Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Brief Thoughts on the Fantasia Line Up 2017


Recently, The Fantasia Film Festival released their full lineup of films which will be presented from July 13 to August 2. The films which they have on display, are stellar. They have Cannes Favorites, such as The Villainess and Good Time. As well, they have Sundance favorites, such as A Ghost Story, Brisby Bear and Patty Cake$. Not only that, there’s a great lineup of animated features, which include the Berlinale Nominated film Have a Nice Day, the Oscar Nominated My Life as a Zucchini, and not just one, but two Masaaki Yuasa feature films (Lu over the Wall, Night is Short-Walk on Girl.) Blockbuster’s are also a must in Fantasia, in which it includes films such as Atomic Blonde, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D. Finally, there’s plenty of other great gems such as Shin Godzilla, The Little Hours, Free and Easy, 78/52, Colossal, and Sherlock Holmes Vs Charlie Chan. Overall, it’s a fantastic lineup for a fantastic festival.

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The Fantasia Film Festival Plays from July 13 to August 2 in Montreal Quebec

Monday, 3 July 2017

Despicable Me 3 Review

Well what do you know, we have another trash film coming our way. This piece of corporate production serves nothing more or less then to merchandise the living shit out of it's franchise. There's nothing new or inventive in Despicable Me 3. Just cringe worthy dialogue, painful jokes, and a plot which doesn't make coercive sense. It's a film in which it should be trashed and looked down upon on how not to make a kids film. At least with Captain Underpants, the overall arching themes stayed with it's fresh brand of inventive humor. Here, it's just the worst bits of the Despicable Me franchise, stretched to an unnecessary 90 Minutes. Don't even bother with this one, unless your heavily intoxicated like the couple who sat beside me during the film.



Rating:
4/10

Frantz Review

Frantz is most likely the most over rated film of the year so far. It's a convoluted mess, in which it takes it's most redeeming attributes, and throws them into a bon fire when it ends. The Black and White to Color transfer was unnecessary and didn't serve much of a purpose to the film. The romantic intrigue of the film deeply lacked. The film wasn't mysterious nor clever then it thought it was. Not to mention, the elongated plot, in which more then an hour could have been cut. In fact, only the first part up to when the big secret was revealed could of been cut, and may have served better as an average short film. Instead, we got a painfully crappy film. I highly urge people to not see it.


Rating:
4.8/10


From the Land of the Moon Review

From the Land of the Moon was quite a surprise. Because of the negative reception from Cannes, one year ago, I was worried for this French production. Marion Cotillard is one of my favorite actors, and it would be a shame for her talent to go to waste. Thankfully, From the Land of the Moon is on the border of decent to good. It's a solid somber effort at a fictional period romance, and works for the most part. Although both the plot and characters are quite cliché filled, there's enough effort and style for the film to stand on it's own. There's nothing harmful nor new being presented here. It's just a simple quaint drama, with some expert cinematography and musical score, which will may or may not stay with you.



Rating:
6.6/10

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Big Sick Review

Personally, I'm not the biggest fan when it comes to Romance films. Usually, at least the ones that don't take any sort of artistic risks, feel generic and forced when it comes to the romantic leads chemistry. However, there are some exceptions. For example, the 2011 film Ruby Sparks uses genre cliches and turns them over  to create a unique look at gender roles in a relationship. Same can go towards Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, but with it's main focus on romantic relationship's of today's youth. With that said, I happy to announce that The Big Sick is one of those great romance features. Specifically, this is due to the terrific script, in which the audience and my self were both emotionally invested and laughing all the way. This, by far, is the most humorous film of 2017. Admittedly, the film does get a bit sappy near the end, and there isn't anything all the visually nor technically interesting in the direction of the film. But, with it's great script, The Big Sick is truly a film for the ages.


Rating:
8/10

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Review

Similar to my thoughts on another recent film, Kong Skull Island, I thought Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is one of the most self aware children's films of all time. The way how writers Nicholas Stoller and David Soren manipulates the original childish source material into a mixture of both juvenile fun and hilarious hi jinks, makes it one of the most refreshing films made by Dreamworks since How to Train Your Dragon. Several jokes and plot beats happen during the run time, but what separates those moments to several other pieces of generic crap, is how "self-aware" the plot is. It makes jokes and references to the original source material, films, censorship, and more, while still retaining a charming price. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is truly something surprising. I thought this was going to be something annoying and abysmal at the most. Instead, I got a hilarious route of fun, in which I smiled the whole way through. 



