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A film best seen knowing nothing
Chan-wook Park, the visionary director behind Korean classic cinema like 'Oldboy' returns with The Handmaiden, a story with twists and turns best watched given the slightest context of what the film is about. This film is impressively atmospheric as it immerses audiences in the Gothic, grimy setting the juxtaposes that of the sublime aesthetic the architecture that blends European and Japanese cultures. Without giving away the plot, The Handmaiden creates a world that sucks audiences in, with its atmosphere and number of plot twists, resulting in an excellent work that discusses themes of taboo and cultural/ideological clashes.

The Lovebirds

An easy watch that had good moments for chuckles
Crime thriller?/Rom-com that had its moments, I had a fun time watching this movie, there were fun moments that while unfortunately, many were spoiled in the film's trailer still managed to bring me chuckles. The Lovebirds doesn't try to 'bite more than it could chew', a fun afternoon watch that would have the staying power as a light, fun film that is top notch at conveying what it wanted to but doesn't take a step beyond that.


Mediocre to a degree of being passable
Pixar's Onward is unfortunately mediocre to a degree of being passable, which is something that for a while seemingly impossible for Pixar to 'accomplish'. There is nothing glaringly wrong about Pixar's latest but unfortunately it misses that Pixar magic. While there were certainly elements that elevate the films status in its great animation and an overall important central them and core message; it told a fairly by the book and safe story of brotherly love and a coming of age. Onward reminds me of the dark days of Disney when they failed to produce top hits and were releasing mediocre animated movies that while wholesome misses the mark at delivering the magic that is the heart and soul of family films. I think in this case Pixar could've taken a much bigger risk in storytelling but resorted to what is simply not that special overall.

Palm Springs

Andy Samberg strikes again with Palm Springs
Palm Springs is the latest from Andy Samberg and I just can't get exactly what it is the makes him and his roles so charming and relatable. I've been a fan of his work since the Lonely Island music videos and continue to love his work in Brooklyn nine-nine, Samberg has an aura about him that's so 'ordinarily friendly', making you care about his character no matter his role. In Palm Springs we get to see him in a film that is a joke overdone, the 'Groundhog day' trope isn't the first of its kind and won't be the last, we've seen this again and again in cinemas and on TV, yet somehow they've pulled it out of the bag with this one. All the pieces just fall into place with this one, rendering the premise much less important because of just how well it executes on the jokes and heartfelt moments alike. While the film doesn't do anything unexpected it simply brings a smile to your face as you reminisce in the charm and lightheartedness of the film.

I WeirDO

Latest in Taiwanese experimental filmmaking, does it have what it takes?
It was a real treat to see this movie that's I believe is a step forward for Taiwanese experimental cinema. This film certainly balances warm hearted rom-com with heartbreaking melodrama, all in the package of a quirky film about the love and relationship of two OCD patients. The filmmaker does a great job with his impressive camera work, physical direction and set design that is just short of Wes Anderson's own signature style. This is a style that I rarely see in Taiwanese cinema and any attempts at innovation should be applauded, I really enjoyed the first section of this film but it makes a drastic final shift at the midway point of the film, while it does not divulge into a full on soap opera I think it resorts to too much of the tropes of a relationship gone bad and loses track at around this point in the film, the twist at the end also leaves a lot to be improved upon. This turn of events is problematic not just in the way in which it turns a very conceptually fascinating romance into the cliche but also in its poor timing that challenges the films pacing. I would make the comparison to that of last years breakout star, Korea's Parasite, a film that similarly implores a quirky tone that standalone makes a fascinating story; however in this case the point in which the film is supposed to have a shift of tone is executed poorly, resulting in disappointment. However, for what this film brings to the table and the core message about relationship I'm in no way putting this film down, it has potential, he beautiful form but unfortunately is just shy of making the shot.

The Two Popes

Two old guys walking and talking
The two popes, essentially a film about two old dudes walking around and talking for 2 hours; yet somehow it was such a fascinating conversation about the state of world religions and faith that it actually made for such an interesting watch. The success of the film lied on the two central performances, Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, two legendary actors that were perfectly casted in their respective roles. Anthony Hopkins delivers the performance of an old and weathered pope and his beliefs of a more conservative church; whereas Jonathan Pryce wonderfully depicts his character's warmth and ability to be down to earth and touch the hearts of his believers.


How does Robert Downey Jr do outside of his super suit?
Robert Downy Jr. has moved on from the MCU to play Dolittle, the Aquaman of the land. 'Landman' if you will. But how does this family film featuring talking animals fair? After the horrific musical Cats, that similarly features talking animals; Dolittle has a lot to prove.

Dolittle was charming and had a mildly amusing plot, the film is quite interesting in depicting the relationships and interactions between the animals. I thought that it was fun and at times exciting as a family friendly film of this caliber should. However, Downey Jr.'s zany over the top take on Dolittle and accent doesn't really take Dolittle to be one of the all time classic family adventure films. It was enjoyable enough of a movie but mostly due to the animals doing the heavy lifting. Outside of those small 'skits' and sideline bickering the film really doesn't have much substance. A message that is muddled and confusing mixed with not so interesting human characters and we get: Dolittle.

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

In my opinion, a satisfying end to the Skywalker Saga
The final chapter in this sequel trilogy and a conclusion to the 'Skywalker Saga', Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been seen as a let down. However, I actually really enjoyed this installment in the franchise, as someone who was never the biggest fan of Star Wars, I never had that sense of nostalgia from seeing any of the sequel trilogy and I felt as a result was able to enjoy the film as they were. There is certainly an argument to be made that as the ending to a saga it should definitely pay off on and make congruent and logical storytelling flow from that of its predecessors. But because I never felt such a strong attachment to the franchise I thought as it is, Rise of Skywalker was a really good movie, with exciting action and sci-fi elements and a narrative that ultimately centers around the fight between good and evil.

It was an effective film that while may be seen as style over substance at times, does have its fair share of substantial moments that make the argument of what it means to be a Jedi or Sith and what it means to bring balance to the force. I think it wonderfully comes full circle in that it brings us back to our internal struggles between blind rage and tranquil control, the essence of the two factions. At the end of the day, regardless of how convoluted of a plot it was getting here, the story devices and convenient character traits and decisions it was an entertaining film.

I really enjoyed this movie and felt that there were a lot of brilliant moments in this film, while I understand the criticisms, I can't help but like what I saw.

Ford v Ferrari

Caroll Shelby and Ken Miles
A film that centers around the two central characters and their two central performances: Matt Damon's Caroll Shelby and Christian Bale's Ken Miles. As such, these were the two performances that the entire film would rest on, fortunately, Matt Damon and Christian Bale both give wonderful performances in this biopic. Ford v ferrari had these brilliant performances as well as an interesting story that is at its core about two men who are fighting for their passion being warped into the 'dick measuring contest' between two large corporate car manufacturers. As such, the film is brilliantly titled as to reflect the fact that at the end, the story that is recorded will always be the competition between Ford and Ferrari, overlooking the true heroes of the story, Ken Miles and Caroll Shelby. Ford v Ferrari does a great job introducing audiences who may not be familiar with the subject into the world of cars, not over explaining but, simplifying and focusing on what is important making is a very easy viewing. Overall, Ford v ferrari had two memorable performances and was an emotional and insightful ride into the story of these two men.


A story about social class, filled with twists and turns
Bong Joon Ho is an absolute genius and has struck once again with the masterfully twisted Parasite. All four of the central performances are wonderful in depicting this fantasy like film that depicts a family slowly gaining the trust of and infiltrating another, upper class family. Parasite was amazing in the way that it was able to present twists and turns and shift genre and tone seamlessly. This film goes from pleasant comedy to a much darker film.

Parasite at its core is about economic class, family and the parasitical relationship between different members of society, and it does a hell of a job doing it. This film is one of the best movies coming out of 2019 and is sure to surprise audiences with a twist that is both horrifying and surprising.

Marriage Story

The key is in the subtlety of the acting and direction
Heart shatteringly subtle movie about a couple going through a divorce that does not rely on over the top acting in theratrics; but the genuine reflection of two people going through a period of separation. I was wonderfully surprised by how much I enjoyed Marriage story and how much it affected me emotionally. I was particularly invested in those scenes of almost mundane frustrations that don't rely on actors crying and screaming but the subtle hints of frustration.

