Case 347 Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Case 347 written and directed by Chris Wax, follows psychologist and UFO skeptic, Dr. Mia Jansen (Maya Stojan), and a team of documentary filmmakers who believe that alien abduction claims are forms of “mass hysteria”. The film uses found footage to tell its story, while integrating the live reactions of those filming and narrating the situation. On their journey they make some shocking discoveries and end up in a nightmare.

The film has pretty strong moments that peak your interest. The  different camera angles from the found footage, combined with security footage and night vision lenses, were used effectively to create a dark, sinister atmosphere. However, the film felt episodic and did not really flow from scene to scene that well. There would be an encounter and then dead air right after, it almost felt like we were waiting for something else to happen, rather than just being in the moment with the characters.

The film just seemed very mediocre and could have been a research paper, instead of a film. For a film that is relies so heavily on the footage they found, they don’t really make any of it plausible because of how mediocre it looked. For some reason it just did not feel believable. It just seemed messy and the performances were lacking any emotional depth. It emulated films that have dealt with paranormal activity and made it uninteresting.

Case 347 starts off strong and then loses its audience when it becomes over exaggerated. The found footage is not enough to make this film interesting and that is why it is difficult to sit through. It seemed very fake and majority of the scares were just used for shock value and it did not really make sense in relation to the the alien storyline. It had the potential to be a solid horror film but the performances were not strong enough to carry this through.

TOTO Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Toto is a very inventive and sweet short film showing how dependant we have all become on technology. It is also quite humorous because the lead is 90 year – old, nonna Rosa (Rosa Forlano) who is having difficulty, adjusting to a robot being in her house. Toto is an ode to real life situations and how people can’t seem to function without technology. It brings together the older generation and the new generation in order to understand the complexities of technology.

Toto definitely hits close to home because I am seen as the “fix it, IT person” in the house. The film doesn’t only apply to seniors, but it also applies to middle aged people who never grew up with technology. All the Gen X and Millennials can understand how frustrating it can be to actually explain how to use technology to others, when it has become second nature to us. It was heartwarming and fun to see Nonna Rosa, who is also the grandmother of the director Marco Baldonado, interact with the robot.

It is a very simple story and shows a full day of a nonna adapting to living with a robot, that is programmed to help her. Toto is very similar in nature to Baymax, from Big Hero 6 but functions differently. The entire climax of Toto is the issue of charging its battery in order for it to help the nonna. That’s where the humour comes in because everyone knows an Italian nonna will always take matters into her own hands, when things go wrong.

The construction for Toto is well done and the robot is quite massive. It used lights and a “siri” like voice to attend to the nonna. Toto was trained to cook and clean, in order to help the nonna, but let’s face it robots can’t be compared to the will power of a nonna. It shows an important lesson of learning about technology but also still trying to do things on your own. When technology fails so many of us, we have to be able to work through situations on our own.

The Skywalker Saga Rant


BY: Amanda Guarragi 

May the Fourth be with you all on Star Wars Day.

After four decades of Star Wars content, the Skywalker saga finally came to an end last year, with The Rise of Skywalker. Today Disney Plus released the final instalment on their streaming, two months ahead of schedule and the series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was also released to celebrate today. Disney really had the right idea in mind to have a Star Wars party on the day that is treasured by so many fans worldwide. The Skywalker Saga is truly something special, so I thought I would do a breakdown, of what I think of the series as a whole.

Even if you haven’t succumbed to the hardcore nature of the fanbase, everyone knows who Luke Skywalker is and his story. It’s a tale as old as time now, considering that A New Hope came out in 1977, its lore is now embedded in pop culture forever. For those who have invested so much time, love, and money in the Skywalker Saga, it’s fair to say that when any new age Star Wars film was released, the fans were extremely critical of what Disney was doing to these characters.

Some have said that The Force Awakens was a carbon copy of A New Hope and in many ways it was. However, I found that having some similarities while introducing it to a new generation, helped them appreciate the original saga and the journey they were about to embark on with the new ones. There are similar personality traits with certain characters and it was entertaining to watch them interact. The Force Awakens presented a new, more diverse cast and it all seemed promising. Disney also marketed the new Star Wars saga extremely well and that was the driving force of this new trilogy.

The Force Awakens was my first Star Wars film that I watched in theatres and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. I didn’t think I would feel emotional watching the opening titles the way I did, but it was such a huge moment. I always envied the people who were able to watch Star Wars on the big screen and when I eventually did, I finally understood how powerful the Star Wars films were. I had become heavily invested in the characters and couldn’t wait for more content, I was hooked.

