FlixChatter Review – The Midnight Sky (2020)

The success of GRAVITY back in 2013 led Hollywood to fall in love with the sci-fi space adventure genre again. I’m talking about non-Star Wars and Star Trek related films of course. Within the 2010s, there were some great space films such as INTERSTELLAR, THE MARTIAN, AD ASTRA and FIRST MAN. But there were also some clunkers like PASSENGERS, LIFE and THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX. The latest space adventure is THE MIDNIGHT SKY directed by and starred George Clooney.

In the year 2049, a catastrophic event has caused the earth to become inhabitable. A lone scientist named Augustine (Clooney) decided to stay at his post at the Barbeau Observatory in the Arctic Circle while everyone was order evacuate the area before the “event” happened. A few months later, Augustine realized that he might be the only survivor living on earth. He soon learned that a group of explorers on a spaceship called Aether are heading back to the now dangerous earth. He needs get in contact with the ship and tell them to turn around. While on Aether, the crew lead by Captain Adewole (David Oyelowo), Sully (Felicity Jones), Sanchez (Demian Bichir), Maya (Tiffany Boone) and Michell (Kyle Chandler). The crew is worried because they haven’t had any communications from earth in a long time.

Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo

Augustine is unable to communicate with Aether from his current observatory. So he needs to travel to another station that’s more well equipped, but things got complicated when he discovered a child named Iris (Caoilinn Springall) who was left behind during the evacuation. Now the two lone survivors on earth must make a long trip through the freezing temps of the arctic in order to reach another observatory station. The crew on Aether also ran into their own trouble as the trip back to earth was thwarted by some unforeseen dangers.

Based on an excellent novel called GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT written by Lily Brooks-Dalton, the screenplay by Mark L. Smith stays pretty close to the source material. Smith did change a couple things up, like the names of the crew of Aether and added some set pieces that didn’t exist in the novel. I loved the novel and appreciated that the filmmakers decided to stay true to the source, but I think this is where I think they should have taken some liberties and change the story to make it more exiting and cinematic. I feel like there’s not much urgency in the story to make people care about the characters’ survival. I get that Clooney wanted to make a slow-paced character study piece, but I don’t think he’s talented enough to pull it off. What worked in the book doesn’t mean it’s going to work on screen. I think a more talented filmmaker like Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Afonso Cauron or David Fincher could’ve turn this into something special.

Even though he fell short on the storytelling part, Clooney and his cinematographer Martin Ruhe shot a beautiful looking film. I’ve said many times before, most of Netflix’s films tends to have that made for home video look to them but with a high budget of over $100mil, Clooney and his crew delivered a stunning looking film. Kudos also goes to composer Alexandre Desplat who composed a very beautiful and haunting score.

Caoilinn Springall

Performances by the actors really saved this film for me. Jones, Oyelowo and the rest of the supporting actors are memorable in their respective roles. Clooney whose character is in his 70s in the book, decided to lose a lot of weight for the role to make himself look older and I thought he’s great here. Also, in a memorable role is Ethan Peck as the young Augustine in flashback scenes. But the scenes stealer belongs to Caoilinn Springall and she only has one line of dialog in the entire film. Her performances consist of body language and eye contacts, for such a young actress, she’s quite excellent here. I predict she’ll have a long career in Hollywood.

Netflix is obviously hoping this will their big Oscar film this year, but it seems most critics and audiences don’t really care for it much. If you’re a fan of the novel or enjoy sci-fi space adventure, then I think this is worth your time.

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So have you seen MIDNIGHT SKY? Well, what did you think?

On The Basis of Sex and RBG are re-released in theaters – In tribute to justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Los Angeles, California, September 22, 2020 – In tribute of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and unparalleled legacy upholding justice, Focus Features and Magnolia Pictures jointly announced that they will be re-releasing On the Basis of Sex and RBG, both films about the iconic Supreme Court Justice, this coming Friday in theaters, alongside the films’ availability via on-demand platforms. Both film companies will be donating their net proceeds from the films’ theatrical re-release to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation in support of their Women’s Rights Project, which was co-founded by Ginsburg back in 1972.

Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ON THE BASIS OF SEX

On the Basis of Sex and RBG were both originally released in 2018. On the Basis of Sex, which was released by Focus Features and presented by Participant, chronicled Ginsburg’s early life in law school and her groundbreaking case Moritz v. IRS, the first case ever to rule that gender discrimination is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning documentary RBG, directed by award-winning filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen and released to theaters and on demand by Magnolia Pictures and Participant, chronicled the inspiring and personal story of Ginsburg’s rise to the nation’s highest court while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. RBG is executive produced by CNN Films and is a Storyville Films production.  CNN is the North American broadcast distributor for the documentary.

Participant, a partner on both titles, will join the distributors on #ThankYouRuth, a social tribute campaign asking fans to share posts honoring the legacy of Justice Ginsburg.

Academy-Award® nominee Felicity Jones, who portrayed Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex, said of her passing: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave us hope, a public figure who stood for integrity and justice – a responsibility she did not wear lightly.  She will be missed not only as a beacon of light in these difficult times but for her razor-sharp wit and extraordinary humanity. She taught us all so much. I will miss her deeply.”

Betsy West and Julie Cohen said in a joint statement: “From her Supreme Court chambers to her exercise room, what a privilege and a joy it was for us to train our cameras on RBG, and capture the story of this feisty, determined, brilliant woman who used her talents to make our world a better place.”

Focus Features and Magnolia Pictures said in a joint statement, “Justice Ginsburg spent her life upholding fairness, the law, and the rights of all Americans.  These films highlight only a small portion of her legacy to screen, but her vast impact on our country goes far beyond them. We hope that moviegoers are re-inspired by her passion, her courage and take that back into the world.” 


The films will be available in approximately 1,000 theaters nationwide.  Audiences should consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.


FlixChatter Review – ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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I don’t call myself a Star Wars groupie and honestly I was rather lukewarm about The Force Awakens. At the same time I didn’t hate the prequels trilogy (episode 1-3) though I have to admit there were tons of problems. But the more I hear about Rogue One and that amazing international cast, the more I look forward to it. Well, if only all prequels were as good as this one.

The story is set before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) which as you might recall opens with Princess Leia aboard her starship with the stolen plans to restore freedom to the galaxy, as she’s being pursued by the evil Empire. The fact that George Lucas never explained just how Leia got those stolen plans lends itself to a great spinoff/prequel and in many ways it’s as intriguing a story as the origin of Darth Vader. At the center of the Rebel Alliance is a young woman named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), shown as a little girl sent to flee by her scientist father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) as he’s about to be captured by the Empire and finish the work he’s started, that is creating the Death Star.

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The rest of the film is quite action-packed, as Jyn tries to break free from the rebels in a rescue mission. I love the first introduction of her with K-2SO (voiced by the brilliant Alan Tudyk), the droid is definitely a lively character and he’s even more memorable than BB8 with his dry wit. The rest of the rebel group is made up of an awesomely-diverse international cast: Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, Donnie Yen as blind warrior Chirrut Imwe and Wen Jiang as Imwe’s loyal friend Baze Malbus. I don’t even mind there’s no Jedi in this movie. I gotta say Donnie Yen is my fave of the bunch, he’s got the most memorable intro with his martial arts skills, but he’s also got some funny one liners! Who knew he’d be the comic relief of the movie along with Tudyk’s K-2SO.

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Because the plot revolves around a single crucial mission to retrieve the Death Star plans, the story is pretty easy to follow. All the action punctuates the story but never overwhelms it. It’s definitely more of a gritty war action film that offers plenty of dynamic battle sequences, both on air and on the ground. There’s less philosophical dialog nor extensive dramatic scenes, but that doesn’t mean the film lacks substance. At the core of the struggle is always Jyn trying to fulfills her father’s mission… “Save the Rebellion and Save the Dream.” And what a struggle it was. The third act centers on the Rogue One team infiltrating Empires headquarters in Scarif, and it’s a real team effort in order to get Jyn to steal the plans. As if that wasn’t tough enough, retrieving the plans is half the battle, there’s the virtually impossible task of actually transporting the data to the Rebel Alliance!


