I am a Revolutionary! “Judas and the Black Messiah” (2021)

directed by Shaka King
© 2021 Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

It took me a lot of time to finally feel ready for this film. And not because of the tragedy that it’s talking about or that it could be way too dramatic/political. I guess it’s the fault of the Academy who recently have been nominating films and artists purely because of [insert something here]. Either it’s their skin colour, their religion, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity, or even age – everything to have some diversity. And I’m absolutely for inclusion, but what the Academy has been doing in the last years is clearly just political correctness. Which in my opinion is a horrible choice because soon, if not already, people will start boycotting their nominees and Oscars will lose respect among people in the film industry. Yes, I still believe “Parasite” didn’t deserve the main Oscar and it was a purely political move as “1917” was an absolute masterpiece of them all. And this year we can clearly see that they keep on playing this game. So I honestly thought that “Judas and the Black Messiah” was one of those we-need-diversity choices. How wrong I was, ladies and gentlemen! If you have similar feelings to mine considering the Oscars, I assure you that this is a production worth your time. It tells the story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. For those who might not know what it was and Black Panther sounds like a superhero to them, let me explain. It was a political organisation whose aim was to protect black-skinned citizens and fight for their rights. As you might be guessing, Fred Hampton was the Black Messiah. So who was Judas? That’s William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), who cooperated with FBI and his task was to get into the party, get as much information as possible and finally betray Hampton. If you don’t know this story, I will not spoil it to you and let you find out what happens there. But I honestly enjoyed watching it as, in my opinion, the filmmakers had some idea for the film. It has those 60s vibes, but also a constant dramatic atmosphere mixed with the empowerment of African Americans. Even though I’d like Paul Raci to win the Oscar as the best Supporting Actor, I wouldn’t mind Daniel Kaluuya getting it either as he really gave me chills with his performance. What’s interesting, both Kaluuya and Stanfield are nominated as supporting actors… Why? Hm… I have some idea, but I’ll let you create your own. Anyway, it is a good film. Personally, not my winner this year, but I was pleasantly surprised and yes, dear Academy, that’s the diversity we wish to see.

My rating: 7/10
S.

I always make it. “Daylight” (1996)

directed by Rob Cohen
© 1996 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

When I think of action films made in the 80-90s, I always remind myself of weekend lunches at my grandmother’s place. There was always some film playing on TV and it was either a family-friendly production or some action one. “Daylight” is a perfect example, although I can’t promise I saw it at my grandma’s place because back then I wasn’t even paying attention to those TV films. They were just a background noise for our conversations. Still, it’s weekend so why not giving this one a try. And I know I shouldn’t say that as a film freak, but it’s one of those productions that you can be watching while doing something else and still following. Anyway, perhaps you’re curious what it’s about. Shortly speaking, without explaining all the characters, there’s a huge accident in one tunnel beneath the Hudson River and a lot of people are trapped and in danger. And since we have a tragedy, we also need a hero. Kit Latura (Sylvester Stallone) used to work for Emergency Medical Services, but nowadays he’s a taxi driver. However, he happens to be there and decides to risk his life to save others. He enters the tunnel and tries to do everything to let everyone out of there. Classic action film. Is it surprising? Not really. Is it outstanding? I don’t think so. But sometimes we need such simple clichéd productions for lunches with family, right? One thing that surely deserves recognition are the special effects that are quite impressing considering the year of production. Bravo! And also try to pay a bit of attention while watching because there’s Viggo Mortensen there, maybe you’ll manage to spot him.

My rating: 5.5/10
S.

Let’s make our world cruelty-free. “Save Ralph” (2021)

directed by Spencer Susser
© 2021 Humane Society International. All Rights Reserved.

Today’s film is probably the shortest in the history of my blog, but I couldn’t stop myself from sharing. It’s only 4 minutes long so I don’t accept any excuses. Just sit and watch it. Especially since it’s available online and for free. Excuses gone? Good. So in this short story we get to know Ralph (voice – George Lopez), an adorable rabbit who’s been working as a lab tester. The whole video looks like a documentary about him where Ralph shares about his life. Even though the animation looks cute and the bunny himself is really friendly, this film is far from being a delightful cartoon. In those 4 minutes we have a chance to reflect on us, humans, and on our actions. I can’t really express what emotions I was feeling watching the film because there were way too many and they were constantly mixing. One thing I can tell for sure – it hit me. It hit me even though I’m an animal rights activist and I pay attention to what I eat or what products I use. Perhaps it hit me because I know most people, well, don’t care. I hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll let me encourage you to watch this short video and that way we’ll make a small step forward.

You may find the film and more information about animal testing here. If there’s one link you should click today, it’s this one: https://www.hsi.org/saveralphmovie/

My rating: 9/10
S.

