that wasn’t resolved or fully developed by the end despite the length of the film, and so it didn’t feel very satisfying.

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The characters are for the most part blatantly unlikable, yet are all the more compelling because of that, and makes the dark comedy work a lot better as they are forced into certain situations. It helps that the performances from the cast are strong. Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean are the closest thing to the lead characters and they are great in this. I wish they had more of a focus in the movie; they are seemingly established as the protagonists in the first act, but over time its like they are forgotten about. Still, both are good in their roles. Everyone else plays their parts excellently, but there are a few standouts. Zlatko Buric is great, while Dolly de Leon particularly shines in the third act. Woody Harrelson also plays the marxist drunk captain of the yacht who is highly entertaining whenever he’s on screen. Honestly the movie would’ve benefited if he was in it more, certainly would’ve made the third act more enjoyable.

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Ruben Östlund’s direction is solid, in fact I’d actually say that his direction is stronger than the writing. The cinematography is stunning and the camerawork is excellent. There are some very memorable sequences, one of which is a gross bodily fluid sequence which is perhaps a bit too long, but lingers in the mind nonetheless. Additionally, the use of music is good and fitting.

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Triangle of Sadness is a lengthy and messy, but darkly comedic and entertaining satire, well directed and with some great performances. I do wish it was better and it certainly has its flaws, mainly with the writing and particularly the third act. But if you’re open to absurdist satirical comedy, I think it’s worth a watch.

Tár (2022) Review

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Tar

Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & nudity
Cast:
Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár
Noémie Merlant as Francesca Lentini
Nina Hoss as Sharon Goodnow
Sophie Kauer as Olga Metkina
Julian Glover as Andris Davis
Allan Corduner as Sebastian Brix
Mark Strong as Eliot Kaplan
Director: Todd Field

Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the very first female director of a major German orchestra.

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Tár was yet another one of the most acclaimed movies of 2022 I had been hearing about for months which I had been meaning to see, focussing on a conductor played by Cate Blanchett and her eventual downfall. It more than lived up to all the acclaim.

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The script is sharp and tight, very well crafted. As said earlier, Tár is a character study about an esteemed classical composer-conductor. The lead character Lydia Tar feels so lived in, to the point where she  almost seems like its about a real composer (leading to some viewers to actually think that she is a real person). There are long stretches of people just talking, in fact the movie opens with a 10 minute interview with the lead character. At the same time, despite the large amount of dialogue, there isn’t a whole lot of exposition or immediate knowledge given to the audience to clarify what happened or to give context, requiring us to really pay attention to what is happening. There’s some surprising tension, and at points it plays like a thriller, especially in the back half of the movie. I did hear about this movie before watching it and a lot of people had hopped onto saying that it is about cancel culture. Having seen the movie though, I think that’s missing the point of the film. Tár is about ego, narcissism and hubris, and a fall from grace as a result of that. It really is one of the best and authentic portrayals of a downfall I’ve seen in a movie. Its a long film at 2 hours and 40 minutes long and it is slower paced for sure. When you hear the premise, you expect things to escalate quickly. However, it takes its time to slowly build the foundations before it all comes tumbling down. Still, I didn’t feel like it dragged and I was riveted from the beginning to the hilariously fitting ending.

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Cate Blanchett plays the lead character of Lydia Tar and gives quite potentially the best performance of her career, which is saying a lot considering all the other fantastic performances she’s given. The character herself is compelling, with each scene revealing something about her. She’s in just about every scene of the movie, and Blanchett plays her perfectly, embodying every facet of her with ease. One of the best performances of the year. The other performances are great too. Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, and Mark Strong all do some really good work, even in their smaller parts.

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I’m not familiar with Todd Field’s movies but I do know that his last movie Little Children was released all the way back in 2006. Tar is his return to directing, and his work here is outstanding. It is a gorgeous looking movie with a distinct visual style. The cinematography excels, bleak yet beautiful and with striking compositions, and the production design is stellar. The longer camera takes really help you get wrapped into the movie. Hildur Guðnadóttir composed the score, which is fantastic as expected.

