The White Tiger Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The White Tiger addresses the caste system in India and how one person can break the cycle. It is adapted for the screen by Rabin Bahrani and Aravind Adiga. We see a young man named Balram (Adarsh Gourav) want to make something of himself and takes a different approach to the term “servant”. Balram becomes a driver for a middle class couple, Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), who disagree with the caste system. The couple treat him as part of their family and they become very close friends. Ashok doesn’t treat Balram as a servant, all the time but when he does, there’s this bitterness that you feel for the character.

The way Balram approaches his daily work as a servant is by going above and beyond, even when Ashok tells him to relax. The issue with Ashok and Pinky is that they became too friendly with Balram, so the moments where they go into boss mode, felt like a knife to the back for Balram. Working for people who appear friendly but then treat you horribly, at the same time, is a hard pill to swallow. Balram wanted to work his way up and learn from these people but what he learned was something much worse. The social commentary about the economy, religion, family issues and education is addressed through Balram in a unique way. Balram is outspoken, very gutsy and puts on a facade when he is working.

Courtesy of Netflix Film

The film highlights the same rags to riches story but because of Gourav’s delivery of his lines, he brought a fresh tone to the generic structure. He was such a joy to watch and his performance was really strong. However, when the situation that unfolded in the middle of the film, the film started to lose its pacing and the direction of the story kind of fizzled. Of course, after the incident you are locked in to see how they’re going to get out of it but it just dragged on after that moment. There was too much excess that could have been cut down to make the ending pack a punch. It was an interesting story but the second act loses its footing and doesn’t really keep you engaged.

The White Tiger has strong performances, a very fresh script with crisp dialogue that highlights the caste system in India and a pretty great soundtrack. Adarsh Gourav elevated this story and was a powerful force all the way through. It has such an interesting tone because of his voice and his character. There are moments that will leave you shocked and others that will make you agree with Balram actions. His journey is quite different, but the treatment from those, who think they are superior is all the same.

Alex Kahuam’s Feature Film ‘Forgiveness’ Has A Chilling Trailer


By: Amanda Guarragi

After Alex Kahuam’s success at Horror Fest International last year, he is releasing his first horror feature Forgiveness. His film Red Light won for Best Midnight Movie at the festival. Similar to the tone of his short film, Forgiveness captures the human condition and how everyone fears something different. Just after watching the trailer, you will understand Kahuam’s style of filmmaking and it’s really unique to the horror genre.

The trailer definitely makes an impact and leaves you wanting more. Just within minutes, Kahuam isolates the viewer into the thing they fear most. The score that accompanies those eerie scenes locks the viewer in this trance, almost like it is locking you into this nightmare. The visuals are very obscure and the editing in the trailer works extremely well to create an eerie atmosphere. These people are trapped inside an isolated room with their most important senses stripped from them.

Imagine not being able to hear…

Imagine not being able to speak..

Imagine not being able to see…

Now imagine being trapped without any of those abilities.

Kahuam is extremely talented because he understands the human condition and brings out the fear in simple situations. It is always exciting when a filmmaker approaches a genre in a different way and brings something interesting to the table. Forgiveness is definitely one to look forward to, so keep it in mind, the next time you need a nice little horror movie. The film will be out soon enough but this trailer is enough to hold you over!

Locked Down Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

We have all come to terms with the fact that some screenwriters out there will write a story based on the nightmare that is Covid-19. Everyone copes with the pandemic in different ways, some rather not see the reality of it on screen and others want to laugh about the stupidity that has gone on during the pandemic. The new HBO Max Original Locked Down gives audiences the realistic slice of hell that we’ve all been living in while trapped in our homes. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing this my province has declared a second state of emergency.

People may be turned off by the pandemic nature of the story but it’s such a minor aspect of the film itself. It really is about two people, who have grown apart and are forced to face their issues during the two weeks in isolation. Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have had a very strained relationship. Linda is now working as a CEO for Harrod’s and Paxton is a service worker who delivers packages. Linda promises that after the two weeks she will leave Paxton and they have fair arguments during their remaining days as a couple.

(left) Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Courtesy of WarnerMedia

The film sheds light on how mentally straining isolation can be and the different ways people were coping with the stress. 2020 was a mentally draining year and to show what people were going through within the first two weeks was very realistic and somewhat comforting. It’s more of a “yes, I totally understand how they’re feeling” versus “how dare they show us this in a movie when we’re living it”. It was actually nice to watch a film about the psychological effects of this pandemic with actors who have a very comforting screen presence. It also had some humorous moments that anyone can relate to during the pandemic.

