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.

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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 …

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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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 …

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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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 …

Silence of the Lambs (1991) Review

Synopsis

Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to draw him out.

Release date: February 14, 1991

(USA)Director: Jonathan Demme

Film series: Hannibal Lecter

Story by: Thomas Harris

My Review

The plot line of this film had me engaged within minutes, and my attention did not waver until the end of the film. Even days after watching this film I am still dumbfounded and astonished by Anthony Hopkins performance. Jodie Foster does an incredible job as well, and the two clearly mastered the acting technique of completely bringing the characters they were cast to life.

The thing that stood out to me the most in this film was the unique transitions and editing. The Films use of parallel editing was pulled off both effectively and effortlessly. Many times throughout the movie the audience is introduced to two or more scenes happening simultaneously in different locations. The corresponding scenes eventually meet into a climax, and the rising action into the climax is extremely productive in this film. Because of these parallel scenes, the audience is left in the dark as to what is really happening in each location, and this creates an extreme level of unnerving suspense and tension. This is not an easy feat for any filmmaker to pull off, but the tone and pace of each shot played well off each other, and helped to build suspension.

Unlike many thrillers/ horror movies, the story line of this film was not easily predictable, and the plot twists took me by complete surprise. The level of surprise in this film is definitely what helped me stay so engaged into the film all throughout.This is the type of film that you could see more than once without growing sick of it, and I can see myself watching it again within the near future. If you are a fan of thriller movies, I highly recommend giving this one a watch and I promise it will not disappoint you.

My Rating

9.5 out of 10


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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 …

12 Years A Slave (2013) Review

Synopsis

In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also finds unexpected kindness from another, as he struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changes Solomon’s life forever.

Release date: October 18, 2013

(USA)Director: Steve McQueen

Producers: Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Bill Pohlad, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon MilchanScreenplay: Solomon Northup, John Ridley

My Review

This film is incredibly hard to watch, and there were several moments I felt extremely angry and sad as to what was occurring in the film. However, I believe this is a film everyone should watch at least once in their life. Not only is this an astonishing well-made film, but the message behind it is especially powerful. This film teaches the genuine and beautiful message that people don’t just deserve the capacity to survive, but to live.

12 Years A Slave gives a unique and amazing look into the life of a free black man who is trafficked into 12 years of slavery. Not only does the audience gain a deeper look into the horrific reality of slavery, but the film also gives a look into the massive problem of human trafficking. I found myself immediately sucked into the story-line of this film, and it kept my attention well throughout.

My favorite element of this film is by far the acting. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance in this film is one of the best I have seen in a long time. Watching this film is such an emotional journey, and as an audience member I felt the characters emotions alongside him. Which goes to show what an amazing performance he put into this movie.

The other actors’ performances were extraordinary as well, and I enjoyed how the film told more stories than just the principal character. There was much more depth in developing the other characters and story lines and this definitely added a lot to the film.

The ending of this film is extremely powerful, and I found it to be the perfect ending to such an incredibly developed film. Something I love about this film is that it is based on a true story, and there is nothing over dramatized in the plot. The whole film keeps a constant realistic feel, which makes its message that much more lifelike and powerful.

My Rating

9/10


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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 …

My 5 Go To Summer Films

With the world being such a crazy place right now, I have definitely found myself watching more movies recently. So I decided to compile a list of a few of my favorite films I have watched this summer so far, along with a few films I find gravitating toward every summer.

1. Dirty Dancing (1987)

This film has been a go to summer movie for me for years. This movie embodies a carefree summer mentality, and it’s always an enjoyable watch for me. It’s a go to if your craving a good summer romance film, that also deals with important social and family dynamics.

2. Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

This summer was my first time watching this film. However, since then I have seen it twice now and I would not mind watching it again. Peanut Butter Falcon perfectly balances its comedic moments, dramatic scenes, and heartwarming moments to create a balanced summer film. This film is such a joyous and entertaining watch, and it will definitely get you in a summer mindset.

