Ready Player One (2018): A Visual Nostalgic Spectacle That is a Feast for Your Eyes and Not Much Else (Review)

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[Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
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Steven Spielberg’s latest movie Ready Player One is based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline. It follows the story of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he searches for a virtual reality treasure that would grant him a fortune. It seems to have been well-received by viewers, judging by Variety’s recent report of Ready Player One having earned more than $500 million around the globe. The film also stars Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance and is directed by the God of the Movies, Steven Spielberg. 

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

The world is on the brink of chaos, and many of Earth’s cities have turned into massive slums. To escape this reality, people have found salvation in the virtual universe known as the Oasis. It was developed by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) as a place where people can be anything, and where the only limits are their imagination.

On his death day, the creator announced the existence of an Easter egg hidden somewhere in the vastness of the virtual world he created. The player who finds it will be rewarded with full ownership and control of the Oasis. The worldwide contest comprises of three challenges, which reveal more clues to the egg’s location. Since Halliday was a big 1980s geek, many aspects of the quests allude to the era. Wade Watts, who spent years searching for the egg, has just won the first challenge, and it’s this moment that sets the film in motion.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
For those that haven’t seen it yet, Ready Player One is filled to the brim with pop culture references. In fact, these references are the movie’s main attraction; everything else just feels secondary. If you’re a fan of any of the major films or video games from the ’80s, you’ll definitely enjoy Spielberg’s newest release.

But that’s also where the movie’s weakness lies. If you take away these pop culture figures and replace them with original characters, Ready Player One is not as memorable. You have to wonder if they’re just there to distract viewers from the glaring weaknesses of the film, including a rushed storyline and a generic young male protagonist.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Sheridan is a good actor, and has embodied the role well. But the film doesn’t provide the viewer any other interesting sides of the character aside from the fact that he’s an awkward geek who occasionally rebels. To be fair though, that’s exactly how the source material’s character was written, too. Ernest Cline admitted that Wade Watts is an embodiment of himself as a teenager whose brain is filled with ’80s pop culture trivia.

Sheridan shares the screen with his female lead, Olivia Cooke, who plays Samantha Cook. Prior to her role in Ready Player One, she appeared in one of my favourite A&E shows, Bates Motel and horror flick Ouija. Considering the two leads are somewhat newbies, they gave decent performances. It’s just too bad their romance isn’t believable. Let’s just say the film did not take the time to develop it further.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Ready Player One is essentially about these characters moving from one challenge to the next. The villain takes the form of a whole corporation called the IOI, which wants the egg in order to monetize the Oasis. If anything, the film could have further explored the consequences of a world succumbing to virtual reality to have more substance, but it wastes no time on heavy themes. At its heart, Ready Player One is a simple fun movie that celebrates a specific era. And for many, that works! Of course, if you’re searching for something more, prepare to be disappointed.

How were the Other Aspects of Ready Player One?

A film that banks on nostalgia should feature a killer soundtrack, and thankfully, Ready Player One obliges. Songs from the likes of Prince, Tears for Fears, and Bruce Springsteen blast through the film’s sequences.

It’s also a visual treat, as it indulges in a variety of graphics that pay tribute to particular franchises, including The Shining and Back to the Future. Sometimes, it can get flashy and other times, it can become scary. The bottom line is that there’s no dull moment on screen.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

If you’re looking for a film that lets you geek on out ’80s pop culture, be sure to check out Ready Player One.

Ready Player One receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Were you a fan of the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

For Lovers Of The ‘Non-Quel’: A Guide To 15 Awesome Summer 2018 Films That Aren’t Sequels, Reboots Or Superhero Flicks

There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying and relishing in the glory that is a popular superhero flick, another installment of a franchise or a remake of a classic. Now of course, while these kinds of films will certainly always be around, there are those that may prefer watching a good Non-Quel flick on a weekend.

Non-Quel” meaning movies that aren’t sequels, remakes/reboots or new additions to the superhero/comic book genre… Not that there’s anything wrong them. One may also refer to them as being “original movies” but I like using “Non-Quel” because… It just sounds nicer to me. YMMV.

The summer season looks to be jam-frogging-packed starting the month of (it’s gonna be) May to the conclusion of my birthday month in August. With films like Avengers: Infinity War (releasing the tail end of April), Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2, Ant-Man And The Wasp etc. set to most likely dominate the box office, I thought it prudent to list some of the Non-Quel flicks I’m most looking forward to.

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Wade Wilson Forever | Credit: 20th Century Fox

Check the list out and let me know if you too can’t wait to delve into Armie Hammer‘s mysteriousness in the upcoming Sorry To Bother You.


1. Tully – May 4th

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[Credit: Focus Features]
  • Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass and Ron Livingston.
  • Directed by: Jason Reitman (Juno, Up In The Air, Young Adult).

So is there any role that Charlize Theron can’t execute phenomenally?

Jason Reitman re-teams with his Juno writer Diablo Cody for the upcoming dramedy Tully starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron. The film follows the friendship between Marlo (Theron), a mother of three, and her babysitter Tully as portrayed by Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049). Filming began back in September 2016 and Theron reportedly gained nearly 50 pounds for the role within a 3 and a half month period, eating round the clock in order to keep the weight on.

The film currently has an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 14 Fresh reviews out of 15 and an average rating of 8.1/10.

See The Trailer Below:

2. Breaking In – May 11th

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[Credit: Universal Pictures]
  • Starring: Gabrielle Union, James Lopez, Craig Perry and Sheila Hanahan Taylor.
  • Directed by: James McTeigue (V For Vendetta, The Raven).

Gabrielle Union seemingly does not take kindly to individuals who terrorize her and her family.

Union portrays Shaun Russell, a mother of two who takes her children on a weekend getaway to her late father’s secluded, high-tech estate in the countryside in order to settle his estate. She soon finds herself in a desperate fight to save all of their lives when four men break into the house who are intent on stealing the deceased’s goods.

V For Vendetta helmer James McTeigue directs the thriller while Union tackles both starring and producing duties. Will Packer is also a producer on the film which marks the fourth time Union and Packer have collaborated on a project – Their other films include 2012’s Think Like A Man and its 2014 sequel along with 2016’s Almost Christmas.

3. Adrift – June 1st

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[Credit: STXfilms]
  • Starring: Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.
  • Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband, 2 Guns, Everest).

At this point I’m convinced Sam Claflin’s agent exclusively seeks roles where their client portrays the “devoted partner who must be taken care of by his equally devoted partner.”

Based on the true story of two avid sailors who set out on a journey across the ocean in 1983, the film follows the gorgeous coupling of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Claflin) as they end up sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. “In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins, and must find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved.”

Miles Teller was originally in talks to star as Richard, however he ended up dropping out due to scheduling conflicts which led the way to Claflin nabbing the role. If you’re keeping track, had Teller portrayed Richard it would’ve marked the fifth time he and Woodley appeared together on-screen as they previously starred in 2013’s The Spectacular Now and the Detergent trilogy.

4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – June 8th

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[Credit: Focus Features]
If you managed to get through the trailer without turning into a pile of literal mush, I salute you.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is an upcoming documentary from Academy Award winning director Morgan Neville (The Cool School, 20 Feet From Stardom, Best Of Enemies)The film takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mr. Fred Rogers. “A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.”

The doc currently boasts a whopping 96% on RT, with 22/23 Fresh ratings and an average score of 8.8/10. If you’re planning on watching this in theatres, prepare to hold the person sitting next to you tenderly as you softly caress their head while whispering “won’t you be my neighbor?” under a fog of snot mixed with tears.

5. Hotel Artemis

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[Credit: Global Road Entertainment]
  • Starring: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Sterling K. Brown, Jenny Slate, Charlie Day and Zachary Quinto.
  • Directed by: Drew Pearce.

Academy Award winner Jodie Foster stars as a nurse who runs a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals… Aaaand I’ve already bought my tickets.