It was a story about relationships and how everyone was forced to look at who they were individually before looking at their partner. It’s well-written because it touches upon different dynamics and different experiences across the globe. Locked Down is an enjoyable film that has great performances from Ejiofor and Hathaway, their chemistry was great. Their journey as a couple, in a strained relationship, trying to salvage their former adventurous lifestyle, with a heist was really fun to watch. The ending of the film was actually perfect and pretty funny!

If you want to check out this pandemic based film, you can catch it on HBO Max January 14th!

Outside The Wire Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Outside the Wire is the first action film from Netflix this year and it has such a great concept. The film has a nice balance exploring robotics and how the mechanics can fit in with humanity. The story is about a drone pilot being sent into a warzone, where he finds himself paired up with a top-secret agent, who turns out to be an android. In typical sci-fi war film fashion, they must stop a nuclear attack. The big draw is the android being able to regenerate its skin to appear human. The concept may sound far-fetched but realistically we do have the resources to create androids and other robotics for the sustainability of the human species.

The moment the film begins you are transported into the warzone, the opening credits resemble a first person shooter game like Call of Duty, which set the tone for the film. The first 20 minutes are filled with action and it shows the state of the world in the near future with grey areas regarding soldiers and robots combined. We are introduced to Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris) who causes some serious damage as a drone pilot and is sent to a different sector. There he meets the Captain, named Leo (Anthony Mackie) who is an android military officer. Together they must stop a Russian extremist group from a nuclear attack.

Anthony Mackie as Captain Leo
Courtesy of Netflix Film

What I enjoyed the most was watching Anthony Mackie own the screen. I can’t help but wonder when or if we are going to see him lead a Captain America film of his own one day but he proved in Outside the Wire that he truly deserves it. There are moments, specific lines like “I could do this all day” that really hit me when watching this film. Mackie is a star and people need to start recognizing that. He has proven himself time and time again. He deserves more leading roles that highlight how talented he is.

In all honesty if it weren’t for Anthony Mackie’s on screen presence and his great chemistry with Damson Idris this film wouldn’t have been as fun or interesting. It is a very generic action film that has a messy script, even though the story is pretty straight-forward. The action sequences were choreographed fairly well but nothing really stood out until the final standoff. The film has its moments but it is ultimately a chore to sit through. The middle does drag a bit and the military jargon is thrown around making it hard to understand what’s happening.

If you enjoy your sci-fi war zone action flick then this is definitely one you will enjoy! Check out Outside the Wire on Netflix January 15th.

Pieces Of A Woman Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Pieces of a Woman is a heartbreaking film about the loss of a new life. It also puts into perspective how fragile we are as humans. Director Kornél Mundruczó shows the raw emotion and physical journey of a woman in labor. There are natural ways to give birth and Martha (Vanessa Kirby) wanted a home birth. There are horror stories that you often hear about, in regards to home births, but you never quite see the the aftermath. Mundruczó showed everything. It was uncomfortable, and rather painful to watch but the emotional connection established with Martha is incredibly strong.

The film is more of a character study centered on Martha. We see her quirkiness, energy and light in the beginning of the film. As she struggles to push the newborn out of her (for the first 20 minutes of the film) Kirby gives a very raw performance, one that you would see in acting classes. Mundruczó creates so much tension during the birth, that you feel something bad is about to happen, especially when the midwife begins to panic. There is a small moment of happiness, of complete elation when the birthing process is complete and then, it feels like someone rips your heart out and crushes it with their bare hands.

Vanessa Kirby
Courtesy of Bron Studios and Netflix

It has such a strong story and the performances from everyone, especially Ellen Burstyn were extremely strong. The structure and the pacing are the only issues with this film. It started off very strong and then there’s a lull in the middle. Kirby’s performance is internal and you can see the stages of grief as the film goes on. There are other issues that come up in regards to their child that move the story forward but it was extremely slow. Kirby’s performance carries the entire film until the very end, as she has minor confrontations with her mother Ellen Burstyn. The scenes are executed almost like a stage play, meaning the dialogue was heavy and the scenes were static.

The important thing that can be noted from watching Pieces of a Woman is that technology has allowed everything to be safer during the birthing process. There is a conversation between Martha and her mother, that was really eye-opening because they discuss how some mothers from older generations gave birth without the help of doctors in hospitals. They all had a midwife and had home births because there was no other option. The film explores the stages of grief, depression and anxiety from a mother’s perspective after the loss of her child. It is a very heavy film but it is a story that needs to be told in order to help further understand what can go wrong during the birthing process.