3. Stand by Me (1986)

Not only is this film one of my favorites of all time, but it’s been a go to movie for me for a very long time. This film embodies a coming of age film that will make you reminisce on your own childhood summers. Running around and getting into crazy situations with childhood friends.

4. The Florida Project (2017)

This was another first time watch for me this summer, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. This is another perfect coming of age film that focuses on the power of childhood imagination. This film will also make you reminiscent of your childhood, and it will definitely resonate with you long after the credits roll.

5. RV (2006)

This was one of my favorite films as a kid, and it still remains on my favorite list to this day. It’s definitely a go to for me when I need a pick me up or a good laugh. This film will have you laughing till your stomach hurts, in a good way. It’s also a perfect family friendly film with really important lessons and themes.


It was definitely hard to pick just five perfect summer films, but these are the ones I have been gravitating towards the most recently. What your your go to summer films?


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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 …

Sixteen Candles (1984) Review

Synopsis

With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister’s upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with typical adolescent dread. Samantha pines for studly older boy Jake (Michael Schoeffling), but worries that her chastity will be a turnoff for the popular senior. Meanwhile, Samantha must constantly rebuff the affections of nerdy Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), the only boy in the school, unfortunately, who seems to take an interest in her.

Release date: May 4, 1984

(USA)Director: John Hughes

Featured song: If You Were Here

Screenplay: John Hughes

Producer: Hilton A. Green

My Review

Like Most John Hughes movies, this film will immediately transport you back into the 80s. Molly Ringwald once again did an incredible job in this “girl next door” role. However, Anthony Michael Hall carried a lot of the film with his acting and well versed comedic timing. Overall, the comedy of the film is well balanced and creative, but some of the films jokes have not aged well with time. It’s definitely important when watching this film to consider what the world looked like in the time it was made.

This film contains the character stereotypes of most Romantic Comedies- with the popular boy and girl duo, girl next door, and geek. However, for the most part, the characters are well developed and remain interesting throughout. My biggest complaint is that the love interest, Jake, is so underdeveloped as a character. His performance is very monotone and boring, which makes it hard to root for him and Molly Ringwald’s character to end up together in the end.

The other characters of this film are well established and add a lot of comedic moments to the film. While most of the characters are developed as very flat, the characters’ distinct natures and characteristics clash with one another for added comedy.

My favorite thing about this film, as is in most John Hughes films, is the soundtrack, and overall atmosphere established within the movie. The costumes, sets, language, and soundtrack compliment each other to create a unified universe within the film. While this film is not my favorite John Hughes movie, it is one I have seen several times now and still enjoy just as much as the first time I saw it.

My Rating

6.5 out of 10


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Who Are The Film Critics? And Who Do They Represent?

Kate Erbland recently wrote an article for Indiwire discussing how both women, and critics of color are still extremely under-represented in the film critic world. She states that her article will probably appear familiar to those that read last year’s Thumbs Down Study from the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film …

Ron Howard’s Advice on Being a Good Director

In a recent Podcast with The Director’s Cut, Ron Howard spoke to Jeremy Kagan about the relationships he builds with his collaborators, and the impact these relationships have on a film. He describes the mutual and respectful relationship he aims to develop with both his first assistant director and the cinematographer, stating that both the …

Dirty Dancing (1987) Review

Synopsis

Baby (Jennifer Grey) is one listless summer away from the Peace Corps. Hoping to enjoy her youth while it lasts, she’s disappointed when her summer plans deposit her at a sleepy resort in the Catskills with her parents. Her luck turns around, however, when the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), enlists Baby as his new partner, and the two fall in love. Baby’s father forbids her from seeing Johnny, but she’s determined to help him perform the last big dance of the summer.

Release date: August 21, 1987

(USA)Director: Emile Ardolino

Awards: Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature

Location: Lake Lure

My Review

This film has been one of my go to summer movies for years. Its memorable soundtrack, dance numbers, well-rounded acting, and charming dialogue creates the perfect entertaining summer film. Overall, I would consider this film to be light-hearted. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of drama in the plot. However, the portrayal of the film’s plot points are done so in a way that doesn’t ruin the films overall relaxed summer feel. The acting in this film is remarkable, and the dancing goes even beyond that.

