Groundhog Day Tw- uh… Before I Fall Review

 

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Remember when Bill Murray wakes up at 6:00 am every morning to this Sunny and Cher song “They put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no mountain we can climb.” Oh Before I Fall, you certainly created an unassailable mountain climb with that premise of yours.

Although I can say that Before I Fall acts in good faith by trying to be its own thing and having good intentions, it embellishes itself into the sad state of reminding you of better films that you could be watching. The one film that Before I Fall reminded me of the most was Groundhog Day because the premise and plot points are exactly the same and therefore predictable.

The Plot: Zoey Deutch plays a self-centered teen and only wants to socialize with other self-centered girls. After a night out partying and making fun of people the girls retreat to their car and by 12:39 am, she gets involved in a fatal accident that wasn’t so fatal. She wakes up the next day and relieves it over and over again until she realises she needs to be a good person to break the curse of reliving the same day.

I wish Before I Fall was better: A lot better

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This is Before I Fall: Stuck in the timewarp both as a story and as a movie unfortunatly.

What Before I fall does differently to Groundhog Day is the dramatization. It goes for the route of finding moral redemption in a world where it’s hard to find. It works at the end, but it stumbles across the line with narrative cliches and shoehorning their messages across (There’s a poster on the wall that says something along the lines of “Be yourself” or “Be different”)

For what it is, Before I Fall is mildly interesting overall but I didn’t find the supporting characters too interesting, the cinematographer loves to shoot in shades and hues of blue (except for the party scenes which are in a completely red tint like being in a photo lab) and lines of dialogue were sometimes ill-timed (but not cringeworthy). In other words, lots of little things really hurt the movie’s overall quality.

I understand what the Before I Fall is intending to communicate it’s target audience (young adult females) and I like the intention. I am mixed about the movie for what it is, but Before I Fall suffers in the sense that it constantly reminded me of far better movies (like Mustang, Groundhog Day etc.) and it does absolutely nothing new with its premise. This, sadly, makes Before I Fall cinematic mediocrity **1/2.

 

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Fifty Shades Darker: I Prefer it Lighter

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Written (unfortunatly) by Nelson Cumming

I avoided the Fifty Shades series because people have said the books were a joke and the movie was a joke. The only reason I have started now is because I write regularly as a hobby. This is a movie I regret seeing and I urge people to avoid it.

Fifty Shades Darker is not bad, it’s evil.

What makes a Good Movie from a Bad Movie

Before you call me a man who cannot take romantic movies I think you need to see my reviews of The Lobster, Moonlight and La La Land. I would also recommend seeing Southside With You even though I didn’t write a review on it. These movies have three dimensional characters and took risks in their work. I left those movies in awe on how much a I cared for the people and how those movies were pushing the art of cinema to a different level.

Some of the worst movies ever made pile on a movement that exploits the worst of humanity. Dirty Grandpa was overly hedonistic, London Has Fallen is exploited dumb, senseless revenge and Mothers Day was sugery vanity in disguise of meaningful family moments.

Fifty Shades Darker is a movie which aims to manipulate the audience into believing emotionally abusive relationships and love are the same thing. That is a conept that I don’t want to see exacerbated into the world we live in.

The sadism (or stupidity) of Fifty Shades

Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is psychotic and there is no way you can argue that. Early on, When Grey approaches Anastasia’s boss and introduces himself as “THE boyfriend” I knew he had an inferiority complex. What surprised me was how much that manifested into a deeply disturbing level.

No, there is no rape nor domestic violence but Fifty Shades Darker was not far off. There was so much verbal and emotional manipulation from Christian Grey to Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and he is so controlling, possessive, demeaning and insulting that it was disturbing when Anastasia opens her arms (and legs) to him. I think the movie was called Fifty Shades Darker because it brought gender equality back fifty years.

There is no proper setup to even give a reason why any scene have any sense. Nor did the movie explore why Anasthetia would take a man like Christan Grey back. Therefore a lot of these scenes feel like they were done for no reason which makes Dakota Johnson’s character look like an easy manipulative target. She felt like a deer in the headlights that didn’t even know it. Near the end, the explaniation as to why Grey is such a dick (and a 2-inch one at that) is so terrible that I hated the movie even more.

The Worst Four Scenes in Fifty Shades Darker

I am going to spoil the movie here because this movie is so terrible that I recommend you don’t see it.

Number 4: The Repression Revealed

I know there will be women who will defend the Christian Grey character is emotionally complex. The height of his complexity is that he is compelled to do high levels of domination because his mother died from a drug overdose when he was a kid and had the sexual desire of dominating women that look like his mother for all his life as a form of vengeance. Anastasia love him even more now for being so open and honest!

Number 3: The Damaged Dominatrix

There is also a subplot where a girl called Lelia (One of Christian Grey’s former submissives) is obsessed with Grey despite the fact Grey helped make her an emotional wreck. She carries and gun and points it to Anastasia and all Grey does is say “Lelia!” and points at her. Seeminglingly, in a trance, Lelia points the gun to Christian, hand the gun to him and kneels in front of his feet in complete submission to this Almighty Christian Grey. I smacked my palm upon my hand very loudly. The person next to me looked at me as if I was weird.

Number 2: The Sadistic Sociopath

Lelia was unstable but Grey clearly exacerbated the problem, broke her mentally and dumped her (After the gun scene he said he “put her to a psyche ward where she belongs” the most ironic line ever) He is so sadistic that he admits he is a sadist and says he will stop being an asshole but the movie shows no change in him. He starts and finishes as a one-dimensional asshole.

Number 1: The Petrifying Proposal

Christian proposes to Anasthesia saying “I want to be with you every day, every minute and every second of my life…” I blurted out “Literally” and a couple of people laughed. I just couldn’t help myself at that point. She says yes to the proposal and everyone is happy. End of movie.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I felt so unclean watching this. If you want to look at the movie as laughably bad, it was. But it was so morally repugnant that I never enjoyed it as an artistically inept film that I thought it was going to be. This movie reminded me of the domestic violence between Rihanna and Chris Brown. That is a bad sign.

This is the first time in a long time where I felt completely screwed over. At the end, I saw this girl who looked like the dumbest bogan ever and she applauded like a walrus and looked at the people behind her. They did not respond. At that point, I learned more than ever that there are fucked up people in this world and I am glad I am not one of them -**

La La Land: I smell an Oscar or Four

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Written my Nelson Cumming

La La Land is absolutely fantastic. It is worth all the hype it is getting. At the Venice Film Festival last year where La La Land premiered the audience gave it a standing ovation. That did not sell the film to me as standing ovations at film festivals are not uncommon. Now that I have seen it I see why it would get a standing ovation anywhere.

I think the only reason it did not happen at my screening (It was packed) was because no one was brave enough to start it. Myself included. La La Land is a movie with high ambition that cleared every bar it sets out to achieve in spades.

The film is a story about Mia (Emma Stone) who is an aspiring actress and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is a jazz enthusiast. They develop a relationship which is tested by their own carriers as they life in the glamor of the Hollywood.

Because of how La La Land is shot, it is easy to be swept away. Director Damien Chazelle went for unrestrained romanticism with a ton of upbeat energy. This style can become easily tiresome but it works because I have not seen anything quite like La La Land. He must have spent ages perfecting the movie’s tone.

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The overall tone of La La La. There is a ton more colour to the film than this. Hopefully this will give you a rough idea.

The only movie from 2016 that La La Land reminds me of is Woody Allen’s Cafe Society. I liked Cafe Society, but La La Land is on a whole new level.

Not only can I find anything bad about it. I don’t want to find anything bad about it because it looks so picture perfect. From the opening shot which is an entire music number set on the motorway during traffic to the final montage is so colorful and vibrant that it blew my mind.

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That is what my eye looked like after seeing La La Land

La La Land is the kind of gem that it’s impossible to pinpoint the best scene as you are watching it. The movie always seems to trump itself. I thought the second scene “Somewhere in the Crowd” was going to be the best scene. There were about six scenes that were better (especially the finale). It is rare for any movie to have one great scene. La La Land was one great scene after another and it feels like one long stupendous sequence.

The chemistry between Stone and Gosling is so charming it is nuts. The amount of talent that radiates between them separately is enough, let alone the two together. They have so much class and talent. Gosling knows how to play the piano and stone knows how to sing and tap dance. The both, with their talents, created a story that gave a new meaning to an old ending.

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Gosling trying to convince Stone that jazz is not dead. If I had a significant other, I would try to convince my future significant other that pro wrestling is not dead. Gosling manages to persuade Stone on his passion. But I am no Gosling. I am much better than Gosling.

There are dozens of other things to praise La La Land for such as the colorful costumes, the seamless camerawork, the songs and the camaraderie which helped make an old story feel brand new.

