Tag Archives: Elisabeth Moss

Light of My Life (2019) Review

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Light of My Life

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Casey Affleck as Dad
Anna Pniowsky as Rag
Elisabeth Moss as Mom
Tom Bower as Tom
Director: Casey Affleck

Parent (Casey Affleck) and child (Anna Pnlowsky) journey through the outskirts of society a decade after a pandemic has wiped out half the world’s population. As a father struggles to protect his child, their bond, and the character of humanity, is tested.

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I heard about Light of My Life for a little while, all that I knew going in was that Casey Affleck was directing and starring in a post apocalyptic movie, and I heard some pretty positive things about it. I wanted to see what it would be like, and I’m glad I checked it out. While it be rather slow paced at times, generally I was invested in the central story, it’s directed well, and features a couple of outstanding lead performances.

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People have often referred to this movie as being like Leave No Trace meets Children of Men and The Road, and while I haven’t seen The Road yet, those comparison are fairly accurate. Light of My Life movie moves at a pretty slow pace and that will turn some people off. It’s character driven and isn’t particularly thrilling outside of a few scenes. The opening is one long scene of dialogue with Affleck telling a story to his daughter, it really set the tone for the rest of the movie. At that point it should establish whether the rest of this movie will work for you or not, for me it did. I was invested with these two characters as they are trying to survive and live their lives in this situation. It has a beautiful written script, with some believable dialogue (while also refraining from exposition), and the story is very well put together. The setting is bleak and chilling but there’s a real emotional core and humanity to the story. In terms of flaws, it is a little overlong I will say, at about 2 hours, and some of the few flashback scenes don’t really work all that well. While there are some periods during the movie where it slowed down quite a bit, it wasn’t to a point where it took me out of the movie or anything.

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Casey Affleck and Anna Pnlowsky both lead this movie essentially, they are so believable as father and daughter, and their relationship is touching, human and feels authentic. Pnlowsky here (who hasn’t really acted much) is a revelation in this movie, truly fantastic here. Those two drive the movie, and they (both the performances and their characters) are the strongest parts of the movie. You also have small supporting appearances from the likes of Elisabeth Moss and others, who do their parts and add quite a bit to the movie.

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Casey Affleck also directed this movie exceptionally well, working well behind the camera as well as in front. It’s a stunning looking movie, the cinematography from Adam Arkapaw is beautiful (the use of long takes was particularly effective), the environments are showcased very well, and it really created a believable post-apocalyptic setting. With the intimate way he approaches this story, you get the feeling he picked up some notes after starring in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, especially on a visual level. Speaking of A Ghost Story, Daniel Hart also composes a great score for Light of My Life, and it fitted the movie very well.

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Light of My Life isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s a good movie overall. If a slow paced, subdued post apocalyptic family drama with an intimate story appeals to you, then I say that it’s well worth checking out. As for me, I found it to be a touching, beautiful and emotionally nuanced film, well directed and featuring some great performances.

The Invisible Man (2020) Review

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The Invisible Man

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty, self-harm & domestic abuse
Cast:
Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Adrian Griffin
Aldis Hodge as James Lanier
Storm Reid as Sydney Lanier
Harriet Dyer as Emily Kass
Michael Dorman as Tom Griffin
Director: Leigh Whannell

The film follows Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), who receives the news of her abusive ex-boyfriend’s (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) suicide. She begins to re-build her life for the better. However, her sense of reality is put into question when she begins to suspect her deceased lover is not actually dead.

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The Invisible Man was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020, although the concept of a remake of a classic horror monster movie seemed like it was destined to fail. There were a few reasons I was very interested in this movie however. First of all, you have Leigh Whannell directing, who showed himself to be a massive talent behind the camera with his last film Upgrade, so I knew that this movie was in good hands. Second you have Elisabeth Moss in the lead role, I haven’t seen her in a ton of movies or tb, but she’s been great in the few things I’ve watched her in. Third of all, they seemed to be modernising the story into something different, which at least showed it had potential to have a fresh and different take on the story. I was really excited for the movie, but it was actually lot better than I thought it would be.

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The Invisible Man is a modern version of the original story, both of the book by H.G. Wells, and the original 1933 movie of the same name. Of all the classic horror stories, this seemed the hardest to adapt, since it’s pretty hard to make one invisible man actually scary, even though I liked the 30s movie, the titular character really wasn’t all that scary. However, Whannell and co. managed to pull it off. He definitely reworked a lot of the story to modernise it, but it works to some great effect. Although the movie features a man who it is invisible, the story is really about domestic abuse and gaslighting, and explores the traumas on an abusive relationship. That aspect was handled very well, and was probably more unsettling than the actual invisible man part. The movie can be very unnerving, and you feel paranoid throughout, just like the protagonist. Some of the concepts and ideas on paper at first sound silly, specifically the whole invisible aspect (without spoiling anything), but Whannell manages to make it work. I know that some people were a little worried about the trailers showing too much, but I can assure you there’s more to the movie than what was shown there. There’s only a couple of slight issues I had with the movie. The second act had some slow moments, even though I was invested in the movie throughout. Also, while cameras play a part in the movie, there are times where they are conveniently involved, and felt conveniently not involved at other specific points. They didn’t affect the movie too much for me however. Overall I was consistently captivated by The Invisible Man.

