The Oscars

The Oscars


If you missed it, look below:

Nominations & Winners:

Best Picture:

  1. “Black Panther”

Black Panther 3

2. “BlacKkKlansman”


3. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Bohemian Rhapsody (2) - In Theatres

4. “The Favourite”

The Favourite

5. “Green Book”

Green Book

6. “Roma”


7. “A Star Is Born”

A Star Is Born

8. “Vice”


Lead Actor:

  1. Christian Bale, “Vice”

Christian Bale - Vice 2

2. Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

Bradley Cooper - A Star Is Born

3. Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Williem Dafoe At Eternity's Gate

4. Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Rami Malek Bohemian Rhapsody

5. Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Viggo Mortensen - Green Book

Lead Actress:

  1. Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”


2. Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Glenn Close - The Wife

3. Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Olivia Colman - The Favourite

4. Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”


5. Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”


Supporting Actor:

  1. Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”


2. Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”

Adam Driver - BlacKkKlansman

3. Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Sam Elliott - A Star Is Born

4. Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

5. Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Sam Rockwell - Vice

Supporting Actress:

  1. Amy Adams, “Vice”

Amy Adams - Vice

2. Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Marina de Tavira - Roma

3. Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Regina King - If Beale Street Could Talk

4. Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Emma Stone - The Favourite

5. Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz - The Favourite


  1. Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Spike Lee - BlacKkKlansman

2. Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Pawel Pawlikowski - Cold War

3. Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Yorgos Lanthimos - The Favourite

4. Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”

Alfonso Cuaron

5. Adam McKay, “Vice”

Adam McKay - Vice

Animated Feature:

  1. “Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird

Incredibles 2

2. “Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson

Isle of Dogs

3. “Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda


4. “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston

Ralph Breaks the Internet

5. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Spiderman Into the Spider Verse - Film Review

Animated Short:

“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez

Adapted Screenplay:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Original Screenplay:

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay


“Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
“The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
“Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique

Best Documentary Feature:

“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Best Documentary Feature Short Subject:

“Black Sheep,” Ed Perkins
“End Game,” Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
“Lifeboat,” Skye Fitzgerald
“A Night at the Garden,” Marshall Curry
“Period. End of Sentence.,” Rayka Zehtabchi

Best Live Action Short Film:

“Detainment,” Vincent Lambe
“Fauve,” Jeremy Comte
“Marguerite,” Marianne Farley
“Mother,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen
“Skin,” Guy Nattiv

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)
“Cold War” (Poland)
“Never Look Away” (Germany)
“Roma” (Mexico)
“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Film Editing:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman
“Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito
“The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
“Vice,” Hank Corwin

Sound Editing:

“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Warhurst
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Sound Mixing:

“Black Panther” Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter Devlin
“Bohemian Rhapsody” Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali
“First Man” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis
“Roma” Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and José Antonio García
“A Star Is Born” Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder and Steve Morrow

Production Design:

“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Original Score:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Original Song:

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Makeup and Hair:

“Border” Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer
“Mary Queen of Scots” Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks
“Vice” Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney

Costume Design:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres
“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
“The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne

Visual Effects:

“Avengers: Infinity War” Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick
“Christopher Robin” Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould
“First Man” Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and J.D. Schwalm
“Ready Player One” Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David Shirk
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy

That’s Pretty Much It

A Star Is Born: Film Review

Image result for a star is born

One of the most talked about films of the last year took the form of the fourth remake of Hollywood classic A Star is Born. The newest instalment is directed and starred in by Bradley Cooper, as well as featuring Lady Gaga in her onscreen debut, Sam Elliot, Anthony Ramos, and Dave Chappelle among others. The film follows the relationship between a famous musician, Jack Maine (Cooper) and struggling musician Ally (Gaga). Enthralled with her talent, Jack shows Ally the way into the music industry, as his alcoholism starts to send his career in a downward spiral. As their relationship grows, the gulf between their prospects widens and strains their relationship. The film has been nominated for a a total of 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and has been one of if not the most talked about film of the year.

