The Devil All the Time Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The Devil All the Time is a film that is adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Donald Ray Pollock. It has a wonderful cast of actors and it highlights their strengths, in this slow burn psychological thriller. The religious, Christian ideals are tested and what is considered “right”, is in the eye of the beholder.

There are moments in this film that are assembled and revealed so well, that the way everything unfolds, will make you question everyone’s morals. Director Antonio Campos, made some great choices and there are moments that will completely catch you off guard because of how graphic certain scenes are. Some characters have a more timid presence, so the more gruesome scenes were shocking.

On paper this cast is incredible but the way they are all placed and spread out in the film, left me underwhelmed. The first half of this film, we are introduced to Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) and Carl Henderson (Jason Clarke) in a restaurant. They are both very reserved but have something waiting to snap, in the veil behind their eyes. The men in this town, all had the same look, their eyes crazed, while having a timid demeanour.

Even though the central story is about the demons of lineage and family trauma, for Arvin Russell (Tom Holland), the women in this film were severely underused. How can you cast Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska, Riley Keough and Eliza Scanlen but underuse them? The women in this story, were used to further the plot of the men in the town and it was frustrating, given how much talent they have.

Photo: Cr. Glen Wilson/Netflix
(Left) Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell, Michael Banks Repeta as Young Arvin Russell

It is a very slow film about Christians in the ’50s and how everyone’s morals can be tested, by what the correct way to live is. Everyone moves in secret, everyone has their demons, that is why the title of this film makes complete sense, the devil will tempt you at every turn, it is up to you and your compass, to decipher what is right or wrong, in the face of God.

The saviours of the second half of this film are Tom Holland, Eliza Scanlen and the King of accents himself… Robert Pattinson. After 40 minutes, the film picks up and we are taken into the lives of Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) and Lenora Lafferty (Eliza Scanlen) as a new Reverend comes into town, named Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattinson) and changes everyone’s lives.

The Devil All the Time seems like a very long journey, with all these characters, who all have something to hide, but turn to God, to guide them in what they consider, the “right” direction. Morals are tested, lives are at stake and the executioner, can be sitting right beside them in church. It has great performances and an ending, that will mirror your feelings by the end.

Make sure to check out The Devil All the Time on Netflix September 16th!

HBO Max Original: UNPregnant Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

UNpregnant is one of the best films of the year! It is a buddy comedy, that rekindles the relationship between two former best friends, Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) and Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), as they journey across state lines to get an abortion. It is adapted from the novel, under the same name, written by Jenni Hendriks.

First of all, this film is incredibly important because of how informative it is on the topic of abortion. In previous films or television shows, the topic of abortion has always been this difficult thing to openly talk about. The right measures are usually never taken and it is always shown in a negative light. UNpregnant addresses all these unanswered questions and brings them to the forefront, all while adding a very humorous duo to keep the balance.

This is THE coming of age film that no one saw coming. Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira were dynamite together! They complimented each other so well and I really appreciated that they were both unapologetically themselves. Veronica and Bailey acknowledged their flaws and toxic traits but embraced who they were, which was great to see. What I really enjoyed was the exploration into each of their backstories and how they became separated from each other in high school.

The film had great pacing and there was never a dull moment because they continued to reveal small pieces of their friendship puzzle, throughout the film. On their journey to Albuquerque for the abortion, they meet some funny characters who end up helping them along the way. Veronica and Bailey also grow to understand the other a bit more and realize that their friendship holds more value than they remembered.

Courtesy of Berlanti Productions, HBO Films and Picturestart
(left) Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson

The most important scene in this film is the entire abortion clinic sequence. It is done in such a tasteful manner because of the wonderful writing and direction from these two women, Jenni Hendriks and Rachel Lee Goldenberg. The right to choose and having the proper information are both incredibly important. I appreciated the fact that they created a safe, dreamlike space, to go through the entire process with Veronica.

UNpregnant is a totally fun, raunchy, and heartwarming coming of age film. This film will most definitely be discussed for its boldness, but timely position, on the topic of abortion. It is addressed in such a lighthearted way that the emotional moments are placed perfectly in the film, to rope you back into the reality of the situation. Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira are definitely the duo of the year!

Make sure to catch UNpregnant on HBO Max September 10th!

Mulan (2020) Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Disney has given us another live action film from their vault and it is completely different, than what anyone had in mind. To some, the change of pace can be seen as refreshing, honest to the cultural story and beautifully shot. On the other hand, it can also be seen as a very bland, uninteresting, heartless reconstructed version of the Mulan we know and love.

The film lacks any emotional connection to Mulan (Yifei Liu) because her performance was so wooden and lifeless. The fact that her journey as a woman is completely stripped in this film, is what turned me off. The whole point of her story, is to see her grow into the woman she wants to become, not the ideal, that everyone in her village wants for her. I feel like that entire journey was lost because the story focused on the army, instead of her.

The cinematography is probably the best part of the entire film because there were some beautiful shots, but everything else was lacking. The first act felt rushed and yet the story also dragged on. There were quick cuts during action sequences, which made it difficult to understand what was happening. The VFX that was used looked like it was unfinished and at some points, it seemed like the green screen was visible.

