Harriet (2019) Film Review

Synopsis 

From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman is told.
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Release date: November 1, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 43.3 million USD

My Review 

I was extremely excited to see this film. Harriet Tubman is one of my favorite historical figures, and it’s about time someone makes a movie about her. However, this movie did not live up to my expectations.

First things first. The soundtrack of this movie made no sense at all. I often got sucked out of the world of the film. The soundtrack did not match up with the scenes of the film, and instead of heightening the audiences emotional experience, it only took away from it. Image result for harriet movieThere is a powerful scene in the movie where Harriet is getting taken away by boat to safety after the passing of the fugitive slave law. It was a powerful and emotional scene. However, the music sounded like a song from a funeral and did not match up with the action of the film. 

One element I really liked about this film was how historically accurate they made it. By sticking close to history, the filmmakers lost a good chunk of creative freedom. But this was something I really appreciated about this film. I appreciated how they tried to incorporate the use of Harriet’s god given visions, but the way the filmmakers incorporated it into the film was confusing. It made more sense as the film went on, however, at the beginning it was hard to tell if the audience was getting a look at visions or flashbacks.

The most redeemable trait of this film was the acting. Cynthia Erivo  gave a convincing performance as Harriet Tubman. Image result for harriet movieShe did an excellent job of showing the growth and contrast of Harriet’s character from the beginning of the film to the end. However, Cynthia’s acting stood out the most and compared to her the other actors/actresses only did a sub par job.

It took me a hot minute to get emotionally invested into this movie, but once I was invested, it stayed constant till the credits rolled. I understand that the filmmakers needed to set up the story and show Harriet’s life before the Underground Railroad. But the movie did not get interesting until she ran away and come back for her husband and family.

Overall, I enjoyed this film, but I would not watch it again. However, I would recommend that everyone see it once in their life. As there is a lot to learn and appreciate about Harriet Tubman.

My Rating

3 out of 5

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Film Review

Summary

Lloyd Vogel is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. He approaches the interview with skepticism, as he finds it hard to believe that anyone can have such a good nature. But Roger’s empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel’s jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past.
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Release date: October 10, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 64.1 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD

My Review

I definitely had different expectations for this film. I knew that Fred Rogers would not be the focus of the film, since Tom Hanks was the supporting actor. However, I did not expect the film to intertwine two worlds by transitions related to Mr. Rogers show. This was one of the most confusing elements of the film. While it was very creative and looked amazing from a visual standpoint. It was hard to tell if the film was taking place in real time or was just another episode of Mr. Rogers show.

The show starts off with Mr. Rogers on set for his show talking about a man named Lloyd. And the movie cuts between the show and Lloyds’s life until finally the two intertwine. Image result for a beautiful day in the neighborhoodThis got even more confusing toward the end of the film when the audience ended back on Mr. Rogers show. The mixing and cutting between the two worlds was unique and interesting, but very confusing in terms of time and space.

The strongest thing about this film was the acting. Tom Hanks did not disappoint, and he fully became the essence of Mr. Rogers. In fact, it was hard to remember that it was an actor portraying Fred Rogers instead of the real deal. I was pleasantly surprised by the other actors of the film. Especially Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper. I have not seen a lot of movies with either of these actors in it, and they did a fantastic job. However, compared to the scenes with them on screen alongside Tom Hanks, their performance was weak in comparison and less believable.

Overall, I enjoyed the feel of this movie. The color grading, music, and camera style was kept very similar to how an actual show of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Growing up watching the television show, this was very nostalgic for me and helped as an audience member to peak my interest further into the world of the film. Image result for a beautiful day in the neighborhoodHowever, the transitions got confusing as times since as I stated it was hard to tell if the film was in real time or all flashbacks. This is a main reason I would not watch this film again. I enjoyed it, however, for me once is enough.

