New Teaser + Poster Spotlight: A24’s The Green Knight

It’s not every week I do a post about an upcoming movie. But hey, after Oscars wrapped this past weekend, I’m just looking forward what’s in store this year. I had never even heard of this movie before, but when I saw this provocative poster came across my Insta, courtesy of A24, I knew I had to post about it!

It’s funny that I actually just talked about Dev Patel w/ a fellow blogger Brittany from Rambling Film blog and that we’re both crushing on him right now 😉 How awesome to see that he’s actually the leading man of this movie, in a Medieval fantasy no less!

Here’s the premise, thanks to Paste Magazine:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Behold the new trailer!

Glad I read a little bit about the story of the poem it’s based on, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose original writer is unknown. Sir Gawain is a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, and of course King Arthur is an extremely popular literary subject that’s been adapted countless times on film and other forms of media. Right away it gives me a bit of Game of Thrones meets Tarsem’s Immortals vibe. The fact that it’s A24 developing it makes me extra excited for it… it looks ominous + mysterious, and a foreboding score. Not sure if it’s going to get an R rating, but looks like it’s likely pretty violent. Now, if only we can have Sean Harris play a mute for once? Sorry but I can’t stand his hoarse voice, ugh!


As I mentioned, I love Dev Patel’s casting, who over the years has proven himself to be a versatile actor who can play virtually any role. He isn’t the first actor I’d imagine to play a heroic Medieval knight, but why shouldn’t he be? I love how many theaters in the Twin Cities have incorporated many actors of colors in many literary classic adaptations of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, so why can’t they do the same in films and tv works? The important part is the actor captures the ‘essence’ of the character. Most recently Patel also played a famous literary character by Charles Dickens in The Personal History of David Copperfield.

The rest of the cast includes Alicia Vikander (Lady Bertilak) and Joel Edgerton (Lord Bertilak), as well as Barry Keoghan, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson. As for the filmmaker, I’ve only seen Pete’s Dragon (which I love) by David Lowery, but his most recent film The Old Man & the Gun starring Robert Redford is highly acclaimed by critics.

I’m glad I’ll be seeing more of Patel this Spring. The the David Copperfield movie is to be released on May 8 and per IMDb, The Green Knight is released on May 29.


What do you think of THE GREEN KNIGHT?

In-flight Watching Recap: The Wedding Guest + The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

Thank goodness for in-flight entertainment! I was on a trip to Eastern Europe recently, in fact I just got back about a week ago. Sleep are often elusive on long flights, so I used the time to catch up on movies I’ve been curious to see.

I rewatched parts of Aladdin on my way to Europe and on my way back, I watched most of Gone With The Wind (yeah I know, an odd choice but I was in the mood for it). But these are two features I watched that I haven’t seen before, glad I did!

THE WEDDING GUEST (2018)

I’ve been a fan of Dev Patel for some time, and I think he’s really grown as an actor since his debut in Slumdog Millionaire over a decade ago. When you’ve got a brooding hitman-type on a mission to kidnap a bride-to-be the night before her wedding, you don’t immediately think of Patel. But that’s precisely why I’m curious to see him here, and I think he’s quite compelling playing against type. In most of his previous films (well except for LION) he’s often the jolly guy, but he barely cracked a smile in this entire film!

Directed by Michael Winterbottom, the opening sequence shows the unnamed Patel preparing for a journey from London to Pakistan. We have no idea what’s on his agenda, but with a sequence of buying guns, roll of duct tape, etc. we know he’s up to no good. It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that indeed he indeed kidnaps the bride-to-be (Radhika Apte), but there’s more than meets the eye. In fact, the core of the film centers on their unconventional bond. It’s not stockholm syndrome however, as we don’t quite know who actually plans for the whole thing.

The movie itself is as reserved and moody as the protagonist. The neo-noir style is enhanced by the music (that’s reminiscent of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s style) and gorgeous cinematography, making the most of the India/Pakistan locations. I know the pacing might be a problem to some, but I was quite invested in the story as the movie went on. Even watching it on the plane, I wasn’t bored by it. I find Patel to be a magnetic presence, and a pretty convincing enigmatic figure. But it’s Apte who’s quite a revelation here, and it’s certainly a juicy role for a woman of color who rarely gets to turn the table on the male protagonist.

It’s too bad the film didn’t do well after its premiere at TIFF. I highly recommend this if you’re a fan of Patel, or if you’re up for an off-the-beaten path psychological thriller that’s more about the character development than a well-choreographed action sequence.

