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Review: Dunkirk


Year: 2017
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Tom Hardy

This movie refers to Battle of Dunkirk, a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940 (wikipedia).

I have been a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work ever since The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, hence I was expecting a lot from Dunkirk. Well, I was not disappointed at all! In fact, I really really like this movie! It is brilliant in all aspects: the storyline, the cast, the cinematography, the music; each piece fits beautifully and creates a beautiful mosaics for audiences.

The movie started with a story of Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young British soldier who tried to leave Dunkirk. Trapped in the island with other 400,000 devastated soldiers who also wanted to go home, Tommy had to find a way to ensure he would not be part of those unlucky troops who might be left behind. Trying his luck, he quickly picked up a stretcher to bring a wounded soldier to medical boat, hoping he could sail away with the medical team. Unfortunately it didn’t work and forced Tommy to find another way to save himself. While Tommy was struggling in the land, in the skies above, Spitfire pilots Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) took off to Dunkirk to protect people in the island by shooting down enemy planes. Limited fuel and wave of enemy planes did not make the job easy for both of them. In the sea, Mr. Dawson (Mike Rylance) together with his son, Pete and his friend George, headed off to Dunkirk in his boat to save as many British soldiers they could get. They encountered a shell-shocked soldier on a wrecked ship and took him aboard. When the soldier discovered that Dawson was sailing for Dunkirk, he tried to take control of the boat and accidentally pushed George down to the lower deck. The latter got severe blow to the head and lost his sight. All three events seemed not related at all, until the truth appeared in the middle of the movie.  

It was brilliant. The fact that the movie tells a story of three different events in parallel actually blows my mind. In the beginning I thought everything happens in a sequence manner, which means one event after another. However in the middle of the movie, I (and I believe everyone else) noticed the oddity of the flow when similar event happens again, but this time from different person’s point of view. That’s when I started questioning if those events were actually happened in different timeline and somehow linked to each other. This so much reminds me to Inception in which Nolan was playing with the concept of dream and reality, which linked back again to time. Seems the concept of “playing with time” is one of Nolan’s favorite, which in a way can be classifed as his signature on his movies. 

I love the cinematography and the sound of this movie. Everything was just perfect, not less and not too much. Sometimes in a war movie, I feel like the sound was dominating a bit too much (which I expect) to give more impact to the audiences. Watching Dunkirk, I  still feel the same impact with less attack to my eardrums. The casts are great, each one of them played a very convincing role which pushed the story moving forward. Fionn Whitehead was basically Tommy in my eyes: a young soldier who was trying to leave Dunkirk by doing anything he could. I feel like I am part of his “virtual” team: supporting him along the way and feeling nervous everytime he tried to do something to gain his freedom. I could totally relate to Mike Rylance’s role as a dad who wanted to do something in behalf of his soldier son who passed away in the war. Mr. Dawson’s story was told in a simple yet effective manner which makes me symphatized even more to him. Surprisingly, I love Jack Lowden’s Collins character, whom I find somehow interesting, though he only appeared in less than a 30% portion of the movie. 

Overall it was a very good and entertaining movie which for sure lasts in my mind. Nolan obviously had a job well done. No doubt it gets my 5 out of 5 stars rate. 

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Review: “Spiderman Homecoming”

Title: Spiderman Homecoming
Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Jonathan Goldstein (screenplay), John Francis Daley (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.

Having had a fighting experience with The Avengers, Peter Parker a.k.a Spiderman (Tom Holland) returned home with excitement to face another adventure with the superheroes. With a mentor of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter expected to do more action and prove himself as a decent superhero who can be a part of Avengers. When days passing by with no call from Stark to join the Avengers, the so-not-patient Peter decided to find himself a significant crime to handle and show to Stark that he is someone to consider as superhero and not a your everyday teenager. That’s when Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his gang, who got their power from alien stones (Chitauri), emerged as new and dangerous villain. Will Peter prove that he is good enough as a superhero to save the day?

