Movie Review: Moonlight (2016)


Summary: A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Cast and Characters. We spend the most time with Chiron but thanks to him meeting others, the viewers get to meet them as well. The characters in this film are acted so well, everything is so understated and subtle. They feel like real people.
  • Chiron.
    • Alex R. Hibbert as Little. When we first meet Little, he is running away from bullies. Juan manages to find him, since Little won’t speak, he takes him to his house, feeds him and that sparks a friendship. Alex Hibbert starts off us with this character and he does such a great job setting the tone for this character. He keeps his head down, keeps his lips pursed like he doesn’t like the fact that people keep asking him to speak up. He looks like he has secrets. I thought he did very well.
    • Ashton Sanders as Chiron. I think he was my favorite out of the three who play the character. Being that he’s a teenager, this is usually a tough time in a person’s life as they are growing out of childhood and on the verge of adulthood. Things change. His mother is deeper into her addiction and he’s being bullied at school. Ashton Sanders is so good! He maintains what Alex started, the awkward walking, keeping his head down, the pursing of the lips like he has something to say but can’t say it. His confusion at his sexuality shows in his face later in this particular section and I think Ashton handles all of that very well.
    • Trevante Rhodes as Black. First of all, he is fine lol. Now Chiron is an adult, he is a drug dealer in Atlanta. He still says arms length away from others, just does what he has too. He seems have stayed the same into an adult but this time, instead of hating drugs from an arms length away, he hates them up close. He has a conversation with his mother and he ends up reconecting with an old friend. Trevante Rhodes also manages to maintain the same way about him the other two did, the same type of walk, keeping his head down, the quiet way of talking. He doesn’t purse his lips much anymore (I mean how can he with that stupid grill in his mouth) but everything is the same.
  • Mahershala Ali as Juan. He rightfully won that Oscar. He is drug dealer, who meets Little while he’s running from bullies. He’s kind to him, tries to find where he lives but as Little won’t tell him, he takes him home and cares for him. Even as time goes on, he forms a friendship with him, teaches him to swim and how to make his own path. I really like Mahershala Ali, he knows how to be very subtle and Juan is a man who has to do what he has to do in order to live his life, but when he’s not on the streets, he’s a different person. It’s great the way he takes in Chiron and teaches him many things. His story about living in Cuba and moonlight, I thought came full circle by the end.
  • Naomie Harris as Paula. Deserved her nomination. I read that she filmed her scenes in three days and it does not show. When we first see her, she doesn’t look like she does drugs but it’s easy to see the downward spiral. Each time we see her, it’s a different point in her life, when Chiron is a child, she seems to be abusive and angry at him, as a teenager, she’s a crack addict and only gives him attention for drug money and as an old woman, well things are different. Naomie Harris is such a great actress, she plays each version of this woman so well, it’s almost scary to see the change. She also made me cry as an adult.
  • Janelle Monae as Theresa. Definitely a supporting role, but she’s great and contagious. She is Juan’s girlfriend and becomes close with Chiron as she tries to get him to talk comfortably with her, even though he may not do that as a child, he definitely spends a lot more time with her as a teenager. She is what his mother isn’t and it’s clear to see that she loves him and he loves her. Janelle Monae is so likable in this role, the sassiness, her strength creates such a great supporting character.
  • Kevin
    • André Holland as Adult Kevin. He reaches out to Black, he is now a Chef in a dinner in Miami and life hasn’t gone according to plan but he is content for the most part. He and Black have a conversation, they learn more about each other as adults. Kevin does most of the talking and it’s quite interesting to watch their interaction. I felt like Andre Holland was a bit miscast in the role, he seemed to old to play this role, Black couldn’t be more than 25 and Andre seemed much older. Perhaps it was a well thought out choice due to what his life was like. He did a good job though.
    • Jharrel Jerome as Teen Kevin. He called Chiron “black” and I wouldn’t say they friends like they were when they were kids, but ya know teenage boys. He talks up being a ladies man, though I think he was just doing it on purpose, and later he and Chiron have a nice conversation. However, he us forced to choose a side when Chiron’s bullies want to “haze” him. I liked him, probably in the same way I liked Ashton Sanders. He was charismatic and kind of likable, he played teenage Kevin the way I would think a kid like him would grow into. Seems to be well off, used to getting his way and no one messes with him. Yeah, good job Jharrel (fun fact: he will be in the film adaptation of Walter Dean Myer’s Monster).
