A roundup of our summer film recommendations

It’s mid August, and summer’s basically over. Here’s a roundup of the films we recommended you should watch this summer.


Lady Bird (2017)
Grade: A-
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein
Director: Greta Gerwig

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Lady Bird (2017) is a coming-of-age film about 17 year old Christine who lives in Sacramento and studies in a local catholic school. Christine dyes her hair pink, demands to be called ‘Lady Bird’, and detests her town and her school; basically she is every teenager ever! She desperately wants to go to a college in New York and wants to be at a place where culture is. However, her family is facing financial issues which has made Christine self-conscious about her class.
Lady Bird explores the relationship between a mother and a daughter. One minute they are both fighting and screaming at the top of their lungs, and the next they are comforting each other and having fun. No matter how bitter their relation seems, they are, afterall, family. This is shown beautifully during the last few minutes of the film.
The best thing about Lady Bird is that we can relate to it in some way or the other; Christine’s rebillious nature, her strained relation with her mother, and her desire not to get stuck in the same mundane life like her parents. Lady Bird is a decent Bildungsroman that serves as a nostalgic reminder of our own teenage years.

The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
Rating: B+
Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Cast: Al Pacino, Kitty Winn

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This is not an uplifting film with any sort of message. It is simply a look into the lives of drug abusers, and the relationships and fall-outs that happen along the way. Al Pacino, in his first leading role, plays Bobby, a drug addict and hustler on the streets of New York City. Through a friend, he meets Helen (Kitty Winn). Helen is a shy young woman, and she starts a relationship with Bobby, after he shows her kindness as she recovered from a difficult abortion. Their courtship takes place mainly in dingy apartments, warehouses and on the streets of Sherman Square in Manhattan, so called ‘Needle Park’ because of the large number of drug addicts that convene there. Soon, Helen becomes a drug user herself and even as it draws her closer to Bobby, the life of addiction has perils of its own.

I love this film because of the leading actors, and because of the gritty cinematography. It has graphic depictions of drug abuse, so be advised. But other than that, it captures the tender moments of young love spectacularly, and also does not shy away from showing the less palatable aspects of Bobby and Helen’s toxic romance. Al Pacino is quite the handsome devil here, and Kitty Winn holds her own as a leading lady.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Grade: B+
Cast: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Elliott Gould
Director: Steven Soderbergh

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After getting out of prison, ex-con Danny Ocean plans to rob not one, but three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. To further his plan, he and his partner in crime Rusty have to put together a team of 11 criminal specialists. All of them have their own skill sets and talents, each pivotal to the plot. Danny has to convince all these people to help him execute this crazy plan so they can steal the $160 million and split it among themselves. The heist is not easy to pull off and the team has to face several bumps on the way, but no matter what, they must make it work.
The plot twists are clever and the script is hilarious. Everything from the cast to the direction is spectacular. The film has a perfect pace, and never once does it feel dragged. It is one of those fun and laid-back films that you never get bored of, no matter how many times you watch it.

Splendor in the Grass (1961)
Rating: A
Director: Elia Kazan
Cast: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie
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Love, desire and angst conflate in this classic film by Elia Kazan about two teenagers who fall desperately for each other. Deanie (Natalie Wood) and Bud (Warren Beatty) feel oppressed by the conservative norms of 1920’s Kansas, and are unable to consummate their love; as a result, their relationship becomes toxic. Deanie wants to be with Bud, but Bud is forced to live up to his wealthy father’s expectations. Despite having only the best intentions, Deanie and Bud fall apart. Deanie bears the brunt of it and slowly begins to descend into madness.

This is an engrossing and deeply moving romantic drama about what happens when desire is strictly regulated and not allowed to flourish as the normal part of a relationship. Unable to attain physical intimacy, Deanie and Bud are split apart by societal restrictions. Natalie Wood gives one of the best performances of her career as a vivacious yet sensitive teenage girl who loves perhaps too deeply for her own good, while Warren Beatty is spectacular in his role of the brooding young boy, who wants to become a man in his own right, but is held back by the demands made on him. I would recommend that everyone watch this film. There is nothing quite like it, and you will truly see how this film was ahead of its time; so much so, that it is radical and gripping for audiences even today.