Adam Driver has quickly risen the ranks as one of my favourite actors and this is the role that he was born to play, there is a sequence of scenes in this film involving him having to deal with a series of events that Adam Driver plays brilliantly, so accurately reflecting that frustration of just wanting to get something over with. I was mesmerised and absolutely burrowed into that emotion that was not over the top, but real.

I loved how this film portrays both sides of the argument and never paints one person as a bad person, as the audience we get to unravel how exactly they fell apart in their marriage but never once does it point fingers at one character nor paints them as bitter or hating each other. There is always a sense of hope in the details of the interactions between Charlie and Nicole that almost develops into a 'will they/won't they' situation; which was fascinating but I am glad that wasn't the direction they were taking, because realistically this isn't something that would happen. But it is the fact that despite them having a failed marriage these are still two people who care about each other and most importantly their child, and going through this strenuous and almost paradoxical circumstance of lawyering up and family court does not change that. It is these subtle moments that makes me absolutely adore Marriage Story.

Frozen II

The follow up to the massive hit Frozen
The follow up to the massive hit Frozen, comes an all new animation adventure in Frozen II. This film lives up to its predecessor and manages to hit many of the character development that one should wish to see in a follow up to a beloved animation movie. The new music numbers were great and the animation look better than ever. However, I did feel that some of the characters felt like they were being sidelined and as a result, did not get enough time to be fleshed out and develop as strongly as others did.

But, as the story is focusing on the relationship between the 2 sisters it is understandable that it may be inevitable. As such, it does tell this story wonderfully, showing us the dynamics of their relationship and how much they cared for each other despite being torn in what they wanted to pursue. I think it wonderfully shows us how family can support and be there for each other despite not reaching for the same goals, and that it doesn't matter that they may be heading in different directions, family is always there.

Queen & Slim

Loses its focus
Queen & Slim is the modern day Bonnie & Clyde story of a couple on a first date who end up being cop killers and go on the run. On paper I think it is an effective but generic story, which takes an interesting twist on the classic premise. Queen & Slim manages to accomplish that which it promised and then some, however, I did find some other aspects to on the nose.

The film starts off great, with a brilliant performance by Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya and a more distant and cold delivery from Jodie Turner-Smith that unfortunately turned me off. Despite this, Daniel Kaluuya carries this film and eventually the chemistry between the two won me back into this budding relationship as they continue on the run. From start to around the midpoint of the film I would describe Queen & Slim as an intense on the run film with tender and quiet moments of silence.

However, the second to last act begins to lose me as the sense of immediate danger is removed, and we see them travel from point to point as they slowly move towards their end goal. The film almost seems to slow down and lose focus to deal with the impact of their actions and attempts to make social commentaries on racial descrimination and police brutality. While this is a very important message to examine I felt that it removes the audience from the main focus that is the bond between two characters, the execution was also too straightforward and predictable; I would have preferred a more subtle reference to these subjects, if any.

Despite of this, Queen & Slim is nonetheless a solid film, an interesting character study but unfortunately slightly deviates from the story it was trying to tell.

Zombieland: Double Tap

Back in Zombieland
The sequel to Zombieland was a brilliant follow up that continues dealing with the ragtag group that we saw in the first film and sees them try to be a family. There was fun, gory action as well as hilarious gags, what more could you ask for?

The main cast brought it once again, now all being high calibur actors and actresses, but still managing to recapture the sense of their characters. I did wish that Abigail Breslin's Little Rock got more to do though as she did end up being the sort of Mcguffin wit very little to do.

But at the end of the day, Zombieland: Double Tap was a fun watch, very funny and very exciting to follow along the journey of Wichita, Columbus, Tallahasse and Little Rock after so many years.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Fun but by the books, it is what it is in this age of sequels and live action remakes
This was a fine follow up to the first live action spin off of the classic Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty. It adds a lot more action and fantasy elements and tells a very standard by the books types story with the central message of acceptance and finding common ground with those whom we have our differences. Admittedly I remembered nothing about the first one, but this movie does a fair enough job to catch audiences up and ended up being a fun little family film.