I would be considered a freshman to the world of Star Wars. I enjoyed watching the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy but I have to admit that I was never a die hard fan. It’s a franchise that everyone should watch in their lifetime and that’s why I did it. As much as people hate the prequel trilogy, it was great to see how Anakin and Obi Wan started. It made Luke’s story so much richer and then his encounter with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back holds so much weight and it’s a very emotional moment. The new trilogy used nostalgia to pull on the heartstrings and that’s why the attachment to these new characters were different. The reason why we loved Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo was because they were somehow connected to previous characters, whether it was lineage or similar character traits.

I became attached to these characters and I really enjoyed the story arc of one of them in particular. Even though Rey was the lead and it was great to see a woman, at the forefront in a Star Wars film, Kylo Ren still had the most interesting story in the new trilogy. He is the son of a Solo and a Skywalker, he is apart of the golden lineage that has graced the screen for the past four decades. He is a descendent of Anakin Skywalker and struggles with both, light and dark, within him because of who his parents were. Ben Solo was THE BEST character in the trilogy and it is because he is a Skywalker.

There has been so much controversy surrounding the new trilogy and it was because a woman was at the forefront. People also complained that the nostalgia overpowered the content of the film and they never had a clear plan for this trilogy. When The Last Jedi was released, I was blown away by the stunning visuals and the story involving Luke Skywalker. Rian Johnson added so many layers to the world and the meaning of hope in one film, but sadly others felt that the magic of Star Wars was ruined. After The Last Jedi the discourse did not stop until we all caught a glimpse of The Rise of SkywalkerThey didn’t really show much and the trailer seemed promising because it was the final film in the Skywalker saga.

The months leading up to The Rise of Skywalker were quiet. There wasn’t the same hype as the previous instalments. Even the marketing seemed more tame. You could say there was a shift in the force. There was an entirely different feeling going into the final film and no, it wasn’t the same as heading into Avengers: Endgame or gearing up to watch the Game of Thrones finale. No, there was a different type of dread that I couldn’t  understand. People were genuinely worried with how they were going to wrap up four decades worth of a story. Everyone had a right to be worried because, like I said before, there was no plan for this trilogy.

We went from a sequel that restored hope in the galaxy, showing that anyone can become a jedi and harness that power, to a film that completely erased everything that came before it. The Rise of Skywalker was a complete mess the second we found out about Rey’s lineage. I loved the first half of that film because Poe was finally at the forefront and Finn also had a bit more to do. I was gearing up for Rey and Kylo to be the balance in the force and work together, while Kylo turns back to the light. How can you call something The Rise of Skywalker and then cut the lineage? That’s what was so frustrating. No one wanted Rey to be anyone. The fact that she was a nobody and she wanted to study the Jedi way, was what made her story unique. The fact that anybody could harness that power is what made her special.

If anyone should get their own trilogy it should be Ben Solo because of the injustice they served his character. I just couldn’t believe the journey they decided to take him on and then just destroy it in the most irresponsible way. A name is important, you don’t just give away a name to try and make sense of the title you gave your own film. Rey had no right to take up the Skywalker name, considering her lineage of being a Palpatine, which is also just lazy writing. How can you give a Palpatine, the Skywalker name after four decades worth of a story? It definitely leaves a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth, it sure did make me angry when I walked out of that theatre.

Whether you loved The Rise of Skywalker or hated it, the Skywalker saga has made a huge impact on pop culture and will always have a place in everyone’s hearts. In a way the ending of The Last Jedi could technically be used as the last film in the Skywalker story. It did end with Luke dying and restored hope to the galaxy. This debate will go on forever, but don’t worry Disney has more things planned for the Star Wars universe. They won’t let it fizzle out after one bust. So I hope everyone enjoys their mini Star Wars marathon today and may the force be with you always.

*click here to see where I ranked each Star Wars film*

 

 

Amanda’s Picks: The 25th Annual Critics Choice Awards

The 25th Annual Critics Choice Awards are on tonight and it is the second award show of the Oscar season! After the winners were announced for the Golden Globes, the race for Best Picture is a bit cloudy, considering 1917 took Best Director and Best Picture Drama.

So…here are my picks ahead of tonight’s telecast.

