Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review

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The Hollywood of Tarantino’s youth.


An odyssey of 1960s Hollywood – its ecosystem, climate, and life.
That is “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.”
Tarantino comes at us with a film that takes over the course of a few days through the eyes of a faded television actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Brad Pitt) set in the backdrop of 1969 Los Angeles.

I absolutely adored this film, not only was it very entertaining but the world building in this film is simply masterclass. From the neighborhoods, advertisements, costumes, neon signs, music and the old art deco architecture, it was literally perfect. Quentin completely immerses you into this age of Hollywood that was an end of an era.

The performances from the entire cast are fantastic especially Brad Pitt who steals the show. He was magnetic/charming every time he was on screen. Leo was great too showcasing the narcissistic tendencies the actor has especially when it comes to prolonging/preserving his career. Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is just a burst of life, sunshine, and heart.

Worth noting that I knew about the tragic event that happened that year before watching this and I personally think knowing a bit about it will definitely affect your thoughts on the film. That being said, if you don’t I think you’ll still enjoy it and have a great time.

To talk a bit about the narrative, it was done absolutely intentional and I loved the decision Tarantino made.

I haven’t laughed so much in such a long time. 

OUATIH is simply pure fun vibes.

Rating – ★★★★½

Hold the Dark Review

holdthedark_HERO“Chilling but unsatisfying”


Let me start off by saying I loved Jeremy Saulnier’s previous films, Blue Ruin and Green Room, especially Green Room. So, while I was lining up to see this at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) me, along with several others were really excited to see this and see what Saulnier has in store for us. The story follows Medora Stone’s (Riley Keough) son gone missing in the Alaskan wilderness. She writes to Russel Core (Jeffrey Wright) to find her son and kill the wolf that took him. As this is going on Vernon (Alexander Skarsgard) comes home from the Middle East and things become much more crazy/violent.

Hold the Dark like his previous projects has great performances, gorgeous cinematography (shot in Alberta), a dark/gloomy story/atmosphere/mood, and a very intriguing story but unlike his previous two projects, suffers from its slow burn pacing. While the story has much to offer and as it progresses you learn more about what happens, its still not enough for me to completely engross me all the way through.

The pacing notably drags for me in the second-half and the ending left me very unsatisfied especially with the events that transpired. After the screening, me and several others were talking about Hold the Dark and we all basically had sort of the  same question “Is that it?”  “What was that ending?” etc.

Overall, I believe this is a must-watch if you love slow-burn thrillers and enjoy Saulnier’s previous work but if you are not a fan of either, then I’m not sure you would enjoy this very much. The characters are interesting, the performances especially from Jeffrey Wright are fantastic, the Alaskan wilderness/overall cinematography is breathtaking to the eye, but unfortunately the story as interesting as it is, doesn’t have enough substance to warrant the run-time.

Rating – ★★★


Below are the other films I have watched at TIFF:
Mid90s Review
Wildlife Review
Climax Review
Green Book Review
First Man Review
Widows Review
If Beale Street Could Talk Review

First Man Review

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“Houston, Damien Chazelle has done it again”


We all know the story but to those of you who don’t, the film is about Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) ascent onto the moon and the events that lead up to it. Clocking in with a run-time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, First-Man I found was way too long and could have been 15-20 minutes shorter. Although the story I found was interesting, there was not enough substance to completely grip/hook me completely throughout.

In terms of the visuals, its absolutely gorgeous. From how everything was shot, making you feel super claustrophobic and how the sound design/mixing completely emulates how that experience would sound. You are inside the cockpit along with the astronaut. You feel every shake which also brings me to another thing – the use of shaky-cam I thought was overdone and kind of took me out of it at times.

The performances are all great. Gosling steals it along with his wife, Janet (Claire Foy) and the supporting cast deliver as well. Another thing I thought was great was the score. I really liked the soundtrack. 

In conclusion, First Man is really well done and you can clearly see the amount of detail that was put into this film and it is a must watch on the big screen for sure. 

Rating – ★★★★



Below are the other films I have watched at TIFF18:
Green Book Review
Widows Review
Mid90s Review
Hold the Dark Review
Climax Review
Wildlife Review
If Beale Street Could Talk Review

Green Book Review

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“Charming, Heartwarming, and Hilarious”


‘GREEN BOOK’ is as cliche as it sounds – perfect. Its a story about an Italian bouncer Tony (Viggo Mortensen) taking the job as a driver for the pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a tour in south america 1960s. Performances from the entire cast and especially Viggo and Mahershala are just thoroughly outstanding. Viggo and Mahershala’s chemistry is fantastic and the banter between the two is just so charming.