My Rating

2.5 out of 5

The Worst Movies Of the Last Decade

Rambo Last Blood 2019

Synopsis

Vietnam War veteran John Rambo tries to find peace by raising horses on a ranch in Arizona. He also developed a special familial bond with a woman named Maria and her teenage granddaughter Gabriela. But when a vicious Mexican cartel kidnaps Gabriela, Rambo crosses the border on a bloody and personal quest to rescue her and punish those responsible.
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Release date: September 20, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 91.5 million USD
Budget: 50 million USD

My Review

This was the first movie I have seen from the Rambo movies. The action scenes of this movie did not disappoint. However, the plot structure and narrative of this movie were not very well put together. While this movie was sentimental for fans of the Rambo series as a standalone movie, it was extremely weak. The plot point that sucked me into this movie was when Gabriela gets kidnapped by the cartel. It feels like only a few moments later when Rambo rescues her, only to have her die. The rest of the movie is dedicated to revenge. However, at this point, I had no strong emotional connection to the movie. I knew since it was a Rambo movie he would succeed in a very bloody battle scene. The conflict was resolved way too soon, and the rest of the movie was just full of filler action.

A Wrinkle in Time 2018

Synopsis 

Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all the evil in the universe.
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Release date: February 26, 2018 (USA)
Box office: 133.4 million USD
Budget: $100–130 million

My Review

I was so excited to see this film since this was one of my favorite books as a child. However, from the start of the movie I knew I would be disappointed. The writing was very poor. This movie had such an incredible cast, but the lines did not feel natural and the movie was full of awkward and forced dialogue. They spent most of the budget of this film on graphic images. While the CG in this film was not terrible, it was not the best I have ever seen. With such an elaborate budget, I had higher expectations for this movie. The thing I disliked most about this film is the fact that they changed so much from the book to the movie. In the book, Mrs. Which has a hard time verbalizing and is also described as a traditional-looking witch. However, with Oprah playing Mrs. Which in the film, they gave her plenty of elegant and well-spoken dialogue. Some other major changes include the exclusion of Aunt Beast, the Happy Medium, and the addition of Meg’s bully. A Wrinkle in Time is such a well put together book If they had stuck to it, I think this film would have been a lot better.

Beauty and the Beast  2017

Synopsis

An arrogant prince is cursed to live as a terrifying beast until he finds true love. Strangely, his chance comes when he captures an unwary clockmaker, whose place is then taken by his bold and beautiful daughter Belle. Helped by the Beast’s similarly enchanted servants, including a clock, a teapot and a candelabra, Belle sees the sensitive soul behind the fearsome facade. But as time runs out, it soon becomes obvious that Belle’s cocky suitor Gaston is the real beast of the piece.
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Release date: March 17, 2017 (USA)
Box office: 1.264 billion USD
Budget: $160–255 million

My Review

I wanted so much for this film to be an incredible experience. However, it was anything but. My first biggest disappointment was Emma Watson’s singing. There was such heavy pitch correction, and auto tune on her voice it sounded unnatural and annoying. In its entirety a lot of the musical numbers in this film did not live up to those of the animated movie. The only songs I truly enjoyed were Gaston’s and the song they added for the Beast. This movie had such a strong cast, and the acting was phenomenal. However, this movie still did not grab my overall attention and left me knowledgeable of the fact that I was watching a movie.

Dirty Grandpa 2016

Synopsis

Uptight lawyer Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is one week away from marrying his boss’s controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at his firm. Tricked by his grandfather Dick (Robert De Niro), Jason drives the foulmouthed old man to Daytona Beach, Fla., for a wild spring break that includes frat parties, bar fights and an epic night of karaoke. While Jason worries about the upcoming wedding, Dick tries to show his grandson how to live life to the fullest.
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Initial release: January 21, 2016 (Brazil)
Box office: 105.2 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD (2015)

My Review

Going into this movie, I knew that it would either be a hit or miss, and it was definitely a miss. The jokes and humor of this movie were just not funny at all. A lot of the humor was juvenile, which I expected, and it just did not reach the target audience for this movie. The humor was very dated and predictable and felt too forced as an audience member. I am a huge fan of Robert De Niro, but I did not appreciate his appearance in this movie. Jack Efron also came across as very awkward and forced throughout much of the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2014

Synopsis

Confident in his powers as Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) embraces his new role as a hero and spends time with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in between protecting New York from criminals. However, his greatest battle yet is about to begin. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront an enemy far more powerful than he is. And when his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns, Peter comes to realize that all his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.
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Release date: May 2, 2014 (USA)
Box office: 709 million USD
Budget: $200–293 million

My Review

I am a huge fan of Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Spider-Man. However, I enjoyed the first movie in the series so much that this movie highly disappointed me. The biggest thing I dislike about this film is how much it leaves the series opened and not closed. For me, there were way too many subplots of this movie that did not fully tie together at the end. The movie also leaves a lot of unanswered plot holes that take away from the overall film. The portrayal of Harry Osborn in this movie was also a huge disappointment. The character was not written in a way that the audience could connect with him, and he was overall very uninteresting.

