FILM: “MONSIEUR LAZHAR” – THE PROCESS OF HEALING

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“Monsieur Lazhar”, directed by Philippe Falardeau, is a simple and understated Canadian – French drama, which quietly addresses and confronts the often difficult subject of grief and sudden loss. Set in Montreal, Quebec, the film opens like a myriad of other films about school life, full of zest and optimism; this is until a student, Simon (Émilien Néron) makes a tragic discovery in his classroom which alters the tone of the film immediately. The piece then diverges and follows the journey of Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), an Algerian immigrant, who then acts as a temporary replacement teacher, who now has the difficult and daunting task of motivating and instilling some joy into his now forlorn and despondent students.

This thought-provoking film then explores how young children, when thrown into a situation beyond their control and which they cannot fathom,  attempt to continue their daily routine despite being crestfallen. As the film progresses, we see Monsieur Lazhar, slowly gaining both the school’s and the student’s trust through his thoughtful care and compassion approach and steadfast methods though it also touches upon the “professional” aspect of the field, with such deep emotions at play, all sides have to repress their feelings and find another avenue for their hurts.

The film conveys how in tune children can be to their own emotions and the feelings of adults around them, who themselves, have to deal with the consequences of what has occurred. The two most inconsolable students are Simon and Alice (Sophie Nélisse) as they witnessed the incident and are haunted by what they have seen and are scarred. Monsieur Lazhar himself, though, is troubled by his own recent past and these present experiences prove painful for him yet also provide him with his own time-worn ways to help the students deal with their emotions. Through the film, we eventually saw Lazhar’s past catch up with him and the film takes yet another subtle turn.

“Monsieur Lazhar” is an understated and modest piece which deals with the dynamics between adults and children as well as how both adults and children deal with loss. The students are unable to express themselves fully yet Lazhar is there to listen. Lazhar does not expect his students to comprehend the magnitude of what has happened but in his own compassionate and thoughtful way, he offers them something else, hope.

Such was the esteem that the, was held that it was nominated in the “Best foreign Film” category at the 84th Academy Awards. The film eventually lost out to the Iranian film, “A Separation” but this definitely did not take anything away from the film.

A compelling and human drama with moments of subtle humour and happiness.

‘Prey ‘- The New Predator Film

“They Hunt to Live. It Lives to Hunt”

The latest Instalment of the Predator Franchise will be released on August 5th

After the huge disappointment of “The Predator”, this new release plays on the idea that the predators have been hunting for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, “Prey” is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people.

The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.

You Must Watch……’SEPET’ – Malaysian Independent Film

Tagline: One Chinese boy, one Malay girl, one unforgettable love story

Sepet is an old-fashioned theme of cross cultural love and the story is a common and modern one. SEPET follows the story of two youngsters, a young Malay Student called Orked (Sharifah Amani) and a Malaysian Chinese male called Jason (Choo Seong Ng). The film is set in Ipoh, Malaysia; Ipoh has one of the largest Chinese communities in Malaysia. You can tell the ethnic blend of the film via the number of languages involved, Bahasa, English, Mandarin, and Cantonese………..

From meeting in a market where Orked (A Malay) purchases her favourite film, Chung King Express, from Jason (Malaysian Chinese), love blossoms as well as the issues that stem from their different cultural backgrounds. As Sepet progresses, it shows that young love is the same the world over; unexpected, forgiving with many challenges to overcome with external pressures which are beyond the two main character’s control.

The main themes of the film are of course cross cultural love but the film also subtlety discusses Malaysian society as a whole. The main characters are metaphors for their own people’s and the way they conduct their relationship can be viewed as the way the two communities have interacted through the years. Despite its rich blend of ethnicities (Malay, Chinese and Indians), Malaysia has cultural and racial problems that are never too far from the surface. Malaysian government policies which seemingly favour the majority Bumiputras (Sons of the land or ethnic Malays) are a bone of contention for the minority Chinese and Indians.

The film’s focus is the love story but is also a love letter to the nation itself and its people’s many identities. It also allows viewers to learn more about the Malaysian Chinese community whom through the generations have come to call Malaysia home yet are still sometimes on the outside looking in. The film is sympathetic to all sides. Many Malaysian Chinese, Indians and Malays have moved to the US, Canada, UK and Australia to build new lives yet as with all immigrants, there is always a yearning for home and the feeling that if things improve, they could always return to assist in the development of Malaysia. Dreams are sometimes left as dreams in the face of reality………

Sepet is both touching and funny and highlights Malaysian society in a new light. It is highly recommended and just a good way to learn more about Malaysia.

FILM: “The Queen of Versailles” – Documentary

“The Queen of Versailles” directed by Lauren Greenfield, is the new acclaimed documentary about the harsh new economic times that are engulfing the world. It follows the lives of the billionaire businessman, David A Siegel (Owner of Westgate Resorts) and his wife, Jackie and their family as they ambitiously attempt to build one of the largest homes in the United States at a cost that would make it the second most expensive in the United States ever.

This would all be fine except for the economic downturn which throws the proverbial spanner into the works. Their property empire falters and thus, so does their dream home. The film then shows the dramas and crises which the family encounters as they attempt to complete their once not so complicated plan.

With economic and social inequality at an all time high, this documentary will provide a telling insight into the upper strata of US society.

FILM: “Before Midnight” Vienna, Paris….Greece…………..

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“Before Midnight”, was the long awaited final piece to the engaging and captivating trilogy directed by Richard Linklater.The film is set in yet another far flung and exotic location, namely Greece.

The storyline picked up nine years later (After “Before Sunset”) in Greece with Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) who now have twin children. Over time, audiences have seen the evolution of their relationship over two decades, from the time they met in Vienna, to their second meeting in Paris.

Each encounter saw the characters mature as they both encountered and endured their own life issues; the films are so popular due to the sense of empathy and understanding that audiences have with both Jesse and Celine; they are just normal human beings, who are for each other, dealing with whatever life throws at them

Like the previous two films, expect the plot to be trumped by an ingenious script which affably and tactfully charts another chapter of these two characters lives. Global audiences have grown to admire and love both for their frank, genuine and sincere exchanges on everyday life and modern relationships.

Now as parents, the two have to address another stage of their life, examine where they stand and seek happiness, peace and contentment in their own little ways.

From the trailer, the locations and scenes look alluring and charming. Early reviews suggested that the third film reversed normal notions of “old is better’ by being the best scripted and paced film.

New Film – ‘Everywhere Everything At Once’ and the Return of Ke Huy Quan….

Everywhere Everything All At Once

There is a huge buzz behind this new sci-fi fantasy movie and the reviews have been incredible.

One of the main talking points is the return of Ke Huy Quan.

He first made international headlines in cult classics such as “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and has long remained in the consciousness of many 80s film fans.

In many interviews, he said that as he grew older there were less opportunities for him so he worked more behind the scenes.

Ke said after watching “Crazy Rich Asians”, he was inspired to return to acting and has made a huge comeback with this hit film.

FILM: “HEAD GAMES” The Sports Documentary Film

Tagline “How much are you willing to lose for a game?”

If every time you took to the field to participate in the sport that you love but knew that you could potentially be slowly killing yourself, would you still play with the same level of determination and grit? Is the modern sports culture of winning above all else causing untold emotional and physical damage to millions of athletes globally?

“Head Games” is the new sports documentary directed by Steve James of “Hoop Dreams” fame. This time the focus is not the path of would be athletes struggling to the top of their chosen game  and profession but on head related traumas and injuries which can be sustained on the field of play.

The dangers of brain damage and concussion are highlighted throughout the piece as doctors, parents and coaches struggle to understand how some seemingly perfectly fit young people, full of life, can either take their own lives or pass away suddenly. The levels of rewards at the highest level of professional sports are so vast that people are willing to take any risk and sacrifice their bodies and minds to achieve their goals.

The film is based on the book by Christopher Nowinski, a former Ivy League footballer and WWE wrestler and his struggles with traumatic heads blows and their subsequent repercussions on his life. Nowinski is now a co-director of the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston university which carries out research on the impact of head injuries and traumas

The recent case of Eric Boogaard, an ice hockey ‘enforcer’ who played for the New York Rangers but who sadly passed away at the age of 28 brought this subject much more to the fore. If Boogaard had lived on, he would have suffered major emotional and mental health issues due to years of sustained trauma, all at a very young age.

As athletes push themselves to their limits to reach their own personal goals and dream; how many wonder about the type of damage they are sustaining on themselves. A person’s body may ‘break’ but damage to the mind can be permanent and lethal.

GODZILLA VS. KONG SMASHES COVID-ERA BOX OFFICE IN HONG KONG

Godzilla and King Kong, monsters on the screen and at the box office, have kickstarted cinema attendance in Asia. The latest instalment in the Monster Universe franchise, Godzilla vs. Kong, debuted in the region on March 24, instantly pulling in fans in Hong Kong becoming the #1 movie.