Spiderman Homecoming gave me a quite different vibe compared to previous Spiderman movies. I feel like it was more family friendly, or teenagers friendly to be precise. Though (of course) there were fighting scenes, they were relatively safe, meaning no excessive blood or dismembered body part (maybe I am exaggerating, sorry 😅) or any kind of wound and cut that you usually saw after a tough fight between a superhero and a villain. Even the last fight between Spiderman and Vulture was not too harsh, proven when Peter could still stand after being beaten up just couple of minutes before. Now this can be good or bad depending on someone’s preference. For me it’s somehow okay-ish, means I can accept it but would not mind to have bolder fighting scenes since I like action movies. 

Other things that I like about the movie was the humor and the character. I feel like the humor was sufficient in term of amount and also placed properly along the movie. Peter’s character as a teenager who was curious, excited, naive and ambitious, was believable and made me fell in love. I think Tom Holland did a good job, and honestly, he is my favorite Peter Parker so far from all Spiderman movies. Ned as Peter’s best friend was also funny and fit the role perfectly. 

Overall it was a funny and very entertaining movie to watch. I am looking forward to see the next movie of Spiderman 🙂 

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Review: “Wonder Woman”

Wonder Woman

Title: Wonder Woman
Year: 2017
Director: Patty Jenkins 
Writers: Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

And here it is, ladies and gentlemen: Wonder Woman the movie! One of the most anticipated superheroes film from DC universe this year with beautiful Gal Gadot playing the main role of Diana, princess of Amazon, who will be later known better as Wonder Woman. I recall to like the Wonder Women series when I was much younger with Diana played by Lynda Carter.

WW series

Diana (Gal Gadot) was born and raised in Themyscira, hidden island of Amazon warrior women. Understanding that their role as Amazon people was to protect humankind, Diana wanted to train herself to be a warrior, however her mom, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), had been very protective and restricted her from any warrior training. Diana then decided to train in secret with her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright). When the two are discovered by Hippolyta, Antiope convinced her sister to allow Diana’s training to continue.

One day, a plane crashed off on the coastal area of Themyscira. The hidden island was soon invaded by German soldiers who were chasing pilot of the crashed plane, Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The Amazon warriors attacked the German soldiers to protect their island, however, Antiope died to protect Diana. Outraged, Hippolyta arrested and interrogated Steve who later confessed that he was an allied spy of US and British who wanted to do something to stop the ongoing war (it was set at World War I). His job was to collect information of German power and strategy, however he ended up stealing a notebook with valuable information from the Spanish chief chemist Isabel Maru. Dr. Maru was working under instruction of General Ludendorff to create a deadliest form of gas to attack German’s opponents.

Being naïve as she was, with her belief that Ares, god of war, was responsible for the war, Diana decided to go with Steve back to London to find and destroy Ares. She took the sword which was shown by her mother as the ultimate weapon to kill Ares. When both of them arrived in London, they met Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), who was trying to negotiate a peace agreement with Germany. Later they found out that Germans planned to release the deadly gas at the warfront. Though forbidden by his commanders, Steve decided to go and stop preventing the gas from being released with the help of Diana, and his colleagues: Sameer, Charlie and Chief. Did they manage to do it?

In general, I like this movie. I think it has enough balance of action, drama, romance and comedy inside it. I found some scenes were properly funny, for example when Diana ate ice cream for the first time and said, “It is wonderful. You should be proud.” Or the scene when he saw Steve for the first time and said, “You’re a man..”, and Steve replied, “Yeah… I mean… do I not look like one?”. Lol. I laughed myself loud at that simple phrase.

I also like Gal Gadot and Chris Pine’s performance as Diana and Steve. They did a good job in embracing their characters and their chemistry felt quite real for me. If I should give one critic was only on their relationship development because I think it was a bit too fast. Of course, it is a superheroes movie, so perhaps action should anyway take the biggest portion of the movie. Nevertheless, I think a little bit more intimacy between these two main characters would not hurt. It would increase the intensity of their relationship development and make their love to each other felt more real for me.

Other than that, I love the graphics of the movie a lot. Themyscira was beautifully pictured, reminded me on beautiful coastal area of Greece or Italy. The action scenes were smoothly executed, though of course, you will find a bit exaggeration here and there. It is, anyway, a superheroes movie.

