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Happy Christmas

Here’s a film without a plot-line, a start or (you guessed it) an end. Yet, I loved it. Why? Probably because the film is so brutally honest that it is hard not to stop, ignore and forget watching it. 

I know, I know - now I’m just contradicting myself! I just said that I loved the film. Then why, now, am I saying that it’s hard not to hate it? Well, because, the only reason I hated this film was that it was too honest - and I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, if a film can make you hate it, simply by being truthful, you have yourselves a strong, impactful and good film. 

And such films, I believe, should be loved. 

Plus, besides all that, the film stars Anna Kendrick, who is undeniably likeable, as its lead character. So, yeah, there’s that too. 
 
Well, anyway, you might be wondering what this film, without a plot-line, a start or an end, is about? The answer to that, fortunately, is simple: The film is a character study of a grown up woman who refuses to grow up. 

This woman, played by (as already mentioned) the flawless Anna Kendrick, has some serious issues. She, of course, has no idea that these issues exist.

As the film progresses, we get to know more about these problems. For instance, we realise that this woman refuses to take on any kind of responsibility. We get to know that she has no understanding of how her actions have consequences. We see and understand that she has no goals, no ambition and no care for her future. She is happy living in her brother’s basement; smoking pot, doing nothing. 

As all this happens, we, sadly, see our society in the film. We realise that this woman, who refuses to grow up, represents our society - especially if we belong to today’s generation. This, as you might have already realised, is when the film’s brutal honesty kicks in. 

Of course, however, the film isn’t a criticism of this woman; who represents us. It, instead, is a character study - so amongst all that negativity, it even projects to us the positivity within this woman. It shows us how in today’s day and age, this woman is ready to fight for her rights and is ready to become independent. What she does with these rights and this independence, though, is a completely different story. 

As the film reaches its end, we are left with the thought that behaviour, like that of this woman, is contagious. Those of us who can realise that this, no matter how good it seems, is bad for us, move on in life. Those of us who do not realise anything, on the other hand, are left stuck, thinking that life is good even when it is horrible. In the end, the only one who can make a difference and who can change things is us. 
 
Joe Swanberg’s sophomore film, Happy Christmas, isn’t telling you any stories. It is just reflecting to you what our society has become - the fact that most of it was improv just scares me, because everything came so naturally to the actors. 

See this film. If not for entertainment, see it to realise, understand and know what our society has become.

Community lives on!

Remember when a few months ago NBC did what we all had been fearing about for a long time by cancelling Community? I’m pretty sure all of us had the same reaction:

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Well, guess what? We’re now out of the darkest timeline.

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Oh, yeah, you heard me right.

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BUT HOW? Well, you just have to thank Yahoo! Because, you know, COMMUNITY LIVES ON!

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Now, I just want to thank Yahoo! for being so nice and conclude by saying:

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Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise has been both, a ‘movie star’ and an excellent actor for ages. With performances like the one in Magnolia and with blockbusters like the Mission Impossible franchise, he has proven this.  Similarly, Doug Liman has been an excellent film maker for ages. After having made amazing films like The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, he has proven that he knows what he is doing.

Sadly, however, both Cruise and Liman have been struggling for the past few years. They have made good films alright, but these films haven’t been as good as they used to be - and believe me, the films used to be very good.  With Edge of Tomorrow, though, both the actor and director in question have made a comeback. In a somewhat similar sense to its central theme, the film has allowed Tom Cruise and Doug Liman to restart their careers (with a great push).

The film’s plot-line is rather complicated: Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, who is the kind of man who sends any number of people to war until he doesn’t have to fight the war himself - one day, however, under some rather unfortunate circumstances, Cage wakes up to find out that he now himself has to fight the war he desperately ran from. As one might expect, chaos ensues - but not in the way you might think. You see, while (actually after) fighting the war, Cage finds out that he can now restart his day whenever he dies. Cage must now befriend Rita Vrastaski aka Full Metal Bitch aka Angel of Verdun (Emily Blunt), a total badass woman who teaches Cage how to use this power and become someone who can fight the war and kick some alien ass, until of course, the Earth is safe.

Albeit complicated, it seems like an interesting concept, right? Well, it is. This, after all, is like a combination of Groundhog Day and a film such as Oblivion (another Cruise film). But that’s not what makes this film so good - instead it’s Cruise, it’s Liman’s direction and it’s the surprisingly well written script of this film.

Let me explain.

Firstly, after having seen Tom Cruise play a fearless, calm and nonchalant character time after time in film after film, seeing him in this film is delightful. He plays such an afraid, scared and powerless man that it’s hard not to be baffled with just how good Tom Cruise is as an actor. The way he pulls of being this wimp is exceptional and marvellous and rather entertaining.

If that’s not enough, Liman knows how to use Cruise. He gives us the scared and worried Cruise who is discovering the sadness and hopelessness of death again and again and who is trying to escape the war in any and every way possible, but then he also gives us the Cruise we have all come to love over the years: you know, the one with that ever-so-charming big smile and the one with an undeniably likeable arrogance.