Coherence (2013)
Grade: B+
Cast: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Lorene Scafaria, Elizabeth Gracen, Hugo Armstrong, Alex Manugian, Lauren Maher
Director: James Ward Byrkit

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Eight friends gather for a dinner party as a comet is passing over them. As the night progresses, strange things begin to occur. What started out as a casual dinner turns into a freaky nightmare.
Coherence delivers a very complicated concept in a gripping way. The less you know about the plot before watching it, the more you will be able to enjoy it. There are clues throughout the film that will help you keep track of what’s going on. You’ll have to watch this film with your undivided attention because every line and every shot is meaningful. The director has successfully created a mind-bender that taps into our fears and paranoia. If you love science fiction and crazy theories, give Coherence a watch!

A Dark Song (2016)
Rating: B+
Director: Liam Gavin
Cast: Catherine Walker, Steve Oram

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This film falls under the genre of horror, but it is so much more. This is the story of a grieving mother and her dangerous quest to reach out to her dead child. Sophia Howard (Catherine Walker) recruits the help of occultist Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) to undergo a months-long, strenuous ritual that will allow her to speak to her Guardian Angel and ask for whatever she wants. The two move into a secluded house in the countryside, which they will not be able to leave until the ritual is completed. The film becomes an intense psychological drama about two desperate individuals, experiencing more than a touch of cabin fever, while irrevocably bound by their shared pursuit. As the ritual becomes more and more demanding, and Sophia and Joseph continue to size up each other and question each other’s murky motives, dark forces around them awaken to their call.
I would recommend that you watch this film when you’re in the mood for something that is supernatural yet has a heavy subject matter. The occult rituals are very realistic and quite interesting. This is not a film with jump-scares, but a slow-burning psychological thriller with a touch of something darker.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Grade: A
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton
Director: Wes Anderson
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The Grand Budapest Hotel is among those films that transport you into an entirely different world. There is a myriad of emotions as the movie combines comedy, romance, adventure, and provides an exhilarating experience to the viewer. It is a tale within a tale, where our narrator Zero Moustafa recounts his life at a time that was much simpler. Not only is the script hilarious, but the way it is delivered by the stellar cast is also perfect. In 1932, Zero is taken in as a lobby boy in The Grand Budapest Hotel by the concierge Gustave H. Gustave also becomes Zero’s mentor so that he can train Zero in a proper manner. When Gustave’s friend dies, he and Zero must go to Putz to pay their respects. However, as they reach the mansion, things begin to take a crazy turn.
The film provides a symbolic depiction of the loss of our culture and the transition of humanity into the mess we are today, which is quite sad. Wes Anderson has done such a marvelous job with the direction, we feel ourselves to be part of the adventure instead of just watching it on our screens.
This is a film you need to add in your list of must-see movies!

Rebecca (1940)
Rating: A
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson

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In this fantastic Hitchcock thriller, we never even see Rebecca. Yet she permeates every aspect of the lives of all the main characters. A shy, young woman (Joan Fontaine) is wooed by a rich widowed man called Maxim de Winter (Lawrence Olivier), and she soon becomes the ‘new’ Mrs. de Winter. As soon as she moves into his stately home, it becomes obvious the previous Mrs. de Winter (or Rebecca) looms large in the minds of all who knew her, from family friends to the servants. As she tries her best to settle into her new life, Mrs. de Winter realizes that the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) continues to alienate her with her coldly judgmental attitude because she is still in awe of Rebecca. As secrets unfold, Mrs. de Winter realizes there is good cause for the myth and mystery surrounding Rebecca – and it may prove to be undoing of her married life.

Apart from the engrossing plot and characterization, the best part of this film is the setting of the house, called Manderley. With its lofty ceilings and grand furnishings, it makes Mrs. de Winter appeal rather small and lonely. The interplay of light and shadow at critical moments in the narrative is also incredible. If you can get past the old-timey, benevolent sexism of Olivier’s character, this is a classic mystery film that every film aficionado needs to see.

The Shape of Water (2017)
Grade: B+
Rating: R
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Guillermo del Toro

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Set in 1962, the film is a modern-day Beauty and the Beast with magical realism. Alisa is a janitor at a research facility and lives an uneventful life with each day same as the previous. The only close people in her life are her friends Zelda and Giles. She cannot speak, and was found by a river as an infant with mysterious scars on her neck. Her life is pleasantly changed after she meets an ambhibious creature that is brought in the secret facility for research purposes. Elisa, being alone herself, sees the creature for what it is. Instantly, both of them form a bond with each other based on how similar they are; lonely and not being able to fit the societal criteria of ‘normal’. Realizing the danger they are in, Elisa and the ambhibian man must devise a plan to protect themselves. The film interwines romance with other themes and criticizes the society and its standards. The Shape of Water has its flaws, however, the cinematography is captivating and almost magical. Guillermo del Toro has captured the true essence of the film and has created another one of his masterpieces.

The Ritual (2017)
Rating: B+
Director: David Bruckner
Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

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Produced by Andy Serkis, this film is everything I wanted The Blair Witch Project to be – and more. After the brutal murder of their friend, four men decide to go on a camping trip through a forest in northern Sweden. Bereft with grief and guilt, the tensions are already high amongst them. They quickly realize that the forest has dark secrets of its own. Lead character Luke (played by Rafe Spall), who feels responsible for his friend’s death, has a series of lucid dreams that take him back to the day of the murder. At the culmination of each dream, the forest draws the men deeper into its murderous embrace; they increasingly get disoriented and lost, feeling more and more alienated from one another. Only Luke is able to see the patterns and realize that a demonic force is at play – and he also understands what it wants. By exploring Luke’s own sense of spiraling sanity because he finds it difficult to escape his trauma as the woods close in on him, the plot combines human nature and horror. Set against the Scandinavian forests, the film carries a sense of impending doom without being melodramatic – and it also features one of the best movie monsters in recent cinema.

 

 

 

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The Florida Project (2017): The other side of the picture

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Director: Sean Baker

Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe

Runing time: 111 minutes

Rating: R

The Florida Project (2017)

One of the best films of 2017, The Florida Project documents the life of six year old Moonee and her mother in a most realistic way. Directed by Sean Baker, the film has various sequences where it is hard not to acknowledge the amazing cinematography and performances. Vibrant colors have been added to make the whole tone colorful and from the perspective of a child. Living in the comforts of our homes, some of us privileged than most, we are provided a lens to view the struggles of grownups and the carefree life of children.

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Moonee lives with her mother Halley in a motel called ‘Magic Castle’ near the Walt Disney World, where she plays all day with her friends from around the place. Moonee might just be any parents’ nightmare as she knows how to make her presence noticed and not in a good way. Wherever there is some disturbance going on, we sure know who to look for. Halley is young and struggles at making both ends meet but still somehow manages to pay her rent. We get to see what goes on daily in the vicinity of those motels, their residents and the relationship between them. Among them is the manager of Magic Castle, Bobby, who looks after the building, makes sure the rents are paid and above all also acts like a father figure to all kids. He somehow balances his duties as the authority figure and deep down cares about all the guests in the building, specially Halley and her daughter.

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There is a stark contrast between the setting, where the film takes place, and the Disney World nearby with its expensive and fancy resorts. The film is also sort of a critique of our capitalist society. There is the perfect Disney World and the vacations people go on there, and then there is the literal opposite side of it where for kids the theme park is nothing more than a fantasy place at the end of a rainbow; unreachable. It is fascinating to see how even in their bubble, children seem to notice a lot and with time that innocence does get damaged as they get a taste of the real world. What strikes us throughout the film is Moonee’s carefree attitude, who is basically every child. She cannot yet grasp the idea of how her life is not normal and in her mind that is her Eden in which she makes the best out of every situation. That is of course until the reality hits and disrupts her perfect world.