This movie like the first lives and dies on Angelina Jolie's performance and once again she was great, balancing her evil side with the likeability possessed by a true protagonist. A decent and enjoyable watch but nothing too special or unexpected.

One Piece: Stampede

Best One Piece movie?
As the 20th anniversary movie for One Piece, this was for the fans, and as a fan, I absolutely loved it. The sheer amount of characters, callbacks and references makes Stampede one of if not the best One Piece movie out there. I have always found that the One Piece movies were usually lacking, probably because it is out of continuity and logistically it just creates a lot of problems, but in any case, this film just worked; from start to finish, wall to wall action and guest appearances, a salivating must watch for fans of One Piece.

The Lighthouse

Uncomfortable from start to finish
What a film, The Lighthouse makes you feel the intensity and claustrophobia from the beginning of the film and doesn't stop until the credits roll. From the way the film was shot and the incredible music and sound mixing this is one of the best films of the year. Shot in black and white and in an odd, squared projection the film immediately felt foreign and different. It only gets more and more uneasy as the cast of Wilem Dafoe and Robbert Pattinson give stellar and flawless performances.

This was a stylistic bombardment and a cinematic experience, the film sucks you in, chews you and spits you back out as audiences are mesmerised and stuck in the world of the film. As the main characters slowly descend into conflict and madness, as an audience you feel that saem slow descent, with obscure shots and an air of untrustworthy characters stumble about on the screen.

This film is not for everyone as it is blakc and white and it does take some very obscure turns that could be a turn off for some. But I don't believe The lighthouse was being pretentious, but really just trying to create an engaging and surrounding film that evokes feelings of anxiety, and if audiences are willing to give it a shot they definitely should, it has great performances, is visually interesting and has an ambiguous ending that would leave viewers contemplating its true meaning for years to come.

Manbiki kazoku

the family brought together by circumstance
Shoplifters is a Japanese movie about a group of misfits come together to form a makeshift family. Shoplifter had really great performances from the adult actors to the child actors who manage to capture the aspects of their characters wonderfully.

Shoplifters is a movie about how people who are lost and marginalised by society, but does not present them in a negative light per se; there was a sense of comradery that turns into familial love and unconditional support amongst the members of the 'family'. The film pacts a strong emotional impact that remind me a lot of another Japanese film 'Granny Gabai' which looks at a child who is sent away from his parents to live with his grandma. There is that same sense of love and support amongst those who are marginalised.

By the end of the movie, Shoplifters leaves its viewers bawling, with its honest depiction of life on the edge of Japanese society and its social commentary, Shoplifters is truly a special movie that does its best to show us an unseen side of Japan.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast and Furious continues to roll on
Hobbs and Shaw, taking the two most entertaining parts of the Fast and Furious franchise, throws them together and gives us this. Hobbs and Shaw was, entertaining, it brings us the over the top action, all the talk about family and a pretty good performance by Venessa Kirby. But the highlight of the movie was the constant one liners between Hobbs and Shaw, by far the most entertaining part of the movie.

This is a franchise that has been played to death at this point but at least for now they are still finding ways to make interesting over the top action while racking in plenty of money; so, I guess there's no stopping this fast and furious train now.

Fighting with My Family

Paige's rise as a WWE superstar
FIghting with my family is the story of WWE superstar Paige and how she navigated the pro wrestling world of WWE to become a bonafide superstar of the wrestling world. As a wrestling fan who has seen and known of Paige's journey in WWE it was interesting to see the cinematic recreation of the familiar story.

I think the film was very well in showing non fans what wrestling is about, it is a very good introduction that makes it easier for people who are unfamiliar with the sports. In fact, it was very much a feel good sports movie that follows the formula of the underdog who comes out on top.

Fighting with my family is a fun and feel good movie that is packaged within the context of a wrestling ring.


Another DC entry with a different tone
Shazam is a fun and exciting action adventure about the newest addition to the DCEU, Shazam. There isn't much more to it, but if you're simply looking for a fun, action packed movie this one is just it. Much like Ant man was to the MCU, Shazam also provides the comedic breath of fresh air that the DC films were lacking. Shazam is a perfect film for the family, bringing a more child centric voice to the more 'serious', 'sombre' tone of the DCEU.

