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‘Saltburn’ Review | Barry Keoghan Excels In Emerald Fennell’s Sickly Satisfying Film

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There have been a lot of extreme reactions to Emerald Fennell’s ‘Saltburn’ and I was getting really anxious about watching the film. When I finally got a chance to see it, I realized why people were so divided about this weird film. There is no doubt that this is an audacious film, but let’s not get carried away by saying that we haven’t seen anything like this before. We have, but none of those movies were accessible like this one.

The movie follows Oliver, a new student at Oxford University, and shows how he deals with being around wealthy people while he’s still learning the ropes of college life. No one notices him, except a really creepy student who looks a bit like Jeffrey Dahmer (Sorry!). Even though no one wants to talk to him, Oliver has already set his eyes on Felix (Jacob Elordi) and wants to his friend. One day, he finds an opportunity and helps Felix by giving his own bicycle so that he can reach his destination on time. Since that day, Oliver and Felix became best friends. As the year ended, Felix asked Oliver to come stay with him at his huge family home, Saltburn, during the summer. Without any doubt, Oliver’s stay at Saltburn is filled with sex, partying and some really weird situations.

But if you feel that’s what the movie is about, then you are wrong. Amid all the happening moments, Oliver shows his true nature. This film truly excels when Fennell digs deeper and explores Oliver’s relationship with Felix’s family. The conversations between them are disturbing and he makes his way into Felix’s family by earning their trust.

Alison Oliver, Jacob Elordi, and Barry Keoghan in ‘Saltburn’ (Amazon Studios)

‘Saltburn’ is an incredibly beautiful movie visually, especially in certain scenes that show the luxurious life of the rich people. But at the same time, these scenes also give off a slightly creepy or unsettling vibe. Fennell uses color and camera placement to perfection, allowing viewers to know Oliver’s place among the super-rich and his own creepy personality. However, ‘Saltburn’ doesn’t offer anything different than what we have seen in previous eat-the-rich movies. But, of course, what Fennell does so well is that it encourages the audiences to laugh at the so-called affluent community. There are lots of funny moments in the movie, thanks to the filmmaker’s clever writing and the extraordinary actors bringing those moments to life. Even though the writing material is sharp, it isn’t as thought-provoking as audiences would have wanted it to be.

When it comes to acting, Barry Keoghan is simply stunning. This is undoubtedly the creepiest character he has played over the years and still made viewers root for him. It is one of those performances that cements his place in the list of elite actors that could alone be responsible for a film’s success. Truly, a mind-blowing acting performance. Meanwhile, Jacob Elordi is brilliant as Felix and embodies the character of a posh boy with precision. Elordi shows off his incredible charm and charisma, proving once again that he’s a really talented and charismatic actor.

Rosamund Pike as Elsbeth in ‘Saltburn’ (Amazon Studios)

Meanwhile, Rosamund Pike and Richard Grant are splendid as Elsbeth and James. They are the definition of how rich actually behave and romanticize the idea of poverty while sitting in their mansion. On the other hand, Alison Oliver takes everyone by storm with her acting. Even though she has little screen time, but whenever she is given a chance to convey something, she does that with her impeccable acting skills.

There’s no doubt that Saltburn offers a captivating and enjoyable mystery, but it doesn’t offer anything new to audiences. Undoubtedly, the good things outshine the little average ones and the finished product is satisfying. Fennell has dared to tell a story that others might not even touch and add her own touch to it. ‘Saltburn’ is a bizarre cinematic experience that goes way too far with its multi-layered storytelling. Emerald Fennell lures us into a world filled with lies and lust while talking about class issues.

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‘The Letter Writer’ Review | A Heartwarming Tale of Love and Cultural Awakening

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Eslam Al Karawit in 'The Letter Writer' (Prime Video)

In The Letter Writer, director Layla Kaylif crafts a captivating narrative that revolves around a young Arab nationalist boy navigating the complexities of love, loss, and self-discovery. Set against the backdrop of a seemingly mundane summer job as a professional letter writer and translator, the film takes viewers on a poignant journey that transcends cultural boundaries. The film unfolds as our protagonist, a young Arab nationalist boy, immerses himself in the world of professional letter writing and translation during his summer break. What appears to be a routine job takes a transformative turn when he becomes enamored with an English woman he must write to. The plot beautifully explores the dynamics of cross-cultural communication, shedding light on the richness of both Arab and English traditions.

At the core of The Letter Writer is a heartwarming love story that transcends linguistic and cultural barriers. The emotional depth of the narrative is amplified as the young boy pours his feelings onto paper, grappling with the complexities of love and the inevitable challenges that arise. The film masterfully captures the universal themes of heartbreak and resilience, resonating with audiences across diverse backgrounds. The cinematography in the movie is visually stunning, capturing the vibrant landscapes and cultural nuances of both the Arab and English settings. The director skillfully uses visuals to enhance the emotional impact of the story, creating a visually immersive experience for the audience. From the bustling streets of the Arab city to the picturesque landscapes of England, every frame is a visual treat. The cast delivers stellar performances, bringing authenticity and depth to their characters. Eslam Al Karawit, the young protagonist, is marvelous in his and captures the innocence and passion of youth as he navigates the complexities of love and self-discovery.

Rosy McEwen in a still from ‘The Letter Writer’ (Prime Video)

On the other hand, Rosy McEwen, with her portrayal, brings an unparalleled sense of elegance to the movie. She conveys her emotions with subtlety and poise, leaving an inedible mark on the audiences. The chemistry between the lead characters is brilliant, drawing viewers into their emotional journey.

The Letter Writer stands out for its sensitive portrayal of cultural nuances. The film is crucial for the deep understanding of Arab traditions and values, destroying stereotypes and fostering a sense of appreciation for cultural diversity. The respectful and nuanced approach to cross-cultural relationships adds a layer of authenticity to the narrative. All in all,  the movie is a must-watch film that beautifully weaves a tale of love, loss, and cultural awakening. With its engaging plot, stunning cinematography, and stellar performances, the movie transcends cultural boundaries, leaving a lasting impression on the audience. Whether you’re a fan of romance or enjoy films that explore the complexities of cross-cultural relationships, The Letter Writer is one of those rare titles that delivers on both fronts. Prepare to be captivated by this heartwarming journey of a young boy discovering the power of words and the universal language of love.

‘The Letter Writer’ is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

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Comic Book Movies

Madame Web Review

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Celeste O'Connor, Dakota Johnson, Isabela Merced & Sydney Sweeney (Sony)

Be ready to get caught in the web of Cassandra, our very own Madame Web. Swing by your local cinemas now to catch Madame Web on the big screen!

Plot

Cassandra Webb is a New York City paramedic who starts to show signs of clairvoyance. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she must protect three young women from a mysterious adversary who wants them dead.

Isabela Merced, Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor (Sony)

Movie Review (no spoiler)

Madame Web, the fourth entry in the Sony’s Spider-Man Universe brings us a different take on a complete new group of heroes in the heart of New York. I need to caution the readers that when going to watch the movie, keep an open mind. This movie is about Madame Web and her role as a protector to three young women who will play a much greater role in future…hopefully. If you are expecting Peter Parker / Spider-Man to swing in and catch a crook, you will sadly be disappointed.

I firmly welcome the new take on the Spider-Women within Marvel. Since Across the Spider-Verse I have pondered the question on whether we will get a chance to see any of the Spider-Women on the big screen and also the ‘How?’. I have always seen Cassandra Webb / Madame Web play a motherlike and protector role. I personally think Dakota Johnson played her part excellently well in that sense.

Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor plays the parts of Julia Cornwall, Anya Corazon and Mattie Franklin and delivers a breath of fresh air. They are teased to play big roles in the future, according to the villain in the movie. The new villain of the movie, played by Tahar Rahim, provides a thrilling experience at first but gets taken down too easily at the end.

