FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis:

Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs.

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First episode date: February 3, 2021

Network: Netflix

Program creator: Maggie Friedman

Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon

My Review:

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After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into the characters or their story. The first two episodes especially contain a lot of set-up for later episodes. Because of this, I found the first few episodes to be a little boring, and I found my attention wavering often. However, by the time I got into the middle of the season, I found myself fully invested in the character’s lives and their stories.


Overall the show is done in a very creative way. The show follows a unilinear structure, and the audience gets a look into Tully and Kate’s lives through watching both the present and various flashbacks from different stages of their lives. The show did an outstanding job of not making this confusing. By using child actors, changing hairstyles, and makeup as they age, I had no confusion of what period I was currently watching.

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Oftentimes the flashbacks paralleled what was going on in the present, and that element was very intriguing to me. It was enjoyable to see both Tully and Kate age throughout the series, grow, and adapt. The last few episodes of the season were extremely climatic and emotional.


If the show had not had so much set up at the beginning I would not have been so invested in the character’s lives. Getting through the first few episodes is well worth it so that you can develop a deeper understanding of the show’s characters and backstories. However, I wish that the show would have kept its emotional appeal consistent from the very first episode.

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Overall I enjoyed this series. The costume and makeup design throughout the shows changing eras and periods were well done. The acting was on point, and Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke both did an incredible job holding up the rest of the cast and fully investing in their character. Both characters had so many layers and depth to them which made them very intriguing and complex.

My Rating

4 out of 5

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Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

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Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis

After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.

Image result for aliens 1986

Release date: July 18, 1986

(USA)Director: James Cameron

Film series: AlienBudget: 18.5 million USD

Screenplay: James Cameron, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett

My Review

With the movie’s title being the plural of aliens, one can expect a lot of aliens to be in this film….. and oh boy are there a lot of aliens in this film. By keeping the same villainous creature in this film but changing the dynamic the film was fresh and just as suspenseful as Alien. As an audience member, we are still learning more about the alien species along with the characters within the film and that kept me engaged and interested.

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There is a lot more action in this film compared to Alien, and while the action scenes were well thought out and orchestrated I found the movie to be copying its formula from the first movie just a bit. For example, the little girl in the film (Newt) takes over the role that Ripley’s cat played in the first film. Ripley feels entitled to protect Newt at all costs, and at the end of the film, she must race against time to save her before the station explodes. Just as she had to do in the first movie to retrieve Jonesy (her cat).

Just as in Alien a crewmember betrays the mission by putting science above the lives of others. I knew that this film would follow the same pattern to some level, and wasn’t surprised at all when Burke did whatever he could to make sure the alien species went back with them for scientific study. Again this plot twist was changed a little bit, in the sense that the Android was not the one to betray them in this film. But at its core Aliens followed very similar plot patterns to its predecessor Alien.
That being said I still found myself engaged and sitting in anticipation all throughout the film, and there was no moment where I became bored or remembered that I was watching a movie.

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My Rating

4/5

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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Countdown To Christmas! The 5 Best Holiday Films

There is no shortage of Christmas movies in the world. Here is my list of the 5 Holiday films I find myself gravitating towards every year.

1. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life is a film that I did not appreciate at all as a kid. It’s my dad’s favorite Christmas film, and my family has a tradition of watching it every year before Christmas. As a kid, I thought it was the most boring film in the world. But as I grew older, I began to appreciate it’s powerful messages and themes. The thing I love about this film is that it resonates with everyone in a different but powerful way. This is the ultimate feel-good film that teaches such valuable life lessons. Here is just a sample of the lessons taught from this film… no man is a failure that has friends, one life touches countless others in meaningful wats, the power of grace, realize all of your blessings, and that character is more important than trivial things. This film is truly incredible, and well-made if you have not seen it do yourself a favor and go watch it now!

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas was my favorite Christmas movie as a kid, and it remains at the top of my list to this day. One thing I appreciate about this film is the acting. Jim Carrey did an incredible job as the Grinch, and the filmmakers did an outstanding job creating an atmospheric world on film. The film’s ending melts my heart every time, and I love the filmmaker’s unique spin on the Grinch. Overall, this is a light-hearted and enjoyable film that I look forward to watching every year.

3. The Santa Clause (1994)

The Santa Clause is one of those films I loved as a kid and still enjoy to this day! This film has the perfect blend of light-heartedness, comedy, and heartfelt moments. It’s one I can watch every year without getting sick of it. Tim Allen does an incredible job portraying a dad who doubles as Santa Clause. The film serves as an incredible reminder that things don’t always go according to plan but regardless, sit back and enjoy the ride!

4. Christmas With The Kranks (2004)

This Holiday film will have you doubled over from laughing so hard! Christmas with the Kranks is an enjoyable film for all ages, and it seems to grow even more comedic every year. This film is lighthearted with subtle messages on the importance of friends and family. If you’ve ever thought about skipping Christmas and going on a cruise instead, I would highly recommend giving this film a watch.

5. Elf (2003)

This film is another guaranteed laugh. I recently watched a documentary on the making of this film, and somehow knowing that Will Ferrell was going around NYC in his elf costume interacting with real-life people instead of actors in some of the scenes makes the film even more enjoyable. The music, atmosphere, acting, and comedic timing of this film are all perfectly synced with one another and the film’s jokes age well with time. This film teaches its viewers not to be anybody but themselves, and that if people don’t like the real you then your better off without them. This film will bring some Christmas cheer and put you in a merry spirit.

What’s some of your favorite Christmas films?


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

Humility and Confidence in Filmmaking- Quincy Ledbetter’s advice

In a recent podcast episode with Film Riot, filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter discusses his first feature film with Paramount and how he got to where he is today. Ledbetter’s key advice is that a filmmaker needs to find the perfect balance between confidence and humility.

He went on to state that as a director it’s okay to level with your cast and crew and admit when you don’t know everything. In fact, he admitted that in several points of his career some of his best cinematic moments came from speaking with cast and crew and brainstorming together.

When describing his first feature film, Alieu the Dreamer, he described how throughout the entire pre production and pitching process he went forward with the mentally that no matter what happened he was going to make the film anyway. Fully believing this calmed nerves and helped him to gain confidence when pitching to producers.

I think everyone has heard the phrase don’t think just do. But Ledbetter really brings this mentality to life and gives humbling advice on maintaining a balance of humility and confidence as an emerging filmmaker.


Listen to Quincy Ledbetter’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


John Badham’s advice on seducing the actor

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, John Badham gave constructive and well-thought out advice on how he as a director has learned to improve his work relationship with his actors. The key piece of advice that John gave is not to persuade the actor but to seduce them.

He explained that all actors have these innate instinct and gut reactions for a scene, and that its best to allow your actors to play out these ideas and experiment within a scene. Instead of persuading an actor out of a bad idea, he suggests tricking them into talking themselves out of the bad idea. For example, if an actor’s instincts for a physical movement or reaction in a scene differs from the director’s vision. Instead of saying, “Can you do it this way?” He suggests talking with the actor, seeing why their innate instinct is what it is, and if possible convince them to try it the director’s way by using descriptive verbs to describe the change you want to see.

The best way to accomplish this is by taking the time to get to know your actors. Spend some one-on-one time with them and watch them in the beginning to establish what kind of acting method they use and how they best communicate. John Badham summed this up by stating: “You can’t program an actor. You need to work with them.”


Listen to John Badham’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


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julie taymor: the cross universe of film and theatre

In a recent podcast episode with The Treatment, Julie Taymor discussed her new movie “The Glories” and how she uses storytelling to externalize what characters are feeling on screen. Julie Taymor is a Tony Award-winning director of both theatre and film. Her goal as a creative is to master the fantastical elements of the film …

r-e-s-p-e-c-t on a film set: advice from mimi leder

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Mimi Leder, an American director and producer, gave her best advice for keeping a healthy and productive film set. Mimi’s key piece of advice was to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve, and to always show them your appreciation. She pointed out that the cast …

Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. He went further to state that the film should be a living organism that breathes and grows throughout all stages of production.

