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I Was a Simple Man (2021)
Slow, sometimes indecisive meditation on life
About 30 minutes into this film, there is a quick, almost fleeting shot of a rotten fruit falling from a tree at nighttime, paired with a shot of the fragile main character as he lies on his deathbed. A little while earlier, we see him attentively picking fresh fruit from the same tree, the sun blazing overhead. It might just be a small visual detail, but this contrast stood out most to me amid all the frames director Christopher Makoto Yogi interweaves in this film.
I Was a Simple Man is an almost mystical story of an elderly man, Masao, nearing the end of his life. Over the course of the movie, we explore the circumstances that shaped him into the solitary man he eventually becomes through revisiting shattering experiences, and happy memories-all while life is slowly slipping out of his worn out body. Yogi gives these experiences time and space to unfold, never once rushing the reflective nature of the film; instead, he lets the film slowly lure us in by merging different timelines and points of view. This is a movie that doesn't need many words to "talk", it's a movie that thoughtfully conveys its message through pictures, like fruit falling from a tree.
The first two acts are filled with color and stunning Hawaiian scenery, accompanied by the tranquil sound of waves breaking softly on the shore. As the film goes on, however, some of its initial heart and care unfortunately get lost along the way, in my view. Although the initial premise-centered around an experience we will all inevitably go through-feels universal, the movie isn't fully able to take us on the same journey as its protagonist, subsequently reducing the film's emotional impact to a minimum, despite its visibly heartfelt direction and performances. Since most of the story is told through flashbacks, there is almost no character development otherwise crucial to the emotional tone of a dramatic film like this one.
As a result, the overall tone and atmosphere of I Was a Simple Man feels indecisive; it's as if the film and its message got lost somewhere in the cuts between present and past, reality and fantasy. Both the flashbacks and the present timeline work well on their own, with solid cinematography and strong narratives; put together, however, they feel rather dissonant than harmonious-like melodies each beautiful by themselves, but played together, they become a discordant sea of notes without a clear phrase or harmony.
A contemplative movie exploring the end of a man's time spent on earth, I Was a Simple Man seeks to convey the feeling of being in the presence of someone who is passing away-Yogi's main inspiration behind this film, as he mentioned during the Q&A following the screening. While this movie succeeds at painting a pensive portrait of a man's life, it unfortunately doesn't succeed as much at interweaving the story of his life with the passing of his life. Nonetheless, in the end, I Was a Simple Man is perhaps a mindful reminder that our lives are to be lived, and lived fully, before we depart this planet.
Unprecedented, Complex Movie
Christopher Nolan has done it again.
Going in, I was afraid that this film might've lost its Christopher Nolan "touch" (especially after seeing some disappointed reviews), but every single thing felt unbelievably like Nolan, and I have no doubt when I say that absolutely no one but him would've been able to pull something like this off.
The only shortfall this movie has (in my opinion), is that, unlike Inception, the viewer gets very few explanations about what is actually happening and is dropped into this world without getting more details. Details that are unfortunately crucial to understanding, and most importantly, enjoying a movie. I'd consider myself a nolan fan, so there's some bias on my side as to why nolan withheld explanations and as to why he decided that this was the way this concept and script were to be made into a film. Iwas initially afraid that Nolan might've gone over the top with this movie (mostly in terms of action sequences), but now I feel like he's gone a little over the top with the complexity and especially the lack of explanation of a film. Although there's nothing better than a movie that keeps you thinking about it for days (like this one most probably will), I needed a bit more understandable explanations to nudge me to a possible interpretation. As a consequence, I wish there had been more dialogues, and especially more dialogues that would've felt relevant and important to the story. The soundtrack didn't disappoint me, but it also didn't stand out to me as much as the soundtracks in other Nolan films. Ludwig Göranssom used a certain theme a few times, and it was the exact same theme used in the trailer and other promotional material, so it kind of felt a little overplayed to me. Nonetheless, the soundtrack was amazing in that it added incredible tension and almost another dimension to an already infinitely complicated movie.
Nevertheless, like I mentioned, this movie couldn't possibly feel more like a Christopher Nolan project; the script, cinematography, editing and performances were (as always) impeccable.
All in all, an incredible movie with an even more incredible and unprecedented concept, which unfortunately also became its very little, but unignorable flaw.
