Movie Reviews 

Loving

by Alan Rapp on December 3, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Loving
  • IMDb: link

LovingLove is color blind, except in the state of Virginia. Based on the true story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), Loving follows the events which led to the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia after the Lovings were expelled from the state under threat of prison for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial cohabitation and marriage.

Leaving the legal maneuverings, motions, and trial to occur largely off-screen, instead writer/director Jeff Nichols focuses the film on Richard and Mildred. Despite a world that told them loving each other was wrong, the pair found each other and stood by each other in the years where hatred and bigotry did their best to destroy their love. The film’s title perfectly summarizes the pair’s relationship. Not out to change the world, simply understanding that their love couldn’t be wrong, their struggle is both emotional and inspirational. With so much of the film riding on their shoulders, Negga and Edgerton are terrific on-screen together in low-key but emotion-packed performances. It’s impossible not to root for them and it makes you sad for any world which would try to keep them apart.

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Moonlight

by Alan Rapp on December 2, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Moonlight
  • IMDb: link

MoonlightMoonlight follows the story of a single character from childhood to adulthood while struggling to find his place in the world. Told in three acts (with a different actor playing the role, and being referred to by a different name) writer/director Barry Jenkins‘ tale follows Little’s (Alex Hibbert) journey from a shy kid, to a teenage Chiron (Ashton Sanders) struggling to deal with his sexuality (and his schoolmates hatred of him), to a hardened drug dealer (Trevante Rhodes) given an unexpected chance to find something he lost years ago.

All three of the leads work well, although the fact that we are getting used to a different actor also responding to a different name does take some getting used to during the movie’s two big time jumps.

And the supporting cast is strengthen by the likes of Naomie Harris as our protagonist’s abusive mother, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe as a couple who step in to try and help the boy, and Jharrel Jerome as the teenager responsible for giving Chrion the best and worst moments of his life.

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The Handmaiden

by Alan Rapp on November 25, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Handmaiden
  • IMDb: link

The HandmaidenPresented in three acts, director Chan-wook Park‘s erotic thriller inserts a new handmaiden (Tae-ri Kim) into the home of a Japanese heiress (Min-hee Kim) in Victorian-era Korea as part of a larger plot to steal the woman’s vast fortune. Part crime drama, part thriller, and part love story, The Handmaiden offers a tale of complicated motivations (where almost no one is exactly who they initially appear to be), betrayal, greed, sex, and love.

The first act of the film is presented from the role of the handmaiden, who is actually a plant to help steer the heiress into marrying her partner (Jung-woo Ha) to steal her money away from the lonely woman and her perverted uncle (Jin-woong Jo) who has his own plans for that wealth. However, when the handmaiden and her mistress begin falling for each other it throws a wrench into everyone’s plans.

The film’s second act offers a slightly different take on events from the perspective of the heiress, offering new motivations and insights, and setting up the film’s final act in where each member of the small cast will face the consequences of their actions.

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Moana

by Alan Rapp on November 23, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Moana
  • IMDb: link

MoanaMoana is your typical Disney Princess animated feature set around the coming of age story of its heroine. Our title character is Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of a Polynesian chieftain (Temuera Morrison) who is drawn to the ocean despite her father’s strict rules about never journeying farther than the reef. However, circumstances force Moana to defy her father’s wishes and go in search of the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne “It’s Okay to Call Me The Rock Again” Johnson) whose help she will need to save her home from a decay that began centuries ago because of the god’s rash actions.

Aside from working in some local culture and flavor, as it did with The Princess and the Frog, Mulan, and Pocahontas, Disney doesn’t stray too far from its comfort zone here. We get a couple cute animal sidekicks, some big musical numbers, and a hero’s journey. (Although the film lacks a true Disney villain.) However, with the number of these the studio has churned out over the years it knows how to hit the right notes. It’s also worth noting this is the first time since Aladdin where Disney has embraced a larger-than-life sidekick voiced by such a strong personality.

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Allied

by Alan Rapp on November 23, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Allied
  • IMDb: link

AlliedThere’s so much wrong with Allied it’s hard to know where to start. At times director Robert Zemeckis‘ film is laughably, occasionally excruciatingly, bad. In its best moments Allied is ill-conceived, and it doesn’t have many of those.

Who thought it was good idea to set a WWII movie in Casablanca? The script by Steven Knight (Burnt, Seventh Son, Eastern Promises) plays like a bad romance novel mashed-up with a hollow spy thriller. The result might make for an okay trashy vacation read on the beach but fails spectacularly on film.

Reminding you immediately of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Casablanca, spies Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) meet in Casablanca. Assigned by their respective countries to work together to kill a high-ranking Nazi officer, the pair play husband and wife while falling into causal sex which I guess is supposed to look like love on film. (It doesn’t.) In a move that seems completely out of the blue, after completing their mission, Max invites Marianne to return to England with him and be his wife. And life is good, for awhile, until Max discovers that his wife may be a German spy.

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