Lion (2016)

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Starring: Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, Priyanka Bose, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Rooney Mara

Plot: A young Indian boy is stranded in the streets of Calcutta after being trapped on a passenger train. Ending up in an orphanage in Tasmania, where he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Nearly 25 years later, he sets out to find his birth family.

Rating: 10/10

Overall: I don’t think I’ve given a film a perfect score in a long time, but this film is so incredibly powerful and emotional, and it hit me hard. Being a child of adoption and essentially living a much more fortunate and blessed life where I am now, I could definitely relate to that desire in finding a birth family again. I have an older brother and I love him so much so it was so devastating to both watch the separation and to learn the truth of events that happened in the film (and to the real-life Guddu). I think there was one line that really stuck with me and it was when Saroo (Patel) tells his adoptive mother, Sue (Kidman) that no matter if he finds his birthmother or not, that she (Kidman) will always be his mother. And she replies with something along the lines of, “I know and I hope you find her so she can see what an amazing man you turned out to be.” I think during his journey to finding his mother all the way to the end of the film I was in tears. And not just the one or two tears of “Oh my gosh, that’s so precious” — I’m talking ugly crying. It’s such a powerful film and if you’re adopted or have adopted children, it will definitely pull hard at your heart strings, so be sure to have ten kleenex boxes nearby. I can definitely see how this film won the award and praise that it did. It’s such a beautiful film!

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Hidden Figures (2016)

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons
Plot: The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program (IMDB.com).
Rating: 10/10
Overall: First and foremost, I cannot believe that Taraji P. Henson did not receive any nominations for the 2017 Oscars or Golden Globes! That is complete BS! While I haven’t seen her in much, I LOVED her in this film. Her character is such an inspiration on so many levels and she did an amazing job. Honestly, I think Taraji is severely underrated in Hollywood. It’s truly disappointing. I’m not trying to take away from Janelle Monae or Octavia Spencer because of course, I loved them as well. They also gave amazing performances. While I ddin’t care much for the actual NASA part of it, I think the cast was amazing and really brought the film to life. Kevin Costner has always been one of my favorite actors of all time (he’s also nice on the eyes, even in his early 60s) and I love his character. It was also interesting to sort of experience that era again — to remember the horrific ways black people were treated during that time. I think the part where Costner’s character questions Henson’s character about why she’s always gone for extended periods during the day and there’s this heated exchange that was so emotionally charged — it was a scene that really made you FEEL. Personally, altogether, I just don’t understand how this didn’t win more awards — or better yet, why it took me so long to finally watch it!

American Assassin (2017)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, Shiva Negar
Plot: After surviving and witnessing his new fiance’s murder in front of him by a terrorist group, Mitch Rapp is out for vengeance. However, he is recruited by a counterterrorism group led by U.S. Navy SEAL, Stan Hurley whose latest target is a former recruit named Ghost.
Rating: 5/10
Overall: I have mixed feeling about this film. First, I love Dylan O’Brien. I think he’s a brilliant young actor, but I absolutely hated him in this film. You want to root for him because of everything he’s gone through, but he has so much “angst” that it just made me angry while watching. I thought the plot was very anticlimactic, which I think is fairly common these days. It’s hard to take such an action-packed film and trained assassins and make them have a long fight scene. But I feel like the first three Jason Bourne films were able to deliver those epic fight scenes — it just seemed like a long “pursuit” and it ended very abruptly with a cliche line, which in turn, made me hate everything about what the film was trying to build and climax to. I also wish it delved more into the Ghost character. Instead of narrating through dialogues between different characters, I would’ve liked if they incorporated a couple flashbacks or something. It’s the same thing with Mitch (O’Brien). I kind of wanted to see the film take us through his recovery — because I feel like with everything going on these days, it would’ve been interesting to see how someone copes with such a catastrophically tragic event. There were also some parts that I wish were explained — for example, the chat room thing that he’s on the people he talks to there. I wanted to know how he learned the language and what language exactly he was speaking. Did he take classes? Or did he just pick it up from videos?

Why Him? (2016)

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Griffin Gluck, Keegan-Michael Key
Plot: Meeting the parents can be difficult for the parents, especially when “daddy’s little girl” is dating an uncensored, tattooed millionaire.
Rating: 2/10
Overall: I can’t say I had high expectations, and while this film had some really funny parts, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect. I feel like James Franco has very poor choices in films — especially as of late, I feel like he always plays some scummy, uneducated, douchebag that makes you cringe with everything he says. I definitely think Bryan Cranston was hilarious and he played his character so incredibly. The ending was my biggest problem. It took cliche one step further and just made me so angry. These types of films are what’s ruining the film industry.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Armie Hammer, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Plot: In the midst of her marital crisis, a wealthy art gallery owner (Adams) receives a draft of her ex-husband’s (Gyllenhaal) new novel (IMDB.com).

Rating: 5/10

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!***

Overall: First, the opening scene was cringe-worthy (in my opinion) because it opens with an older, fat, naked, dancing woman (or a couple of them? can’t really tell). I actually ended up fast-forwarding through that. It was just a very strange, uncomfortable 10 minutes of film. This film is very vague and it jumps between the present, flashbacks and the novel Susan (Adams) is reading.