I just wanted to talk to someone… “Last Call” (2019)

directed by Gavin Michael Booth
© 2019 Mutiny Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

I’m sharing a real gem with you right now so I hope more people hear about this unusual production. Why unusual? I’ll tell you in a moment. But first, let me introduce the two main characters of this story: Beth (Sarah Booth) and Scott (Daved Wilkins). Beth is a single mother working hard as a janitor to provide for her family. Scott, however, is a lonely man who starts having suicidal thoughts and one day he decides to have a few drinks and call a helpline. By accident, he dials a wrong number and connects with Beth who’s working this night. At first the woman thinks that this is just some random person, but soon she finds out that the man that she’s currently talking to is about to kill himself and she has to do everything to prevent it. But what can she do since she doesn’t know anything about him and they are in two separate places? If you have chills now, we could probably enjoy a movie night together as I love such productions. Very simple idea, yet terrifying and keeping you uncomfortable for the whole time. And what’s so unusual about the film? Well, from the very beginning the screen is divided into two parts and you can follow both characters at the same time. It was a bit strange for me at first, I wasn’t sure where to look, but then it became natural for me to be somehow following both parts simultaneously. Maybe I’ve trained myself thanks to all the group video-chatting that I’ve done in the last year… Anyway, if you like simple yet surprising films, that’s something you must see! The ending hit me very hard, just saying.

My rating: 7/10
S.

Welcome to adulthood. “I never cry” (“Jak najdalej stąd”, 2020)

directed by Piotr Domalewski
© 2020 Forum Film Poland. All Rights Reserved.

The biggest regret as a child? Wishing to be an adult. Today I’d like to recommend you a Polish drama about a girl who needed to become a very strong woman in few days. Ola (Zofia Stafiej) is a teenager living with her mother (Kinga Preis) and disabled brother Paweł (Dawid Tulej). The father is currently in Ireland working at a construction site. It is common for people from Poland to be going abroad in order to earn better money for the same job they could be doing in their country. That way they can provide for their family and live in slightly better standards. Unfortunately, one day Ola and her family find out that their father died in an accident at work. Since they don’t have anybody else living in Ireland, one of them needs to go to there to bring back the man’s body. Ola’s mother doesn’t speak English, so the decision is that the teenager will go and manage everything. Young, scared, traumatised and completely alone Ola has to stay strong and act like an adult in this very complex situation. During her trip she’s learning about life and death, the importance of money, breaking the law to support the family, the power of tradition and also about her father and what kind of man he was. I must say I really liked how realistic the film was and how Zofia managed to play this difficult role. As the English titles says, Ola never cries. Even if the situation is terrible, she takes a moment, thinks intensively and gets back on track. It really shows how stubborn and strong at the same time teenagers can be to show they’re mature and ready to be called “adults”. Just in Ola’s case this adulthood lesson was way too harsh. Good job, Polish cinema, please give us more!

My rating: 7/10
S.

Even young Depp couldn’t save it. “Private Resort” (1985)

directed by George Bowers
© 1985 TriStar Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Recently I was talking with one of my family members and when I said that I’d need some goofy comedy for that night, they recommended “Private Resort”. But not like “hey, it’s an amazing film”. Rather like “if you wish to wash your brain, here you go”. They said that it was the most popular comedy among their friends when they were younger and that VHS (the grandpa of DVDs) was definitely overused. So I decided to give it a try, especially since you can see young Johnny Depp there. What is it about? Johnny plays Jack, a teenager who together with his friend Ben (Rob Morrow) are searching for wealthy and gorgeous girls at a Miami resort. There’s also one more guy there who, let’s say, wishes to “borrow” expensive belongings. He’s known as The Maestro (Hector Elizondo), a thief with a lot of experience. So basically we have two kids losing their minds seeing wonderful ladies, a guy who wants to steal jewellery and a lot of rich people enjoying their time. If you’re looking for something easy to follow, that’s definitely a good production to see. Still, I guess my brain wasn’t ready for such a wash and I’m not buying this comedy at all. I know we’re not supposed to take it seriously and I get it, but I have my limits and I just couldn’t find any pleasure in watching such ridiculous and often inappropriate jokes. I do like Johnny, I do like Hector Elizondo, but I just hoped to finish this comedy as fast as possible. I’m honestly surprised that my family member managed to see it several times… it sounds like a perfect idea for peaceful tortures, I swear. Still, if you’re curious and brave enough, feel free to check it out. From me it’s a “never again”.

My rating: 3/10
S.

