Wadjda – Film Review

An enterprising Saudi girl signs on for her school’s Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest.  –IMDb

I first heard about this film through Girls’ Globe, a site dedicated to raising awareness and educating others on global issues about the rights, health, and empowerment of women and girls.

Wadjda is the first feature fully filmed in Saudi Arabia. Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first woman from Saudi Arabia to direct a feature film. This was not an easy task. Women are not supposed to work with men in public. Haifaa directed all exterior scenes from the inside of a van. She watched the actors on monitors and communicated with them via walkie-talkie. Nonetheless, she received government approval to complete the film in the country. Although cinemas are not permitted in the country, audiences can see the film on television.

Wadjda is one of my favorite films this year. The film is thought provoking. It carries a heartfelt message about what it means to grow up as a woman in a country where women have plenty of restrictions. For example, women in the kingdom are not allowed to drive. Wadjda wishes for a bike, but she’s constantly told that girls “should not drive bikes.” The notion of a giving a girl a bike is frown upon by society. “You will not be able to have children,” her mom tells her when Wadjda persists on getting a bike. It’s a beautiful metaphor about a girl’s pursue for agency in her society, to make her own destiny, and find her voice.

It features great actors. Waad Mohammed plays Wadjda, a ten years old girl living with her mother in a middle class suburb. Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah (Wadjda’s mother) deliver a wonderful performance. The moments between mother and daughter are sweet and transcend all cultural differences.

This film depicts the life of men and women under the politics and spaces given to them in their society. Wadjda’s mother is devoted to her husband, yet her movements are restricted to what’s expected of her as a married woman. She fears that she will lose her husband due to her invalidity to give him a son. Wadjda’s school plays a big role in enforcing gender restrictions, where a strict principal sets the rules and expectations how girls should behave.

Wadjda is now playing in selected theaters. I urge everyone to go and see this film. You will not be disappointed.

And no, this is not a “girl’s movie.” It’s a film about women’s issues, which happens to have a female lead. Please, do not feed on this idea that films about women (or female leads) are only for female viewers…  Plus, women watch plenty of superhero films. Go watch Wadjda. It’s a wonderful film

Also read: Dana Stevens’ Review

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Have You Met Jay Gatsby?

              Hello!  I’m back after a long and well needed break from blogging. Today we have a guest post by  Maggie’s Camera. A photographer and blogger. Check out her blog. Enjoy!

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The last time I was this excited for a film, it was The Dark Knight. I am a HUGE Christian Bale fan. I was absolutely captivated by the Heath Ledger tragedy, and I had grown fond of the Batman character as I got older. I am so excited. I think I send Steph a message about once a week reminding her that I am excited about it! Which led to me writing a guest post for this blog about the movie remake of The Great Gatsby.

In preparation for this post, I tried to watch the original 1974 movie version of The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford. (The Sting is probably one of my favorite “old timey” movies.) And ended up getting about an hour into it before I had to stop.

I had forgotten about how slow the beginning of the story was, and kept getting distracted while watching it. However, watching the 1974 version made me more excited for the movie for a variety of reasons.

Number 1: Baz Luhrmann, the director

Baz Luhrmann is known for his over the top style. When I think of Luhrmann as a director, Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet are the first films to come to my mind. Moulin Rouge is a wonderful movie, a work of art, and I can’t picture any other director being involved. On the other hand, Romeo + Juliet is a trainwreck. My friend, a theater major and Shakespeare enthusiasts, watched it with me for her first time, and she kept saying “what am I watching” over and over again and not in a pleasant way. So when you realize Luhrmann is directing a movie, you pause and wonder, “will this actually be a good film.” However, I think that doesn’t need to be the case with The Great Gatsby. The character, Jay Gatsby, himself was rather over the top and very showy. This comparison between the character Gatsby and Luhrmann’s directing style suggest that Luhrmann will enhance the story instead of pulling it into the realm of “how did this get made?”

Number 2: Leonardo DiCaprio

I had been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio even before I ever saw him in a movie. (I was unable to see Titanic and Romeo + Juliet in theaters). The image he projects in the media is a gentleman with excellent tastes. Most importantly, he’s lovable. These combinations of characteristics and people being enthralled by him match the Jay Gatsby character perfectly. I can’t imagine another actor in Leonardo’s age group playing this role. (George Clooney would have been the best choice 10 years ago, but not today). Hopefully this film will score DiCaprio the oscar he seems to always be shy of. (My theory is that one of the reasons they delayed the film was so Leo would not go against Daniel Day-Lewis’s amazing performance.)

Number 3: The Music

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Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures is an adaptation of the first novel in the popular Caster Chronicles series, written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. ~Imdb

I  was disappointed. Beautiful Creatures had good moments, but overall I can’t stop thinking that it could have been better.