Kudos need to be given to Petty Jenkins as the movie director. I think she has cleverly established this movie as a complete package, which offers you different kind of emotion in one go. I actually just realized that she also directed “The Killing”, a TV series with dark atmosphere which I fond of. I hope this will be a major breakthrough for her to even create more interesting movies in the future.

Overall, I think I can understand why this movie became one of the highest grossing movie only weeks after released. It is entertaining and gives you different flavors which I believe you will appreciate. This movie makes me curious to see Justice League which will come later in the end of the year. Well done.

Rating: 4 from 5 stars

Wonder Woman team

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Review: “Sully”


Title: Sully
Year: 2016
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Todd Komarnicki (screenplay), Chesley Sullenberger (based on the book “Highest Duty”)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhardt

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger never dreamt about being a hero. Sully has always been pationate about his job as a pilot and giving only his best performance in every flight he had. 40 years of experience has made him as an expert on aviation, and yet, it still did not prepare him for incident which he later experienced.

On January 15, 2009, Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffery Skiles flew US Airways Flight 1549 from LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Barely three minutes into the flight, the Airbus A320 hit a flock of Canada geese, which disabled both engines. Without engine power, Sully needed to land immediately, however no airports within a safe distance for him to do so. He decided to perform emergency landing in Hudson River even though it was the last option a pilot would choose. Miraculously, Sully was able to land the aircraft safely in the Hudson, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crews aboard. The press and public shortly addressed him as a hero, though he did not feel the same.

Shortly afterward, as regular practice, NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) started an investigation for the incident. The board claimed that result from some tests on the remaining aircraft indicated that the left engine was still running after the birds strike. Theoretically, this would have given Sully enough power to fly back to nearest airports; LaGuardia or Teterboro. In addition, NTSB also claimed that from several flight simulations conducted based on all available data of the incident concluded that the plane could have landed safely in either airport even with both engines disabled. 

Feedback from NTSB naturally disturbed Sully, and made him somehow questioned himself: did he do the right thing back then? Having repeated the incident in his head over and over again, Sully believed that he did his best considering insufficient time or altitude during that 208 seconds of incident. Determined to prove that he had done the right thing and avoid having his career ended, he questioned NTSB to clarify if everything had been accurately investigated. What happened next?

I think Clint Eastwood did a quite good job with the storyline and particularly, selection of the cast. However, indeed there was time when I felt that the pressure done by NTSB agents were a bit too much for accident investigation. The impression I got that they tried to prove Sully did a mistake or human error during the incident, while I believed they should have thought neutrally along the process. This aligned with some article saying that there were parts of “Sully” which were exaggerated and not reflect what actually or should have happened in reality (read here). 

Despite the controversy, I think everyone will agree that the main variable which makes this movie wonderful is, of course, Tom Hanks. Hanks portrayed Sully’s character beautifully (as we would expect). Not only he made me experienced the shock from 1549 incident, he also brought me through this roller coaster of mind where he was having doubt about himself but eventually believed in himself that he had done his best. Aaron Eckhardt also did a good job as Skiles, equivalently disturbed with the incident, but still showing his full support to Sully as his partner.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching Sully. I have always loved Hanks’ performance, and surely he did not let me and everyone else down with his amazing performance as Sully. 

Rate: 4.5 from 5 stars

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Review: Burnt

Title: Burnt
Year: 2015
Director: John Wells
Writers: Steven Knight (screenplay), Michael Kalesniko (story)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl 

Meet Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper). Adam was a pretty talented chef (or so what he claimed himself) which managed to get two Michelin stars when he worked in one of top restaurants in Paris owned by Jean-Luc. However, he destroyed his career with drugs and arrogant behavior combined with crazy demand on perfection. Went to New Orleans, he tried to clean himself while working part time in a restaurant. Once he reached his threshold (which was one million oysters being shucked), he went to London and determined to redeem himself by bringing a top restaurant that can get three Michelin stars.

It was not Adam if he did not cause ruckus for his friend Tony (Daniel Brühl), who was running his father’s hotel. He persuaded Tony to give him opportunity to achieve his goal of three Michelin stars, but it was not easy for Tony to immediately agree considering Adam’s bad history. 

