Movie Reviews 

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

by Alan Rapp on November 1, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  • IMDb: link

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms movie reviewAdapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann‘s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” The Nutcracker and the Four Realms offers big budget Disney family entertainment filled to the brim with special effects and lessons about believing in yourself and sticking by family in tough times. While it incorporates much of the ballet’s music into its score (and adds a couple of notable ballet sequence as well), The Nutcracker and the Four Realms goes for a more straightforward Wizard of Oz-style tale with a young female protagonist lost in a magical world.

Mackenzie Foy stars as Clara Stahlbaum. Still grieving over her mother’s (Anna Madeley) recent death, and struggling to get along with her father (Matthew Macfadyen) and siblings (Tom Sweet and Ellie Bamber), Clara discovers a magical world her mother created which is divided into Four Realms (Flower, Snowflake, Sweet, and a rebelling realm which is no longer mentioned). Traveling to the new world by way of her godfather (Morgan Freeman), Clara goes in search of a key which has the power to change the world and literally open the last secret left to Clara by her mother.

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Suspiria

by Alan Rapp on October 31, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Suspiria
  • IMDb: link

Suspiria movie reviewSuspiria is an art house horror film that is a bit too convoluted at the beginning and too obvious at the end. Somewhere in the middle, however, there’s an interesting tale of horror, thrills, and gore (lots and lots of gore). The film from director Luca Guadagnino throws us immediately into the odd world as we struggle to make sense of the rambling incoherence of a troubled girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) to her psychiatrist (Tilda Swinton). While initially dismissing the story as nothing more than the ravings of a troubled mind, Dr. Klemperer becomes more concerned once the girl goes missing and begins looking more closely at the prestigious dance company that may have driven her to an early grave.

At the same time, the school admits a talented American student (Dakota Johnson) who quickly becomes a favorite of Madame Blanc (also Swinton). Despite being the newest student, Susie (Johnson) shows a remarkable understanding of the dance company’s trademark piece (which it turns out is far more than a simple dance). The film features one terrific scene which clues audiences in on the power of the dance while Susie, apparently, remains unaware.

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Science Fair

by Alan Rapp on October 29, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Science Fair
  • IMDb: link

Science Fair movie reviewDirectors Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster‘s documentary Science Fair takes a cross-section of students from across the world earning entries into Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Including interviews from past winners to provide context for the prestigious event, the focus on the documentary are the students who competed for the top prize in 2017. Featuring interviews and documentary footage of winning individual science fairs to earn entry into ISEF, Science Fair is a compelling look at the top scientific high school minds taking their first step into a larger world.

While not all the subjects of the documentary will win, Costantini and Foster take care to showcase the intense dedication each has to their project (astounding work with real-world applications to help make the world a better place). The subjects range from teams from the most prestigious magnet school in the United States and the science teacher pushing her students to succeed, to entries from Brazil and Germany, and a shy young woman in South Dakota whose school is more concerned with their losing football team than her qualification for ISEF.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

by Alan Rapp on October 25, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • IMDb: link

Bohemian Rhapsody movie reviewWhile Bohemian Rhapsody had a troubled road to make its way to the big screen (including firing director Bryan Singer halfway through production), the biopic centered around the lead singer of British rock band Queen satisfies largely due to a terrific lead performance from Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and the band’s extensive discography that fills the film with music without needing to repeat itself.

One of the most interesting choices of the film is using the music of Queen not just to underline specific events and themes but foreshadow, and even explore, them. Staying true to the biopic formula, Singer and his cast deliver a film that builds slowly, focused primarily on Mercury (to the detriment of the other band members) and climaxes in Queen’s performance at Live Aid which provides true movie magic.

While not as inventive as the Queen themselves, the film is a fitting tribute to the band’s legacy, a humorous response to those who wrote the band off early on, and a nod to the band working to include the audience in their music, particularly the live performance. It also proves to be an intriguing character study of Mercury himself.

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Colette

by Alan Rapp on October 21, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Colette
  • IMDb: link

Colette movie reviewBeginning in the late 19th Century, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) became one of several ghostwriters for her husband Willy (Dominic West) who was notorious for putting out other’s work under his name (which helped secure better publishing rights and a broader audience than any of the writers could achieve on their own). A womanizer and gambler always living beyond his means, Willy was always looking for the next big thing (and wasn’t above bullying those around him to achieve his goals).

By far, Willy’s largest success were a series of novels penned by Colette, but released under his own name, about a French girl named Claudine. Much like Willy’s financial success was built on the hard work of his wife, so too is director Wash Westmoreland‘s new film built on the back of Keira Knightley’s performance. A talented woman born a century too early for her talents to be fully appreciated, Colette focuses on the first-half of the artist’s life including her marriage, the writing of her Claudine novels, her growth as an artist, her romantic relationship with both her husband and female lovers (Denise Gough and Eleanor Tomlinson), and her eventual independence.

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