Hotel Artemis is the directorial debut of Drew Pearce who previously co-wrote the screenplay alongside director Shane Black for 2013’s Iron Man 3 as well as writing the story for everyone’s favourite Mission: Impossible installment, 2015’s Rogue Nation. While the upcoming action thriller boasts an impressive ensemble cast, one of the main reasons I’m most excited is the inclusion of Cliff Martinez who is set to compose the film’s score.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Martinez has reguarly scored the works of director Nicolas Winding Refn whose previous collaborative credits include Drive, Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon. I listen to these films’ scores on a consistent basis so I cannot wait to see what he brings to Artemis.

6. Tag – June 15th

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
  • Starring: Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb and Jeremy Renner.
  • Directed by: Jeff Tomsic.

Tag is the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic whose previous TV credits include Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and 2 episodes of Broad City.

The upcoming comedy is based on the true story of a group of ex-classmates meet up and organize a game of tag that finds them traveling across the country. After their story was profiled on The Wall Street Journal in 2013, offers to adapt the story in a feature-length motion picture obviously arose because the story is amazingly insane.

Jeremy Renner stars in the film and apparently whatever stunts appear in it are going to be wild because he fractured both of his arms while filming in 2017 due to a “stunt gone wrong.”

7. Under The Silver Lake – June 22nd

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[Credit: A24]
  • Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Zosia Mamet and Jimmi Simpson.
  • Directed by: David Robert Mitchell (It Follows).

Four years after the immense success of his supernatural psychological thriller It Follows, director David Robert Mitchell teams up with Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough for the upcoming A24 neo-noir dramedy Under The Silver Lake.

The film follows young and disenchanted Sam (Garfield) when he meets a mysterious and beautiful woman who’s swimming in his building’s pool one night. When she suddenly vanishes the next morning, Sam embarks on a surreal quest across Los Angeles to decode the secret behind her disappearance, leading him into the murkiest depths of mystery, scandal and conspiracy.

8. The Hustle – June 29th

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[Credit: MovieWeb]
  • Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp and Ingrid Oliver.
  • Directed by: Chris Addison.

Alright, this is a bit of a cheat but it everybody gets one.

The Hustle is the gender swapped remake of the 1988 classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine as two men competing to swindle an American heiress out of $50,000 – A bunch of no-good dirty and rotten scoundrels, you ask me.

The upcoming comedy stars Oscar winner Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson and is the directorial debut of English comedian Chris Addison whose previous TV directing credits include Veep and Fresh Off The Boat. From an outline by Deadline, the lead actresses portray “two female scam artists, one low rent and the other high class, who compete to swindle a naive tech prodigy out of his fortune.”

No trailer is available yet for The Hustle.

9. Sorry To Bother You – July 6th

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[Credit: Annapurna Pictures]
  • Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun and Armie Hammer.
  • Directed by: Boots Riley.

Lakeith Stanfield leads an ensemble cast including Thor: Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson and one of my favourite humans on Earth, Armie Hammer, in the directorial debut by Boots Riley with Sorry To Bother You.

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, the sci-fi comedy follows telemarketer Cassius Green (Stanfield) as he discovers a magical key to professional success – which propels him into a macabre universe. The film currently holds a stellar 92% on RT with 33/3 Fresh ratings and an average rating of 7.3/10.

Ant-Man And The Wasp is set for release the same weekend as Sorry To Bother You.

10. Skyscraper – July 13th

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[Credit: Universal Pictures | BoredPanda]
  • Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Pablo Schreiber, Byron Mann, Hannah Quinlivan and Noah Taylor.
  • Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber (DodgeBall, We’re The Millers, Central Intelligence).

Skyscraper AKA the-film-whose-poster-makes-no-scientifical-or-physical-sense re-teams The Rock (who seemingly never sleeps) with his Central Intelligence director Rawson Marshall Thurber in an action/disaster movie where he must save the lives of those he loves.

The film follows FBI agent and amputee Will Sawyer (Johnson) who lives in the tallest and “safest” skyscraper in Hong Kong with his family. The skyscraper itself, known as “The Pearl” houses several floors that function as their own society and despite the risks highlighted by Sawyer, who is the building’s head of security, his bosses insist that it is impenetrable. True to Sawyer’s belief, the building comes under attack by terrorists, forcing Sawyer to take action. Matters are complicated further when he finds himself framed for the attack, and his family trapped above the resulting fire line.

