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8/10
Edward Scissorhands is a beautifully bittersweet warning on the dangers of fear and hatred.
28 August 2021
81/100

The set design is on par with the very best. It's impossible to imagine the area in which the people live is real, the uniformity making it border between dreamlike and nightmarish. It doesn't help that they're all bungalows. The interiors fall into uncanny valley by being simultaneously furnished and empty, lived in and devoid of life. The castle is equally paradoxical, people shifting from miniscule to giant depending on where they stand. Everything is black and grey, and you only see within its confines at night, the darkness somehow creating a cosy blanket over it all. In the minimal glimpses of the horizon you get, there is seemingly an empty nothingness out there. It's the kind of setting that, if you see it as a kid, haunts you until you rewatch this film years later. By far and away, this is the standout feature.

The music sets the tone very well, going hand in hand with the visuals to create a pointed and strong atmosphere.

The plot is aimless, it follows an impenetrable format as Edward just... does things. However, it keeps you engaged, but it's more in Edward and the world he lives in. That's not a negative thing. The ending, though. That was poetic. That was beautiful.

Johnny Depp did some phenomenal acting here. His lines are scarce, but he tells story through his reactions. The way he walks, touches things, reacts to conversation, and so on. The acting lies in the face and the body, not in the speech.

The characters around him are, again, a simultaneously hyperbolic and realistic representation of the "member of the tightly knit community", which creates a fascinating allegory for fearmongering and xenophobia beneath the film's surface. The characters, outside of Edward's family, act purely within their own interests, as hate breeds itself within the commune, leading to knock on effects on Edward. Everyone is so perfect and pretty until something that doesn't fit in arrives.

I remember, when I was younger, I had a burning desire to watch this film. I was a huge Johnny Depp fan. I really, really wish I had seen it then. When I have children if my own, if I do, I will watch this film with them.
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The Lighthouse (I) (2019)
8/10
Visually striking, leaves you thinking.
21 June 2021
I watched this film alone at midnight. In one word, this film was dreamlike, or more accurately, nightmarish.

This film is so far from anything else I've seen, in visuals, dialogue, story, characters, structure. The 3:4 aspect ratio coupled with the black and white palette creates a distinct look, allowing the film to detach itself from modern cinema and experiment with visuals. Light has been perfected, and it's used to tell story as much as a conversation or monologue does. Often, there will be stretches of time in which not a single word is said, instead offering imagery for the viewer to discern the story. When speech is used, it's accurate to the time period and heavily accented, making it difficult to tell what is being said, however this poses less of a problem than most films, as dialogue is only a small part of what is needed to understand. Plus, it means the small snippets of speech that you hear are ones that will stick in your mind for days to come. This film is formless, not relying on a simple three-act structure, but rather, creating its own, slow descent of an experience. Every scene is equally gripping as the last, culminating to an ending that will burn itself into your mind. And, it goes without saying that Willem Dafoe's and Robert Pattinson's acting is flawless. The two carry the entire film between them, making you forget they're even actors and not really the characters they play. I'm genuinely excited to see where these two go next.

All of this comes together to create an ascended cinematic experience, and a fantastic technical feat. However, the film's lack of reliance on cinematic norms may make the film almost entirely impenetrable and meaningless for many viewers.

83/100

--Admin-- Violence - Strong, bloody, surreal violence.

Sex/Nudity - Multiple masturbation scenes, one surreal sex scene.

Language - Multiple swear words used.

Miscellaneous Themes - Incredibly intense and disturbing as a whole.
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7/10
Weakest of the original trilogy, too focused on conclusion.
19 June 2021
Watched as part of a Star Wars Marathon, hence the shorter review.

