Over the Moon Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Over the Moon co-directed by Glen Keane and John Kahrs is one of the best animated films of the year. It has such stunning animation and an incredibly emotional story that will move you to tears. The screenplay co-written by Audrey Wells and Jennifer Yee McDevitt was so beautiful and explores grieving from a young girl’s perspective. When losing someone so dear to your heart, there is always some little detail, or memory that we hold onto to make us feel better and this film does that so well.

In this animated musical adventure, young Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) remembers the story her mother used to tell her, when she was a child about the moon goddess. It is a love story about an archer who passed on and his spirit remains with the moon goddess, so she waits for him to return to her, hoping that their love can be rekindled. The lore parallels the relationship between Fei Fei’s parents and she so desperately wants to believe that this story is real because it is what her mother told her.

The animation is incredibly well done and the world that was created was so imaginative. It has such a wonderful soundtrack and the songs will definitely stay with you after you’ve finished the film. It is so much fun from beginning to end (I may be biased because of the white bunny named Bungee with purple eyes and magic powers stealing my heart) and it will pull on your heartstrings.

Over the Moon was an unexpected surprise for Netflix and it is such a wonderful animated film added to their library. It also holds so much cultural significance that is so lovely to see on screen. It literally takes you out of reality for a little while and that’s what is so exciting about the film. Its animation, soundtrack and heartfelt story will make you remember this film and the universal support that it gives those who are grieving during this time.

By Night’s End Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

By Night’s End is a crime thriller, centered around a husband and wife, who are struggling financially after suffering a death in the family. The tension between them, unfolds in an unprecedented way, as they discuss their issues, all while trying to survive an unexpected evening. The film slowly builds into the final action sequence and it is definitely worth it.

Director Walker Whited created an atmosphere surrounding the house that Heather (Michelle Rose) and Mark (Kurt Yeu) lived in. From the front, the house appeared smaller, quaint, isolated but the backyard was vast and seemed like it went on forever. The sense of impending doom seemed to grow, as Heather’s mood became worse and the night took a turn for the worst.

Courtesy of 3rd Shift Media and Wild Winn Pictures
Michelle Rose as Heather

What was very interesting was the dynamic between Heather and Mark. It’s almost as if they should not mesh well together as a couple because they are polar opposites, yet their relationship also worked. You could feel their resentment towards each other when they were arguing but then Mark’s softness, would break Heather’s tough exterior. It was great to watch their relationship unfold and learn more about who they were and how they got to this point in their lives.

By Night’s End has great lighting, camerawork and great fight choreography. It tests the couple to the maximum, as their relationship is put to the ultimate test, in trusting the other person. It discusses post traumatic stress disorder, grief, loss and survival, while having a couple navigate their way through a break in. It has great pacing, shocking moments and the score tied everything together nicely.

The Glorias Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The Glorias directed by Julie Taymor is a beautiful film, honouring Gloria Steinem’s life and everything she has done for women. The film shows the multiple versions of Gloria, throughout the years and the conversations she would have with younger versions of herself. It is a rather unique biographical drama because of the choices made by Taymor.

The film begins with the Glorias on a bus, sitting in different seats and staring at the window. The bus was in black and white, but the outside world was in colour. By showing all four Glorias on the bus at the beginning, shifting from actress to actress, so the audience knows ahead of time was a nice touch. The way they would return, to the Glorias on the bus, on this long winding road, paralleled her long life and her incredible journey. The editing could have been a bit cleaner, in the first half, with the young Glorias but it eventually hit its stride, in the middle with Vikander.

Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore, gave great performances as Gloria Steinem, the most important thing they were able to capture, was her voice. You don’t realize how distinct someone’s voice actually is, until you hear an actor change theirs, to sound like them and like every journalist, her voice mattered. It was incredibly important for Vikander and Moore to accurately sound like her.

The film did run a bit long, like any biographical drama, but it incorporated different elements. There were dreamlike sequences that would take the viewer in and out of Gloria’s mind. What I really appreciated was seeing Gloria talk to her younger self, an actual conversation with her young, open-minded and ambitious self. It was interesting to see how she started, what her thought process was, and how it all changed in the blink of an eye.