I will probably watch this movie solely because fellow Canadian and Party Of Five/House Of Cards alum Neve Campbell stars as Sawyer’s wife, Sarah… There are a few people in this world that I’d sacrifice everything for and Neve Campbell is one of them.

11. Hot Summer Nights – July 27th

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[Credit: A24]
  • Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner and Thomas Jane.
  • Directed by: Elijah Bynum.

Yet another A24-distributed film is set for release this summer and I am hyped.

Timothée Chalamet, the breakthrough star of last year’s critically acclaimed (and my favourite of the year) Call Me By Your Name, stars alongside It Follows lead Maika Monroe in Elijah Bynum’s directorial debut, Hot Summer Nights.

The film follows Daniel (Chalamet), a shy out-of-towner who gets in over his head flipping weed with the neighborhood rebel (Alex Roe) while pursuing his new business partner’s enigmatic sister (Monroe). With a hurricane looming in the wings, tensions rise against a backdrop of drive-ins, arcades, and crashed parties as the stakes (and temperatures) grow ever higher.

Only 5 reviews have been written so far on the film which currently has an 80% on RT, however 4 of them have given it a Fresh rating with an average rating of 9/10.

12. The Spy Who Dumped Me – August 3rd

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[Credit: Lionsgate Films]
  • Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Sam Heughan, Justin Theroux and Hasan Minhaj.
  • Directed by: Susanna Fogel (Life Partners).

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon team up on an action-comedy and I am here for all of it.

Directed by Susanna Fogel and releasing one day after my birthday (hint hint for people who want to buy me gifts and are too nervous to ask when my birthday is), The Spy Who Dumped Me follows Audrey (Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (McKinnon) who find themselves embroiled in a major international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend unexpectedly re-enters her life with a team of assassins on his trail and reveals that he is actually a CIA agent.

Both Kunis and McKinnon are hysterical human beings so I am ecstatic to see how they tackle this project.

13. The Meg – August 10th

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[Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
  • Starring: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Masi Oka and Cliff Curtis.
  • Directed by: Jon Turteltaub (3 Ninjas, While You Were Sleeping, National Treasure).

This is one of those movies you hear about being in production like eight years ago but believe it’ll never come to fruition… Thankfully for movie audiences, it’s here and it’s big – or should I say – Megalodon?

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[Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Based on the 1997 sci-fi book, The Meg follows a deep sea submarine as it’s attacked by Megalodon, a giant 75-foot shark that was thought to be extinct for over millions of years. With the ship disabled at the bottom of the sea, a rescue diver and oceanographer must quickly work to rescue the crew.

It looks ridiculous, it looks like Jason Statham is going to be doing some shit to a shark and I just may use my accumulated Cineplex SCENE points to purchase a ticket for it without using any actual money from my wallet.

14. BlacKkKlansman 

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  • Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Jasper Pääkkönen, Corey Hawkins, Paul Walter Hauser and Harry Belafonte.
  • Directed by: Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Inside Man).

As soon as I heard about veteran director Spike Lee and soon-to-be-veteran-if-he-keeps-up-the-phenomenal-work Jordan Peele teaming up for this story, I was immediately hooked.

BlacKkKlansman follows the remarkable true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who works under cover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in 1979. Stallworth and his partner Flip Zimmerman risk their lives to penetrate the KKK at its highest levels. The film is based on the book “Black Klansman” written by Stallworth himself. Ballers star John David Washington is set to portray the lead while Adam Driver will star as Zimmerman.

No trailer is available yet for BlacKkKlansman.

15. Slender Man – August 24th

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[Credit: Screen Gems]
  • Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Talitha Bateman and Javier Botet.
  • Directed by: Sylvain White (I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Stomp the Yard, The Losers).

Finishing off the summer season strong with… Slender-Man! From the director of such a horror gem as I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, I can’t wait to see how he tackles this Creepypasta tale.

