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Reminiscence (2021) Review

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Reminiscence

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, drug use & suicide
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Nick Bannister
Rebecca Ferguson as Mae
Thandiwe Newton as Emily “Watts” Sanders
Cliff Curtis as Cyrus Boothe
Marina de Tavira as Tamara Sylvan
Daniel Wu as Saint Joe
Director: Lisa Joy

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed as he uncovers a violent conspiracy while trying to solve the mystery behind a client (Rebecca Ferguson) who disappeared.

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I was quite curious about Reminiscence going into it, I liked how it looked from the trailers, I liked the cast involved including Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson, and the director is Lisa Joy, who is one of the creators of Westworld. I was a little hesitant after seeing the less than stellar critical response, but I wanted to see it for myself. I’m definitely in the minority of people who actually liked it, despite some clear issues.

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The premise about investigating the mind is great, and the concept of being able to recall memories definitely gives the film the ability to use flashbacks in a natural way that actually works within the context of the plot. It is definitely reminiscent of other sci-fi movies, borrowing from films like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I still like what was done here. However, I think a lot of this could’ve been executed better. The pacing wasn’t the best, it takes quite a while for the plot to really progress, and some of the story is fairly predictable. I liked the story for the most part, I was on board throughout and it never really lost me. With that said, the story is definitely more interesting after a slower first half. Reminiscence is very neo noir inspired and I really liked that aspect of the film. I also really liked the world that is being built here, even if it comes with some issues in the way that Lisa Joy decided to convey it. There is a lot of exposition in this movie as it is establishing the current state of the world and the setting, especially towards the beginning. This is probably why it takes so long for the movie to get to the actual mystery at the centre of the story. While I definitely appreciate the amount of detail and context that Joy tries to give this world, it was a bit too much. A lot of the exposition comes through Hugh Jackman narrating throughout the film, something which I’ve noticed a lot of other people complaining about. I’m somewhat inclined to give this a pass simply because it is a play on hard boiled neo-noir films to a degree. However, the use of it was nonetheless overbearing and just about borders on self-parody. Not only that, but the dialogue a lot of the time is very over-melodramatic at many points. While it does feel like it doesn’t feel like it meets its potential and is a little disappointing, I wouldn’t say that the script is bad by any means.

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While much of the characters feel a little underdeveloped, the acting from the solid cast definitely elevates them. Hugh Jackman does a very good job in the lead role as expected. Everyone else does well, Rebecca Ferguson is particularly a standout, and actors like Thandiwe Newton and Cliff Curtis are also great in their parts.

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This is Lisa Joy’s directorial debut, and while there are some issues, I think it’s a good first film. First of all, this movie has some stunning cinematography, and the production design is solid. This noir inspired futuristic setting is gorgeous and fascinating to watch, at the very least on a visual level. There aren’t a ton of action scenes, but they are decent when they are there. There is a particularly creative action scene that takes place inside a collapsing building. Sometimes the CGI is a bit too noticeable but it didn’t bring me out of the movie. The score from Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi is great and really fits the tone and vibe of the film.

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Once again, I don’t think that Reminiscence really reaches the peak of its potential, and it was a little disappointing, with the script definitely being the weakest point. However, I was still invested throughout, I liked what Lisa Joy was going for, and it has some really good moments. Joy’s direction and the performances from the cast (especially Jackman and Ferguson) are also great, and elevates the overall quality of the film. At the very least I do think that it is worth checking out.

Roma (2018) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, nudity, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo
Marina de Tavira as Sofia
Fernando Grediaga as Antonio
Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín
Marco Graf as Pepe
Daniela Demesa as Sofi
Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño
Carlos Peralta as Paco
Nancy García as Adela
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

A story that chronicles a year in the life of a high-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

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There had been a lot of hype for Roma for a little while. Alfonso Cuaron has made his mark on cinema with films like Children of Men and Gravity. His next film is very different, a very intimate movie. I deliberately stayed away from the hype, with so far with myself finding all the critically acclaimed movies this year that I’ve seen great, I didn’t want to be in a position to let myself down with it due to my own anticipations. Thankfully, Roma more than delivered.

You do have to go into Roma expecting what kind of movie it’ll be. Most of the movie just seems to be following this family as life goes by really. Personally, I was invested in the movie and what was going on, and they did a good job keeping you constantly interested despite some of the things that happen seemingly being mundane and normal things. The movie felt quite real, with the events that happens as well as the dialogue, it all just feels really honest and personal, Cuaron did a great job with the script. I was really liking the first half of the movie but it didn’t really seem to have much of a point, it was around that one hour mark that I was wondering when the movie will really pick up. Then without spoiling anything, the second half is one big emotional hit, and it all really came together, that’s what I’ll say. I can see people being rather bored with Roma, the movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes long. With that, you really have to be in the mood to sit down and watch the movie from start to finish, you can’t just put it on at any time and just enjoy it no matter what.

The acting all around is great, with the actors playing the family being really good. The stand out performance of the entire movie however is Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, the lead of the movie who plays a maid of the family. She practically carries the movie and her performance just feels so natural and real. It’s also worth noting that this is her first film role. Definitely deserving of a lot more praise than she’s been receiving.

Alfonso Cuaron’s direction is immaculate, you could probably tell that that was going to be the case already though. This is a stunning looking movie, AC did the cinematography himself and it looks beautiful, really placing itself in Mexico City (and other locations) in the 70s. Cuaron is known for having some stand out long tracking shots, like that famous tracking shot early in Children of Men, or multiple shots in Gravity. Roma on the other hand doesn’t have any stand out tracking shots really, but he does use a lot of smaller long takes. They are rather subtle and not particularly showy but very effective. For example, sometimes a shot lingers or a shot slightly follows some characters and you see things happening in the background. Things like this are very effective visual storytelling and it also adds to the immersion of the movie. I’m not entirely sure if the movie needed to be in black and white, but in some way it actually kind of worked. Roma is a Netflix movie but has gotten so much acclaim that some cinemas are showing it. If you can watch in a cinema, try to check it out there, not that there’s anything hugely wrong with watching it on Netflix. I say this because not everyone is fortunate enough to have nearby cinemas that show it, and also because I just decided to watched it on Netflix anyway and I nonetheless had a great experience with it.

I can see some people watching Roma and not really loving it. It does require a bit of patience and it doesn’t really seem to have much of a point until the second half of the movie. On top of that, all the hype and praises of it being apparently one of the best of the year could diminish people’s enjoyment of the movie, especially considering that Roma is very lowkey and never really showy at any point. While halfway into the movie I was liking it, by the end I came out it loving it. With the performances and the wonderful direction by Cuaron, Roma is a beautiful film that is worth checking out at the very least. While I’m not sure if I’d consider it one of my favourite movies of the year and I don’t see myself revisiting it, I can say that Roma is one of the best films of the year.