Director Gareth Edwards did a pretty good job directing this (much better than his last blockbuster effort Godzilla in 2014) and he stages the action pieces nicely. The scene inside the control room where the plans are kept are stunningly-shot. It was certainly a well-staged scene that gives me quite an adrenaline rush, whilst K2SO provides the hilarious bits whilst fighting off the stormtroopers. I never felt dizzy or bored watching the battle sequences and there are plenty of suspense throughout. The script by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy has a good mix of action, drama and humor, with some emotional moments that never resort to melodrama. I really think the movie benefits from a strong ensemble cast with a capable female lead at the center. I’ve been a fan of Felicity Jones in her dramatic performances (Like Crazy, Breathe In, The Theory of Everything), but it’s nice to see her kick some butt here whilst always keeping her character grounded. She never became some action heroine or anything, which would’ve been silly.

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As for the supporting cast, every member of the Rogue One team is solid. They fight valiantly and the theme of sacrifice and hope give the story emotional gravitas. I feel a bit underwhelmed by Ben Mendelsohn as a high ranking Imperial senator though he looks sinister enough in his caped uniform. But his meeting with the big boss is definitely a memorable scene. Star Wars fans might’ve exploded in geekgasm the moment Vader showed up… then THAT voice came out of him, whoa! Who could top James Earl Jones‘ voice… it was glorious! There’s also memorable Vader scene wielding his lightsaber that made even me want to get up and cheer. Yes we’re not supposed to root for the bad guy, but man!!!

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[Spoiler alert – highlight to read] My biggest beef is the final scene with horrible CGI-ed face of Princess Leia! It’s so distracting and kind of lessens the impact of that powerful scene. Heh, the X-Men films have done a good job making Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen look half their age, so you’d think with a $200mil budget they could afford to do a better job. They could even opt for doing just a silhouette of her whilst she said the line, that’d surely make it more memorable than showing a bad CGI. Peter Cushing is also back as a CGI character as Grand Moff Tarkin, 

Despite my quibbles, it’s still a pretty darn good movie. The cinematography by Greig Fraser is quite beautiful (he’s also the DP for the gorgeous film LION), complemented by the rousing score by Michael Giacchino. I love that every time Vader showed up the iconic John Williams’ theme song came on! I really enjoyed this one and would definitely watch this again on IMAX. I might even follow up with episode 4, 5 and 6 now that the story suddenly feels fresh again.

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So, what do you think of ROGUE ONE? Let’s hear it!

Weekend Viewing Roundup + RIP Anton Yelchin (1989 – 2016)

It ends up being quite a somber Sunday. My hubby and I went to brunch and when I came home and checked Twitter, I was shocked to see tweets that actor Anton Yelchin had died! I couldn’t believe it. He was [was!! I’m not even prepared to refer to him in past tense] only 27 years old and learning about the freak accident that cause of his death is even more heartbreaking. Yet another reminder just how fragile life truly is.

Back in September 2011, Anton and filmmaker Drake Doremus were in town to screen their Sundance darling, the romantic drama Like Crazy. I went up to meet them at their hotel (Graves 501 which is now Loews) and they both were very friendly. I had seen Anton as Chekov in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot two years prior, which was a completely different role for Anton.

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I could tell Anton was more reserved and shy, compared to the more vivacious and talkative Drake. It’s such a privilege to chat with such talented artists, and I still regard it as one of my favorite celebrity interviews.

Like Crazy was certainly one of the best films I saw that year, thanks to Anton’s and Felicity Jones’ performances. It’s an intimate & sincere look at long distance love story. It’s the anti rom-com as it strips all the romantic clichés and the chemistry of the two leads feels genuinely authentic. I should watch more of his work, but as of right now, that is the role I’ll always remember him for.


Though I haven’t seen a ton of his films, it’s obvious Anton was a brilliant and versatile actor… somehow able to balance big blockbusters and indie films. What a tragic loss for film fans.