The film tells the story of a malnourished man who is a tall, thin, horrifying figure with unnaturally long arms and a featureless face known as Slender-Man, who is reputed to be responsible for the haunting and disappearance of countless children and teens.

While it may be good for a few jump scares, Joey King is one of my favourite up-and-coming talents as she surprised me with her incredible performance in 2013’s The Conjuring. I look forward to seeing how she tackles her role as “teenager who doesn’t realize summoning spirits is a bad idea.”


Which of these Non-Quel flicks are you most anticipating? Let me know in the comments below!

featured image source: The Meg | Warner Bros. Pictures

Call Me By Your Name (2017): A Beautifully Executed Picture Led By The Equally Brilliant Pairing Of Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet (Review)

 

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
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Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name follows 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) as he spends the summer with his family in their 17th Century Italian villa along with his father’s doctoral student, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois and is directed by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash).

“But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Set in the summer of 1983 when the Sony Walkman was all the rage and people just showed up at your house without prior cell phone confirmation, Call Me By Your Name delivers on a gorgeously heartfelt, emotional witty punch in the gut that I absolutely adored watching. Following my watch on a Tuesday night and expressing my adoration for it on Instagram, my best friend who I was planning on meeting up with the next day proved that fate exists by stating she was going to ask whether I wanted to watch the film when we went out. After thinking about it for about a morsel of half a second, I sent the showtimes for Wednesday and basked in the glory of this phenomenal film for a second time less than 24 hours after my initial watch. It is a surprisingly rewatchable film although I must warn you that frequent bouts of tears will endure on subsequent watches, similarly to when you watched it for the very first time. 

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet excel in every scene they appear in. As the story mostly follows Elio’s perspective, Chalamet shines as a young man struggling to understand the flood of feelings that plague him. And honestly, if you encounter a human being who possesses even an ounce of charisma that Armie Hammer has, who wouldn’t briefly picture what their lives would look like together? The acclaim Chalamet is receiving (particularly with his recent Academy Award for Best Actor nomination) is infinitely well deserved. I do think it’s quite a travesty that Hammer is not receiving similar awards consideration for the Best Supporting category. He not only works incredibly well with Chalamet on screen, his presence is known and felt throughout the film – I felt a jolt of excitement every time he appeared because I knew he brought his A game to this role and his character is elevated immensely because of it. 

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
There are also no weak links in the supporting cast, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg execute virtually flawless performances as the Perlman parents. The refined monologue you’ve probably heard of that caused Frank Ocean to declare a new change in parent will seep into your very core with how eloquent the words are and how gentle Stuhlbarg’s approach is. While discussing the scene, he provided some insight into what he believed his character was thinking at that moment and how he wanted to “be honest as a parent”:

“… I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son at a time when his son needs it. I understand that his father is not just a father, he’s a person and had a life before he met Elio’s mother. He has some, perhaps, joy at the fact that his son has felt something so deeply and perhaps a sense of regret from his own past that he didn’t take a road that he wanted to. Or maybe a road he wanted to take and did take and it didn’t workout. I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son that his son needs at that moment.”

As someone whose favourite films revolve around the concept of characters in minimal locations simply talking to each other (see: Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy or 12 Angry Men), Call Me By Your Name provides a captivating look at sexuality and the internal struggles/complexities involved with it. The film takes its time to develop the characters, provides a mesmerizing sense of location and allows the audience to feel as though they are present within every scene. They are a fly on the wall, watching how these individuals with their own difficulties and joys communicate with one another verbally and through gestural actions. The various symbolic motifs present provide a further layer of depth to the film that anyone whose interested in analyzing film will have a field day with. Yet it does well in not bogging the actual film down with heavy-handed imagery, the nuances present will give those interested in further watches something to look out for. On my second watch, I paid close attention to Guadagnino’s use of flies and the various colours worn by the characters because, as Breaking Bad has taught us, everything means something.