Ambiguous and open endings are always interesting because we have to put in extra effort to understand the concept and sometimes it stays a puzzle for many people. Same is the case with The Florida Project as for many people the ending will be abrupt and unfulfilling and it has since been the subject of many debates. There is no usual plot here but it is more like a documentary that the director describes as a ‘slice-of-life’.

The star of the film is the child actress Brooklynn Prince (Moonee) who delivers the performance in such a natural way that sometimes it doesn’t even feel like there is a script or a crew working behind it all. Bria Vinaite impresses with her effortless acting as this is her debut film. It is easy to see Willem Dafoe in his role and the blend of experienced artists with newbies turns out to be great.

IT (2017): All the weird stuff from the novel the movie ignored

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Release Date: 8 September 2017
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård

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IT is a 2017 horror movie based on Stephen King’s novel of same name. The movie deals with only half of the novel with part 2 releasing next year. It is directed by Andrés Muschietti, who had previously directed the horror film Mama (2013).

IT is one of King’s scariest/craziest books where the story is interwoven with topics like childhood trauma and memory. To do justice to the novel would be a task next to impossible because the movie has to be just as crazy as the story is on paper, not to mention the extraordinary length of it. However, it is possible to make an adaptation that honors its source material. Reviewing just the film would be insufficient; therefore we will analyze the film along with the missing puzzle pieces that made it somewhat unsatisfying.

IT takes place in a small town called Derry, Maine where a malevolent entity haunts and eats children. When an eleven year old Bill’s younger brother becomes a victim, he begins to investigate the truth. A group of friends called ‘The Loser’s Club’ is formed when six other 11 year old outcasts band together along with Bill to help him fight their worst enemies including teenage bullies led by the psychopath Henry Bowers.

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Pennywise ‘IT’ is not just a clown but so much more than that. It is Derry itself. It manipulates the kids and exploits them by taking the form of their biggest fears. Because It feeds on fear, It prefers children as their terrors are simpler, while adults’ are more complex. When the losers refuse to be scared of Pennywise, that is when It starts to question It’s own power and immortality as It had been existing since thousands of years. The clown is not the true form of It and as long as this part of It is in the physical form on earth, It can be killed.

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Beverly, the only girl in the loser’s club, is afraid of blood/puberty, which comes from the fact that her abusive father dreads her growth. It would threaten his power over her and the sexual abuse may get worse. An objectionable alteration in the film was that instead of going after It along with her friends, Beverly was taken by It as a bait and hence she had to be saved by her fellow friends through…drum roll… ‘true love’s first kiss’?! Beverly was a strong badass character who needed no man/boy to save her. In the novel it was hinted repeatedly how the boys were sometimes overprotective because of her gender but she always refused to be the weaker link. The film completely destroys that by putting her in a literal catatonic state during one of the tensest climax scenes in the history of horror genre. Furthermore, it denies the core concept of unity. The children were only unbeatable when they were together because they were seven in total; a magical number.

Bill is guilt-ridden and considers himself responsible for George’s death. He believes that by taking revenge he might be able to break the coldness and the invisible wall between his parents that has risen since the tragic death of their youngest son. Richie’s fright in the movie could be being ignored as his humor is his defense mechanism and a way to gain attention. That is why he sees his own missing poster in the house on Neibolt Street. Richie ‘trashmouth’ used to do voice impressions and got the vision of It’s origin, but in the film all his role did was make adult jokes.

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Stan is more logical and mature than his other friends. He has a set of rules and way of looking at life and anything that disrupts that order terrifies him. In the beginning he stays in denial because of this and has the most difficult time accepting It’s existence. In the movie he is implied to have OCD and in the novel he mentions how he can deal with the fear but not with him being in the filth in tunnels. Out of all the kids, psychologically Stan was affected by It the most. In film he was haunted by the woman in painting,  a manifestation that goes against his beliefs of what should and shouldn’t exist.

