‘Our Father’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There are documentaries that have highlighted many different stories, some of them have been slightly altered, and others have been true stories. The ones that turn out to be true stories will most likely leave viewers a bit shaken because of the possibility that there are people like Dr. Donald Cline in Our Father that actually exists. It is an interesting expose because of the current conversation surrounding women’s rights in the United States. Director Lucie Jordan addresses the meaning of consent and the many ways that consent can be violated without anyone realizing it. This story is disturbing and emotional for those involved in this case.

The true story is about one woman whose at-home DNA test reveals multiple half-siblings. She then discovers a shocking scheme involving donor sperm and the popular and controversial fertility specialist Doctor Donald Cline. Besides the fact that they show the extensive relation to multiple people within the same grid, the viewer feels the same sense of dread while watching all of this unfold. Instead of imagining this situation happening to you, you’re re-living it with the victims through this documentary. It’s a difficult watch because it is a Doctor breaking consent and administering his specimen in place of the woman’s actual choice. We see these women who have struggled to even admit that they were violated by a medical professional in a female-based field where it’s necessary to understand women’s bodies.

To see these women break their silence and carry so much pain with them is heartbreaking to see. Their children have a different biological father and we see how the children process their history with the father who raised them. After all this time, finding out that the man you grew up with and idolized for so many tears isn’t your biological father is a horrible feeling. There is a wide range of emotions when watching this documentary because of how each family processes this information. It’s so unethical and inhumane for a doctor to even switch out the semen for his own. Was the benefit to keep your practice afloat, to rise to fame as the one medical clinic that has a guarantee of women being pregnant so they can finally have a child?

Many questions will swirl around in your head while watching Our Father. Women should have the right to know exactly what is happening with their bodies at all times and have full control of their bodies. Is it even safe to have men in the medical field practicing these procedures on women after finding this out? Women feel much safer when discussing anything about the female reproductive system with other women. More women need to be in the medical field, so situations such as this one never occur again. This documentary is not for everyone, but it is so important for everyone to watch given the current state of women’s rights.

‘Sneakerella’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Everyone believes in something, and some people truly believe in fairytales. What Disney has taught young children everywhere is that if you do have a dream, you should always push forward and fight for what you want most. It’s not about the kingdom, or winning the affection of a prince or princess, it has always been about achieving your own personal goals, no matter what they may be. Of course, life comes with many obstacles that one must overcome, but those obstacles just make you stronger in the end. It’s nice to know that Disney will continue reworking these old fairytales to modernize them for a new generation. That way there’s always an appreciation for these wholesome, heartfelt stories.

In Sneakerella, we meet El (Chosen Jacobs), who is an aspiring sneaker designer from Queens. He works as a stock boy in the shoe store that once belonged to his late mother. He hides his artistic talent from his overburdened stepfather and two mean-spirited stepbrothers. When El meets Kira King (Lexi Underwood), the daughter of the legendary basketball star and sneaker tycoon Darius King (John Salley), sparks fly as the two of them bond over their mutual affinity for sneakers. With a little nudge from his best friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda) and a sprinkle of Fairy Godfather magic, El finds the courage to use his talent to pursue his dream of becoming a ‘legit’ sneaker designer in the industry.

The film caters to the talents of Chosen Jacobs, who will easily become a young Disney star. His voice, acting abilities, and great dance moves made him shine in every scene. Even though this film is reworked from the original story and slightly altered like A Cinderella Story was, it still felt original. It felt like a modern-day story that works in favour of new-age technology to get the classic story to work. The use of social media worked for the most part, but like any millennial, we know it’s easy to find someone by searching for them in every possible way, by using keywords. It worked and it didn’t, but it was still fun to watch. Jacobs and Underwood had really sweet chemistry, which made their duets adorable to watch.

Sneakerella had some strong moments because of the beautiful lyrics in the songs that were written specifically for this film. Even though the story of Cinderella has been remade over and over again, it was nice to see this modern take for a new generation. The link to El’s past with his mother being the heart of their neighbourhood carried emotional weight throughout the film. He just wanted to pursue his dream of making sneakers to make his mom proud and carry on her legacy in his way. It is heartfelt and sweet, even though the film does drag a bit in the last half. Some of the schemes went on for too long making the ending feel like a bit of a drag. The music and choreography are what make this film enjoyable and, of course, the performance from Chosen Jacobs.

Sneakerella premieres on Disney Plus on May 13th.

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Diving into the multiverse is always a dangerous feat. Not because of magical creatures, witchcraft, or breaking dimensions, but because of how many possibilities there are. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) explained all of this in Infinity War, but now, it’s visually explained to audiences through Sam Raimi’s vision. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has Raimi written all over it, but the script, which was written by Michael Waldron unfortunately clashes with his ideas. Madness and chaos are always welcome when discussing the multiverse, but if it’s disjointed, then the grand scale of the story gets lost. In a way, it did feel balanced, but it also didn’t. It’s a conflicting movie with very strong elements and some fumbles along the way.

Raimi opened Multiverse of Madness with plenty of action as he set up America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and her purpose in the universe. Even though Chavez doesn’t have much screen time or even much to do other than being protected by Doctor Strange, audiences will get a feel for her character. Gomez grows on you as the film goes on because of her quick backstory and her power set. When Chavez meets Earth-616 Doctor Strange things get interesting. The first act is straightforward and Waldron allows Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) her time to shine. Every single scene with Wanda Maximoff is played out and Raimi let those scenes breathe. The contents of the Darkhold are explored through Scarlet Witch and Raimi makes it a visual spectacle by leaning into those horror elements.