Apatow explained that he filmed various endings to his new film The King of Staten Island and felt out which ending felt most alive with the rest of the film. He describes the importance of having a film well thought out and scheduled, but he also expresses his attitude that it’s okay to bail on the script from time to time. Not only for the actors but also for the director as filming process goes on and new ideas come to life. During the filming process, he advises to think like an editor, and to see how the film will all come together.

For actors and written scripts, on his set, Apatow encourages actors that it’s okay to not be completely on book. He states that this makes the actors listen differently, since they don’t necessarily what will be thrown their way from another actor. According to him, this helps the film feel less scripted and more life like, and allows the actors to think outside of a tightly wound box. Apatow also expresses that during the casting process, he often throws actors into improvisation exercises to see how they interact with one another.


For me, until I know that the audience really gets what I’m trying to communicate I’m not done.

Judd Apatow

Listen to Judd Apatow’s full Podcast with The Directors Guild Here


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working with what you got: Advice from the creators of Faith Based

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, the creators of the film Faith Based (Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason), gave constructive advice to filmmakers who think they need to wait till they make it into Hollywood to make their film. The filmmakers discussed how their original plan for the film was to shoot …

Aaron Schneider’s Directing advice from film Greyhound

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Aaron Schneider discussed the things we were forced to learn while shooting Greyhound. Most of the films set was composed of green screens, which had its challenges. Schneider’s main advice is to come up with a detailed and set plan when working with extensive green screens and technology …

Humility and Confidence in Filmmaking- Quincy Ledbetter’s advice

In a recent podcast episode with Film Riot, filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter discusses his first feature film with Paramount and how he got to where he is today. Ledbetter’s key advice is that a filmmaker needs to find the perfect balance between confidence and humility. He went on to state that as a director it’s okay …

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

Too Loud For The Crowd?- Criticism On Nolan’s New Film Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet” has had a successful opening weekend. However, there is still much debate behind the sound-mixing of Nolan’s films and “Tenet” doesn’t appear to be any different. In a recent article with Indiwire, Zack Sharf explores the sound mixing of Nolan’s films and the reasoning behind it.

Many people often complain that important dialogue often gets buried behind an explosive soundtrack. Its definitely true that The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, and Dunkirk all had epic sound mixing behind them. Many people have stated in their Tenet reviews that the sound design was almost deafening and too distracting.

Nolan has made it very clear that he believes dialogue is not the only way to gain clarity of a emotions in a film. In response to critic against the soundtrack in Interstellar Nolan stated, “Clarity of story, clarity of emotions- I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal- picture and sound. I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an usual approach for a mainstream blockbuster, but I feel it’s the right approach for this experiential film.”

Despite any personal opinions on Nolan’s sound mixing, one can’t argue that he creates a visual experience unlike any other blockbuster films. There is clearly intention behind the specific sound mixing that he includes in his film, and that’s the way Nolan wants them to sound.


Little Women (2019) Review

Synopsis

In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore, a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg, is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.

Release date: December 25, 2019

(USA)Director: Greta Gerwig

Box office: 206 million USD

My Review

The first thing that caught my eye with this film was its exquisite costume, and set design. Within the first few minutes of the film I felt transported back in time, and the acting played a huge part in this as well. The chemistry between the March sisters added a lot of depth to the film, and the sisterly bond between them came to life on the screen to create an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.

The one thing that I feel this film had a difficult job executing was its non-linear plot. With the first few time jumps, I had an easy time following along. However, at several points in the film it was initially unclear to me if the film was taking place in the present or past for certain scenes. I understand what the film was trying to go for, but its execution was a bit off.

The acting in this film was spectacular, and every character was both believable and realistic. Despite Jo March being the protagonist of the film, I still felt that every other character was established and well- developed. My only complaint with the acting is that it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable watching Florence Pugh act as young Amy. Her acting all throughout was great, but it was weird seeing her play a little girl with such a deep voice.

