Friday, August 23, 2019

What Happened to Monday (2017)

Movie Name/Year: What Happened to Monday (2017)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Length: 123 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Vendome Pictures, Nexus Factory, Raffaella Productions, SND Films, Title Media, Umedia, uFund, Copiapoa Film, Impuls Pictures, Medyavizyon, NOS Audiovisuais, Netflix, Odeon, Splendid Film, Vertigo Média Kft., Avalon, E Stars Films, Madman Entertainment, Mongkol Major
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer: Max Botkin, Kerry Williamson
Actors: Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe, Marwan Kenzari, Christian Rubeck, Pål Sverre Hagen, Tomiwa Edun, Cassie Clare, Cameron Jack, Clara Read, Kirsty Averton, Lucy Pearson, Nadiv Molcho

Blurb from IMDb: In a world where families are limited to one child due to overpopulation, a set of identical septuplets must avoid being put to a long sleep by the government and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.

Selina’s Point of View:
Although this film was long, it didn’t feel like it. For two hours, I barely blinked.

I’ve been fascinated by the premise of What Happened to Monday since I watched the trailer. I love dystopian stories and this one really hit every aspect of what I find entertaining in them.

I believe the best films that cause a feeling a dread are those that are based in reality. By utilizing climate change and dwindling resources – something scientists have been warning us about for a long time – there’s a layer of realism woven throughout the plot. When that happens, it’s hard not to ask: “what if?”

In my opinion that makes everything all the more horrifying.

There were some missteps with the method of story-telling, but they were minor. Yes, some tropes were utilized, but nothing that couldn’t be forgiven. And that ending… I’m still impressed by the depth in it. There’s no question as to what happened. It’s not an open-ending. There is, however, room for debate – as there usually is when morality is involved. I love that. Even if the rest of the film wasn’t up to standard, it’d have gotten a high score just for making me seriously think about things.

I don’t want to go too far into it. I don’t like spoilers. So, I’ll move on.

Glenn Close (The Wife, The Girl with All the Gifts, 3Below: Tales of Arcadia) and Willem Dafoe (Opus Zero, John Wick, The Fault in Our Stars) are amazing actors. There are very few people that would argue against that. They were no less than expected in What Happened to Monday.

Noomi Rapace (Unlocked, Child 44, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), however, was asked to go above and beyond. She had to play seven different characters and make us believe they were seven – very different – people. That’s not an easy job, especially when the characters have to interact the entire time. By the end, I could see the minute differences in expression and movements.

She was absolutely brilliant. Whether you love or hate the idea of this movie, I recommend seeing it just for her.

For that matter, Clara Read (Rachel, My Time, The Bind) should be commended as well. The younger versions of the main sisters were just as believable.

I enjoyed this film and I highly recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
In the wake of watching What Happened to Monday, I find myself fairly giddy and disturbed at the same time.

Why disturbed? It’s not that far-fetched of a notion for something like this to happen. China already implements a single child per family mandate. As our planet continues to spin ever closer to peril through climate change, overpopulation, and dwindling natural resources; I wouldn’t be surprised if similar policies started circulating in other areas of the world. It’s a chilling prospect.

I have to admit, parts of this movie took me by surprise. I wasn’t exactly expecting the level of action or suspense that wove a consistent thread throughout.

Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Bright, Close) is no stranger to physical roles, though this film brought an entirely different set of challenges for her on top of that. Playing all seven sisters would have meant quite a lot of additional effort, and she pulled it off quite well.

This film was well-timed on multiple levels, for me. I’m a huge fan of BBC’s hit show Orphan Black (2013-2017). I’ve been missing it, and this film helped ease that a little. There aren’t really any parallels between these stories aside from one talented actress playing multiple instances of a nearly physically identical character. Tatiana Maslany (The Vow, Woman in Gold, Stronger) helmed that series as the actress portraying all of the female clones. After watching a few behind-the-scenes tidbits from that show, I have a small inkling of what Rapace would have gone through for her roles.

All told, this movie was quite the ride. Be prepared for some shocking and disturbing moments, and keep in mind that the TV-MA rating is well-founded here. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to any fan of sci-fi, action, or mystery.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 57%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 67%
Metascore – 47/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.5/10
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Movie Name/Year: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Family, Musical
Length: 130 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures, Lucamar Productions, Marc Platt Productions
Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: P.L. Travers, David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Actors: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, Karen Dotrice, David Warner

Blurb from IMDb: Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael's children through a difficult time in their lives.

Cat’s Point of View:
Mary Poppins (1965) will always hold a special place in my heart. When I created my very first personal web-page, I even featured a GIF of the dancing penguins from one of the animated sequences…dancing atop a television. That’s an entirely different reference. I digress…

To say that I was giddy when I saw the first teasers for the release of Mary Poppins Returns would be an understatement. I was also full of trepidation – because sequelitis is a thing. I was intrigued and horrified at the possibility that they took a stab at this old tale and missed. Such a time gap between films and modern audiences’ love-hate relationship with sequels made it a risky proposition, for sure.

Thankfully, I found that this story was in good hands and I didn’t regret a second of it.

We all know I’m a sucker for nostalgia. This film not only hit all those notes, but it wove a heartwarming new story around all those classic elements. I was tickled at the little nods here and there to the original as well as the care and reverence that was taken to stand Returns apart while keeping the same feel.

I tip my hat to director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Into the Woods) for navigating this particular minefield. If he hadn’t gone toe to toe with the studio (and won) to stick to the original hand-drawn classic animation style rather than CGI, I think this would have been an entirely different movie.

Speaking of animation; the hybrid scenes where Mary Poppins takes the children on flights of fantasy (because it wouldn’t be Mary Poppins without such adventures, right?) felt new but amazingly familiar, as if I’d been transported in time. I was reminded of the grand musical numbers of yesteryear. Modern audiences that complain about musicals are missing out, I tell you. There are a couple animated cameos that they snuck in if you’re watching close enough.

If the posters and trailer hadn’t already warmed me up to the idea of Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Edge of Tomorrow, The Girl on the Train) stepping into Ms. Poppins’ shoes, all doubts were flung to the wayside as I watched. I respect that she reportedly took great care to familiarize herself with the series of books the stories were drawn from and made the part her own – rather than trying to recreate Julie Andrews’ (The Princess Diaries, Enchanted, Aquaman) version. That would have been impossible.

Besides, Dame Andrews went on record wholeheartedly endorsing the casting and turned down a cameo so that she wouldn’t distract from Blunt’s performance.

I was also quite impressed by the performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Speech & Debate, DuckTales). Aside from the fact that the man is a musical genius and talented beyond belief, I think he fit well in the role of the ‘leery’ friend of Ms. Poppins. If the sequel had turned to chimney sweeps again, I think the movie would have suffered. Part of the message of the movie, of course, is not judging a book by its cover. Such unlikely friendships only underscore that theme. He fit right in with all the Broadway-esque numbers.

All told, the film flowed very well and successfully transported me along with the Banks children into a world of fantasy and adventure. It wasn’t perfect (some of that Cockney Rhyming Slang was just rubbish made up for the movie), but it was heartwarming and well worth the time spent in both its creation and enjoyment.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 66%
Metascore – 66/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
CinemaScore – A-

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5

Movie Trailer: