Joy

White blouse and long pants. Like a high-wire walker, Joy balances femininity and professionalism, family and business, logic and love.

As an advocate for equal pay, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence truly embraced her character as an unexpected but steadfast matriarch of a crazy family. To name a few, she has to deal with an ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in their basement, a father (Robert de Niro) who was returned by his second wife, a mother (Virginia Madsen) obsessed with watching soap operas and the only saving grace, a grandmother (Diane Ladd) who fiercely instilled ambition in her.

The film has tantalizing visuals, clever use of dreams and TV scenes and inspiring musical scores. The story is scattered with flashbacks and fast-forwards, chaotic in nature, like mixing business with family. As messy as business can be, the trials and tribulations create an opportunity for Joy. It gives a reason to pursue her dream or rather, demands her to go back to the one thing where she felt most herself – creating through her hands.

Time passes and challenges become victories when she take matters to her own hands, her ingenious idea materialized into a product that becomes a business and this business becomes an empire. Through her innate creativity and incessant stubbornness, Joy shows  anyone can rise from the depths of the earth with grace even when it’s muddy down there.

 

 

 

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Suffragette

Stellar performances, sublime cinematography and an important cause – this historical drama is quite close to perfection. Almost, because there are questions on whether this film represented ‘white feminism’ and completely ignored ‘intersectional feminism’.

The intensity of emotions was magnificently captured and the music complemented the tone in every scene, whether a small triumph or unspeakable sorrow.

Carey Mulligan was electrifying in her role as Maud Watts, a suffragette whose life represented countless women that devoted their lives to the cause at grass-roots level. She participated in acts of defiance and serves time at prison during which force feeding was allowed. In the same vein, Helena Bonham Carter shined as Edith Ellyn, a more senior suffragette whose heart illness did not interfere with her relentless pursuit for justice.

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Surrealism Exhibition – National Gallery of Victoria  (Photo by: Julia Velez)

Even with only a few minutes of screen time, Meryl Streep did not disappoint. Her eloquence, conviction and passion for the cause reflected that of the real Emmeline Pankhurst, an iconic British figure of the early 20th century suffrage movement.

These real women of courage were beautifully portrayed by these actresses. However there was an apparent lack of characters portraying women of colour, which has been termed “erasure” by critics. This is the cause of accusations on being racially insensitive on the part of modern day film makers. Historically accurate or not, the decision to exclude cultural diversity in the film was in my eyes, questionable.

Whilst bearing this issue in mind, this film remains powerful and heart-wrenching, visually captivating and emotionally raw. It delves into gender inequality, the daily challenges of ordinary women at the time when strength of human character was tested but never faltered.

Review: Trance

In his latest film Trance, award-winning Director Danny Boyle did what he does best. Brilliant actors, unforgettable music, and mesmerising visuals – Boyle conducted an orchestra and the result: perfect harmony.

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In this psychological thriller, art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) is being chased by Franck (Vincent Cassel) after being accused of stealing a valuable painting. Simon suffers from amnesia and the only hope in recovering the painting is through hypnotherapy. Rosario Dawson’s portrayal as a hypnotherapist makes you forget she is an actress.

From a simple case of theft, the story unfolds much like a maze without a definite end. Each secret leads to another and just as people get better at lying, it seems Boyle is a master of deception. The Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire does not disappoint but instead presents us with another one of his accolades, an addition to his ever-expansive repertoire of films of such exceptional quality.

Writers Joe Ahearne and John Hodge should be commended for the script is ingeniously penned whilst the twists and turns were rather fresh, original and quite unexpected. Haunting musical scores offers a modern vibe whilst enhancing the mysterious aura of the film. When a fusion of extreme emotions is involved, it is never easy or simple to ask an actor to perform their role but all three main actors no doubt exhibited their character’s depth and complexity.

One cannot pinpoint the gem in every scene but that’s not at all a bad thing; in fact, quite the contrary.  Meticulously selected music, cinematography with intricate details and illusorily authentic human emotions creates a seamless masterpiece of suspense-drama.

After Earth

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Source: G4TV

Visuals are commendable as a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller yet even Will Smith’s convincing portrayal cannot save the general dryness of a cliché-filled drama set in a futuristic world.

Inhabitants of a once people-friendly Earth have evolved to kill humans as they hunt them down through their ability to literally sense fear. Sailing through the ebb and flow of a father-son relationship, Cypher (Will Smith) navigates his son Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) through an illusive forest with a silence brimming of menace. A frustrated cadet whose only aim is to be promoted as ranger, Kitai is eager to prove himself to the prime commander – his father.

As Kitai faces each predator, he is re-acquainted with a fear more potent than terror of the wilderness. Will Smith cast a spell once again because it’s difficult to see a sunny goody two shoes actor play an estranged father. However, the robotic personality in this film showed Smith’s versatility and grace.

One of the rare highlights comes in a central theme explored throughout the film. It questions the conventional notion of fear and unravels its true nature as a conscious choice taken every second of the day much like picking an apple from an orange; fear is an illusion we succumb to if we let it.