I’d been putting off watching this film for a very long time. I knew it’s reputation, and I felt it deserved my undivided attention. I finally found the time yesterday and I  sat down to watch the film I had a gut feeling I was going love. Watching the trailer and the clips, I could tell it had that Begin Again/Sing Street quality about it; where characters and relationships are intertwined with the music, not parallel to. I was not disappointed. The two lead performers are fantastic. Bradley Cooper is downright shocking. Stunningly contrasting and vividly emotional in all the right moments, Cooper’s portrayal of good-guy-who’s-also-an-alcoholic is indescribably endearing and heartbreaking at the same time. You feel drawn to his smile in all it’s comfort and kindness while the drunken, stumbling image remains firmly in your mind. He builds a wonderful emotional house of cards which I’ll expand on more later. Lady Gaga is strong in her film acting debut. She’s quite raw at moments, and she maybe starts off somewhat shaky, but she holds her character’s arc well. While her performance can likely be divided into two halves, pre famous which is a little undercooked emotionally, and famous, which she nails. I’m not a massive fan of her in general, the flashy dressing and artificiality that I perceived in the way she tends to present herself, alongside her style of music which isn’t really to my taste, gave me little reason to like her. It’s refreshing, therefore, to see her take off the makeup and show us the bare bones of who she is through her character. That’s an important element of the film for me, the idea of authenticity, which I’ll go into more detail about later. The contrast between the two ends of her arc, which ends at a point closer to Lady Gaga in reality, becomes more potent through this. Her and Cooper’s relationship is a wonderful thing to watch as well, an exceptionally natural chemistry that does, again, start off a little shaky and becomes beautiful. If there’s an obvious vice in this film, it’s that the emotional triggers are a little too small. Subtlety might be the point, but it doesn’t read particularly well in moments that end up being pivotal. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t mention that possibly the best performance of the film was Sam Elliot in the role of Jack’s brother. The sibling/father-son relationship between them is gorgeous to watch, and Elliot’s relatively small part in the film does not detract from the incredible job he’s done of emoting. Cooper and Elliot do a fabulous job of reminding the viewer that, even in the scope of onscreen relationships, this is not just a love story.

The writing in this film is breathtaking, both in terms of the screenplay and the music. The soundtrack for the film is wonderful, the majority of the songs on which are solid gold. I’ve already sort of mentioned, but I have to reiterate the use of the music as a mode of bringing out character, not just as an incidental that tags on to the film. That’s the differentiating factor between this film and films like Sing Street and Begin Again. Films about people who make music tend to use the music they make to tell part of their story, and that’s what causes the contextual emotional connect you form with the music. The screenplay is equally exceptional. The dialogues build you cathedrals to grow your thoughts, delivered from, sometimes, the least likely places. There are definitely some metaphorical gems in the writing of this film that I will carry with me for a long time.

But the thing that makes this film more notable than, indeed, most, is the way it treats it’s many thematic conversations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is so much more than a love story. The film talks about addiction, it talks about corruption of talent, and it paints a portrait of fame, in ways styles of persuasion i have never seen before. The emotional house of cards I referred to concerning Bradley Cooper is an incredible way to depict addiction in all its terrible glory. The fact that you see Jack be such a hopeful, kind, sensitive person makes it all the more heart-wrenching to see him stumble onto the stage at the Grammy’s, for example. There’s a constant knowledge that, at some point, Jack’s addiction is going to screw him, but you’re so attached to the optimistic, gentlemanly persona he lives in when he’s sober that you commit despite knowing. That’s the house of cards. Faith and love built on a foundation too weak to support itself. Almost as heartbreaking for me, though undeniably less materially potent, was Ally’s change in musical style. She broke into the scene arm in arm with Jack whose message was simple: tell them what you want to say, and she delivers on that message writing some really insightful and heartfelt lyrics which rockets her into the spotlight. To see that incredible musical gift being led down the commercial pop route by a villainous producer is one of the most tragic things that happen in the film. The flash over quality trade in the music industry is an infuriating thing on it’s own, and it’s made even more so though watching Jack’s heartbroken reaction to Ally’s transformation from a genuine, poetic artist to a performer. That corruption of real talent is painful to watch. It’s telling of the overall picture of fame in the 21st century, where real things are less important than things that sell, case in point Ally’s and Jack’s anti-parallel career trajectories, and the effect that not selling can have on a life is unfathomable.