    • Jaden Piner as Child KevinCons. He is Little’s best friend, he’s small like Little but unlike Little, he uses it to his advantage and makes himself seem big. It seems like he comes from a better off family. He teases Little but he also is someone that Little obviously looks up too. Jaden Piner is adorable, he reminds me of Journey Smullet-Bell, like her twin brother (when she was a child). Some child actors can be good and some can be really bad and I think he was in the middle.
Tenderness. I think this film has a lot of tender moments between characters which I thought was beautiful and it isn’t always romantic tenderness. It’s two characters, or even three, who care so much about each other that they created this bond that it’s so easy to feel from the screen. I think it’s great, especially when at times black people can be shown as being sexual beings when it comes to love/romance and this didn’t make a big deal out of it.
Subtle. I liked the fact that a lot of things are shown or discussed in a subtle way. Nothing is made a big deal out of, it feels human.
The Transitions. At first, I was confused because it felt like the chapter for Little just ended, but I noticed that it was a pattern and each pattern was the same but a different color to signify a new time period. I thought it was quite unique.
The ending. I do think it comes full circle, at least in the very last shot we see. We hear Juan talk about it in the beginning and then the way the film ends I was like, wow that’s so awesome.
Questions. I wouldn’t really make this be against the film because it’s probably an art choice, but considering the way the film is edited, we don’t know what happened in between those times when Chiron grows up. It leaves a lot of questions and it’s kind of frustrating, especially when it’s referenced but there isn’t really an explanation. I like the showing and not telling so much but when it’s not there at all, I want to know! Tell me!
Cliche. This isn’t really a terrible thing but I do think that outside of the way the film is told, and the acting, I do think characters like these aren’t necessarily new and fresh. We’ve seen them before.
Overall, I loved this film. It’s amazing. I had minor problems with it and as soon as it was over, I knew and wanted it to win the Oscar for Best Picture. I know a lot of people don’t like it, or refuse to see it due the nature of the film, but I think it’s important that a film like this was made because this does represent people, even men in the Black community. Besides, it may not apply to your life, but it’s a wonderfully made and well acted film.
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Moonlight? Now that it’s won Best Picture at the Oscars are you more interested or not interested? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to comment, like and follow this blog!

Movie Review: Captain Fantastic (2016)


Summary: In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.
Cast and Characters.
  • Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash. He lives with his wife and children in the Washington wilderness. He is not into the whole “American lifestyle” and teaches their children survival skills, left wing politics among other things. He home schools them, he encourages them to read books and to talk about it, he allows his children to freely express themselves, even if that includes cursing. He tells them the truth, he doesn’t sugar coat anything and I actually liked that about him. I think if parents trusted their children a bit more, they might be surprised how their children (especially their older ones) react. This is a perfect role for Viggo Mortensen. His laid back persona makes this character work and to keep him likable. It would be really easy to make Ben an unlikable rude dude due to him not conforming to social norms, like not letting his children drink wine (great scene in the film), or explaining sex etc. But I think Mortensen manages to do so.
  • George McKay as Bo Cash. I thought he was a standout. I really like George McKay. Bo is the oldest of the kids, he is about 18 and he is crossing over into manhood (which the film starts out with him doing a “ritual” of sorts). He is obviously very intelligent but he is socially awkward as he has spent most of his life away from other people. There is a point in the beginning of the film where he runs into some girls at a store he and his father go to and he has no idea what to say to them. There is another scene later with another girl. He knows that he’s weird and it doesn’t seem to bother him much but as he is becoming his own man, he begins to want things outside of where they live and his family. I think McKay was fantastic here. He was very quiet, always in the background, prepared to do what he needs too. His American accent was also very good.
  • The other kids. So there are five other children: Keilyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja and Nai. They all do very well too. Rellian has a lot of anger and it’s easy to see in the beginning, it comes to everyone’s notice later on in the film. Keilyr and Vespyr are the teenage girls, not sure who was oldest (I think Vespyr) but they had a great relationship with each other. Zaja and Nai were the youngest girl and boy. Zaja was very smart compared to other kids her age and Nai being the youngest, a lot of stuff he says is hilarious.
The Cinematography. As soon as the film starts, we are greeted with shots of the forest and I immediately said “wow, this looks beautiful”. The look of this film, it’s so warm and crisp. As the characters live in the wilderness and pretty much wear whatever the want, the colors are so vibrant and bright, not to mention, Vespyr and Keilyr have red hair (like their mother) and their hair is definitely captured very beautifully on screen. There is a scene at the end, where they’re dancing around a bonfire, that’s probably my favorite scene and the look has a lot to do with it.
The Music. With a film like this, I can imagine the music being very important and Alex Somers manages to create a score that is not only whimsical, but sad and in a way uplifting. I really liked it. Coupled with the beautiful cinematography, the ambiance and feel of the film was elevated for me. The song chosen at the end, was chosen well. It fit.
The Dinner Scene. I don’t want to spoil anything in particular, but there are two scenes involving the family that were the most memorable to me. The Cash family has connected with Leslie’s (the mom) sister and this is the first time we really see just how different they are. Zaja asks for some wine and Ben is willing to give her some but Harper and her husband “children don’t drink wine” and he of course brings up other countries but “it’s not right”. One of Harper’s sons is playing a video game at the table, she tells him to put it away and he responds with an attitude and doesn’t do it right away, whereas Ben’s children actually does what he says and he doesn’t raise his voice to them. Harper also gets emotional when one of her sons asks what happened to a family member and Ben tells him exactly what happened instead of sugar coating it like their dad did. It was a great scene.
Bill of Rights Scene. This is after the dinner scene the next day. Harper brings up about Ben’s kids not being in a public school and he tells them they are smarter without it and to prove his point, he has one of his children explain something that Harper’s kids don’t know but should know.
The Store Scene. It’s cute and funny. That’s all I will say.
The Bonfire Scene. Again, without spoiling, there is a scene at the end, where the family pretty much as a bonfire, it’s during the day, so the look is beautiful, the way the sun and sky is captured. Just wow. Plus, with the song that Kielyr sings… it was beautiful. If you watched the Oscars, the scene they chose to show for Viggo Mortensen’s clip was from this scene.
The Grandfather. Now, I totally understand where he was coming from but oh my goodness…  he was so annoying and disrespectful. Yes, Ben’s ways of raising his kids was extreme but to do what he did, I thought that was rude and it really didn’t let me like the character.
Weird/Not For Everyone. This is one of those films that isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s weird, the characters are strange, the ways of the main family is weird… it’s weird. That might turn a lot of people off.
The Ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it seems like the ending was a let down. The entire time the family has this way of doing things, then stuff starts to happen, the father fights against this, most of the kids fight against this but then the end happens and while it’s sweet, I thought it was a cop out.
Overall, I really liked Captain Fantastic, I thought it was a beautifully shot movie. The music added a lot to the film, the main family was kooky but I quite enjoyed spending the time with them we did, the oldest son especially being a standout. This is a character study like film that focuses heavily on the family, especially the dad and I think the questions this movie puts out there are important ones. However, I do think the movie is strange and tries maybe a bit too hard to be strange and weird, which may turn a lot of people off. I also think the ending was a bit of a let down.
Rating: 3.85 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Captain Fantastic, if so what did you think about it? Is it a film you’d think you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments below!
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Oscars 2017 Recap


So the 2017 Academy Awards! Just like last year, my friend and I tried to watch as many as we could. A lot of them, I saw before the nominations were announced so there some headway regardless. So this piece, is just for me to recap what happened Sunday night, or at least some of the more memorable things. I will also put the winners here as well.
Also, I tried to get all of my reviews up before the Oscars, but between work, school and me being tired, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, so I have some movie reviews coming up in the next few days. Hopefully they will go in this order, but we’ll see. There are also some book reviews in there.
Captain Fantastic, Collateral Beauty, John Wick: Chapter 2, Get Out, Moonlight, and Rock Dog. 
Kong: Skull Island should be coming some time this week as well.
Oscars 2017 Winners!