RIP Anton, you are already sorely missed.


As for this weekend, I didn’t go to the cinema at all but I did catch up with a couple of recent films I missed: Zootopia and Concussion.

Zootopia was fantastic, definitely one of the best Disney’s animated movies and I’d say one of the best films of the year! As for Concussion, I think it was pretty good though too formulaic to be truly memorable.

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Will Smith’s performance is good but not so spectacular that it deserved a nomination. I might review both at some point, but for now, I’d say I’d recommend both. If you haven’t seen Zootopia yet, that’s one not to be missed!


Well, that’s my weekend recap folks. What did you see, anything good?

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Five for the Fifth: FEBRUARY 2015 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

I don’t know if any of you noticed, but I missed posting Five for the Fifth last month due to all the holiday and year-end recap craziness :\ But now it’s baaack!

1. First off, I want to highlight one of my favorite character actors who’s as constantly prolific as he is proficient: Tom Wilkinson. The English-born actor turns 67 today.

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He appeared in three films that end up in my top 10 of the year: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Belle and Selma. I honestly don’t know when I first spotted Mr. Wilkinson, it might’ve been his brief appearance as Mr. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995) but he’s been churning out excellent performances since, always impressive even in the smallest roles. It’s interesting that he’s played a lot of prominent American historical characters, i.e. Benjamin Franklin in John Adams, Joe Kennedy Sr in The Kennedys— both are TV miniseries — as well as  Lyndon Johnson in Selma. If I had to pick three of my favorite Tom Wilkinson’s performances, I’d say it’s Michael Clayton, The Patriot and Belle.

So what’s your favorite Tom Wilkinson’s role?

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2. I just saw this on Twitter Tuesday night as I was working on this post and I had no idea there’s even a Star Wars Spin-off in the works! Well, per THR, this year’s Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones is reportedly up for the lead role.

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Apparently some actresses were reading/testing for the role last week in LA, including Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany and Rooney Mara. This is a highly secretive project obviously, as nobody even knows what the heck the plot is about or which character the film will focus on. The only known info so far is Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) will be directing & Chris Weitz (About A Boy) penning the script.

Well I’m glad that the main protagonist is a woman and Jones is a solid actress. I saw her for the first time in Like Crazy back at TCFF 2011 when director Drake Doremus talked about her sending a tape for the audition. She was excellent in it as well as in Breathe-In, so I’m sure she deserved her nomination in The Theory of Everything. Those are all dramatic parts so it’s cool that her major big break in mainstream cinema will be a sci-fi movie.

What do you think about this casting news?

3. I think most of you already know how I feel about Ryan Gosling, but I’m always curious whenever actors try their hands at directing. A year ago I posted about Chris Evans’ directorial aspiration but I’m still awaiting its trailer to drop. Well, just this week Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River, which was apparently booed at Cannes last May, just released a trailer and poster:

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The critics weren’t exactly kind on this film, you can read some of the reviews here. Variety’s Justin Chang actually summed up my initial thought of the trailer “Had Terrence Malick and David Lynch somehow conceived an artistic love-child together, only to see it get kidnapped, strangled and repeatedly kicked in the face by Nicolas Winding Refn…” Oy!

I kind of think the trailer is bizarre and cryptic, the first thing that came to my mind is it’s a tad pretentious in its artsy ambition. A good story doesn’t need overly-stylized visuals to get across, and no amount of style can camouflage a weak story. I’m quite intrigued by the cast though, esp. Saoirse Ronan and Matt Smith here, with Christina Hendricks in the lead and Gosling’s own girlfriend Eva Mendes in a supporting role.

What do you think of the ‘Lost River’ Trailer? Are you gonna see this one?

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4. Ok now I just came across this photo this morning and I had just to include it here. Have you heard about this comedy called Elvis & Nixon? Well, it stars Michael Shannon as the King of Rock ‘n Roll and Kevin Spacey back in the oval office again as Richard Nixon. Check out the first look here courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter:

ElvisNixonMoviePer THR, the film is currently shooting in New Orleans and recreates the infamous, intimate Dec. 21, 1970 meeting between Nixon and Presley where Presley asked to be named a special FBI operative. It’s directed by Liza Johnson (Hateship/Loveship) and the supporting cast includes Colin Hanks, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, and Tracy Letts.