I’m writing this review two days before the Oscars happen, so I’m probably going to edit this afterwards but I will be very disappointed in film if this film is not heartily recognised. The idea that it lost out at the Golden Globes to films like Bohemian Rhapsody perplex me to no end, and I certainly hope the Academy makes a different call. Until I saw this film I was adamant that John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place was film of the year (a film which, incidentally was not even nominated for Best Picture, which ought to say something about my pre-existing faith in the Academy seeing as Black Panther was nominated for some reason), a perspective I did not think would be turned particularly easily. My expectations were wholly subverted by this film, however. A stunningly told and potently performed masterpiece, this was undoubtedly film of the year for me. There’s something old fashioned about it (a feature brought out by the fact that it’s not the first time this movie’s been done) while rooted in a firmly modern context. I can’t possibly give Bradley Cooper high enough praise for the job he’s done directing, and I tip my hat to all those involved for the creation of a truly exceptional film.

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Score – 91/100                                                                Aryamaan’s Score –

True Story: Film Review

Image result for true story film

True Story is a 2015 film starring James Franco and Jonah Hill about the true story of the relationship between a murderer (Franco) and a once-starlet-now-disgraced journalist (Hill). Michael Finkel is a rising star in the journalism industry, until a bad decision regarding journalistic malpractice leaves him cut off from his many prospects. His life seems to be at a stand-still; until a man, Christian Longo, who allegedly killed his family, is apprehended after assuming Finkel’s identity. The film centres around Finkel’s interrogation of Longo, eventually turning into a criss-crossed psychological chess game between the two men. The film also stars Felicity Jones in the role of Finkel’s wife, and was directed by debutant screen director Rupert Goold.

The reason for my interest in this film was primarily found in the storyline. I’m endlessly fascinated by the idea of a complex and stimulating plot from a mastermind villain that only really makes sense at the end. In that sense, this film was a virtual gold mine for enigmatic device, which absolutely kept me glued from minute one. There’s a problem with this, however. For all the cloak and dagger that the film is punctuated with, by the end of the film you feel dangerously unsatisfied. Suspense-building is something done exceptionally well, I held my breath on many an occasion despite a pointed lack of anything inherently suspenseful happening on screen, but the endgame that the Goold has ended up going for is so thoroughly underwhelming that you just have to ask if there’s 20 minutes of the film that Netflix doesn’t have. It is a very affecting film, you feel incredibly shaken, but the climax is so underwhelming that you leave the film still looking left and right waiting for the shoe to drop.

As I said, the film is incredibly intriguing. Franco and Hill have done fabulous jobs of portraying a hesitant comfort with each other in a way that feels both familiar and distantly strange at the same time. Their performances and interaction deserves great credit; I only wish there could have bee more of it. One of the things that fascinated me most during the film was Felicity Jones’ character: Michael’s wife Jill. There’s a shocking tension between her and Longo that tugged so hard on my heart for reasons I absolutely cannot explain, all leading up, presumably, to some kind of reveal. That reveal never came, leaving me as an audience exceptionally frustrated. I never really felt the relationship between her and Michael, which was the point, I suppose, in portraying how Michael’s fascination with Longo turned almost into an infatuation, but I was waiting for something to snap there and it never did in a way that eased the pressure.