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Elisabeth Moss is one of the best parts of this movie, she plays her part excellently. As well made as the movie is, much of the film is riding on her performance, she provides such an effective emotional centre throughout and really sells everything the main character has to endure throughout. A lot of the time she has to essentially act on her own with an invisible person, and sell it convincingly, and she definitely does that. The rest of the cast with the likes of Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are good, and play their parts well enough. However, it really is Moss’s show throughout.

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Leigh Whannell directed this movie excellently, and was one of the parts that made it work so well. It’s one thing to just have an invisible person as a villain messing with the main character, it’s another to make it feel a threat to the audience, and he definitely did that. The use of camera shots and movements are so effective, really making you unnerved at what you’re seeing (or rather what you’re not seeing). It’s not just seeing a seemingly invisible person throwing objects (or people) around that’s scary, it’s the lingering shots at empty rooms that really gets to you, as you’re not sure whether The Invisible Man is indeed there. The actual visual effects on the Invisible Man could’ve been really goofy, but they work greatly here. The sound design and the score by Benjamin Wallfisch are powerfully effective, escalating the tense atmosphere. There are so many sequences in The Invisible Man that are among the most memorable scenes that I’ve seen in recent horror movies.

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The Invisible Man is an incredibly effective, unnerving and suspenseful horror movie, an excellent modern take on the source material. It’s very well directed by Leigh Whannell, and led by Elisabeth Moss’s powerhouse performance. I can’t wait to see Whannell direct even more movies, he’s shown himself to be a great filmmaker, especially within the horror genre. If you’re a horror fan, definitely check it out as soon as possible.

Us (2019) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson/Red
Winston Duke as Gabriel “Gabe” Wilson/Abraham
Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora Wilson/Umbrae
Evan Alex as Jason Wilson/Pluto
Elisabeth Moss as Kitty Tyler/Dahlia
Tim Heidecker as Josh Tyler/Tex
Director: Jordan Peele

Accompanied by her husband (Winston Duke), son (Evan Alex) and daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph), Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them.

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Jordan Peele’s Us was one of the most anticipated films of the year. Peele made an impact with his directorial debut Get Out, a horror film that was such a hit, with it even earning an Academy Award. His writing and direction over the whole film was truly stellar for a first timer. His next film Us was kept in secrecy, especially with regards to what the movie was really about. However, the involvement of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and of course Jordan Peele was enough to get my 100% on board with the whole movie before the trailers, images and even the plot descriptions were released. Us didn’t disappoint, and everything from the writing, acting and direction delivered on their potential, and have currently made this my favourite film of the year thus far.

I should probably note that it’s best knowing as little as possible before watching Us, in fact if you haven’t seen the trailer yet and only heard of the movie, I recommend not watching it. While the trailer doesn’t necessarily spoil anything, it really is best going into the movie not knowing much. Even having seen the trailer however, there are still plenty of surprises in store for sure that you won’t be expecting. Get Out can be firmly classed a horror and thriller film despite some comedic moments throughout, however there’s quite a bit to the movie that’s satirical. While Us also has some things to say, this time it really feels like a horror movie first and foremost, really leaning into the genre. Us is much more than just a generic home invasion movie mixed with a creepy doppelganger story. Once the doppelgangers show up, it has you absolutely gripped all the way through to the end. Peele also once again shows how good of a storyteller he is, at under 2 hours long, it has you completely immersed in the story and every scene feels necessary, and he also conveyed certain reveals very well. I guess there was an exposition dump in one point in the third act, but honestly, I’m not sure how else he could’ve conveyed all of that information otherwise. Like in Get Out, there is some comedy infused in the movie in a way that feels balanced and doesn’t take away too much from the tension of the movie. While Get Out definitely gets better upon repeat viewings, you can get most of the themes and understand the plot from one viewing. Us on the other hand seems to require more than one viewing to get the full experience, especially with some of the twists and the symbolism (still don’t understand the significance of the bunnies for instance), but it just adds much more to the movie, making you notice things on a second viewing that you didn’t notice the last time you watched it. It’s also a movie that’s going to have you theorising days after watching.

The main family consisting of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph, who also play their doppelgangers, are all really great in the movie. People who know Winston Duke as M’Baku from Black Panther will see a very different character here as the dad character. Much of the film’s funniest moments involve Duke, he was really good here. Child actors (especially in horror movies) can be very hit or miss, however both Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph play their parts well. Something I like about what Peele did with his characters (as well as Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out) is make them smart, they don’t make convenient mistakes or bad decisions, even the kids here are smart. However, it’s Lupita Nyong’o in the lead role who’s just outstanding. Despite being an Oscar winning actress, post 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o hasn’t exactly been utilised the best in the films she was in (even a Star Wars movie couldn’t give her much to work with). That changes however with her performance in Us, she’s absolutely fantastic in her dual roles and really is something to watch. I won’t be surprised if by the end of the year it’s still one of the best performances of 2019. Other supporting actors like Elizabeth Moss also play their parts well.

