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Rating History

A Ghost Story
A Ghost Story (2017)
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This movie is simultaneously not for everyone, while also trying to demand everyone's attention. That statement may confuse some people, so please listen closely if you're intrigued, because this review if going to be about me gushing on how incredible this film is. Whole critics seem to general love this film, average moviegoers seem to be pretty divisive on this film in retrospect. Personally, I completely see how many would be bored or turned off by this film, so whether or not you like this film is up to you. Personally, this film opened my mind in ways I wasn't expecting and I found myself in a state of transfixion when the credits began to role. So, this review will definitely lean heavily on a recommendation to everyone, but please be advised that the film itself is absolutely not for everyone. Now that I have that out of the way, let's dive in.

As a couple is about to move out of their first house onto bigger and better things, the husband (Casey Affleck) dies in a tragic accident. The film then follows the wife (Rooney Mara) as she copes with her loss. The husband returns in ghost form, walking around the halls of the house, watching her every move, stating that people really do watch over us after they die. This premise is fantastic, but the visuals themselves and the way the movie is constructed is what I feel may turn many people off. Coming off cheap by literally having the husband dressed in a bed sheet, the movie may seem cheesy to some, but that's not the point of it at all. From long takes of people sitting alone in a room to time travel in order to open viewers mind's, this movie takes many risks, but I think they are all genius in their own right if you're in the proper mood when watching this film.

Going from many short films, to independent features, to a big blockbuster in last year's Pete's Dragon, director David Lowrey has been all over the business, so it was pretty clear that this was a passion project for him, and that the amount of viewers this film gained didn't matter to him in the slightest. I think this was the best way to make a movie like this, because only the most hardcore film fans will probably discover it, which is where I feel it's best suited anyways. There is so much symbolism about the meaning of life and which aspects of it really matter the most, but I feel as though many viewers won't catch on. Once again, if you're in the right mindset and are open to literally anything, then I believe you'll have the same reaction to this film that I did.

Many viewers like being able to relate to a character when they speak to someone and open up about themselves, but this film is very far from anything like that. There are stretches of the film that can last up to 30 minutes without a single word being spoken, leaving it up to your interpretation on how they're feeling or what they're thinking. This is a very lonely-feeling film that you need to be relaxed and open-minded about. In my opinion, when a film can show you a piece of imagery and have you understand what a character is going through, what they're thinking, all while giving you a sincere look at our planet as a whole, when it's accomplishing everything it set out to do, and then some. Simply put, sometimes showing things to an audience is much more powerful than having it explained.

In the end, A Ghost Story is strangely enough one of the most powerful experiences you'll be able to see an all of 2017. Now, there isn't much dialogue, so you really have to pay attention and think about every piece of imagery, but if you're willing to do that, then I believe you will have a terrific experience as well. If you're not into this film after the first 10-20 minutes then you're either not in the right mindset or it's just not for you, which I completely understand. Many people will hate this movie, but I believe the message itself is worth waiting for alone. A Ghost Story is easily one of my favourite films of the year and I can't wait to watch it multiple times.

American Assassin
6 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Personally, I love when a film adaptation of a novel is released when I haven't read the book, because I don't have to compare it to something that is probably more fleshed out. I like being able to escape at the cinema and not have to think about anything else throughout my viewing experience, so I'll be reviewing American Assassin strictly as a film, rather than comparing it to the novel that it's based on. When the trailers released for this film, I found myself intrigued, mainly due to the fact that it seemed like a fun ride and the fact that I lobe both Michael Keaton and Dylan O'Brien as performers didn't hurt either. Although this movie is far from perfect, I found myself enjoying this film just about as much as I expected to. Regardless of just how good this film is, here is why it's definitely impressive enough to warrant a viewing at matinee price.

Plain and simple, American Assassin is about Mitch Rapp, an infuriated, revenge-driven assassin, who wants nothing more than to join forces with team who brings down terrorists. Having lost his parents in the past and recently his fiancÚ through a massacre on a beach, he has nothing left but to leave his old life in the past. This tragic backstory is slightly over-the-top, as it seems that literally nothing has ever gone his way over the years, but that also makes for some great motivation, so I was able to forgive that aspect for the most part. Although its themes are incredibly relevant in today's day in age, American Assassin exists to equally be a statement to the world, as well as a fun popcorn flick, balancing out its audience in the best way.

By far the most enjoyable aspect about this film, which also gives you a break from the violent imagery throughout the majority of the action sequences, is the fact that Dylan O'Brien is a very charismatic leading man, and Michael Keaton, alongside the rest of the supporting cast members, ass seem to be having fun in their respective roles. Yes, this is a hard-hitting action flick, but the more somber moments between characters are definitely earned, even if they're too few and far between. Sadly, the biggest downfall that you will experience throughout viewing this picture, is the fact that the majority of the plot lines are fairly predictable.