The way Goold has used music and light to make add deadly weight to innocuous things is, in my opinion, remarkable. There’s a consciously cold, detached feeling about the way the film is done, and the lack of obvious emotion in the storytelling adds more to the enigma that never unravels. Despite that, the response to the film was almost turbulently emotional. The use of certain motifs, like Longo repeating the words Finkel says to him while he’s on the stand and the wink, the best moment of the film by far, that Longo gives Finkel just after being sentenced to death row. The pissing off thing about those devices, however, is the infuriating lack of overall effect those motifs have on anything that happens in the film. The psychological game that Longo plays seems to be have been conducted for the fun of it. That has its own implications when you think about it, and might be even more interesting, but it makes for extremely annoying viewing at the end of the film.

All in all, I’m very conflicted after watching this film. On one hand it had a distinct psychological effect on me for a while after the credits rolled, but on the other hand at least one of those effects involved anger at the lack of real closure. Maybe that was the point, though. There’s an element of warning in the message of the film: this is what happens when you give people more attention than they’re due. Longo played a lot of psychological games for what seems like the singular purpose of being at the centre of someone else’s life, an incredibly selfish and frankly narcissistic motivation. The film, for me, is not about him so much as the effect he had on Finkel’s character, and the indescribably engaging vortex of secrets and lies built on air that Longo constructs around him as nothing more than an elaborate joke. This is a thoroughly engaging and thought provoking film that ultimately falls short of the promise it made, but I would argue that that might have been by design.

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Score – 74/100                                                                      Aryamaan’s Score –

The Kominsky Method: Series Review

Image result for the kominsky method

The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas as Sandy Kominsky and Alan Arkin as Normand, is the story of two elderly has-beens navigating the process of ageing. Sandy Kominsky, a formerly well-known acting coach and newly washed up acting coach with a far less distinguished clientele than his illustrious past, comes to terms with certain realities of his existence and the problems that come with getting older. Alongside his near-lifelong friend in Normand (Arkin), Sandy deals with some deteriorating relationships, financial woes, and some of the unfortunate realities of having no purpose. The show was nominated for and won for performances in leading and supporting roles at the Golden Globes, with Douglas walking away with near-top recognition for his portrayal.

I was entirely not ready for the Kominsky Method. What appeared on the outside like a relatively flavorless piece of cheap laugh comedy, at least to me, ended up shining with personality and character in a way I could never have expected. A lot of the credit for that goes to the incredible work done by Douglas and Arkin, both of whom are endearing to no end in the buoyantly depressed situations their characters find themselves in. The blending of the comedy and the commentary is really very impressive; you see a lot of shows trying to do that these days and it comes off tacky more often than not. Chuck Lorre and co have done a job and a half on the writing for the series in general, with some shockingly smart turn of phrase and what could only be described as some black comedy making for a delightfully funny and nonetheless heartfelt and meaningful screenplay.

There’s an argument to be made, and it was the predominant argument I did make before starting the series, that little to nothing happens. Two really old guys age. That’s pretty much it. There are, obviously, plot points and developments in the story, but almost all of it is told with the backdrop of impermanence: neither of our protagonists have long enough to materially suffer. Instead of a burden, however, the show uses this feature as a springboard into another realm of conflict: that of the internal. The show trades up interesting plot and twisty character development for for a more reflective, ponderous approach to the stories it chooses to tell. The nature of relationships, for example, plays a more prominent role in this show than most any other I’ve seen. For those who feel hard done without an intricate plot, the show would probably drag hard. I, on the other hand, absolutely loved this about the show. It’s like the events concerning the characters already happened, and the show is about reflecting and reminiscing on days gone past.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the shortcomings of the show. There are a couple loose ends in characters you thought were more important than they ended up being, and the comedy doesn’t land without exception. Some of the black comedy particularly take the form of moments when you can’t tell if laughing would be inappropriate. I found myself looking for cues in the reaction of others on screen to dictate what my reaction should be. It’s not as bad a situation as some other examples I can think of, but considering the potential the show has it’s sad to see something like this being a drag for the show as a whole.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching the Kominsky Method. It’s on the quirkier, more niche side as compared to a lot of popular television media that’s out there; the sense of humour’s not for everyone and the honesty isn’t what most people, particularly kids my age, want in their comedy shows. The nice thing about this show is that you can dip your toes in it and get a sense without a lot of commitment. The full runtime is about four hours; eight episodes of twenty to occasionally thirty minutes each, which, for me, is a positively delectable length. Long enough to avoid the trap that 2 hour feature films fall into of half-baked-ness but not long enough to be burdensome. Watching the show doesn’t feel as much like a chore sometimes, like longer shows often can, and in that sense it might be beneficial for us as consumers if creators took some notes on the runtime of this show. Whether it’s for you or not, The Kominsky Method won’t cause you stress.

