‘Single All The Way’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We all know how tough the Holidays can be. Sometimes it is nice to be around friends and family. Or sometimes, you can feel pressured by the expectations they put on you. The new Netflix movie Single All The Way flips the typical ‘fake boyfriend’ trope and makes the matchmaking a family affair. Even though some family members pressure you about being single around the Holidays, they do mean well. And great things can happen because of their meddling. This entire cast worked so well together and their chemistry made you feel apart of the family.

There are two best friends named Nick (Michael Urie) and Peter (Philemon Chambers) who live in sunny LA. On this particular Christmas, Peter doesn’t want to go home single, again, after another failed relationship. So Peter convinces Nick to be his pretend boyfriend. We are all guilty of loving this trope, especially when it’s done well! This was the most fun I’ve had with a Holiday movie in a while. It’s also one that you can revisit every single year. Oh, and most importantly, Jennifer Coolidge steals the spotlight. No, seriously, her part as the fairy godmother in the Christmas pageant is top tier Coolidge.

Peter comes from such a big, loving family, who just want to see him happy. He has this extraordinary life in Los Angeles but misses the wholesome family feeling in New Hampshire. It breaks his heart knowing that his nephews are growing up so fast and he doesn’t have enough time with them. There is nothing like the Holidays to make you feel grateful for having your family and friends around you. That is exactly what Single All The Way offers audiences. They show this love through meddling in Peter’s fake relationship. When Peter’s mother sets him up on a blind date with a handsome ski instructor, he is whisked away into daydreaming about life in New Hampshire.

His best friend Nick, sorts through his own feelings, and worries that Peter might move away, after living together for nine years. It pulls at the heartstrings because of the relationship between Peter and Nick. The entire family sees a different connection than they do, so it makes for a very interesting love triangle over Christmas. Most importantly, the queer representation in this film was refreshing and it is a Holiday movie that was definitely needed for this community. It’s pure joy and happiness surrounding very cute gay best friends, who don’t realize what they have in front of them.

‘House of Gucci’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Versace. Armani. Gucci.

Those are three of the most notable fashion designers that hail from Italy. When you think of them, you think: suave, sleek, and sexy. Like any Europeans – but especially Italians- there is this air that comes with being Italian. It’s not necessarily pride, or arrogance; it’s more of knowing who you are and being able to carry it well. Your last name also carries so much weight because it is a gift to be a part of your family. The family connection combined with care for your craft is something that is cherished and will bloom in your soul. When making a film about Italian royalty, like Gucci, all of this needs to be incorporated in order to sell the story you’re telling.

The main issue with Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, apart from the script being an absolute mess, and the accents constantly being dropped, is that it does not feel Italian. It doesn’t matter if you shove Italian songs in your soundtrack or drink espresso like it’s going out of style, it simply did not give off that essence within the atmosphere of this film. It did not feel sleek, suave, or sexy, and that is what I was expecting. This film takes place in the 80s and the colour palette was very dull. This is a film about Gucci and it was lacking in glamour? The wardrobe was wasted because the clothes ended up wearing the actors, instead of the actors owning the fact that they are dripping in Gucci from head-to-toe.

When you look at this cast, you think that it’s stacked, but when you actually watch the movie, they were only as strong as their weakest performer. Unfortunately, the accents did not work for me whatsoever and the execution of this lacklustre script made this film drag on. The tone shifted from romantic drama, to generic biopic. Then everything changed to a straight mockery of Italian culture with Jared Leto’s performance. The authentic Italian essence came from Al Pacino himself. Then, miraculously, towards the end of the film, Adam Driver finally understood the air of Gucci. What can be said about Stefania Germanotta’s Patrizia Reggiani is that she attempted to act like her instead of fully embodying this character.

House of Gucci is a very generic biopic that does not stick the landing. There are choices made by Ridley Scott that do not work for the world that he was trying to emulate. For a film to lean so heavily on Italian culture and for there not to be an ounce of that European essence makes for an inauthentic film. We all want to be apart of the glamour or a fashion dynasty and to be able to wear these brands, but you do not feel like being apart of their world at all. It all felt very bland and stretched out to make the murder of Maurizio Gucci be this grand thing but even that was wasted in this movie.

‘C’mon C’mon’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Over the past couple of years, the world has changed drastically. It has affected all of us and many adults have attempted to change our society and our planet, but no one is even asking how it’s affecting younger kids. We have been conditioned to look at children and teenagers as not being fully developed mentally. How could they possibly understand what is going on, when they haven’t even experienced life yet? In C’mon C’mon, Mike Mills explores the mental state of young children and their perspective on life.

We meet Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) who is an emotionally stunted and soft-spoken radio journalist. He travels the country interviewing a variety of kids about their thoughts concerning their world and their future. Johnny then takes on the responsibility of caring for his young nephew Jesse (Woody Norman). Jesse brings a new perspective and, as they travel from state to state, effectively turns the emotional tables on Johnny. The entire film is dependent on their dynamic and we see a budding friendship develop into something beautiful.

Courtesy of A24

As Johnny reconnects with Jesse, he learns more about himself in that short period of time. Mike Mills integrated the interviews from other children with Jesse’s behaviour in order to show the difference in expressing oneself. Jesse internalized his feelings about everything and he would express it in very obscure ways, to the point where his mother Viv (Gaby Hoffman) had to research how to approach her son. We see that Jesse has been through a lot with his parents and he has trouble understanding his feelings on an emotional level causing him to lash out in different ways.

