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Drama

Life Itself (2018)

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So, what does that tell us?
That the only truly reliable narrator is life itself.
But life itself is also a completely unreliable narrator
because it is constantly misdirecting and misleading us and taking us on this journey
where it is literally impossible to predict where it’s gonna go next.

Occasionally I come across such a film that knows how to surprise me. At first, I wondered what it was all about. Usually, I take a wait-and-see approach and see where it’s going. If there’s no improvement in terms of story and it remains quite uninteresting, I’ll give up. Fortunately, this rarely happens. And certainly not in the case of “Life itself“. As the film progressed, it became (at least for me) more fascinating. Before I knew it, I was looking at the credits with astonishment and I thought to myself: “Wow, what the hell was this”. A film that succeeds in making me quiet and paralyzed. That’s quite an achievement.

 

 

Hate campaign?

In retrospect, I was somewhat surprised at the negative comments regarding this film. I do understand there are people who are allergic to tragedy, drama, and sadness in films. But the bursts of tirades being fired at this movie, are rather exaggerated in my opinion. Or is it my anarchist nature that is rebelling? Calling “Life itself” the “Worst movie of the year“, is a bit shortsighted and slightly simplistic. I suppose those who did, only watched the crème de la crème of films that year. I dare to admit that I’ve seen much worse last year. Again it looks like a snowball effect after the appearing of some reviews of prominent film critics. And expressions such as “semi-intellectual”, “philosophical ramblings” and “overly melodramatic” are copied excessively so that it resembles a we-against-them situation. Or is it an acute case of navel-gazing? Or are they all male critics who, just like Dan Fogelman said in an interview, hate films with emotions? Maybe a defense mechanism so nobody would say that their tough torso contains too many female hormones. Oh well. If you focus on the correctness of timelines and the correct layout of the different time sections only, you may lose sight of the larger picture.

 

 

Holier-than-thou?

I am convinced that among those notorious critics, there are some who unknowingly believe in certain things that would fit perfectly into the context of this film. Isn’t it so that people speak of a soul mate who exists somewhere on this planet? That there’s this one special person somewhere who’s a good fit for you? And isn’t the term karma used all the time? Does coincidence exist? Or coincidentally not? And then the pinnacle of mysterious power that millions believe in. The divine power that watches over us and directs our lives. I bet some of those opinion writers have used these terms before? Or that they want to save their soul every week by solemnly entering a church somewhere? Well, not me. Am I too realistic? Too suspicious? Could be. But I believe that a combination of circumstances and destiny can form the basis of a story such as “Life itself“.

 

 

The first chapter is phenomenal.

Without a doubt, the first chapter is the one with the most impact. A chapter full of confusion, psychological distress, and trauma. But also a chapter about eternal love. Finding that one specific person who fits you unconditionally. Will (Oscar Isaac) and Abby (Olivia Wilde) are such a couple. The living proof of the well-known saying about the pot and the lid. Until one day Abby leaves Will, and Will’s life immediately becomes a mess. A ruin that needs to be restored with the help of a psychologist. It’s a chapter in which the storyline wraps itself ingeniously around Will’s past and present. With and without Abby. With and without the will to live. A chapter full of flashbacks. A chapter introduced by Samuel L. Jackson who represents the “unreliable storyteller”. The subject of Abby’s thesis. But at the same time, he plays a character from a script that Abby and Will wanted to write together. “A husband and wife Tarantino”. That’s why Samuel L. Jackson uses his “Pulp Fiction” intonation. And then there are some who claim that his contribution adds little to the story. well, you just have to want to see it, I guess.

 

 

Two different family trees.

The chapter ends shockingly. A blow of a sledgehammer, as it were. And from then on the story begins to spread intercontinental. From the rebellious Dylan (OliviaMe and Earl and the Dying GirlCooke), the end result of the wonderful love between Abby and Will, whose life is dominated by death. To Spain, where the rich olive oil manufacturer Mr. Saccione (Antonio Banderas) tells his life story to one of his workers, Javier Gonzalez (Sergio Peris-Mencheta). And although these two different family trees initially have nothing in common with each other, the two storylines melt together in a bewildering manner. But you have to discover for yourself how it all gets connected.

 

 

The unreliable narrator.

The only flaw I could think of is the predictability at a certain moment. At first, you don’t have a clue what’s going on. Once you’ve passed that point, you can already see where it’s going. If I were a nitpicker, I would use this to criticize “Life itself” harshly. But the inventive story and the sometimes excellent acting of a group of well-known actors make this a side issue. Perhaps it all seems doom and gloom. As if real life only produces sorrow and misery. Where you experience one setback after the other. Everyone has bad periods in their lives and emotionally difficult experiences. But perhaps the message is also that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t believe in coincidence or destiny. I don’t believe in a heavenly power that determines our lives and sets out the route in our lives. But admit it. The way the story developed here could actually also occur in real life. Unfortunately, sometimes life is indeed an unreliable narrator.