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Score – 77/100                                                                      Aryamaan’s Score –

Polar: Film Review

Polar - FIlm Review

Polar, an adaptation of Victor Santos’ graphic novel ‘Polar: Came From the Cold’ is a movie that is bound to make you go, “HOLY SHIT!!” be that in a good or bad connotation.

For me, at the beginning it was a good “HOLY SHIT!!” but maybe it slowly did get a bit much towards the end. Somewhat like a Quentin Tarentino movie, but on steroids. A separate genre from typical action movies that you would see.

The movie revolves around a hit man ‘Black Kaiser,’ played by Mads Mikkelsen, who is 2 weeks away from retirement. His boss, Matt Lucas, send a team of young assasins to kill Kaiser so he can gain all the money Kaiser owns (According to a contract he signed).

Well, the movie just cries, yells, shouts, screams and shrieks violence. Everyone’s just dying, in the most gruesome way possible! Almost a cult movie I’d say. (Spoiler alert) The scene in the hotel, where we see the Black Kaiser in action for the first time, “HOLY SHIT!!” He crucifies the Mexican dude (and his balls), drills through his skull until he’s almost dead and then shoots him! Like why didn’t you shoot him in the first place? But, if you are that type then you’re in for a good time.

Mikkelsen is perfect for this character, with his almost calm persona and his deep voice, creating this aura around him. Don’t know if anyone else could’ve pulled this off better than him. Vanessa Hudgens does do pretty well, though not focused on much through the movie. Her character was probably simply added to highlight the ‘Kaiser’s’ psychological pain and to add a ‘damsel in distress,’ who’d become the vehicle for Kaiser’s salvation. Matt Lucas is almost scary in this movie. I mean just look at him, with all his torture tools but still obsessed with hygiene at the same time. The team of young assasins are the biggest sadists if I’ve ever seen. They just kill everyone they come across, enjoying every bit of it and the actors show it clearly. Not sure if that’s good though…

Polar - Film Review 2

Music video maestro Jonas Akerlund has done brilliant with his direction in this movie, making it visually stunning. One aspect that can’t be overlooked by anyone in the movie. The colours and angles just stand out. The background score by Deadmau5 is pretty effective as well, especially for his debut.

Overall, this movie was another genre altogether, but an enjoyable watch. If you have nothing to do, I’d recommend watching it but only if you can handle violence. Like a lot of violence. The graphic novel aspect really comes out in the movie with explicit, garish images of violence, torture and sex.

P.S. I saw this movie in school… Don’t recommend it… Couldn’t think or walk straight for the rest of the day.

-Aryamaan Dholakia


Aman’s Score: N/A                                                                                 Aryamaan’s Score: 72/100


Watch the Trailer here:

The Great Gatsby: Film Review

Image result for the great gatsby

The Great Gatsby is the onscreen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel of the same title, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Toby Maguire among others. The story, for those unfamiliar, surrounds the narrator Nick Caraway’s observations of the events surrounding the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Caraway’s extended family: Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby, portrayed by DiCaprio, has a consuming desire, for the satisfaction of which he forms a bond with Nick Caraway, a bond seller and budding writer, to help him achieve his defining goal. The film, released in 2013, is directed by Baz Luhrmann, and is accredited with two Academy Awards for Costume and Production Design.

