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.

Everything I Learned Came From The Television Short Film Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Everything I Learned Came From The Television is a very unique science fiction short film, that explores the damaging effects of media consumption. There are metaphors that symbolize the media’s influence, whether it be from a friend, or an inaccessible overlord, media will always have this hold on people.

The opening of this film is haunting and powerful, as a song with the title of the film, begins to play. The imagery in this film is quite stunning because of the lighting and shadowing used from the television monitors versus the world outside. We see young Hannah (Brittany Lynn Blanchard) staring at multiple monitors, as she sits on the floor. Her eyes are blank and the static from the television replace her pupils.

It locks you in the moment it begins because of how interesting the visuals are. The story is linear and the concept is intriguing because of how well crafted this film is. However, the concept does get lost in translation, as the dialogue doesn’t quite explain the purpose of Hannah recruiting minions for this ‘cult’. She has been tied to her Protector (Josh Wingate) and wants to be free of this attachment. It was a mental journey for Hannah because she started to understand the underlying issue of her powers.

Everything I Learned Came From The Television has solid visuals, beautiful cinematography and symmetry within the frame. The concept of this short film is really interesting and works well in the current climate. Technology is a beast and it can be perceived differently by other generations. It explores the true state of media consumption through a science fiction tale.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Charlie Kaufman’s long awaited Netflix Original Film is very unconventional and bold, but the screenplay suffers from over explaining the philosophy of life. What starts out as a young woman, questioning her relationship, ends up being a convoluted study on ageism and life itself. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things has a very intriguing first half and then it somehow falls apart, as it spirals into an ending that doesn’t quite suit what came before it.

At first, Kaufman explores the layers of what it means to be in a relationship, or rather, how to get out of one that didn’t feel quite right. The Young Woman, played by Jessie Buckley, has this internal monologue that highlights what is wrong in her relationship by doing a voiceover, while her boyfriend Jake, played by Jesse Plemons, is talking to her. They both gave solid, individual performances but the script is what caused this to be so confusing and sometimes uncomfortable.

It just felt really messy and oversaturated with philosophical symbolism, by the end it seemed like Kaufman got lost in what he was trying to convey as well. The tonal shifts throughout the film were very abrupt, which put a damper on trying to make any thematic connections whatsoever. Every time I thought I understood what Kaufman was trying to say, he took it to an entirely different place leaving me confused with what was happening in The Young Woman’s mind.

As they both travel to the outskirts of farm country to have a formal family dinner, to meet Jake’s parents, The Young Woman becomes more cynical and she is now scared of her future.

“Humans can’t live in the present, so they invented hope.”

The Young Woman (Jessie Buckley) ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

In a way, the home of Jake’s parents became the layers of The Young Woman’s mind, as she assessed the lives of his father (David Thewlis) and mother (Toni Collette). There are so many ways to study the psychology of these characters because The Young Woman feels stuck and envisions her future with her in laws.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is a mixture of an existential crisis, relationship issues and family dysfunction, that loses all meaning in the 3rd act. It becomes unbearable to listen to The Young Woman ramble on about life without actually making any points. It’s almost as if Kaufman is trying to recreate his previous work to continue his ongoing theme of heartbreaking relationships that address mental illnesses. This one just falls through entirely because he tried to do too much with it.