I definitely want to see this just for Shannon & Spacey! It’s not lost on me that they both have played Superman villains (as Zod and Lex Luthor respectively). Shannon looks unrecognizable as Elvis though Spacey pretty much looks like his Frank Underwood persona in House of Cards. The fact that it’s billed as comedy intrigues me even more, the last movie I saw that has Nixon in it was the hilarious Dick w/ Michelle Williams & Kirsten Dunst, and with Knoxville in the cast, we can expect something a bit off the wall here.

What are your thoughts on this project?

5. The first 2015 Five for the Fifth’s guest is Irene from Mysterious Bibliophile blog!

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Recently, I’ve been blogging about movies adapted from novels and short stories. I mentioned the movie Ordinary People, which I related to as a teen. “Something about the movie and book spoke to me … That’s one of the things I love most about literature and film. That quiet but powerful voice that says ‘You are not alone.’ “

So, what movie characters do you identify with or have you identified with during crucial periods in your life?


Well, that’s it for the February 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

MSPIFF14 Reviews: Breathe In & The Grand Seduction

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Breathe In

BreatheInPosterI have to admit I’m usually not into films about infidelity as it often gets glamorized on film and those getting cheated on often appear as if they deserve what happen to them. Luckily that’s not the case here. It’s more of a character study on temptation and the fragility of people who are deeply disillusioned with their lives.

The film opens with a seemingly happy family in an idyllic suburbs in upstate NY. The dad Keith (Guy Pearce) is a music teacher who is an aspiring orchestra cellist, the mother Megan (Amy Ryan), is a housewife who sells cookie jars on the side. Their daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) is a swimming champion, blond and vivacious. They were all anticipating the arrival of Sophie, an exchange student from Britain who’s coming to stay w/ them. That part reminds me of an exchange student from Denmark who came to live with us when I was in high school. Fortunately there was no such drama like what happens to this family. But then again, the student at our house was not in the form of an attractive girl like Felicity Jones and there was no married male in my household.

The attraction between Keith and Sophie is inevitable and palpable. As soon as Keith helped her with her luggage at the airport, exchanging quick glances in the car or at dinnertime, all the seemingly innocent acts have an electric undercurrent.

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The naturalistic style of Drake Doremus‘ direction lends itself to an atmospheric and intimate setting, as well as an authentic performance from the actors. Not that their behavior is excusable in any way, but neither Keith or Sophie seems powerless to stop their attraction from getting the best of them. In Keith’s part though, it seems that it’s more about him chasing his dream of a Bohemian life, something he felt he gave up when he took on the job and move out of Manhattan. There’s no real friction between him and his wife other than the fact that she sees his aspiring career as a concert cellist as a mere hobby. Keith’s motivation in the whole affair seemed more visible, for a lack of a better word, whilst Sophie’s much more of an enigma. And that to me, felt like a crux that prevents this film from being truly compelling. The way Lauren and her teenage friends is depicted here seems rather simplistic and generalized, it certainly puts teen life in a very unflattering light.

What I do appreciate is the lack of sensational & unnecessary sex scenes which I think would cheapen the story. As my friend Ashley astutely pointed out in her comment, anyone can grind and moan but to create a real sexual tension with just the touch of a hand or even a look across the room is far more challenging. As I’ve mentioned briefly in this piano moment post, there’s not one but two memorable piano scene brimming with sexual tension. Pearce and Jones certainly have a scorching chemistry despite their 16 age gap and the build up to their first moment together was almost as tense as a suspense thriller! Pearce is one of today’s finest actors and this performance further cements his amazing versatility. Even at 30, Jones still looks believable enough as a teen, and her character is supposed to be much more mature than her age. Having seen Like Crazy, I feel like I have seen Jones in a similar role as a girl who recklessly puts desire and passion above reason.

