Happiest Season Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

‘Tis the season to get your onesies out, drink some hot chocolate, and settle around your nearest screen to watch some Christmas movies. Thankfully Clea DuVall made a Christmas romcom that has been long overdue for the LGBTQ community.

Happiest Season is the film that all lesbians have been waiting for. It’s lighthearted, funny and a well rounded romantic comedy. For once there is no sadness, no yearning and no heartbreaking ending. The title of the film says it all and it is such a beautiful movie. Not only does it speak to, and on behalf of, the LGBTQ community but it touches upon family issues that are universal.

The reason why this film is refreshing is because lesbian characters are at the forefront. Two women are in a romantic relationship and they are following all the conventions of a typical romantic comedy. It was just great to see a romantic story about two women in this setting. It is definitely a feel good movie and the speeches in the final act of the film will leave you sobbing until the end. The cast is perfect, everyone fit like a puzzle piece in telling this great story.

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis were adorable together and their chemistry was great. It felt completely natural and that is the difference. Kristen Stewart was in her element, she was fun, playful and gave a very emotional performance as Abby. Davis gave a complex performance because of the duality of her character Harper. She lived one life with Abby and was another person when she returned home to her parents. What really resonated with me was the idea of perfection and how some families expect so much from their daughters.

I do have to mention the brilliant comedic timing from Dan Levy because it was just effortless. There would be such tense moments and then Levy would just swoop in and make you bust a gut laughing. He was the perfect choice to play Abby’s best friend. Stewart and Levy also bounced off each other, even through serious moments.

Normally, I don’t compare films in my reviews but out of all the lesbian romance dramas we’ve seen, this one definitely felt the most realistic than the others, mind you the other ones were really sad, so maybe that’s the difference? Thanks to Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, they wrote such a great screenplay and brought forth many important conversations.

Happiest Season is a great Christmas rom-com that will hold a special place in your heart and will definitely be added to your annual Holiday watch list. It is a film that explores individuality and acceptance through a lens that the LGBTQ community deserves. Please make sure to watch Happiest Season on Hulu November 25th and it will be available on iTunes November 26th!


Pictures Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

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!

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.

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.

Kajillionaire Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Kajillionaire written and directed by Miranda July, is a pretty obscure film about trauma, family dysfunction and self discovery, that never reaches its full potential. It is an extremely slow film, that can be confusing at times because of the constant con jobs. It felt like a downward spiral, for all of those characters, especially for Old Dolio, played by Evan Rachel Wood.

It does have something to say about the class system in America and how the economy functions. Low income families need to find other avenues, in order to survive and July shows that, in the quirkiest way possible. It is a bland film that doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be. The family dynamic was interesting to study, but their connection with each other, became very irritating. The choices that were made, did not make any sense either, which was incredibly frustrating to sit through.

Courtesy of Focus Features
(left) Debra Winger, Evan Rachel Wood and Richard Jenkins

Thankfully halfway through the film Melanie, played by Gina Rodriguez breathed some life into Evan Rachel Wood’s dead character, whose backstory was interesting and emotional but it was never fully explored. There was so much to unpack with Old Dolio and I wish the story focused on her, more than the con job. The growing tension between Old Dolio and Melanie, was the saving grace in this piece, it’s the only thing that kept me interested until the end of the film.

It is a film that does not really have a clear journey, it feels disjointed and spaced out because of Old Dolio’s characterization. The quirkiness was too much and it felt like Evan Rachel Wood was overacting at times, in order to achieve maximum quirkiness. I didn’t find it humorous at all and some moments made me cringe because of how awkward it was. I understood that there was past trauma and that they tried to explain it but it wasn’t executed properly.

Kajillionaire had some great camerawork and unique emotional moments but lost itself in the quirkiness of Old Dolio. It’s an obscure film, that will pull at the heartstrings at key moments, but will lose you for the majority of the runtime. It is the opposite of a fast paced con job, with odd characters and a wild card coming in halfway through.