Sunday, January 16, 2022

Two Paragraph Review: Don't Look Up (2021)

More than a decade ago, ‎Adam McKay did an incredible service to humanity and the future generations to come by making one of the best comedies ever. That is the brilliant Stepbrothers, a movie that celebrates a single idiotic premise in an incredible, hours-long manner. Today, it still stands the test of time and I'm sure that it will make people laugh in the 22nd century as well.

Don't Look Up does not make us laugh now, which is fine, but it does not make us think about things either. We all know that the world, especially the US, is locked in bitter but senseless arguments as the natural world around us burns, often quite literally. The work of the comet disaster movie that McKay created sheds no new light on this problem and offers no solutions either. It is just a mournful lament of the present moment that manages to entice no emotion whatsoever.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Two Paragraph Review: The Power of the Dog (2021)

 

"Aren't these mountains of New Zealand beautiful", thought Jane Campion at some point. She must have thought this because they are ever-present in her latest film, The Power of the Dog. They are imposing, barren, and almost one with the cold, distant skies above. Yes, they are very beautiful, but this feeling quickly veins along with the rest of the film. It too offers a big promise, followed by a very modest final delivery, which is unnecessarily long and slow, hopefully not so that it tries to impose some sense of artificial depth and relevance.

The Power of the Dog is at its core a very straightforward story about suffering, pride, and hidden desires. However, the movie tells that story in a form that is laden with long, long shots of mountains and hills, all of which quickly wind up without any impact on the viewers. As Nomadland shows, it's hard to use the US landscape as a character, even with more poignant movies (but still somehow very detached ones). Something similar happens with the characters and their hermetic worldviews and emotional states. All is clear and understandable in a rational sense, but feelings have no place in those barren hills, both on-screen and with the audience. Too long, too shallow, and too self-important, that is The Power of the Dog.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Starter Marriage - Romantic Comedy with a Twist!

 

There are plenty of romantic comedies that deal with the topic of marriage in some shape or form. But, The Starter Marriage is a movie that takes this broad concept and gives it a very fun and engaging twist. The movie begins with a young man and a young woman, both in their 20s, deciding to get married but as a form of "starter" relationship. In this marriage, which is supposed to last only 12 months, they will both be free to make mistakes and catastrophic decisions that ruin marriages all of the time. This way, they would be ready for the real deal, later on, having experienced the worst of it all already. Check out the trailer for the film right here:

The Starter Marriage was directed by Arthur Muhammad and written by Matthew Tolbert. It comes with an interesting take on the issue of marriage, especially in the age when so many of these seem to end all around the world or fail at the very start. Its cast is well-chosen and clearly able to take on the whole weird marriage situation with both comedic effect and a level of groundedness.

However, there is also a nice and slowly building romantic note in all of it, which offers a glimpse into the true longing for love that both of these young main characters desire to find. All of this builds up into a fun viewing experience not just for couples but everyone who enjoys a solid rom-com. Find more about The Starter Marriage on its Facebook fan page and Instagram account, but also find where you can watch it right now on its official website!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Two Paragraph Review: Green Knight (2021)

 

There's a lot of things going on in Green Knight visually and on some hard-to-gauge high concept stage. People tell dramatic snippets of epic-sounding tales and heads do come off without actually killing their owners. For the Arthurian myth, that is all more than appropriate and the great cast runs with it from the initial setup when the hero's great adventure begins. Which is all well and good.

What's less so is the fact that the movie feels very improvised and somehow physically restrained. All of its locations seem like some kind of a failed site scouting job, where any old castle, forest, meadow, or field would do. The photography of Green Knight is not bad in the technical sense, but the emotional tone it emits is ringing hollow. In many ways, that ringing resonates with the whole film, giving it a nice-looking, but going-nowhere feel throughout.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Two Paragraph Review: Dune (2021)


Dune is good. It's so good in fact that it would be a viable short film without any plot, dialogue, or any other verbal information. Bare scenes and the accompanying music would do it justice. As a whole package, Dune is probably the best science fiction film in the last 10 years, at least on this grand scale. Sure, its director Denis Villeneuve himself made a better cerebral sci-fi film, which is Arrival. However, when it comes to these immense films, Dune did nothing that no other movie manage to do since the time of The Lord of the Rings. It's an instant pop-phenomena, and its quality makes it that.

Of course, it's not a flawless film. In its essence, the plot is forgettable and rehashed many times over, while the details are the stuff that sticks. Yet, battle costumes are not that, especially for Sardukar forces. Also, similar to Blade Runner 2049, it is sometimes (less often than the cyberpunk film) trying too hard to be serious and ends up just kind of dull. That's especially present in the last 30 minutes of the film and the anticlimactic ending it pulls off. However, even with those flaws, Dune is a thing that you have to behold and held there tightly.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Not all answers are found in Google | 用心感受世界 - Excellently produced and directed short drama film

 

Creating a drama in short form, especially one that touches upon current events is not easy. However, this is precisely what Ananth Tharmalingam, the producer of Not all answers are found in Google | 用心感受世界 managed to do. By bringing together  Remax Guys, Yan Scientifics, Director Triden V Balasingam, veteran writer John Mahenthiran, and a great cast and crew, he succeeded in producing a very touching and thoughtful exploration of what it means to be human in a global world stricken by a terrible situation no one experienced in over a century.

The movie follows an elderly man (Li Jian Feng) and his granddaughter Sera(Evalynn Li) as they spend time in Canada. He is bound to leave for China, his home, very soon, as his daughter is bound to get back soon. However, at that moment, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic breaks out and all travel is canceled. From there, a plot develops into a very poignant exploration of two souls, connected through the family but distant because they belong to different generations. One remembers the environment and nature as the main elements of life, while Sera's generation is one immersed in technology and the modern world.

The film, although short, offers many touching moments of nostalgia and quiet regret, which are showcased beautifully through the musical score and overall atmosphere. Director Triden V Balasingam hit the absolute jackpot by bringing composer Nathaniel Wolkstein to the movie's team. This element is one of the strongest in the entire film. That is especially true for the very ending where the young actress Evalynn Li playing Sara delivers an incredibly moving dialogue that will undoubtedly bring out a tear or two for many viewers. Here as well, the production values are clear for all to see - and hear - as the soundtrack follows the plot diligently and faithfully, ending it on an emotional high note.


In this short film, Award winning Canadian director Triden V Balasingam's formula blended ideally with all of the other elements that the production process brought together. Ananth Tharmalingam is perfectly suited for not only short projects but also much bigger feature-length films. Seeing what he accomplishes in the future will surely involve new and excellent films, no matter what genre or format they end up taking. Watch the whole short film Not all answers are found in Google | 用心感受世界 right here: