American Made

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Capsule Review

Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson and Jayma Mays
Genre: Biography
Rating: 7/10

Tom Cruise is refreshing in his new role: he plays Barry Seal, a pilot with a shady past of illegal smuggling of Cuban cigars, who turns his life around when he gets recruited by the CIA to work together with the government in clandestine operations. The secret operations that Barry goes on are dangerous but they act as crucial portals of information – for example, one of Barry’s tasks involved flying a two-engine plane across El Salvador and Honduras to report back on mutinous barracks that work against the government. Cruise’s portrayal of this man who (not-surprisingly) does not change his colors with the opportunities thrown at his feet – Seal, at one point, smuggles in drugs to USA, from Colombia, is really raw; it’s not an empathetic portrayal but with a character like Seal, it’s not meant to be, no matter how thrilling the missions are that he goes on. Seal merely acts as a vehicle to the CIA to get things done, and the movie actually deals with this subject well and does a really good job instead for the most part, playing with grim realities.

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The Lego Ninjago Movie

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Capsule Review

Cast: Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Olivia Munn and Jackie Chan
Director: Charlie Bean
Rating: 7/10

In The Lego Ninjago Movie, Ninjago seems like the coldest place on Earth but that could just be because of how Lloyd Garmadon is treated here – as the son of the evil Lord Garmadon, the city doesn’t like the young boy, even though Lloyd always saves Ninjago as the ‘Green Ninja’. Luckily, Lloyd has his fellow ninjas to depend on: Nya, Kai, Jay, Cole and Zane; Lloyd is also their leader and each of the ninjas have their own amazing character qualities, from Kai’s outgoing demeanour to Nya’s competitive streak. The entire film focuses on the six ninjas and their master, Wu trying to save Ninjago from Lord Garmadon, when the latter strikes the city in a mammoth way¬†– the film is battle-heavy and the battles are exciting but the whole experience would have been more of an absorbent quality if character-exploration had happened on a deeper scale for the ninjas.

The King’s Choice

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Capsule Review

Cast: Jesper Christensen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen and Karl Markovics
Director: Erik Poppe
Rating: 8/10

The King’s Choice explores the story of Haakon VII and Prince Olav, during the Second World War, and it’s a tale worth remembering: hailing from the ruling family of Norway, the two are pensive because their country is at war with Germany; eventually, Haakon VII and his family has to tragically run away from their land because the invasion is getting very close. On the surface, the film appears packed with too much of history with a limited reel-time of 133 minutes but what the movie does is really focus on what transpires over just three days in 1940. After a small introduction of Norway’s history starting from the year 1905, the film brilliantly shows a glimpse of the kinds of trouble at hand, aside from war: socialism wants to get rid of Norwegian royalty, and the differing personalities of Haakon VII and Prince Olav over saving Norway – Haakon VII has a level-handed approach to war, whilst Prince Olav seems more reactionary and it’s a character trait that seems like it should really be cautioned against. The film is also good with the details and for doing something different with the topic of war on film – it’s more about history, rather than the military.

Loving Vincent

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Capsule Review

Cast: Robert Gulaczyk, Jerome Flynn, Chris O’ Dowd and John Sessions
Genre: Biography, Animation
Rating: 7/10

Loving Vincent provides a unique insight into one of the greatest figures in art: the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, who is often regarded as the father of modern art; Van Gogh had managed this feat despite never having sold a single of the more than 800 paintings (he had done) to members of the public. Told through frames which encompass oil paintings on canvases, drawn in the remarkable style associated with Van Gogh, the story of the film follows the hurried mission undertaken by a postman’s son to deliver Van Gogh’s last letter to his brother, Theo. The narrative starts out straightforward but later on in the film, when it is revealed Theo died soon after Van Gogh committed suicide to lift the burden he had placed Theo under, due to being a failed artist, the primary plotline becomes an anticlimax. The overarching message of the movie remains clear, though – tragic circumstances had always coloured Van Gogh’s life. It’s also important to point out that Loving Vincent manages to remarkably cinematically untangle the dark mystery associated with Van Gogh’s sudden death, even though the whole process is very long and really slow.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Capsule Review

Cast: Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: 4/10

The story in the sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service picks up where the last film in the spy installment left off: Harry Hart is, at first, believed to be no longer with us but when Charlie Hesketh, a trainee, previously, with a cybernetic arm, manages to enter the Kingsman servers and soon after, very tragically, a stream of missiles kill all British agents and the Kingsman headquarters perishes, it so emerges that Harry is alive; this revelation is made when the Doomsday Protocol leads Merlin and the most ridiculous of all characters in the film – Eggsy, who fails to convince as a heroic Kingsman agent, to Statesman. What then follows is a a fight by Harry (and remorsefully, the very irritating Eggsy, too) to save our world from the Golden Circle – a terrorist organization, which has got recreational drugs infected with a toxin, that makes victims suffer from mania and paralysis, before succumbing to death.

The film is convincing on the thrilling action and the wide range of spy agents thrown at you, such as Agent Tequila and Agent Champagne – both members of the Statesman, which spends time masquerading as a Kentucky-based Bourbon whiskey distillery. But that’s where the fun stops, so much so, it’s hard to resist feelings of wanting to cling onto Elton John’s extended special appearance in a glamorous avatar in the film: a pointless appearance of Cambodia and the presence of women thrown around, who only really have a special knack for jolting a speeding narrative into sudden (uncomfortable) stops – all these women do really is pretend to be charismatic, sometimes even on polar ends, but fail at it miserably, and these plotholes make the movie a bumpy ride; it’s tough to figure out which is more tragic – the many tripping points in the movie, or the untimely demise of Merlin.

Movies And The Sitting Room

Movies And The Sitting Room

 

 

Napping Princess

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Capsule Review

Cast: Mitsuki Takahata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Arata Furata, Yosuke Eguchi, Hideki Takahashi and Rie Kugimiya
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Rating: 9/10

Every once in a while a film comes around, which manages to act as the perfect blend of technology and dreamlike adventures: Napping Princess is all of that perfectly. In the film, the protagonist Kokone (Morikawa) is always having these dreams of an alternate world called Heartland – her ordinary existence in school comes to an end, when her father gets arrested; Kokone with her friend, Morio then dangerously try to save him. Soon it’s quite evident her dreams are something like a bizarrely assorted reflection of everything the young kid is all about. Kenji Kamiyama (from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex fame) weaves a high-flying tale that surprisingly leaves no room for any plot potholes – everything comes together brilliantly, and the scattered bittersweet moments in the film are unmissable too.