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Cyrano Review | Love Seems to Be the Hardest Word

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If you’ve ever been told that awards are meaningless, perhaps it was because you weren’t a very good soccer player. But with the Oscar nominations being announced a couple of weeks ago, how in the world was Cyrano only nominated for Best Costume Design? The move from December to January was head-scratching, to say the least, and then moving to late February only hurt it further, but Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Hanna) has crafted a grandiose adaptation of a tragic romantic tale that still holds weight in 2022. Peter Dinklage’s performance cannot be praised enough, and Cyrano is just a poignant work in terms of both filmmaker and the musical aspects.

Cyrano is an adaptation of the 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, and mostly draws its inspiration from the 2018 stage play of the same name. Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) is a man in love with Roxanne (Haley Bennett), but due to societal expectations, he cannot express his love to her. In turn, Cyrano has to live vicariously through Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), writing his letters to Roxanne.

C_13199_R Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As someone who has not seen a lot of Peter Dinklage’s work — I never got on the Game of Thrones train — I was so pleasantly surprised with his performance. Cyrano is a tragic character, so inherently, there is a lot of weight on Dinklage’s shoulders. His facial expressions sell every crushing moment, and his singing isn’t half bad, either. Dinklage’s Oscar clip should have been the scene where Roxanne confesses her love to Cyrano; the crushed expression on his face will floor you. He slowly comes to a realization that Roxanne is not speaking about him, and while these types of scenes have occurred in so many other romantic movies in the past, the performances in Cyrano‘s push it further.

What makes Cyrano such a tragic character is that he is the complete juxtaposition of Christian. Cyrano is a beautiful poet, full of wit and articulation whereas Christian, to his own admission, is void of both of those. If you don’t believe me, just see the scene where Christian finally talks to Roxanne in person. It’s like two people who only spoke over DMs or text messages and then it’s awkward when they finally meet face-to-face. Christian struggles to mutter anything over than “I love you,” much to Roxanne’s distaste (I guess she shouldn’t listen to the Avett Brothers song, I and Love and You).

And while Dinklage does most of the heavy lifting, Haley Bennett is really good as Roxanne. It’s similar to Jennifer Holland in the Peacemaker series; you wouldn’t think that it’s simply nepotism that James Gunn hired his partner, Jennifer Holland as one of the leads solely going off of her performance. The same can be said about Bennett, who is director Joe Wright’s partner. I wasn’t aware of that connection coming in, and she is really great in her role. She’s the hypothetical monkey that has never left her box. There’s a whole world outside of that box that she is unaware of, and her mother is trying to find her a husband as a result. The line, “Children need love; adults need money” rings true to most of us hopeless romantics. Roxanna believes the other end of that spectrum, saying that “love conquers everything.” Bennett has a tender performance, and the only complaint is that there are times when it’s hard to believe that Roxanne hasn’t fully figured out Cyrano and Christian’s scheme. There is a scene where she speaks down to “Christian” from her balcony as he stands in a dark alleyway. Cyrano steps in and speaks in place of him at times, and being that they have been friends for years, are you really trying to tell me that Roxanne wouldn’t be able to figure it out? On top of that, when Christian is fumbling over his words and only able to say “I love you,” did it never occur to her that the beautiful words he has been “writing” could have come from the best poet in town? Perhaps reading too far into the logistics of the plot is not worth it, as it’ll just ruin the experience of watching it, but that alleyway scene, in particular, has the secrecy of Clark Kent transitioning into Superman. I mean, who can’t see that Superman is clearly Clark Kent sans glasses? Also, shoutout to Ben Mendelsohn, one of Hollywood’s most consistent actors. As De Guiche, Roxanne’s father, he is able to flip the switch between loving father and absolute prick with ease.

C_03065_RC Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Along with the acting, the other crucial aspect of a musical is, well, the music. And Cyrano nails it. The band called The National wrote the music for the 2018 stage play that this film is mainly based on, and there are countless standout songs. Someone to Say is featured in the trailer, and it’s easy to see why. As stated, Dinklage’s voice is surprisingly good, and there is a moment where he harmonizes with Haley Bennett that is simply astounding. Some songs differ from the oft-melancholic and soft-sounding songs. Take the swordfight between Cyrano and Valvert (Joshua Jones) towards the beginning of the film. Cyrano does a spoken word response that has shades of Hamilton, except it’s listenable.

C_10209_R Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars as Christian in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There is something to be said about how relevant Cyrano is. The Tiner/DM analogy from earlier should be considered when analyzing the plot of Cyrano. Roxanne falls in love with the idea of Christian, or the idea she came up with of him after reading his letters, and his supposed writings. Christian lives a lie and can’t even come up with anything better than “I love you” when they meet face-to-face. I have to imagine that the rise of dating apps, social media, and texting has had some impact on relationships, romantic or not. And the fact that Cyrano can still have ways to speak to our current state of society is powerful. Reminder: Cyrano is based on a play from 1897.