The Wolf of Wallstreet 2013

Synopsis

In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.
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Release date: December 25, 2013 (USA)
Budget: 100 million USD
Box office: 392 million USD

My Review

This film, let me tell you. Watching this film was an experience. I know many people did not like the movie because the main character was so unlikeable. However, the movie makers wanted the audience to dislike the main character, and they pulled that off beautifully. The thing I strongly disliked about this movie is how silly it was. There was no real plot structure, and many of the scenes and plot points in this film had to purpose. Therefore, the movie did not tie very well together and a lot of it seemed like pointless filler. I am also a huge fan of Leonardo Di Caprio and the other actors in this film. But they couldn’t even take this film seriously, which impacted their overall performance. Overall, this while movie felt like a giant joke and many of the scenes felt pointless to the movies overall themes.

The Dark Knight Rises 2012

Synopsis

It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night. Assuming responsibility for the death of Harvey Dent, Batman sacrificed everything for what he and Gordon hoped would be the greater good. However, a cunning cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) and a merciless terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) force Batman out of exile and into a battle he may not win.
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Release date: July 20, 2012 (USA)
Box office: 1.084 billion USD
Budget: 250 million USD

My Review 

The Christian Bale portrayal of Batman is incredible, and The Dark Knight is a widely known and respected film found on many of the top 100 films list. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged as a film that every film major needs to see at one point or another. However, this movie was an extreme disappointment compared to its predecessor. The development of Bane was really lacking. As an audience member, I felt no connection to him. What makes a great villain is a character who you hate but have an innate connection or emotion for (like the Joker). Bane is just a puppet for the true villain of this movie, and because of this, there is a barrier between the audience forming a true bond with him. Therefore, the audience has no investment in the quarrel between Batman and Bane, and it’s easy to lose interest in this film. This movie also seemed to drag on for an elaborate amount of time, only to have the conclusion very abrupt and predictable.

Midnight in Paris 2011

Synopsis

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams), he has taken to touring the city alone. On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange — yet familiar — revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature. TheN more time Gil spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present.
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Release date: May 20, 2011 (USA)

My Review

The overall idea and the plot of this movie are very interesting. However, it felt very long and dragged on and on. The whole movie felt like a giant cliche. The main problem I had with this movie is the lack of character development. Throughout the entire movie, I had no emotional investment with the characters in the film. Which proved to be problematic since the whole movie the audience is watching the main character (Gil) on this literary journey of sorts. This left me not caring about the movie or invested in the movies turn out. Which is surprising and disappointing for a Woody Allen film.

Nanny McPhee Returns 2010

Synopsis

Enigmatic Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives on the doorstep of a harried mother, Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is trying to raise her kids and tend to the family farm while her husband is away at war. Isabel has her hands full with not only her own three but also with her sister’s spoiled pair. With no time to lose, McPhee uses magic to instill in the children five important lessons.
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Release date: August 20, 2010 (USA)
Box office: 93.2 million USD
Budget: 35 million USD (2010)

My Review

This movie is such a disappointing sequel to Nanny McPhee. The first movie was so well thought out and well put together that this movie cannot compare to it. As a kids’ movie, it’s great. But the whole movie is so predictable for any older audience member watching it there is no element of mystery or suspense in wondering what will happen. While perhaps it is a kids’ movie, the first movie was not as predictable and cliche. This movie was not as much as a whimsical experience as the first, and it felt like for the filmmakers since the first movie was such a success they put a lot less care and thought into the making of the sequel.