Best Picture: Moonlight
Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea
Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone- La La Land
Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali- Moonlight
Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis- Fences
Animated Feature Film: Zootopia
Cinematography: La La Land
Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Directing: La La Land
Documentary (Feature): O.J. Made in America
Documentary (Short Subject): The White Helmets
Film Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Makeup and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad
Music (Original Score): La La Land
Music (Original Song): “City of Stars” from La La Land
Production Design: La La Land
Short Film (Animated): Piper
Short Film (Live Action): Sing
Sound Editing: Arrival
Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge
Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Moonlight
Writing (Original Screenplay): Manchester by the Sea
Memorable Moments
The Red Carpet is always amazing. It’s so fun to see what people decide to wear. I know people don’t always pay attention to the guys, but there was some dapper men dressed up last night. Some of my favorite looks.
      Viola Davis                                    Hailee Steinfeld                                Brie Larson
170226195247-44-oscars-rc-2017-super-916  hailee-steinfeld 170226195242-42-oscars-rc-2017-super-916
Emma Stone                             Taraji P. Henson                         Dev Patel
170226194051-39-oscars-rc-2017-exlarge-916 tarajip-henson_oscars_red_carpet oscars-2017-red-carpet-best-dressed-dev-patel
Janelle Monae                         Kirsten Dunst                   Octavia Spencer
rs_634x1024-170226161705-634-2-janelle-monae-2017-oscars-awards 172b6157590abc40d609e1be9ab9a4391b28b4730e9f27e03663912f6822aa82-683x1024 oscars-red-carpet-1097-octavia-spencer-superjumbo-v2
Mahershala Ali                        Riz Ahmed                         John Legend & Chrissy Teigan
oscars-2017-red-carpet-best-dressed-mahershala-ali 21c4e01db027da67c8b9b6d7ffe5a9aca40bd05ed7a3ba170c3e79342dfa7539-683x1024 chrissy-teigen-john-legend-shoes-oscars-red-carpet-2017
I mean, I think there were others I liked, but off the top of my head, these are the ones I remembered. Now here are the ones I was like… meh.
     Dakota Johnson                            Jessica Biel
gettyimages-645637814-1488156543  nintchdbpict000304906129
This next picture… I liked her dress… but the winner of the night was her hair. I think Halle Berry usually looks great on the red carpet. I’m not a fan of her acting most times but she can show up on the carpet. However, I don’t know what happened with her hair here. It looked like it was going to take flight. Twitter was ablaze with comments, it was hilarious.
Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t know. I mean, there were definitely times where I enjoyed him. The Hunger Games like tribute air drop things were cute. There was a joke he made about Moonlight in the beginning “All of the movies are sad this year, a lot of them have no happy endings unless you count the middle of Moonlight” or something like that, that made me cackle. But he was inconsistent, at least in his humor (but humor is subjective ya know).
I didn’t particularly like the Tour Bus thing. I mean, it was cute, I enjoyed how some of the people were reacting, but after a while, it started to be a bit too long. I know I would have been embarrassed after being walking around a movie lot, or being on a tour bus for a while. I mean, I would want to meet people whose work I admire while looking nice.
Lin Manuel Miranda and Auli’i Cravalho perform “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.
So I loved this performance. It was so great. The video is below for your viewing pleasure. I did want Lin-Manuel Miranda to win and get his EGOT, I love the movie, I love the song. I wish he would have won but at least we got to see this performance because Auli’i Cravalho is a professional and I think she has a bright future ahead of her.
