‘When We First Met’ Is Your Typical Romantic Comedy

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Netflix has released many original movies this year, one of which being the romantic comedy When We First Met.

When We First Met tells the story of Noah, played by Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Workaholics), who is in love with his best friend Avery, played by Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch). Upset that the love of his life and best friend is about to marry another guy, Noah finds himself in the bar him and Avery went to the night they met. He gets into the photo booth at said bar, and it ends up taking him back in time to three years ago when the pair first met.

Noah then gets stuck in this loop of traveling back in time to figure out how he could change what he did to make Avery end up with him and not some other guy.

When I explain the plot I know it sounds totally ridiculous, and it is, but it does have a twist that you wouldn’t expect. I won’t spoil what it is, but I do think that twist is the most redeeming quality of the movie.

The plot of this movie is pretty typical with the whole friendzoned element, but at least it does something different with it.

Although this is not the funniest romantic comedy I’ve ever seen, I do honestly like the story. I found it entertaining. It did just what I wanted it to when I decided to watch it which was to provide me with 97 minutes of pure entertainment without having to think too much.

The acting in this movie is certainly nothing to rave about, but Devine is naturally a funny guy so that definitely works in the movie’s favor. But this isn’t meant to be a serious movie so lovable actors that can play the roles they’ve been given is really all you need.

Is this movie groundbreaking or Oscar worthy? No. But it wasn’t meant to be. It fulfills its purpose and that’s good enough for me.

Overall, if you’re like me and have a guilty pleasure for cheesy rom coms then grab yourself a bucket of popcorn and have a nice night in. However, if you’re looking for a serious movie with jaw dropping acting and some kind of commentary I would skip this Netflix original.


My Rating: 68%

Acting: 2.8/4

Cinematography: 2/4

Story: 3/4

Enjoyability: 3/4

 

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Ethan Hawke Transcends and Derails in ‘First Reformed’

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

So far this year filmmakers and actors have already brought us Oscar potential films and performances. First Reformed is that film and its star, Ethan Hawke, gave that performance. However, the story is what really draws an audience member in.

Hawke portrays Toller, the reverend of an old, overshadowed church, First Reformed. Dealing with issues of his own (alcoholism and cancer) he’s asked by churchgoer Mary (Amanda Seyfried) to speak to her radical, environmentalist husband Michael (Philip Ettinger) who becomes paranoid when Mary announces her pregnancy.

As he begins counseling him, Toller forms an obsession with climate, pollution, global warming, and other widely feared environmental dangers while questioning himself, his faith, and his ethics. It’s a period of transcendence for the reverend that progressively overtakes him and devolves into something more – something much darker.

Christian symbolism plays a large part in First Reformed considering religion is the entire basis for the plot. Not only does writer and director Paul Schrader highlight the most widely worshipped symbols from the Bible, but he also brings the most gruesome ones. Between a pregnant woman named Mary and Toller wrapping his bare body in barbed wire (Jesus in thorns), Schrader made sure we’d have those crystallized images embedded in our brains.

Throughout the film, Toller keeps a diary to express his thoughts and feelings (as most people do), but it also shows the inner workings of his mind and how different it is to his outer self. He’s calm, timorous, and small on the outside, while being meticulous and self-deprecating on the inside. The reserved and religious man worries himself with ailments of others and the world instead of the well-being of his own. He even plots to sacrifice himself via suicide vest in order to “save” others with the exception of destroying a few lives to do so.

The portrayal of this character is so sincere that by the end, Hawke isn’t just “playing” Rev. Toller. He is Rev. Toller.

First Reformed leaves the audience intrigued and rattled with its daunting performances and story that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend how one can create such a masterpiece.


My Rating: 98%

Acting: 4/4

Cinematography: 4/4

Story: 4/4

Enjoyability: 3.7/4

Film Forecast Friday: June 1st

On Friday June 1st we have…

1. Adrift

2. Upgrade

3. Action Point

4. American Animals

5. A Kid Like Jake

Julia’s Predictions:

This is an interesting week because for the first time in a while there are no big blockbusters being released. Out of the movies that are being released I think Adrift will have the biggest box office numbers. It has notable actors Shailene Woodley (Fault in Our Stars, Divergent) and Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Hunger Games) in it and I’ve seen a lot of marketing for it.

I think Action Point and Upgrade will do alright. I haven’t heard too much about either of them, but Action Point has Johnny Knoxville (Jackass) in it which will likely bring out audiences. Also, Upgrade is a Blumhouse Productions film and those tend to do well.