The novel that she is reading is very strange. It entails the storyline of a man (Gyllenhaal) and his wife (Fisher) and daughter (Bamber) embarking on a road trip for a family vacation. Along the way, they are taunted by three mischievous rednecks, which ends up with the man rear-ending the rednecks’ car. They all pull over and it turns into a brawl leaving the man with one of the rednecks, while the other two rednecks drive off with the wife and daughter. Essentially, the wife and daughter aren’t found until later for which they are found raped and murdered. The man teams up with the Sheriff (Shannon) who is later revealed to be dying and decides not to play things by the book. The two seek out the perpetrators in the man’s wife and daughter’s murders.

After reading the script, Susan sends Edward (Gyllenhaal), her ex-husband and writer of the novel she was reading, an email asking to meet, for which he responds asking when and where. The film ends with her sitting at a restaurant waiting for him.

Now, I feel like the script was supposed to be symbolic of Adams and Gyllenhaal’s relationship throughout their marriage. For example, the wife and daughter in the script were taken away by other men for which could be symbolic of the loss of both his marriage to Adams and the fact that they had a child together which was also “taken away” when she left him for someone else (Hammer). There’s a part in the script where Gyllenhaal’s character screams and cries, “I should’ve fought! I should’ve fought harder for them!” to which he is referring to his wife and daughter. I feel this is symbolic to Adams character in real life leaving Gyllenhaal for Hammer. I thought it was interesting how her life seemingly turned out exactly the way she said she didn’t want it to. During one of the flashbacks, she’s fighting with Gyllenhaal (and at this point, you [the viewer] is left with the assumption that she’s cheating and ready to run off with the man with whom she’s cheating with) and she says things like, “You’re so soft and gentle and romantic,” and that she’s “not creative [like Gyllenhaal]” and doesn’t want to be with another artist because he seemingly sacrificed his education and their future (financially, I’m assuming) together. I interpreted this to come full circle when Gyllenhaal’s character in the script screams and cried “I should’ve fought! I should’ve fought harder for them!” I think the wife and daughter dying in the script was symbolic of the part in real life where you assume that Adam’s character aborts a pregnancy and brings Hammer’s character along to comfort her, for which Gyllenhaal’s character shows up and is devastated — the film doesn’t go into much detail as to what happened after that.  Also, at the end of the script, it fades out to Gyllenhaal badly beaten and laying in the desert sand (for which you’re left to assume that he either died or was never found). I thought that might’ve been symbolic of either him dying of an illness or potentially dying by suicide. Especially when he seemingly doesn’t show up to meet Susan (Adams) at dinner after she read the script.

It’s difficult for me to actually formulate an opinion when I’m left with so many questions. I think from a figurative standpoint and being a writer myself, I definitely believe the script Gyllenhaal’s character wrote was symbolic of the turmoil between him and Adams’ character. Adams’ character is shown having a daughter in real life for whom she calls after reading a portion of the script that brings her to tears.  It’s also assumed that Hammer’s character is cheating on Adams’ character because he’s traveling a lot instead of wanting to spend time with her and when Adams calls him, he’s in an elevator with a young brunette and when Adams hears the elevator valet ask something to the woman, there’s tension between Hammer and Adams. It was just a really bizarre film and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I’ve been sitting on this review for a day now and I’m not even sure how to interpret it. I gave it five out of ten stars simply for the supposed symbolism of it. But overall, I don’t think it was very cohesive and it was way too subjective to interpret to actually enjoy.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright
Plot: A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years (IMDB.com).

Rating: 6/10

Overall: I have not seen the previous films of the Blade Runner franchise, but since I saw this one was getting high praise, it shouldn’t matter. Long story short, it does matter – for a couple of reasons. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel like i needed more of a back story despite the long paragraph intro (which I might add that I hate – either add a narrator or SHOW it). My other complaint is that I felt like the movie dragged for an eternity trying to get to the main point of the film and then backtracked just to set it up for a sequel, which makes me angry as a viewer because I feel as if I just wasted three hours of my life watching a film that took 2 hours just to make a point, just to have 10 minutes of maybe 30-second fight sequences, just to leave us with an open ending and a bajillion questions. I can’t say I will see whatever is to come next in this franchise, and I honestly can’t say that I will even go back and watch the others. My other problem was that it was hard for me to really grasp the whole concept of the “divide” between the replicants, the older robot things (I forgot what they’re called – or are the older ones called replicants? I don’t even care at this point…) and the humans. I feel like it had a Terminator meets iRobot meets Chappie vibe to it. It’s an overrated plot, and while the concept has potential to be interesting, I feel it took the overrated, “Hollywood” path.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)


Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Edward Holcroft

Plot: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy (IMDB.com).

Rating: 9/10

Overall: Still has the great humor and action sequences as the first film, though I don’t think it was as good. It was interesting how the writers found a way to bring back Harry (Firth), so it was cool to have him come back. I think the only complaints I have are the CGI stuff for the action sequences – it’s almost overdone. I also think there were some very weak points in the plot. As always I feel like writers these days don’t really question their plots or look for loopholes/loose ends.

On a side note, it was a fun date night film to see, especially when the first one was also your first movie date with your significant other 🙂