Adam started his plan by searching his ideal team members: Helene (Sienna Miller), a sous chef in his friend, Conti’s restaurant, which he liked; Michel (Omar Sy), his friend from Jean-Luc’s who was angry because of incident done by Adam but eventually forgave and willing to work with Adam; Max (Riccardo Scamarcio), also Adam’s friend from Jean-Luc’s who was about to be released from jail and chef-on-the-rise David (Sam Keeley), who agreed to work at Adam’s restaurant and let Adam stayed in his apartment temporarily. As a final action, Adam invited famed restaurant critic Simone (Uma Thurman) to dine at Tony’s hotel. Left without a choice, Tony agreed to have Adam cooking for her. Simone’s review of Adam’s food was favorable that Tony and his father agree to renovate their hotel’s kitchen and hire Adam as the head chef. However, they made Adam doing regular drug tests with Tony’s psychiatrist Dr. Rosshilde (Emma Thompson). 

The opening night which was highly expected unfortunately turned into a disaster. Adam, who was a true perfectionist, released his furious to all his kitchen members, especially to Helene, who decided to quit later on. Adam then did some TV talkshows to build again the credit while preparing another relaunch of the restaurant. Tony managed to bring Helene back, and slowly Adam and the team working their way to reach the three Michelin stars goal.

I will stop here because I might give you some spoiler if I continue (lol). I think this movie was not too bad, but for sure not the one which will remain in your mind long enough. The idea was actually good, but the execution was not that smooth.

Let’s start with the characters. Adam was an arrogant, cocky, snob person and he yelled a lot. Like, a lot. The thing is, there was no scene where he shared his knowledge or coached his team members, except with Helene, and even that could be easily assumed as his way in approaching Helene as love interest. How can he be so arrogant, yelling to everyone and expecting them to be excellent if he did not communicate with them? I expected some connection between Adam and his colleagues, but I found none. In other hand, the supporting characters were not strong enough to leave memorable impression. Tony, for example, could be a really interesting character who lead the story forward together with Adam. Unfortunately his scenes were limited, his one-side-crush to Adam was not exposed well (which I think could be interesting as well) and he acted more like Adam yes-man rather than his friend. Same happened with character of Helene. Shallow digging of these characters made the movie lost opportunity in making the conflicts more interesting.

The movie plot was not too bad. The sequence was pretty clear though I found some anticlimax here and there (e.g.drug dealer’s collector issue which was solved pretty quickly). I love all beautiful dishes served along the movie. At least for this part they did their preparation and execution really well. 

In conclusion, this movie was okay. Good enough to be watched during your relaxing day when you want to watch some drama without thinking too much.

Rate: 2.5 from 5 stars

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Review: “Captain America: Civil War”

 

Title: Captain America: Civil War
Year: 2016
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay)
Stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson

It was another “regular” day for the Avengers. Led by Captain America (Steve Rogers), Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), The Falcon (Sam Wilson), and Wanda Maximoff were on mission to stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos, Nigeria. When Rumlow commited suicide with a bomb, Wanda tried to move the explosion into the sky but it destroyed a nearby building, killing a number of Wakandan people. 

This incident triggered Sovokian Agreement, supported by most countries in the workd which would establish an international governing body to oversee and control the Avengers. The team were split into two sides: Iron Man (Tony Stark) supported it because he felt on destruction happened in Sokovia, while Captain America believed that they had enough judgment to do their responsibility. 

While the agreement was about to be finalized in Vienna, a bomb exploded and killed King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Video footage indicated that the bomber was Barnes (Winter Soldier). Rogers who was his best friend then tracked and tried to protect Barnes from being caught and also being killed by T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa. In the end, Rogers, Wilson, Barnes and T’Challa were captured. When Barnes was supposed to be evaluated, an unknown person called himself Zemo managed to go inside the facility and used Hydra’s trigger words to activate Barnes’ brainwashing. He questioned Barnes about the 1991 mission which revealed that there were more Winter Soldiers beside Barnes. They were still kept in Siberia, inside Hydra’s facility. 

While Rogers recruited some new comrades to help him in chasing Zemo, Stark also recruited other superheroes to catch Rogers and Barnes. So what happened next? And what secret kept by Stevens for years from Stark? 

