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An ideal time for a picture such as THE POST to be released is this day and time when the majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the Trump Presidency. No matter how much President Trump tries to make it right or criticize media, he is still made fun of every night on the talk shows, and especially on SNL by Alec Baldwin.
The timing is also relevant for two reasons. The film is Meryl Streep’s comeback at Trump after he made the remark of her being the most over-rated actress. he demonstrates her acting prowess at taking down the Nixon Presidency or any other Presidency for that matter. The second is the banding of critics and other publications to take down Disney when the studio decided to ban the L.A. Times in retaliation for a scathing article written against them.
Spielberg, director of 50 or so films as of date, goes for theatrics, clearly from the start of the film to the end. Meryl Streep is given the grand theatrical entrance in the bedroom scene where she coughs and papers get thrown on the floor. The camera concentrates on the performances on both Hanks and Streep, as if it were begging them to be noticed for Oscar nods. The actual crime, the incidents of the coverups of the four governments are only briefly mentioned, with hardly any details. The opening sequence of one failure attack in Vietnam is supposed to do the trick.
THE POST is the drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents.
The script goes on to push all the right buttons to give the audience a feel-good feeling of elation. “The Government has lied about the Vietnam War for 30 years. The way they lied has tone brought out into the open.” says Bradley. The government is then pursuing the security breach. The announcement of the result of the court as to whether the Washington Post would be acquitted is grandly staged. Even the words of the judge are quoted as coming from there American fore-fathers.
It is interesting to compare Spielberg’s other political entry on American Presidents – LINCOLN. In that film, President Abraham Lincoln was treated with respect and grandeur while in THE POST Nixon is considered nothing more than two-faced rat. Nixon invites no Washington Post press for his daughter’s wedding as a result apart incident and later bans the Post from the White House showing him not only guilty of being a sore-loser but one craving for revenge. His revenge is shown at the closing of the film as he Watergate scandal begins, as everyone knows. But the scene is still a satisfying one.
THE POST and the upcoming THE GREATEST SHOWMAN are 20th Century Fox’s Oscar hopefuls, both opening at Christmas. Both are crowd pleasers and it will be interesting to see what happens.
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The book contains the history of Magizoology and describes 85 magical species found around the world. To get into the spirit of Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts (not shown in the film), provides the Foreword and explains the purpose of the special edition of this book (the Comic Relief charity). At the end, he tells the reader, “…The amusing creatures described hereafter are fictional and cannot hurt you.” He repeats the Hogwarts motto: “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus”, Latin for “Never tickle a sleeping dragon”.
Directed by Téchiné with a script he wrote in collaboration with Céline Sciamma, the film follows the romantic and sexual awakening of two seventeen year old boys as their initial animosity, expressed in violence, morphs into love. For the not-so French literate, Being 17 borrows its title from the second half-line of the first verse of Roman, (1870) by Arthur Rimbaud: On n’est pas sérieux quand on a dix-sept ans.
Israeli filmmaker Ilan Ziv’s (SIX DAYS IN JUNE) documentary tells the story of death row inmate Mark Stroman and the friendship he forges with one of his surviving victims Rais Bhuiyan, who set about to save Stroman from death row as part of his Muslim faith beliefs.
The protagonist of the piece is a successful Los Angeles arts gallery owner and designer by the name of Susan (Amy Adams). Susan often has sleepless nights and could thus be classified as a nocturnal animal. Her ex-husband Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal) has recently completed a book titled NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, about three redneck thugs who prey on a family after carjacking them. Tony sends Susan a copy of his manuscript to read as a privileged reader.
Tengu: Birdman of the Mountains, is a film that will delight you with its symbology, its imagery and it’s excellent fight sequences, but it goes far beyond that. This film represents of genre-hybrid that should be welcomed into cinema with open arms. It is highly commendable thing to be able to successfully blend genres together, and this film is able to do that. With effortless ease a viewer can watch this film and find something in it to enjoy even if they are not conventionally a viewer of action.
Subtle and steamy, with mounting tension in every scene, The Trap is a suspense film, turned mystery film, turned action film. Cleverly designed with red-herrings and hidden details, there must be a special nod of appreciation to the film’s editor.
This film makes nods to several well established cult classics, such as Pulp Fiction to name one of many. The unreliable narrator, the highly subjective non-lateral plot and the avant-garde supernatural air, make the film a cultural cinematic work of art. Think Wes Anderson, if Wes Anderson was dark and perturbed and less whimsical.
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As the title of the film suggests, the success of a boxer depends also on how well he can receive hard punishment in the ring. For real-life Rhode Island boxer Vinnie Paz, the biggest hit he was dealt with was not in the ring, but in life, getting into a car accident that left him almost paralysed.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN is writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s debut feature. It is a coming-of-age story of a very awkward high-school junior, Nadine (played by Oscar Nominee Hailee Steinfeld from TRUE GRIT) who cannot get along with anyone including her own family – except for her father who dies early in the film and one best friend that she loses. Nadine mopes about the entire film till she finally grows up. For a film about such a loser, Craig’s film is surprisingly edge, funny and feel-good, though her script can be quite manipulative at times. But manipulative in a good way, one could also argue.
The premise is the patriarch praying for his family to get along. If they can honour that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle. And somewhat of a miracle that a film with this well-worn plot would turn out any good.
The Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve has never failed to impress. From his early French Canadian films UN 32 AOUT SUR TERRE and MAELSTROM to his English Hollywood films SICARIO, PRISONERS and ENEMY, Villenueve has transcended different genres though his films share one common trait. There is the human angst mixed into a thriller/mystery story. The same can be said in his latest, most ambitious and biggest production to date – ARRIVAL. The ARRIVAL here could refer ever to the first contact of the aliens or the birth of the baby girl to the film’s protagonist, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams).