Best Picture

1917
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite
Uncut Gems

MY PICK: Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood 

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

MY PICK: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems 

Best Actress

Awkwafina, The Farewell
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Renée Zellweger, Judy

MY PICK: Lupita Nyong’o, Us 

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

MY PICK: Brad Pitt, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood 

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie,  Bombshell
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

MY PICK: Florence Pugh, Little Women 

Best Young Actor/Actress

Julia Butters, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit
Noah Jupe, Honey Boy
Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit
Shahadi Wright Joseph, Us
Archie Yates, Jojo Rabbit

MY PICK: Noah Jupe, Honey Boy 

Best Acting Ensemble

Bombshell
The Irishman
Knives Out
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood  
Parasite

MY PICK: Little Women/The Irishman 

Best Director

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Bong Joon Ho, Parasite
Sam Mendes, 1917
Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

MY PICK: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite 

Best Original Screenplay

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Rian Johnson, Knives Out
Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Lulu Wang, The Farewell

MY PICK: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes
Todd Phillips & Scott Silver, Joker
Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
Steven Zaillian, The Irishman

MY PICK: Steve Zaillian, The Irishman 

Best Cinematography

Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse
Roger Deakins, 1917
Phedon Papamichael, Ford v Ferrari
Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman
Robert Richardson, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Lawrence Sher, Joker

MY PICK: Roger Deakins, 1917 

Best Production Design

Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran, Joker
Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales, 1917
Jess Gonchor, Claire Kaufman, Little Women
Lee Ha Jun, Parasite
Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Bob Shaw, Regina Graves, The Irishman
Donal Woods, Gina Cromwell, Downton Abbey

MY PICK: Bob Shaw, Regina Graves, The Irishman 

Best Editing

Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems
Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, Ford v Ferrari
Yang Jinmo, Parasite
Fred Raskin, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Thelma Schoonmaker, The Irishman
Lee Smith, 1917

MY PICK: Thelma Schoonmaker, The Irishman 

Best Costume Design

Ruth E. Carter, Dolemite Is My Name
Julian Day, Rocketman
Jacqueline Durran, Little Women
Arianne Phillips, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson, The Irishman
Anna Robbins, Downton Abbey

MY PICK: Ruth E. Cater, Dolemite Is My Name 

Best Hair and Makeup

Bombshell
Dolemite Is My Name The Irishman
Joker
Judy
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Rocketman

MY PICK: The Irishman 

Best Visual Effects

1917
Ad Astra
The Aeronauts
Avengers: Endgame
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
The Lion King 

MY PICK: Ad Astra 

Best Animated Feature

Abominable
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

MY PICK: Missing Link 

Best Action Movie

1917
Avengers: Endgame
Ford v Ferrari
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Spider-Man: Far From Home

MY PICK: Ford v Ferrari 

Best Comedy

Booksmart
Dolemite Is My Name
The Farewell
Jojo Rabbit
Knives Out

MY PICK: Booksmart 

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie

Ad Astra
Avengers: Endgame
Midsommar
Us

MY PICK: Us 

Best Foreign Language Film

Atlantics
Les Misérables
Pain and Glory
Parasite
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

MY PICK: Parasite 

Best Song

“Glasgow (No Place Like Home)”, Wild Rose
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”, Rocketman
“I’m Standing With You”, Breakthrough
“Into the Unknown”, Frozen II
“Speechless”, Aladdin
“Spirit”, The Lion King
“Stand Up”, Harriet

MY PICK: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” Rocketman  

Best Score

Michael Abels, Us 
Alexandre Desplat, Little Women
Hildur Guðnadóttir, Joker
Randy Newman, Marriage Story
Thomas Newman, 1917
Robbie Robertson, The Irishman

MY PICK: Hildur Guðnadóttir, Joker

The following picks will be in BOLD. 

Best Drama Series

The Crown (Netflix)
David Makes Man (OWN)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Pose (FX)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)
Watchmen (HBO)

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
Mike Colter,  Evil (CBS)
Paul Giamatti, Billions (Showtime)
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor (ABC)
Tobias Menzies, The Crown (Netflix)
Billy Porter, Pose (FX)
Jeremy Strong, Succession (HBO)

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski, The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Olivia Colman, The Crown (Netflix)
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve (BBC America)
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Regina King, Watchmen (HBO)
Mj Rodriguez, Pose (FX)
Sarah Snook, Succession (HBO)
Zendaya, Euphoria (HBO)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Asante Blackk, This Is Us (NBC)
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show (Apple)
Asia Kate Dillon, Billions (Showtime)
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Justin Hartley, This Is Us (NBC)
Delroy Lindo, The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Tim Blake Nelson, Watchmen (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown (Netflix)
Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Audra McDonald, The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Jean Smart, Watchmen (HBO)
Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us (NBC)