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019)

I’m glad Delta has this Alex Gibney documentary as I don’t have HBO. I’ve been curious about this film since I read a lengthy article about Theranos’ founder Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest self-made billionaire who turns out to be a fraud. Apparently the film’s producer met with Holmes early in development (per IMDb), before criminal charges were filed, to determine whether she could be interviewed for the film. Gibney decided to portray how Holmes crafted her company and her own image seen by the public, which is inherently fascinating. Holmes herself is perhaps a documentarian’s dream given how controversial yet magnetic she is, it’s no wonder she was able to fool so many prominent figures to invest in her company (Walmart founder Sam Walton, Rupert Murdoch, etc) and people like Henry Kissinger, George Schultz to be on her company’s board.

Gibney’s documentaries are extremely well-crafted and this one is no different. There are plenty of archival footage of Holmes and the miniature blood testing labs she dubbed the “Edisons” in the Theranos Palo Alto headquarters. Most were taken before she was charged, and some were from Theranos’ own promotional videos. Interestingly enough, we learn that ‘Edison’ is actually a perfect moniker for her blood testing machine, given the man known as one of America’s greatest inventors perfected the ‘fake it until you make it’ mantra. In any case, there are also interviews with whistleblowers, such as former Theranos lab technician Erika Cheung and Tyler Schultz (his grandfather was one of the board members). Of course, the one crucial interview is with John Carreyrou, The Wall Street Journal journalist who first accused Theranos of misrepresentation.

This is the kind of documentary that makes you shake your head repeatedly and also gets you riled up on how someone could deceive people and be allowed to do so for so long. One can’t help but think of her ‘white privilege’ upbringing that contributes to this whole thing, as so many important people were so easily swayed by her claims and willing to help her without investigating further. It also gives me chills how she went so far as making a deal with Walgreens with her blood testing procedures that compromises many people’s health.

Gibney is quoted on IMDb as saying “She made the documentary she wanted me to invest in and I used it to a different purpose.” While he didn’t outright condemn Holmes for her actions, it’s hard to feel neutral about such a fraud, especially one who’s as arrogant and defiant as Holmes.


So have you seen either one of these films? I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: HOTEL MUMBAI (2019)

When I first saw the trailer for HOTEL MUMBAI, I was definitely intrigued despite not remembering much of the actual events that happened in 2008. I don’t usually go for dramatizations of true events, especially when it comes to disaster/calamity. Yet there’s something about this one that appealed to me.

It opens with the attackers coming into Mumbai on boats. It isn’t spelled out who they are but it’s pretty clear they intend to cause harm on the city. We see their somber demeanor as they descend into the city, listening to a voice over from an Islamic militant group saying ‘God is Great,’ The scene is contrasted with a hotel staff, Arjun (Dev Patel), getting ready for work in the morning. The luxurious, five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is run with a nearly militaristic precision. Each department head from the lobby to the kitchen grill their staff and tell them to practice ‘customers are gods’ mantra. Everything happened like any ordinary day, only later it turns out to be anything but.

I saw this at an early screening, definitely too early for something THIS intense. My coffee barely had any effect but I didn’t really need it once the action started. The attackers began the mayhem in a train station, a cafe, then the Taj Hotel, with two of the perpetrators walking in pretending to be one of the masses looking for cover. One thing that took me by surprise was that they’re just a bunch of boys, some are probably in their late teens. They get direct orders from Brother Bull who constantly feed instructions on their earpiece. Promising them money to their families and afterlife in paradise, they instill hatred of the upper class ‘infidels.’

This is Aussie director Anthony Maras‘ feature film debut and I think he’s adept enough in creating a genuine sense of suspense and dread. Films like this tend to be rather exploitative but this one looks well-crafted and well-acted all around. A production financed mostly by South Australian Film Corporation and filmed in Adelaide Film studios for the hotel interior, the production design also looked really believable. Despite the intense graphic violence of the gunmen shooting anything that moves, the movie never descends into a manic Die Hard or Expendables type of shoot-em-up thriller. I remember thinking on one intense scene where a couple of cops are trying to shoot a group of gunmen, James Bond would’ve killed them w/ a single bullet each. But it’s NOT that kind of action fantasy, so real people did get hurt and innocent people lose loved ones in the most brutal way.