The Best Picture Flub
You can watch the awkwardness below. So, it’s no surprise that I quite enjoyed La La Land. It was my favorite of the year last year, at least I kept going back and forth with that and Zootopia. I even gave it a 5/5 which I still stand by, going over it again, I would recognize a couple more “cons” but I wouldn’t change my score. With that said, I don’t think it’s Best Picture worthy. I wouldn’t have voted for it, especially after I saw Moonlight. So, I was rooting for Moonlight to win most of the awards it was nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Directing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
I thought it was strange how Warren Beatty kept pausing and looking around when he was supposed to be calling the winner. Faye Dunaway laughed and was urging him to say the winner. I thought “what is he doing?”, then he showed her the card and she shouted “La La Land!” and I went “NO! BOOO!” and of course Twitter exploded, as did some of my friends on Facebook. Someone immediately said “F*** right off” (that cracked me up). I was already looking for the gif from Get Out where the “maid” said “no, no, no”. I wasn’t listening to the speeches until Jordan Horowitz (Producer from La La Land) interrupted and said it was a mistake. I sat up so quickly “Are they serious?” “What’s going on?” “This isn’t funny.” I watched as Horowitz said it was a mistake, snatched the card away from Warren Beatty (I mean, chill out lol), and showed us the card. It sure enough said Moonlight. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even react the way I wanted to initially. Mr. Beatty explained what happened and I feel bad for him, but I think he also should have said something when he was confused, instead after Faye Dunaway read the card (which she also should have looked more closely), he just let the crew of La La Land come up. It was strange. I do feel bad for everyone involved. That’s harsh but YAY FOR MOONLIGHT! Much more deserving.
My thoughts on Awards Given
I didn’t get the chance to see everything that won but I saw a nice majority and a lot of the awards I agree with.
I do think La La Land was deserving in their Cinematography and Music (Original Score) wins. I don’t think they should have won Best Director or Production Design (I think I missed something but I’m not sure what it is). I’m still salty about that Original Song though.
Moonlight won for Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and it also should have won for Best Directing (I will definitely go into that when I post my review).
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them rightfully won for Costume Design and should have also won for Production Design. Yay for a Harry Potter film to win an Oscar, it was a long time coming.
Suicide Squad won for Makeup and Hairstyling. I’m legit cackling and rolling my eyes because now that film can call it self an Oscar winner but I mean, one of the things it did right was the look of the characters. So, I guess it can have that.
Zootopia rightfully won for Best Animated Feature Film because it’s amazing. I would have been okay if any of the nominees won because I liked them all, but Zootopia is the better film out of the options (though I think Kubo and the Two Strings was the biggest contender).
  • I saw someone say on Twitter that Zootopia was the Crash of Animated Films and that actually made me upset. I don’t agree. I saw Crash once, a long time ago and I thought it was preachy and tried to do too much, there was some good stuff in it but it felt forceful (not to mention, no one really wanted it to win). However, Zootopia was very clever in how they handled the topics presented, it’s a very two tones film, very layered. It can be watched as a kid’s movie, no worries in the world, it’s cute, it’s colorful, fun and the characters are all likable. Crash was not like that. On the other hand, it also had a lot of deep undertones, talking about racial and gender equality among other things. I remember seeing it for the first time and going “okay cute movie” then it turned into “wow… Disney, that’s deep.” So I disagree with that statement so much.
Casey Affleck vs Denzel Washington for Actor in a Leading Role.
So I saw both films, I think Manchester by the Sea was a great movie as was Fences. I thought both actors did great jobs in their roles, and I think it’s easy to see why Denzel wanted that award so much, August Wilson is important to him, that play is important to him and I personally think he should have won. It seemed to me that Casey Affleck thought the same thing due to his reaction to winning. I’m sure he was grateful for the win, but he seemed so flustered that his head was down almost the entire time. Both films are a lot to take in and both performances were nuanced in their own way but I thought Denzel Washington was stronger. I knew it was going to be between the two of them but it was interesting to see what happened.
Emma Stone for Actress in a Leading Role.
I don’t really have a problem with this only because La La Land was the only film I saw in the Actress in a Leading Role category. I wanted to see the others, but I didn’t get the chance unfortunately. I thought Ruth Negga had a chance from what I heard of her performance (plus, it would have been nice to see all Actor awards held by black people but ya know), but I wasn’t upset by this because of that fact. I may feel differently once I see the other films (like how I was upset at Jennifer Lawrence beating out Quvenzhané Wallis that one year) but can’t say about it for now. Besides, I thought Emma Stone did very well in La La Land, she was the star of that film. Just make smart after Oscar choices Emma. I’ll still like you though regardless.
Actor and Actress in Supporting Roles.