Tahar Rahim as Ezekiel Sims (Sony)

Madame Web provided a good introduction to a new character, which is Madame Web, but sadly doesn’t provide any promise of continuity and linkages with any of the existing movies within the current universe. A few easter eggs in the movie point to another beloved Marvel character, but I would have loved to experience more of Cassie’s web and the chance of a teaser for the other heroines of the movie since there are still so much stories left to tell. There is unfortunately no post-credits scene, which was a let down, considering Madame Web is part of the Sony Spider-Man Universe and continuity is what many are hopeful for. I’m curious if we get to see continuity later in the form of a sequel or even a cameo of Cassie, Julia, Mattie and / or Anya in any other production.

I rate this movie 3 out of 5.

The trailer doesn’t spoil too much of the storyline. Make sure to catch at a big screen near you.

Madame Web Official Trailer (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

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‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ Review | A Spellbinding Journey of Magic, Heritage, and Heroism

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A still from 'The Tiger's Apprentice' (Paramount+)

‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ brings Laurence Yep’s beloved children’s book series to life in a visually stunning and enchanting cinematic experience. The film introduces us to Tom Lee, a Chinese-American teenager portrayed by (actor’s name), whose life takes an extraordinary turn when he discovers his destiny as a magical guardian in a long lineage known as the Guardians. With a stellar cast including Soo Hoo, Golding, and Yeoh, the movie promises an exciting blend of fantasy, adventure, and cultural richness.

The narrative centers around Tom Lee (Brandon Soo Hoo), who learns about his mystical heritage as a Guardian and embarks on a transformative journey guided by a mythical tiger named Hu, played by the charismatic Henry Golding. The stakes are high as Tom must confront the formidable Loo, portrayed by the legendary Michelle Yeoh, a force with dark intentions to harness magic to destroy humanity. To counter Loo’s power, Tom must reunite twelve Zodiac animal warriors and master his newfound abilities. One of the film’s standout features is its breathtaking visuals, transporting the audience into a world where magic and reality seamlessly coexist. The CGI work in bringing the mythical creatures and magical elements to life is nothing short of spectacular. From the majestic presence of Hu the tiger to the awe-inspiring abilities of the Zodiac animal warriors, every frame is a visual feast that captivates both children and adults alike.

Tiger's Apprentice

A still from ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ (Paramount+)

The Tiger’s Apprentice not only offers a fantastical adventure but also celebrates cultural diversity, particularly the Chinese heritage. The portrayal of Chinese-American teenager Tom Lee adds an authentic touch to the narrative, fostering a sense of relatability for viewers from similar backgrounds. The incorporation of Chinese mythology, Zodiac animals, and legendary figures enhances the film’s richness, providing an educational and entertaining experience for audiences of all ages. The film boasts an exceptional cast, with Soo Hoo delivering a compelling performance as the protagonist, Tom Lee. Henry Golding brings charm and gravitas to the character of Hu, the mythical tiger mentor, while Michelle Yeoh’s portrayal of the formidable Loo adds a layer of complexity and intensity to the antagonist. The chemistry among the cast members elevates the emotional depth of the story, making it a truly engaging experience.

At its core, The Tiger’s Apprentice explores the classic theme of the battle between good and evil, with Tom facing the daunting task of thwarting Loo’s destructive plans. The narrative is enriched by themes of self-discovery, courage, and the importance of embracing one’s heritage. As Tom learns to harness his magical abilities and seeks the support of the Zodiac animal warriors, the film imparts valuable lessons about unity and the strength found in diversity.

A still from ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ (Paramount+)

In conclusion, The Tiger’s Apprentice emerges as a must-watch film that seamlessly blends fantasy, adventure, and cultural elements. With its captivating visuals, strong performances, and a narrative that resonates with universal themes, the movie is poised to enchant audiences of all ages. As Tom Lee embarks on his magical journey to save humanity, viewers are treated to a cinematic experience that is not only visually stunning but also emotionally resonant. The Tiger’s Apprentice is a celebration of heritage, heroism, and the enduring power of storytelling, making it a standout addition to the world of family-friendly cinema.

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