Thursday, 29 September 2016

Mini Reviews: Cafe Society, The Light Between Oceans, Where to Invade Next

Cafe Society
I would compare Cafe Society to a beach read, a book you bring on your beach vacation. It's pleasant and even sometimes charming and fun, but overall, it was nice in the moment but it's not overly memorable. However, that's not at all to say Cafe Society is a bad movie. In fact, it's probably Woody Allen's best movie in a few years.

It's the simple story of Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) who leaves New York to come to Hollywood in the 1930's. He gets a job working for his uncle Phil (Steve Carell) at a casting agency for Hollywood stars, and falls in love with Phil's assistant Vonnie. Vonnie is beautiful and cool and she and Bobby become only friends because Vonnie is in a relationship with Bobby's uncle Phil (unbeknownst to Bobby).

I actually loved Kristen Stewart in this movie. I think she finally found the right part that made me think she was so cool and I wanted to be her! Kristen's performance as Vonnie was cool girl with a hint of hypocrisy. She was just so great to watch, and I'm happy she's finally coming into her own as an actress. As well, I enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg, though it was once again a role similar to many things he's played before, this time with a little less arrogance. It was a fun, simple film with some nice performances and left you feeling nice.


The Light Between Oceans
I actually read this book about a year ago and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to see this film, despite the middling reviews. And honestly, it deserves a little more credit than it got. Michael Fassbender is in a role unlike I've seen him in before, and Alicia Vikander reminds us why she won her Oscar.

Tom is a lighthouse keeper and he and his wife Isobel work on Janus island, miles and miles from civilization. After several miscarriages, a boat washes ashore with a small, crying baby and a dead man. Instead of reporting this to the authorities, they decide to keep the baby and claim her as their own.

I was excited that Derek Cianfrance would be directing this because I felt like the subject matter was up his alley in terms of grim portraits of relationships and people. However, it was much more "soapy" than I was expecting from him, which indeed was a disappointment. However, the film was one of the most gorgeous I've seen all year, with beautiful cinematography, costumes and a lovely score from the ever-dependable Alexandre Desplat. Again, the performances were good and I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the film very, very much. It starts to get a little long in the end and it takes its time about wrapping up, but it's still an enjoyable movie about life and love, and doesn't deserve to be quite the bomb that it was.


Where To Invade Next
I saw one Michael Moore film once and I remember not enjoying it at all. To me, Michael Moore is that guy who knocks on peoples door and confronts them and yells at them about injustices/conspiracy theories/etc. So when my parents recommended I watch this, I was a little skeptical but thought the premise was interesting.

Indeed, I enjoyed the film very, very much. In this film, Michael Moore visits other countries around the world to see what things they are doing well (things like education, women's rights, vacation pay, etc) and "claiming" those ideas for America. In fact, I felt this film really communicated a lot of the frustrations I have with the United States while actually being somewhat gracious and hopeful about it!

Michael Moore was not angrily banging on peoples door here, but he was sitting down with real people from and having real conversations about how France treats lunchtime as a class and teaches kid manners and proper nutrition, how Slovenia has free college education, how Norway has a much more rehabilitation approach to prison, and how Italians get a lot of vacation time and how employers want their employees to be happy. It was a great look at so many countries around the world and how backwards the US is in a lot of these ways. Michael Moore was much more gracious than I had ever expected, and it ended on a much more positive and hopeful note rather than an angry/negative one. This film is definitely a must-watch!


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