Chezelle has achieved something magnificent here. He has shown the glitz and glamor of old school Hollywood and makes it look like the focal point of La La Land when it reality it is about the struggles of success and realizing that life is not as perfect as the exterior he masterfully presents.

Damien Chezelle’s face. See it, remember it. Given this and Whiplash, he will be in many acclaimed movies to come.

Chezelle is like the antihero of his generation of filmmakers that has gained mainstream acceptance. He is against the grain but has cleverly made his way into the minds the major film studio executives. He won’t change their minds, but he was in the picture after Whiplash. Now they would have wholly accepted him after La La Land.

Judging from his movies, Chezelle has a huge artistic vision that can now be easily funded and executed. He is guaranteed to make whatever he wants for his next effort, have a lot of artistic freedom and easily get millions of dollars to support it. Something most directors only dream about. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Room Review

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Written by Nelson Cumming

A single word can a sentence can change the meaning of a sentence completely. That was the first thought that entered my head as I started typing. Why is that? Well, that’s because if I added the word “The” before “Room” as a typo then people will mistake it for me reviewing one of the most ineptly made films of all time. If I simply say “Room” well people will now think I am writing about one of the best films of the year. Of course, that is what “Room” is all about.

As I threw the DVD disc (yeah they still exist) into my drive I was thinking it was an escape/thriller movie based on the trailer, however, it is much more than that. “Room” follows the story of five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who has lived in a confined shed his entire life. He lives with his mother Joy (Brie Larson). The reason they both live inside the shed is because of Jack’s abusive father who locks them inside the shed.

“Room” is not only the title of the movie but it’s also the name that Jack and his mother give the shed. Room Jack believes is the entire world and Jack interacts with inanimate objects in Room as a way to socialize. He even say “Goodnight plant” and “Goodnight Lamp”

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Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) world that is called “Room”. He has lived there his entire life.

There are a plethora of reasons as to why “Room” works so well. One of which is the premise which is both innovate and creative, a rarity in films of recent years. The other is chemistry between Larson and Tremblay. I believe their chemistry was perfect. Despite the fact that they live in social isolation, they don’t act like damaged people. Both act (especially Larson) like a normal mother-son relationship which subtly indicating that “Room” is affecting their relationship. I got immersed in this movie quickly because of the two together.

What made the film more engrossing to watch was the dialogue, scriptwriting and narrative twists that go against the grain of cliché. The dialogue is purely written dialogue that the writers knew extensively about how mothers and sons speak and how they speak to each other.

There is a moment in which Joy tries to teach his son things about the real world and Jack denies it to the point where Joy loses patience and Jack cries. Larson is them frustrated at herself for lashing out. It’s an example in “Room” of humanity. It is written with a great observation of human behavior while retaining its narrative form and function.

“Room” is a very rare movie where the cast members are good to perfect, the narrative quickly and thoroughly engrossing, the writing was humane and sublime in its simplicity, and has believable twists that you don’t see coming. All the makings of not only a great film but one of the years best *****

Nocturnal Animals: A Great Revenge Tale

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Written by Nelson Cumming

If you can get by the first minute of Nocturnal Animals which contains four naked clinically obese women strip-dancing, you will be rewarded (and not in THAT way). This is the second of Tom Ford’s directorial efforts (The first being A Single Man). This time, Ford actually deals with a bit of blood and dirt in addition to his usual clean and tidy environment and costume design. It pays dividends.

In time, I hope people know director Tom Ford by name because he makes great movies that are high art but accessible to casual moviegoers and cinephiles. He gets an actress who fits that category as well. Amy Adams plays the “lead” in this role (she gets not a whole lot of screentime) and she plays a successful costume designer who is married to a successful ivey-league businessman (Armie Hammer).

She gets a copy of a novel called “Nocturnal Animals” a detective western novel written by her ex-husband. She quickly gets immersed in the graphic nature of it. However, the book gets both larger than life and too close to home, making Adams question why she left her ex in the first place.

The Unromantic Couple

 

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In 2016, Adams portrayed either a damsel (Batman vs Superman) or a heartbreaker. She has been good in her portrayals. But if I were associated with her characters in real life, I’d run away.