American Animals is absolutely amazing and I strongly recommend you go see it. We have already reviewed it, so if you need any more convincing to go see it check out our review!

Finally, A Kid Like Jake which honestly I didn’t know was a movie until today. It has Jim Parsons in it so maybe it will attract some Big Bang Theory fans?

Anthony’s Predictions:

I am beyond excited for Adrift with Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. This will also be the moneymaker for the week at the box office, even if it will not make quite as much as previous weeks.

I have heard so much about American Animals that I’ve gotten very excited to see it. It has such a unique group of actors in it (including Evan Peters!) so I know that I’ll enjoy it already.

I definitely forgot Action Point and Upgrade were even coming out this week. I don’t really have a high opinion on them but I believe they will do about the same at the box office.

A Kid Like Jake won’t be too crazy spectacular, but should be fun because of Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, as he is in it.

‘RBG’: The Queen of Law

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

Let me just start out by saying that this is absolutely one of my favorite documentaries that I have ever seen.

RBG, which tells the story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, quickly turned into the story of the history of the fight for gender equality. This is for a number of reasons. First, Justice Ginsburg spent her entire young life in law studying gender discrimination. This, in itself, created the basis of what she believes.

Granted this has caused a few problems between her, her fellow justices, and the majority. Some people may believe that she had it relatively easy at first as she was always delivering the majority opinion. It became significantly more difficult when George W. Bush was elected into office.

She became the queen of dissenting opinions, the Notorious RBG.

This documentary featured interviews from Justice Ginsburg, those obsessed with her, and even former president Bill Clinton. It also developed the story regarding her relationship with her husband of fifty plus years, Martin Ginsburg, who rapidly became her happy place, serving as the outgoing spokesperson she couldn’t be for herself. The two made it a rule to never give each other advice on things the other did not know.

Between that story as well as numerous case examples, RBG brought a new light to what it’s like to be the minority in the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg promises to do this job until she can no longer physically bare it. And that, right there, is the Supreme Court Justice we knew we needed but never fully appreciated.


My Rating: 91%

Direction: 3.6/4

Cinematography: 3.6/4

Story: 3.7/4

Enjoyability: 3.7/4

Wandering ‘On Chesil Beach’

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Anthony Peyton

On Chesil Beach is a beautifully frustrating film adapted by Ian McEwan based on his novel of the same name that follows a young couple during the summer of 1962 as they explore life as newlyweds.

It is mid-summer when Edward (performed by Billy Howle) and Florence (performed by Saoirse Ronan) have just been married and are spending their honeymoon at Chesil Beach. The first scene follows the young couple as they take a leisurely walk along Chesil Beach holding hands and appearing seemingly in love until they return to the hotel and things begin to fall apart.

It becomes clear that both Edward and Florence come from vastly different backgrounds as they desire different things and have opposite expectations for how things should be as a married couple. This difference in expectation is first alluded to when Edward wishes to consummate the marriage while Florence does not wish to, as she is fearful of what may happen. As the movie progresses, the tension present between Florence and Edward only seems to magnify as Florence becomes more frustrated, even slightly angered and Edward becomes more passionate.

Just when Edward and Florence are about to consummate the marriage, Florence makes clear she is still not interested and becomes further frustrated with Edward for being insensitive to her needs. While McEwan lacked in effectively exploring the reasons for Florence’s anxiety, Ronan gave an incredible performance that allowed the audience to understand Florence on a deeper level.

Even though McEwan directed this movie based on his own novel, the film did not appear to fully explain the details necessary for understanding both Edward’s perspective as well as Florence’s perspective in a manner that the novel would have. This is partly due to the fact that a film can only be so long and is not able to explain the brevity of a story.

McEwan definitely struggled to fill in the hidden details and rushed the film by focusing largely on the beginning of their marriage and then suddenly skipping ahead to a few years later when Edward and Florence are older. There is a lack of consistency and authenticity with the details McEwan decided to include and the details he decided not to include. Despite the discrepancies between the novel and the film, it was still a poignantly beautiful, yet fragile film that I highly recommend for others to watch.


My Rating: 83.1%

Acting: 3.5/4

Cinematography: 3.8/4

Story: 2.5/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

The Mesmerizing, Grace-filled ‘Moonlight’

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Surprise! The film for this Time Warp Tuesday happens to be the Oscar award-winning film ‘Moonlight’. That’s goes without saying, this happens to come after the La La Land review from two weeks prior, which is suggestive of La La Land accidentally being announced as winner for Best Picture. A moment that would not soon be forgotten in Oscar history.