When going into a movie like this, you should be expecting some turns to occur, especially when you're dealing with terrorists and people that could potentially be doing inside jobs with our main characters. Trust me, that's really not giving much away, because this movie deals with ideals like this from beginning to end. It's the fact that these twists can be seem from a mile away and most of the action is fun to watch, but the stakes aren't always present. Although I don't have too many complaints about the film as a whole, the fact that it's so incredibly predictable is a very large detriment to it as a final product.

In the end, American Assassin is a fun ride from start to finish. Those wh are queasy about violence and gore should definitely take awareness before viewing this film, because it doesn't pull any punches in that category. It seems funny to call this a fun movie, but when the action hits, it really hits hard, so I have no choice but to say I had some fun with certain portions of this movie. This is a well enough written screenplay, with some solid direction, and a cast that seems either completely devoted or just there to have some fun with these characters, so the overall product feels worth it in the end. American Assassin is far from perfect, but it's a solid flick to check out at matinee price (or rental).

First They Killed My Father
8 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

While I haven't seen what many call Angelina Jolie's vanity project, By the Sea, I have slightly fond memories of watching her direction in both Unbroken and In the Land of Blood and Honey. I never really thought Jolie was suited for the director's chair, simply due to the fact that it had seemed very static in the past. To my surprise, Angelina Jolie stepped right back up to the plate with the new release in First They Killed My Father. From festivals and critics throughout the internet, I've heard some pretty positive word of mouth spreading about this film, and deservedly so. This is easily the best premise that Jolie has ever been at the helm of and it's actually one of the better films I've had the pleasure of seeing in all of 2017. It's a very slow burn, but this Netflix original is now streaming and here is why you should check it out.

Forced to relocate with her family, young Loung Ung must face the hardships under the rule of Khmer Rouge. At a very young age, having to face life-threatening experiences and choices, Loung goes through many obstacles throughout the course of one day that nobody should ever have to experience in their entire life. The very existence of this film makes it hard to watch. Being a true story and having some very dedicated children in their respective roles made this a very hard watch in my opinion (in a good way). The way this film is structured definitely makes for a very satisfying conclusion.

From its sweeping overhead shots, to the beautiful score surrounding each and every emotional sequence, Jolie is very quickly showing signs of maturity in terms of direction. Getting believable performances out of these children and making you truly believe you're watching a documentary instead of a retelling, this is truly an experience I won't be forgetting anytime soon. Not only is this a terrific story of survival, but it's also technically well done in almost every regard. Now, hardly any film is ever perfect, so I do have something to complain about, which would be its pacing.

Although the subject matter is improved by a drawn out telling of this true story, it can definitely be a detriment to the picture as a whole. There were many times when I found the film to be dragging a little, making me think the movie would've benefitted from a slightly quicker pace or a few edits to trim it down by about 20 minutes. This is a very powerful story and I feel it's done wonderfully, but the length and slow pace of everything will make many audiences grow weary of it. Aside from that small gripe, I truly couldn't find much to complain about in terms of overall execution.

In the end, First They Killed My Father is an emotionally charged epic on a very small scale, but made to feel grand. This is a movie that I feel is worth your immediate attention, solely due to the material alone, but I can't see anyone wanting to rewatch it over and over again. Overall, this is easily one of the best films I've seen this year, but it's slow pace is definitely off-putting in terms of wanting to revisit it. This is a very easy movie to recommend to pretty much everyone, as long they they don't mind reading subtitles. Now streaming on Netflix, First They Killed My Father ranks among my recommendations for the year.

Downsizing
Downsizing (2017)
10 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

From Sideways, to Nebraska, to The Descendants, and even Paris je t'aime, I've pretty much loved everything that I've seen from director Alexander Payne, therefore making Downsizing one of my most anticipated films of 2017 by far. Not having heard much about this film aside from its concept, I went into this film fairly cold. Sadly, this film doesn't have a whole lot more offer than its brilliant concept and exceptional first act. I must admit that I left this film feeling disappointed, thinking they could've made this a better film in many ways. When a film has so much promise and doesn't exactly deliver on much of it, I feel as though many people would be let down by that. Here is why I believe everyone should see Downsizing, despite it being slightly too mediocre as a final product.