There’s not a weak performance amongst the talented cast. I have grown to respect Dev Patel and his character Arjun is immediately sympathetic. There are scenes with relatable humanistic touches, such as when Arjun lost his shoe and had to jam his foot into his boss’ shoes that are way too small for him. I’ve been a big fan of Indian actor Anupam Kher who portrays Chef Oberoi and once again he’s terrific here, who along with Arjun are the unsung heroes of the hotel attack. Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi played husband and wife who travel with a nanny and their baby, which made up some of the film’s most suspenseful scenes. Jason Isaac is also quite memorable as a high-ranking Russian mystery guy, one of the guests trapped in the hotel. The film did a good job making me care about the characters, instead of just showing a play-by-play of a horrifying event. Even the bad guys get to be more than stock characters, and they get to show their human side without glorifying their evil acts.

Apparently the filmmakers got access to original transcripts of intercepted cell (mobile) calls between the ten terrorists and their handlers, which adds the authenticity of the scenes. Watching this I was quite infuriated and frustrated by how ridiculously slow the hotel (and perhaps other places) get support from the Indian government. The hotel staff kept having to reassure the guests that help was coming, but they were trapped in some kind of ‘safe house’ area of the hotel for hours before the special ops finally arrived from New Delhi (800 miles away from Mumbai).

The text at the end summed up the damage of the tragedy, with 164 people killed and over 300 people wounded. The film premiere last year was planned to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the attack. The hotel only took 21 months to be restored to its original glory, and many of the survivors attended the grand re-opening.

I remember feeling a bit lightheaded and weak in the knees after watching this, given the vivid depiction that made me feel as if I were right there amidst the chaos. Indeed a grim and unflinchingly-tense film that shows the triumph of human spirits and acts of heroism by regular people.


Have you seen HOTEL MUMBAI? Let me know what you think!

Trailers Spotlight: Dumbo | Hotel Mumbai | Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Hi everyone! Happy First Day of Spring! Stay tuned for our reviews of Jordan Peele’s Us movie and Shazam! coming later this week.

For now, I thought I’d post some trailers for a couple of upcoming movies (I’m seeing the press screenings next week) … and one that just dropped today!

DUMBO

I actually don’t remember much about the Disney cartoon version of Dumbo, I was more affected by Bambi as a kid. But when the first trailer dropped last year I was so moved by it that I teared up! In fact, I couldn’t stop my tears from falling every time I heard the ‘Baby Mine’ rendition by Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes.

I don’t usually get super excited over Tim Burton movies, but this one looks really good! It’ll certainly be a darker take than the animated version, which is usually the case with the live-action remake. I do love the cast, Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Danny Devito and Eva Green who’s perfect as a circus aerialist. The young actress Nico Parker looks so much like Zoe Saldana I thought she’s the one playing her younger version in Avengers: Infinity War.

Can’t wait for the screening next Tuesday, I’ll be sure to pack tissues!


HOTEL MUMBAI

Dev Patel is on a roll. He’s got two films I’m looking forward to, this one and Wedding Guest. I can’t recall much about the events in 2008 this film is based on, where the famed Taj Hotel was under siege by terrorists in Mumbai. This film is a dramatization of the real life events, which is also the subject of the 2009 Emmy-nominated documentary feature Surviving Mumbai (now renamed Mumbai Massacre).

The trailer looks quite gripping and it’s got a pretty good score so far on Rotten Tomatoes. Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs and one of my fave Indian character actors Anupam Kher. Per IMDb, a significant amount of actual dialogue in the film was repeated verbatim being taken from original transcripts of actual intercepted mobile phone calls during the 2008 siege.


ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Well, well, well,  the Summer of ’69 just dropped on the first day of Spring! [somehow now I’ve got that Bryan Adams song stuck in my head!]

Surely you’ve seen the rather ho-hum official poster that dropped a couple of days ago. Well the memes have been hilarious, but as a huge fan of Eileen Steinbach’s amazing poster designs, I thought I’d include her version instead…

In any case, two of Hollywood’s biggest stars Brad Pitt & Leonardo DiCaprio collide in Tarantino’s ninth feature film, which QT himself has dubbed “the most exciting star dynamic duo since Robert Redford and Paul Newman.”

Well I dunno about you but the one thing that had me do a double take in the teaser is the Bruce Lee scene! Wow, I thought they did some serious special effects to get the real martial arts legend to fight Brad Pitt here…

I had to check out WHO that actor is who played Bruce Lee, he’s uncanny! Well, his name is Mike Moh and guess what, he grew up in St Paul Minnesota and according to IMDb he now runs a martial arts school in Madison, Wisconsin?? 🤯

In any case, well the teaser looked intriguing. I love historical fiction, especially involving the movie industry. It reminds me a bit of the Coens’ Hail, Caesar! though given the Charles Manson connection, it’ll certainly have some dark stuff despite the lighthearted tone of the trailer. It is a Tarantino movie after all. Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is spot-on casting right there. Oh and apparently Tom Cruise was supposed to play the Brad Pitt’s role of stuntman Cliff Booth but had scheduling conflict filming Top Gun: Maverick. Hmmm, that would’ve been interesting to see Cruise playing Leo’s stuntman!


