Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar has Kristen Wiig ‘SNL’ humour written all over it and it’s exactly what the world needs. Remember when we used to get comedies that were just fun for the hell of it? Well this is exactly one of those comedies. It has a far-fetched concept but for some reason it totally works. Lifelong friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time ever! There are two stories that come together in this film that I do not want to spoil because it is completely out of leftfield. Let’s just say Kristen Wiig plays a dual role that is really fun and interesting.

Barb and Star have a really sweet friendship. They have been living together for a while now and are inseparable. They wanted to explore the world and have some fun because they got bored with living the same cycle over and over again. What is so wonderful about Barb and Star is that they are so optimistic and upbeat! If you are a fan of Kristen Wiig’s SNL sketches, the humour is kind of dry and awkward but it will have you laughing at how off-the-wall some scenes are. Their chemistry was great and they created a memorable duo.

The big takeaway from this comedy is that Jamie Dornan was hilarious in this! Wiig had him doing all sorts of wild things and it totally worked. Dornan rolled with the punches and gave a great performance. He had some musical numbers that I was rather impressed with and he had great chemistry with everyone. It was really great to see him so free and lovestruck in this comedy. You’ll see a totally different side of him and I’m really happy Wiig got this performance out of him. The movie is just such a fun ride that has so many twists and turns to carry it to the end.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a comedy that will take you back to the days where these films were made just to have fun. The whole cast is great and it just gets sillier as the movie goes on. The heart of this film is the friendship between Barb and Star. We all need those lifelong friends to always be there for you no matter what. Their relationship is what makes this film so special and there is so much to learn from Barb and Star.

Body & Bones Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Body & Bones written and directed by Melanie Oates, tells a tale of a young girl named Tess (Kelly Van der Burg) trying to find some sort of spark in her life again. She has been missing school and has detached herself from her home life completely. She uses music to escape the world and the way she’s feeling. One artist, in particular, named Danny Sharpe (Joel Thomas Hynes) has become her obsession. So what would happen if a young, impressionable, teenage girl met her idol? Melanie Oates explores the brutal truth.

I think many of us have wondered about meeting our idols, or celebrities that we are infatuated with, or even just admire. Oates takes a teenage girl and whisks her into the life of a washed up rockstar. It is a journey that should be seen because teenage girls are often blinded by the persona of someone older. It is always explored as something great and it is often romanticised but this was the total opposite. Oates made sure to show the alcoholism, verbal/emotional abuse and the complete disregard for a woman, once she has been used to her full capacity.

There are some very strong moments, especially from Van der Burg as she explores her sexuality and a very powerful moment in the third act of the film. It truly shows how damaging a relationship can be with someone you think you know. It is the perception of the person, that we tend to put on a pedestal because you are so infatuated with them. People can be blinded by the one they’re aching for and sometimes do questionable things, like moving in with them at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, as Tess did.

Body & Bones does show the extent of a wrong relationship, as Oates carefully builds up tender moments shared between Danny and Tess, only to rip the bandaid off in the end. It has a great soundtrack to accompany the emotional connection Tess has with Danny and some great camerawork. It is a film that takes the ultimate fantasy and shows the brutal reality of it all.

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.

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.

Cannes Award-Winning Feature: ‘Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

The ‘Cannes’ award-winning feature Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture is a satirical animated film, that dives deep into the stories of young Hollywood starlets and their treatment throughout the years. It is written, directed and produced by Nicole Brending, who also voices 14 characters in the film. It takes multiple tabloid stories from the lives of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears and bluntly addresses the toxic, intrusiveness of the media, when it comes to young teenage girls, being forced into an industry standard.

It is extremely fitting, to have dolls symbolize the conformity of being a starlet in Hollywood and having to essentially become a clone, in order to become accepted by everyone. The first half of this film, explores the sexploitation of young women in the music industry and how they have been mentally abused, by the authoritative presence surrounding them. At the young age of 12, Junie Spoons was cast in the show Candy Castles, which very much resembles the Mickey Mouse Club and it was more of the journey Britney Spears went on at a very early age.

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Courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing

When taking serious subject matters and presenting them through a different medium, in this case, animation, it is much easier to express honesty in the toxicity of the subject. Brending was so honest in her storytelling and how the media, would always spin the lives of young starlets in a negative manner. The one thing I found worked really well was the depiction of men, through boyband member Zachary Wilderness, whose name oddly resembles Justin Timberlake’s. Bendring presented the journey of Zachary Wilderness, as this perfect fairytale and that’s how young men, are taken care of by the media in the industry.

The juxtaposition of the two, was really eye opening, especially because young starlets like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, have been very outspoken about the treatment of women in the industry, specifically child stars. It is very well written and uses major tabloid stories, that viewers still remember to this day. It was hard to watch because of how in depth the film went into Britney Spears and her downward spiral, especially considering how much we know now. It was necessary to make a film like this, in all of it’s nastiness, while addressing the faux journalism that takes place when taking control of these narratives.

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Courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing 

The film does lose its way in the third act with a surprise storyline. There was a storyline that was placed at the end involving a transgender character and I think that’s where it lost its way a bit. It was difficult to understand why this storyline came up towards the end and I tried to find the symbolism behind it. It seemed that it was symbolic, in wanting to achieve perfection and the media’s idea of perfection, is the look of a young Hollywood star. This ideal is so incredibly damaging, that it leads to many eating disorders and plastic surgeries gone wrong. It still doesn’t make the case, as to why the sexual identity comes into play at the end but it’s definitely up for interpretation.

Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture is a film that allows viewers to understand and interpret how poorly treated these young girls are. They are exploited sexually, forced to grow up in a toxic environment and treated as a possession, until they are old enough to understand how authority figures abused their power over them. Nicole Brending does excellent work in delivering this subject matter with such brutal honesty, that the film should be studied for years to come.