Rear Window Film Review

Synopsis: 

The story of a recuperating news photographer who believes he has witnessed a murder. Confined to a wheelchair after an accident, he spends his time watching the occupants of neighbouring apartments through a telephoto lens and binoculars and becomes convinced that a murder has taken place.

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Release dateAugust 4, 1954 (New York)

My Review

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Rear Window is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film and has been on my top 10 list of films for years. My favorite thing about this film is the set. The whole movie takes place from Jeff Jeffereies (James Stewart’s) apartment. Throughout the movie the viewer looks into the lives of his neighbors through Jefferies window and into the neighbors’ windows. All the shots spying on the neighbors are done from a point of view aspect. This is creative and different for movies made during the 50s. The camera shots get very creative. My favorite point of view shots is when Jefferies looks through his telephoto lense on his camera to get a closer look at the lives around him. As the camera cuts from Jeffereies looking out, to what he is seeing the audience sees the images on the screen as if they themselves were looking through a telephoto lense. In this way, the director has taken complete control of the audience and has manipulated how they will watch and perceive the film.

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Another creative camera movement this film does an innovative and creative job of accomplishing is breaking the 180 degree rule. In film, we use the 180 degree rule when setting up camera shots. The 180 degree rule says that two characters in a scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. Traditionally, if the 180 degree rule is broken it disrupts the scene and causes disorientation to the audience. However, there is a scene in this movie upon which the 180 rule is broken, causing no kind of distortion. In a scene between James Stewart and Grace Kelly, she crosses over the line and into the other side of the action. However, the way they pull it off there is no disorientation to the audience which is hard to do. 

The acting in this film is totally on par. James Stewart never disappoints, and his acting in this film is extremely compelling. The acting of the neighbors though small roles, are done exceptionally well. Something that’s important in this film is the disconnect between all the neighbors. Throughout the entire film, the viewer sees a world in which all of its characters are stuck inside their own worlds and never fully connect with each other. Image result for rear windowThe only time the neighbors interact is when the death of a neighbor’s dog brings them together. I really appreciated this element of the film because it felt a lot like real life. Typically, we are so stuck inside of our own lives we don’t always notice the small details around us until a tragedy brings us all together.

The last thing I really enjoy about this film is the plot structure. This film flows so effortlessly, and it follows a well put together plot structure. It’s the type of movie in which you forgot your watching a film. Every element of this film flows so effortlessly and ties together. perfectly it’s easy to see that the creators of this film put a lot of time and effort into the films pre-production which paid off.

My Rating:

4.5 out of 5

5 Things I’ve Learned in Film School from a College Senior

I’ve heard many times in my life that I am wasting my time and money by going to college to study film. However, as I’m approaching my last semesters of my college career, I am realizing just how much I have learned. Here are the top five things my University has taught me about the film industry.

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1. Collaberation

The most valuable thing I have learned from being a part of the film and theatre community is that you must be willing/able to collaborate with your peers. I have seen so many people who think they know best and are not willing to listen to anyone else’s ideas. However, this only results in BAD films and bad contents. No one person is an expert in every area of film production. While it’s important to understand all the various fields such as lighting, sound, camera, directing. Everybody has their speciality and is nowhere near being an expert in these fields. The best films come from working with someone that specializes in each field and being able to listen to each other’s ideas and play off of each other’s feedback.

2. Confidence

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The second main thing I have gained throughout my college career is confidence. Being able to turn in projects and gain the feedback/ constructive criticism of classmates and professors is HUGE. A big confidence booster is being able to see your growth from Freshman year onward. That is something you can always do outside of a university setting. However, the community environment built by fellow students and faculty is an amazing place for being challenged and growing as a filmmaker. I have definitely gained so much confidence in my filmmaking and that gives me great ease as I think about graduation and getting into the film industry.

3. Connections

A major benefit I have found from attending a university for film studies is all the connections you will make. My classes have had a wide variety of guest speakers, and former students come to talk with us including an editor from the Ellen show and a camera operator from the Walking Dead. I talked to both speakers and show them my work. The feedback from them was extremely valuable and their lengthy advice for getting into the film industry. I have also gotten the amazing opportunity to showcase films in various festivals and meet filmmakers through professors and advisors. I still collaborate with other filmmakers I have met through professors and learn from them more and more every day.

