“Thoroughbreds” Review

Thoroughbreds PosterThoroughbreds (2017) 

What happens when a street-smart, completely unemotional teen girl rekindles her childhood friendship with a doubtful, book-smart girl who can feel emotions, but who wants to get rid of one pressing problem in her life? This situation lies at the core of “Thoroughbreds”. Extremely talented rising stars Olivia Cooke (“The Limehouse Golem” (2017)) and Anya Taylor-Joy (“Split” (2016) and “The Witch” (2015)) star as Amanda and Lily respectively, two girls from a wealthy suburban neighbourhood in Connecticut who have the so-called “meeting of the minds” and join their forces to put aside their problems for good. Lily has a problem with her stepfather, while Amanda is curious how far she can go on her unemotional spectrum and commit acts she would otherwise not even consider. When the duo meets criminally-minded Tim (Anton Yelchin (Green Room” (2015)) their sinister intentions take a step closer to reality.  

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Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” and Steve McQueen’s “Widows” Trailers

Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name” (2017) and “I Am Love” (2009)) is rebooting Dario Argento’s cult classic of the same name, and from the many plot similarities, it can be described as a remake (despite what actors may say). There seem to be both similarities and differences in the presentation: the music hints at the original, but some visuals are innovative. My favourite element here will be Tilda Swinton as Madame Blanc, a clever cast. It will also be interesting to see her character’s antagonistic tension and relationship with the character of Dakota Johnson. My concern is that I hope the film will remain dark and provocative with nice scary jumps, and not become too ridiculous. I am also disappointed with the cast of Johnson. She seems to be good here, but my belief is that someone younger with more remarkable features should have been cast in the lead role. Since it is Luca Guadagnino, a stylish and thought-provoking presentation is guaranteed. The original material is also intriguing, so it promises to be a good film.   Read more of this post

Mirrors in Films: Duality, Secrets and Revelations, and the Passage to the Otherworld

Snow White MirrorI love mirrors. They let one pass through the surface of things.” (Claude Chabrol, French film director)

This will be my 300th post, and, as now customary, I am writing on objects in films and their (symbolic) meanings. For my other similar article, check out Gloves in Films: Hiding True Character and Desires, when I “celebrated” my 200th blog post. Mirrors can play many roles in films. (Narcissistic) film characters can utilise them to satisfy their vanity (“Gone with the Wind” (1939)); to ego-boost (“Taxi Driver” (1976) or “La Haine” (1995)); for self-examination or to marvel at their transformation (“The Aviator” (2004) or “Vanilla Sky” (2001)); Gone with the Windor films use them for dramatic showdowns (“The Lady from Shanghai” (1947)), among many other roles and meanings. However, in this piece, I would like to focus on three interpretations in particular: (i) the usage of mirrors as they demonstrate the character’s dual nature (often revealing the character’s evil/bad nature when that character otherwise appears good); (ii) mirrors used to emphasise secrecy or to reveal secrets; and (iii) the use of mirrors as certain clandestine passages to the Otherworld.    Read more of this post

Q: Movies That Are Too Good for Words or Defy Analysis?

Recently, I have been thinking about the task of writing reviews in general. Most film critics will say that they are objective in their film analysis, but that also made me think about those films which a reviewer may find difficult to review objectively. The reasons may be some emotional attachment to a movie (which may stem from childhood), the fact that a reviewer has seen a particular film too many times (developing a biased liking towards it), or maybe one thinks that a particular film is somehow too brilliant for words and any extra words to describe or analyse it will be futile. For example, one may just want to write one word: “brilliant” or “masterpiece” and then put a full stop. It will be interesting to hear or discuss some examples.   

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“My Evil Twin” Film List

Doppelgängers have been baffling people for centuries. Identical twins, in particular, have always held a certain fascination on the public with some saying that they possess sinister abilities or are mystically bonded. However, it is the notion of “an evil twin” which probably holds the most fascination because it involves the timeless tale of the good vs. evil battle – i.e, the situation whereby twins look absolutely identical to each other, but one twin is good, whereas another harbours evil intentions. Below are 10 great films (in no particular order) that display and explore just this interesting situation, attempting to awe their audience.

The Dark Mirror PosterI. The Dark Mirror (1946)

Starring Olivia de Havilland and Lew Ayres, this entertaining film starts with the investigation of a murder and eyewitnesses all point to one suspect, but the detective soon realises their eyewitness accounts are useless because he deals with twin sisters and finding out which one is culpable looks like an impossible task. This is definitely a movie which demarcates clearly an evil and a good twin, and it also deals with the topic from a scientific point of view because some study is conducted on twins in the story.

dead ringers posterII. Dead Ringers (1988) 

Loosely based on a real life story, this film, directed by David Cronenberg, is a fascinating account of two brothers gynaecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle (Jeremy Irons in a dual role) whose bond goes far beyond an ordinary friendship or sibling companionship, complicating their personal relationships and career aspirations. Clearly, it is Elliot who is more uncaring and ruthless of the two, with Beverly being more emotional.

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“Unsane” Review

Unsane Poster

Unsane (2018) 

This psychological thriller by Steven Soderbergh (“Side Effects” (2013)) has the distinction of being the first theatrical feature film shot almost entirely on iPhone cameras, and the result is impressive. Claire Foy (“Breathe” (2017)) plays Sawyer Valentini, a career-driven young woman who has just started a new job in a new city. We are invited to question her sense of reality when she becomes obsessed with the apparent stalking behaviour which is going on around her with her being the primary victim. When Sawyer is invited to spend a few days in a mental institution to rest and gather her wits, her apparent paranoia and delusions intensify. Soderbergh employs iPhone cameras very cleverly to both critique the provision of mental health help and to show Sawyer’s mounting psychological problems.

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“Big Fish & Begonia” Review

Big Fish & Begonia Poster

Big Fish & Begonia (2016)

This fantastical tale is about Chun, a girl who is a member of a tribe of mythical beings (“neither humans nor gods, but others”) living underwater, capable of controlling tides and knowing the secrets of nature. As part of her rite of passage, Chun turns into a dolphin to visit the human world. There, Chun makes a contact with a boy who loses his life “because of her”, and Chun vows to sacrifice a part of her life for him, seeking help to turn the boy into a fish which must grow big enough for his later transformation. The story sounds a bit complex; it requires certain open-mindedness; and the layering is quite deep. However, with the stunning visuals (better seen on the widest possible screen), the simplicity of the main theme is quite evident and heart-warming. The meticulously-constructed scenery, and the relatable themes of the cycle of life, and the importance of friendship and of not losing hope, all make this animation more than worth your time. Moreover, “Big Fish & Begonia” has already done extremely well at the Chinese box office, and, being a huge leap forward for the Chinese animation industry, it may be a contender in the next Oscar season.

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