Jordan Peele already showed himself to be a good director with Get Out but he’s on another level here, his first film wasn’t a fluke at all. This film looks so great, much more than Get Out (which was already a really good looking movie). Some sequences are just directed and edited so incredibly well that it can be mesmerising. The biggest example of this is a particular scene in the third act, you’ll know which one I’m talking about when you watch it. With this film leaning much more into the horror genre, Peele also has some very great suspenseful scenes, many of them really succeeding in getting under your skin. Michael Abels returns to collaborate with Jordan Peele after Get Out and once again it’s very effective and added a lot to the movie, and this is only his second score.

Us is among the best horror movies of recent memory. It was entertaining, scary, creepy, hilarious, Peele’s writing and direction were great as usual, and the performances (especially from Lupita Nyong’o) were fantastic. I feel like I really need to watch this movie again, it was just so overwhelming, and I just know that I’ll pick up on much more the next time I see. If you like horror movies, and if you particularly liked Get Out, definitely watch Us as soon as you can, and avoid spoilers as much as possible. You won’t regret it.

Her Smell (2019) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Cast:
Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something
Amber Heard as Zelda E. Zekiel
Cara Delevingne as Cassie
Dan Stevens as Danny Something
Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell
Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff
Ashley Benson as Roxie
Eric Stoltz as Howard Goodman
Virginia Madsen as Ania Adamcyzk
Dylan Gelula as Dottie O.Z.
Director: Alex Ross Perry

Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.

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I heard about this movie a little while ago, mainly the cast, the premise and that it was shown at the TIFF film festival and received some good reviews. Outside of that, I didn’t know what I was really in for. Her Smell is what I’ve heard people say it is, chaotic, grimy and hard to watch at times. However, it is still really good, led by a really great performance by Elisabeth Moss.

Much of the structure of this movie is quite similar to Steve Jobs, and apparently writer/director Alex Ross Perry had said that it really was an inspiration for the structure here. Her Smell is very dialogue based, focussing on 5 particular moments with main character Becky over the course of 10 years. Getting this out of the way, it’s not an easy movie to watch, the primary reason being the main character Becky herself, who is currently on a downward spiral. With this being a dialogue driven movie, the dialogue itself would need to be well written and it definitely was. As good as the writing and acting was, for a while I didn’t really know what I would think about the movie. However, it finally worked for me when it came around to the last third of the movie, the more uncomfortable aspects seems to go away and isn’t as in your face. It really showed a different side of the lead character, which improved the overall movie. The whole movie really was emotionally genuine and very well put together. I didn’t know this going in, but Her Smell really is a reverse rise and fall story, and in that it suceeds. You could also see the last third as like a reward for being able to endure the first two third of the movie. This movie is long at around 2 hours and 15 minutes long and you really feel the length, I feel like it was a little too long and it might’ve been better if 15 minutes or so were cut out.

I haven’t seen Elizabeth Moss in much, I’ve heard of her from Mad Men and The Handmaiden’s Tale but I haven’t seen them. After seeing Her Smell however, I can tell that she is very talented, because her performance here is truly amazing. This movie is really riding on her and she’s fantastic, very offputting at yet times, yet raw, complex and all around incredible. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the year this still ends up being one of the best performances of 2019. The supporting cast don’t get the focus that Moss does, but they still are quite good in their parts. Dan Stevens, Cara Delevingne, Amber Heard, Ashley Benson, Eric Stoltz and others may not be the focus of the movie, but they all do some really great work here and make themselves stand out even when Moss is the forefront of the whole movie.

This is the first film by Alex Ross Perry that I’ve seen, and he’s directed this film quite well. I’ve seen some people say that the way this movie looks is reminiscent of a Gaspar Noe film (without the extreme violence and sex of course) and I can see the comparisons, yet it’s done in a way that it feels like its own thing and not copying other films. It’s very close up and intimate with the characters, really making you feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable (at least for the first half), even when nothing extreme is going on. For a film focussing on a punk rocker, there isn’t a ton of focus on the music over the course of the movie, however when it’s there (whether it’s the soundtrack by Keegan Dewitt or the music that’s actually played), it is great and adds a lot to the movie.

Her Smell is not a movie that will work for everyone. For 2 thirds of the movie, it’s a very visceral experience and I can see how some people would find a large portion of the film to be obnoxious. However it’s a very well written and directed character study that works extremely well for what it is, and it all comes together at the end. I’d say that you should see it at the very least for Elizabeth Moss’s extraordinary performance, it really needs to be seen.