Movie Review: Mudbound

[The movie Mudbound is based on the book of the same name by Hillary Jordan. You can read the review here: Book Review – Mudbound.

Mudbound was nominated in 4 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song, and Best Cinematography.

Though I was hoping to finish all the movies in the 6 main categories before the Oscars took place, it was not to be so. Held up in a number of events and tasks, I was unable to watch them all. But I’m not off the journey yet and hope to finish these reviews as soon as possible.]

A booklover’s biggest pet peeve is when a book gets made into a movie and the movie does not do justice to the original story. There’s so much we complain about – the casting wasn’t right, the acting was the worst, the sets weren’t good, the makers left so much out of the story – so much! We just can’t seem to find it good enough for our beloved books.

Mudbound is exactly the opposite of such an adaptation. The casting is good. The acting was awesome. The sets were perfect. And the makers took everything from the story – not just the essence – and made it into an Oscar-nominated film. However, I have my reservations about just a couple of things in the movie.

While the book made me feel strongly enough to rant and rave about the unfairness of it all, the movie, I was prepared for. I knew what was going to happen. And the best part is that I felt the same anger, the same disgust course through me as did when I read the book. I’m not saying that my point of view changed during that time and this. I mean that now that the movie is as true to the book as possible, I feel something light in my chest.

Here’s what the movie is all about:

Henry McAllan and his family move to Marietta so that Henry can follow his dream of farming. His wife, Laura isn’t happy and neither is his racist and sexist father, Pappy. Henry and Laura have two daughters, Amanda Leigh and Isabelle. Henry’s brother Jamie is deployed in the Air Force in the War. On the other hand, we have Hap and Florence Jackson, black tenants of the McAllan family. They have 4 kids – twins Marlon and Ruel, daughter Lilly May, and their oldest son Ronsel is, like Jamie McAllan, deployed overseas.

With the return of Jamie and Ronsel from the War, a series of events unfolds that will bring these two families to a head.

The director, Dee Rees, has done a great job keeping everything simple and close to what has been described in the book. Everything that happened on screen, woke in me the same anger, even though I knew what was going to happen. And that is saying something. Maybe that’s what happens when you put women in charge. They will keep it as close to the original as possible. 😉

The casting is perfect in all stages. But in some places, while Florence is supposed to be a tall, strong woman, all that I found in her on screen was a woman who sat and looked blankly out of the window. A similar thing happened with Ronsel, too, though I can’t put a finger on what exactly made him not suited to the role. Otherwise, I’m happy with everyone else, including Hap, his kids, and the McAllan family.

A thought crossed my mind at the beginning of the movie. For a couple of seconds, I actually felt bad for the old prick, Pappy. And that is not what it is supposed to be. That man was despicable and deserved to rot in hell, whatever the hell happened. But as the movie progressed, they made up for it admirably.

All in all, the movie is a good adaptation of the book. It even almost made me cry. But whatever you do, you can never make a movie that’s better than the book. Ask any person who has read a book and then watched the movie, and they’ll tell you the exact same thing.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Flickering Myth.

Movie Review: Phantom Thread

[Phantom Thread has been nominated in 6 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design.]

Believe it or not, Phantom Thread is the first time I’ve seen Daniel Day-Lewis in action. His reputation precedes him, what with three Academy Awards under his belt. Thanks to this, I thought that maybe he was overrated. But no. Phantom Thread showed me my place and taught me not to question this man. Ever.

Phantom Thread is about Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a designer in the late 1950s who dabbled in designing dresses for high society women. His is helped by his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), and has a House of his own, a pretty reputed one at that. When Reynolds goes to the country to clear his head, on Cyril’s suggestion, he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps) at a restaurant there. She is the waitress who serves him. He asks her out on a date and quickly, she becomes his muse, apart from being his lover.

Alma soon realizes Reynolds’s temperamental nature. She wants to do something for him, only to be told that he doesn’t like what she has done. Any diversion from routine sets him off. And Alma isn’t one to take things lying down. What follows is a dark journey of love and wanting to get out, yet staying where each actually is.

