‘Weathering With You’: A Noble Directorial Effort From Makoto Shinkai

Director Makoto Shinkai returns with his latest film since 2016’s Your Name which seems to miss its footing.

CREDIT: WYFP

In Weathering With You, Hodaka Morishima a runaway teenage boy meets Hina Amano an orphaned teenage girl who can control the weather. The rest is no different from the average film from Makoto Shinkai. This seems to be the problem prevalent throughout the picture. Where one expects Shinkai to take risks and do something different it’s met with redundancy in the most captivating way.

As always the film is accompanied by an incredible score by the RADWIMPS and some incredible animation. Weathering With You includes interesting themes about gun violence and climate change that make for a nuanced movie.

Sadly there is not much more to write home about Weathering With You and follows a blueprint of characterization that his other films have had. Even though it was a wonderful theater-going experience there was not much left to reminisce on after the credits rolled. One hopes that Makoto Shinkai takes a different route and steps out of his comfort zone in his next directorial effort.

Watch Weathering With You in theaters everywhere.

3.5/5, C-, or 7.25/10

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: The End of an Era

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a solid closing to a 42-year story that must sacrifice its thematic choices in the process.

CREDIT: Lucasfilm LTD

The newest and final installment in the Skywalker story has arrived and with it brings an array of controversy that is not foreign to Star Wars. Rey, Finn, Poe, Leia, and the whole gang are back for one final mission to bring down the first order in the new film directed by J.J. Abrams. The final story in the new trilogy that started in 2015 with Abram’s The Force Awakens and continued by Rían Johnson’s 2017 movie, The Last Jedi was met with a mixed critical reception and has once again left the fandom of Star Wars polarized.

There is a lot of things that The Rise of Skywalker does right, but the picture is far from being perfect. The first twenty minutes of the film are very rushed and feel out of place with the overall film. They feel like an epilogue to what could have been Abrams’ Episode VIII. Once the action and story really start to flesh itself out, you are once again reminded about what makes Star Wars a cultural phenomenon.

The movie has heart, laughs, and tear-jerking moments that made this man transport back to age 6 when I fell in love with a galaxy far far away. Sadly, there are character choices and some dialogue that does not land as well I thought it could have that makes this my least favorite in the new trilogy. Underneath the chaos of a movie that is just good, there is a movie that can grow on you with multiple rewatches.

Go watch The Rise of Skywalker in theaters and may the force be with you, always.

Grade: C+, 4/5, or 7.5/10

‘Marriage Story’: An Intimate Story of Divorce That Breaks You Apart

Director Noah Baumbach crafts a meaningful emotional piece of art that just cannot stick the landing even with its incredible performances.

CREDIT: Netflix

This story of the divorce of a couple trying to get past a troublesome relationship between each other is written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The film stars Adam Driver as Charlie Barber a famous theater director in New York City who is undergoing a divorce alongside his soon to be ex wife Nicole Barber who is building her acting career in Los Angeles portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. The picture also includes an incredible performance by Laura Dean as she plays the lawyer helping Nicole Barber.

I am not one that says I have high expectations for movies. I think movies are consumed best when we enter the theater without any notions of what we want the movie to give us. That’s how I went into Marriage Story but came out not entirely satisfied.

The film is incredibly performed by Johansson and Driver, and if you were to just rely on the performances itself than this is as perfect as it gets. The plot feels a bit rushed especially for it pretty long runtime. There are some odd editing choices that made the movie feel a little out of place. It also feels a bit lopsided, for example I felt that it was a film majorly concentrating on Charlie and not Nicole, which could’ve been improved by adding a bit more depth to her character.

Marriage Story is one of my favorite movies of this year but has been a difficult one to put up against other incredible releases this year like Parasite, The Farewell, and Honey Boy. Noah Baumbach’s picture asks us to do probably one of the hardest things us humans can do and that is to feel. I recommend you all give this movie a chance like I did, and not listen to people on the internet posting a scene from the movie passing judgment without context.

Watch Marriage Story on Netflix today or if you can catch it in a theater near you still definitely do that!

‘Parasite’: The Anxiety Inducing Masterpiece from Bong Joon-ho that Delivers on all Cylinders

Parasite is Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece of 2019 that takes a simple family drama and creates a layered thriller about classism.

CREDIT: CJ Entertainment/Neon

Parasite, the 2019 Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival directed by Bong Joon-ho and written by him and Han Jin-wan. The film follows the family of father Kim Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, son Ki-woo, and daughter Ki-jeong as they infiltrate the Park family house to gain jobs to hopefully pull themselves out of their impoverished life.

This is not the first time that Bong Joon-ho has brought a hit to the United States. Bong Joon-ho directed 2006’s The Host, 2013’s Snowpiercer, and 2017’s Okja that was released on Netflix. Parasite won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and since then would come to the US to sprout some interesting conversations. As we approach The Academy Awards those conversation have begun to circle around the film getting a Best Picture nomination.

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a tour de force of a film, and is one that weeks after watching is still lingering throughout my head. There has been a small amount of movies this year that have done the same like The Farewell, The Lighthouse, and Honey Boy. The film is masterfully crafted by the cast and crew throughout its runtime of two hours and twelve minutes. The story grips you and absolutely never lets you go even after its incredibly executed climax that left me speechless. The theme of classism is profoundly present throughout the picture and creates an interesting theme to talk even after the credits roll on the silver screen.

Director Bong Joon-ho has truly created one of or possibly the best movie of 2019. Parasite is a film that we will be including in discussions when we speak on the medium of filmmaking for years after 2019. Watch Parasite at your local theater that is showing it before this year ends!

‘1917’: A Bold World War I Film That Cannot Break Out of its Own Chamber

1917 is an incredibly crafted war film that offers nothing past the surface of its impeccable technical merits.

CREDIT: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

1917 is the new World War I film directed by Sam Mendes written by him and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The picture stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as two soldiers who journey to relay a message to hold off an ambush at the frontlines during the height of The Great War. Roger E. Deakins also reunites with Sam Mandes as cinematographer since 2012’s Skyfall.

The film is masterfully crafted, the sound design is exquisite, production design is superb, and of course the cinematography by Deakins is absolutely jaw dropping amazing. It feels like a single one take except for one instance in the movie but other than that it truly flowed like Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance to recount another film that has done the same. The sound design and mixing stood out to me the most, the explosives, reloading of the rifles, and planes coming in truly make you feel like you are right there on the war front of the picture.

Sadly, that is all that the movie could offer. The technical characteristics feel like they are the one and only important part of this movie throughout its very dragged out paced runtime. I never felt captivated or interested by the story because I felt as if the story was of little importance. 1917 just feels like there’s all these incredible chances for storytelling but it never makes it past the surface. Don’t get me wrong, this is an anxiety inducing movie and really does work if you want to see the isolating brutality of war. I was just disappointed that the story was not executed as well as it could have been.

I am still very interested to see what else Sam Mendes does in his next movie. Make sure to watch 1917 when it launches in the United States on December 25th, 2019 and January 10th, 2020 in the United Kingdom.