I Care A Lot Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

As we all know, films can be a representation of society. Which means, that there can be genuinely good people as protagonists, or morally flawed, complex and bad people as protagonists. Some films want to showcase these disturbed protagonists with ideologies that counter the government or any system put in place. I Care a Lot introduced us to Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a court assigned legal guardian, to the elderly, in their time of need. What Grayson does, is take hold of her clients assets and drains them of their savings. Could there be people out there who do this? Well, we sure as hell found out in this film.

This film shows the perseverance and ambition in achieving the American Dream. Grayson had been poor her whole life and in her eyes, the only way to gain more of a financial status is by cheating the system. Rosamund Pike was perfectly cast as Grayson, no one else could have played this role. Pike has mastered the role of a morally conflicted woman, with a flawed perception of society, who eventually executes the ideas in her head, in a very disturbing way. Sure, Pike only has Amy Dunne as a character that can be referred to, but Marla Grayson is in that tier performance wise. If Pike is so good delivering these roles to us, then why don’t we have her in more films that center on a layered protagonist such as this one?

The film had such a great cast. Pike, obviously steals the spotlight but Eiza Gonzalez, Peter Dinklage, Chris Messina and Dianne Wiest all went toe-to-toe with her. Pike was great on her own, with her vape pen, and famous smirk that showed, she was thinking about the next five steps. Even though Gonzalez had a small role, her chemistry with Pike was a stand out. When Pike shared scenes with Wiest, Dinklage and Messina, they all presented different levels of power and she matched all of them. It is an exciting watch because the cast elevated the script in every way. The plot twists were placed in the right spots and it didn’t lose its footing, until the third act.

I Care a Lot has a really twisted perception of the meaning of a court appointed legal guardian. Even though Marla Grayson does some very questionable things, we can still understand where she is coming from. Again, it is not sympathizing with the flawed protagonist, it is more so enjoying the performances of these bad people and hoping they get paid their due. It is a humorous thriller, with many exciting scenes, strong pieces of dialogue and multiple endings that will leave you stunned. The film is purely a showcase for how talented this cast is and a reminder that Rosamund Pike is a force to be reckoned with.

Flora And Ulysses Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The magic of Disney is still incredibly powerful and shouldn’t be forgotten. What Walt Disney has created is a home for hopes and dreams. Whether you are a full blown adult, looking for a little bit of magic, or a little kid experiencing the Disney magic for the first time, these films will warm your heart. What is so wonderful about Flora & Ulysses is that it incorporates the big draw right now – comic book films – and combines it with Flora’s journey in finding a squirrel who has superpowers. Young Flora (Matilda Lawler) is trying her best to stay connected to her father (Ben Schwartz) after he separated from her mother (Alyson Hannigan).

You may think the star of the film would be the squirrel with superpowers – Ulysses is pretty cool – but Lawler’s performance is what held this together. The film may have dragged on a bit at certain parts but her hopeful, compassionate spirit is what carried the film. Within the first couple of minutes of meeting Flora, you will remember what it is like to be a kid again. Flora had a love for Incandesto and comic books. She loved superheroes because her dad was a comic book artist and she learned a lot from him. She applied the hopefulness and love from these comics to her everyday life but soon realized that reality wasn’t quite the same.

Matilda Lawler as Flora and Ulysses the squirrel in FLORA & ULYSSES, exclusively on Disney+

This hits quite hard, because as children, we all dreamed of the life we would want. We all thought of bigger and better things for ourselves. We were taught to dream big. And now that we got to a position in our lives, where the dream was has somewhat come true, it is not all it is cracked up to be. So we learn to take small the small wins as a positive and twist our reality to suit our dreams. Flora & Ulysses reminds us to look at our life and appreciate what we have, even if it is not what we thought it would be. That is the real story. Of course, the special effects with the flying squirrel was really fun and the humour that came with the family comedy worked really well.

Flora & Ulysses was a very fun watch and will bring you back to your playful childhood. This is a Disney film through-and-through. There were some jokes that I didn’t expect them to make that had me laughing. The whole cast is fun and Ulysses was absolutely adorable. The special effects for Ulysses actually impressed me and it brought the magic squirrel to life in a fun way. The film is wholesome, funny and enjoyable to sit through because of Matilda Lawler! If you want to have some fun and feel some Disney magic, you can catch this on Disney Plus, February 19th.