Rating:
7.3/10


Baby Driver Review

Baby Driver is most likely the most original and fun film available in theaters at this moment in time. The shear amount of energy in which Edgar Wright has been producing this film for over 20 years, is quite impressive to say the least. Edgar and the cast and crew surely has a grasp on the overall arks of technical and narrative film making. The way how the plot moves and how it's told is beautiful. Nothing feels generic. Most complaints about the film, come from the third act. But to be honest, even decisions and narrative risks which took place in said ending, is understandable and works. My only complaint with the film, is how it's paced. Sometimes, it feels a bit wonky or too slow compared to previous scenes. Other then that, this is an energetic rush of an experience. It's a masterpiece to behold, and I recommend it too anyone who wants to see a great film. 



Rating:
9.3/10

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Solaris (1972) Review

Solaris, out of all the work I've seen from Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, is the most accessible and re-watchable out of his work. The paranoiac sensibilities of the drama in this tale is easy to comprehend. Unlike Stalker, Solaris has a very linear plot line. It deals with several thematic materials of death, memories, and even relationships. Some problems that I had with the films, is that the first half of the film, lacked in pacing and overall presentation, while the the second half  is what you expect from Tarkovsky. Brilliant directing with a touch of ambiguity. If the whole film, was like the second part, we would most likely have one of the greatest films of all time. In fact, if there were more moments between the leads Hari and Kris, I believe we would have had one of the best character dynamics in any source of media, of all time. Solaris is a good film. It's not as great as Stalker, but when you put it in contrast to several other science fiction films of the 70's, there's not much of a competition (except for Close Encounters) Overall, I highly recommend this film, for first time viewers of Tarkovsky's work. 


Score:
7.6/10

Monday, 26 June 2017

Quick Thoughts on A24's The Lovers

A24 is one of those companies in which you can trust there own end products. If there's any film distributed by them, I'll try to see it as soon as possible, just because of there unique and artistic decisions. So, when I heard A24 was making there first ever romantic comedy, I was pretty excited. The trailers looked great. The cast was stellar. But the end product was deeply lacking. The Lovers is a quick mindless piece of romantic slop. The characters weren't memorable, the directing choices weren't concise. Sure, there was some neat music choices here and there, but overall, I was unimpressed. Nothing stayed with me. The reason why films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Ruby Sparks worked was because they had great romantic chemistry. With the romantic chemistry in The Lovers, nothing stuck. It just felt lazy. This was a below average attempt from a great distributor. Just go back at what your great at A24. 


Score:
5.8/10

Stalker (1979) Review

Stalker is quite a mind blower when it comes to the science fiction genre. The way how Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky takes thematic material of depression and longing, helps make an incredibly dense and thought provoking plot. The shear amount of character logic, and storytelling put into this near 3 hour masterpiece is a stunner too any cinephile. Not only that, the amount of tension and atmosphere in the film took my breath away to the point where my own environment felt damp, like the film. My only problem's with this piece of cinematic art, is how some of the dialogue felt a bit exposition, and how some scenes and transitions weren't so clear. At times, it just felt like the characters were spitting out what they thought, and the transitions felt off and unclear to the point where it was hard to understand what happened in the time frame between two specific points. This can include the sepia to color transfer, which was strangely used at the end of the film (but it could be implying a metaphor, in which I still haven't realized), and as well, the conversation by the lake near the second act. Overall, this is a thought provoking master piece in which it deserves more credit. It's truly a work of art.


Score:
8.1/10

The Hero Review

The Hero is one of those film, in which it feels semi-autobiographical and personal. Sam Elliot plays the role of famous western star Lee Hayden, in which it recounts his day in the life routine, at the mildly old age of his early 70's. It's an interesting concepts for a film, even though it's been done before. Performance wise, Sam Elliot does a great job, making the film feel like it's based on a real life character. The problem with The Hero, is that it doesn't have much of a focus. From one scene to another, plot descriptions and character motivations change, making the end product feel unnecessary. There isn't much to grab onto emotionally, which makes the film feel flat on it's own artistic merit. There's some nice moments here and there, and some great dialogue, but it just doesn't feel all that fleshed out. The Hero is a fine, yet flawed art house piece.



