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‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy

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Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in 'The Holdovers' (Focus Features)

“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.

The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.

Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers’ (Focus Features)

There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.

Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.

All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.

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Review | The Final Serve: ‘Federer: Twelve Final Days’ Offers an Intimate Look at a Tennis Great’s Goodbye

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Federer_Roger
Roger Federer in a still from 'FEDERER: TWELVE FINAL DAYS' (Prime Video)

We have seen a lot of legendary players in the game of Tennis, but only a few have ever matched the charisma of Roger Federer. Apart from winning Grand Slam tournaments, he went on to win people’s hearts every time he stepped inside the court for a game. However, when the Swiss Tennis great announced that he would be taking retirement from the sport, everyone felt it and knew that one of the greatest Tennis players of all time was bidding farewell to the game that he loved so much. So, in the final 12 days of Federer being a Tennis star, directors Asis Kapadia and Joe Sabia followed the sporting icon and witnessed how Federer prepared himself for his last set of matches. Now, the moments captured by the duo have been turned into a documentary called ‘FEDERER: TWELVE FINAL DAYS’ in which fans get to see how the legend said goodbye to the game of Tennis.

(Photo Credit: Prime Video)

From the very beginning, you get to know that you are going to see something special. One of the documentary’s greatest strengths is its unprecedented access to Roger Federer during the pivotal moment in his life. The filmmakers follow him closely and offer viewers an insider’s perspective on his thoughts and feelings as he prepares to bid adieu to something that has defined his life for over two decades. Meanwhile, the candid interviews with Federer reveal an honest man, and at times, vulnerable. His love for the game, his insights into his career, and his contemplation of what comes next are both enlightening and deeply moving.

However, some of the most fascinating things take place in the documentary when viewers get to see Federer’s wife Mirka talking about him and his love for the sport. She is poignant and offers a glimpse into the personal sacrifices and shared experiences that have marked their journey together. On the other hand, the interviews of his chief rivals – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray – add depth and richness to the story, providing a multifaceted view of Federer’s impact on the game and the people who watch him play. Their stories tell you how much they respect each other and the camaraderie they share while being fierce competitors. Kapadia and Sabia, known for their masterful storytelling and ability to delve deep into their subjects’ psyches, have crafted a documentary that transcends the boundaries of a typical sports film. They capture not just the athlete, but the man behind the icon, providing a holistic view of Federer as he navigates the emotional terrain of retirement.  Visually, ‘FEDERER: TWELVE FINAL DAYS’ is stunning. The use of archival footage, and blending it seamlessly with new material to create a compelling story. The scenes, especially, from the Laver Cup are really powerful and beautifully capture the intensity of Federer’s final games.

But not everything about this film is celebratory. Certain moments would make you cry because there is a sense of melancholy as Federer tries to grapple with the fact that he indeed is stepping away from the game that gave him so much. Even with so many positive things, some moments do feel like melodramatic. There are moments when the pacing slows, and the narrative feels somewhat repetitive. Nevertheless, these are minor speedbumps in what is otherwise a beautifully crafted documentary.

Overall, ‘FEDERER: TWELVE FINAL DAYS’ is a captivating documentary that chronicles the journey of one of the greatest athletes of all time. Even if you are not a fan of Roger Federer, you should see this documentary to feel why he was and will always be a LEGEND.

‘Federer: Twelve Final Days’ premiered on Tribeca and will stream exclusively on Prime Video on June 20.

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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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