 

Nocturnal Animals is a great film. I got immersed into the novel as much as Adam’s character was. The main character in the novel is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He plays his character with both ferocious anger and fragile vulnerability. He plays a father who gets carjacked with his family by psychopaths and is shaken by the experience. He then has to learn how to deal with it. Compared to Adam’s, my first thoughts were “There’s no way he can top her”. He did. I want him to get award nominations for his role.

The person who was alongside Gyllenhaal was, of course, Amy Adams. In this movie, I am still yet to determine if her character was a victim of circumstance or she was just cold hearted. I am leaning toward the latter because she explicitly admitted it in the film. However, it is implied throughout the film that she is a victim of circumstance.

Like in Arrival, she knows how to crush the heart of her significant other. It makes me miss the naïve and innocent princess of purity she played in Enchanted. She was better in Arrival because she gets more screen time there. There wasn’t enough of her in the movie to win anything for this role but she plays the most important role in the story.

Nocturnal Animals does deliver the goods. I think it is better that Arrival. I may re-evaluate if I see Arrival again. Like The Revenant, there were long stretches where I was immersed in the film despite the abrupt scene and location changes. With it’s non-linearity and multiple story arcs, Tom Ford was performing a high wire act and he succeeded in doing so. ****1/2

Hacksaw Ridge Review

 

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There are so many things that are great about Hacksaw Ridge that I didn’t know where to start. Here’s how good Hacksaw Ridge was, people were applauding once the movie was finished. While I didn’t applaud, I was with them. I have never heard that at my local cinema before. It’s a war movie that glorified the human spirit.

Andrew Garfield plays Desmond T. Doss who is a Seventh-day Adventist and enlists for w
ar duty during the second world war as a medic. The problem is that Doss is a conscientious objector  to firearms and wants to save lives instead of killing. So it follows the true story on how he saved more than 70 lives during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge.

Everything that was great about Hacksaw Ridge I think draws down to director Mel Gibson. He has helped the careers of every actor on the set with this movie. Every actor had a career peak that has sort of gone by the wayside and Gibson has put them back on the map at least in my mind.

Not a Single Bad Performance- Not Just the Actors

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The intro to Vince Vaughn’s character as he goes into Full Metal Jacket mode.

As a matter of fact, everyone did a great job, from the grip to the director. The script-writing was so brilliant that they even thought about passing one-liner that 99% of movies don’t pay attention to. Every line no matter how small and insignificant had some humanity or humor in it. By the end, you really feel like you know every single character.

To achieve the goal of making every character meaningful needs not just a great script but great actors too. Gibson gets the best out of Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Rachel Griffiths, Teresa Palmer and so many others that it is just so enthralling to have such an ensemble to bring their best foot forward and have so much chemistry that I struggle to see how it won’t win awards for best ensemble
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Hacksaw Ridge firmly rests on Andrew Garfield’s shoulders. I think it’s tied with The Social Network as his best performance yet. He is so faithful to this character who is a conscientious objector to guns and fighting, yet enlists in war as a medic. He brings heart and enthusiasm to his performance to such an extent that I yearned for his triumph.

There were also nice surprises too. Vince Vaughn is a really funny guy in Hacksaw Ridge. The scene where his character is introduced as a military Sargent yelling at the Privates at their dorms was straight off Full Metal Jacket. His insults were so funny compared to the weird situations that arose. He was also good at parts where he needed to be dramatic. It’s been so long since I have seen him this funny or dramatic.

Oh so Violent and Oh so Good!

That explosion is just the beginning. It’s Mel Gibson in his comfort zone

Finally, I have to praise the make-up and the stunt work for the final act in the movie. I must warn you, Hacksaw Ridge is more gory and violent than most war films that I know. I thought it would be because Gibson has also directed movies like The Passion of the Christ. The violence was hard to watch but immersive as well. The make-up guys and stuntmen did a very good job at pushing that envelope between extreme violence and exploitation.

Before watching I thought the movie was going to be great but not at that level. This movie beat Captain America Civil War,it beat Zootopia, and it even beat The Revenant. It is up there with some of the outstanding indie films that I have seen this year and I certainly didn’t expect that. I think it’s solidly in the tier 2 position on the best war films ever made ****3/4

Deepwater Horizon Review

 

Written by Nelson Cumming

I originally didn’t care about seeing Deepwater Horizon until a friend recommended it to me and when I learned about the subject matter. I’m glad I listened and learned. Learning is good. Listening is good. Everything is good. There are good performances, tension, and explosions. Yes, you heard me, explosions. I praised explosions.