I am not too familiar with Marvel’s comics because I grew up more with Europen and Japanese comics, so I never really had certain expectation on Marvel’s movies. I have been liking Iron Man after watching all the movies, and The Avengers are not that bad either (no offense, I am simply not that into it).

Captain America, honestly speaking, was the least interesting character for me. I like Hulk and Ant-Man better (after Iron Man, of course). I do not know either because of my preference or because the character itself, I found myself dotting for Tony rather than Steve, and this movie was supposed about Captain America (or so the title said). Though I acknowledged that somehow Steve’s perspective got a point, I felt Tony’s battle, inside and outside, deeper than Steve’s. Robert Downey Jr. did his part really well for me.

The plot itself was pretty interesting. Some people might perceive the ending as anti-climax, considering no battle between superheroes or war with super-evil-organization with deadly weapon. I actually liked the fact that the revenge concept was so simple, yet Zemo did an extra mile to have his goal achieved. It was also refreshing to know the villain was a simple human being, though his mind was messed up due to deep wound.

In the end, I could say I enjoyed watching this movie. Though I had this strange sad feeling about Tony and Steve walking to different direction, I somehow felt that it would strength their bond as good friends and allies. Or so I hope (not sure why I am so emotional, the comics are there anyway, lol!). 

Rate: 3.5 from 5 stars

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Movie Review: “A Separation” (2011)

A Separation

Title: A Separation (Nader and Simin)
Year: 2011
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Writer: Asghar Farhadi
Stars: Payman Maadi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat

This movie was opened with a debate scene between Nader (Payman Maadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) in an Iranian court regarding divorce request submitted by Simin. Simin was willing to go abroad to have better life opportunities for their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), while Nader, despite the fact that visa and all documents were ready, didn’t want to go because he felt obligated to take care of his father who suffered from Alzhaimer. Simin, who believed the only way for them to solve the issue was only through divorce, moved and stayed at her mom’s home. Forced by situation, Nader then hired Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to take care of their home and also his father while he and Termeh were away for working and studying at school.

Incident with Nader’s father in the first day made her felt uncomfortable to continue working at Nader’s house. However since she needed the money for her family, she decided to take again the job. Few days later, another incident took place and made Nader filled by rage. Triggered by anger, Nader then fired Razieh and pushed her out his house which caused her fell into stairs. Unfortunately that incident continued a bigger problem: Razieh had miscarriage and accused Nader to be the responsible party. Razieh’s husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), an unemployed and depressed guy with lot of debts, could not accept that fact and confronted Nader and his family. In the middle of chaotic situation, questions were popped out: Who was lying? Who was telling the truth? Did Nader really cause Razieh’s miscarriage? What was the solution of that situation?

I picked this movie coincidentally due to my curiosity after reading its short review when I was hunting for DVD yesterday. Family issue has always been an interesting topic to be addressed in movies. This movie showed us a real-life situation of a family that could be happened to anyone and anywhere. The twist occurred due to fact that it happened in Iran, a place where religions and cultures played a big role in everyone’s daily life. You would be suprised how some things could be interpreted differently by considering religions and cultures.

For example, Razieh was hesitated in changing clothes of Nader’s dad when he soiled himself. In modern culture nowadays, that won’t be a big deal especially if you speak in the name of humanity. But for Razieh, a religious lady who was someone’s wife and not a muhrim with Nader’s dad, that activity could be considered as a sin. As a moslem, I could relate totally to this scene and that actually makes sense. Similar other conflicts occurred due to the same issue were beautifully expressed in this movie.

Payman Maadi played Nader charmingly in this movie. As a husband, he tried to keep his pride as a leader of the family instead of his wife. As a dad, he wanted to protect his daughter, but in the same time showed her that he could handle the situation without her being involved in it. As a child, he loved his dad and tried his best to take care of him despite the fact that his dad was not in his best condition. For me personally, Payman was the heart of this movie.

In the end, I can say it was my best first Iranian movie I ever watched. The story was simple yet captivating, and well executed. Each character fitted his or her role well and together building the story solidly. This movie gave us good interpretation about family issues and how sometimes pride or responsibility affects our perception in taking any decision.

I would rate 5 from 5 stars. Highly recommended to watch 🙂