My favorite thing about this film is that while it’s listed as a romantic movie, and the plot focuses heavily on the relationship between Baby and Johnny, the plot digs much deeper than that. Unlike most romance based films, I wouldn’t call this film a chick flick. There is way more to this film besides the relationship between its two protagonists. In fact, the film also focuses on the roles of social statues, the relationship between baby and her father, friendship, and what it means to do the right thing. Because “Nobody puts baby in a corner.”

This film was shot on location at Lake Lure, which added a lot to the film. The whole environment set up by the filmmakers help to create the nostalgic summer feeling from childhood. The coming of age element to the movies plot will easily make you reminiscent on past summer romances, and what it felt like falling in love for the first time.

The film also captures and embodies the well-versed feel and themes of 80s movies. Any audience member watching this film will easily find themselves transported back in time, and most likely tapping their foot along to the music. My only complaint about this film is that it makes me wish I was a better dancer.

My Rating

9.5/10


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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 …

Silence of the Lambs (1991) Review

Synopsis Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight …

The Pick-Up Artist (1987) Review

Synopsis

Serial pick-up artist and commitment-phobe Jack Jericho (Robert Downey Jr.) takes lessons in the art of seduction from aging player Phil Harper (Danny Aiello). Jack finds a formidable opponent in Randy Jensen (Molly Ringwald), a fiery tour guide who has a retort for his every line. Though she initially spurns his advances, Jack finds a way in when Randy’s alcoholic, compulsive gambler father, Flash (Dennis Hopper), ends up in serious debt and deep trouble with gangsters in Atlantic City.

Initial release: September 18, 1987

Director: James Toback

Screenplay: James Toback

Box office: 13.29 million USD

Producers: Warren Beatty, David Leigh MacLeod

My Review

I have seen nearly every Molly Ringwald film from the 80s, and when I first stumbled upon this particular film, I was curious why I had never heard of it. Well now I know, it’s because this movie is awful! With a cast of Molly and Robert Downey Jr. I thought this would be a phenomenal film, and while the acting was mostly impressive, the writing was AWFUl. The actors tried their best to make a badly written script better, but the plot was still all over the place and pointless. This was definitely a film I had to force myself to watch all the way through.

I’m not sure why this film is even called the pickup artist because twenty minutes into the film Robert Downey Jr’s character already falls for the girl and gives up his player lifestyle. Instead, this film is less of a romantic comedy and more of a gangster film, in the sense that Ringwald’s dad owes a gang boss some money and Downy Dr. vows to help. This is the fundamental conflict of the film, and it has nothing to do with the lighthearted pickup comedy I thought this film would be.

The plot of this film was so confusing as a whole. In the film Downey mistakes Ringwald’s father for her boyfriend, and she doesn’t correct him till the end of the film. With how all over the place and inconsistent the plot was, I honestly found myself confused if this character was Ringwald’s dad or boyfriend. This is just one example of how the plot was a little confusing and inconsistent.

After watching this film, I did some research into its background. I found out that the writer/ director was trying to tie in roles the actors had played in other films into this one. Which is why I think this film did so well during its release in the 80s? Because the audience understood its references. However, the film has definitely not aged well, and this just made it hard for a modern day audience to follow.

One impressive thing about this film was the soundtrack. From the first song, the soundtrack was transformative and brought me back to the 80s. However, overall the audio recordings of this film were very sub par. Several times the audio was quiet and hard to hear compared to the background music, and there was lots of background and white noise.

My Rating

2 out of 10


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Sixteen Candles (1984) Review

Synopsis With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister’s upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with typical adolescent dread. Samantha pines for studly older boy Jake (Michael Schoeffling), but worries that her chastity will be a turnoff for the popular senior. Meanwhile, Samantha must constantly rebuff the affections of nerdy …