I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling throughout and it was just so much fun to watch. I loved literally every second and I never laughed as much as I did at TIFF out of the 5 years in a row I have attended (not counting The Princess Bride live read).
The pacing is perfect and the script is sharp.

While the film is absolutely hilarious, Green Book doesn’t hide away the problems that were prevalent in the 60s and even today. It tackles the racial issues during that time  without slamming us against the head.

Rating – ★★★★


Below are the other films I have watched at TIFF:
Widows Review
Mid90s Review
Climax Review
Hold the Dark Review
First Man Review
Wildlife Review

If Beale Street Could Talk Review

 

Widows Review

widows-image-3-600x399“Electrifying”


From the very start McQueen pulls you in and never lets go. McQueen puts you on a roller-coaster that’s relentless and heart-pumping. Widows isn’t like McQueen’s previous films, but it still retains its merits. Widows is perfectly paced, with carefully layered themes/messages, and characters. It’s not emotionally taxing like 12 Years/Shame but it still crawls into your emotions in terms of how anxious he makes you/your heart race.

The story is about a bunch of widows who try to get by/move on and with the solution being, taking up their deceased husbands future heist. The story is complex and being that the screenplay is co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects) has brilliant and very interesting characters. Veronica (Viola Davis) really steals the show along with Alice (Elizabeth Debicki). In fact, the whole entire cast give terrific performances and even  Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) whom I had second thoughts about gave a really strong performance.

With McQueen working with his long-time cinematographer (Sean Bobbitt) you can expect the film to be brilliantly well shot and this being a thriller, shot in a way that completely puts you in the characters shoes/environment. There’s a few sequences that I won’t spoil that is just absolutely astonishing and down right jaw-dropping.

In conclusion, Widows is crafted to absolute perfection, much like McQueen’s previous films. With all the characters having depth and every cast member giving incredible performances, along with a very intriguing story, great cinematography and lastly
a great score by Hans Zimmer, Widows is simply incredible. It’s thrilling, sad, gripping and most of all, fun.

Rating – ★★★★½


Below are the other films I have watched at TIFF:
Mid90s Review
Green Book Review
Climax Review
Hold the Dark Review
First Man Review
Wildlife Review
If Beale Street Could Talk Review

 

 

Mid90s Review

Screen-Shot-2018-07-23-at-4.46.53-PM.png“Heartfelt & Raw”


Jonah Hill knocks it out of the park with his directorial debut! Mid90s is about a boy, the one pictured above named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) trying to fit in. Stevie lives with his brother Ian (Lucas Hedges) and both are raised by their single mother, played by the lovely Katherine Waterston. Stevie finds his group, a group of neighborhood skateboarders.

Mid90s is shot on film and presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, so the overall feeling and mood you feel while watching is absolutely spot-on. You are instantly immersed into the 90s period. Jonah Hill also wrote the screenplay and gives every character the perfect backbone of story that we need to understand and have emotional attachment to them. Every character has their time to shine and every cast member especially the lead Sunny Suljic give fantastic performances.

Along with the wonderful performances, the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is no short of incredible. The soundtrack is perfect, featuring songs that perfectly capture the time period and how it was like to live during the 90s. The cinematography is also really well done. 

In conclusion, Hill’s debut is wonderful and I can’t wait to see what else he does in his directing career. Mid90s will have moments that will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly, remind you of conversations you had with others when you were a kid and just overall nostalgia for when you were trying to fit in, and find your place in the world.

Rating – ★★★★


Below are the other films I have watched at TIFF:
Green Book Review
Widows Review
First Man Review
Climax Review
Hold the Dark Review
Wildlife Review
If Beale Street Could Talk Review

 

 

If Beale Street Could Talk Review

Screen20Shot202018-08-0220at2011.26.jpg“A Masterpiece”


Re-teaming with some of the former crew members he worked with on various films and Moonlight, notably James Laxton (DoP) and Nicholas Britell (Score) Barry gives us once again an incredible film with impeccable detail on all the aspects of production – costume design, sound, lighting, cinematography etc. Barry makes you transport into 1970s Harlem with ease. I watched this twice already and I can’t wait to watch this a million more times.