Please, keep in mind that there are 24 book-to-movie adaptations expected this year (2013). I think many people expect that the Caster Chronicles will replace Twilight. Mainly, because these are supernatural “boy meets girl” stories, where mortals fall in love with immortals (vampires & witches/casters).

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Oscar Buzz 2013: Animated Films

Hello,

According to the Buzz, these are the four animated films predicted to earn Oscar nominations in 2013. I decided to post a short review on each.

1. Brave. One of the most anticipated animated films of the year. Perhaps, the most popular. Brave has a 79% audience rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. This is the story of Princess Merida, a young woman who creates her own destiny despite the customs of her kingdom. Merida is granted one wish, but she has to be brave to protect the people she loves.

Honestly, I saw teasers trailers for this movie early in 2011. I thought the story line was going to be different. I didn’t think she was going to use of magic to change her destiny. However, I enjoyed the story. This is a different princess. I love her wild red curly hair. She’s undoubtedly brave and confident enough to stand up for herself.

Written by: Brenda Chapman. Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell.

2. Wreck-It-RalphThis film has a 91 percent audience rating on the Rotten Tomatoes. Wreck-It-Ralph ((John C. Reilly) is a video game character tired of always being the bad guy. In hopes to change his life, he abandons his own game in hopes of turning around his fate. However, he ends up in Sugar Rush (another game), making friends with Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). Helping this girl shows him what it truly means to be a hero.

I must say that Jane Lynch did an amazing performance in this film doing the voice of Calhoun. She was funny and likable. It’s nice to see a woman kicking ass in a video game. All the characters in this movie are likable. I can’t complain. I liked this movie the best.

Written by: Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee. Directed by Rich Moore

3. ParaNormanNorman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) can see and talk to ghosts.He’s constantly bullied and laughed at for his abilities. However, he’s the only one who can save the city from a witch’s ancient curse. This is because he’s the only one who can see the dead.

A few of the scenes are too long for my taste (dragged). However, the film has many dramatic and impressive scenes. The graphics look fabulous, especially in the scenes in the graveyard, amongst the trees, and the encounter with Aggie (the witch). The film is a little dark. Definitely a horror movie, for kids.

Written by: Chris Butler and directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell. This movie has a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 76% percent.

4. Frankenweenie.  This film is another take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Young Victor Frankenstein (a younger version of Shelley’s main character played by Charlie Tahan) conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog, Sparky, back to life. However, he most face the consequences of his actions.

The film looks terrific in terms of graphics. It has beautiful cinematic scenes. The look of the film reminds me a little of another film written by Tim Burton, Nightmare Before Christmas.

This film has a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 79%. This is a Tim Burton film. Written by: Tim Burton and John August.

Thanks for reading,

Steph

Oscar Buzz 2013: Argo

(Possible Spoilers)

Argo is an adaptation/dramatization of the 1980 CIA extraction of six American diplomatic personal from revolutionary Iran. Clinton administration released information about the project during the Clinton administration.

Ben Affleck directs and plays the lead role of Tony Mendez, the CIA agent in charge of the operation. The film made $19,458,109 (USA) on opening night. It has a 94% audience rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Ben Affleck did a fantastic job directing this film. There was a sense of suspense, which is what you would expect from a thriller film.

The moment Tony (Affleck) arrives in Iran, he keeps finding bodies hanging from bridges and polls all over the city. It becomes clear to the audience this might be a foreshadow of Tony’s death. The bodies are event dressed as Tony. These subliminal messages of death kept me fidgeting throughout the duration of the film.

The end of the film was good. There is a complicated chase. Although the ending works for the story, I’m not sure if it is necessary for the audience’s entertainment. I don’t know why it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

Nonetheless, Affleck’s acting is good. He did a good job as Tony Mendez. This is a fresh and interesting look for him. He did a fantastic job directing film. There’s no doubt this film has Oscar Buzz all over it.

 

This film is rated R.

Thanks,

Steph

Oscars: Bridesmaids


The Academy Awards announced  the 2012 Oscars nominations last Monday. I wait for the announcements every year, hoping to recognize some of the nominees. This year, I’m quite happy to say that a comedy written by women and about women made it to the list.

Directed by Paul Feig, this film received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90 percent, and an audience rating of 76 percent.

Bridesmaids will always bring good memories to me because I was fortunate enough to see it with my friends during my last year of college. Bridesmaids was the last movie we watched together before going our different ways.

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The Descendants

(NO SPOILERS)

Alright, let’s get straight to the point. The Oscars nominations will be announced next week.

Therefore, I studied the Golden Globes winners’ list for a clue of possible Oscar nominees.

The Descendants has become a favorite. Alexander Payne directed this film and he’s known for his satire and dark humor.  The Descendants made 1, 190, 096 dollars on its opening weekend. It has a 89 percent at the Rotten Tomatoes website, with an audience rating of 82 percent.

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