Good Time (2017)
Watched this for robert pattinson's performance because i've only ever seen him in harry potter and the king and couldn't take him seriously for the longest time because of twilight, and i was definitely NOT disappointed, to say the least. his range is so impressive and now i'm honestly even more excited for tenet.
as for this film, it really didn't feel like my cup of tea. i suppose one of the goals of this movie (to some extent) is to make the audience feel uncomfortable and anxious by making the objectively "bad" character the protagonist and by examining his personality and journey, and to subsequently make the viewer think and decide between good or bad.
most of the time, for me to like a movie, i need a character who i can sympathize or even identify with, which (logically) wasn't the case for this one. i really wish i liked this more, but just about everything the characters did made me feel unbelievably uneasy and stressed; and even though it's probably, like i said, what this movie was aiming for, it lessened my enjoyment, and the chilling soundtrack only added to the anxiety-inducing atmosphere.
at the same time, the storyline unfortunately felt somewhat flat to me. the main character obviously has a goal, and i wouldn't go so far as to say that it bored me, but the action and story itself seemed extremely monotonous to me. again, although this might be one of the purposes of this movie, to highlight just how stuck connie is and how far he's willing to go, it didn't do it for me.
what i did like though were ALL of the performances, and the beautiful contrast and connection between the intriguing opening and sobering closing scene. and there were a few scenes where the cinematography and blocking really stood out to me!
The Social Network (2010)
Impeccable Script and Incredible Direction
It's been a while (ignoring rewatches) since a movie has left me as speechless as i am now.
i'm about 10 years late to the party, but right from the first scene i was at a loss for words. the flawlessly written dialogue, the perfect editing and the shockingly raw performances made me so excited for this movie, and to say i wasn't disappointed is an understatement. it's been a LONG time since a movie has sucked me in like this one has, and it's definitely been some time since i actually felt sad when i saw that i was already halfway through a movie.
as the tension on screen grew, so did my admiration for this MASTERPIECE and its unparalleled pacing, captivating storyline, cinematography and soundtrack. and my lack of sympathy for mark zuckerberg. oops.
Vita & Virginia (2018)
Beautiful Story That Unfortunately Lacks Depth and A Fitting Soundtrack
I wish they'd fleshed out (the beginnings of) the relationship with more details, dialogues, letters or even gazes. subsequently, even though the acting was pretty good, the characters and their relationship felt shallow and i couldn't really connect with them or their feelings. the relatively slow pacing didn't help with that, and at some points it even felt to me like nothing was happening at all? there was so much more room for a deeper exploration of their relationship, especially because of the intensity and lasting consequences it really had.
my biggest issue with this movie was the soundtrack though. i love soundtracks and i actually always listen to the soundtrack while writing a review on here, it kinda helps me stay in the "mood" (don't know if that's weird), but i, on my part, didn't really feel like this score fit the movie. instead of emphasizing the action on screen and making everything feel more immersive, the heavily electronic-sounding track distracted me and actually made the movie less engaging for me. i wish they'd gone with something more reminiscent of the time the story takes place.
She Dies Tomorrow (2020)
Interesting premise, but story gets hard to follow
This was absolutely not what i had expected, to say the least.
there's clearly some form of artistry and intent here that unfortunately didn't really resonate with me and subsequently made this movie feel more like 3 hours rather than just 84 minutes to me. i normally don't have any issues with unusually-/slow-paced films, but this one genuinely stretched my patience and attention span with its sequences that were seemingly randomly cut together, only for them to be followed by long dialogues, half of which felt like they weren't making any sense. (i almost fell asleep after 10 minutes...)
i wanted the rapid and disconcerting cuts, lighting, flashes and colors to mean something, and even though they probably did, they honestly confused me even more.; i feel like i'm possibly just too stupid to understand it.
it was difficult for me to follow the storyline as a whole, also because we're not really introduced to the characters, but rather we're just thrown into the story, at least that's what it felt like to me, which subsequently made the characters feel shallow and made it even harder for me to understand them and their intentions, feelings and ideas. solid performances though!
as i said, even though i can see the artistry behind all of it, this just didn't do it for me? i wish i liked this more, but guess this is where subjective opinions and especially different tastes in movies play a lot into the rating.
Very Charming and Lovable Short
An unbelievably charming and unique short! i honestly don't know that much about greek mythology, but i loved how all the various characters were animated, the vibrant colors and the soundtrack! i wasn't disappointed, to say the least
An American Pickle (2020)
I mostly watched this movie because of its premise (a guy who's preserved in pickle juice? i mean how can this not be funny?), and the first 30 minutes really didn't let me down. the 4:3 ratio in the beginning and the slow morph into a 16:9 while new york city transforms from 100 years ago until today were pretty amazing. it took me a few minutes to get used to the whole atmosphere of the movie, and decided to not take it too seriously, and i did have a good time.
my biggest issue was the plot/the plot development though; while the first third felt consistent, the rest of the film felt more like an indecisive mess to me. there were moments that were funny and unique to this movie, but overall, i personally just couldn't really follow the story, the characters' motivations and the writer's intentions. i wish they'd focused more on the original setting instead of trying to push this movie into different (political?) directions.
still a fun watch though, just didn't really do it for me personally!