I hadn’t seen this film in quite some time before seeing it again just the other day in order to write this review. I remember seeing it in the theatre as it released, and not really taking to it, then. It was a little too overdone for me at the time, lacking in much measured pace and seeming a little too larger-than-life. These are definitely still drawbacks, the pacing issue is real (which was really avoidable seeing as they’ve adapted 140 pages of source material into a 2-and-a-half-hour movie), and the palette is one of two extremes at pretty much all time. That said, the visuals are only overbearing occasionally, and even when they are they couldn’t be said to be inappropriate, given the context of the story.

When I saw the film first; I hadn’t yet read the book, so I wasn’t in a position to understand the need for the ‘gaudiness’ which I would later describe as artistry. I’d definitely recommend reading the book before you see the movie; there’s no discussion to be had when it comes to which should anchor which. The elaborate paintings Fitzgerald provides in the novel act as food for Baz Luhrmann’s well-tuned visual eye. You know the opening thing to all Disney movies, the one where the camera pans around from behind the Disney castle and there’s fireworks and that soundtrack playing? If you can’t place what I’m talking about, google it and come back, because it would better be able to explain the aesthetic spin Luhrmann’s put on the entire set of the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gatsby’s legendary house is, in the film, inspired by something at Disney World. I looked it up and it turns out I’m wrong, but the image is still very much valid. It’s like the whole world is lit from below, so what you see is luminescent in a way that you can’t put your finger on. I just have to mention, as well, the scene that introduces Daisy’s character. Luhrmann can make a room fly, is the only thing I could possibly say after that scene. All in all, The Great Gatsby is a visual treat, more so than in any of it’s other aspects.

The performances are pointedly good, as far as my interpretation of the book goes. DiCaprio captures every ounce of Gatsby’s irresistible, magnetic, and all-too-clean charm. Tobey Maguire strikes me as a miscasting; He was a little more plump-faced than I saw Nick in my head, and his response a little too emotional. His performance is okay nonetheless, but I’m don’t think he was the best fit for the role. The subplot surrounding him and Jordan Baker is not especially missed, possibly because of the blandness of her portrayal. Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan is a treat. Joel Edgerton as her husband, slightly less so. He doesn’t carry the physical brutishness that Tom should’ve had. DiCaprio and Mulligan’s chemistry is wonderful enough to make up for it, however.

There are elements of the symbolism that the film actually gets better than the book, most notably T J Eckleberg’s ‘eyes of god’, and, I daresay, the green light. The significance of other symbolic elements and themes are left more or less untouched; things like the dog, the theme of new vs old rich, etc, are sidelined for the plot of the film, which is understandable to an extent. That said, since the source material is a meagre 140 pages, I feel like it might have been doable. They choose to compress the first three-odd chapters into the first half hour of the film, and expand on the following half of the book into roughly two hours, displaying a clear skewing of importance from a storytelling perspective.

The novel is a lot. There’s a lot of things, comments and narrator’s schtick, that can’t be replicated into film. In that sense, they made a very good decision to include some voice-over from and passages form the book. After reading the book, the first question you’d have concerning the quality of a film adaptation would be the if they captured the aesthetic. On that point, triple check. The next would be regarding the portrayal of Gatsby. Another triple check. As you run down this list of questions, you’ll find, more often than not, that the film has done a solid job of handling the important things extremely well. The pacing problem persists, but once you get accustomed to the rhythm of the film it feels less odd. The story compression is irritating, but not so much so that it leaves anyone disinterested; this story just stresses on different things. All in all, there’s little wrong with this film, which is a funny conclusion to come to especially keeping in mind the fact that it’s seen as so inferior to the book. This might be one of those times, few as they are, that the book-reader in me has to get off his high horse. There are elements that obviously can’t be translated, but, as film adaptations go, this is well above average.