The Warner Bros. distributed film surpassed box office expectations and achieved regional revenues in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and Korea of US$25.2m on its opening weekend, with US$1.7m in Hong Kong. This made it the biggest industry opening in 2021 and local fans clearly fans were delighted that film’s final battle scene took place in Hong Kong.

It is clear that audiences are excited to return to theatres and to enjoy the biggest film titles on the big screen. Godzilla vs. Kong also made history being the biggest IMAX opening of the Monster Universe in 13 international territories including in India and Taiwan.

In China, where the film opened on March 26 and is distributed by Legendary Pictures, it took US$70.3m from 42,000 screens, with a 82% share of the box office. In the US, Godzilla vs. Kong opens in cinemas and debuts on HBO Max today (March 31). Other Warner Bros. films released during the pandemic include Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Tom & Jerry: The Movie, Academy Award-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah, with Mortal Kombat soon to debut.

About Godzilla vs Kong (112 mins) – https://youtu.be/odM92ap8_c0

From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures comes the long-awaited showdown between two icons in the epic adventure Godzilla vs. Kong, directed by Adam Wingard. It stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown and Rebecca Hall.

Legends collide in Godzilla vs. Kong as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The initial confrontation between the two Titans – instigated by unseen forces – is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth. www.godzillavskong.com

Calibre (2018) – A Thriller and True Test of Friendship and Loyalty

Calibre is a British Independent gem directed by Matt Palmer. The film starts off as a simple bonding holiday between two long time friends and ends up as a gripping thriller where the sense of isolation becomes overwhelming as edge of the seat twists and turns come thick and fast which leave the two main characters in a morale dilemma which becomes a route of no escape.

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The simple premise starts off as a trip with Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Marcus McCann) to a remote Scottish town for a holiday before Vaughn gets married; it ends up being a tour de force of thrills and spills and moral deception. The story basically examines the true cost of friendship and loyalty if friends will truly remain ‘friends’ in some extreme situations.

The film starts very innocently but there is one single incident which occurs, which changes the entire trajectory of the story and the film. An unfortunate incident occurs, where in the immediate aftermath, both Marcus and Vaughn have decide to which is the best course of  action to take. 

They make a choice and this leads them into a darker web of lies and deception and deceit and in the end, they are basically trapped in this village, and as the lies and deceit, catch up to them, they are and they were placed in a very precarious situation. 

Calibre is short and tense and frenetic and the sound and cinematography really captures the mood of the film. The isolation and the sense of foreboding is incredible as a once friendly town and its inhabitants seems to turn against them.

The film asks some morale questions and in the end, the viewer will end up questioning the decisions and choices which result in the shocking ending and what people will do to survive.

A Incredible Thriller ……in the Middle of Nowhere….

Film Review – ‘Night On Earth’

Night on earth is a classic cult comedy / drama where the small dramas of everyday life make for great film making and viewing. The film was directed the acclaimed auteur, Jim Jarmusch. 

The beauty of this film is that it is set across the world on one night and is five separate stories involving five separate taxis in five separate cities, in obviously, five separate countries. The cities, Los Angeles, New York, Paris Rome and Helsinki.

This influential film is a classic because it inspired a sort of new wave of films which were in kind, collective short stories. Here, the short stories are all the same; each story has a Taxi driver dealing with a different assortment of passengers. 

The first story is set in LA, where the cabbie ‘Corky’, Winona Ryder, picks up an Hollywood executive, played by Gena Rowlands. During the entire ride, Rowland’s character tries to convince ‘Corky’ to be an actress though to not much success; Corky  is very happy and content doing what she does! Being a taxi driver and interacting with her passengers.

Another story is set in Rome, Italy, where has the famous Italian actor, Roberto Benigni, picks up a priest, and basically the priest confesses all of his sins and all the wrongdoings that he has done in his life with Roberto trying to become a sympathetic ear. 

Another story is set in Helsinki, Finland, where it’s snowing and the driver, Mika, picks up three factory workers who seem to be telling tales of woe and sadness and Mika ends up trumping all their tales with his own sad story. 

Another story is one from New York where the story focuses on an immigrant from East Germany who struggles understand the chaotic nature of the passengers who come into his taxi. 

There is also a story in Paris where basically, two or three passengers, seem to underestimate their driver who is wiser than he seems.

The beauty of the film is that it shows that, all around the world, people are going through the same struggles for the same things. The film is enjoyable as it has a sense of empathy and pathos running throughout the entire film.