What do you think of these trailers? Which ones are you most looking forward to?

Weekend Viewing Roundup: The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) + SULLY (2016)

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How was your weekend everyone? It’s been a busy one for me, but a productive one. I actually did go to the movies, which is rare actually for me as I usually go to press screenings on week nights. But after dinner my hubby and I felt like checking out the new AMC theaters with the new reclining seats, which are indeed awesome! SULLY was the only one we’re interested in that is less than 2 hrs long, though it felt a bit eerie watching a plane crash scene in NYC on the weekend of 9/11.

In any case, on Friday night, we also rented a movie we’ve been curious about for some time…

The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

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The story of the life and academic career of the pioneer Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and his friendship with his mentor, Professor G.H. Hardy.

I have to say that being terrible at math, I’m not that familiar w/ the subject of this biopic. But Of course, just checking on Wikipedia, he’s an extraordinary man whose math theories are still being used today.

Stories about geniuses are popular biopic subjects in Hollywood, i.e. A Beautiful Mind, The Imitation Game, etc. The film traced his humble beginning in Madras, India and how he ended up at Trinity College, Cambridge in the 1910s. Dev Patel bears no resemblance to the real Ramanujan, but he seems to be the only actor of Indian descent working the British film industry could think of to cast. He’s a likable actor, and I think he’s quite believable in the role.

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Jeremy Irons plays G.H. Hardy, Ramanujan’s mentor who invited him to Cambridge to the first place. The film began with Hardy’s voice over saying how much he owed Ramanujan, which suggests there’s a deep friendship between the two. The rapport between the two characters is a bit of a slow built. The main friction between the two is that Hardy refuses to publish Ramanujan’s theories without proofs, whilst Ramanujan’s convinced all his theories add up. There’s also the fact that Hardy didn’t seem sensitive enough to the challenges Ramanujan faces at Cambridge, including his sense of alienation the fact that he’s an Indian studying amongst British intellectual elites.

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As far as biopics go, this one is pretty straight forward. Though the subject matter deals with theorems and formulas, I wish the film is less um, formulaic. The film could’ve been really engrossing under a skilled/experienced filmmaker, but this is director Matt Brown‘s sophomore work, so overall it’s pretty dry. It’s an intriguing journey about a brilliant person, but yet I just wasn’t as involved or moved by his story as I expected. The performances are pretty good, though I’ve seen more impressive work from everyone involved, including Toby Jones as J.E. Littlewood, one of Ramanujan’s advisers. Stephen Fry barely made a dent though as he only appeared briefly in the film.

I do appreciate the spirituality aspect of the protagonist who’s a devout Hindu. Contrast that with Hardy who’s a professed atheist, there’s a few interesting banters between them. Ramanujan said at one point that “An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.” He still prayed regularly when he’s at Cambridge, so faith certainly played a big part in his life. The film also showed his selfless nature that he hid his illness from his friend. The fact that the university was being used as a hospital during World War I, he also felt that his condition just wasn’t bad enough as the soldiers that he deserved care.

I suppose the film is still worth a look if you’re curious about Ramanujan’s story. Though it wasn’t a great film, I’m still glad I saw it and the protagonist no doubt has a story worth telling.

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SULLY (2016)

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The story of Chesley Sullenberger, who became a hero after gliding his plane along the water in the Hudson River, saving all of the airplane flights 155 crew and passengers.

The last Clint Eastwood-directed film I saw was Invictus which was back in 2009. It also happens to be the shortest film he has directed at 96 minutes, which is the reason we picked this one when my hubby and I was deciding on which new release movie to see on Saturday night.

It really is quite a feat that a film where the ending is well-known, given that it happened only seven years ago, still manages to be quite riveting. Of course Eastwood got the best man for the job, there’s practically no other actor of his stature who’s as skilled AND as likable as Tom Hanks. He’s the perfect actor to play the quiet hero whose selfless and humble traits are something to aspire to. I also think Aaron Eckhart is pretty good here, though I wish Eastwood had given someone as talented as Anna Gunn more to do.