To add to that, with the film’s script, Liman is also able to keep the audience entertained and interested at every possible single moment of the film. The script, after all, uses the Groundhog Day concept (living the same day again and again; can I call it that?) to create action, humour and a sense of confusion.

You see, as the film progresses, it creates a video-game like theme in which our hero has to die again and again until he learns how to finish every challenge faced, so that he can fight and destroy the final boss at the end of the game. This allows Cage to become as strategic, brave and powerful as possible until he finishes all his challenges and fights and destroys this final boss.

By adding humour and confusion to this ingenious action, Doug Liman pretty much makes the film great. 

Other than that, even Emily Blunt, who, as mentioned before, plays Rita Vrataski (aka Full Metal Bitch aka Angel of Verdun) is pretty good in her role. Vrataski is Cage’s trainer and romantic interest in the film - not much if we think about it. However, Blunt is able to add a sense of mystery and depth into this character that you have to like her and you have to want her to have as much screen time as possible. (Plus, there’s that part where this character is nick-named Full Metal Bitch).

Together, all these elements add up and mix so well that disliking Edge of Tomorrow becomes almost impossible, if not fully impossible. In fact, they all layer up and blend so well that they make Edge of Tomorrow, at least in my eyes, one of the best (if not the best) films of summer 2014.

I have heard that the film isn’t doing a very good business and that’s a pity - not because I liked the film so much, but because it is a really good film which has the potential to make loads of people like it. Honestly, do yourselves a favour and go watch Edge of Tomorrow. It’s a great film.

Harold Ramis, 1944-2014

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I know that this message is very very late, but I still have to write it and pay homage to one of the greatest writers, film-makers and actors of all time: Harold Ramis.

Why countless people and I adore this man so much is not only because he has entertained us and made us all laugh a million times, but also because he has helped cinema reach the stage where it is today.

This man, along with Bill Murray and John Candy established comedy in the 1980s. He took risks and produced movies which were incredible beyond words and are still remembered. All his movies - whether it be Groundhog Day, Stripes, Caddyshack or Ghost Busters - just took the genre to a different level. They were funny alright, but they were also new and interesting and different… They had lovely characters, mind blowing plots and wonderful humour! They made you laugh, they made you dream and imagine, they made you feel nice and they even made you realise things about life you otherwise probably wouldn’t - and all this is because of that one man.

Whether he enacted in movies or directed them or just wrote them - it didn’t matter. They were good and in fact, they still are! That’s all that matters. That’s all that has ever mattered, and that’s all that will ever matter.

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Goodbye, Harold Ramis and rest in peace. You’ll always be remembered and your legacy will remain forever. Thank you for all that you did.

The Spectacular Now

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You know how, as teenagers, many of us run from the future? We like to live in the now - because it’s spectacular or maybe even because the future is scary and because we don’t see a point in growing up and becoming an adult. That. That and much more is exactly what James Ponsoldt’s fantabulous film, The Spectacular Now, is about.

It’s a character driven film whose characters are played by two exceptionally great actors, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Miles’s character Sutter Keely is who we follow as the film continues.

Sutter is the life of the party, the class clown, the kid who doesn’t care about the future - because high school is great! He does as he likes - all to make life happy. He believes in now - the spectacular now. To him, the future doesn’t matter. He is charming and can become friends with just about anyone. He is living the best time of his life and he knows that. Then why should he care about the future?

Well, because he has flaws too - and these flaws can affect him badly if he doesn’t do anything about them. You see, the thing is that he is just an average looking guy who is failing school and who is addicted to alcohol. He makes life fun and he makes parties lively, but all of it ends up affecting him so badly that one day his girlfriend Cassidy dumps him and he ends up sleeping in some random guy’s lawn.

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That’s when Shailene Woodley’s character, Aimee Finecky, enters the picture. She, on her way to distributing newspapers around the neighbourhood, finds Sutter lying unconscious. She wakes him up. And then they connect. Of course, it’s not this quick. Aimee and Sutter are worlds apart. Aimee is the kind of girl who enjoys reading more than partying, who thinks about her future and who isn’t really social. She is under-confident and thinks less of herself. Such different people need time to connect. And the film gives them time.

It doesn’t rush anything and gives off an hour of its one hour thirty minutes run-time to its characters. It digs deep into their lives and brings out all the struggles of their lives, only to showcase why they became what they are today. This makes the film feel real. The characters face real-people problems and represent real-people. They talk like actual teenagers, behave like actual teenagers and think like actual teenagers.

Moreover, it’s not just the relationship between Sutter and Aimee that this film tackles so honestly. It’s all the relationships in Sutter and Aimee’s lives. Take Sutter and Cassidy, for instance. They were perfect. They had the best relationship possible and yet, they broke up – because Cassidy wanted a future while Sutter didn’t even care about one.

