Tag Archives: Julianne Nicholson

Monos (2019) Review

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Monos

Time: 103 minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Julianne Nicholson as “Doctora” Sara Watson
Moisés Arias as Bigfoot
Sofía Buenaventura as Rambo
Julian Giraldo as Wolf
Karen Quintero as Lady
Laura Castrillón as Swede
Deiby Rueda as Smurf
Esneider Castro as Boom Boom
Paul Cubides as Dog
Wilson Salazar as The Messenger
Director: Alejandro Landes

On a faraway mountaintop, eight teenaged guerillas with guns watch over a hostage (Julianne Nicholson) and a conscripted milk cow. Playing games and initiating cult-like rituals, the children run amok in the jungle and disaster strikes when the hostage tries to escape.

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Although I didn’t know a whole lot about Monos outside of the premise, I knew that some people really liked it, so I put it on my list of 2019 movies to check out. While I’m not sure that I’d call it a great film and I have a number of issues with it, there’s definitely a lot of praiseworthy parts to it, from the directing to the acting.

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Monos isn’t an easy movie to watch by any means. It’s fittingly disturbing and grim given the subject matter, and you feel rather uncomfortable throughout. The movie doesn’t provide any context to the events, for the war, the child soldiers and why they are doing what they are doing. That wasn’t such a problem for me, the ambiguity if anything worked well for the movie, you know as little about the background of everything as the teenager soldiers. That’s not to say I don’t have some issues with the movie itself. Even though the movie is an hour and 40 minutes long, it feels very drawn out. It is an incredibly slow movie with not a lot happening, sometimes it was for its benefit, but a lot of time it just dragged out the runtime. While I still wasn’t in love with it or anything, it does pick up towards the second half. There was also something bugging me for a while and I couldn’t figure out what it is, but I’m pretty sure it’s how distant it all felt. Now I get that the cold take on the story somewhat works, but without any real emotional attachment, I just felt like there was something missing. We don’t really have a single character that we could anchor ourselves to, not the main hostage character, and not to really any of the child characters. I guess there’s Rambo (Sofia Buenaventura), who you can latch onto most by far, but even then there isn’t really much to her, and she’s not even focused on a whole lot. It doesn’t help that there’s a real lack of characterisation, you get that each of them are different and you get small bits of differences between them, but it wasn’t quite enough. Thinking back on it, there’s only a few characters with distinct things I remembered about them, the rest I barely remembered at all. I wasn’t expecting all of them to be fully fleshed out characters, but I hoped for more. As for the potential similarities from this story to Lord of the Flies, I’m not familiar with the story so I can’t comment on them.

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The acting all around was pretty great, from the hostage played by Julianne Nicholson, to the cast who play the kids. They all felt very believable in their respective roles. Moises Arias was a standout amongst the kids characters though.

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Monos is worth seeing for the direction from Alejandro Landes alone. It’s visually stunning, with such a beautiful look to it. While it looks great throughout, the film really gets to shine in the second half, when it generally takes place at a rainforest. Another stand out is the music by Mica Levi, giving it an otherworldly and haunting feel to it. Levi also made the score for Under the Skin, so you can imagine what it’s like if you’ve seen that movie. The atmosphere was also handled quite well, and all of it felt grimly real.

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Monos isn’t for everyone, however it is well made, despite some narrative issues that I had. I think there are some issues that hold me back from liking it more. I’d say that maybe I’d like it more on a rewatch, but I don’t particularly have any desire to watch it again. Still, if you saw the premise and wanted to try it out for yourself, give it a watch if you think you’ll like it.

I, Tonya (2017) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Domestic violence, sexual violence, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast
Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding
Sebastian Stan as Jeff Gillooly
Allison Janney as LaVona Fay Golden
Julianne Nicholson as Diane Rawlinson
Caitlin Carver as Nancy Kerrigan
Bojana Novakovic as Dody Teachman
Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt
Bobby Cannavale as Martin Maddox
Dan Triandiflou as Bob Rawlinson
Director: Craig Gillespie

Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) rises through the ranks of competitive figure skating only to find disgrace when her husband (Sebastian Stan) tries to eliminate her rival.