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I didn’t see this movie in IMAX but it was filmed with IMAX cameras so I bet it looked even more spectacular on screen. The plane landing scene on the Hudson river is as suspenseful as it is stunning to watch. Kudos to Eastwood and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki for keeping SULLY afloat when it could’ve easily been a tedious based-on-a-true-event types of movie. Just remember this is a film, not a documentary. There’s likely a great deal of creative license taken in the way the NTSB investigations played out.

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So that’s my weekend recap. What did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

FlixChatter Review: CHAPPIE (2015)

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Neill Blomkamp burst into Hollywood fame with his film debut District 9, a film that was well-received by both critics and audiences alike; although I’m not a fan of it myself. Then he hit a sophomore slump with Elysium, it wasn’t a great movie but I enjoyed it more than District 9. For his newest outing, he went back to his hometown and made a smaller scale sci-fi action thriller. Unfortunately it’s one of worst movies I’ve seen this year so far.

Set in just a year from now, the city of Johannesburg is control by robotic police force known as Scouts. An opening that’s similar to District 9, a news TV crew is interviewing people at a company that build these robots. One of them is the designer of the Scouts, Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), he’s a very smart engineer who wants to make these robots into more than just policing the streets. He wants to make them more human, after cracking codes on how this could be achieved; he pitched the idea to his boss Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver). She didn’t think it would benefit the company’s interests and refused to finance it. We also get to know Wilson’s rival at the company, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman, sporting an awful mullet from the 80s). He’s been trying to get funding for his own robot project but Bradley wouldn’t give him the money because the Scouts are doing fine protecting the city. Later we see the Scouts in action; they got into a shootout with some thugs, two of them turned out to be the main human leads of the movie, South African rappers Ninja and Yolandi. The two thugs and one of their crew members Yankie (Jose Cantillo) were able to escape and we learned that they owe the city’s crime lord lots of money. They came up with a plan of kidnapping the Scouts’ designer Wilson and force him to “turn off” the robots so they can commit their crimes and pay back the crime lord Hippo (the very over acting Brandon Auret).

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Wilson is still upset from the news that his boss won’t finance his new pitch to her, decided to steal one of the Scouts that was inline for decommissioned and take it home to build his more human robot. However on his way home, Ninja’s gang ambushed him. They saw the robot in his van and ordered him to build them a Scout that would help them commit crimes. Wilson agreed but warned them that this new robot is not like the others and it needs to learn things before it can function normally, it’s basically a child and they named it CHAPPIE. For most of the movie, we had to sit through excruciating scenes of Yolandi and Ninja teaching Chappie to become human and act like a thug, I’m not kidding you. The promos for this movie made it appear that it’s about Chappie becoming some sort of savior for the human race but that never happened in the movie.

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I’ve never heard of rappers Ninja and Yolandi (Die Antwoord) and I assume they’re quite popular in South Africa and Europe. Now the only reason why Blomkamp decided to cast them as leads was maybe because he’s a big fan of them, that’s my assumption anyway. They cannot act and I cringed every time they’re on the screen teaching Chappie how to be human. Apparently we’re supposed to care about these thugs even though their plan is to commit crimes in order to pay off their debts. The rival between Wilson and Moore became a subplot and I just don’t care about any of these characters. Sigourney Weaver has now become that once-famous actress whom director will only use sparingly and she’s on the screen for maybe 5 minutes. The main star of course is Chappie, voiced by Sharley Copley and unfortunately he’s quite annoying. We’re supposed to care about his growth of becoming more human but I just didn’t care for any of that.

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The script by Blomkamp and his wife Terri Tatchell was amateurish. They came up with some good ideas but threw all that away by focusing story on thugs teaching Chappie to be human and included too many clichés that we’ve seen many times before. There’s no doubt that Blomkamp knows how to shoot movies, his previous two pictures looked great and this one is no exception. It’s a good example of how good digitally-shot movie could look. But his storytelling skill is questionable, he tried to juggle so many things in this movie and they all just fell flat. I actually wanted to walk out halfway through but I didn’t because I knew there’s going to be a big action scene at the end. Well he delivered in that department, the climatic shootout was well-staged and very exciting but by then I didn’t care about any of the characters and just wanted the movie to end. The only other positive thing I can say about the movie was Hans Zimmer’s pulse-pounding score. As usual his music shines, especially in action scenes. But scores alone can’t save a crappy movie.

