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Reminiscence Review | A Gripping Journey Through Memory

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2021’s summer blockbuster season has seen all sorts. From rapid ageing on a beach to cars going to space, this summer has had countless leave-your-brain-at-the-door type films that are just pure entertainment. But Lisa Joy, one of the co-creators of Westworld, is here with her directorial debut Reminiscence which challenges these brainless films with a smart, intelligent sci-fi mystery. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with some mindless fun, but sometimes you want to watch a film that makes you think. A film that makes you think not only about the film’s plot and the complex characters but also about your own life and your memories. And that’s exactly what Reminiscence does.

Set in the not-so-distant future in a near-sunken Miami after water levels rose, we meet Nick Bannister played by Hugh Jackman. Bannister, along with his colleague Watts (Thandiwe Newton) have a machine known as a reminiscence which allows people to revisit memories from their past and experience them again. He helps to guide his clients through the past allowing them to access and re-live lost memories. Jackman also guides the audience through this journey with his narration continuing throughout the film and helping to frame the story in a very clever and inventive way.

Bannister’s life takes a big change when one day Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) comes in asking him to help find her lost keys by diving into her memories. He becomes obsessed with her to the point that when she mysteriously disappears, he’ll stop at nothing to track her down and find her. Even if that means getting lost in his own memories and his own past.

Immediately, Joy sets the film up with an immense amount of mystery and intrigue. The whole film plays out like a neo-noir with all sorts of shady characters including Rebecca Ferguson’s femme fatal Mae. Reminiscence is a film that’s unlike many other films. For one, it straddles so many different genres. Not only is it a neo-noir but it ticks the boxes enough to also be considered an action film, a sci-fi film, a mystery, a thriller, crime as well as romance film. But that’s what makes Reminiscence so unpredictable because you never know quite where the next reveal is coming from.

From the trailer, many have said the film looks a bit like Christopher Nolan’s smash hit Inception and it is easy to draw the parallels with one being about going into people’s dreams and the other being about memories, but this isn’t entirely the case. There are times when the film feels a bit Nolan-esque, mainly when it’s dipping in and out of memories and the narrative is cutting back and forth between different points in time but beyond that there are few other comparisons to draw. That being said, Lisa Joy’s husband Jonathan Nolan (also a producer for Reminiscence) is Christopher’s brother so perhaps there was some inspiration drawn there.

The film begins with lots of mystery as we’re introduced to the world of the film, the nocturnal Miami that sleeps during the day to avoid the heat, and to the fascinating characters within the world. However, as the film starts to enter the second act it does slow down a bit too much. The main idea that’s driving the plot is Hugh Jackman’s search for Mae. And there are points where there’s not enough driving his search. There’s a bit too much time where all that’s happening is he’s looking for her and not enough else is going on. However, it then does start to pick-up as we learn much more about Mae’s past and who she really is a bit later on in the film. There are some gripping action sequences including a shootout in a bar where you can really feel every single gunshot putting you right in the middle of the action.

By the time the film’s finale comes about, it feels very well earned. It feels intelligent and smart, and at times, unbearably tense, as it ties together all the different plot points and characters expertly to reach a shocking conclusion. The fantastic acting performances culminate as the film reaches its denouement with Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson giving outstanding performances here really nailing their characters, although it’s Thandiwe Newton that stands out the most from the cast with one of the best performances of her career.

Lisa Joy’s directorial debut proves she’s definitely one to watch in the future. With an excellent original screenplay, Reminiscence feels so fresh and original and is an utterly captivating time from start to finish. Joy really dives into the compelling idea of memories and how there are some stories and moments in our lives that are just locked inside our heads. That bittersweet feeling of nostalgia is fully explored here delving into the question of if we should be looking back to the past or going forward into the future and Joy handles this theme with a lot of nuance and maturity.

Reminiscence takes us on a gripping journey through memory in this intelligently executed and excellent sci-fi thriller from Lisa Joy that shows how strong original ideas can be if you fully immerse the audience in the complex world and characters, creating a terrific film from start to finish.

Reminiscence is released in cinemas and on HBO MAX in America from August 20th.

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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