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Mike is targeted by Henry because of him being an African-American. In the film however, he is reduced to just a black token character who has very few lines. In the novel, he is the historian who figures out how long It had been alive for. He was also the one, along with Richie, to witness the arrival of IT on earth. He and his parents have had their share of sufferings and racial discrimination. The film shows none of that. Along with racism, in the book Stephen had also touched the subject of sexism and the abuse inflicted on LGBT community.

Eddie has asthma and from the very beginning he is led to fear diseases and infections and that is why Pennywise comes in front of him in the form of a leper. Ben is scared of mummies and the history of Derry itself. He is the engineer who had a major part in the kid’s confrontation with It as he makes silver bullets to kill It. Unfortunately, in the film he was just a fat book nerd falling in love.

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The strength to fight It comes from the losers’ unity and that is why it was easier for Pennywise to pick them out separately. The kids felt a greater power among them, the power of the ‘Other’ that wanted the children to finally kill It. The bond between the losers emphasizes on importance of friendship and harmony. Our greatest strength comes from our loved ones and even a hero needs help and support from people s/he trusts. The story explores the theme of trauma/childhood abuse that never actually leaves us even if we repress it.

The climax of the novel consisted of ritual of Chud; a psychic battle between Bill and It where Bill gets the vision of The Turtle, who was supposedly guiding them all along. Another major change was of the timeline. Why the decade was changed from 50’s to 80’s? Is it because of our obsession with the 80’s? Stranger Things being an example. Even one of the child stars, Finn Wolfhard, is in both these projects. A lot of things made sense only because of the decade, so shifting into a totally different time makes them almost ludicrous. Unless they wanted to make the second part more contemporary. In that case, I hope they do a better job at it than they have done on the first part.

The novel stressed upon the evil nature of Derry and the sewers underneath, so much so that the Derry tunnels began to feel like having a life of their own. The filth and sewerage system represented It. Half the part of fighting It was going through the dark, smelly maze-like-tunnels where even in normal circumstances a grownup could easily get lost.

It is not fair to bash movies because of their lose adaptations of the respective books because let’s face it; a film simply cannot achieve what a 1300 pages book can. What comes as a disappointment is that instead of giving information that actually mattered, the directors/writers chose to add things that helped little in character and plot development. For instance, ITs origin was not explained one bit. Mike’s character was flat. The losers’ personalities were not properly explored. And most of all, the great climax we had all been waiting for, was brutally martyred. No ritual of Chud (why oh why).

The redeeming factor of the film was its cast. The kids were extraordinary and perfect in their roles. Bill Skarsgård did an amazing job as IT and the clown managed to creep me out throughout. Some of the other sequences were not included from the book, and thank God for that because they were unnecessary and straight up weird.

The criticism does not imply that the movie was insanely bad, but explains how it was not a very good adaptation of the book we all so dearly love. What made the novel special was its strange nature surrounded by mysteries and twists, none of which made it to our screens. This problem could have been avoided if the movie had been longer. All in all, IT is a decent horror-flick for people who have not read the novel.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017): A horrifyingly impersonal tale of revenge

Release date_ 29 December 2017Director_ Mohsin AliCast_ Ahsan Khan, Neelam Muneer, Faizan Khawaja, Talat Hussain

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Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest endeavor is a modern retelling of Euripides’s Iphigenia in Aulis. It is a Greek tragedy set in a sterile, contemporary setting, accompanied by Lanthimos’s signature stoic characters and off-beat movements. Colin Farrell plays a cardiac surgeon called Steven Murphy whose fatherly relationship with the son of one of his deceased patients takes a sinister turn.

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Right from the start, we can tell something is off about the whole thing, due to the ominous music in the background and the boy Martin’s (played unnervingly by Barry Keoghan) off-putting earnestness. He stands out like a sore thumb when visiting Murphy’s family in their palatial home. Yet he carries himself with a peculiar sense of assurance. Eventually, the source of that assurance is revealed, when Martin admits he is exacting revenge on Murphy, whom he holds responsible for his father’s death. The method of revenge is horrifying in its justice and yet feels impersonal.