Rating:
6.1/10

Friday, 23 June 2017

Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz at Dinner will now go on my letterboxd list of films which I found immensely entertaining, even though for the most part, it was mainly dialogue. Similar to Polanski's Carnage, this social satire on Trump's america is pretty interesting and intelligent. The performances, specifically by Salma Hayek, and the dialogue, were excellently crafted and deserves more recognition. However, when it comes to the overall direction of the film, that's when it loses track. Miguel Ateta deeply lacked in any understanding of character motivations and foreshadowing, which in the end, clashed into a blaze of fire. This is evident in the ending, in which it just feels more pretentious then memorable. As well, several audio cues and editing choices felt extremely unprofessional. Some moments even felt like a different director came into play and said "F-This, let's do this totally different and without purpose, like a student film!" Beatriz at Dinner was an entertaining effort though, and I do recommend it for a matinee price. See it, if you got time this summer.



Score:
6.5/10

Cars 3 Review

The Cars Franchise will always be the most nostalgic thing about Pixar, right next to the Toy Story franchise. The tales of Lighting McQueen and Tow Mater have always resonated with me. Personally, on its own merits, Cars 2 is a pretty decent film. It may seem like an idiotic concept at first, and some character logic may seem off, but it's still a fun action packed thrill ride which still excites me to this day. Cars 3 on the other hand, is similar to the first film in it's tone. And although this may be my least favorite out of the trilogy, there's a lot of great material in the film which should be reconsidered. The ending was nicely put together and had emotional weight, the animation was gorgeous and as well as the soundtrack, and the over all atmosphere resonated. It's just that some characters needed more development. To this day, I still believe the character of Cruz Ramirez is 10 times more annoying then Mater. Mater, at the least, had some thought out character development, while Cruz just seemed like a one trick pony. An annoying one trick pony. Sure her so called cliche "back story" was relevant, but that still didn't stop me from disliking the character. Jackson Storm, was also a weak villain. Literally zero motivations except for "Fuck you McQueen, I'm going to beat your ass because I have better technology then you, so Ha!" To be honest, the character of Sterling could have made a decent villain. But even then, there wasn't enough motivation to fully flesh out his character. Therefore, Cars 3 is the weakest out of the trilogy, mainly because of it's weak character development. At least it was a decent effort.



Score:
6.3/10






*Also Smokey was the best character, and I'll fight anyone who disagrees







My Winnipeg Review

When it comes to surrealist film making, it's difficult to determine if something is pretentious or not. A film like 2015's Heart of a Dog, made people, like myself, think about the implications of human interactions with animals, while others, deemed it as pretentious trash. My Winnipeg, is a strange case. It's a semi-autobiographical dramedy documentary, with a distinct and odd style. But the thing is, what Guy Maddin does with his own medium, is that is re-invents the way self therapy can be used. My Winnipeg, is especially an extremely non-linear look at the psyche of a Canadian who lives in Winnipeg.

My entire life. I must leave it. I must leave it. I must leave it now.



It may seem like a tedious way for someone to view another person's point. Although some thematic material does feel redundant in a way, Maddin expertly manages to take a diary of his dull surroundings, and turns them into a whimsy and intriguing feature. We never really know, what is real or fake (such as the horses frozen in the lake.) But, that's the point. Maddin, wanted to create a film, which could tell the test of time. Spoiler Alert. It succeeded. 






Score: 
7.8/10

My American Cousin Review

My American Cousin is one of those "classics" in which adults from the time of the films release, called it a masterpiece. But when it comes to the several teenage tropes that are evident in today's work culture, My American Cousin is just as guilty as the other teen dramedies. My American Cousin does nothing new with it's medium, and doesn't try anything to be special. Some nice shots and music choices here and there, but nothing resonated with me. Not even the end product was satisfying. It's just a lackluster attempt, for adults of that era, to deem an undeserving teen film which they "resonated" with. A Canadian Misfire.



