Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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“This didn’t put an end to shit, you fucking retard; this is just the fucking start. Why don’t you put that on your Good Morning Missouri fucking wake up broadcast, bitch?”

 

  • What is this movie about? three_billboards_outside_ebbing_missouri_ver3

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

 

  • Why should you (absolutely) watch it?

New year, new race to get as many awards as possible. Having the Golden Globes gone by, now it’s time to race for the big prize: the Oscars and this movie is going to be in that race and probably take some awards too, which it has already started to do.

The movie starts with a simple concept: a girl was murdered and her mother is tired of waiting for the police to do something, so she comes up with the brilliant idea to use three huge billboards as pressure for the police department to keep moving on with the investigation. Being it a script from director Martin McDonagh, which has us used to interesting ones, the movies doesn’t disappoint at all. On the contrary, at the beginning one thinks that the plot is going to one way but is it going to another one and at a different path, and before you know the story comes to an end and you want to watch more of it, see of what happens. Because if we know something, is that no Martin McDonagh movie is predictable.

Moving to the amazing cast: Frances McDormand is the movie. She is just so awesome in her role that you completely forget about anything else. Nothing else matters, only her. She does a brilliant performance that will end for sure with many awards on her shelf (she has started to collect them). She portrays this mother who has lost a child in a not so typical way. We are used to witness angry, desperate, moody mothers but in here the sole point is anger. Anger that she expresses in all possible ways and even though it’s not something to laugh about, you might find some hilariously situations because of how unbelievable are. Unbelievable in the good sense. And her performance shine anything thanks to a good cast of supporting actors, making a special mention to Sam Rockwell who is the one that keeps the action going on, who spurs the fire.

This is a remarkable movie that shouldn’t be forgotten to watch nor should we make the mistake of thinking that because it is creating a hype, it is going to be a bad one. It has a wonderful cast and a great plot, that might sound familiar to many other movies but it is not. It will give you a surprise once you have watched it and you will understand why is it going to shake this year’s award season.

 

  • Did you know?

– McDonagh was inspired to write the movie after seeing billboards about an unsolved crime while traveling “somewhere down in the Georgia, Florida, Alabama corner”.

– Martin McDonagh wrote the screenplay with Frances McDormand as the lead role in mind.

– Frances McDormand was hesitant to take the role when it was offered, but was eventually convinced by her husband, Joel Coen: “Because at the time he gave it to me I was 58… I was concerned that women from this socioeconomic strata did not wait until 38 to have their first child. So we went back and forth and we debated that quite for a while, and then finally my husband said, ‘Just shut up and do it.'”

– The town where the movie is filmed is actually a small mountain town in western North Carolina called Sylva.

– Gala Screening on the 14th edition of Dubai International Film Festival, screened on 11th December 2017.

– Won four Golden Globes: Best Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.

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Star Wars. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

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” I only know one truth: It’s time for the Jedi… to end.”

  • What is this movie about? star_wars_the_last_jedi_ver9

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

 

[BEWARE OF SPOILERS]

  • Why should you watch it?

Here we have (finally) Episode VIII of this space saga! And while some critics are saying this is the best movie of the whole saga, I beg to differ: nothing can compare to the original trilogy, and nothing can  be better than The Empire Strikes Back (ESB), so sorry. That said, here comes my critical review and again, beware of spoilers!

The movie as a whole is good and entertaining one. The story picks up mere seconds after the end of The Force Awakens (TFA) and here we are shown two and a half hours of pure Star Wars entertaining, which I felt it was a bit too long even though there were many open story paths that we as an audience follow that needed to be closed and new ones that were opening. As for the opening, it starts pretty similar like the one in ESB where we had the epic Battle for Hoth, where the rebels had to flee from the planet and here this is happening again: the Resistance needs to flee from the First Order but they do here in a less victorious way, and it takes them the whole movie to get away with it (sort of), even though the survivors are only a bunch of people. Most epic scene? Leia using the force (finally we get to see it!!). But besides it, it looks like everything is a mess for the Resistance as the First Order is only winning step by step and they are just running away and losing people, kind of depressing if you think about it.