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
Besides the obvious emotional components that make up Call Me By Your Name, it is remarkably funny. I found myself laughing more than I anticipated going into a film centered around lovers who will probably never be because thanks society. If the press circuit for the film has shown anything, it’s that Hammer and Chalamet genuinely care about each other and appreciates the talent one another brings to the film. It’s an absolute joy seeing them work together and, most importantly, their relationship feels like a true progression of a same-sex relationship between two compelling individuals. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Call Me By Your Name?

The work of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom as cinematographer is nothing short of fantastic. Not a single frame is wasted in the film, every sequence is meticulously crafted by Guadagnino and his DP, taking the time to develop not only the characters but the various astounding landscapes present absolutely everywhere

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
The soundtrack is also a vital aspect of the film that I’ve listened to on repeat since my watches as it contains the toe-tapping talents of The Psychedelic Furs, Loredana Bertè, Bandolero, Giorgio Moroder and Joe Esposito. The clip of Hammer dancing to The Furs’ “Love My Way” was how I originally found out about the film and the way the song is utilized is honestly one (or 2) of the major highlights of the film for me.

Sufjan Stevens composed two songs featured prominently in the film, “Visions of Gideon” and the Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “Mystery Of Love.” I cannot wait for the upcoming Blu-Ray release so I can constantly remain in awe of everything about this masterpiece… Also for any Canadians out there, in certain sequences Chalamet looks identical to a young version of our current radiating specimen of a Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. 

[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media] | Made with Giphy

If you’re looking for a heartfelt, witty and aesthetically gorgeous drama featuring two phenomenal lead actors, check out Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: sony pictures/mongrel media

The Terminator (1984)

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Sarah Connor: What’s it like when you go through time?
Kyle Reese: White light. Pain. It’s like being born, maybe.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Earl Boen and Bill Paxton, dir. James Cameron (True Lies, Titanic, Avatar).

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Cinematographer: Adam Greenberg (Ghost, T2, Rush Hour)
cinemagraph source: tech noir
The Terminator distributor: Orion Pictures

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): This IS The Star Wars I’m Looking For (Non-Spoiler Review)

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[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise and follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she develops her newly discovered powers of the Force while the First Order does battle with the Resistance. The film stars Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro and is directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

When it was initially announced that director Rian Johnson would helm a new Star Wars trilogy before Episode VIII released, excitement and hesitation simultaneously settled in for me. Clearly, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy herself adored what Johnson did with The Last Jedi which translated to them entrusting a brand new trilogy to him, however the uncertainty arose because I thought, “man what if I hate what he does with Last Jedi?!” I’m in the camp that firmly believes the more, the merrier – If I hear they want to release 3 new Star Wars flicks a year I say hey, that’s great! Would we possibly get some films set during the KOTOR era? The one goddamn era every single fan has been pining for since the release of those legendary video games….

Coming out of my screening of The Last Jedi, I am ecstatic to say I officially cannot wait to see what Johnson brings to a new trilogy because I absolutely adored Star Wars: The Last Jedi

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney] | Tenor.com
As someone who liked The Force Awakens very much, there was something lacking within it. Last year’s Rogue One was actually my favourite recent SW installment of the two because it felt like a Star Wars film that I’ve never seen before. It pushed buttons that have never really been pushed before and, after watching it twice in theatres and once at home since, I wondered whether another Star Wars film would have a similar effect on me. I still need a few watches of Last Jedi to see whether it definitively surpasses Rogue One in my rankings but one of the first things I said when I exited the theatre was “… I think I liked that more than Rogue One.” 

From its stellar opening sequence to its final moments, I was hooked throughout. I appreciated the fact that there were actual space battles occurring utilizing some of the best digital effects the industry has to offer. Although the usage of the beloved lightsaber is used sparingly, it is depicted effectively. When the humming of the saber penetrated my ear holes, I felt it. I savoured it. There are certain instances where characters are using the sabers and I wanted to slow down time to properly ingest everything I was witnessing. It’s one of those instances where, as you’re watching it, you make an addition to your internal checklist saying “remember to check YouTube every single day to see if someone upload this scene on there.”