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I, Tonya had my interest because of the cast (with Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan), premise and the trailers. I wasn’t very familiar about Tonya Harding and going into it had a very vague knowledge about the incident with her and Nancy Kerrigan. I was expecting from I, Tonya great performances and I definitely got that. But I didn’t expect this to be one of my favourite films of the year. The style, the story, everything somehow worked together to make a great biopic that surprised me on many levels.

I, Tonya covers more than just the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, it also covers Tonya’s life in chronological order, so we actually get to know her before “the incident” occurs. From start to finish it cuts to many of the characters/people in interview tapes who tell their side of the story, sometimes there are conflicting stories, especially between Tonya and her ex husband Jeff. One of the best strengths that the film has is that it is a dark comedy, it makes the film a lot more entertaining than if it just showed the events play out. The comedy somehow works and works seamlessly, it doesn’t feel forced at all. Some of the comedy comes from just how ridiculous some events were and how stupid many of the people were (particularly Tonya’s bodyguard played by Paul Walter Hauser). However, despite the comedy and entertaining style, it doesn’t hold back on a lot of the darker things that happened. A lot of it is quite hard to watch with Tonya having to deal with things such as abuse from both her mother and her husband, and of course the end of Tonya’s career because of the incident with Nancy Kerrigan. As someone who didn’t know a lot about Tonya Harding, let’s just say that events played out like how I didn’t think they would, so I was invested from start to finish, and barely anything took me out of the movie.

Margot Robbie has already proved herself to be a great actress in the past 5 years but with I, Tonya she has delivered her best work yet, she was absolutely phenomenal as Tonya Harding. Margot really transformed into Tonya and brought her to the big screen, a lot of the time you will probably forget that it’s Margot who’s playing her. While we don’t always agree with what Tonya does, we can understand why she does the things she does. There are particularly some scenes that Margot has in the last act which are some of the best pieces of acting that she’s ever done, particularly two certain moments. This is one of the best performances of the year for sure. Sebastian Stan really surprised me as Tonya’s ex husband Jeff Gillooly. Throughout the majority of the film I actually forgot that it was Sebastian Stan who was playing him. His performance shouldn’t be overlooked. Allison Janney is also incredible as Tonya’s abusive mother, she is a force to be reckoned with and steals every scene that she’s in. Although she has some moments which are funny, on the whole she is at times frightening in the way she acts towards Tonya, she really leaves a strong impact. Other actors like Julianne Nicholson and Paul Walter Hauser were also great and played their part well.

The direction by Craig Gillespie was solid, very stylistic. Some people have accused the film of stealing the style from Martin Scorsese’s many crime movies, often calling it Goodfellas on ice and I can see a lot of similarities and why they would say that. It breaks the fourth wall multiple times, many of the characters at times talk to the camera (especially when it cuts to present day in the interview room scenes) and there is a lot of narration. However, something about it just worked here that I didn’t mind that it was essentially trying to imitate a Scorsese style. The one aspect that didn’t work so well however was the use of music, at times the song choices felt a little on the nose and convenient and it was distracting occasionally. The ice skating scenes themselves were great, some of the ice skating was probably not done by Margot but at least for me, I thought they did a good job hiding that.

I, Tonya manages to bring to the big screen not only the story behind Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan incident, but also Tonya’s life story and it was done so well, better than I thought it would be. The way it was directed and portrayed was great and the performances from everyone, especially from Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney were outstanding and some of the best of the year. One of the biggest things I can say about it is that I’m also pretty sure that Gillespie and the cast and crew have redefined who Tonya Harding is, she is no longer known as just the infamous ice-skater who “supposedly” had another skater’s knee bashed in. I, Tonya is one of the best films of the year and shouldn’t be missed.