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Like a Greek tragedy, the story invokes pity and fear as we watch Murphy grapple with the terrible choice he must make. Eventually we long for the punishment just so Murphy’s agony can end. The title alludes to the death of the sacred deer of goddess Artemis, which Agamemnon was responsible for. I won’t reveal the penalty for that sin here, as it would be a bit of a spoiler. But you don’t need to be well-versed in Greek tragedy to feel the full impact of this body horror, and to recognize the mythological elements at play: the way things progressively and unrelentingly worsen, the looming judgment, the father who must pay for his wrongdoings, and the family at his mercy.

Nicole Kidman is the perfect addition to this film, as an ophthalmologist, and mother and wife. She is pale and soft, but as she watches her children and husband in agony, she becomes hard and brittle. Her desperation and disbelief come through her acting without any melodrama, and even though she says little, it is easy to see she knows and understands more than she lets on. At the same time, her character takes unexpected turns, and she is more than a stereotypical mother figure.

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Lanthimos’s effort is considerably darker than the black comedy and romance The Lobster, which also featured Farrell. Sacred Deer is an engrossing psychological horror film. It may take a while to understand where the film is headed, and to appreciate the filmmaker’s odd direction, but it’s well worth the effort.

 

SICARIO (2015): The land of wolves

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Sicario is another crime-thriller that deals with the subject of drug wars. The screenplay is by Tylor Sherindan; which should be enough to convince you into watching the film. The lead cast includes Emily Blunt as Kate, Benicio del Toro as Alejandro and Josh Brolin as Matt. Daniel Kaluuya is also seen as Kate’s partner.

Kate is an FBI agent who raids safe-houses in order to bust drug dealers. But it is more than just drugs and junkies. The war between the drug cartels has become ruthless and a danger to the local people. Matt is a CIA adviser who takes the help of Kate in order to take out the top leader of the Sonora cartel. Meanwhile, Alejandro’s past and present remains a mystery to Kate. With these two, Kate goes on a surreal journey that makes her question their actions.

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Kate is a bright officer who is a woman of principles and does everything by the book. In Matt and Alejandro’s work, however, the ‘boundary has been moved’, as Kate’s boss says it himself. It is not just Kate who can’t decide, it is us the viewers as well who, throughout the film, find ourselves questioning what we are seeing and wondering if it’s right or wrong. Both Matt and Alejandro are morally gray characters who represent our system. At the end of the day, we all must decide if we are ready to do what has to be done for the greater good. But we can’t help but ask ourselves, what exactly is the greater good?

We see everything through Kate’s eyes, we perceive it as she does, and we are left as confused as she is. Kate’s conflict is our own. At the end, Sicario also reminds us of the expression that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’.

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I love movies that make you sit on the edge of your seat and, after you have finished watching, you can’t stop thinking about it. While watching Sicario, I was shook, and that was just during the first sequence. The film had some impressive shots, especially the scene of the tunnel raid was really well done. It actually demonstrated Kate’s descent into darkness.

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The crimes that were shown in the movie were haunting. In the scenes that take place in Juarez, one could actually feel the danger closing in. Credit for that goes not only to the direction but Jóhann Jóhannsson too, who composed the music score.

In any movie, an actual touch of reality/history helps increase the emotional effect of the film. The scene  in Juarez with the walls plastered with posters of missing women hints to the actual events that have happened where hundreds of women had disappeared. It is sad how in any war, the decisions are made by the powerful men at the top, while the masses have to bear the brunt of it.

While the film excels at other aspects, it somehow falls behind at Character development. Kate’s character remains kind of flat and we are left wanting some answers.

Del Toro, Brolin and Blunt gave a brilliant performance, each better than the other. There are some amazing aerial shots of the landscape. Just like Denis Villeneuve’s other films that I have seen up till now (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 and Prisoners), Sicario is a work of art.

Chupan Chupai (2017): when can we have a smart comedy that does NOT resort misogyny?

Release date_ 29 December 2017Director_ Mohsin AliCast_ Ahsan Khan, Neelam Muneer, Faizan Khawaja, Talat Hussain(1)

I went to see Chupan Chupai for two reasons Firstly, I always try and see Pakistani films in the cinema, no matter how much they suck, because I think it’s important to support our artists. Secondly, Verna was was sold out.

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The premise wasn’t very intriguing (as the title suggested) and I am usually wary of Pakistani comedy films because there’s a fine line between hilarious and crass. And that line is often overstepped. To make things worse, there was only one woman on the poster, scantily clad, flanked by five men. But it’s still a Pakistani film and I was willing to give them a chance. (Later, I learned that Chupan Chupai is a remake of a Tamil film called Soodhu Kavvum (Evil Will Befall). Oh.)

The film opens with three broke friends. There’s the classic hard-working nerd, the hysterical screw-up, and the dark and mysterious brooding type. The first one loses his job after being wrongly accused of sexual harassment at this workplace by a conniving female colleague (excellent political timing for that plot-line). The friends are now out of money and need to make some fast.

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Fortunately, at a brawl at a dhabba, they run into Ahsan Khan’s character and his girlfriend, played by Neelam Muneer. This is where the film becomes a wild disappointment. I realized that the only important female character here is actually Ahsan Khan’s imaginary girlfriend. That’s right: she doesn’t even exist. The trope of the manic pixie dream girl reaches a new height, as Muneer only appears as Khan’s fantasy, which usually involves her as a half-dressed, swooning, air-headed bimbo. Let’s remember, the last woman we encountered lied about sexual harassment. The next woman we’ll we see is a mother who protects and defends her son’s corruption and swindling.

This is what happens when you don’t have any women in the writing room. Or any intelligent men for that matter.

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The two parties team up and form a gang that kidnaps people for small ransoms. Then one day they are approached by a client who offers them money to carry out a risky kidnapping. Here’s where things go south, and the plot thickens.

You can watch Chupan Chupai for some unexpected and refreshing humor, interesting cinematography and great acting. But don’t expect any sort of nuance about gender relations. The film came out in late 2017. Come on guys, keep up.

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Baby Driver (2017): The movie you want to watch

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Baby Driver is a classic Car-chase flick that is the perfect blend of action, romance and comedy. The cast includes Ansel Elgort as ‘Baby’ and Lily James as our usual girl-next-door. Jamie Foxx plays the character named Bats, who is as crazy as his name. Jon Hamm’s acting is commendable as his character unfolds in front of us. Directed by Edgar Wright, not only the storyline grabs our attention but the cinematography is also pleasing to watch as there are some amazing shots in the movie.

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Baby Driver is about a guy who was roped into being a getaway driver when he was very young. Baby is the perfect man for his job and has the perfect song for every situation whether it is his work or his love life. He cannot go through the day without syncing his playlist with every moment he lives. Ultimately, a heist goes wrong that changes the life of every person involved.

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The film’s plot is fresh and enjoyable. It deals with themes of crime, loss and love. We get to know about the main lead’s trauma of losing his parents at a young age and how he tries to cope up with it. It makes us think how sometimes dealing with our pain can block us from the outer world; the real world. Most importantly, behind all the crime and action, the movie is about love. We have two love stories that remind us of the phrase that ‘home is where love is’.

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The only problem in the movie could be that some of the characters are far too unrealistic. Sure, the love story of Baby and Deborah is beautiful, but because it remains a little underdeveloped, the whole situation seems a little far-fetched.

Almost all the movie has songs playing side by side, which makes it very enjoyable to watch. Not only the songs are chosen perfectly but the choreography is done really well too. This is the first character Ansel played that I truly enjoyed, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing him on the big screen again. After Ant-Man, Edgar Wright has made another beautiful movie that, in my opinion, ranks among the top films of 2017.