TÁR (2022)

Tár is one of the year’s best films. An incredibly well crafted character study, masterfully directed and with excellent acting, especially from Cate Blanchett, who gives one of her all-time best performances.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2022) Review

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We're All Going to the World's Fair

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] 
Cast:
Anna Cobb as Casey
Michael J. Rogers as JLB
Director: Jane Schoenbrun

Reality and fantasy begin to blur when an isolated teenager immerses herself in an online role-playing horror game.

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I had been hearing about We’re All Going to the World’s Fair over the past year. It was an indie horror movie that had been gradually getting more attention ever since its premiere at the 2021 Sundance film festival. I had been meaning to see it for a while, but it finally got release wide enough that I got the chance to watch it. While there’s still some things I’m unsure about, I liked it overall.

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The best way I can describe the plot of the movie is that it is about a teenager who becomes immersed in an online role-playing horror game of sorts where she documents the changes that may or may not be happening to her. There are definitely some praiseworthy aspects. Compared to most modern day movies which portray the internet, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair actually grasps the concept of being online. It also does well at portraying terminally online people, empathising with them rather than just moralising, and does more than just the typical “internet is scary/bad” thing that you’d expect. It also captures the isolation, loneliness and despair that these people (especially the protagonist) are feeling, as well as the anxiety of growing up. I will say though that I’m not sure how well it would work for someone who isn’t on the internet as much. While its not overtly scary, the film does have a creepy and unsettling feeling and atmosphere to it. As for the plot, the concept certainly is interesting. However, I’m not sure it entirely worked for me, much of that has to do with me not exactly understanding the movie, particularly with the ending. For what its worth, it is definitely a movie where I look through at peoples interpretations afterwards, and I did like watching it. In terms of actual direct criticisms I can make with confidence, there are some scenes with another prominent character in the film separate from the lead character Casey. While I kind of get the purpose of why those scenes exist, it does break the atmosphere and undermines the narrative focus. If it focussed on Casey for the entirety of the film, I think it would’ve worked better. The movie is pretty short at less than 90 minutes in length, but I do think that it still dragged a little in parts.

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There isn’t much of a cast, but the acting is great. Its really coming down to Anna Cobb (in her debut role) as Casey, she has to carry much of the movie, and she plays her role excellently.

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This is Jane Schoebrun’s directorial debut, and it’s a strong and impressive first film. The visuals are at times mesmerising and hypnotic, its very well edited, and the use of sound is good. I wouldn’t say its very scary, it is more creepy and unnerving than anything. The score from Alex G is one of the highlights for me, sometimes tense but sometimes soothing and melancholic, and it fits the tone of the movie perfectly.

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We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is an existential, atmospheric, melancholic and experimental horror drama. It’s very ambiguous and there’s a lot I’m uncertain about, but it is an intriguing, well acted and a solid directorial debut. If you like horror movies and this sounds appealing to you, I recommend checking it out. Though you’ll definitely need to manage expectations, because its definitely not for everyone.

RRR (2022) Review

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RRR

Time: 182 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & cruelty
Cast:
N. T. Rama Rao Jr. as Komaram Bheem
Ram Charan as Alluri Sitarama Raju
Ajay Devgn as Alluri Venkatarama Raju
Alia Bhatt as Sita
Shriya Saran as Sarojini
Samuthirakani as Venkateswarulu
Ray Stevenson as Governor Scott Buxton
Alison Doody as Catherine Buxton
Olivia Morris as Jennifer “Jenny”
Director: S. S. Rajamouli

A fearless revolutionary and an officer in the British force, who once shared a deep bond, decide to join forces and chart out an inspirational path of freedom against the despotic rulers.

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I admit that I’m not familiar with Indian cinema, I had been meaning to check out one of their movies for some time. However, I had been hearing about a particular Indian movie in the Telugu language (Tollywood) named RRR, which had been garnering quite the following and popularity worldwide. As someone who hasn’t watched any Indian cinema, I loved it.