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I have to give props to Amy Ryan for delivering a memorable supporting role to a thankless role as Keith’s wife. She somehow makes her character sympathetic and I’m glad the film didn’t turn her into nothing but *scornful wife* here. There’s also a droll, albeit creepy, scene with Kyle MacLachlan pointing out the elephant in the room to Pearce’s character.

I think people might call this film tedious or underwhelming as there’s barely anything happening. I can see where they’re coming from, and for me, if it weren’t for the excellent performances I’d probably think the same way. I do think the script is so sparse and the vague finale barely give us anything to grasp on. What happened to Sophie in the end? Is the family beyond repair at this point? There are gaps that seem to be intentionally left open here which can be frustrating. All the exquisitely shot and breathless moments are memorable in and of itself, but ultimately the film itself feels too indulgent and even morose for its own good. One thing for sure though, it’s quite a sobering picture of infidelity that temptation may be sweet but remorse never is.

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GrandSeductionPosterThe Grand Seduction

I almost missed seeing this as I couldn’t get an extra ticket for my hubby on Friday night. Fortunately there’s a second screening on Sunday night and I’m glad I made it! This is one of the most delightful and sweet comedies I’ve seen in a long while.

The tiny Newfoundland harbor called Tickle Cove was once a thriving fishing village. But now that they’re prohibited from fishing to make a living, the community is living off welfare check. So when there is an opportunity that might land a contract with a big oil corporation to build a factory, a petrochemical byproduct repurposing facility to be exact, the town realize this is an opportunity of a lifetime to save their town from complete financial ruin. What’s the catch? In order to have the factory built on their premises, the contract specifies that the town needs a permanent doctor. And that’s where the grand seduction comes in.

At first I was wondering why they choose such a sensational title but once I see the movie it perfectly makes sense! The doctor in question is a young, cricket-loving Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), is only assigned in that town for a month. And so the new mayor Murray French (Brendan Gleeson) gets the entire harbor community to seduce the doctor to stay. The length to their seduction is the heart of the story and it lends itself to grand hilarity! I think the funniest bits are when the hockey-loving town has to learn the game of cricket, from creating the uniform & paddles, building the cricket field AND of course learning the rule of the game. As soon as Dr. Lewis arrives in town, he’s welcomed by practically the entire male population in a [faux] game of cricket. That’s just a fraction of the other schemes the entire town is in on Dr. Lewis, who’s so deliriously oblivious I feel like he deserves being pranked in this way.

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I LOVE comedies that aren’t gross, foul-mouthed or just plain silly and this movie fits that description. As director Don McKellar said during the Q&A after the film, he’s drawn to the project as it’s the kind of social comedy that has a certain dignity, a certain respect for the people being depicted. There is a purpose to every gag, down to even the smallest comic scene is not a waste. There’s an obvious ethical issue with what the town is doing, I mean they’re tapping his phone and stuff, the NSA has nothing on them, ahah. Yet it’s not done in a mean-spirited kind of way and you can’t help but root for the town as well as for the young doctor.

The name of the harbor town is perfectly appropriate as it tickles your funny bone. There are plenty of gut-busting, thigh-slapping hilarity to be had from start to finish and having real life townsfolk definitely makes it feel authentic. Gleeson and Kitsch seem like an odd match and it is, but that’s kind of the point and it’s played to great effect here. Both of them are the only two actors who aren’t from easternmost province of Canada. Gleeson is Irish (which fits perfectly to the town’s Irish heritage) and Kitsch grew up in Vancouver. Gleeson is such a great actor, but I really like him in comedies [he’s much softer here though than his character in The Guard which I saw recently]. He’s is joined by Newfoundland’s most famous celebrity Gordon Pinsent (Away From Her), and the rest of the supporting cast, including comedian Mark Critch are from the area as well. All of them are so hilarious and by the end of it I fell in love with the Tickle Cove community!

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The ending is pretty predictable but in no way that it lessens the charm of the story. In fact, I don’t mind it at all that it ends on a hopeful and cheery note. I’m still gleeful just thinking about some of the funniest bits from this movie. Not only is it delightfully funny, it’s also heartwarming and beautiful to look at, it could practically doubles as a tourism video for Newfoundland. I definitely will watch it again as soon as it’s available on dvd or streaming.