The implementation of the humour was actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. What is commonly seen in the additions to the MCU (Thor: Ragnarok being the latest), many of the jokes featured in their superhero story fall flat during the more dramatic moments of the films which undercut the emotional impact certain scenes have. The Last Jedi features a number of comedic beats inserted throughout that I felt worked effectively in the scene. I found there being a perfect balance (wink, balance) between the humour and dramatic moments particularly during one instance where we’re introduced to a crew of Judgmental Fish Nuns who are basically the embodiment of myself. 

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[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the arcs of all the main crew progress and I absolutely adore the route they went with the iconic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Learning more about why he became the person he is in Episode VIII, 30+ years following Episode VI and the effect the Jedi/Force had on him was spectacular to see. He is an embattled, melancholic and agonized individual who has experienced some major shit throughout his journey that started him out as a simple farm boy destined for greatness. How he chooses to “train” Rey (Daisy Ridley) only furthers my excitement for seeing how the next generation of Star Wars characters handles their respective responsibilities within the galaxy. Rey is easily my favourite character of this new trilogy and I love how Ridley embodies her vigor and spirit. Of course, it’s always an emotional roller coaster seeing anything related to the late, great Carrie Fisher and I thoroughly enjoyed the decisions made for her legendary character, Princess Leia.

There isn’t really anything critical I can say about the rest of the stellar cast – Oscar Isaac as Poe DAMNeron will forever be my favourite thing ever. John Boyega‘s Finn matures exponentially in Last Jedi and I just love seeing it. An issue I originally had with The Force Awakens was Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and I wondered how he would do as he grew more comfortable in the role 2 years later. He is definitely better in Last Jedi particularly toward the beginning of the third act but, again, I wasn’t too much of a fan of his portrayal during the first two acts. Domhnall Gleeson AKA The-Guy-Who-Is-Starring-In-Everything returns as the ambitious General Hux and I very much enjoyed watching him gleefully express both his joyful moments and immense frustrations when dealing with the Resistance. Kelly Marie Tran makes her debut as Rose Tico who was a charming addition although certain components of her relationship with a character felt a bit forced. Laura Dern also made a fantastic addition to the Star Wars crew as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. She can honestly have amazing chemistry with a potted plant so I thoroughly enjoyed every time she was on screen and I adored the lore of her character. I took issue with a particular decision Holdo makes that could’ve easily been avoided, although I understand why she felt the need to make it. Overall I felt the relationships developed between certain characters were executed well.

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

How Were The Other Aspects Of The Last Jedi?

Johnson knows how to film the sweeping, epic shots that make an impact watching it on the big screen. The Snoke room and everything that happens in that red room of terror is absolutely marvelous. I enjoyed the inclusion of the music much more in Last Jedi than I did Force Awakens; a brief, fleeting moment involving just Rey as her Theme plays in the background is one of my absolute favourite moments of the entire film. There’s also a fantastically killer sequence involving her and another character toward the end of the film that I cannot say more about for fear of spoiling! There is also a disgustingly wonderful tracking shot inspired by the very first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Wings (1927) that made me way too giddy when I initially noticed it. 

As we all know, The Last Jedi‘s divisive has been known in the online world and I am in the camp who thoroughly enjoyed where the story went and how they chose to develop these characters. While it isn’t without flaws, the ultimate enjoyment and pure satisfaction I felt coming out of the theatre and writing about it now makes me ecstatic for Episode IX and the Johnson-helmed trilogy.

Side note that doesn’t really pertain to the filmCan we PLEASE though, real talk, f’real be blessed with a “Duel Of The Fates“-esque pulsating, orgasmic-inducing song for at least one of the upcoming Star Wars? While I hold a genuine disdain for a number of components of the Prequels, every human on Earth can agree that that song is one of the best things to have come out of it. You’re welcome for my great suggestion, Disney.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image source: Lucasfilm/Disney

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Anomalisa (2015)

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Michael Stone: I think you’re extraordinary.
Lisa: Why?
Michael: I don’t know yet. It’s just obvious to me that you are.


Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan, dirs. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.