Then there is all the Rey and Luke plot, which reminds us again of the ESB; when Luke goes to find Yoda so he can train him. Here, besides the almost inexistent training and a guest appearance by Master Yoda, we are faced with Rey connecting all the time with Kylo Ren, who tries to persuade her to join him and rule the galaxy… er… be rulers of the First Order. And as like in Return of the Jedi (ROTJ) she goes to meet him and try to change him, which for a moment it looks like he will, as he kills Snoke (or was it Darth Sidious?) to save her but then he isn’t that good. Speaking about Snooke… what a waste of a character! But at least he died like old Darth Maul. He appeared and disappeared faster than we can say Jar Jar and we have no clue about his background, such a pity.

Going back to Luke, he is like a grumpy old man who wants to end the Jedi history. Why? We don’t know, but he is stressed out. What we do know is, that it is his fault that Ben became Kylo as he foresaw the future, much like Anakin saw Padme dying of childbirth. At the end of the movie Luke finally does something good and we get to see some Jedi battle, only to finish with Luke’s death. Which makes us wonder if there is a pattern there: Episode VII = bye bye Han. Episode VIII = bye bye Luke. Episode IX = bye bye Leia? We’ll have to wait two years to get our answer.

Then we have the Flinn and Rose subplot, which for a moment it reminded me of The Phantom Menace (TPM), but instead of flying machine we have lovely animals. Was this plot needed? Probably not. Because in the end what they do is kind of useless for the Resistance, but we needed some funny moments in the movie and they are the responsible to do so. And for Finn to face Phasma for the last time (or is it not?).

Finally, there is the final scene. That little boy accioing his broom and almost flying like Harry Potter into the horizon. Does it confirm that Rey parents are a nobody, like Kylo Ren tells her? Hopefully the answers will come in 2019. Above all the movie is way better than TFA where new questions are left in the air for us to think about their answers. More than a continuation of the story, the movie closes the previous storyline and begins a new story which will end in Episode IX; instead of being a bridge between the first and the third movies of the trilogy. As a final note, the music is fantastic and as a true fan you will feel really nostalgic with it and with the many references and easter eggs that appear. Plus, we love porgs.

 

 

  • Did you know?

– The film was released over forty years after Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) and marked the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars film franchise.

– With a running time of 152 minutes, this is the longest movie of the Star Wars saga. The previous record was held by Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), with 142 minutes.

– The original release date was May 26, 2017. However, in January of 2016, the film’s release was rescheduled for December 15, 2017, based on how successful Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) was releasing in December

– Luke Skywalker mentions “Darth Sidious” by name, the only throwback to a name that only appeared in the Prequel Trilogy (Though Darth Sidious does appear in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” he is only referred to as Emperor Palpatine). It is likely that Luke learned the Sith title of Palpatine by conversing with the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan or Yoda sometime between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Last Jedi.”

– This is the first “Star Wars” film to use a flashback structure. Previous entries had always used Force visions to allow exposition. star_wars_the_last_jedi_ver10

– This was the eighth Star Wars film to be composed by John Williams.

– Director Rian Johnson admits that he moved Kylo Ren’s facial injury. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rey slices his face with her light saber, giving him a laceration that goes across the bridge of his nose. In this film, the injury has scabbed over, but is now over his right eye. Johnson says a scab over his nose did not look right. Coincidentally, the placement of the scar matches a similar injury on Anakin Skywalker, in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005).

– The scene with the “ship” that turns out to be a clothes iron is likely a tribute to “Hardware Wars”, a spoof short made after the original Star Wars was released.

– General Lea Organa’s Mon Calamari cruiser bears the name “Raddus,” named for the character of Admiral Raddus in Rogue One (2016).

– The creatures known as Porgs are never actually mentioned by name on screen.

 

– Lawrence Kasdan initially wrote a story outline for the film, but was called away to work on Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) when problems arose with that film’s initial script. When Rian Johnson signed on as director, he requested to be allowed to scrap Kasdan’s story and write his own script from scratch, to which the producers consented, as Kasdan’s outline no longer matched up with the finished storyline of the previous film.

– This was Carrie Fisher’s final film due to her death in December 2016.

– None of Carrie Fisher’s scenes in the movie were cut out following her death in 2016.

– After the breakthrough CGI that was displayed in Rogue One for recreating long gone actors, the filmmakers of this film saw fit to issue statements ahead of release, shutting down any speculations (or worries) on the possibility of such a technology being used for the late Carrie Fisher. In short, all her scenes (barring the stunts) are categorically hers, including the dialogue.