This film serves a clear purpose, to bring closure to the original Star Wars trilogy. That, it does, however it sacrifices its potential in doing so. The first act of the film could have been entirely separate and does feel like story buffer, despite the fact it is critical for the film to make sense. The characters don't see too much development, however it isn't necessary, as the previous film has already invested you in them. On the technical side of things, the bluescreens and the speeder bike battle scene don't hold up whatsoever, but most of the other aspects, such as Ewoks or spaceships do. The sets weren't as good as other films, but when the bar is that high, they outclass most other films. The first act had fun action, an exciting heist plot, a Rancor and a Sarlacc. It really managed to capture the grimy, crowded atmosphere of Jabba's palace. The final act on Endor was slightly repetitive, but still entertaining. But the closure is what this film was for, and it delivered a satisfying ending for this Hexalogy. Overall, this is the weakest of the original trilogy, but it's still a much needed, rewarding wrap up.

73/100

--Admin-- Violence - Bloodless killings.

Sex/Nudity - None.

Language - None.

Miscellaneous Themes - None.
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8/10
Easily the greatest Star Wars movie.
19 June 2021
Watched as part of a Star Wars Marathon, hence the shorter review.

This is it. This is the greatest Star Wars film, this is the quintessential sci-fi movie. It has everything: a strong, likeable cast of characters, an even stronger plot with zero dull moments, a beautiful musical score, innovation beyond belief, development of the universe with characters like Yoda and Lando, and one of the single most memorable twists in cinema history. It is to sci-fi what Terminator 2 is to action. All three acts - Hoth, Dagobah, and Cloud City - are a joy to watch. The set design is truly on another level when held up against not only Star Wars, but other films too. Characters have clear, satisfying development, changing relationships, and some are even permanently physically and mentally altered. If Episode 4 was the setup, it was worth it for this level of payoff - the film doesn't need to worry with exposition or closure. It's just iconic scene after iconic scene. This is a true cinema classic.

86/100

--Admin-- Violence - Mild violence on creatures. Strangling.

Sex/Nudity - None.

Language - None.

Miscellaneous Themes - None.
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7/10
It's Star Wars. Need I say more?
19 June 2021
Watched as part of a Star Wars Marathon, hence the shorter review.

Star Wars. What is there to say about this film that hasn't already been said? The characters are well written caricatures; the doe-eyed hero, the princess who doesn't need saving, the sleazy hotshot, and the wise mentor. The story is simple, but it serves its purpose. The creativity poured into the background characters and the sets is clear, and every idea is realised to its full potential. The music is sweeping, capturing the feel of every scene perfectly. Sadly, the fight choreography was laughably bad, and not a lot occurred in the two hour duration, most likely as this film acted as setup for the next two. Despite this, it's arguably the single most innovative, iconic movie of all time. It's influenced countless other films since its release, and spawned an 11-movie franchise, alongside 7 TV shows. The genius camerawork, the stark set design, the use of new techniques like miniatures or bluescreens, everything about this film was decades ahead of its time. Everyone should watch this film for the insane technical feat it was, regardless of if they care for the story.

78/100

--Admin-- Violence - A bloody severed arm. Other characters are shot bloodlessly.

Sex/Nudity - None.

Language - None.

Miscellaneous Themes - Off-screen (but obvious) genocide.
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7/10
A fantastic follow up to an okay movie.
19 June 2021
Watched as part of a Star Wars Marathon, hence the shorter review.

This took everything that was good about the first film and made it great, and it cut almost everything that was bad out. Set and especially environment designs were still phenomenal, scene transitions still slapped, fight choreography was still smooth, the memes were still fun to quote, and Ewan McGregor was still Ewan McGregor. Where this film changes most is in the story - it feels much more mature, and less like a kids film. The way it managed to create a creeping sense of dread, like something big is coming, was very impressive. Some scenes stood out as a stark contrast to the other films - a certain character's death being a highlight. Other moments, such as the Geonosian Arena battle were just pure cinematic entertainment. There was less Jar Jar too, for any Jar Jar haters. But the film still had some glaring negative points. Hayden Christensen's acting was horrific. The CGI was somehow worse than the first film's. The story, while entertaining, wasn't watertight. Yet, despite all this, it was a genuinely well made, engrossing experience.