Director M. Night Shyamalan seemed to have taken no risks for the film has a predictable plot and forgettable music mashed up with a script that is melodramatic at best and tawdry at worst. Visually sumptuous on occasion and a dash of humour here and there keeps the viewer awake but just barely.

Gatsby? What Gatsby?

Watching Baz Lhurmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby felt like hearing your grandmother say you can gaze at an interesting display of tiny figurines in a snow globe. But you can’t – under any circumstances – hold it or shake it or experience the magic: visually sumptuous yet not guaranteed to fill the void.

Told through the eyes of a bonds salesman and soon-to-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), it chronicles his experience in New York on summer of 1922 as he lives in a cottage beside a castle-like estate owned by a mysterious millionaire named Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Little by little, Nick realises why Gatsby’s mansion being located right across the property of his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) was no coincidence.

The cast delivered well-executed performances yet antagonist characters so central in the novel were not given an opportunity to excel.

  • DiCaprio shined as a little boy trapped in a body of a suave gentleman with a rather impossible dream but he seems quite unsure of what his accent should sound like.
  • As a Southern belle whose angelic face seamlessly masks the crassness of her true character, Mulligan’s charismatic glow stolen Gatsby’s fragile little heart.
  • Narrating the story as an outsider looking in, Maguire’s naivety and sensitivity was disarming.
  • However, minor characters like Daisy’s husband Tom Buchanan and his mistress Myrtle lacked character development.
  • The romance between Nick and Daisy’s best friend Jordan Baker, a source of tension in the novel, was unfortunately non-existent in the film.

Same as Lhurmann’s Moulin Rouge and Australia, settings were impressive, majestic even – rich in colour and elaborate details. From the vain extravagance of Gatsby’s mansion to the gloom and doom of the Valley of Ashes, various juxtapositions reveal the paradoxes that truly encapsulate the tone of the roaring twenties.

But the aesthetics sometimes took the spotlight away from the stars of the film. Also, there weren’t many action scenes or grand visual effects a la Inception hence seeing it in 3D appeared to be a distraction more than anything else.

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Source: Music Feeds

The highly anticipated soundtracks did not fit the puzzle. Sure, Lana del Ray and Florence & The Machine’s voices are hauntingly beautiful but it did not quite fall into place. Choosing contemporary songs exhibited Lhurmann’s bravery yet overall, the songs only highlighted the distinction and vast distance between our time and the Jazz Age… when the goal is to come close in recreating the latter.

There were several crucial moments where the scene should have lingered a bit longer to let audience soak up intense feelings and absorb the weight of Gatsby’s stare. Instead, it rushed off to the next spectacle of a party resembling a musical number. Whilst it was more than two hours long, it felt as though Lhurmann crammed too much colour but not enough emotion.

This version was certainly amusing, it had potential – everything was set. But the mix of elements resembled a French Macaron recipe that had gone wrong, it seemed easy but difficult to perfect. Lhurmann remained more or less faithful to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel yet somehow missed the essence of it.

Fitzgerald’s iconic piece was a tapestry of meticulously interwoven words bound by a common hedonistic yet enigmatic nature. Lhurmann’s work was vivid and grand but was devoid of the cunning ways in which Fitzgerald enslaved your senses as you so willingly hang on to his every word.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Why You Should Watch “Amour”

Why You Should Watch “Amour”

My film review was published on http://socialjournalism.com.au/

Writers, communication and journalism students, I encourage you to join the site.

Why?

1. It’s free to sign up. You can get your articles published when it gets good reviews and comments from your peers.

2. Great for your resume. Experience is invaluable.

3. Network with like-minded individuals as it’s also a social networking site similar to FB!

Film Review: Happiness Never Comes Alone

Source: http://www.cinemotions.com/affiche-Un-Bonheur-n-arrive-jamais-seul-tt114468
Source: http://www.cinemotions.com/affiche-Un-Bonheur-n-arrive-jamais-seul-tt114468

Sometimes in order to be happy, you must confront your greatest fear. An eclectic mix of old and new elements transforms this French Rom-com into a Hollywood fairy-tale and that’s not always a good thing.

A struggling musician afraid of his famous father’s shadow, Sacha (Gad Elmaleh) instantly falls head over heels for a single mum Charlotte (Sophie Marceau). In a house with three bundles of joy and clashing personalities, Charlotte juggles her roles as Super-mum, contemporary art exhibitionist and the ex-wife of rich businessman Alain Posche (François Berléand). Manipulative and controlling, Alain uses his money and power to drive away Charlotte’s first husband and he’s not afraid to do it again.

Though the Parisian setting never fails to capture the heart of audiences, Sacha’s fear of commitment and kids resonate with typical Hollywood Rom-coms and so do many of the boy meets girl scenes. However, there were some innovative shots and angles as well as old and popular music that appears to be tailor-made for the comedic tone of the film.

Director James Huth’s Hollywood take on a Parisian film certainly appeals to those searching for the characteristic components like the idea of “dreams do come true” and characters experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions type of film but those who want something deeper or more authentic should look elsewhere.

Oozing with energy and life, colours are more intense as the pair has undeniable chemistry and the film on the whole is fun-filled and light. Though the cast was full of potential, the film dragged along at times without offering anything much different than any other American Rom-com.

Published on: Student View