What a film Phantom Thread is! It is slow-paced, yes. But every actor in it does a fantastic job. Nowhere in the film does anything look out of pace. Instead, you think, “Does this really happen in real life?” or “Were there people like this back then?” Though it isn’t chilling by a large margin, I feel chagrined at how it all turned out in the end. Not that I would change it. Maybe it’s all in how much you allow yourself to accept from the world. If you think nothing is impossible, then that’s what it is. If you think that this isn’t possible, then that’s what it is, too. Phantom Thread is one of those movies.

Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson is sweet. You sympathize with her to a point where you really don’t like Reynolds anymore. She maintains this countenance throughout the film and it is an ode to the Luxembourgian actress’s acting chops that you are taken in with her sweetness and keep it that way, come what may.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction is beautifully exempt from the exaggeration that many directors tend to take on with such a story. He has all the threads (no pun intended) together until the end, which in itself is an awe-inducing one. I didn’t see it coming and it punched the hell out of my head. But then again, what else can one do but merely shrug and get on with life? After all, don’t they say, to each, his own? That’s exactly what Anderson tried to do in Phantom Thread and spectacularly got away with it, too.

The costume design was keeping in mind the era in which the movie is set in. The costumes were low-key and not too extravagant without being dowdy. The background score is lilting and haunting at the same time, perfectly in sync with the emotions on screen. And there are a lot of them to take in, given the man called Daniel Day-Lewis.

Once I’m done with all the Oscar Mania, I’m going to go and watch all Daniel Day-Lewis films. It’s a shame I only started with his last movie before retirement. He vacillates between being the temperamental Mr. Woodcock and Alma’s tender lover, Reynolds with a perfection that would hardly be possible if it were played by anyone else. He is deserving of his sixth Oscar nod, three of which (to date) he has won.

Reynolds’s sister, Cyril, is strict and stern but can also be soft when the situation demands it. And she is the about the only one who can stand up to Reynolds. Lesley Manville takes up this role with considerable ease, and though I can agree she has done a commendable job, I didn’t see it as one to go gaga about.

With all this elements coming together, Phantom Thread makes for a convincing Best Picture candidate, though with other heavyweights in the fray, I’m not so sure this will win. But it’s always a surprise, going into the Oscars. So let’s wait and watch if Phantom Thread manages to sweep whatever it has got on its platter into its bag.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: The Film Stage.

Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

[Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has been nominated in 6 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor (both Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell have been nominated in this category), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.]

You wouldn’t even think in your wildest dreams what this movie could be about with such a long, routine, yet bizarre title. Yet, when it starts off and you finally know what it is about, you think, “Oh, of course it could be about this.” It is that difficult to figure out this film, and that easy. Really.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is about, well, three billboards outside the town of Ebbing, Missouri. When mother of raped and murdered teenager Angela Hayes, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) chances upon these billboards, she finds in them a way to get the authorities to do something about it. Especially Police Chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

But Willoughby is a good man. Willoughby’s subordinate Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) is a drunk pain in the ass but Willoughby sympathizes with him. Thanks to this soft spot, Dixon cannot take it when anyone does anything against Willoughby. Once the billboards come up, the horrified residents of the town rally behind Willoughby, almost antagonizing Mildred, who is left with almost no one to fall back upon except a few people not including her ex-husband.

What follows is whether Willoughby manages to bring the criminal to justice? Will Mildred be able to give her daughter the peace that everyone craves for in death? Will Dixon be able to stop being a pain in the ass and be useful instead? What happens? Just what exactly happens in this movie?

The first thing I’ll say about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is that every Oscar nomination is perfectly justified. From Frances McDormand’s justifiably angry, calculating, prepared Mildred to Woody Harrelson’s apologetic Bill Willoughby to Sam Rockwell’s hot-headed, unapologetic, and racist Jason Dixon – ‘convincing’ is a very amateur word to describe these stellar performances. I’m not making any predictions but Sam Rockwell has a great chance of winning in his category this time!

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has a brand of humor that can hardly be classified into a category. It is close to dark humor, but you cannot exactly call it that. And there were multiple points in the film where everyone in the theater simultaneously burst into laughter. Director Martin McDonagh perfectly blends every element into its place and it shows on screen, shows how screenplay, direction, acting, and editing can come together in a dance as heartbreaking as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The screenplay is crisp and to the point, giving us shots that will probably chill your bones. They are not gross or gory, merely detailed. For example, when Mildred sits outside her house on the swings in her lawn, you can see the backs of the three billboards in the distance. Make of it what you will, but this particular shot is so emotional for me, for some reason. Mildred can see the reminder of the violation meted out to her daughter every single day. And not once does she lose hope.