Yes, God, Yes (2019)
I liked this WAY more than i had expected. the premise sounded really intriguing, but i didn't think i would be so entertained by this. right from the first until the last minute, this movie just made me laugh and i gotta say, i had a pretty great time while watching this. not too long, light-hearted and just funny. some dialogues felt awkward, which kind of made them even better (at least after i realized that it's not the writer's fault and that i probably wouldn't be any different in real life). i bought every minute of natalia dyer's performance, but some of the supporting cast's acting felt a bit unconvincing and unnecessarily exaggerated to me.
all in all, a very entertaining movie though, and the perfect feel-good movie for a sunday night.
Tonari no Totoro (1988)
Unbelievably Wholesome And Heartwarming
Everything about this was just so unbelievably wholesome and heartwarming and made me feel full of joy and love.
i couldn't possibly be more in love with the colors, story and soundtrack!! totally random scenes made me tear up because they were just so beautiful and perfect combinations of a moving score and wonderful animations.
Amazing Movie That Unfortunately Doesn't Speak to Me Personally
I wish i liked this more than i do, six stars don't feel enough for a movie that shines light on an unfortunately heavily underrepresented group while stunning with more than solid performances and well-written dialogues.
for some reason, even though i normally empathize very easily with any character in a film, i personally just couldn't really connect with any of the characters in this movie. the plot felt a little full to me, and a lot of scenes made me unbelievably anxious because of the constant screaming and noisy soundtrack, and although it's obviously part of the artistic vision, it just didn't really do it for me.
it's astonishing that this was filmed on iphones though; once again proof that you don't need expensive cameras or equipment to make a movie. the cinematography was brilliant, and sean baker is obviously a genius, can't wait to check out more of his work!
and i loved the ending!!
Monsters and Men (2018)
Quiet, Subtle and Loud All at the Same Time
This film is a must-watch and (unfortunately) more relevant than ever. it took me a while to get settled on a rating, and although i understand where other people see flaws, i think this is a brilliant movie.
this film feels very quiet and subtle, but very loud all at the same time. it achieves its loudness not through showing and feeding the audience certain opinions and views, but through establishing an almost character-study like foundation for the viewer to draw their own conclusions on. i really liked how three different stories and challenging perspectives were interwoven and connected, and well-written dialogues, stunning performances and a beautiful soundtrack only added to that.
my only criticism (and here i kinda agree with most people) is that the story as a whole feels a little underwhelming. while the three different point of views are what makes this movie stand out, i also couldn't help but feel like they couldn't really decide where to take the story, and the film subsequently lacks some depth.
all in all (don't know why i'm being all serious today), a great movie that does have its shortfalls, but the relevance and especially the performances make up for most of them.
Apollo 11 (2019)
Beautiful Use of Archival Footage
I'm at a loss for words. This documentary is complete perfection in every possible way. Not only does it showcase the incredible result of years of hard work and determination, but the pacing and gorgeous editing and soundtrack made this feel like 10 minutes and not 93, I honestly would gladly watch a 4 hour version of this. I'm so glad they didn't include any narration or interviews. The soundtrack really stood out to me, simply because it didn't stand out and go all dramatic and sentimental. instead, soundtrack, mission control audio and even moments of silence were beautifully woven together.
This is truly unbelievable and only highlights even more how important it is to believe victims.
The performances were brilliant and I really liked the editing and small glimpses into the detectives' personal lives. As a dramatization of a real story I was afraid that some aspects or events might be too over the top and feel inorganic, but it was pretty much the opposite. The writing was excellent, it just gave so much life to these characters and made the gripping dialogues comical at just the right times.
And FEMALE DETECTIVES ARE SO BADASS
The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)
Unrealistic and unhealthy portrayal of teenage life
HAVE THEY LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE FIRST MOVIE?? i can't believe this was even worse, i honestly feel so sorry for the 13 year olds that are gonna gobble up this movie like it's free cake or something (as much as i hate to admit it, i probably would've been one of them). the way these kinds of movies depict high school is honestly just so UNHEALTHY; it's as if high school was THE MOST important part in life and as if the relationships you have in high school were the ones! that! will! define! you! for! life! which is why they're obviously complete life-and-death situations!
the characters are so unrealistic and pretentious, and the dialogues (unsurprisingly) made me feel uncomfortable as hell. i bet the casting call for marco was just "must look exactly like jacob elordi with darker hair".
and don't even get me started on the MONTAGES. it's almost as if at some point they ran out of cringy dialogues, so they just opted for cringy montages with even cringier music instead. I ABSOLUTELY LOST IT AT THE MONTAGE OF ALL THE ADMISSION OFFICERS READING ELLE'S ESSAY AND LOOKING LIKE THEY JUST INHALED A FRESH BREEZE OF MOUNTAIN AIR, SAW THE BLUEST SKY, HAD THEIR SOULS CLEANSED AND REDISCOVERED THEIR WILL TO LIVE.