The Big Sick Review

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The Big Sick is all about people, real people. In an era where movie tries to sell a fantasy or the surreal, The Big Sick that takes places in the here and now and embraces it. This makes all these characters relatable, a story that’s believable and has an authenticity that caught me by a pleasant surprise. I was in awe watching this movie for long stretches of time.

The story about Kumil (Kumail Nanjiani) a Pakistani man who falls in love with a white girl and the relationship becomes complicated quickly with a clash of cultures as Kamul comes from a Muslim family and worries about telling his parents about his relationship. When his girlfriend is hospitalized from a bad disease that leaves her comatose, he is forced to connect with her parents (played by Ray Romero and Holly Hunter) and his own parents to try and make these new relationships work.

The Big Sick is a comedy movie that deals with a story that is very real in the lives of people, yet finds the tricky balance of adding humor without trivializing the story. Throughout the movie, Kumul lies to people to either impress others or for fear that his family would reject him. This leads into some funny and sticky situations at the same time. This includes some unique stand-up performances and Kumul having to try and warm up to his girlfriend’s parents in the most unlikely and awkward situations.

Ray Romero and Holly Hunter committed to their roles to an unusual yet welcoming amount of depth. Their interactions with Kumul and each other are worth the watch. Romero’s character is a simple, softly spoken man while Hunter’s character is a complex, outspoken woman but they both care about their family and both are willing to fight for it. So does Kumil. It’s so refreshing to see so many characters like their take stances even when they fear the worst. How they treat Kumal is both interesting and fascinating to watch.

The main deterrent to The Big Sick is the length. It is a 90-minute movie that went on for 2 hours. A lot of movies made or produced by Apatow are like this and I don’t know why. Everything needed to be said in The Big Sick is told in 90 minutes and the rest of the movie is like a game of emotional keepaway. The last half hour is not bad whatsoever but it just does it build up from the great material the movie offers in the first 90 minutes.

Still, the length does not take away the fact that The Big Sick is a great film about a real person who wants his old and new family to come together knowing that it’s easier said than done. I don’t like the movie simply because it is autobiographical but because it does not shy away from it’s material that seriously affects the lives of many people. Many other movies wouldn’t have the courage. That is hard enough in a drama, let alone a romantic comedy. ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4

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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. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cafe Society: A Half Decent Woody Allen Film

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Café Society is pretty much the same movie as Hail, Caesar!. Sure Café Society is more romanticized and pretty than Hail, Caesar! but both movies hit the same notes, they are both love letters to the Hollywood of the past and the directors from both movies decided to let their hair down and embrace themselves in the nostalgia of a place in time from a place they used to love (and maybe still love, I don’t know)

For Woody Allen, filmmaking, young love, and comedy are his passions. Yes, you can tell he loves to make movies because he is 80 years old and still writing and directing one film per year since Annie Hall in 1975. That is over half his lifetime. Café society shows us that the love of filmmaking is still there.

Very Warm and Very Pretty

 

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If you think this is pretty you should see the inside. 

 

Allen’s love for cinema is are in the shots and the scenery more than anything else. Throughout the movie, there is warm golden lighting with light jazz music and exquisite locations and set design but nothing is oversaturated or overdone. He used light, whimsical subtly to immerse you into the picture of the Hollywood lifestyle of the 30’s. Even the way he transitions through scenes adds a bit of light heartedness to the performance.

This lavish but inviting atmosphere is backed up by the chemistry between Kristan Stewart and Jessie Eisenberg as well as Steve Carrell. The three are in a complicated love triangle. Stewart falls for both of them but there are complications to both of them

 

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Stewart and Eisenberg representing two-thirds of the love triangle 

 

Carrell is an agent to the stars (Like Bead Whitlock in Hail, Caesar!) who ends up hiring his nephew (played by Eisenberg) out of nepotism. Eisenberg falls in love with Stewart’s character the first time he meets her. The problem is Carrell is also in love with her but Eisenberg dosesn’t know that because Carrell’s character had been happily married for over twenty and struggles to find the courage to ask his wife for a divorce. You can see how complicated it gets. Despite the complexity of the love triangle it is easy to understand when you see it.

The one thing that is annoying about Café Society is the narration. At first, I liked it because I thought it added to the story. Then it’s done far too often and it starts to feel like a narrative crutch. Allen is the narrator and he is good at exploring beauty, style, decor, scriptwriting and wit. What he lacked was brevity this time. The narration just sprawls on and on and on and it did get boring.

Nevertheless, Café Society gave me an odd character experience at the end. The end shows sadness and beauty together where at the end I felt heavy but oddly relaxed. It was a strange but satisfying emotive feeling. There are not many morals to Café Society but it wants to appreciate the scenery and the story and the former was great and the latter was good. It’s not one of Allen’s finest works but one that works if you are a fan of his catalog ***1/4