Well, explosions are what you expect when you mix gallons and gallons of crude oil spurting out at high pressure with a single spark. This movie is based on the true story of the BP oil spill and the majority of the story consists of the workers trying to escape the oil rig that’s burning down in front of them.

Explosions, Explosions, Explosions

To elaborate on the explosions I believe they helped add narrative stakes to the story. In other words, I believed in the threat of death that the majority of characters are trying to avoid. There are about twenty to thirty minutes of explosions during the narrative climax. That’s enough to make Michael Bay jealous expect that in Deepwater Horizon, the explosions served a purpose.

Dedicated Cinematography

What I also cannot believe is the effort a cinematographer called Enrique Chediak does. He is doing long shots of the oil rig and spins the camera nearly 360 degrees around the large area, he gets the low angle close-up shots of the workers being flung around the room like a ragdoll, he also gets into the ocean and shoots footage of the pipes from the inside struggling to handle the pressure. He was awesome.

A Trinity of Good Acting

The other thing I have to compliment on is the performances of Mark Whalberg, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich. Whalberg plays his role as the hero with determination, knowledge and empathy for his workers; Russell is the Commander in Chief and he is just a legitimate tough guy when you see what he does under adversity and Malkovich is good at playing the cringeworthy, bad guy. Malkovich plays a BP worker.

There is great chemistry with Malkovich and Russell. You need to see the political game Malkovich tries to play and how much Russell tries to relent. Russell’s reaction to Malkovich when he realizes he caused the explosion was the best part of the story. After all the business pressure and the physical damage, you fully realize Russell is the Winner and Malkovich is the loser. The performances were not Oscar worthy but they were admirable.

Minor Criticisms: I am Picky

Despite all this praise, the movie did have a lot of little problems. Most of which happened in the first quarter The dialogue for the first 20 minutes was boring to say the least and the foreshadowing scenes were so obvious that I nearly felt patronized. They were little things but a lot of them were only mildly annoying like the feeling you get when a fly is buzzing around you constantly. At least it wasn’t as painful as a slap to the face or a kick to the crotch.

Does Deepwater Horizon match up to a lot of the great disaster movies I have seen in recent years: No. Does Deepwater Horizon leave me happy to have seen it: Yes ***1/2

Sunset Song Review

Genre: Drama
Year: 2016
Runtime: 135 minutes
Rating: MA
Main Cast: Agyness Deyn
Peter Mullan
Kevin Guthrie
Written and directed by Terrance Davis

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Written by Nelson Cumming
Movies rarely leave me just sitting there in awe, peacefully taking in what I just witnessed by the end. This was a movie I wanted to see for months now and viewing it matched the level of anticipation. Sunset Song is a movie that seamlessly embeds itself into a story of struggle, life, and loss. It is also a great coming of age film. It is a rare feat that a movie makes you feel that you have experienced that life for yourself.

All of this is done through Terrance Davis’ direction and how he envisions his character developments being influenced by the historical events that play a subtle but major part throughout the plot. It is also helped by the good acting as well. There isn’t a bad performance.

Sunset Song is set in Scotland and starts just before the First World War. It tells the story about a country girl called Chris (Agyness Deyn) who aspires to become a teacher but events in her life take her another way. She is presented as the solid foundation for the film as the people that live with her leave, some return and some don’t. She leaves a mark on each person she lives with and they return in kind.

Above all else, Sunset Song is a film about enduring through suffering, the suffering that makes us learn and mature. It is a story about people who are victims of circumstance and the one woman who deals with it. This is a memorable film fit with so many memorable sequences including a long take that involves woman’s brother who is constantly whipped by her father but never utters a cry, and in doing so, stood up to the abusive relationship he had. Another that was an overhead shot of No Man’s Land where you know a war was fought and you felt the loss of soldiers lives even if you didn’t see the fight.

Another great thing about the movie is the pacing. The pacing is deliberately done slowly. The filmmakers give everything the time it needs for us to sink in the atmosphere and through slow camera moments and fading. It made events in the movie feel seamless The last half an hour of Sunset Song felt like one whole stretch of film despite the fact it is set in two different places. It was just a beautiful piece of filmmaking.

Sunset Song just keeps building up the momentum it needs to make a great film. It starts off ok before going to good, then great, then fantastic. It’s memorable from the first shot where sh is lying on the ground in a field of wheat to the final shot from a Scotsman playing the bagpipes to remember the departed ****1/4