Considering Moonlight won Best Picture, it is highly likely that many are aware of this groundbreaking film. For those who have not yet heard of this film or have chosen not to see it, I highly recommend for all to do so.

Based on the unpublished play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight chronicles separate stages in the life of a young, gay black man, Chiron, growing up in Miami, Florida. Each chapter displayed throughout the film is portrayed by separate actors and are presented as his youth (Little), adolescence (Chiron), and early adult life (Black). As a coming-of-age film, written and directed by Barry Jenkins starring Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, and Janelle Monae among others is a beautiful presentation of what it is like to be a young, black man growing up in America. Another interesting piece of this film relates Jenkins and McCraney, as the story is a mere reflection of specific moments within each of their lives as they grew up in Miami.

Within the first chapter, Juan finds Chiron, or Little, hiding from a group of bullies and allows him to spend the night at his place where Janelle Monae as Teresa, the girlfriend of Juan, is introduced. Despite Chiron returning to his mother, Juan and Chiron continue to spend time together and eventually Chiron admits he hates his mother. This stage in Chiron’s life is patchy and marked by Little being taunted for being ‘different’ in the eyes of his classmates. As a teenager, Chiron continues to struggle with being bullied and understanding who he is. Once Chiron reaches adulthood he goes by the nickname ‘Black’ and revisualizes previous wet dreams he had of one of his earlier classmates, Kevin. He returns to Miami to visit his mother and then reunites with Kevin. The two embrace one another as Chiron recalls standing on the beach in the moonlight.

Throughout the film, there are many aesthetically pleasing and simply breathtaking moments in which one cannot help but be in awe of the brilliant minds behind this masterpiece. From the beginning, it is clear that this is no ordinary film with a cliche meaning. It goes far beyond surface level in order to better display the challenges faced growing up in America as a black, gay child.

One of the most memorable moments in Moonlight is during the beach scene. It is raw and real, it solidifies the bond between Chiron and Juan, performed by Mahershala Ali, whom becomes a father figure for Chiron. During this scene, Chiron and Juan are seen playing in the water and then found sitting by the waves overlooking the beach when Juan tells Chiron, “at some point you gonna have to decide who you want to be, you can’t let somebody else make that decision for you.” Although a seemingly insignificant moment to many, this moment details concisely an important message within this film. It signifies the journey Chiron is on for the entirety of the film, as he is becoming who he is meant to be and creating his own path in life all while grappling with the difficulties of growing up.

Moonlight is a monumental film in that in winning Best Picture, it has now become the first film with an all-black cast and the first LBGT film to ever win Best Picture. It’s quite sad that it’s taken this long to do so, and alludes to the notion that while we have made a lot of progress, we still have so much more to make.

‘American Animals’: A Brilliant Portrayal of a True Story

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

American Animals is one of my favorite films I’ve seen this year. From the way the story is told, to the brilliant acting, I absolutely loved it.

American Animals tells the true story of four college students, played by Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Jared Abrahamson, and Blake Jenner, who attempt to carry out an art heist.

This film is one of the best tellings of a true story I have ever seen. They have the unique element of having the actual people talking about what they remember from the heist and what happened leading up to it, and then the actors act it out. This unique way of breaking the fourth wall is similar to that of I, Tonya which featured interviews, but in American Animals it is from the actual people themselves.

I loved this element of the film because it gave the story more credibility to have the actual people guiding the story. Also, if some of the actual people remembered the story differently the actors would act out both versions which I found to be the most honest telling of the story the filmmakers could possibly give.

The direction in this film, done by Bart Layton, was phenomenal. The way it was shot worked to convey the emotion of a certain part of the film. For most of the film the shots were slow and calculated to illustrate the calm meticulous planning of this heist, yet during and after the heist the shots shifted to fast and frantic to illustrate the panic and frenzy following the heist.

Honestly, Evan Peters deserves an Academy Award for his performance in this film. He plays Warren, who is basically the mastermind and driving force behind the heist. His character is quite complex as he is seen as simple minded by society, yet plans out this whole art heist. Not only is he emotionally all over the place, but he provides a lot of the comedic relief throughout the film and Peters does this perfectly. Which is especially evident when you see an interview with the real Warren switch over to Evan Peters acting out a scene.

This film really had balance. It had intrigue, as it was based on a true story. It had comedic relief throughout the film, and it had the right amount of intensity and suspense that kept you on the edge of your seat.

 
American Animals comes out on June 1st, and if you don’t see it you are really missing out on one of the most intriguing and brilliantly told films based on a true story.


My Rating: 94%

Acting: 4/4

Cinematography: 3.7/4

Story: 3.8/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4