 

– Carrie Fisher was also a well-known writer, whose services were often called upon to act as script doctor for other films. She later began declining such assignments when producers would solicit her story ideas, then hire someone else to actually change the script, and use her ideas without paying her. However, director Rian Johnson revealed that Fisher helped with the writing of the script for this film.

– This was the first film in the series in which Kenny Baker was not involved in the portrayal of R2-D2. Jimmy Vee was given the job, shortly before Baker’s death.

– Joaquin Phoenix turned down the role that eventually went to Benicio Del Toro.

– It is rumoured that British Princes, William and Harry filmed cameo appearances in the film as stormtroopers.

 

Murder on the Orient Express

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“Everyone is a suspect”

  • What is this movie about? murder_on_the_orient_express_ver3

When a murder occurs on the train he’s travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.

 

  • Why should you (maybe not) watch this movie?

If you haven’t read the original novel nor have watched the 1974 movie, you will like the movie. But if you are an Agatha Christie’s fan or have done one of both before mentioned, there is a high chance that you won’t like the movie (as that is my case).

This movies highly differs form the original source material. Here we are presented with Poirot solving another case before embarking on the Orient Express. Then we are presented the characters in a very rushed way and finally the crime happens and the action begins. Yes, there is action. And the question we are all asking ourselves is: Since when Poirot and action are on the same page? Since now, apparently. Instead of following the path that the previous (and brilliant) installment did, which is: there is a murder, then we spend the whole movie solving it following Poirot inquisition; here there is too many adding that don’t add anything to the story: chases, going out of the train, going back in, questioning this one, questioning the other one, and worst of all: and indecisive and lovesick Poirot. And I can only ask: why!? Why!!!?

Then we have the whole cast. It is clear here that they wanted to do as in the old movie, bring a huge international known cast (more or less) and make a masterpiece. Sorry, but nope. Having many movie stars doesn’t mean having a good movie, and here we have the perfect case. Personally, none of the cast members gives a good performance of their characters. which is normal, seeing as they changed the characters and made them less interesting than in the novel.

Finally, there is the story. The character introduction is a bit of a mess up, pointing out things about the characters that are irrelevant and adding more things than necessary. Moreover, the whole movie too much americanized, it doesn’t have the tension or the interest that an Agatha Christie work would have: too much action, too many unnecessary kind of cliffhangers and the way of solving the mystery too rushed and too dramatic. Again, unnecessary.

The movie will be a unforgetable one with the time. If you really want to enjoy a good work, go watch the 1974’s version of Murder on the Orient Express, there you will appreciate what is reuniting a star cast. You can watch both trailers below to judge by yourselves.

 

 

 

  • Did you know?

–  Regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s greatest achievements, Murder on the Orient Express (2017) was first published as a novel in 1934.

– The very first publication of the story was in a six-installment serialisation in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 in the US, under the title, Murder on the Calais Coach.

– The original Orient Express route (from October 4, 1883) was from Paris to Giurgiu (Romania).

– The story was inspired partly by an incident in 1929 when the Orient Express was trapped in a blizzard in Çerkezköy, Turkey, where it was stranded for six days. Two years later Christie was involved in a similar scenario when she was travelling on the Orient Express and the train got stuck for a period of time due to heavy rainfall and flooding, which had washed away part of the track.

– In real life there was one actual murder on The Orient Express. Maria Farcasanu was robbed and murdered by Karl Strasser, who pushed her out of the moving train, one year after Agatha Christie’s book was published. Also, in 1950, Simon Karpe disappeared from the train under suspicious circumstances involving espionage; some elements inspired Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love.

– Much of the cast and extras are made up of Kenneth Branagh’s closest friends and acquaintances, with many of them having either been directed by Branagh in his previous projects, co-starred with Branagh in a film or theatre production, and/or have been a member of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.

– Penélope Cruz’s character is named Greta Ohlsson and is of Swedish descent in the original novel. The new name chosen for the character (Pilar Estravados) is taken from Agatha Christie’s 1938 novel ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’.

– Character positions in a shot near the end of the movie, with all the suspects sitting at a long table in the mouth of the tunnel mimics the exact positions of the figures in DaVinci’s painting “The Last Supper.”

– At the end of the movie, a messenger informs Poirot that he is needed in Egypt on solve a “death on the Nile”. Death On the Nile is the title of another Hercule Poirot mystery novel and upcoming movie.

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