Score:
4/10

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Dog's Purpose Review

A Dog's Purpose is quite an under rated film. This may be strange for me to say, due to the fact that I side to the critics side more often. But the way this family friendly film directed by Lasse Hallström (who directed Hachi A Dog Tale {Which broke my Heart as a little baby boy}), is a simple yet refreshing look at the afterlife without going overblown existential. It's cute and charming, and has it's emotional moments. And even if some scenes may seem cliche, the heart warming atmosphere helps retain it's re-watchability standard. Overall, an above average kids film with some hic-ups here and there. 



Rating: 6.5/10

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It Comes At Night Review

Dear A24,
Keep on making films like these, get a better marketing team, and don't ever make films like The Blackcoat's Daughter and Barely Lethal Ever AGAIN. If you do this, you'll be my favorite!
From,
  David Cuevas

As hard as it may sound to say this, I believe It Comes At Night is not really much of a horror, but a drama with some gruesome moments. The way how writer and director Trey Edward Shults manipulates the sparse six character's in a confined location, is an interesting statement to say the least. It Comes at Night isn't a film which uses monsters and gore to it's advantage. It uses survival and human negotiations to start it's main conflict. The main thematic theme, in my opinion, is how we as humans act, when there's a state of crisis (specifically, an infection) turns the character's against each other. It's something odd and new which we haven't seen before. As Well, the dialogue and performances feel natural, to the point the film feels off putting in it's own way. Cinematography and short composition (which  foreshadows events in the plot) also helps with this off putting feeling. Although the music may be a little too sparse, and the jump scares were a little uneven and not really necessary, It Comes at Night is a great film. Check this one out, as long as you have the mindset that your watching a survival drama and not a full blown horror.



Rating: 8.2/10

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Friday, 9 June 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review

Guy Ritche can be a hit or miss. He may make something fun, like Snatch and The Man From Uncle. And then there's his other films, like King Arthur. King Arthur is a tonally confused film in which it doesn't know what it wants to be. The plot  is idiotic and nonsensical to the point which I questioned to my self "is the thing that I'm watching right now, really substantial to my own time and value" There's some humor into the mix, and some decent performances, but the dialogue and plot needs to go to the emergency room asap. It's messy, the villains are untidy and it just doesn't work. My suggestion? Cut out all the magic stuff (except for the sword.) Why? Because the scenes where it didn't have magic, felt the most subdued and fun, and as well, the character of the mage, may not feel like a Mary Sue all the time, Overall, some fun moments, but a mess in it's end result.



Rating: 4.4/10

Graduation (2016) Review


Graduation is an interesting film with some intruding subject matter to subdue upon. Romanian director, Cristian Mungiu has created a film, which could be described best as an intellectual piece of art, which is yet, quite unsatisfying. It's a shame to see several lost chances, to elevate the plot itself. Instead, Mungiu decided's to take a more tonally self serious route, which may or may not be for better or for worse. Another thing about Mungiu's directing, is how long a scene is extended for. Some scenes do matter throughout this Romanian 2 Hour and 7 Minute production, but some don't. Some scenes go on for at least 10 minutes, and most of them don't really have much of a purpose. The acting was good, the dialogue was great, and the cinematography was decent. I just felt like there was some sort of missed opportunity in this film.



Rating:
6.2/10



Update

So,
as you may know, I've been gone from this site for a while. But, I've decided to renew this blog, mainly because making a full length video film review  takes much much longer. So yeah... I'm starting to write again... :)

P.S: All previous reviews on this site, are now gone forever

Friday, 2 June 2017

A Quick Discussion with Buster's Mal Heart Director (Sarah Adina Smith)

Recently, I had the chance to interview the director of the new Indie film Buster's Mal Heart (You can see my review right here) Personally, it was an honor to talk to Sarah. The thing which interested me the most about what she said, was about the Psychology in the film.

Sarah:

Buster’s Mal Heart is the story of one man’s heart at war with himself. I just wanted to tell the story from an emotional truth rather what you can say is a pragmatic or analytical point of view.  I wanted to tell the story of how one man could split into two, how one man can essentially have a heart so strong it tears a hole in the fabric of space time. It’s about this man wrestling with these really deep existential questions about his place in the universe and about if freedom is possible, and that those kind of questions swirling around in his own heart, is what manifested or may appear symptoms of mental illness.

What Sarah has stated does give some insight towards the film. Not only that, the way she explains and processes her characters is a breath of fresh air. I implore you all to go see Buster's Mall Heart.