It’s such a shame that Cyrano wasn’t recognized properly this awards season. The late February rollout will hopefully make people appreciate it more as the Oscars loom closer, and Peter Dinklage’s performance puts Javier Bardem’s to shame (and I quite enjoyed Being the Ricardos the first time I saw it). How he didn’t make it into the fifth spot for Best Actor is well beyond me, and Cyrano stands as a tragic example of why awards don’t matter. However, it still should be celebrated and seen by all that love musicals, romance, and powerful cinema.

Cyrano will be released in limited markets beginning February 25. For more information and showtimes, click here.

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Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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‘Tell That to the Winter Sea’ Review | A Heartfelt Exploration of Love and Friendship with Outstanding Performances by Greta Bellamacina and Amber Anderson

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Tell That to the Winter Sea
Greta Bellamacina and Amber Anderson in a still from 'Tell That to the Winter Sea' (Kaleidoscope)

It takes time to understand that life is all about learning, growing, and changing. It’s about heartbreaks and dealing with them. Every stage brings new challenges and makes you think if you’ll ever reach your desired destination. In Jaclyn Bethany’s reminiscent drama, Tell That to the Winter Sea, this sentiment is distinctly captured through the touching journey of two characters, Jo (Greta Bellamacina) and Scarlet (Amber Anderson), who find themselves grappling with unresolved pasts.

There have been several movies around female friendships or relationships, but only a few have captured their essence, and Tell That to the Winter Sea is among them. The profoundly moving film starts with bride-to-be Jo (Bellamacina) reading a book while waiting for her school-time friend and first love, Scarlet (Anderson), on a girls’ trip to a country manor. Soon, we get to know that this trip is meant to celebrate Jo’s upcoming marriage. However, as soon as they meet, this trip becomes a moving journey of emotional discovery and unresolved feelings. Even with the festive atmosphere created by the rest of the group, Jo and Scarlet can’t help but deal with the lingering feelings from their shared past.

Tell That to the Winter Sea

Greta Bellamacina as Jo in a still from ‘Tell That to the Winter Sea’ (Kaleidoscope)

Directed by Jaclyn Bethany, the movie does a magnificent job of navigating the delicate terrain of past and present emotions through the eyes of its central characters. One of the primary reasons why this movie feels so personal is because of how authentic it looks. In many ways, we have endured heartbreak in love. Sometimes, we move on, but other times, we keep looking for answers by revisiting those moments. In Tell That to the Winter Sea, both central characters try to show that they have moved on, but in reality, it’s just the opposite and Bethany shows that with utter precision. Meanwhile, the script is a delicate blend of heartfelt dialogue and introspective moments. It’s fair to say that the script is the soul of this powerful drama. The writing shines in its ability to convey the unspoken and unresolved feelings between Jo and Scarlet. Their interactions are loaded with a glaring sense of nostalgia and unspoken yearning, capturing the beautiful essence of what it means to reconnect with your first love after years apart.

Another stunning aspect of the movie is its mesmerizing cinematography. The beautiful frames wonderfully complement the emotional landscape of the story, making the viewers feel like they are a part of the characters’ journey.

Acting-wise, both the film’s central characters are extraordinary in their respective roles. Greta Bellamacina as Jo is breathtaking as she brings a deep emotional resonance to her character and magnificently captures the complexities of love, friendship, and personal growth. One of the most striking things about her performance is how she makes viewers feel about her internal conflicts and struggles. It feels so real, raw, and authentic. She is truly one of the finest actors we have in the industry now. Meanwhile, Amber Anderson shows a wide emotional range and effectively portrays the complexities of her character’s feelings and experiences. Her performance feels deeply connected to her character’s past and present, making the audience empathize with her journey. The chemistry between both stars is mesmerizing, making their shared moments both powerful and poignant.

Tell That to the Winter Sea

Amber Anderson as Scarlet in a still from ‘Tell That to the Winter Sea’ (Kaleidoscope)

The supporting cast – Josette Simon, Jessica Plummer, Tamsin Egerton, and Bebe Cave – is equally compelling and adds depth to the story.

Overall, Tell That to the Winter Sea is a beautifully crafted film that offers a heartwarming and introspective look at love, feelings, and friendship. The film explores themes of the passage of time, and the bittersweet nature of moving forward is handled with a sensitive approach. It is a deeply affecting and memorable cinematic experience. For those who appreciate a thoughtful and emotionally resonant film, Tell That To The Winter Sea is an immersive watch.

Tell That to the Winter Sea will be released in UK theatres on May 31.

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Comic Book Movies

X-Men ’97 Review | Nostalgic, Epic & Marvelous!

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X-Men '97 (Disney)

Get ready for action-packed adventure, many surprise cameos and a storyline that takes

Plot

A band of mutants use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they’re challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

Review

X-Men ’97 is a revival of the classic 1990s animated television series. The storyline picks up directly after the events of the original series, maintaining continuity and preserving the beloved elements that made the original a hit show back in the day. Many of the original voice cast members have returned, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm and Adrian Hough as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, which adds a layer of originality and contributes to the overall nostalgia of the television show​. Here I’m feeling like a little kid again, watching the show on a Saturday morning. I was 7 years old when it was on television in the early mornings, and it still brings back fond memories.