Overall, this film is creative and worth watching. The story is engaging and kept my attention all throughout. The production design is extremely well thought out and brings the entire universe of the film to life. However, I’m not sure if I would watch it again in the future. I think once was enough for me.

My Rating

7.5 out of 10


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Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. …

Control Your Property- Jim Cummin’s Advice On Distributing Your Own Film

Jim Cummings is an extremely unique director in the sense that he often heads up the distribution of his films and their production. In a recent Podcast with Film Riot, he explains to the listeners just how he goes about accomplishing this. To many filmmakers, the idea of overseeing the distribution of your own films …

Jody Lee Lipe’s Advice on the Emotional Impact of Cinematography

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Jody Lee Lipes gave some industry advice on conveying emotion through the eye of the camera lens to the audience. Jody Lee Lipes describes cinematography as the physicality of words in images, and the cinematography of a film can have a massive impact on the psyche of an audience member, and often determine the audience’s relationship with the film. Jody Lee Lipes describes cinematography as the physicality of words in images.

Jody makes a point of stating that the focus of a cinematographer should not be to manipulate the audience, but to familiarize themselves with the story in such a way that the story tells the camera where it wants to go. The art of cinematography is to lead the audience down an emotionally led journey, and often the instinctual idea you get for a shot is the right one.

When asked about his prep routine before every film, Jody advises that the cinematographer breakdown every scene of the film into a “Bible.” Breaking down each scene into one summarizing sentence. He states that the cinematographer should be so familiar with the script that he/she can back up every planned shot down to a single purpose. If they cannot back the idea up, it likely means its initial concept wasn’t strong enough. Stick to your gut and follow the story line and it will drastically aid in bringing the film to life.


“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of the poet.”

– Orson Welles

Listen to Jody Lee Lipes full podcast with film riot Here

The Mule (2018) Review

Synopsis

Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, 90-year-old horticulturist Earl Stone takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. When Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.

Release date: December 14, 2018

(USA)Director: Clint Eastwood

Featured song: Don’t Let the Old Man In

Box office: 174.8 million USD

My Review

The story-line of this film kept me entirely interested throughout the entire movie. The three things that stood out to me the most about this film were its well-developed characters, dynamic acting, and subtle use of symbolism. It was also extremely heart wrenching and touching to watch Clint Eastwood act in his last film as a modern “cowboy.”

The characters in this film are well- developed by both incredible acting and a well-written script. I almost forgot I was watching a film at certain points, because the characters completely came to life and made the story their own. Especially Clint Eastwood, it’s easy to see that he put everything he had into his role in this film and it fully paid off.

There is a perfect balance between action, and lifelike events in this film. Keeping it from feeling unrealistic with too much action, or slow moving with not enough excitement. Because of this, the film feels very realistic, and as an audience member I fully understood how the film’s protagonist accidentally stumbles into the drug business and stays in it.

I really enjoyed how this film took place in a modern world, while still holding onto some elements and characteristics of an old western film. I also really enjoyed how the protagonist of this film (Earl Stone) is a twisted kind of hero, and how as an audience member I both sympathized with him and grew frustrated with. My only complaint about this film is knowing it was Clint Eastwood’s farewell to Hollywood.

My Rating

9 out of 10


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Too Loud For The Crowd?- Criticism On Nolan’s New Film Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet” has had a successful opening weekend. However, there is still much debate behind the sound-mixing of Nolan’s films and “Tenet” doesn’t appear to be any different. In a recent article with Indiwire, Zack Sharf explores the sound mixing of Nolan’s films and the reasoning behind it. Many people often complain that …

Jody Lee Lipe’s Advice on the Emotional Impact of Cinematography

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Jody Lee Lipes gave some industry advice on conveying emotion through the eye of the camera lens to the audience. Jody Lee Lipes describes cinematography as the physicality of words in images, and the cinematography of a film can have a massive impact on the psyche of an …