What Mike Mills educates audiences on is how we can all become emotionally mature if we all help each other. How can we, as humans, become more mindful of our neighbour? What questions can we ask? How can we conduct ourselves? It is an interesting dynamic because you have an adult in Johnny, who expresses himself through his work, but bottles up his past without fully healing. Then with Jesse, there is no filter when he is asking hard hitting, personal questions, but he closes himself off the second someone questions him. Jesse and Johnny learn to trust each other and it’s more than a standard uncle and nephew connection, that bond was formed through an emotional understanding.

Not only does Mills weave the importance of these radio interviews with Jesse and Johnny’s journey with each other, but the film’s structure elevated their characters in a unique way. As the film went on, there were important book titles that accurately depicted past struggles in order to give a bit of backstory. Mills showed Viv’s relationship with her husband Paul (Scoot McNairy), Johnny’s relationship with Viv and their mother, and lastly Jesse’s relationship with his parents. All of this was shown while one of the books highlighted was being read aloud. There is the expression of the emotional and behavioural aspects through the dialogue that helps the visuals in the flashbacks.

Courtesy of A24

Mills created a very intimate story between a nephew and his uncle, while diving into larger topics to show how other children are thinking. It is a wonderful piece of writing that explores the nature of our society and how children are conditioned to stay quiet because they don’t know what’s best for them. Instead of controlling them, which is also stunting their mental and emotional growth, they should have room to feel everything and understand their emotions in a healthy way. Jesse is the central focus of all of this and we see that Johnny changes his outlook.

C’mon C’mon is beautifully made and one of the most introspective films of the year. Mills presents mental health and healing through important conversations. More importantly, this film is special because of the importance placed on how children can be affected by the decisions adults make. Hopefully this film will give adults more insight in how to approach children in actually having these large-scale conversations about the world because they are fully aware of what is happening around them. Adults just need to give them the chance to express themselves and maybe society, and our world, will change.

‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

This is the second movie of the year, where I went in with very low expectations and it surprised me. Everyone knows that I am not a huge Ghostbusters fan, but this sequel had so much heart, even though it felt like a reworked version of the first instalment. For some reason, I got attached to these characters because of the generational pull of the Spengler family. We have Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ‘Ghostbusters’ and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

Director Jason Reitman was able to reinvent the franchise with this legacy film by having a young girl take on her grandfather’s life’s work. Phoebe is a scientist first and a kid second. McKenna Grace continues to blow me away with how talented she is because she showed such range in this role. She held this movie together; well, her and Paul Rudd because it’s Paul Rudd and he’s just fun to watch at this point. Grace had the emotional pull that made this movie so heartwarming and Rudd brought his charisma, especially when running away from mini-marshmallow puffs.

Apart from the very basic looking location, and the rough editing, what really added to the excitement of the action scenes, were the visuals. There weren’t that many ghosts, but cinematographer Eric Steelberg and the VFX team came together and made some really interesting choices to tell this fun ghost story. We had ghosts coming out of the shadows and there were some perfect jump scares. What I really loved was that they got the kids involved and put them in the action, just so a new generation can appreciate the ‘Ghostbusters’.

People say that nostalgia ruins sequels or reboots, but sometimes, when it’s not overstuffed in order to make the audience feel something, it can be really great. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is actually a beautiful tribute to Harold Ramis and the legacy he left behind. It has such an emotional ending and will leave you wanting another one with this fun cast. This movie is special, if it could make a non-Ghostbusters fan shed a tear at the end. It’s funny, a bit far fetched in the third act, but it has character, just like the first installment. Make sure to stay for the post-credit scene to see a familiar face.

‘Cowboy Bebop’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

3, 2, 1… let’s jam!

One of the most beloved anime has been given the live-action treatment on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of Cowboy Bebop or you haven’t dived into the extensive anime catalogue, then this series will definitely get you interested. Cowboy Bebop is a Japanese science fiction neo-noir anime television series created and animated by Sunrise and André Nemex for Netflix has adapted it. We see a ragtag crew of bounty hunters (in space), chase down the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals; they’ll save the world for the right price. So yes, they are heroes, but they also gain some coin in the process.

The opening credits sequence that was released had everyone sold even before watching the actual series. The one thing that can be said about Cowboy Bebop is that it has a fun style and there is vibrancy to the atmosphere on each planet. When we first meet Spike Spiegel (John Cho) and Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) they are on a mission to collect a bounty. Within that first sequence, Cho completely embodies Spiegel and the fight choreography that follows will have you locked in for the rest of the series. The directors, Alex Garcia Lopez and Michael Katleman have so much fun with the fight sequences, as they fuse together western genre conventions and anime tropes.

Spike Spiegel has a past that he has been trying to get away from and he has adapted to his new life as a bounty hunter quite nicely. Spiegel and Jet Black are fairly comfortable with each other but it seems like they don’t know the extent of each other’s lives before they met. As the story unfolds, we get flashbacks to Spiegel’s past life and how it suddenly merges with his encounters on different missions. There are plenty of characters that come into play like, Julia (Elena Satine), Vicious (Alex Hassell), and my personal favourite Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda). They all bring something different to the table and change the dynamic of the story.

Without spoiling anything – even though this is an adaptation of an anime that has been around since the ’90s – this story tends to get lost a bit throughout the series because of the surface level ‘bounty hunting’ in each episode. Even though the story does get a bit jumbled, and the main storyline gets slightly off track, the series is just filled with so much style and excitement, that there really is never a dull moment. It’s a lot to take in, but once you understand these characters and get to the meat of their story, you’ll want to see more of them. Cowboy Bebop has impressed me and if the live-action does anything, for anyone, it’s that it will make you want to watch the anime from the beginning.