There were a number of new stars who joined the show such as Ray Chase who replaced Norm Spencer as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale who replaced Catherine Disher as Jean Grey, Holly Chou who replaced Alyson Court as Jubilee, A.J. LoCascio as Gambit, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, J.P. Karliak as Morph, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Ross Marquand as Professor Charles Xavier and Gui Agustini as Roberto da Costa/Sunspot.

X-Men ’97 (Disney)

The series starts off in a world where the X-Men grapple with the loss of Professor Charles Xavier. Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, Magneto rises to the occasion and becomes the new leader of the X-Men. This provides additional drama and the team dynamics is frequently tested with the new leadership. While dealing with the new leadership dynamics the X-Men finds themselves still dealing with people who would stop at nothing to end all mutants. The storyline doesn’t hold back on the action sequences and themes such as grief, loss and acceptance are touched on throughout the series.

The trailer of the show doesn’t spoil anything for the viewer, and I highly encourage you to watch every intro and try to spot any new changes. The show provides many cameos and easter eggs, keeping my hopes alive of a potential crossover.

The story ends with a twist, leaving you hungry for the next season, and as any Marvel movie or television show would have it, a mid-credits scene to whet your appetite for what’s to come. If you are new to X-Men you can still jump in and watch the television series, but I highly recommend watching the original series to get you up to date with most of the lore and history of the X-Men.

X-Men ’97 keeps the legacy of our favorite mutants alive with a well-written story that is filled with emotion, surprises and promises of more adventures.

Thank you Beau DeMayo for an eXcellent story! I rate this show a 5 out of 5!

Will we skip the intro song? No! I don’t think we will. Make sure to catch the show on Disney Plus!

https://youtu.be/mp1Pax-QHlA?si=-fFlVYBRIPnLQyVO
X-Men ’97 Final Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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‘The Present’ Review | A Heartfelt Family Adventure with a Magical Twist

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The Present
A still from 'The Present' (The Movie Partnership)

In the heartwarming film ‘The Present,’ a young boy stumbles upon a mysterious grandfather clock with the extraordinary ability to transport him through time. Driven by the hope of reuniting his parents, he embarks on a magical journey with his siblings to prevent their family from falling apart. As they face challenges together, they discover the enduring power of love and the true meaning of family.

Over the years, we have seen a lot of time-travel movies, but ‘The Present’ is a bit different from those movies. It’s not about saving the world and defending the universe from aliens. It’s all about keeping a family together and feeling loved again. In Christian Ditter’s cute romantic-comedy film, we see Jen (Isla Fisher) and Eric (Greg Kinnear) having a dinner with their three children: Emma (Shay Rudolph), Max (Mason Shea Joyce), and Taylor (Easton Rocket Sweda). However, things go downhill when the parents announce that they are separating. The next day, an old clock that used to be in Eric’s father’s house arrives at their house and they decide to keep it in their basement. Something is written on the clock, and it reads, “This clock can help you now and then, but only you can change events.” Soon, Taylor finds out that the clock can be used to time travel and alter events. As a result, he stitches a plan, along with his siblings, to bring their parents together.

Shay Rudolph and Easton Rocket Sweda in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership’

The enchanted grandfather clock is a delightful narrative device that immediately draws the audience into a world where the impossible becomes possible. Who wouldn’t want to turn the clock back and alter certain events? The clock, intricately designed and exuding an air of mystical antiquity, serves as both, a literal and metaphorical centerpiece for the story. However, the movie is not just about the clock or what it does, it is about the extreme lengths children can go to restore their family. The themes of love, forgiveness, and the passage of time are woven throughout the film, offering moments of reflection and emotional resonance. The makers have subtly shown how challenging it can be to mend things, emphasizing the importance of understanding and empathy within familial relationships. Certain moments in the film would surely encourage you to let your family know how much they are valued.

Writers have done a great job in stitching a story that’s not complex. Everything that takes place in front of our eyes is neither flashy nor over the top, which makes the movie even more relatable. However, certain elements could have been infused to make the script even better. We could have seen a bit more emotional turmoil between the central pair to have a better idea about their state. On the other hand, the relationship between Jen and the kids should have been explored a little more. Apart from that, there are pacing issues in certain scenes, which could have been mended with tighter editing. Despite these shortcomings, ‘The Present’ is a charming film that offers a warm and engaging experience.

Isla Fisher and Greg Kinnear in ‘The Present’ (The Movie Partnership)

Acting-wise, Isla Fisher and Greg Kinner are splendid in their respective roles. Both actors are fully committed to their roles and don’t miss a beat. Fisher has evolved as an actor and it would be a travesty if we don’t see her healing a big blockbuster soon. The young cast delivers commendable performances, particularly Mason Shea Joyce, whose wide-eyed innocence and determination drive the film forward. Meanwhile, Shay Rudolph is as wonderful as Emma. The chemistry between the siblings feels genuine, their camaraderie reflecting a realistic portrayal of sibling dynamics.

Overall, ‘The Present’ succeeds in delivering a touching, family-friendly adventure. Its enchanting premise, mixed with heartfelt performances, makes it a worthwhile watch, especially for families seeking a film with positive messages.

‘The Present’ hit UK cinemas on May 24.

 

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