I cannot say the background score was lilting, given the storyline, but it was beautiful when coupled with the story. You will find meaning in the lyrics – so poetically heartbreaking, it almost brought tears to my eyes. Almost.

And to top it all off, the editing. Editing is something that combines all the elements on screen in a fashion that outdoes every other competitor. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a worthy competitor to all the others in this category.

So I’d say, you go and watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It is a thought-provoking film and with its open ending, it will give you hope and a scope to believe. And isn’t that what modern cinema is all about?

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Charlotte County Florida Weekly.

Movie Review: Call Me By Your Name

[Call Me By Your Name has been nominated in 4 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Song.]

Call Me By Your Name, the movie, is based on a 2007 book of the same name by Andre Aciman. The movie is set in 1983 in a remote Italian village and explores the sexuality of a 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet). Elio is an introvert, an intense bibliophile and musician. His parents are played by Michael Stuhlbarg (who was also in The Post and The Shape of Water) and Amira Casar, both very supportive and loving of their son.

Mr. Perlman is an archaeologist who, every summer, invites students to intern with him. The summer of 1983 sees doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer) coming to work under Mr. Perlman. Though Elio has a girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel) and becomes quite intimate with her, he finds himself becoming more and more attracted to Oliver. What follows is a story that is so beautiful and heartbreaking, even with its slow pace.

A coming-of-age drama, Call Me By Your Name has Timothee Chalamet give a performance every bit worthy of the Oscar nod he’s got. He has almost everything perfected – right from the joy to the sorrow to the confusion to the heartbreak, the gamut of emotions crossing his good-looking face is astoundingly varied.

And what a character 17-year-old Elio is! At that age, everyone struggles with adolescence, everyone has their own battles to fight – either with their peers or with themselves. Elio has to fight his own understanding to understand himself. And in doing this, he finds the world a much better place to indulge himself in. Such a well-written character is Elio!

Every other actor in the film does their assigned job to the point of what is expected of them. Be it Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, or Esther Garrel. But it is Chalamet who outdoes them all. And that is how you see the results.

Luca Guadagnino does an amazing job as the director of the film, bringing in quirks where it is least expected. A socially relevant film in today’s time, it is thanks to Guadagnino that it took off. Otherwise, the adapted script would have been languishing without a director.

Another star of the movie is the village where it was filmed. To the best of my “research”, this was Crema in Italy. The architecture, the quaint little cafes, and the beauty of nature amidst which this story takes place gave me wanderlust as well as a weird homesickness that I cannot quite explain. There is so much to see in the world and so little time. Most importantly money. I wish I could sit in that café by which Elio and Oliver talk. I wish I could sit there, reading a book and sipping on a coffee that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. I wish…

But I digress.

Call Me By Your Name, the movie, in itself is slow-paced. At least the first 40 minutes are. I checked my watch a number of times to see how long it was before the movie would end. Though this prevailed for a majority of the film, the last half an hour more than made up for it. The range of emotions that went through me as I saw those on Chalamet’s face was incredible. But then again, it’s a very one-time kind of movie. I wouldn’t consciously watch it again but I’d definitely recommend it with a few well-intended words.

Call Me By Your Name comes at a time when we need its message the most. While LGBTQ rights have only been moving forward now, there’s a lot of ground to cover yet. And this movie, despite showing how a 17-year-old deals with his sexual awakening, is as relevant as for adults as it is for adolescents. Everyone MUST watch this film, if you are a forward-thinking human being or if you want to become one.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Twitter.

[Timothee Chalamet was also in Lady Bird.]

Movie Review: The Shape of Water

[The Shape of Water has been nominated in 13 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing.]

The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro, and starring heavyweights like Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer is a dark film. There’s no two ways about it. It shows us our reality, our tendency to hate everything that doesn’t conform to our thoughts and everything we have known so far. Yet, within this darkness lies hope for humanity.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a nighttime janitor at a government laboratory along with one of her two friends, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer). Her other friend, Giles (Richard Jenkins) is her neighbor and both look after each other. Elisa is mute and communicates through sign language. She is an orphan, found on a riverbank with three long cut-like scars on either side of her neck.

Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) is responsible for the vivisection of a humanoid amphibian from South America, after General Frank Hoyt’s (Nick Searcy) orders. As a janitor, Elisa discovers this creature and slowly, gradually befriends it, learning in the process the creature’s intelligence. What follows is whether or not Elisa is able to protect her new friend from what the government has in store for him.

When The Shape of Water got 13 Oscar nods, I initially couldn’t understand how such a weird story could be getting all the attention. There is water, there is darkness, and there is a weird creature floating in the water while embracing a woman. That was what I took away from the poster.

But watch The Shape of Water and you’ll know why it’s the talk of every movie-watching town. Every nomination is an assurance that all is well with the world. Sally Hawkins personifies strength and grace in her role as Elisa. Octavia Spencer is brilliant as Zelda, be it the wit or the emotions. Richard Jenkins is impactful as the scared but will-do-anything-for-Elisa artist. And Michael Shannon is simply terrifying as the anti-hero.

The Shape of Water is a dark, realistic fairytale of sorts. Like all fairytales tell of miracles and give us lessons to learn, this movie too, has a relevant lesson for today’s time and age. This lesson is one of acceptance and generosity in contrast with the truth of who today’s monsters really are. While we deem someone else as a monster, many-a-times, it is us who are the real ones.

Every element in the movie gets its due recognition. Every actor gets his/her spot in the limelight. The sets are absolutely magical in their 1960-ishness. The humor is sometimes dark, but relevant nevertheless, most of it being doled out in chunks by Zelda. There is no way you cannot fall in love with her.

Every visual in the film is stunning. As the title goes, clever usage of water and light brings to the movie a brightness that you’d most probably not even see anywhere else. What I’m saying now defies what I said earlier about The Shape of Water and darkness. But watch the film and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about.

Of course, it will take some time for you to get used to the notion that the movie is talking about. But the beauty with which it is put forth will make sure that that time is not too late in the movie.

All in all, a brilliant movie with a brilliant message! What a job Guillermo del Toro has done! And every bit as Oscar-worthy as it is now. 🙂

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: thefilmexperience.net.

Get Out – A Spooky Film That Creeped the Hell Out of Me!

[Get Out has been nominated in 4 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay.]

When my husband told me that Daniel Kaluuya had been nominated at the Golden Globes in the Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy category for Get Out, I went all thoughtful, thinking that maybe there was some dark humor in the film. Maybe they did it for a reason. I was willing to give the Golden Globes the benefit of the doubt. And then I watched the movie.

All I can think now is: What sort of an insane bunch of people could even remotely think that Get Out could even stand for a second on the threshold of comedy? It’s so ridiculous that even now, as I write this, I shake my head in exasperation. And it’s been quite a few days since I watched the movie.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is a photographer. His white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) is taking him to meet her parents at their annual get-together. Rose seems to be an advocate for equal treatment of all people. They reach the Armitages’ countryside estate and everything seems to be going well.

But Chris soon discovers the strangeness that seemed to be invisible at first. Everything from Rose’s father, surgeon Dean, to her mother, hypnotherapist Missy, to the staff on the estate, Georgina and Walter, make the place claustrophobic to Chris. Rose, on the other hand, seems completely oblivious to the happenings around her. She is concerned when Chris airs his concerns, but nothing more than that.

Most of the movie Get Out goes on in this fashion. But it is when you cross the halfway mark that true terror sets in. Everything that you have seen so far is a mere mirage. There is so much that the movie manages to conceal with clever, subtle placement of plot points that it literally blows your mind. It took me a good few days to get over it. The mere mention of this movie is enough to make me shudder, come to think of it.

There are no jump scares in this movie. None at all. It is even funny in a few places. Yet it is brutally scary in a never-seen-before kind of way. So many what-ifs pepper the duration of this movie that it becomes difficult for you to breathe after a point. Mostly because there is a perspective to race that you might have and have not thought of before. It’s an absolute bomb, Get Out, and for it to come out of the stables of Jordan Peele, who makes his debut as a director, gives us even more hope for the future.

In the director’s words, Get Out “is a horror movie but has a satirical premise.” And he also thinks that both genres are similar. This, maybe, explains why it was nominated in the Comedic category at the Golden Globes this year. But it doesn’t mean I agree with it. I still think it is utterly stupid and ridiculous that this movie was nominated in that category. What were they thinking?!?!