Sam Raimi was able to pull elements from his previous films to make an MCU horror film to be remembered. From the extreme close-ups to wide shots, to stunning transitions, Raimi’s mark was made in the MCU. He knows how to build anticipation and create so much tension by filling the room with silence and he lets the visuals speak for themselves. The sound design combined with his camerawork for certain scenes, plus the genius score by Danny Elfman presented the horrific side of the Scarlet Witch and what Doctor Strange is capable of. This is a visual feast to finally show off their power set and it worked for what it was. At some point, the story did lean more towards Wanda and we lost Strange a bit.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a film that has two conflicting ideas and it seems like certain elements were placed there out of convenience. If it weren’t for Sam Raimi’s style and love for horror then this wouldn’t have been enjoyable. On the surface, it’s a very fun, chaotic, and interesting movie, but once you dive into the character arcs, that’s where it falters. Even though it may feel enjoyable, you still leave the theatre wondering what actually happened and where Doctor Strange even goes from here. The takeaway from Multiverse of Madness is that Elizabeth Olsen continues to shine in this role and no amount of screen time will be enough. And even though this is a sequel to the first Doctor Strange it could not feel more detached from that world that was created.

‘The Northman’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Robert Eggers has easily become one of the most interesting filmmakers to watch in recent years. The Northman is his third film and it feels as if he has perfected his style. He has managed to create a balance between his visual storytelling and his linear script for audiences to appreciate. Even though this is an independent film, mainstream audiences will for sure appreciate Eggers’s approach to Viking lore and the world he created for these characters. The way he structured this story worked extremely well because of the emotional connection to his protagonist and his quest. It felt like an old story being shared with audiences for the first time and it was intriguing.

We meet Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak/Alexander Skarsgard) who is on the verge of becoming a man when his father, King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) is brutally murdered by his uncle Fjölnir The Brotherless (Claes Bang). His uncle ends up kidnapping the boy’s mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman). Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who raids Slavic villages. He soon meets a seeress who reminds him of his vow — save his mother, kill his uncle, avenge his father. After two decades of living on his own and learning to kill, Amleth is reminded of his quest to avenge his father. He has all the tools needed to do this. And with the help of some witchcraft, he is guided by his father on this journey.

Eggers’s previous films had leaned heavily on experimental elements; style over substance if you will. Whereas in this film the visuals enhanced this simplistic narrative to emotionally connect with Amleth’s quest. There is one particular sequence Eggers designed to show that Amleth’s beating heart was tied to his family tree and that was the most beautiful thing to show on-screen. Even though Eggers did not shy away from the brutal violence known to come from the Vikings, it was impossible to look away because of how visually interesting he made those scenes.

The Northman ties in the witchcraft through Prince Amleth’s environment affecting his path. It did not overpower his quest and the focus was always on his father’s blood pact at the beginning of the film. Whether it was through animals coming to him, or the brilliant use of the score to elevate the witchy elements used throughout, it never directly felt like the witchcraft was actually performed. Instead, it felt like it was a lingering presence. Everyone in the cast played their roles well, but Nicole Kidman stole the spotlight in act four, that one scene left me stunned and showed how great of an actress she is. This had the perfect balance of Eggers’s style, baseline experimental elements, and a hero’s quest to make this film feel like a Viking epic.

‘The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There is one actor who has always given a unique performance in any film he has been in and his name is Nicolas Cage. Whether you have been a fan from his early days or have fallen into his resurgence with him working on very different pieces, everyone knows how good of an actor he is. He always commits to his roles and chooses the filmmakers he wants to work with. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is truly the definitive Nicolas Cage movie because it embodies his complexities as an actor, a father, and his creative mind. This cast works together extremely well and you will be surprised with how fun it is.

In this film, Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a man named Javi’s (Pedro Pascal) birthday party. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when CIA operatives Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz) recruit Cage for an unusual mission. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channelling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones. The storyline may feel a bit generic, but Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal elevate it to another level. Their energy with one another carried the entire second act and it was so entertaining to watch. Not only does the film shift between comedy, drama, and action, but it perfectly showcases who Nicolas Cage is as a person.

We get to see Nicolas Cage show his range and how he processes being an actor at his age. It feels like such a personal film without him being fully involved with the screenplay. We also get to see how Hollywood actually works and how they can sometimes treat middle-aged actors who don’t have the same level of fame anymore. It’s constructed so audiences can understand the industry as a job and not just for glamour. In the film, Cage has a strained relationship with his daughter and his wife, so he gives a grounded and emotional performance when it comes to them. Then with Javi, he remembers who he is; the young, working actor, who had some of his best roles in the 90s, helping him change his career around later in his life. Not only did it dive deep into Cage’s massive talents, but the movie came with a lot of laughs.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent will be released in theatres on April 22nd. If you are a massive fan of Nicolas Cage, then you definitely need to buy a ticket. Even if you’ve never really been a fan of his (like me), this movie will make you appreciate him a bit more. The first two acts are very entertaining and filled with plenty of laughs and great emotional moments, but the third act falls into generic territory with the action sequences. There is a reveal at the end which was predictable, but that doesn’t take away from how unique this movie is. It does, for the most part, feel refreshing because a movie like this hasn’t really been done before.