Viola Davis in Fences
Oh my goodness, so deserving. I still feel like she should have been nominated for Actress in a Leading Role and I think she should win for that but who knows if they would have picked her over Emma Stone in that category. Her speech was amazing. She is amazing. That dress was amazing. VIOLA!!! She is the only black woman to have an Emmy, Oscar and Tony all for acting. A coworker said that now Beyonce just needs to sample Viola’s speech in a song so Viola can get her Grammy and have her EGOT lol. I agree! She can do no wrong to me, she is amazing. I also know she had me all the way stressed out on that “How To Get Away with Murder” finale though. I need answers Viola.
Mahershala Ali in Moonlight.
I don’t want to talk about this much here as I’m going to do a review for the film, but this dude is amazing. First thing I saw him in was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1 and (unfortunately) which I didn’t realize he was in those. He was a standout in Free State of Jones and then of course “Luke Cage” where he was also a standout (scary dude), he was in Kicks (which was one of my favorite movies last year) and then this film. He deserves all the awards. His speech was also very well done. He seems so likable, and he is fine. I can’t wait to see what else he’s going to do.
So that’s my Oscars 2017 Recap. Stay tuned for my Captain Fantastic movie review!
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Manchester by the Sea (2017) Review


Summary: An uncle is obliged to return home to care for his nephew after his brother dies. Unknowing he is to be the guardian and struggles with the decision. Throughout the movie he recounts past memories that caused him to leave Manchester and distance himself from his past. -IMDb
Cast and Characters. We meet a lot of characters in this film, I’m going to try to only talk about the main two, with a mention of some of the supporting characters.
  • Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler. He is a quiet and reserved man. He is the janitor of his apartment building and almost seems to be the kind of guy, who works silently in the background to the point where you don’t notice him… but don’t think he won’t respond callously just because he doesn’t talk much. When he finds out his older brother dies, the emotion takes a moment to hit him, he’s very emotionally distant about the whole thing. I think Casey Affleck is a good actor, he’s a bit weird to be honest and just like his brother he talks through his teeth (It’s kind of annoying sometimes) and it works for this character in how silent and withdrawn he is. He goes to Manchester to tell his nephew and is thrust into becoming his guardian due to his brother’s will. The way he handles that news, it’s quite amusing to see the disbelief and frustration on his face. Not to mention, the way he interacts with other people, especially Patrick. I think Affleck is able to maintain a likability about Lee because he can be very unlikable. Not to mention, he handles devastation pretty well… there is a great scene that I won’t spoil, but it almost made me cry.
  • Lucas Hedges as Patrick Chandler. I liked this kid, I wanted to throttle him a few times due to the way he talked to Lee, but I guess they had that sort of relationship from the beginning. He’s on the hockey team, in a band, has two girlfriends, seems like a smart kid and he learns that his father died from a heart attack. He almost seems to react in the same way Lee does, but I suppose he was prepared for it, as his father had been sick for a while. He deals with it on the night of, by sleeping with one of his girlfriends. Throughout the film, he butts heads with Lee on what to do thanks to the will and he firmly does not want to leave Manchester whereas Lee knows he just cannot come back. Patrick has a bit of a potty mouth on him (which adds to his humor). He has a great scene, where he freaks out in the kitchen. You’ll have to see why for yourself. I think Lucas Hedges did very well here, his accent didn’t seem to falter to me, I think he has a great future ahead of him. He held his own well with Casey Affleck and seemed very natural in his role, he wasn’t forcing anything.
    • I also just have to say, I liked his blonde girlfriend more than the brunette girl. I wanted to punch her in the face lol.
Supporting Characters. 
  • Michelle Williams as Randi. She is Lee’s ex-wife, she is really only shown in flashbacks in which it looked like she and Lee were in a marriage in which they very much loved each other. A few more flashbacks show her irritation at few things he does, but I didn’t think that was a bad thing, as that’s just marriage lol. Later on, she shows her support as she was close with Joe and continued to be even after their divorce. I think her most pivotal scene is when she actually has a moment to speak with Lee and it’s a great scene. It’s sad and desperate and I kind of pitied her. I think Michelle Williams is a great actress, another role in which she is just a natural in it, but I don’t think it’s a memorable performance or anything (especially not to be nominated).