Get Out is a world in its own. A crazy, topsy-turvy world in its own where you are forced to come to terms with how life indeed is. You will laugh, you will be horrified, you will cry, you will sit on the edge of your seat – there are a lot of things that you will feel that you cannot put into words. But on the whole, this is a movie you must watch so that you can come to terms with all those emotions and acknowledge them.

You need to watch Get Out for the film’s craziness. GET OUT and go watch Get Out!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Tumblr.

Movie Review: I, Tonya – Margot Robbie Shines

[I, Tonya has been nominated in 3 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Editing.]

Tonya Harding is a former American figure skater who, no thanks to a number of circumstances, was banned from figure skating for life. I, Tonya is Harding’s story, which if it is true, means that a great injustice was done to her.

I hadn’t heard of Tonya Harding before this movie came out. Since then, however, I’ve known more about her and I sympathize wholeheartedly. One of America’s most controversial figure skaters, Harding got the hard end of the bargain every time she went out to perform, despite being the only skater at the time who could do a triple-axel jump. The scene has changed since, but first is first, come what may.

Figure skating is a difficult sport to take up. And I, Tonya uses every trick in the book to show the nuances of the sport without actually showing it. The cinematography is raw and intelligent. Steven Rogers’s (not Captain America) screenplay is crisp and filled with emotion. Craig Gillespie’s direction is almost flawless. As for the acting? Read on.

I, Tonya tells Tonya Harding’s story as it is alleged to have happened, with Margot Robbie playing Tonya, Alison Janney playing her mother, and Sebastian Stan playing her husband (ex), Jeff Gillooly. While Sebastian Stan does a commendable job, it is Margot Robbie and Alison Janney who take the cake with their performances. And though both of them have been nominated for Oscars, Robbie for Best Actress and Janney for Best Supporting Actress, Janney comes out on top by a wide margin.

Alison Janney is a superb actress, and saying this is an understatement. She brings the perfect amount of disdain and disgust required of the character. Every frame of her presence spells brilliance. Utterly convincing in her role as LaVona Harding, Janney deserves every bit, every part of her Oscar nod. I have a strong feeling she’s going to win.

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding is amazing, too. There is, however, one complaint from me. Not so much a complaint as an observation. The reason I said that the direction is almost flawless earlier is that in places, her diction seemed forced when she cussed. But hey, that could just be how Tonya Harding is. I’m going to go watch old videos of her now to understand Margot Robbie better. [:P] That should tell how amazing Robbie was!

The first half of the movie – though Hollywood doesn’t believe in first and second halves – goes on at a fairly average speed, though I’m not subtracting its brilliance. The second half, however, comes in with the speed of a freight train and before you know it, you’re steamrolled into thinking what exactly happened here. It is heady in its larger-than-life conflict, spiking your heartbeat in its own understated way. You know it is based on someone’s life and everything happened quite a while ago and you cannot change it. But you hope that the best comes out of what’s happening onscreen, you hope for a positive ending, despite knowing that many-a-times, the happy endings are the ones that get translated to the big screen.

Harding’s arch-rival on the ice, Nancy Kerrigan, on whom a vicious attack was orchestrated due to which Tonya was banned from skating for life in addition to a number of fines, said she never got an apology from Tonya. During a little research I did for this review, I saw that Kerrigan said in an interview that she was the victim. Of course she was. There is no denying it. I, Tonya is merely saying that Tonya Harding didn’t get a fair bargain in it all when she so obviously should have.

I, Tonya is a raw telling of a real life story that happened more than two decades ago and that people had almost forgotten. Tonya Harding, a controversial athlete back then, needed to tell her story. And I, Tonya does that for her with much panache. The movie is sympathetic to her side and now, it is easier to see what might have actually happened.

All in all, I love this movie and I hope it wins in at least one category on March 4/5!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Apple Trailers!

The Big Sick – Describing This Paradox Is Difficult

[The Big Sick has been nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards 2018.]

To be frank, I hadn’t heard of Kumail Nanjiani before watching The Big Sick. And it wasn’t even my idea to watch this movie. The only people I knew in this film were Zoe Kazan (thanks to What If) and Ray Romano.  My husband told me that Nanjiani was one of the funniest guys in America and that we absolutely had to watch the movie. So I said yes, we should watch it and lo and behold! We did!