4. Professionalism

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From watching film professors and being thrown into professional environments, I have learned how to act and be very professional in various situations. I have also gained more confidence in approaching and talking to peers and how to react in certain social situations. I have lots of social anxiety, so this has been extremely beneficial to me, especially as I leave school and head into the “real” world.

5. Production Elements

Having different professors that each specific in different fields is very beneficial. I have learned a lot from audio, directing, camera work, documentary film-making, editing, sound editing, graphic design, media writing, etc. Having a professor in front of you that specializes in that specific field is extremely useful, and I have learned so much. In the production side of things, I have learned way too much to count into one blog.

Oscar Winner Predictions 2020

Actor in Leading Role:

Antonio Banderas- Pain and Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio- Once upon a time… in Hollywood

Adam Driver- Marriage Story

Joaquin Phoenix- Joker

Jonathan Pryce- The Two Popes

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Joaquin’s performance in Joker was chilling and memorizing. From watching the movie, it is easy to tell he completely poured himself into the role and became the Joker. In face, it was easy to forget that you were watching Joaquin on the screen and instead it felt like watching the Joker. His performance in this role really impressed me and stayed with me long after watching the movie.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tom Hanks- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins- The Two Popes

Al Pacino The Irishman

Joe Pesci- The Irishman

Brad Pitt- Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

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Movies about well-known star figures have been a huge trend recently, and Tom Hanks did not disappoint in his portrayal of the infamous Mr. Rogers. Tom Hanks completely stepped into the role and became Mr. Rogers.

Actress in a Leading Role

Cynthia Erivo- Harriet

Scarlett Johansson- Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan- Little Women

Charlize Theron- Bombshell

Renée Zellweger- Judy

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This is one of the most difficult categories to pick a winner. I would say it’s a close tie between Johansson, Ronan, and Zellweger. However, Scarlett Johansson really stepped up to the plate in this movie. She did an incredible job realistically portraying a mother and wife going through a divorce. Her performance was tear jerking and believable.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Kathy Bates- Richard Jewell

Laura Dern- Marriage Stroy

Scarlett Johansson- Jojo Rabbit

Florence Pugh- Little Women

Margot Robbie- Bombshell

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This is one of the best roles I have seen Laura Dern preform in a very long time. She does such an outstanding job playing a cut throat lawyer while still adding lots of complexions and dimensions to her character. She was lifelike and came to life on screen.

Animated Feature Film

How To Train Your Dragon- DeBlois, Lewis, and Arnold

I Lost My Body- Clapin and Marc du Pontavice

Klaus- Pablos, Gotoh, and Román

Missing Link- Butler, Sutner, and Knight

Toy Story 4- Cooley, Nielson, and Rivera

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Klaus was a very heartfelt and well put together movie. It is the kind of movie you can watch repeatedly and not grow sick of it. The animation and musical score was also extremely impressive.

Best Cinematography

The Irshman- Rodrigo Prieto

Joker- Lawrence Sher

The Lighthouse- Jarin Blaschke

1917- Roger Deakins

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood- Robert Richardson

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Every shot in Joker was jaw-dropping. To the point where I didn’t want to look away. It’s easy to tell each shot was given great care and attention. If you pay attention, there is deep symbolism and a deeper meaning in almost every camera setup.

Best Costume Design

The Irshman- Powell and Peterson

Jojo Rabbit- Mayes C. Rubeo

Joker- Mark Bridges

Little Women- Jacqueline Durran

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood-Arianne Phillips

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Everything about the world in this movie created a very realistic and believable environment. However, the costumes were particularly impressive and added a lot to this movies viewing experience.

Best Director

The Irishman- Martin Scorsese

Joker- Todd Phillips

1917- Sam Mendes

Once Upon A Time.. In Hollywood- Quentin Tarantino

Parasite- BongJoon Ho

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1917, is one of the best war movies ever made. This movie stood out from so many other war movies because it had so many unique directorial decisions. The creative vision behind this film is truly what makes it such an incredible film.

Best Film Editing

Ford V Ferrari- McCusker and Buckland

The Irishman- Schoonmaker

Jojo Rabbit- Engles

Joker- Groth

Parasite- Jinmo

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The editing in this film was seamless and was extrmelly smooth. There were some very clever transitions, and I did not notice any issues with contnuity or match shots either.