77/100

--Admin-- Violence - Some deaths. A swift decapitation. An arm is cut off.

Sex/Nudity - None.

Language - None.

Miscellaneous Themes - A few intense scenes.
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6/10
The worst of the hexalogy, but not as bad as people say.
19 June 2021
Watched as part of a Star Wars Marathon, hence the shorter review.

This film is very looked down upon when held against the rest of Star Wars, but I think it's better than people give credit for. It's an easygoing and fun experience, if not as strong in story. The set and environment design is stellar, no pun intended, and easily the highlight of the film. Character design and practical effects were very hit and miss, but the CGI was atrocious. It was worse than *that* fight scene in The Matrix: Reloaded. You know which one I mean. Jar Jar was annoying, but nowhere near as bad as people make him out to be. The acting was fairly mid-tier, but Ewan McGregor is always a win. Plus, every fight scene involving Darth Maul was just a blast to watch, and the fight choreography was fast paced and so so smooth. Bonus points for the iconically comical scene transitions. And, of course, I quoted the memes every time they came up. Overall, a fun, but fairly weak film.

68/100

--Admin-- Violence - A small amount of bloodless deaths.

Sex/Nudity - None Language - None.

Miscellaneous Themes - A few intense scenes.
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(1963)
6/10
Beautiful, yet sadly incomprehensible and unengaging.
15 June 2021
I watched this film in Italian, with English subtitles.

I went into 8 1/2 expecting an exciting story about memories and dreams, something in a similar vein to Inception, minus the action. What I got was a confusing story of a man struggling in his career and life, running alongside a seemingly anthological and unrelated set of his memories and dreams.

While I do believe there is some weight on the viewer to be smart and attentive enough to understand the director's vision, the rapid and unexplained switches between reality and fiction within 8 1/2 left me lost. It often took me a few minutes to realise a scene was in fact a memory or thought of Fellini's. The reality was strangely dreamlike, leading to everything becoming convoluted. While this was most likely intentional, to represent the protagonist's confusion and blurring of real life and dream, it made the film so much harder to comprehend.

Now, you may be thinking that I should simply watch the film again, until I can finally understand it, however the film has a critical flaw here - it was rather unenjoyable. If it had been entertaining enough to warrant enough rewatches, it would potentially be far better received by me. My main two problems were with the characters and the story. Every character outside of Guido blended into one, with the exact same personality of a disdain for Guido. The story was slow moving, confusing, and relied on characters to push it forward; characters which I did not care for. So from an entertainment standpoint, this film was a boring, two hour drag. The horrendous syncing of dialogue didn't help at all.

But from a technical standpoint? This film is fantastic. Where I was lost by the film, I was often momentarily mesmerized by the cinematography, the lighting, the colour. Shots such as Guido's leg tied to a rope, or a young Guido being cornered by his mother for a bath. The use of the camera was decades ahead of its time. Sets were heavily saturated with light to create an almost ethereal, heavenly atmosphere. Clean shadows were intelligently and intentionally cast, generating some enchanting images. Fellini had clearly mastered the camera and the light, just not the pen.

Rating: 6.8/10

--Admin-- Violence - One hanging, no blood.

Sex/Nudity - Only implied once.

Language - If there were any they were in Italian.

Miscellaneous Themes - None.
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10/10
The Grand Budapest Hotel proves that film is art.
13 June 2021
I watched this film for the first time almost two years ago and it reshaped my understanding of cinema. I no longer viewed films as solely entertainment, but also as something with the capacity to be art.

Firstly, and most obviously, the visuals are phenomenal - incomparable to any other film. The genius use of aspect ratio to indirectly tell the viewer the current time period. The carefully selected colour palettes of pastel pinks, warm oranges, cold greys. The versatile combination of live action, and miniatures, and stop-motion. The lavish set design of the Grand Budapest. The liminal feel of the desolate streets. The exaggeratedly formal attire worn by the hotel staff and its patrons. It all comes together to form a truly transcendent experience.