The Big Sick is the true story of how Kumail Nanjiani met his wife Emily Gordon. The couple met when Emily heckled Kumail at one of his first stand-up shows ever. Kumail, being from a Pakistani family settled in America, was an Uber driver back then with dreams of being a stand-up comedian and expected to have an arranged marriage. But fate had other plans and Kumail and Emily ended up marrying. What forms the flesh of the story of The Big Sick between Emily’s heckles and the wedding is to be seen.

While on the surface, The Big Sick seems to be another cheesy, rom-com with the comedy fading away with every frame, it in fact is exactly the opposite. Even in its bleakest moments, the movie manages to hold the comedy it set out with. On paper, Onscreen Emily falling ill and into a coma might seem like an overly exaggerated version of Love Story. But the couple’s real life translates smoothly on to the screen with as much honesty as is possible in a story of this kind.

Kumail Nanjiani is wonderful in his poker-faced delivery of the most hilarious lines, thanks to the couple’s extraordinarily simple writing that makes it extraordinary. Or is it that his poker-faced delivery is the thing that makes his lines hilarious? There are times of clarity when I sway to either side, but there’s no one clear winner between the two.

I haven’t seen Emily V. Gordon’s behavior off-screen, but Zoe Kazan as Nanjiani’s wife is very, very convincing. If Emily were fictional, I’d say that she was a very well-written, well-nuanced character. And I guess that’s saying something of the writers as well as the real-life woman who Kazan plays.

The rest of the cast, including Anupam Kher, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, and Zenobia Shroff, are convincing as they could possibly get. Henpecking mothers, and conflicted fathers are a commonality when you look at the world in one light. It is this light that this movie tells the story of, not the other one. [I’m not going to spell it out.]

There is nothing breakthrough about The Big Sick. It is, in fact, the story of Nanjiani’s ex-routine life that ran under the administration of rules that he, like all of us, secretly flouted. It goes from showing seemingly routine romance to the lives of stand-up comedians before they take the stage. The movie, without being too obvious about it, tells you what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to being a comedian. It might seem a bit hazy, but watch the movie and you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

The Big Sick isn’t the wow-I-cannot-stop-laughing-my-stomach-hurts kind of movie. But it does make you laugh, just enough to appreciate laughter. It also makes you emotional, making it a paradox in itself. It is candid, it is true, it is genuine – and most of all, because of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon personally writing their story into the screenplay, it stays true to itself.

So if you want a movie that is real, neat in its storytelling, honest, and genuine, accompanied with laughter and a few tears, watch The Big Sick.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: FandangoNOW.

Movie Review: The Post – Meryl Streep is Expected Thunder

[The Post, with a stellar star cast including Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks has been nominated in 2 categories at the 2018 Academy Awards: Best Picture, and Best Actress.]

To be honest, when this movie got an Oscar nod, I stared at the poster for a long time trying to figure it out. I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to watch and review Oscar-nominated films from the 8 biggest categories. Whatever notion I had in mind about this movie, it definitely wasn’t this!

In an age where freedom of press is being stamped down upon in a far off nation that rhymes with ‘Limerick-a’, this movie comes as a double-edged lesson. While it gives us a refresher course in the murky depths of American political history, it also tells us why honest press shouldn’t be curbed. It’s a lesson everyone can take home, irrespective of whether or not they are Americans.

The story is about The Washington Post and its eventual owner at the time, Katharine Graham, whose father established The Post. A woman owning a newspaper, having a job, for that matter, wasn’t widely accepted as natural even in 1971. But Graham stuck there for everything she believed in and came out on top.

‘Awesome’ is a very freely used word these days, even though not everything is actually, truly awesome. [Pun unintended.] But The Post has Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham and she is nothing less than awesome – in the truest sense of the word. She brings every nuance of the character to life brilliantly. She brings Katharine Graham and every one of her issues of balancing her personal, social, and professional life, to life on screen. Streep stutters, she laughs nervously, she cries, she worries – and every single emotion is utterly believable. That isn’t really anything new when one talks of Streep, but 21 Oscar nominations can’t be lying, right?

