MOVIE REVIEW: A MONSTER CALLS (J.A. Bayona, 2016)

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About a boy that occasionally lived in a fantasy world to escape the harsh realities of his sad life that included a sick mother, a loathing grandmother, and an absentee father.

The transitions between the actual world and the glorious animated landscapes were superb. I was easily drawn to the fairy tales that may or may not have been manifestations of the boy’s depression.

In a cast that had such fine performances (Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, the voice of Liam Neeson), it was Lewis MacDougall that delivered the heartbreak and pain in a breakthrough role, reminiscent of last year’s Jacob Tremblay.

The humans here were indeed complicated beasts and by the time someone spoke the truth, I was sobbing loudly in my seat.

Bring a box of tissues.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published November 2, 2016.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (James Marsh, 2014)

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My notes on The Theory of Everything:

1. Eddie Redmayne’s one great-looking guy and it was a blow to my ego that even a deglamorized Eddie with chunky glasses, hollowed cheeks, disheveled hair, and wearing frumpy vests still looked miles better than I do. He was brilliant in this film by the way and fully committed to the physical and emotional transformation needed for the role. He rightfully deserved that Oscar.

2. If someone at a party introduces himself as a cosmologist, how fast will you be out the door?

3. I first heard of Stephen Hawking back in high school because of a genius classmate that read A Brief History of Time from cover to cover. Probably twice. I bet he’s one of the richest people in the world now.

4. Tide (yes, the detergent) had the best product placement in the film with that cheesy but sweet explanation about white shirts and the birth and death of stars. Sigh.

5. I obviously got lost in all the discussions about space-time singularity but I loved all the metaphors from the coffee swirls to the circular staircase to the flash-backwards ending sequence. And for somebody who hated Math, I actually was able to relate to the Mathematical probability of happiness.

6. Felicity Jones was just too darn cute but who knew she was a really good actress, too. The scene where Jane was watching Stephen play a game of croquet was heart-wrenching, all because you could see the disappointment, sadness, and love in Felicity’s eyes.

7. Yes, I bawled my eyes out in almost every scene. Don’t even get me started on that kitchen scene with the couple in bed expressing their gratitude. And that color board scene. Sigh.

8. Jane may be the long-suffering wife but it was a welcome relief to see that she wasn’t the perfect partner. Her love affair with Jonathan just made the characters more flawed and relatable.

9. Do they still have those printer papers with the perforated sides? I miss tearing those.

10. The film will start a lot of discussions on religion vs. science (e.g. How did the universe really start?) and we’d be all the more smarter for it.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 7, 2015.)