Best Music (Original Score)

Joker- Gudnadottir

Little Women- Desplat

Marriage Story- Newman

1917- Newman

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker- Williams

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The music of Joker was one of my favoroite things about the film. The music was so creative and helped to establish a sense of emotion within the film. There were times the music made me tear up, uncomortable, etc. Which in total added to my experience watching the film.

Best Picture

Ford V Ferrari

The Irshman

JoJo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

1917

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Parasite

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As you can tell from my top picks for categories, Joker was by far one of my favorite films of 2019. It’s one of my best films I have seen in a very long time and blew me in a way that most films do not accomplish.

What Did I Just Watch (A Midsommar Review) *Spoiler Alert

Midsommar

Synopsis  

A couple travel to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled midsummer festival, but what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
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Release dateJuly 3, 2019 (USA)
Budget$8–10 million
Box office42.3 million USD

My Review: 

I’m sure I am not the only one left heavily confused after watching this film. I am a huge fan of Ari Aster and his work, and I knew going into this film it would most likely be full of deep and dark symbolism and disturbing ideas. After watching this film, it left me confused and in deep thought about what I had just watched. For some people, this is a reason they dislike the film. However, I think there is a lot of strength in a film that resonates with you hours after watching it. This film made me think and reflect on the movie even days after watching it.

The film focuses around Dani and begins with her tragic life. Her sister has committed suicide while also killing Dani’s parents. The audience then meets Dani’s boyfriend Christian, whom we discover has been looking for an excuse to break up with her for almost a year. From the beginning, I disliked Christian and felt bad for Dani, which I think the director was hoping for. Dani then tags along with Christian and his friends to visit his friends hometown in Sweden for the Midsummer ritual.

Ari Aster said he wanted to create a film about a breakup. While Dani and Christian’s relationship was a central part of the plot, I felt that the movie mainly focused on family and the need to feel wanted. From the moment Dani gets the call about the deaths in her family, Dani calls Christian and leans on him more than ever. She becomes severely dependent on Christian, even to where he can’t even get away from her and go to Sweden alone with his friends. Most of the movie I saw Dani as weak and dependent on others for emotional and physical support.

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Once in Sweden things get weird, the characters all experiment with drugs and it seems their hallucinations mix in with the reality of the cult-like society to where the audience doesn’t know what’s real and not real. Towards the beginning of the movie Dani and Christians bear witness to a ritual of the cult in which the older members of the society throw themselves off a cliff to recycle their life before old age sets in. Of all the guests visiting the society, Dani seems disturbed yet intrigued by the ritual. Through a Point of View shot, we see Dani make eye contact with one of the cult leaders and there seems to be some level of connection between the two. One by One Christian’s friends get killed off by the cult members. However, the audience sees Dani become more and more intrigued by the society and everything it represents.

If you notice later in the film, Dani sees the society in the way she did while on drugs without depending on drugs. In comparison, Christian still only sees the society as Dani does while on hallucinogens, which he’s even reluctant to take toward the end of the film. This just goes to show the contrast between the two characters and the separation between the two on their own personal journeys. Dani depends less on Christian and more on the society. During the May Queen ritual is when the audience sees the real change within Dani.

Throughout the film, flowers seem to represent the family unit. There are flowers in the room shown with Dani’s dead parents lying in their bed, and they cover the room in which the visitors stay with paintings. The members of the cult also wear flower headpieces throughout much of the film the clothes they wear even have flowers embroidered on them. However, the audience does not see Dani wear flowers until the May Queen ritual in which she wears a flower crown. It is here when Dani makes a real internal change.

Image result for MidsommarThroughout the ritual process, the audience also sees Dani smiling the most genuine smile she has made in the entire film. Before that she was depressed and often anxious, never smiling for longer than a  few forced seconds. This represents just how much she’s feeling the emotional support and sense of community she has been looking for throughout the entire film.