The Story. The death of a family member bringing people together isn’t anything new, nor is the idea of a sibling having to take on responsibility of the child new… but what this movie does that’s a bit different, is make it a character study of both the child and adult. Usually, it’s all about the adult and how they handle their new role, how the children fit into their world and how the adult changes to fit into the children’s world and this movie doesn’t do that. Without spoiling it, it was refreshing. Plus, while it has humor, the tone remains the same, sad. I wouldn’t even say it has a happy ending.
The humor. This movie doesn’t look like it’s going to be funny but it has it’s moments. Patrick brings most of the humor because the stuff he says and does is just plain ridiculous. Lee has his funny moments too in how he doesn’t react to things, or how awkward things happen to him (like at the beginning, he’s working on a tenants toilet after it clogged, and he hears her talking on the phone about how she’s attracted to him… then they have an awkward moment before he leaves her apartment lol). But Patrick being 16 and being sexually active, or trying to be sexually active with one of his girlfriends, or how he tries to get Lee to help him score… it’s weird but funny.
The Relationships. I loved to see the relationships of the characters in the film, especially what we got to see through flashbacks.
  • Lee and Joe Chandler. They are brothers and they have a great relationship. It’s easy to see that Lee looks up to Joe and that he is really affected by his death, due to how big a role he played in his life even when things went horribly wrong for Lee. We also see how Lee feels about the responsibilities Joe puts on him, with what he trusts him with. There was great love there.
  • Lee and Patrick. We mostly see them together in present time, though we do get moments of them in the past. The very first scene is a flashback with them on Joe’s boat. In present time, Lee is tasked with being Patrick’s guardian until he’s 18, and to continue being a trustee until he’s 21 and Lee just balks at that idea, especially since he wants to stay in Boston but Patrick does not want to leave his current life (his two girlfriends lol). Their conversations can turn antagonistic really quickly, but it’s easy to tell that Lee cares for Patrick even if he’s unsure how to handle him now. It’s also easy to tell that Patrick loves Lee and wants to be with him even through his weird teenage ways.
  • Lee and Randi. She’s his ex-wife and outside of the flashbacks, we really only see her three times. One time (current time) is a really pivotal scene for them, her in particular, it was really sad and almost desperate in a way. Something terrible happens to them and it tore them apart. It wasn’t hard to see that she blamed him for it and they went their separate ways. Now that Joe’s death has brought them back together, she confesses a few things to him and it’s painful. Lee is in pain just listening to it. It was done really well.
The Flashbacks. While the transitions could have been better, I think their importance was great in this film. We get to see Lee interact with his older brother, see how much they cared and loved each other, see how great Joe was. We also get to see Lee interact with his family before the current time and leaves us wondering… just what happened to this man that made him into who we see him as today. There is one particular flashback that is devastating.
The Flashbacks. I think there could have been better ways to incorporate them into the film. There are times where it just happens and it’s like ‘whoa wait… is this a flashback?’, it just happens so quickly that it’s jarring and takes a moment to realize what’s happening. It gets a little better as the movie continues, but after the first few ones, it got a little harder to realize it was a flashback.
Boring/Too Slow. This is one of those movies, that while I liked, it can easily be boring and the viewer can check out. Approach this movie with caution, know that it’s long and that there isn’t a lot going on, it’s really a character study more than anything. But it definitely lags in some areas, that make it feel longer than what it is.
Feels stilted. What I mean by this is that moments that should be emotional, or even devastating don’t really feel that way. It almost feels manipulative in a way. Because Lee doesn’t react to things in particular way, it almost comes off fake sometimes.
Abrupt Ending. It just ended, that when the screen faded to black and credits popped up, I was like ‘oh… seemed like there should be more’. I wonder if this was one of those things where the writers were unsure how the end it… because it felt like there was about 10 minutes missing or something.
Overall, I liked Manchester by the Sea. I see why it’s nominated along with Casey Affleck being nominated and I think it’s one of those movies that you’d probably watch once and not really revisit. It’s an experience and once the experience is had, it’s enough. It’s sad, and quiet which works in it’s favor. I think the tone remains the same, even through the flashbacks. Both Lee and Patrick are likable people, as well as being easily disliked, but I think both actors maintain a balance. Due to them being near water, the cinematography has this tint to it, where it just looks gloomy which I don’t think is a bad thing. During winter seasons near water, it looks like that. I thought that was a nice touch. I do think the ending is very abrupt, I also think it will be very boring to some people and that there is a bit of an extra something missing… the heart is missing. I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this movie if it wasn’t nominated to be honest. I still liked it though.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Manchester by the Sea? Are you interested? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!
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Movie Review: The Red Turtle (2017)


Summary: The dialogue-less film follows the major life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs and birds.- From IMDB
Characters. There isn’t really a cast so this is strictly on the characters and I almost don’t really want to go into it because it might ruin the experience. So I’ll try to be careful, there might be minor spoilers ahead.
  • The Man. He is stranded on a deserted island, when he wakes up, he meets some funny crabs, then goes to explore the island. A couple of things happen where I freak out for a moment because if I was in his shoes, I’d probably die lol, but he quickly adapts and starts trying to escape. He builds some rafts, ends up having to make one three times. As the film continues, we see him grow and change and the reasons why are probably how any man in his position would.
  • The Red Turtle. Quite the anomaly, the man’s first raft is destroyed and he nor the viewer knows why until I think the second or third time, we finally see the red turtle and it blatantly destroys his raft. I think there are a couple of theories as to why it does this… but again no spoilers.
  • Two other characters. So, it’s hard to talk about a film where parts may be major spoilers… but I will just say, I love the animation of the hair on one of them and I think they were both great additions to the film… also very intriguing. Makes the viewer wonder just how they got there in the first place, what is the whole story.
No Dialogue. This film has no dialogue outside of the small “HEEEYS!” otherwise, there’s no actual dialogue. At first, that might be a bit jarring, especially as the movie continues into the last bit, but I think it works because it makes the viewer pay attention to everything else. It’s easy to lose focus in a film when a character is talking but when there is nothing to go on but emotion and what’s around the character, it requires a different kind of focus. I think it really works here.  I didn’t need it. What I saw, I was able to create moments from my imagination.
The animation. I think Studio Ghibli always hits their mark with their animation. It is a bit weird here, but I liked it. I thought it was very different compared to their other most notable works. I think the water probably had the most character in the film. At the beginning, the way it moves, like a wild animal was stunning. Later in the film, it moves like that again and it’s so scary. Also, like I mentioned above, I really liked how the hair of a particular character was animated, especially in the water. Also, the way the Red Turtle looked in the water, the color and how clearly it stood out. The same way the man’s white clothes did in a sea of green trees at the beginning of the film. That slow changed over time as he began to adapt to the island.
The emotion. It made me cry lol. There is a lot going on here, but at it’s core it’s very straight forward, it’s the story of a man and by the end, I was in tears. Even if you don’t cry, I think it’s imperative that you pay close attention to the film, don’t get distracted, because even if you don’t cry, there is going to be something felt by the end of the film. It’s engrained in the characters, in the animation and the sounds of the island.
The Story. It talks about a deep connection with nature, in many ways. In how man adapts to it, how nature can be unyielding and unforgiving, but at the same time, it can be loving and helpful.
What happened?? I don’t want to spoil a particular plot point… but I want to know what happened to him, he just left. I guess you can kind of guess but I needed answers.
A little odd. I think it can come off really weird and maybe better off as a short film instead of a full length movie. But I think that depends on the person, I put it her because it was something I noticed. As well as the animation being a bit jarring, same with the no dialogue bit, but it doesn’t count against the film for me.
Overall, I really loved this film. I was quite surprised as I watched it. I really wanted to see it after hearing Chris Stuckmann talk about it and I was in for a treat. I personally haven’t seen a Studio Ghibli film I haven’t liked. I mean, sure, some of them aren’t as great as others, but overall, I think they are all quite fabulous movies and this is no different, no matter how different it is compared to it’s predecessors. I love the animation, especially of the nature elements. I really loved the fact that there was no dialogue, it requires a bit more attention from the viewer, and allows the music and animation to take a front seat. It’s fantastic.
Rating: 4. 70 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen The Red Turtle? Have you even heard of it? If not, go watch it! Let me know what you think in the comments below! I can definitely see why it’s been nominated for an Oscar.
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