I didn’t have any expectations going into this movie because I don’t think Blomkamp is as talented as Hollywood thinks he is and here’s a proof of it. The movie feels like it’s a film student project that he somehow conned a big studio to finance it. It’s a trifecta of bad acting, writing and directing.

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Have you seen Chappie? Well, what did you think?

Rental Picks: A Separation and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Happy Friday!

What will you be watching today, folks? Are you going to the cinema to see the latest of the Disney animated feature Wreck-It Ralph (check out my pal Terrence’s review), the Kung-fu movie The Man with the Iron Fists or Denzel Washington’s Flight? Well, if you decide to rent something, here are a couple you might want to check out if you haven’t already:

A Separation (2011)

The first Iranian film which wins an Oscar. Yes that sentence is enough to catch my attention to see A Separation at the cinema. The film tells the story of a married couple Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) which have to live separately because of their differing decisions either to move out of the country for the sake of their child or to stay in Iran to take care of their dad suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Parent vs. child. It’s never an easy choice.
It all started with various daily things which need to be done after Simin move out from the house to live separately. Then Nader hires a caregiver to take care his father. The film shows in a matter-of-fact way what a separation could possibly bring to a family. The writer/director Asghar Farhadi managed to build more and more conflicts from the beginning until the very end of the movie.
The film was playing on my emotions a lot. Curious, sad, angry, sympathy. As the audience, I don’t even know on which sides they are actually on. The way this movie reveal the facts practically reminds me of Nothing But the Truth. I can’t stop questioning which fact of the movie is true. It’s a drama that turns out to be a thriller, too. Not only did the film make me think, A Separation has a great cast which really support the dramatic parts. Every main character plays a strong role to tell the whole story. One of my favorite scenes would be when Nader teaches her daughter some lessons for her school. I could see a very strong bond of how a father wants her daughter to be smart and mature.
In the end, A Separation delivers their targeted message very well. A beautiful conclusion which will let the audiences have their own thoughts about a marital separation.

– Review by Cecilia R.

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Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

As I’ve alluded to in my review of Quartet, I LOVE films about older people’s adventure. Perhaps because I grew up with my grandmother for years, I’m not sure. Now the main draw for me to see this British dramedy is the stellar cast! It also marks Judi Dench’s third collaboration with director John Madden — the first two earned her an Oscar nomination and win for Mrs. Brown and Shakespeare In Love, respectively.

The title refers to a hotel in Jaipur, India which is advertised as a newly-restored “for the elderly and beautiful.” Well, after a lengthy and exhausting journey, all seven of the British retirees want to do is relax in their luxurious lodging, only to find the place to be well, less sumptuous than what they had in mind. The hotel turns out to be a run-down place run by a young man who dreams of restoring his family business to its pristine condition.

Each of the characters deal with this unpleasant surprise in multiple different ways, just as each of them have their own reasons to come to the country in the first place. Some of the multiple storylines work better than others. I don’t know if I’d call the direction uneven but certainly there are parts of the movie I just don’t care for.

For me, my favorite parts involve the two Dames, Judi Dench (Evelyn) and Maggie Smith (Muriel), and also Tom Wilkinson’s character who attempts to fulfill his lifelong wish to reunite with someone from his past he cares deeply about. I think Muriel has the biggest personal growth of them all, as she overcomes her own prejudice out of her encounter with a hotel’s employee who can’t even speak English. Evelyn who’s a widow not only become accustomed with the culture, she also finds a job and perhaps a second chance at love. The elderly Brits’ stories are inter-weaved with the hotel manager Sunny (Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel) whose buoyant spirit lives up to his name. He deeply clashes with his mother’s career aspiration for him, as well as the cultural expectation of arranged marriage as he’s in love with a girl who works at Evelyn’s call center.

There’s plenty of humor for sure, but the story also has some poignant moments that are pretty affecting. There are themes of cultural taboo and also outright racism that make you wince at times, but overall the spirit of the film is pretty light and colorful, just like the vibrant India setting. It’s not a flawless movie however, the pace at the beginning could be much improved, and the relationship between Dench and Bill Nighy just wasn’t handled as well as I expected. There are also some cringe-worthy moments of Ronald Pickup’s character that I don’t find it particularly amusing. But despite all that, this is quite a lovely movie and I’m definitely not disappointed by my favorite cast here, especially Dame Judi. I always enjoy watching her act and she looks particularly radiant here.

‘Everything will be alright in the end’ that’s the motto Sunny tells his guests when they’re disappointed. It’s an uplifting motto we could all take to heart.

Three and a half stars out of Five
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Have you seen either one of these films? Well, what did you think?