Things take a real turn once they have declared Dani the May Queen. The audience now sees her covered in a whole robe of flowers, further showcasing her conversion into the strange society. The breaking point for her occurs when she sees Christian having sex with a cult member in a strange ceremonial procreation ritual. Dani begins crying and screaming, visually upset and the cult members surrounding her scream and cry as well. Taking on a load of her emotional burden. It is here that Dani furthers her conversion and begins emotionally depending on the society even more.

The film ends with Dani deciding to send Christian to burn alive in the last ritual of the Midsummer festival. As she watched the temple with Christian inside she at first seems sad and begins crying, and again the society shares in her burden and begins crying and screaming. After a few moments of this the camera then shows a closeup of Dani and she lets out a sickly and disturbing smile. Her smile brings the film full circle and symbolizes her complete conversion into the Swedish cult. Image result for MidsommarShe has finally found what she has been looking for the entire movie and has completely given herself fully to the people and society around her. She has found a new family and one that allows her to depend on them more than Christian ever did.

My Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Overall, I enjoyed watching this film. I liked that it required me to analyze it for its deeper meaning, and I appreciate the uniqueness of this film. However, for me seeing this film once is enough and I don’t see myself urging to watch it soon.

Top 5 Films of 2019 from a Film Major

As a senior film major, I don’t know everything when it comes to film. However, I do greatly enjoy watching movies and I watched a lot of movies in 2019, and with the Oscars coming up this weekend I thought this was the perfect time to reflect on some of my favorite films from the year.  Here is my opinion and reasons for what I claim to be the top 5 films of 2019.

Joker

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Synopsis

Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.

Release date: October 4, 2019 (USA)
Box office: $1.071 billion
Budget: $55–70 million
My Review

I know, I know. This film seems to be all people can talk about lately. But this film truly blew me away in every aspect. First off, Joaquin Phoenix is such an incredible actor, and his performance in this film does not disappoint. While I did not find this film too disturbing. The thing that stuck with me the most was known as an actor what mental place Joaquin had to get into. The camera work in this movie also blew me away. Every shot was so beautiful to look at I couldn’t look away. When I watched the film a second time I realized just how much symbolism was put into each shot whether that be lighting, positioning of the actors, or use of shadows. There is this thing in the theatre called the suspension of disbelief, and it is when the audience is no longer aware they are watching a play because they are so transported into another universe. Very few times in my life have I experienced this in a film, and this was one of them. The lighting and overall production design was incredible, and it all tied together amazingly.

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Another thing I really liked about this movie was the themes and the overall message. The message of this movie in that society needs to be more supportive of the poor and the mentally take care of its people as well. The Joker in this film clearly has some mental problems, and he is left to rot by those around him. Society even takes away his therapist and meds from him. As a whole I think society has done a lot better in dealing with mental illness, but there is such a strong stigma against mental disorders and for those people this movie gave a strong warning to what becomes of a person who needs help and doesn’t receive it. We need to take care of each other and not turn our backs on the problems of everyday life.

Lastly, the psychological element I really enjoyed about this film is the idea that a criminal is made and not born. Arthur (Joker) has no knowledge he is becoming the leader of a political and social movement until the end of the movie. But everything that has happened in the movie and in his life has led him to act out the way he has. I’m not saying he is justified in murder, but it’s interesting that he still has some sense of moral. Notice in the scene with his two clown friends he kills the one that ultimately got him fired from his job in a bloody scene. However, the other friend that had only been nice to him he lets leave. Society and the way people have treated him make Auther into the leader of the movement we see at the end of the movie.

The Professor and the Madman 

Synopsis:

Based on the 1998 book `The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ by Simon Winchester, the life of Professor James Murray is portrayed as he begins work on compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-19th century. As he led the overseeing committee, the professor received over 10,000 entries from one source in particular – a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr William Minor.
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Initial release: March 28, 2019 (Greece)
Box office: 5.4 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD

My Review:

Unlike the Joker, I truly feel this movie has not talked this movie about enough. Sean Penn is also one of my all-time favorite actors, and his performance with Mel Gibson was amazing to watch on screen. The two actors had great stage chemistry that portrayed a deep forming friendship and brotherhood. I love watching films based on true stories, especially when I was not aware of the story to begin with. The thing I appreciate and love most about this film (beside the acting) is the writing and the plot structure. The film flows effortlessly and does a good job of transition through a period of time in order to tell the story. The dialogue given to the characters is really natural and engaging.

