Toni Erdmann Review: One of the Saddest Comedies You Will See this Decade

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I don’t think I’ve seen another comedy from this whole decade where I found myself laughing for every minute it went as long as it did, but somehow Maren Ade managed to create in Toni Erdmann what I already see as one of the very finest of its own kind. It only took me about as much as a single rewatch to let everything captivate me the way in which it did, but the more I revisit Toni Erdmann I find that it is also eliciting far more than just my hardest laughter on the spot and that’s just the very least of what I feel makes this film ever so wonderful as it happens to be, but it also makes me incredibly sad just as I let the thoughts of it come back to my head. There comes a point to which I wonder what it will feel like, entering an older age and I will end up feeling alienated from people who I thought I could really consider my friends, only to find they don’t want anything to do with me anymore. If my own isolation from others has ever instilled any more fears about my own future, I suppose I’ll come back to Toni Erdmann because in every bit as absurd as it may be, it’s also incredibly affecting from start to finish.

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Miss Stevens Review: A Film So Simple and Earnest, It’s Likeable

✯✯✯½

The best thing that a film like this can really carry itself on, for the rather short running time of a mere 86 minutes is the distinct feeling of being earnest. This film went under my own radar until I found it over on Netflix, and I decided that I may as well give it a shot to which I’m glad I did. Julia Hart’s debut film Miss Stevens leaves oneself waiting for what more she can put out within the future, because the gentleness of such a work is what leaves a positive feeling all throughout such a work, but at least it doesn’t keep itself limited to being just this. Sure, it doesn’t exactly move away from the American indie roots that it builds itself from, but I would be lying if I were to say that I didn’t find myself moved by this rather slight journey – and it turned out to be more than I would have asked for out of a film like this.

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Supersonic – Review

✯✯½

I wasn’t particularly grabbed to check out this documentary because I’ve never been a fan of Oasis (I had always preferred their “rival” Britpop group Blur). I don’t like their music, nor the offstage personalities of Liam and Noel Gallagher so naturally I wouldn’t be the right audience for Supersonic. Nevertheless the height of their own popularity had otherwise left a great influence on many bands that had followed afterwards so I was hoping to have gotten a taste about what the Gallagher brothers themselves feel about what they had done for music from their years together before their well-known feud. If I really had much to say, I didn’t pick up anything else from this – my views about the Gallagher brothers only had ever remained the same.

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Birdshot – Review

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This Filipino film was submitted to compete on behalf of the Philippines for for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, but failed to acquire a nomination. But for as much as Filipino cinema gets ignored, here is a great case for why I’m hoping that can change soon. This film is available to watch on Netflix right now, and even if it doesn’t always work, Mikhail Red’s Birdshot perfectly sets up the young director as a voice to be sought out within the future. It’s easy enough to admire the ambition in a project like Birdshot, but overall I’m just happy enough that this film can hopefully bring Philippine cinema a wider audience.

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Always Shine – Review

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If Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth hasn’t already made clear the influence of Ingmar Bergman’s masterful Persona on modern independent American cinema, then perhaps a more chilling approach can be found in Sophia Takal’s sophomore directorial effort, Always Shine. But among many reasons this underseen psychological thriller has indeed made itself shine as one of the most intriguing films of the past few years, it’s the commentary it states about the industry it is set within for even if it not particularly anything new, it never shuts down the viciousness of the content which it displays. But even in the somewhat derivative nature there’s still a feeling of freshness that makes Always Shine a thoroughly compelling watch.

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Office Christmas Party – Review

½

You can already look at the title “Office Christmas Party” and soon it’ll spell out where your expectations are going to be set. But even with a low bar being set in stone, Office Christmas Party still somehow manages to disappoint. You can’t seriously look at a title like “Office Christmas Party” and expect anything more than a crude sex-crazed comedy about a party that happens to be within an office setting during Christmastime, but even on that level it doesn’t seem like it has enough to sustain its running time of 105 minutes. At the very least one can be thankful enough that it isn’t the sort of mess that Project X was but that’s the most a movie like Office Christmas Party can really be given.

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Personal Shopper – Review

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I’m still trying to piece together what exactly it was about Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper that didn’t work so well for me on my first viewing, because on another go I suddenly had found myself loving it to the point I don’t even remember what I thought was wrong about the film in the first place. And knowing already what Olivier Assayas had managed to bring out of Kristen Stewart from Clouds of Sils Maria, it was only fair to expect more greatness coming along from both one of the most fascinating directors working today as well as one of the most interesting actresses of her own generation. To say the least, there was a resonant effect present in Personal Shopper that only kept it lingering in my head since my first viewing, and on rewatch I quickly saw why it begun to stuck with me.

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The Bad Batch – Review

✯½

Although I wasn’t so much a fan of Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night I had a great feeling from the style that she would only build up to become something more but from her second feature, The Bad Batch, I’ve only found myself growing increasingly cautious in approaching her future work now. For as much as I found myself able to admire A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night as a form of visual experimentation, there seemed to be something far more restrictive coming in regards to what The Bad Batchwas trying to do with its own narrative – for at its worst it either becomes needlessly disgusting or outright boring, yet at its best we have a charismatic performance or two. If anything felt more fitting in describing what The Bad Batch felt like, it was an exploitation film that seemed to overreach beyond what it really was at its core.

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Miss Sloane – Review

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Miss Sloane barely even feels so much like it has something to say, which is one among many of the most disappointing aspects of the film. This Jessica Chastain vehicle, directed by John Madden (who had also directed her in the underrated The Debt) feels like it has something to say, but it doesn’t even have a slight idea how to get its own message across to its viewers. But that’s not the most troubling aspect of Miss Sloane, because it rarely ever feels like a production that’s inviting oneself to come along with its own flow. It isn’t so much like The Big Short in whose case the film is beating down its message with a sense of self-awareness, for Miss Sloane seems to have something agreeable on its outline, then beats down said message without going any further on it. I was hoping for something better, but I’ve only finished Miss Sloane feeling exhausted.

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My Life as a Zucchini – Review

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I knew nothing about My Life as a Zucchini up until it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, and when I finally got a chance to see it for myself, to say I was touched by this simple tale would only undersell it. I had already felt inside that something inside the story that it had been telling resonated with me, having grown up alienated from people around me, and finding it even more difficult to connect with family members. I knew this would be the sort of animated film for me, but I didn’t love it nearly as much as I was hoping. Yet to say I wasn’t moved would be a lie; this simple tale does within only a little over an hour what other animated films somehow can’t do within two hours. It carries the sort of heart and soul missing from many animated movies these days, even a live-action melodrama can’t find itself matching up.

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