The Farewell, by Lulu Wang – Film Review

I’ll start by explaining what this film is about without any spoilers because this film is just too precious. The Farewell was directed by Lulu Wang and follows Billi a young woman who learns that her grandmother is sick and has a very short time left to live. To her surprise, the family decides not to tell her grandmother that she is dying. Instead, they arrange a wedding as an excuse for everyone to go back to China and see her one last time before she passes, almost like saying goodbye without being able to say it!the_farewell_poster

The film is able to approach the subject from both the western and eastern mindsets without diminishing neither of them, which for me was one of the greatest qualities of the story.  The Farewell is packed with complex characters who feel like real people, who have real conversations about topics that really matter. The film maneges to be funny between the sad moments giving it the levity that it needs, not the mention the amazing way in which the family bonds are portrayed.

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

I cried about 5 times during the entire film and one extra time once it ended. I’ll list the scenes that made me cry the most:

  1. When Billi speaks about how hard it was for her to leave China, the impact it had on her to not be able to be around her grandma as much and how painful it was to never be able to see her grandpa again given that her parents never really explained his death to her.
  2. I cried during the wedding part when Billi’s cousin starts to cry and we realize the all “thing” is really taking a toll on him too, even if for him the situation is sposed to be normal.
  3. The one that made me cry the most was when “Nai Nai” is talking to Billi and tells her that when the time comes for her (Billi’s) wedding she will give an even bigger party just because it was for Billi.

I can not end this without mentioning the shot of Billi running as fast as she can in order to get her “Nai Nai” medical results in order to get them before her, I truly loved it and the music for that shot was incredibly used (and in the entire film, overall).

(END OF SPOILERS)

Exactly as I wrote in my notebook after watching The Farewell: “I’m in love with this film, the soundtrack is 100% amazing and exactly what it had to be elevating the film to a whole other level. THANK YOU LULU WANG! This is excellent.”

I gave this film 9 out of 10!

Bye! Gotta watch ’em all!

Frances Ha (2013) – Film Review

Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach is a modern coming of age tale as well as a story about friendship. Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a 27-year-old dancer living with her best friend Sophie. Baumbach is a unique filmmaker, his movies tackle literally every subject matter while capturing real day-to-day life. In this film, he goes back to the basics of filmmaking: there are no complicated technics,  no colourfull shots and yet he manages to guide us through Frances complex life.mv5boty0ndq2nzq2n15bml5banbnxkftztcwmtu0otkwoq4040._v1_sy1000_cr006371000_al_

Frances’ life is as depressing and comedic as it is relatable, as far as the other characters go no one is overly dramatic. This shows us realism can be both depressing and unbelievably funny. As I see it, the film is centred in a friendship where one person wants to grow up and move on while the other is desperately holding onto the past in every way possible.

The director makes a homage to french new wave cinema and we can witness that in the scene where Frances running and twirling across streets of New York with David Bowie’s “Modern Love” on the soundtrack.

The script is so masterfully written by both Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, not to mention so brilliantly performed. This film is a masterpiece and I can’t recommend it enough.

I gave this film 8 out of 10.

Bye! Gotta watch ’em all!

Quote:

“It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it, but it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual but because that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”

Only Yesterday (1991) – Film Review

“Perhaps my fifth-grade self is trying to tell me a new way to fly.”

Only Yesterday by Isao Takahata is an animation about Taeko Okajima, a young woman in the 80’s trying to get a sense of both herself and the world surrounding her.  The film is set during two timelines, the primary one occurring in 1982 when the main character is  27 years old and working in an office in Tokyo.

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Taeko is the youngest person in her household, that includes a lifeless father, a very concerned mother, a strangely distant grandmother and two older sisters. Our main character has all kinds of memories of her fifth-grade self, struggles with young love,  dealing with puberty, an early love for theatre and other frustrations and joys of being a kid in the late 1960s. But the one memories that struck me the most was one of the family trying their first pineapple and figuring out how to eat it. This shows the film is capable of finding beauty and charm in ordinary experiences.

The characters in Only Yesterday manage to have individuality and autonomy while being part of a whole, which is remarkable. The film is subtle and cleverly structured and the ever-increasing interaction with the surroundings cames of as a form of love for nature.

There is really nothing left for me to say, just go watch it. PLEASE

I gave this film 8.5 out of 10.

Bye! Gotta watch ’em all!