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Along with how visually stunning and how striking/haunting the score is, the performances from the entire cast especially from Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne) are really something special. The story in short is about the relationship between Tish and Fonny. Fonny gets accused of rape and is thrown in prison while Tish discovers that she’s pregnant with their child. As the film progresses, it cuts back and forth between their relationship. Beale Street is a love story yes, but also a story about fighting a corrupt system. It’s romantic and tragic. There is also narration at times from KiKi Layne’s character, Tish. The soundtrack is also very magical and evokes lots of emotions.


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The pacing throughout the film is perfect, there was never a dull moment as my eyes were glued to the screen. Some might find the pacing to be slow but I thought that it perfectly suited the film. I highly recommend you watch If Beale Street Could Talk. It’s truly remarkable what Barry Jenkins has done.

Rating – ★★★★★

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Below are the other films I have watched at TIFF:
Green Book Review
Mid90s Review
Widows Review
Climax Review
First Man Review
Hold the Dark Review
Wildlife Review

 

My Thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War

avengers-infinity-war-image-tony-stark.jpg“Incredible”


With a running time of almost 3 hours (2 Hours 40 Minutes) Infinity War is the longest movie in the MCU and I didn’t feel like it dragged at any point. I was hooked from the very first scene and onto the last. I was shook after watching it and just devastated.
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Josh Brolin kills it as Thanos which I thoroughly believe is the best villain in the MCU right now.  He’s a compelling character despite being seen as a monster. He had lots of depth to his character. Throughout the film, when Thanos is on screen, I felt his presence and when he fought our heroes, I was legitimately afraid. This was essentially a “Thanos” film more so than the Avengers.
nullAll the performances were great overall, with the standouts in my opinion being Thanos, Spiderman, Wanda, and Gamora. The comedy was fantastic too. All the jokes land especially from the GOTG squad. The action sequences are phenomenal. Seeing the combination of all the heroes you love fight together with all the different combinations of unique fighting skills/powers they each have is just such a joy and so much fun to watch. Visuals were stellar.
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In terms of the negatives, some characters won’t have much screen time in comparison to others but that’s a given with how many characters there are in the movie. There’s also so much that happens in this movie that there really isn’t any breathing room. This movie goes 1000000000 m/ph. Trust me. Use the washroom beforehand.
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Final thoughts – Infinity War is truly a spectacle that deserves to be seen on the big screen multiple times and its insanely entertaining/rewarding. I can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t wait to see it again…and again…and again…….

Rating –  ★★★★

My thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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“Bold”


The Last Jedi has many great moments and some of the best moments in Star Wars history. With that being said, it has many flaws and it suffers from them. The story is uneven. Story lines needed more time to breathe while others cut down. The humor, while at times worked some of it was just too out of place and it took away from the tension/immersion of the scene. There are also a few pacing/tone issues throughout.ep8-ff-000005It might seem that I’m bashing/hating The Last Jedi, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and had a wonderful time. We again get wonderful performances from the cast, old and new. The film is visually stunning and the action scenes are very well choreographed and felt compelling. Rey, Poe, Luke and Kylo had tremendous  growth and had the best performances in the movie. In terms of the story, I’m conflicted as I feel some stories were fleshed out more so than others. The more and more I think about The Last Jedi, the more I feel like it’s not even a Star Wars movie, but a Rian Johnson Star Wars movie. All in all, despite the flaws, it’s a great ride and one to watch for new and veteran star wars fans.

Rating – ★★★

My thoughts on The Killing of a Sacred Deer

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“Tense as F***”


Without going too much into the details of the plot, basically Colin Farrell, a surgeon becomes friends with a teenage boy played by Barry Keoghan. Colin introduces him to his family and they all become ill. Anyways, I really enjoyed Sacred Deer. The acting performances from the entire cast were phenomenal. Lanthimos balances out the sheer terror and dark humor perfectly. I’ve seen the film at TIFF and after watching it I wanted to see it again. I got the same feeling after  watching Sacred Deer as I did when I watched The Lobster which is also another great film from Yorgos Lanthimos which pales some comparisons to Sacred Deer in terms of the dark humor and visual style. I was left going “what the hell did I just watch.” Two words that I think describes the film perfectly are intense & uncomfortable.
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The cinematography is wonderful, lots of wide shots and closeups that really capture the creepy atmosphere. The soundtrack is great too and it propelled the tension even more. Its haunting and combined with the beautiful cinematography, captivating story and great performances, Sacred Deer is one of Lanthimos best films in his career and one of the years best films too. Brilliant horror and it’s unsettling as fuck.

Rating – ★★★★½

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