My rating 8/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

Tribeca Film Festival | ‘7 Days’ – A Sweet Rom-com To Keep You Going

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We’ve reached the point now where the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns we’ve faced over the past year are starting to become backdrops for films, and perhaps it’s not something we want to re-live and it’s not something we’re desperate to revisit, but 7 Days has a really touching and moving story at its centre and when you look past the coronavirus, it’s a really compelling story and makes for a good film.

At the start of the film, we meet Ravi (played by Karan Soni, best known for playing Dopinder in Deadpool) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan- Blockers, The Broken Hearts Gallery). The two have been set up by their old-fashioned Indian parents and are on a pre-arranged date. The two of them have absolutely nothing in common and the whole afternoon is very awkward for them both. But then the COVID outbreak gets worse and Ravi must spend the next few days at Rita’s place as he can’t get a car or a hotel. We soon witness the unlikely bond that forms as the two spend their days together despite being very different people.

7 Days marks Roshan Sethi’s directorial debut and he does a great job here. Not only does he capture so well what it’s like to live, and to love, in the time of COVID but the film, which was also co-written by Sethi, is really funny and leaves you feeling good which is exactly what you want after having lived through the last year.

The film’s quite short as it is with a runtime of just 86 minutes but even so, it does feel very long. Whether that’s because there’s only really two characters that we’re seeing for almost an hour and a half, or if it’s because it takes place almost entirely in one location, it does drag a bit. The two characters seem like polar opposites as we discover Rita drinking beer and eating leftover chicken for breakfast despite claiming to be a vegetarian and not drinking and at times the film feels like it’s almost running out of things to do with these characters that at first seem so far away from each other and the film does feel quite long despite its rather short runtime.

But on the whole, 7 Days manages to get the tone between comedy and drama just right with lots of funny lines but also just the right amount of heartfelt and poignant moments. The film is bookended by short video clips of real-life Indian couples talking about their marriages and how they met, and the two main characters discuss these two viewpoints of a more orthodox arranged marriage versus love marriages and the film does a really good job of presenting them both to us equally.

7 Days works well and manages to avoid being a depressing film about the pandemic, in part due to the really good performances from Soni and Viswanathan and the wonderful chemistry the two have, but also due to the really good script by Sethi and Soni. And whilst we will doubtlessly see more movies set during this time, 7 Days is a sweet rom-com to keep you going.

★★★☆☆

7 Days premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Drama

Supernova | A Powerful And Touching Film Worth Seeing

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Get the tissues ready because Supernova is a real tear-jerker. It’s one of those films that right from the very first moment you know it’s going to hit you right in the feels. And Supernova expertly gets that blend right between sadness and hope to the point that the film is an excellent well-rounded film that has real emotion and isn’t just a complete sucker punch to the gut.

Sam (played by Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) are partners of 20 years and are travelling around the Lake District in their old RV. The thing is that two years ago, Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Over the course of their journey, they encounter friends and family and their ideas for the future clash as secrets are revealed, really testing their love for each other in a way that they’ve never experienced before. It’s a really devastating film about love and about loss too but it’s incredibly powerful.

For the first half of the film, there’s quite little actually about Tusker’s dementia and instead, writer/director Harry Macqueen decides to show us just how strong the love between the two is and we see that they’ve both put their careers on hold at this difficult point in their lives. Sam was a musician and Tusker a writer but they’ve both been unable to continue with these with everything they’re going through. But we see the incredible love that these two people have for each other.

This is, in part, down to the phenomenal performances from both Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. And that’s what really takes this film up a notch to be an excellent film. Firth and Tucci are both outstanding and give some of their best performances of their careers. The film is entirely driven by their remarkable performances and everything else helps to compliment that to create a really moving film. The cinematography is really beautiful- as you’d expect- with the gorgeous Lake District as the backdrop for film and there are some really lovely wide shots of the incredible scenery in Supernova.

For the majority of the film, the writing is really good too, however, there are a few instances where it doesn’t quite feel like what a real person would say in that situation in the moment. Instead, it sounds like the sort of thing a writer would have written- which of course it is, but because of how touching and powerful it is, and because of how well Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are delivering these lines it doesn’t stand out too much.

Supernova is a very emotional film, particularly when you consider the meaning behind the title. Director Harry Macqueen says that “a supernova is the massive explosion event at the end of the evolution of a star”. “For me this has always been representative of Tusker himself- a man who shines bright in all he does, brings light and laughter to almost every situation and is, of course, dying. It’s quite literal in that regard, really; he knows his final chapter is just around the corner.”

Supernova is a film that’s worth seeing, even if that’s just to see Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci giving career-best performances but there’s so much more to the film as it explores the sophisticated, mature themes of love and loss. Just make sure to take some tissues, or maybe even a bucket, to collect your tears.

★★★★☆

Supernova is released in UK cinemas on June 25th.

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Action

Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

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Genre:

Action, adventure, drama

Release Date:

November 5, 2021

Director:

Chloé Zhao

Cast:

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot Summary:

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

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