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Score – 76/100                                                               Aryamaan’s Score –

Sex Education S1: Series Review

Sex Education Series Review

Netflix’s latest teen-targeted bombshell is Sex Education, starring Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Emma Mackey, and Ncuti Gatwa among others. The show centers around a present day English High School, where puberty and sexual awakenings abound while awareness and respect less so. Otis Milburn (Butterfield) is a sexually suppressed teenage boy, an awkward situation with a prying sex therapist mother (Anderson). When an unlikely string of events brings out his ability to manage other people’s sex problems, Maeve Wiley, an outwardly unfriendly girl at the same school, sees the opportunity to capitalize on the articulate talents of this odd boy to start an underground sex therapy clinic in the school. The show is a Netflix original, and was released in early 2019 to strong popularity.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this show. A friend of mine recommended it to me offhand one day, so I looked into it and was not all that keen. It looked, from the outside, like a British Riverdale or something: a crappy, shallow teen drama. Oh how wrong I was. Sex Education is a surprisingly complex, thoroughly engaging, and unpretentiously thoughtful show. The very first point to note is the unabashed sex. The intensely unapologetic, graphic, and shameless sex. I found it incredibly admirable how open they are about sex stuff in this show. There’s no messing around with innuendo or anything, as the very first scene of the show ought to tell you. The sexual discussions the show has, which are literally the forefront of the show’s premise, are completely uncensored and realistically raw. It’s a shocking thing to dispose so indifferently of a taboo that really no longer belongs, and the comfort with which they talk about stuff most people don’t feel comfortable talking about is, frankly, a social service.

But the show is not, in any way a shallow sexcapade. Brimming with deeply interesting characters and equally interesting relationships dynamics, Sex Education keeps you constantly interested in life at Moordale High School. The show is about exploring young people’s problems, the real ones for their depth and the shallow ones for their shallowness, and that conceptual starting point makes for some exploration into characters you thought were as cookie-cutter as it gets. When, halfway through, you start committing to Jackson’s character, who really has no business being something other than stock, it won’t even be shocking to you because of the authenticity of it all. None of the characters are without depth, and some of the main characters are borne of some fine quality storyboarding. Asa Butterfield shows again his ability to make a character relatable with a show-stopping performance. His performance might be the most noteworthy, but the potency of the conflict of the show has to be credited to most all of the cast and supporting cast, who do shocking justice to roles that are pointedly distinct and worth your attention as an audience. For an audience of our age especially, you see a lot of yourself in the things you see on screen, even things you didn’t think it was okay to talk about.

It’s worth considering the reality that the above paragraph is only applicable for Gen Z and some late millennials, which might be true but far from necessarily bad. It would be great if adults could watch this show and perceive more accurately the emotions of their children, but far more important, I think, is the impact the show can have on a teenager’s perception of themselves. The show is very realistic, but the little sprinklings of cheese that they’ve snuck in are hopeful and affirming to the extent that it makes you forget about the equally represented perils the show talks about.

The relationships discussed, and those not, are a main feature of the show the whole way through. It tackles group-ism, parent-child relationships, and romantic relationships sensitively and deftly. Some of the relationship parallels between character groups are worth watching the show for alone. I should say that all of this is done within measure, it’s not an incredible show, but it’s definitely an above average one and a real shock for me seeing as I was wary of a Riverdale complex going into it. The depth of the conversations and the character development is real, and that legitimately shocked me. Homosexuality is openly shown, unique sexual habits are openly shown, and the reasons, which you won’t have heard said out loud before, are openly shown in all their absurdity and power. Even the smaller conversations they have, that aren’t part of the main idea of the show such as forgiveness, suicide, and more are dealt with better than most shows deal with their premises; a triumph for the writing team.

I have to reiterate my incredible surprise at the quality and content of this show. It was not at all what it seemed. Re-reading this review, it strikes me that my enthusiasm for a story I just finished slightly overplays the good qualities of the show. There are plot-holes, which I won’t go into for fear of spoilers, and the writing, while exceptional in certain places, is average otherwise. It’s definitely above average, and defied all expectations on my part, so credit goes to the production team and cast for a show that was very different from others in its genre. Maybe the rest of the genre will decide to take notes?

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Score – 81/100                                                            Aryamaan’s Score – 82/100