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Have you seen either one of these movies? I’d love to hear what you think!

Guest Review: Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman

Hi everyone! Today we’ve got a review from a new FlixChatter contributor Ashley Steiner.
We both share an appreciation for period dramas, so today we’ve got her review of one of them,
straight from Telluride By The Sea Film Fest in New England. Thanks Ashley!


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It was a happy coincidence I was able to attend the 15th annual Telluride by the Sea film festival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in September. Most of the films came straight from the Toronto Film Fest, and 12 Years A Slave was already generating Oscar-worthy buzz; however, I chose to see The Invisible Woman. I’m such a sucker for period film dramas, and, admittedly, not knowing much about Charles Dickens’ personal life, I couldn’t resist. I wasn’t aware of this beforehand, but the film was based on Claire Tomalin’s book, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. The film focuses on Dickens’ (Ralph Fiennes, who also directs) early success as a novelist and showcases his desire as an aspiring playwright and actor. Dickens meets Nelly (Felicity Jones), an 18-year-old struggling actress, along with her traveling acting troupe, consisting of her mother and two sisters, beginning Dickens’ and Nelly’s torrid and long-term love affair.

The film moves back and forth between Nelly’s present and her memories of Dickens, albeit somewhat jarringly. At the beginning we are introduced to an agitated Nelly, furiously walking, alone, alongside the seashore, while simultaneously receiving flashes of children preparing for a school play. Dramatic 19th Century classical violin music accompanies Nelly’s inner turmoil. During her walk, she unexpectedly bumps into an older gentleman, who starts probing her about her work and rumors of her acquaintance with Dickens. Thus begins the confusing and rather long 111 minute The Invisible Woman.

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We soon learn Nelly is a depressed and frustrated married schoolteacher, and is plagued by her past with Dickens. Through her memories, we see glimpses of their time together, starting with the first time they met: acting together in a play. Nelly soon becomes enamored by Dickens’ passion for writing and his vigor for acting. After a few not so subtle hints from Dickens’, Nelly has a heart-to-heart talk with her mother about becoming his mistress, the implications and how her life will change, essentially she would become an invisible woman to society. Nelly concedes and becomes Dickens’ mistress and ultimately muse for Great Expectations. All the while, his wife and multitude of children are left to suffer the aftermath through heated rumors and scandalous tabloids exposing Nelly and Dickens’ affair. Nelly’s gilt is short lived when she discovers she is pregnant with Dickens’ love child. Learning the happy news, Dickens’ publicly separates from his wife, burns any letters or legal documents pertaining to his marriage and whisks Nelly away to France to live our her confinement. Sadly, she miscarries and they are brought back home to England. Through some great epiphany, unbeknownst to the audience, Nelly decides she’s had enough of Dickens’ and we are thrust back into her present, never to see Dickens again.

Things are obviously strained and tense between Nelly and her husband; however, the audience is still subjected to an unnecessary and jarring love scene. We witness more walking scenes, where it’s half heartedly suggested she works out her guilt and marital frustrations. However, as the film nears a drawn- out conclusion, Nelly seems to make her peace with her affair and admits her true relationship with Dickens to her husband. All seems to be forgiven, and at the very end we learn Nelly has had another son, and he is the star of her play, coincidentally written by Dickens.

In summary, provided that the script, storyline and direction were lacking, the actors rose above the road blocks and were exceptionally good. However, I truly believe Fiennes should’ve stuck with acting rather than overextending himself as the director. The cut scenes were clumsy and downright harsh, and the flip between Nelly’s present and her memories didn’t quite weave a strong enough thread for viewers to jump to a conclusive ending. All in all, this film is, at best, a 2.5 out of 5 reels. If you’re curious to know more about Dickens’ life like I was, feel free to add it to your Netflix queue, but it probably wouldn’t be a shame if it’s #180.


2.5 out of 5 reels

PostByAshley


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