In this dramedy, which also in part a social satire of its own genre, Downsizing follows a couple who believes their lives would be better if they were to shrink themselves and be transferred to a new world called Leisureland. This place exists to conserve the Earth and save the environment, by these shrunken people needed much less resources. With multiple meanings to the title, this is a concept that sounds incredible on paper, but doesn't exactly translate into that great of a movie. Throughout the first act, I found myself immersed in this world and couldn't wait to be taken on its journey, but I soon found myself losing interest when political and religious elements began to takeover. This is a movie that could've done so much more with its premise.

Without giving anything away, there are many characters that come in and out of this film in a heartbeat, pretty much leaving them in the dust, when in reality they were actually interesting and added a layer to the overall story. It felt as though Alexander Payne wanted to focus so much on the idea of the Downsizing concept, that he sidelined quite a few characters along the way. His films have always been about characters, and while Paul (Matt Damon) and Ngoc (Hong Chau) share some great chemistry throughout this film, it's hard not to wish that all of the characters throughout the first act were present throughout the entire film. This was a very curious issue I had while watching and definitely upon reflection.

As soon as you're brought into this other world that has been built for those who shrunk themselves over the years, you will find yourself kind of transfixed at how interesting the visuals are and how well the comedic aspects come into play, but what you don't expect is for the film to take a dramatic turn and really have you thinking hard about the world we live in and whether or not certain lines of dialogue are true about society in general. This is an eye-opening film in that regard and the third act is incredibly ambitious, but I just don't think really sticks the landing that it strives to achieve.

In the end, this is one of the most original ideas I can recall in recent memory, but an idea doesn't make a film great. It's the film itself that needs to win you over as a whole, and Downsizing just didn't do that for me. On many accounts, this is a very impressive movie from a technical standpoint and it takes risks that I didn't expect it it, but the risks it takes will only work for a few audiences members that can relate to it. This is a movie that promises a lot and tries to deliver on all of those promises, while also shoving in side plots that make this film too emotionally complex to really be invested in the satirical aspects by the end. I wish this film went through a few more rewrites, because there is a satirical masterpiece of a movie in here somewhere, but it's just not the product that you'll be seeing in theatres soon. Downsizing is worth your time in terms of originality, but I wouldn't get your hopes up on it being a favourite of yours.

The Shape of Water
11 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Being praised around the world as one of the best films of the year from people visiting festivals, The Shape of Water is Guillermo Del Toro's latest venture into the strange and moving area of film. From Pan's Labyrinth to recent films like Pacific Rim, I've always enjoyed watching his films. While I won't be praising this film as much as some people have been, it will easily be receiving a recommendation from my end, but to the right crowd. The Shape of Water is a beautiful, yet strange tale of romance, and even though you've seen this particular story many times over, I feel as though there is enough of a fresh spin to win fans over. Here are my thoughts on The Shape of Water.

To get this out of the way, people will surely be going into this film and receiving flashbacks from films like Beauty and the Beast, Splash, or even Shrek. Taking place in a fantasy world where men capture exotic creatures and use them to experiment on, Eliza discovers the creature after being tortured. Forming a very close bond with him, forming a plan to help him escape, and having him stay in her bathtub where he can have room to breathe, this very quickly becomes a very strange romantic tale that people will either buy into or find themselves wondering why they're watching this movie in the first place.

Throughout the course of the film, certain characters will present themselves in order to provide fear to the creature or to make you side with him, so that the story may progress. There are some definite forced aspects about this film, but when everything is filmed and presented so wonderfully, it's hard to let that clash with your enjoyment of the movie as a whole. To add to that, it was clear that certain scenes or lines of dialogue were added to the film in order to give it a sense of realism, but some of the vulgarity actually took me out of the overall experience, due to the fact that it wanted to get you emotionally invested at the same time. You'll know what I mean if you choose to check out this film.

Aside from appearances in Paddington or Blue Jasmine, I'd never really thought about Sally Hawkins as a leading lady of a major production, but sometimes you're proven to be severely wrong, because her performance here floored me. I was incredibly invested in every single moment her character was on-screen and anything I didn't like about this movie faded away every time she interacted with someone and had to display her emotions through her sign language or by just simply tearing up or showing emotion through her eyes. I will be remembering this performance as one of the best of the year by year.

In the end, where I think this film slightly fails is in its addition of human villains. The Shape of Water is a beautiful romance at its core, but I didn't feel the movie shows quite enough of it to really be a masterpiece, even though the production designers sure made it feel like a damn elegant piece of cinema. If for nothing else, the set design, along with the visual effects and art direction will surely be included in the awards season to come, because it's some of the best I've seen all year (possibly even the absolute best). Overall, I can call The Shape of Water a damn solid film, but it's not quite as wonderful as I was hoping it would be, To fans of strange or unique films, I recommend you check out this movie. Many people seem to be adoring this film, and while I agree that it's impressive, it's just hard not to compare it to many similar concepts.