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.

Malcolm & Marie Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie is a very interesting watch. This is the first movie, in a very long time, where I still don’t know how to feel about it. Am I supposed to enjoy the film based on the performances alone? Am I supposed to dislike it because the screenplay is absolutely bonkers? Levinson masks his own insecurities as a filmmaker, by combining his personal grievances towards critics and writing from the perspective of a Black filmmaker… which didn’t make sense. Sure, John David Washington and Zendaya give fantastic performances but the film is just an endless cycle of arguments.

First and foremost, why is Sam Levinson writing from the perspective of a Black filmmaker? The dialogue that he gives Malcolm (John David Washington) is oddly specific. It was as if he scrolled through reviews of other films and tried to find the most ridiculous ones to put in the script. I wish Levinson just kept it general instead of criticizing reviews from a perspective that he doesn’t know much about. As you watch Malcolm rant for the entire movie, over one review, you see it through a white lens. Levinson literally made a film criticizing white critics, for using the same language, when reviewing Black-led films and accuses them of “trying” to be progressive. Yet he made a film from the perspective of a Black filmmaker, addressing these issues, when he could have been generalizing the rant instead. So if you think about it, it’s contradictory to what he was trying to do.

Courtesy of Netflix

If we remove the endless rants about critics knowing absolutely nothing about the art of cinema, Malcolm and Marie (Zendaya) have a very toxic relationship. They are constantly badgering each other, provoking the other and jabbing each other with the most hurtful things. It’s as if Levinson thought about the worst possible things he could ever say to a person and just threw it in every single argument. The film was exhausting to sit through. Every single time they would calm down, Malcolm or Marie, would bring something else up and start all over again. By the third argument, you’re just blown away by the fact that they’re still going. It just drags on and leaves you with a headache.

It’s entirely possible that I liked Malcolm & Marie but I can also acknowledge all the flaws. The performances carry it all the way and in all honesty the film wouldn’t have worked without Zendaya or John David Washington. They elevated Levinson’s words (as absurd as they were) to make you want to listen to what they had to say. However, the way Levinson addresses white critics reviewing a Black filmmakers work just doesn’t feel authentic. It felt like he had all this pent up rage and he wanted to express it but he also didn’t want to make it about himself. The script is incredibly narcissistic and just left me asking, “but why? what’s the point of this” and now I’m realizing, maybe there was no point. He just wanted to rant and he expressed it in the only way he knew how, through the art of cinema.

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Marvelous And The Black Hole’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Marvelous and the Black Hole is a magical directorial debut from Kate Tsang. She brings a story about grieving and losing your way after the loss of a loved one. Tsang addresses that pain that never fully goes away through thirteen-year-old Sammy (Miya Cech), who lost her mother and is trying to go on without her. Sammy has a very hard time accepting her mother’s death, so she lashes out against her father, who has been dating someone knew for six months. Sammy doesn’t feel complete, she feels lost and doesn’t know who to turn to. She feels misunderstood and that no one at home is even listening to her.

Miya Cech’s performance is fantastic. Her line delivery and attitude at the beginning of the film impressed me! She really created such a strong character that made you feel for her and understand her. The most important takeaway from the film is that you can find comfort in people when you least expect it. For Sammy, she was caught vandalizing school property, so her father put her in summer school. She leaves in the middle of class because she clearly doesn’t want to be there and bumps into Margot (Rhea Perlman), who turns out to be a marvelous magician.

As the weeks pass, Margot takes Sammy under her wing, first as her assistant and then as her pupil. At first, Sammy was reluctant and acted out with Margot but soon after, she softened. The reason why she did is because she found an adult who was willing to listen to her and appreciate the things she’s interested in. It is such an unlikely pairing because they are total opposites but Sammy felt comfort with Margot, as a maternal figure. Margot and Sammy bond over magic and the loss of their loved ones. They created a beautiful friendship, based on their mutual love and respect for their art and each other.

Marvelous and the Black Hole is charming, endearing and so wholesome. Kate Tsang’s directorial debut is filled with so much love and whimsy, that it came through in Sammy’s dreamlike sequences. There are moments that are surprising because Tsang added some magic with imagery symbolizing Sammy’s emotional state on screen. The main thing about magic, is that things aren’t always as they seem and that’s a perfect way to parallel the grieving process because everyone is hiding their pain.