 

Booksmart (2019) – Film Review

“Booksmart” by Olivia Wilde tells us the story of two seniors, Molly and Amy, who are about to graduate high school and have spent their high school years exhaustively studying, never missing any school work whatsoever, because they believe this is the best and only way to get into a good university. They, all the sudden, find out that the other kids who have been partying and not taking school as serious as they have, have also gotten into good universities. With this, they feel like they should use this last night before graduation as an opportunity to not miss out on everything they have been passing up all these years.  mv5bmjezmjcxnja2nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjaxmdm2nzm40._v1_

This is a well-made comedy, directed by someone we can see understands the genera. Not the mention, the amazing performances by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever who really boost the film to the next level. The supporting cast is just as remarkably hilarious as Feldstein and Dever and is given something more to do than be the manifestation of high school stereotypes.

It really feels like you are there with Amy and Molly, the plot never seems to stop our slow down mostly because most of the film is about this one night of craziness. By the end of the film, you really feel like you have connected with these people and want them to be happy and fulfilled.

It is wonderful to watch a film dealing with strong and supportive female friendships and it is also exhilarating to see it take place in an environment like a high school field with diverse students.

This film feels unique and was probably one of the funniest films I’ve watched in a long time! It manages to be hilarious and heartwarming, it is just wonderful.  For me, it was an 8 out of 10, please go watch it!

Bye! Gotta watch ’em all!

 

The Lobster (2016) – Film Review

“The Lobster” from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, presents a dystopian society where being single is a criminal act. A breakup shoves the person left alone into the corner of society. A person has 45 days after the end of the relationship to find a new partner, if the person doesn’t find a match, he/she will be turned into an animal of his/her choice. The film manages to be close enough to our reality to leave us thinking. 57480f1d15c727dfd1e2f9d8de06e7a4

The film starts with David’s girlfriend breaking up with him, after that we see David on his way to a facility where single people try to find a mate and we can, at this point, notice that he is feeling both depressed and defeated. People in the film call this facility a hotel, however, to watchers, it looks more like an institutionalized environment to control human emotions.

In this word, there are so many dangers that come with being single that something as crucial to a relationship as personal-connection becomes not only impossible but irrelevant. To add to this lack of connection, “The Lobster” is narrated in a monotone by a character that only appears later in the film. Not to mention, the way people talk reveals a complete absence of nuance and subtext, there is noT only no emotion, but you are also aware of these people’s lack of life.

In my opinion, Lanthimos is trying to show us that our own society values couples more it values single people, that we see a relationship as an accomplishment bigger than a career or any other aspirations.

“The Lobster” is different, weird, unfamiliar and satisfying all in its ingenious way. I recommend you so savour it until its last drop of amazingness. For me, it was a 6.8 out of 10, only because the monotone of the narration made me feel uneasy!

Bye! Gotta watch ’em all!

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe – Book Review (Blog Tour)

This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review for this blog tour organized by Random Things Tours, thank you so much for the opportunity. unnamed

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Acorn Independent Press
  • Publishing Date: 5 Mar. 2019

Favourite quote: “So the thing about Hamlet’s madness is he puts it on, he assumes it, as some kind of defence, some kind of protection.”

This book follows Ruby whom dad has died a year ago. She missed a lot of school days and we get to get to experience what she deals with when going back. One day she finds something extremely daunting: an envelope addressed to her and it is in her father’s handwriting. Inside the envelope, there is a list saying ‘Ten Things I Hope You Do Before You Leave School’.44532426

What can I say about this book? It was sent to me at the right time. I read it while being terribly sad, almost depressed and in need of a book that made me feel every emotion. This book made me laugh and cry, which rarely happens to me while reading. I wasn’t able to put it down, everything happened to Ruby and once you get started with the list this story becomes a rollercoaster.

I loved the character development in this book, we can see Ruby as well as Josh and their mother growing up and becoming themselves again at the same time. A great thing about this book is that it manages to bring to light a multitude of important topics, such as self-harm, suicide, bullying, among others without making it feel forced. Another thing I really enjoyed was the fact that you never know if Ruby is doing something because of the list or because she feels like it since she only mentions the topic of the list once she has completed it.

I don’t have anything negative to say about this book, it’s a really good story, with credible characters and a great plot. It didn’t blow my mind but not every book has to blow your mind, right?

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

I recommend it to everyone going through a rough time but remember this is a book that talks openly about topics that might be triggering to some people.

Bye, keep on reading.

 

 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – Book Review

This book follows Tom, a young rebellious boy who lives with his aunt Polly, a very strict but caring woman. General consense says the purpose of this book is to “capture the spirit of american boyhood in the pre-civil war era”.

A lot happens to Tom in this book, he fells in love with the new girl in town, witnesses a murder, makes others paint his fence, pretends to be a pirate and goes off to live in a nearby island, makes the town believes he and his friends have drowned, among a lot of other things. As you can see he was a busy child.