Tom Hanks. This man is mostly considered a serious actor, but The Post brings out another side of him that’s unbelievable in the best way possible. Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the then executive editor of The Washington Post. During the 1971 melee, Bradlee pushed for the publication of the Pentagon Papers that revealed that the US government internally believed the Vietnam War to be of no consequence.

Before I watched the movie, I wondered what it was about the movie that got it the Oscar nods. But now, after having watched it, I wonder why it hasn’t got more.

The Post is an innocent retelling of history. [The difference is in the placement of the word innocent.] It tells us what happened back then. But it also is a reiteration for the present and the bleak future. After watching The Post, I want to read up on history, something that has only occurred to me rarely before.

There is humor in the unlikeliest of places, and vindication in the most expected places. But mostly, there is awe. Awe at the scale and the quality acting dripping out of the screen by not only Streep and Hanks, but from every cast member. The disgust that filled my heart at knowing what the then US government did gave way to triumph in the end. But what do I do with the disgust that fills me every time I read/watch news of contemporary American politics?

The Post is rightly nominated in the categories it is. There’s a reason why Meryl Streep is the finest actress of our time. And every time we spot her in the front row at the Oscars, there’s a hope that she will climb those stairs yet again and make a speech that will reverberate globally. Yet again.

Go watch The Post if you want a potent combination of class acting and history lessons! It’s an absolute must!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Movies Wikia.

Lady Bird – Why Would You Do This To Us?

[Lady Bird has been nominated in 5 categories at the Academy Awards 2018: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.]

The most important part of Lady Bird is the name Saoirse Ronan. How do you pronounce it? Why is it so complicated? What does it mean? But Wikipedia tells me the pronunciation is quite simple, though the explanation behind the complication is still a little obscure to me. Apparently, ‘Saoirse’ is pronounced ‘s-ur-sh-a’.

Okay, so now that’s out of the way, coming to Lady Bird. What do I say about this movie except ask the makers why they would do this to us? There are many who say that there is not much of a story in the film; that it could have been better. They say it just tells us everyday events of a Sacramento girl.

But I beg to differ. And very passionately at that.

Lady Bird is a masterpiece in an understated, humorous kind of way. In the caption of this review, I asked the makers of the film, “Why would you do this to us?” And I still maintain that. Because it should be illegal for a movie to make people laugh and cry alternately, sometimes even at once. The last movie to make me do this was Wonder.

Lady Bird is the story of loudmouth Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), a high school senior who must navigate her dreams and high school while acknowledging and handling the turbulence in her relationship with her mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf). Who she meets, who she maintains her relationships with, and how she does all of this forms the crux of the story.

A coming-of-age drama, Lady Bird is American actress and writer, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut. And what a debut it is! Lady Bird knows what it is doing, bringing out everyday occurrences and giving them a twist that you would identify with anyway. You know when things are going to go wrong, and when everything will be set right.

Yet, I wouldn’t call the movie predictable. The biggest reason is that in today’s world, this word is mostly used for movies that are boring. But Lady Bird is anything but boring. It is beautiful, it is engaging, it is loving, and it is lovely. It will make you question your thoughts, and sometimes makes you want to shake Christine until her teeth rattle. It will help you come to the decision of what in life you believe.

The first thought that crossed my mind when we finished watching the movie was, “How can a movie make me laugh at its understated humor and make me cry at its understated heartbreaking sorrow at the same time?” I asked my husband this and he had almost the same answer. “I don’t know but I loved it.”

The movie is an ode to Sacramento. There is so much conflict within Christine about her hometown that Saoirse Ronan brings wonderfully to screen. She doesn’t want to be “trapped” in Sacramento. Instead, she wants to fly. Her dreams live up to the name she bestowed on herself. It only remains to be seen if she will get out of Sacramento and build a life greater than the one at home.

Finally, on the note we started on: Saoirse Ronan. This 23-year-old makes me want to go into a corner and cry. She is so talented, it makes me feel ashamed. But more than anything, it inspires me to no end. And to think that I’ve only known of her as I know her now for a couple of days. Her tendency to acquire nominations left, right, and center is something that I think she should celebrate on a grander scale from time to time.

On the whole, if you like coming-of-age dramas, don’t listen to anyone else. Just go watch Lady Bird. And I promise you, you won’t regret it!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: The New York Times!