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RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) is a very well constructed movie. It is a lot: part action movie, part romantic comedy, and part historical drama. This means it can be tonally all over the place, going from dramatic and dark scenes of innocents being killed and children being kidnapped, to then cutting to upbeat scenes with dancing sequences. Still, it does actually work together quite well. It is an unabashedly wild movie, with over the top action and exhilarating musical numbers. There is a lot of genuine heart and emotional stakes too, especially with the central friendship, which is one of the most heartfelt and best bromances you’ll see in a movie. RRR is a very long movie at 3 hours in length, and while you do feel it, there’s so many things constantly happening that I was never bored.

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The lead actors N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan are great, they really sell their characters and give sincere and layered performances. There is such strong chemistry between them, and you can really buy into their friendship. Most of the others performances are good too. The English actors generally weren’t that good; they were fittingly over the top and cartoonish, especially with the accents, but that’s it. For what its worth though, Ray Stevenson it at least entertainingly over the top as the main villain, and does seem to be working at the right level of silliness for this movie.

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S.S. Rajamouli directs this incredibly well, the scale of the movie is immense and it has some top notch production value. The cinematography is stunning, with amazing use of colour and exciting camerawork, the editing works really well, and the costumes are good too. Even the occasionally shaky special effects add a lot to its personality. The action sequences are brilliant, so over the top, dynamic and creative. You’ll definitely need to suspend your disbelief, but its some of the most memorable action I’ve seen in recent years. The dance sequences are also worth noting, among the standout scenes in the film and are amazingly choreographed.

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RRR is a bonkers, incredibly entertaining, and visually gorgeous spectacle, fantastically directed and with wonderfully over the top action. It’s such a breath of fresh air in terms of recent blockbusters, and such a crowd pleaser that its no surprise that this ended up being an international hit too. I highly recommend it, it’s one of my favourite experiences watching a movie in 2022.

Aftersun (2022) Review

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Aftersun

Time: 101 Minutes
Cast:
Paul Mescal as Calum Paterson
Frankie Corio as Sophie Paterson
Director: Charlotte Wells

Twenty years after their last holiday at a fading vacation resort, Sophie reflects on the rare time spent with her loving and idealistic father Calum. At 11-years-old, as the world of adolescence creeps into Sophie’s view, Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Sophie’s recollections become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.

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I heard of Aftersun as being one of the most acclaimed movies of the year and one that I needed to check out. I only knew a little bit about it, and I wasn’t certain about how I would find it. Turns out that I ended up liking it more than I thought.

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I was a little cautious going into Aftersun because I heard that it was a slice of life and coming of age movie. There have been many recent movies in those genres which have received critical acclaim and love that I just couldn’t get into, so I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be another one of those cases. However, Aftersun turned out to be an exception, and I found myself being really into it. If I had to guess, the gentle, subtle and personal approach might’ve made it work for me.  Aftersun at its core is about a woman looking back decades later when she was a girl spending her last holiday with her father in Turkey. Admittedly, not a whole lot happens in the plot and it is slow to start, but over time, characters and details begin to reveal themselves. It is very light on plot, with it just following these characters on their holiday. As I said earlier, the approach to the story and characters are very subtle and aims to be relatable, there aren’t any dramatic moments, outbursts or long revealing monologues. That helped to pull me into the film more as it felt more real. This isn’t a movie that explains everything to you; you don’t understand the full context about the situation or what is happening with certain characters, but there’s enough implications from actions taken, information conveyed and reactions to help you form answers for yourself to fill in the gaps. It captures the sense of childlike innocence in many of the scenes, but with an undercurrent of profound sadness.

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One of the main highlights of the film are the outstanding performances from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio, they’re among the best of the year. They fully became their roles and were believable as father and daughter, especially with their convincing chemistry.

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This is a great directorial debut from Charlotte Wells, very well assured and excellently made. The cinematography is very stunning and naturalistic with lots of long takes, showcasing the location of Turkey well. It also does well at conveying the story through visuals alone with how it captures characters feelings and actions or focuses on object, even sometimes choosing to show things through reflections. The shots really do stick with you. The editing is outstanding and there are some very well done sequences, the standouts being a couple involving iconic songs which are among my standout scenes from this year.

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Aftersun is a contemplative, quiet, moving and intimate drama, excellently directed, beautifully shot, and with phenomenal performances from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio. It’s one of the year’s best and is well worth checking out.