The TROLLS are colourful figurine-sized doll characters who are known to be happy all the time. They sing, dance and hug constantly. But the happiness is now under threat as creatures known as Bergens have discovered the trolls and eating them up. They do so in order to be happy as Bergens do not know how to dance or sing or be happy. The name Bergens is likely derived from the coastal city of Bergen in Norway, the only country in the world known for trolls.
It also helps that the film is directed by a horror film director Scott Derrickson rather than an action director. Derrickson directed the two SINISTER films, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE including the Hollywood version of DELIVER US FROM EVIL, the latter of which contained a lot of dead-pan humour, repeated in DOCTOR STRANGE. Those who have watched Benedict Cumberbatch in real-life know that this actor is prefect for deadpan straight face comedy.
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The new Dreamworks animation released by 20th Century Fox, TROLLS is a happy enough 3D computer-animated musical buddy comedy film based on the dolls of the same name created by Dane Thomas Dam way back in 1959.
The Marvel superhero DOCTOR STRANGE gets his first debut on the big screen complete with 3D. Though the character has appeared in a TV movie and animated film before, he is given a fresh treatment which is a good thing considering that there are already too many super hero action movies each year.
After about a decade absence from the director’s chair (his last film was the misunderstood APOCALYPTO in 2006), the director of BRAVEHEART and THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST returns in top form as if redeem in himself of all the bad press he had garnered since he said and did some foolish things. It’s another situation in this 21st century social media era where the outside events of the director “tarnish” the actual film itself. Think “Birth of the Nation”. Two films that should potentially receive multiple Oscar nominations. But will they? And should they?
The film tackles quite a few issues. At the film start, David listens and calls a rival radio show in which an Anita Byrant type woman, June Hendley (Jordan Baker) makes her stance against homosexuals. She is against gay marriage, gay sex and almost everything gay just like the original Byrant. An easy target no doubt, David through his show gets the better of her. David then meets his new technician Chris (Guy Adkins) who pines for him.
THE VIOLIN TEACHER, which opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, serves both as an art house film and a crowd pleaser. From the film’s very first frame, the audience sees the protagonist, a talented but tortured soul named Laerte (Lazaro Ramos) unable to fulfil his promise during an important violin audition for the famous São Paulo Symphonic Orchestra.
This poetic fantasy action film, hailing from the United Kingdom and coming to us from director Samuel Smith, is a study in genre splicing. Tengu: Birdman of the Mountains has the poetic elements of a romance, the luxurious visuals of a fantasy, the tension and suspense of a thriller, and the fight scenes of a high-concept action film. Told through the eyes of a child, our hero watches as his highly skilled father, endowed with supernatural natural strength from his Chi, fights off terrifying bird-like villains from this family’s mountain home. Packed with stunning fight sequences that highlight the filmmakers’ excellent technical skills, this piece is a must-see for anyone who enjoys action.
The crime mystery science-fiction short Barrow, coming to us from Australia courtesy director Wade Savage, is a powerful, efficient, masterful piece of cinema. It makes nods to a wide variety of genre motifs including mystery, crime, science fiction and horror, among others, and integrates them seamlessly. The story is rich and engaging, following the story of a young forensic scientist on her quest to understand the mystery forces that saved her life during a brutal and horrifying attack on her family years before.
Blackwell Summers Mystery, a 12 minute American short from director Emily Dell, focuses on Grace Blackwell and Raven Summers, two sexy detectives with their own private investigation company in the heart of the 1970s. Smart, cunning and sexy, both ladies use their strengths and skills to take down the villain while leaving space for the audience to laugh the whole time.
Rich in symbology and complex layering, Motel Motel this crime mystery film by Belgian director Ellen J. Babeliowsky. It follows our hero, Hjalmar, finds himself sharing an old motel room with an unpleasant partner- a severed human ear. This ear disturbs him, erodes him, and ultimately drives him to act by reaching the motel’s owner to change his room. Curiously, no one believes his story- that his room is occupied by a human ear.
In a few years time, you can argue, no one will even remember Ron Howard’s INFERNO, based on Dan Brown’s 2013 novel of the same name. It will open around the world, make a little money for the studios and talent, and then it will just disappear.
Ewan McGregor makes his directing debut and stars alongside Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning in this ambitious adaptation of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, about a “perfect” American family that is torn apart by the social and political upheavals of the 1960s. One must give the actor credit for choosing such a dauntless task as a adapting a Roth novel for his directorial debut.
The plot is nothing spectacular. Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever. The story contains a few forgettable plot twists.
Park’s film is told in three chapter’s from the points of view of the story’s three characters. The film contains lots of flashbacks, with each flashback containing possibly a different meaning to the story than when the scene first appears. It is tight and clever editing, but too many of these lend to a bit of confusion. A few parts at the end are also confusing like the one in which Fujiwara rows a boat in a misty lake with the two women in it.
When father and son order a bottle of SAINT AMOUR in a restaurant, the film starts to bubble as the pair take off on an educational wine tour around the wine regions of France. Surprisingly, the education comes in a different form, as the two discover more about life, women and their relationship towards each other, rather than in the wines they savour.
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant (autistic) with more affinity for numbers than people. His childhood is traced, in flashback till the present. As a child, Christian’s military father believes that difference is perceived as a threat to most people. To protect his son, he forces Christian to better himself in martial-arts.
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