The Glorias is a very special film about highlighting women’s voices from every race, nationality and sexual orientation. It takes many people to start a movement and even though, Gloria Steinem is the name people remember, she made it known, that she was not alone in fighting for women’s rights.

A Fire in the Cold Season Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

A Fire in the Cold Season is co-written and directed by Justin Oakey. It takes place in rural Newfoundland, with beautiful cinematography of it’s open landscapes. The story slowly builds and shocks you, when you least expect it, especially within the first moments of the film. In the secluded forest, a trapper named Scott (Stephen Oates), stumbles upon something suspicious and gets wrapped up in a tangled web, with violent outlaws.

The film is beautifully shot, has a great soundtrack and distinct sound design, which plays to crucial moments in the film. The scenes in the open field, leading into the forest at the beginning of the film, set this dreadful tone for Scott’s journey. Scott is quiet, reserved and genuinely a good person. So when he gets tangled in this web and begins his downward spiral, you feel for him and the outcome.

It is a slow burn and as the story builds, more characters come into play and create so much tension. There were some beautiful shots, unique framing and great lighting throughout the film that impressed me. The technical aspects in this film overshadowed the actual story until the final act. The last half hour of this film had a pretty solid standoff and the execution of those action scenes were well done.

A Fire in the Cold Season is a slow film, that saves all the action for its final act. If you cans stick through the long conversations, deceit and questionable motives then you will be in for a treat at the end. Oakey plays off the subtleties of his characters and the preconceived notion of the mob mentality.

Definition Please Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Definition Please is written and directed by Sujata Day, as she takes us into former Scribbs Spelling Bee champion, Monica Chondry’s (Sujata Day) world. The film highlights family identity, mental illness and internal struggles, in a powerful and realistic way. When Monica’s brother, Sonny (Ritesh Rajan) returns home, to take care of their sick mother Jaya (Anna Khaja), tensions arise and past trauma reveals itself in different ways.

Courtesy of Atajus Productions,
(center) Esha Chundru as Young Monica

Sonny lives in California and has become a personal trainer, living a very different lifestyle than his sister. Monica lives at home with her mother and she tutors young students in the area, while keeping her artistic side, as she occasionally paints in her treehouse. Both siblings are polar opposites and when they come together, the hidden rivalry slowly comes back to the forefront.

Both siblings had a very different perception, on how their life would turn out and being under the same roof, forced them both to reevaluate their current living situation. The film resonated with me because I’m currently in my mid-twenties, trying to navigate my life and to see Monica struggling as well, made me feel better. We are all on our own path and sometimes life derails you, on to many different journeys, in order to get to your final destination.

Courtesy of Atajus Productions
(left) Ritesh Rajan as Sonny and Sujata Day as Monica

As the one year anniversary of their father’s death approaches, Sonny and Monica are pressured by their mother to reconcile. What impressed me the most about this film, was how strong the writing was throughout. Everything was perfectly placed and the secrets were revealed, at the most opportune moments. It was incredibly emotional, lighthearted, and perfectly balanced.

The representation of Indian culture, shown through the soundtrack, family structure, pop culture and religious Hindu ceremonies, combined with American ideology, told a heartfelt story about achieving the American Dream. Sujata Day incorporated so many elements into this story, by creating such well rounded characters, that people can fully relate to.

Courtesy of Atajus Productions
(left) Sujata Day as Monica and Ritesh Rajan as Sonny

More importantly, she addresses the failures or questionable decisions that were made and finds that silver lining for her characters. The film also addresses mental health and has a very open discussion about it with its audience. The sibling dynamic between Sonny and Monica felt authentic, as they struggled to come to terms with who they are, together.

Definition Please is authentic, well written, charming and incredibly heartfelt. It’s a film that people need to see because of how wonderful these characters are and how important their journeys can be for so many people watching. It is a Dramedy, that has great balance and strong sense of direction from Sujata Day, in presenting a story that is important to her.