It is exciting to see just what role Shazam could play in the future of this property that is still trying to find its footing and the perfect direction for its movies.


Evil superman
Brightburn is the horror film that basically asks the question, what if Superman was evil? It's an interesting idea that has been explored in the comics but dials up on the visual effects and gore. Brightburn had an interesting pitch on paper, but in execution didn't really manage to explore its themes meaningfully. It was an entertaining horror film but did little to really think about what it is that motivates the characters, there are limited character development and unfortunately it makes such a character driven piece fall flat.


Straight out of a dream
Paprika is the Japanese anime by Satoshi Kon, one of Japan's most prolific anime artists and directors. Paprika is a wonderful display of visual representation and the exploration of dreams. The way that the dream sequences were presented were layered so intricately, there is a sense of order to the chaos that Satoshi Kon paints in his dream sequences that was both visually stunning and meaningful to the narrative.

Paprika tackles the idea of dreams very well, it presents dreams in such that dreams are actualized and a physical manifestation in reality. It explores what it means to have dreams, and the effect of when our dreams and reality begins to blend together.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

Tarantino returns
Tarantino's latest film starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie has been hyped up for ages and was one of my most anticipated films of the year. To a certain extent the Tarantino esque filmmaking style is definitely a stable of this movie,from the over the top violence and dialogue to the small details seen in Tarantino's film. Once upon a time in Hollywood definitely delivered the familiar dose of Tarantino's style that was definitely the main draw and what I liked most about this movie.

However, outside of that I did find that the pay off and converging storylines did not deliver the impact that most of Tarantino's movies do. It unfortunately ended up being rather bland and inconsequential, seemingly shoehorning in the Manson storyline for the sake of doing so, and writing an alternate history for the sake of doing so; rather than letting the characters drive the story.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had great performances and tried introduced themes of duality and facade. Taking on the superficial 'look' of the glamorous Hollywood era of movie stars and examines this cultural phenomenon closely, however pales in comparison with Tarantino's impressive filmography.

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Pure and authentic
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a movie about a young man with down syndrome, Zak who runs away to try to achieve his dreams of becoming a wrestler. I really enjoyed this film for what it represented, it is the few times like this where cinema can provide not only an entertaining experience but an experience that goes well beyond that where the beauty of this artform lies. The Peanut Butter Falcon is a story about belief, family and the pureness of hearts.

I think the movie wonderfully casted Shia Labeouf and Dakota Johnson, both actors have faced their fair share of controversy. Dakota Johnson, known mostly from her involvement in the infamous fifty Shades of Grey franchise gets to show her reserved side and gives a sophisticated performance that washes away all the negative reputation from her previous film roles. Shia Labeouf on the other hand has a much greater lesson learned from his involvement here. Starting off as a child actor and getting fame from being in the Transformers franchise, it has been a while since he has been in a major film role; becoming an internet meme certainly has not supported that downwards spiral in his career. It seemed like for a moment there Labeouf's career in Hollywood is at the end of the line, but this movie, seeing his character's transformation just by being with the incredible presence of Zak brings a newfound authenticity to his performance. There is something raw and transformative in his role here that almost goes beyond the fictional on screen character but almost seems to show his real life turn.

The film centers around wrestling and as a wrestling fan I would like to share my perspective on the matter. Wrestling has had its days in the early 90s but since then it has been seen as overly choreographed, gimmicked or even childish. After the so-called 'kayfabe' has gone wrestling fans are constantly being challenged with 'don't you know that it is fake?'That age old question that we all love, I think The Peanut Butter Falcon handles this very well, in discussing the theme of authenticity, dreams and beliefs. Incorporating Zak's childlike nature and imagination into the notion that in wrestling, its truly about conveying belief. Wrestling is not about fooling the fans into believing in something that is not true, but to pull out the real and authentic emotions by a delicately choreographed performance between two performers. Which is why oftentimes the best matches and storylines are those that incorporate the real lives and events of the wrestler.

The Peanut Butter Falcon smartly deals with this, and presents it in a way that is so pure and heartfelt, overall it was a very enjoyable and feel good type movie. So, unless you hate having that warm fuzzy feeling that gives you that uncontrollable grin, this movie is for you.

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