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The treatment of extremely important issues in this novel was very appealing to me. Even though it is considered a children’s book it talks about murder and rape. There is also a lot of racism in this book, but I don’t know how intentional it is given that it was written in 1876.

The use of English from the 1800s together with the use of now considered archaic words certainly toke me some time to get used to. A big drawback for me was the fact that I couldn’t seem to feel empathy for Tom whatsoever, which is something that has never stopped me from enjoying a book but he just reminded me of those really mean children who need to hear the word “no” more often.

With all that being said, I found this to be an okay book, I went into it really excited expecting to be one of the best books I would ever read but it was just a quick, entertaining read, not that there is anything wrong with that. I recommend it if you want to get a perspective of what life was like during pre-civil war time in the united states.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

Renée Stone: Murder in Abyssinia by Birmant Julie – Book Review

My thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for a review copy of this book.

This book follows Renée Stone, a successful English mystery novelist. This is the first book of the series, set in 1930 and Stone finds herself in Ethiopia for the coronation of Haile Selassie I.43880310

This book was ok, but that it. I enjoyed the mystery element of this story and the illustrations were satisfactory but besides that, I don’t think there is much more to this comic book.

The main character is supposed to be an independent woman (which doesn’t sound very 30’s to me but I’d be okay with that) however she does not come across like that at all. Renée spends a big chunk of the novel lusting over one of the male characters and most of the time she waits for them to decide what to do, I would be okay (mind the book is set during the 30s) if this if she wasn’t described as “modern for her time” type of woman. For me, the lack of a tied up conclusion didn’t really suit the story.

For someone who loves a mystery, and doesn’t mind any of the cons I stated above, this is an enjoyable book.

I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by “Newt Scamander” (J. K. Rowling)- Mini Book Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is supposedly a textbook at the students use in Hogwarts. The book written by Newton Scamander talks about the creatures he encountered while travelling around the world.FBWFT

This book provides a list and explanation about magical beasts in the Harry Potter universe. It also tells the reader the definition of beasts, beeing and whatnot. In this version, there is info on 6 other beasts that wasn’t on the other editions. There’s everything from the hippogriff to the niffler.

The introduction was most likely my most loved part of the book, telling the tale of Newt’s reason for its creation and his arguments with the Ministry on their classifications for the beasts described in this book. I also really love the little quiz at the end of the book to see if I was Magizoologist material, I found that to be just so cute.

Frankly, Fantastic Beasts is still only a companion piece rather than a standalone. But an amazing companion piece nonetheless and I recommend it to every Harry Potter fan out there.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.

Mother by Máximo Gorki – Book Review

There is a story behind this book and I feel like I need to tell it before I review it. If you want to go straight to the review go ahead, I’ll use a line to separate this from the review.

The first time I ever saw this book I was probably around 12. It was on a living room cabinet, which meant it wasn’t my mother’s since her books have always been kept at our home office bookshelf. I remember asking my father what book it was and remember him saying it belonged to my grandmother. For 12 year old me this was meaningless and I just went on with my life.

I came across this book again about a month and a half ago (on my twenties). I once again asked my father about the book. This time the story was more detailed. You might not know but Portugal had a dictatorship that lasted about 41 years, which ended in 1974. My grandmother only ever lived inside this dictatorship, but I’d say she was pretty different from the women of her time.

This book was basically forbidden due to its socialist message, which means that if she had been caught with it she would have ended up as a political prisoner and most likely tortured to death. According to my father, she always kept the book under her bedside table just in case there was a swoop.

Even though I never met my grandmother I can for sure say that all my rebellion comes from her. Not mention that from the stories my dad tells me, she was probably an extraordinary lady who valued both education and culture, which is something I look for in every person I ever encounter.


REVIEW:

Mother follows the life of Pelágia (Pelagueya for the English edition), Pavel’s mother as she enters her son’s world when he embraces socialism and starts bringing home forbidden books. The author describes a group of factory workers in the small Russian community at the beginning of the Russian revolution.img_20190124_164321_107

It’s mainly a story about a woman, from the beginning of the last century, overcoming her political ignorance to become involved in the revolution, and for me, she is the true protagonist of this novel.

It was slow at times but the reality brought out by the author was outstanding. The way the author described the struggle of the working class from the perspective of a mother, was honestly outstanding. I really liked his style of writing: having lines spoken anonymously by anyone in the scene, it’s like we are inside the characters minds. Given its revolutionary intentions nowhere does the book become preachy.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster but it is for sure not just another book to pass the time, you need to take time to connect with the characters. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone that likes history or is at all interested in this “revolutionary” type of book.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

Bye, keep on reading.