This flexible approach of showing the struggles of both Sutter and Aimee with the people in their lives brings us to what might be called the climax of this film. The point when Sutter and Aimee face not only each other, but also themselves. See, Sutter and Aimee have parental issues – yet another problem teenagers face - and both of them aren’t ready to face these issues. At least, not until they meet each other.

For Aimee, it’s facing her mother who is totally dependent on Aimee. And for Sutter it is meeting his father – a man who his mother and sister have kept away from him. That’s when Aimee and Sutter realise how much they need each other and how much being together has changed them.

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Of course, what really impressed me were the actors of this film – Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller. They do a terrific job in playing out their roles. The honesty and reality with which they act will amaze anyone. No wonder Sundance created a special prize for them.

However, one aspect of the film which disappointed me was the complete ignorance of Sutter’s drinking problem. He drinks throughout the film and even passes on this habit to Aimee. In fact, he is even part of a drunk-driving accident. Yet, he doesn’t stop drinking.

Fortunately, the film is interesting, strong and spectacular enough for this to not become a problem. Overall, I guess it’s safe to say that this was truly one of the best films of this year – but then again, I have a thing for coming-of-age movies, so I might be biased. In fact, I guess why I love this film sooo much is because it reminds me of John Hughges and all those other 80s movies (such as Say Anything…) which helped define an era.

The Kings Of Summer

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I tried some countless different starts when I began writing this review, but in the end I couldn’t come up with anything to describe the simplicity of this amazing movie called The Kings Of Summer. So now, here I’m - with a completely different approach to describe how much I enjoyed this movie. 

It’s hard to decide what to begin with, so I guess I’ll start from the beginning: around five months ago, I got to know about this movie. As you might have guessed, I was very excited to see it. But sadly, due to some reasons of mine, the only way for me to see this was to wait for the DVD release.

So that’s why I was pretty delighted this week (the DVD came out, after all). But, what was the point of telling you all this in a film review?

Well, I…don’t know. But I will still take a guess, just so that I don’t look like the fool I’m. Okay, then: the purpose of all this was…to write because I felt like writing it. It made me feel independent - something which all the three main characters of this movie want to feel. Yep. 

Anyway, moving on, if I were to describe this movie in one single word I’d probably say that it was ‘hysterical’. Why, everyone (at least every sane one) must be wondering. Well, I guess it’s because this movie not only had the quirkiness to make me laugh, but also the emotions to make me cry.

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The characters were so strong that I,
A. not only got to relate to the main characters,
B. but also feel for the ones I never expected to feel for. All the thanks go to Nick Offerman for being the ridiculously good actor he is.

And while we are at characters, I’ve to say that Moises Arias impressed me SO much that I can’t even describe it. I really do have to give it to him because I for one could never have thought that Nico from Hannah Montana would end up being so amazing! But, Arias’s character isn’t the one who drives the movie forward - in fact, I feel that Moises’s character was a mystery whose role only came to importance in the end. His character was just for entertainment which, even though crazy at times (“I met a dog the other day that taught me how to die”), was welcoming.


But, perhaps what really makes me feel nice about this film are its other two characters. Their story has already been told too many times: running away from home because of either annoying or angry-for-no-reason parents. Yet, it feels so different! I suppose it’s because of their urge to become men and their want for being friends for life - friends who wouldn’t betray or give up on each other.

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While this dream of theirs is beautifully represented by Jordan Vogt- Roberts through his montages (the most beautiful one either being the boys creating energetic, exciting and ambitious beats as they become one with nature or the boys actively making the house of their dreams as they enjoy each other’s company and have the most amount of fun they ever had in life), the film doesn’t forget that all this is still a ‘dream’.

Friendship without fights is impossible and there are many reasons for that. In this case, it’s love - something which walks hand in hand with friendship.

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I personally feel that with a very subtle touch of love, this film showcases several different conflicting emotions felt by teenagers as they grow up and understand life.

Something else which impressed me is how this film (like no other) has a very diverse soundtrack. It varies from country to something which I believe was hip-hop. This allowed me to have a very refreshing approach to the film as I could feel various different emotions flooding through the characters.

However, I was disappointed over one point. Before saying anything else, I first have to point out that I’m not sure when this film has been set. Hence, I’m assuming it’s the current times.

Now, moving on to the main point of discussion: how in today’s world did these teenagers manage to live with technology? According to what I saw - they had troubles accepting the sudden transition in food. Well, what about technology? Teenagers of today’s world are too tech-savvy to easily accept an internet-free life. But, I guess that would have killed the film’s plot.

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Oh, and before I forget, I’d like to point out another thing which grabbed my attention. The beautiful scenery. This film has been constructed with so many masterfully shot clips of nature that it really makes you wonder about the beauty of life.

Overall, I believe that everyone will understand this film differently. It’s just that kind of a film. All this - whatever I wrote - was what impressed me and was what I understood. I don’t know what you are going to see or what you are going to understand, but I do know that you - whoever you are - should watch this film because the chances are that you most probably will like what you see. At least, I did.