Then, there's the camerawork. This film losing the best cinematography Oscar to Birdman was the second worst crime that year - the first being Jake Gyllenhaal's snub. Here, the camera is used not only to show the audience what they need to see, but also as a tool for storytelling, a tool for misdirection, a tool for comedy. The raw beauty of what is seen on screen will linger in your mind for days.

The cast is, of course, filled with familiar faces, and yet, that only serves to make the film even more impressive and enjoyable. The actors disappear in their roles, partly due to the astonishing makeovers given, but mainly due to all of their impeccable acting. Ralph Fiennes plays the part of his flamboyant, charismatic, and ever so slightly arrogant character with ease. Even high profile actors such as Jeff Goldblum or Mathieu Amalric become unrecognisable in their minor parts of Kovacs and Serge X.

But it's not style and no substance - the writing here, both comedically and dramatically is some of the greatest I've ever seen. The characters are fresh and memorable, M. Gustave being a fantastically original protagonist, Zero being a brilliant medium between film and viewer. Every single character is written with a purpose and a reason, and every single character is original and amusing. The interactions between characters are fast-paced, witty, and fit within their scenes perfectly. The jokes come a mile a minute, not only in speech, but in visuals, too - and they actually land, which is a rare feat for comedy films. Anderson finds humour in the mundane and bleak - a murdered cat, a knife battle, a love for specific perfume.

However, this film pulls off a near impossible feat - both humour and a strong story. It sees Zero, a lobby boy in training, and his idol, hotel concierge M. Gustave, become wrapped up in a murder plot. Where the film separates itself storywise is in the fine details. Several subplots are running at the same time in the background - an envious son out for Gustave's head, the authorities trying to solve the murder case, a blossoming love between Zero and a pastry chef. These all seamlessly flow into one another, creating a vast, expansive story, without becoming overbearing or confusing. These small things give the film an impressive rewatch value, where you'll pick up on details or foreshadowing that you didn't catch first time round.

This film is not only a breeze from start to finish, but also unforgettable, beautiful art, crafted by a team of experts.

Please, do yourself a favour and watch this film.

-- Admin -- Violence - Low Sex/Nudity - Once, for a couple of seconds.

Language - Frequent, used comedically. One use of a slur.

Miscellaneous Themes - Several murders.
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10/10
First written review, this is an animated masterpeice.
20 January 2021
Out of all animated films I've seen, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind would easily be number one. The titular Princess Nausicaa, a young, brave, empathetic protector of her village in the valley, has to save her people from an attacking village and the toxified, deadly environment. Clearly, there are strong pro-environment and anti-war themes in this film, both of which are sentiments I can entirely get behind. It's an original, fantastical tale which manages to maintain the perfect balance between lighthearted, whimsical fun and the more serious, grounded storytelling, all the while keeping the pacing just right. Then, there is the animation, at 24 frames per second, and the art, which is so vivid and beautiful that it's hypnotic. On top of all of this, the raw creativity and passion poured into the landscapes and plants and items and creatures is evident, with the Sea of Decay harbouring some of the most creative fictional animals of all time, the Ohm being a prime example. The backgrounds and environments are entrancing, pulling you further into the film as a whole, helping you get lost in the world. Furthermore, the music adds a final layer to the film, perfectly reflecting the mood and story. Finally, Nausicaa herself is, in my opinion, the greatest film character of all time. She is kind to every living being, even giving second chances to those who have wronged her. She is understanding of the world around her, as she takes time to learn about it. She is peaceful, seeing the pure futility of fighting and war. Plus, the ending credits give a neat wrap up to the story, using only a small montage of the after story. Overall, it's a creative, immersive, inspirational film - Animation's Magnum Opus.
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