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Cinematographer: Joe Passarelli (Dirty Little Tricks, Marrying God, To Kill a Killer)
cinemagraph source: tech noir
Anomalisa distributor: Paramount Pictures

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Lady Bird (2017): This Remarkably Witty Coming-Of-Age Story Will Have You Fill The Six Inches Left Open For The Holy Spirit With Laughs And Tears (Review)

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Lady Bird | A24
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Lady Bird tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she maneuvers her way through the beloved high school experience and explores her various personal relationships with family, friends and college. The film also stars Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith and is the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig.

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

There are certain films where you find yourself immersed entirely with everything occurring on screen and when it concludes, you’re left genuinely disappointed because you enjoyed it that much and are craving for more – Lady Bird is one of those movies. 

From the talented mind of actress and screenwriter Greta GerwigLady Bird starts at a high and continues through its 94 minute run time, providing witty quip after another and depicting compelling characters who are delightfully fleshed out. With a coming-of-age story set in a high school, filmmakers always run the risk of featuring tropey teen after stereotypical mean girl in a universe of perpetual eye-rolling courtesy of the out-of-touch adults who are dopey because the script calls for it. This film encompasses what I love about certain films of the genre (particularly Mean GirlsNapoleon Dynamite and The Edge Of Seventeen) and adds a new perspective through the eyes of Lady Bird (the name was given to her by her, in case you were wondering). 

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Lady Bird | A24

Referring to Lady Bird as simply “enjoyable” is doing it a major disservice. It encompasses virtually everything I want to see in this kind of movie: compelling characters, a simple story, witty dialogue, killer soundtrack/score and an overall feeling of… just… somethingSaoirse Ronan is perfect in this role. She works so unbelievably well with every single person in the film whether they are a vital component of it or the extraest of extras. Her camaraderie with Beanie Feldstein’s “Julie” and Feldstein’s incredible delivery of her sharp dialogue was delightful to watch. Laurie Metcalf gives a heartbreakingly spectacular performance as the matriarch of the McPherson household. There were a number of mother/daughter instances that resonated with me so hard. Lest we forget Tracy Letts’ portrayal of the remarkably sweet Larry McPherson. Lucas Hedges and this year’s breakout star of Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet, provided some stellar performances as well.

I also thoroughly appreciated the lack of monstrously exaggerated sequences that aren’t within the realm of belief. The moments of conflict feel real because these characters are so well written, you genuinely believe and sympathize with what has transpired. One particular moment actually had me cover my eyes because I was terrified at what was going to happen (it involved a friend telling someone they were coming over).

“Thank you, Greta Gerwig, for terrifying me more than many horror films can accomplish.”

I placed myself in the respective person’s shoes and wanted to shove my head into a computer because the embarrassment was overwhelming and it honestly wasn’t that big of a deal – That is what teenagehood is. Man, that’s what being a human is but particularly when you’re on the cusp of adulthood and want nothing more than to be accepted amongst your peers so the little white lies come out. Thank you, Greta Gerwig, for terrifying me more than many horror films can accomplish. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Lady Bird?

Lady Bird‘s 2002 setting provides an interesting backdrop as there is a sense of simplicity to it since we’re still a few years away from total technological control, however this is a post-9/11 world. Like, a few months post. The societal innocence we became accustomed to was shattered with heightened security beginning to be implemented and the barrage of bombings occurring in the Middle East. The insanity the world was experiencing at the time is referenced in the quiet, sereneness that is Lady Bird.

Lady Bird | A24

For every threat of mind controlling chips in cell phones, there is a pool party where former *NSYNC member, Justin Timberlake’s modern classic “Cry Me A River” plays in the background. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There isn’t anyone I’d want to experience it with (again) than Lady Bird. 

The film’s gorgeous-looking aesthetic is also positively wondrous. There truly isn’t a dull scene throughout its entire duration, I was genuinely enthralled with not only what the characters were saying but the mesmerizing cinematography that accompanied what was on screen. I had no idea what I was expecting with Lady Bird and what I got out of it was a phenomenally entertaining film that spoke to me entirely. 

Lady Bird | A24

If you’re looking for a sharply written coming-of-age film with characters you actually care about, check out Lady Bird.

Lady Bird receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: a24