Body & Bones Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Body & Bones written and directed by Melanie Oates, tells a tale of a young girl named Tess (Kelly Van der Burg) trying to find some sort of spark in her life again. She has been missing school and has detached herself from her home life completely. She uses music to escape the world and the way she’s feeling. One artist, in particular, named Danny Sharpe (Joel Thomas Hynes) has become her obsession. So what would happen if a young, impressionable, teenage girl met her idol? Melanie Oates explores the brutal truth.

I think many of us have wondered about meeting our idols, or celebrities that we are infatuated with, or even just admire. Oates takes a teenage girl and whisks her into the life of a washed up rockstar. It is a journey that should be seen because teenage girls are often blinded by the persona of someone older. It is always explored as something great and it is often romanticised but this was the total opposite. Oates made sure to show the alcoholism, verbal/emotional abuse and the complete disregard for a woman, once she has been used to her full capacity.

There are some very strong moments, especially from Van der Burg as she explores her sexuality and a very powerful moment in the third act of the film. It truly shows how damaging a relationship can be with someone you think you know. It is the perception of the person, that we tend to put on a pedestal because you are so infatuated with them. People can be blinded by the one they’re aching for and sometimes do questionable things, like moving in with them at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, as Tess did.

Body & Bones does show the extent of a wrong relationship, as Oates carefully builds up tender moments shared between Danny and Tess, only to rip the bandaid off in the end. It has a great soundtrack to accompany the emotional connection Tess has with Danny and some great camerawork. It is a film that takes the ultimate fantasy and shows the brutal reality of it all.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is truly one of the best films to come out this year. It is hard to even find the words to express, how perfectly written this film is and it all comes down to the master class screenwriting from Aaron Sorkin. There’s an urgency in this script, the dialogue was short and to the point (typical Sorkin), everything was explained thoroughly and rather quickly, which kept you glued to the screen.

The film accurately captured everything that was going on, simultaneously in the late 60s. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and the Vietnam War was at its worst. Then began the anti war protests, which changed history forever, by chanting to the American police force, “The whole world is watching,” and, they still are. History has a way of repeating itself and the more I see archival footage, used in films or documentaries, the more painful everything is to see in the current climate.

There are so many incredible moments in The Trial of the Chicago 7. There are 3 standouts from the entire ensemble, that left me in awe of their performances. Within 5 seconds of seeing Yahya’s portrayal of Bobby Seale, I can confidently tell you, that he should get an Oscar nomination for his performance. Sacha Baron Coen’s portrayal of Abbie Hoffman was also fantastic and you could tell that he really wanted to tell his story. Mark Rylance also gave a very moving performance, as radical defense attorney William Kunstler, it is probably my favourite performance of his.

Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures and Amblin Partners
(left) Sacha Baron Cohen, Danny Flaherty, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance

What I loved the most about the film was that I could have watched it for another 2 hours and not get tired of it. I was actually so disappointed when it ended because I wanted to see more of this fantastic ensemble of actors, show up for Sorkin. A Sorkin script is never easy to get through, many actors have said that it is harder than it seems. It is fast paced and the soundtrack also brought everything together, it wasn’t overused and it came in at the right moments.

Most people have said that this film is coming out at the right time. However, this sociopolitical climate, the blatant racism, and obtaining some form of justice, for the abhorrent treatment from the American police force, has never disappeared. So is the word “timely” in a review effective anymore, when this hasn’t stopped since the 60s? The film is not a representation of this current era that we are living in. Instead it represents the long fight against systemic racism and how this level of injustice has not been handled properly.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is possibly Aaron Sorkin’s best directorial effort, and his screenplays continuously leave me stunned. The film has incredible performances from its ensemble, a wicked score and highly emotional courtroom scenes that should be played in an Oscar reel next year. It is truly one of the best Netflix Original Films I have seen and it deserves every ounce of praise that it is getting.

Make sure to watch The Trial of the Chicago 7 tomorrow on Netflix!

Rebecca (2020) Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca is a slow psychological thriller, with a love story at its center. Love can be masked in so many ways and people pay the price for being blinded by their partner. Love can also whisk you away into situations that you wouldn’t have ever imagined. Lily James and Armie Hammer are perfectly cast as Maxim de Winter and Mrs. de Winter, they had great chemistry to carry out this film to the very end.

The one thing that people seem to ignore, is that Armie Hammer has this air about him – as this tall, beautiful man, who any woman would instantly fall in love with. He has those features and utilized them as Maxim de Winter. What really worked, was the way Lily James played into his persona, she was infatuated with him. She wanted him more than life itself, you could see it in her eyes and the way her body moved with his. The infatuation and lust for Maxim was definitely felt, all thanks to Lily James.

I was more taken aback with James’ performance because of how physical and emotional it was. Her body language was really interesting to watch and you’re able to feel everything she was feeling. She truly gave such a strong performance and it was great seeing this side of her. She also went toe to toe with Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who also gave a fantastic performance. Women were at the forefront, whether it was the newlywed, the house manager, or the ex wife, the presence of a woman’s energy was always felt and it was great.

Courtesy of Netflix Film
(left) Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs. de Winter

I’ve always been a fan of Ben Wheatley’s work and his direction for Rebecca was unique to his style. The only thing that may have been off sync for me, was the editing in this film. I felt like it jumped quite a lot and I understood the choices that were made but for some reason it didn’t translate well for me. The costume and production design, were probably my favourite aspects of the film because of how beautifully detailed everything was.

Rebecca has great performances, a strong score and a very interesting story with a twist ending. The most important thing about the film is how one perceives love as perfection. It seems that whoever falls in love (especially those hopeless romantics) have a skewed perception of the one they’re with. It doesn’t happen to everyone, majority of the time we can’t find that perfect person, but someone who comes close to the idea of perfection.

Make sure to check out Rebecca on Netflix October 21st!

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.