Encanto (2021)

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A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers. (IMDb)
Magical, colourful, and full of life, in every way possible. Between the animated house and fantastic animation, the enchanting music and enchanted characters, every brick and bridge and Bruno (I won’t talk about him though) delights. Just as impressive is the nuanced family portrait at its foundations that doesn’t shy away from tragedy (see the opening and then flashback to fleeing by the river) or brokenness (“You’re the one breaking our home!”) before its beautiful build up to the end.
8/10 (Great)

Marie Antoinette (2006)

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The retelling of France’s iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and ultimately the fall of Versailles. (Letterboxd)
Very stylish, with great cinematography and a pop soundtrack that perfectly peppers the lavish period-piece setting. Story-wise, the slow opening act intrigues as quiet Marie is made pawn in a publicized political chess match, but the unfocused next two acts fail to generate any momentum. They sit better in out-the-carriage-window hindsight (the forced reign of a teen queen is bound to be messy) but more consistency and depth in the one of the character or plot threads would have been nice.
7/10 (Good)

Titanic (1997)

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101-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story of her life aboard the Titanic, 84 years later. (Letterboxd)
SPOILERS AHEAD
A treasure-hunting team recruits an old woman to help them find a necklace in the ocean. They fly her over and she proceeds to move her entire life’s possessions on board before telling them a very long story that does not help them at all. Then we find out she had the necklace the whole time but she doesn’t tell them this and instead drops it in the ocean. Hilariously baffling narrative framework aside, the titular story in the middle is a good one: grandly romantic, exciting, and well-filmed.
7/10 (Good)

The Dressmaker (2015)

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In 1950s Australia, beautiful, talented dressmaker Tilly returns to her tiny hometown to right wrongs from her past. As she tries to reconcile with her mother, she starts to fall in love while transforming the fashion of the town. (Letterboxd)
The typical shoot-em-up climaxes of revenge thrillers can’t hold a candle to the excellent ending here, as the just desserts are served in fabulous fashion with ingredients like hash brownies, red carpets, costumes, Kate Winslet, pools of blood, and towns on fire. The rest of the story is great too (save for a bit of sag in the second act romance) with its darkly comedic small-town-whodunnit vibe and memorable characters (love that the sargeant with a secret is given a meaningful arc).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Tin Can (2020)

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As the world faces a deadly plague, a parasitologist wakes up imprisoned in a tiny, spherical containment pod and must figure out who placed her there and why. (Letterboxd)
A visually striking, conceptually interesting sci-fi with a great lead performance, cool score, and impactful ending to boot (the blooming flower and “Maybe tomorrow”). The titular setting, its retro-futuristic surroundings (1950s alien suit vibes for sure), and corresponding plot are a little plodding and drab at times compared to the compelling dramatic flashbacks but they have their golden/gross moments too (see Fret’s excruciating wake-up, the unique cross section shots of the pod).
7/10 (Good)

Little Women (1994)

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The March sisters live and grow in post-Civil War America. (IMDb)
The completion of Jo’s romantic arc doesn’t sit quite right but that’s about the only thing that feels off (well, that and Bale’s goatee) in this cohesive and cozy (but still poignant and emotional: see the gift for Beth) family journey through life and love and the blasted patriarchy (“You should have been a lawyer, Miss March” “I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer”). Dunst’s adorable Amy and Ryder’s moody Jo (“I just know I’ll never fit in anywhere”) are two standout turns.
7/10 (Good)

Dune (2021)

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Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. (Letterboxd)
The Messiah narrative thread with Paul and the Fremen is a bit white-saviour-y, but will hopefully be nipped in the bud in the sequel, and the plot is otherwise excellent: a twisting tapestry of planet-hopping politics, breathtaking sci-fi/action, moody mysticism, and compelling coming-of-age/family drama fare. Strongly acted (Paul and parents in particular), with incredible sound and visuals (lots of big, immersive movie moments–the nighttime assault on Arrakeen being one highlight).
8/10 (Great)

Deep Impact (1998)

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A seven-mile-wide space rock is hurtling toward Earth, threatening to obliterate the planet. Now, it’s up to the president of the United States to save the world. He appoints a tough-as-nails veteran astronaut to lead a joint American-Russian crew into space to destroy the comet before impact. Meanwhile, an enterprising reporter uses her smarts to uncover the scoop of the century. (Letterboxd)
Unfortunately, 90s cheese ages better with action fare than with drama, or else I could’ve complimented this film on going for a more character-focused approach to its apocalyptic proceedings. As it is, it’s full of cringe-worthy relationship moments (see the weird teen marriage and estranged father-daughter who had one good day on a beach when she was 5 so I guess that’s all we need to care about them hugging on a beach as the world ends??) that threaten to ruin the epic spectacle and story.
5.5/10 (Poor)

Rocky (1976)

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When world heavyweight boxing champion, Apollo Creed wants to give an unknown fighter a shot at the title as a publicity stunt, his handlers choose palooka Rocky Balboa, an uneducated collector for a Philadelphia loan shark. Rocky teams up with trainer Mickey Goldmill to make the most of this once in a lifetime break. (Letterboxd)
A great character study: Rocky is a quiet, soft soul (his refusal to let Adrian leave is cringey though) prone to passionate, long-winded rants (his one to Marie misses the mark, but see his rambling rejection of Mickey before the quiet jog out afterwards); he punches cow carcasses to train for boxing bouts before heading to the pet store to buy food for his turtles. He doesn’t care about fame or money or victory, he just wants to “go the distance” and find his love (see the excellent ending).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Bachelorette (2012)

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Three friends are asked to be bridesmaids at a wedding of a woman they used to ridicule back in high school. (Letterboxd)
Really hard to enjoy, thanks to unlikeable main characters, uninteresting hijinks, and distasteful attempts at humour. It seems to be a problem in tone management though, because underneath its sickening candy comedy shell is a rather intriguing web of dark character drama (see the eating disorder cover-up, drug addiction, and tale of a suicide attempt). The overdose to ambulance ride sequence feels like it finds the right groove but it’s overshadowed by a shallow shrug-it-off ending.
5.5/10 (Poor)