This film also deals with mental insanity and the audience also witnesses some unethical practices done by psychologists in mental institutions. The film does a good job of humanizing Dr. Minor’s character (Sean Penn) while showing how he really is struggling mentally. He suffers greatly from PTSD and the film takes on an interesting look at just how much that can impact a man and his life. I really am shocked and upset at how little attention this movie has received since it’s coming out.

Rocketman

Synopsis:

Young Reginald Dwight changes his name to Elton John and collaborates with singer-songwriter Bernie Taupin to become one of the most iconic figures in pop history. Set to his most beloved songs, it’s the epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years in the 1970s and his fantastical transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar.
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Release date: May 31, 2019 (USA)
My Review
I have always deeply appreciated Elton John’s work. In face, me and one of my dearest friends became friends to Rocketman back in high school. However, I never really knew all that much about his life story, only bits and pieces. Something I think really helped this film be as amazing as it was is that Elton John was so heavily involved in its creation process. Taron Egerton does such an incredible job portraying such an icon. I’m sure it helped to be able to interact with the real Elton John himself to do him justice.
One of my favorite elements of this film is how experimental it is. The way the movie transitions from dialogue into song is effortless and smooth. Each musical number is like watching a musical on screen and its done creativity and innovatively. I really enjoyed the use of color and symbolic shots in the film. The whole film is extravagantly done and is an emotional experience. It fully matches the style of Elton John and embodied his life in a creative way.
Throughout the entire film young Elton John is learning to love himself for who he is while battling past demons that have held him down. It gives a powerful message to the viewer regarding not caring what anything thinks of you but to do what you love and to be whoever you want to be. I think everybody has felt demons holding them down, or felt the fear of truly beings oneself. In this way, I think this film can touch almost anyone watching the film in a relatable way. While also making you respect Elton John even more for coming out on the other end stronger than ever.

Goodboys 

Synopsis:

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Invited to his first kissing party, 12-year-old Max asks his best friends Lucas and Thor for some much-needed help on how to pucker up. When they hit a dead end, Max uses his father’s drone to spy on the teenage girls next door. When the boys lose the drone, they skip school and hatch a plan to retrieve it before Max’s dad can figure out what happened.
Release date: August 16, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 110.9 million USD
My Review:
This film probably made me laugh the hardest of any film in 2019. The comedy of this film is really amusing as its someone an older audience can relate to. Most of the comedy of this film is centered around the three main characters in the films innocence and lack of knowledge when it comes to adult things. Which makes an easy laugh for the R-rated movie watchers as they are aware of what these objects really are and what they are used for. One of the most comedic parts is when the boys sell what they think to be a dummy to practice kissing on which is really a sex doll.
I also really enjoyed how this film addressed growing up and not always keeping the same best friends you had when you were little. People grow and change and this is something the movie did a nice job of addressing amongst all the comedy. This is also something I think most people watching the film could relate to from their own personal childhood. Overall, this film is a fun and enjoyable watch. It had me laughing every moment while still making some personal and relatable life events.

The Two Popes 

Synopsis:

Behind the Vatican walls, Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.
Release date: November 27, 2019 (USA)
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My Review:
This film was an enjoyable watch for me. All the production elements tied in perfect to create a uniform style for the film. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like the movie because it was a little slow paced. Most of the movie is watching dialogue between the two Popes. However, this is something I really liked about the movie because it felt so realistic. I felt like I was watching two actual popes in a real-life situation.
The film did a good job of establishing both of its central characters in a way that the audience fell in love with both of them despite their vast differences. I also really enjoyed how the film tied in modern music and the soundtrack of the music tied in perfectly with the film as a whole. Another obvious impressive aspect of the film is the acting. Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins both did such a good job completely becoming the character they were portraying, it was easy to forget you were watching a film and not real-life events.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the look this film gave me into the life of the pope, and the initiation process to vote in the new pope. I did not understand how it worked with the cardinals getting together and releasing specific colored smoke to the public depending on whether they came to a consensus or not. It that retrospect this film was very informative and interesting to watch.