It was really hard to get into a film that didn’t have any substance, it just felt weaker than the other live action films and I really wish I enjoyed it. I loved that there is representation on screen. It was great to see Asian culture depicted properly, and on such a grand scale, but I just couldn’t get into the film at all. I just wish there was better dialogue and a stronger story.

Mulan is a bland restructured version of the animated film we all know and love. The heart of Mulan is stripped away in this film and the acting is unconvincing. The tight combat scenes are executed well but the poor editing, creates plenty of issues for the film as a whole. It is always hard not to compare it to the animated film because so many of us grew up only knowing that version.

These live action films are very tricky to adapt because of our connection to the material. Animation is a beautiful medium on its own, so naturally people will be overly critical of a live action adaptation. In this case, Mulan is a completely different version because its focus is on what she can do for her country, instead of discovering who she is inside.

Palm Springs Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Palm Springs had its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year and it instantly created buzz in the film community. It is directed by Max Barbakow, written by Andy Siara and it is a Lonely Island Classic picture. The film brings together two characters, Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) who have questioned their own existence and the decisions they have made. When they meet at Sarah’s sister, Tala’s (Camila Mendes) wedding, the night takes them on an interesting journey, which leads them to a cave and changes everything.

The film is unique to the time loop subgenre that has developed over the years. It has a refreshing structure and the editing is a huge part of it. The reason why this film is different to the genre is because there are more people involved in the time loop storyline. As we have seen in the past, majority of the time, it is only one character processing the idea of reliving the same day, over and over again. In this comedy, it has Nyles informing Sarah, how to approach the time loop in very humorous ways. There is a nice surprise with the addition of Roy (J.K. Simmons) to add an origin story for Nyles and his time loop journey.

It has a nice mixture of comedic moments and realistic discussions about life, which I really appreciated. The perception of loneliness, is always something that should be explored and how life can sometimes seem meaningless, if you do not have someone to share it with. That is why placing the central event, as a wedding day, in this film was extremely beneficial because of the weight it holds on everyone’s lives. It is very well crafted because they address so many different ideas of love and relationships.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti had excellent chemistry and solid comedic timing. They bounced off of each other extremely well and you could feel the freedom they had with these roles. The pacing was really strong because of how the story builds. Instead of just reliving the same day, in the same location, Barbakow and Siara explored different moments in the day and had them react differently to new information. The way they slowly revealed different aspects of their lives, was really well done and continuously surprised me.

Palm Springs adds so much depth to the time loop subgenre and it is a wonderful edition to The Lonely Island production library. It is probably one of the most charming films I have seen in a while and it will capture your heart. It is also constructed to always keep you on your toes because even though you are stuck in a time loop, life still comes at you fast and you have to adapt to every situation in the best way you can.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a fun Netflix Original Film, that takes Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) on a musical journey, to the iconic Eurovision stage, in order for them to achieve their goals. The film captures the essence of Eurovision perfectly and shows the world united through music. Director David Dobkin, does some great work in this film with his musical numbers and song choices throughout. It is a typical Will Ferrell movie and that should be taken into consideration, before anyone watches it.

It starts out as a dream for young Lars, who hears ABBA on television for the first time ever and starts dancing in his living room in front of his family. He is so overjoyed by their music because of their Icelandic heritage, finally being represented on screen, at the Eurovision main stage. His family laughs at him and his dream but Lars stops at nothing to get what he wants. Lars and Sigrit have been together since they were kids and have been singing as a duo, named ‘Fire Saga’ for a very long time. Lars, as a middle aged man, finally thinks he has the perfect song to enter for Eurovision and Sigrit joins him on this crazy journey.

It is a simple story about a small town dreamer, making his way to the big stage, with some magical elves helping him along the way. It was pretty humorous to see Sigrit bringing goodies, to the magical elves and hoping they bring them luck for Eurovision. With the magical elves being a prominent spirit in this film, they conveniently placed disastrous events so Lars and Sigrit could advance in their journey. Yes, this movie is very unrealistic but it is so much fun and the humour definitely distracts you from impossible situations.

The entire cast is really strong and the chemistry between Lars and Sigrit was great! There were many surprises with the performances, especially Dan Stevens as Alexander Lemtov, who was the Russian singer in the competition. He was just so electric in this role and I don’t think he has ever been better. Rachel McAdams was also really strong in this and was stunning as per usual. Will Ferrell was being Will Ferrell, I missed seeing him in this kind of role because that’s where he truly shines. If you do not like his humour, then this movie isn’t for you.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga has its comedic moments and will keep you intrigued because Eurovision is that exciting. There is plenty of drama, great song medley’s that will surprise you and a couple of cameo’s, that will make you do the Rick Dalton, pointing at the screen meme. The costume design was probably one of my favourite aspects about this as well because each country had their own design. It is vibrant, energetic, funny and what Eurovision is all about, bringing people together through music.