Best Comedy Series

Barry (HBO)
Fleabag (Amazon)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Mom (CBS)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
PEN15 (Hulu)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

Ted Danson, The Good Place (NBC)
Walton Goggins, The Unicorn (CBS)
Bill Hader, Barry (HBO)
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Paul Rudd, Living with Yourself (Netflix)
Bashir Salahuddin, Sherman’s Showcase (IFC)
Ramy Youssef, Ramy (Hulu)

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me (Netflix)
Alison Brie, GLOW (Netflix)
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Kirsten Dunst, On Becoming a God in Central Florida (Showtime)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag (Amazon)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
Anthony Carrigan, Barry (HBO)
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place (NBC)
Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Nico Santos, Superstore (NBC)
Andrew Scott, Fleabag (Amazon)
Henry Winkler, Barry (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place (NBC)
Sian Clifford, Fleabag (Amazon)
Betty Gilpin, GLOW (Netflix)
Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Molly Shannon, The Other Two (Comedy Central)

Best Limited Series

Catch-22 (Hulu)
Chernobyl (HBO)
Fosse/Verdon (FX)
The Loudest Voice (Showtime)
Unbelievable (Netflix)
When They See Us (Netflix)
Years and Years (HBO)

Best Movie Made for Television

Brexit (HBO)
Deadwood: The Movie (HBO)
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
Guava Island (Amazon)
Native Son (HBO)
Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)

Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Christopher Abbott, Catch-22 (Hulu)
Mahershala Ali, True Detective (HBO)
Russell Crowe, The Loudest Voice (Showtime)
Jared Harris, Chernobyl (HBO)
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us (Netflix)
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Noah Wyle, The Red Line (CBS)

Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable (Netflix)
Anne Hathaway, Modern Love (Amazon)
Megan Hilty, Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)
Joey King, The Act (Hulu)
Jessie Mueller, Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)
Merritt Wever, Unbelievable (Netflix)
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon (FX)

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Asante Blackk, When They See Us (Netflix)
George Clooney, Catch-22 (Hulu)
John Leguizamo, When They See Us (Netflix)
Dev Patel, Modern Love (Amazon)
Jesse Plemons, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
Stellan Skarsgård, Chernobyl (HBO)
Russell Tovey, Years and Years (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Patricia Arquette, The Act (Hulu)
Marsha Stephanie Blake, When They See Us (Netflix)
Toni Collette, Unbelievable (Netflix)
Niecy Nash, When They See Us (Netflix)
Margaret Qualley, Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Emma Thompson, Years and Years (HBO)
Emily Watson, Chernobyl (HBO)

Best Animated Series

Big Mouth (Netflix)
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Undone (Amazon)

Best Talk Show

Desus & Mero (Showtime)
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
The Kelly Clarkson Show (NBC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)

Best Comedy Special

Amy Schumer Growing (Netflix)
Jenny Slate: Stage Fright (Netflix)
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons (ABC)
Ramy Youssef: Feelings (HBO)
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (Netflix)
Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia (Netflix)
Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Netflix)

Underwater Movie Review

The first original horror film of the year, will definitely take you into the depths of claustrophobia and anxiety. Underwater movie is a film that speaks on humanity and the need for empathy. William Eubanks’ directorial debut was really fresh and exciting. I personally love sci-fi and monster films, so this was a unique take on it.

Underwater begins with Kristen Stewart’s character, Norah, who is a mechanical engineer on the ship. As she was brushing her teeth, she noticed a spider in the sink. I am an arachnophobe, so I would have naturally killed the spider. However, Norah thinks about this poor creature stuck at the bottom of this sink and it’s life was in her hands. She then helps the spider get to safety and moves it away from the sink with a paper towel. Throughout the film Norah’s empathetic nature is put on display and at times, her emotions get the best of her.

I really enjoyed the storyline because the Captain (Vincent Cassel), explained the three part process in order to get out of their current situation. I knew the objective and as an audience member, you’re just strapped in for the underwater ride. The special effects were well done and Marco Beltrami’s score was eerie. The camerawork also made me feel confined to every small space Eubanks put his characters in, while simultaneously feeling the vast darkness and depth of the ocean.

At times, it did get a bit messy during certain scenes involving explosions, BUT the anticipation of what sea monster was lurking in the dark, definitely made up for it. There were humorous moments throughout, courtesy of T.J. Miller’s comedic timing and it definitely eased the tension that Eubanks created. It’s a fun monster movie and it definitely has plenty of pop ups, but it’s worth supporting this original horror piece! So start the year off right this weekend and indulge the horrors of the sea.