The greatest single human gift – the ability to chase down our dreams. “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” (2001)

directed by Steven Spielberg
© 2001 Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Give me Steven Spielberg and John Williams and I can assure you their film will make you cry. Williams is an absolute magician when it comes to writing music and I feel like he understands Spielberg’s vision very well. Spielberg, however, in my eyes is a dreaming child trapped in an adult body. He’s like Peter Pan – never wishes to grow old. Or rather never wishes his imagination to grow old. He’s one of the directors that wish to take adults for one more ride back to their childhood memories and let them enjoy a bit of fantasy. When I was a child, I didn’t see anything spectacular in his films, except the fact that they were sad. But now, as an adult, I like when Spielberg takes me to some imaginary reality and let me dream a bit. Today’s film is his very popular production about a little robot who wanted to be loved. We’re moving to the 22nd century where the world’s population has been reduced due to the global warming. Therefore, scientists created Mecha – human-looking robots that can replace humans, at least some of them. And in this reality we follow Henry and Monica Swinton (Sam Robards & Frances O’Connor), whose child has been diagnosed with some strange disease and is currently in suspended animation. Not sure whether he will even get back to them, the couple decide to adopt a boy-looking robot, David (Haley Joel Osment). After the activation, David was capable of feeling love towards his new parents. And everything seemed perfect until Martin (Jake Thomas), the couple’s child, wakes up and David is not needed anymore… I remember when I was little I was crying a lot because David wasn’t loved back and it hurt me so much, but I guess I didn’t understand the difference between humans and robots, as children often believe that their toys are also “alive”. But now, being an adult and aware of the difference, I still felt incredibly moved. It’s not only an adorable story about a little robot craving for love. It’s actually a hidden message under a cute cover saying that humans are evil. We are intelligent, we are smart, but we’re also evil and selfish. And what humans were doing to robots in this film is not much different from what we’re currently doing to other humans. I’m sorry that I’m starting your week with such a message, but this film really shakes your heard and makes you reflect on who we are. And can I just say that Haley Joel Osment is spectacular in this production? I’m not surprised Spielberg didn’t consider any other child to take this role. Oh and special recognition for the teddybear!

My rating: 8/10
S.

To the memory of all lost poets. “The Butterfly’s Dream” (“Kelebeğin Rüyası”, 2013)

directed by Yılmaz Erdoğan
© 2013 United International Pictures (UIP). All Rights Reserved.

Oscars are so famous that I guess even people who have nothing to do with cinema and don’t really follow such news notice whether some film received this statuette. I mean, they decide to finally go to the cinema because they have nothing better to do and while choosing the film they spot this little note on the poster “Oscar winner”, or at least “Oscar nomination”. Oscars have power. But think of all the films which have never had a chance to be nominated, especially the ones from all over the world. And today I’d like to tell you about such production. “The Butterfly’s Dream” was the Turkish entry for the Academy Awards in 2014, but didn’t get a nomination. Considering the final nominees, I agree with this decision, because they were indeed better. But I’d like you to learn about this film and perhaps you’ll decide to see it. We get to know two young poets – Muzaffar (Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ) and Rüştü (Mert Fırat), who are doing their civil service in the early 40s. I guess we all know how inharmonious that time was, so writing poems wasn’t the most profitable or preferred activity among young people. Those two meet a beautiful girl named Suzan (Belçim Bilgin) and both decide to fight for her heart. And how can poets win a woman’s affection? Writing poems, of course. The winner of this love battle is for you to discover, yet it’s also the time when people were suffering from tuberculosis, which did not omit the young poets and complicated their life even more. The whole story is a lovely tribute to all young artists who died back then and were forgotten despite their often enormous talent. Generally the film wasn’t spectacular in my eyes, but I was amazed by the cinematography, production design and costumes. All that really took me back in time and it was difficult to look away. Sometimes it’s good to dig in this cinema box full of unknown films.

My rating: 6/10
S.

Remember about the personal touch. “Snow Dogs” (2002)

directed by Brian Levant
© 2002 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. All Rights Reserved.

I’m being incredibly nostalgic recently. Is it because of the spring? Am I in love? Or just tired of not going anywhere so I’m just stuck remembering the good old days. Today I’d like to recommend you a film that I was watching like crazy when I was younger. Why? You will see. We get to know Ted (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who’s a very famous dentist in Miami, Florida. His practice is called “Hot Smile” (I know, cringe) and next to Tooth Fairy he’s the most popular person connected to dentistry. One day he gets a letter saying that some Lucy from Alaska has died and he’s inheriting her possessions. Then Ted’s mother Amelia (Nichelle Nichols) finally admits that her son is adopted and that Lucy was his biological mother. The man decides to go to Alaska to deal with this situation. Obviously, he’s not going to stay there since he has a prospering business in Miami. But Lucy didn’t just leave him a house or a car – she left him seven Siberian Huskies and a Border Collie. Yes, eight dogs. As Nana, the Border Collie, is rather friendly and supportive, the Huskies are difficult to approach. At first, Ted wants to get rid of everything and sell the dogs, but the more he’s learning about his biological parents and Alaska, the more he feels like home there. And why was I obsessed with this film? Well, it’s not a masterpiece or anything. It’s actually a very average comedy full of cringe and… cringe. But I was in love with it because of… the doggos. I’m a total dog person and I had so much fun watching this adorable bunch of fluffy creatures playing with Ted. Somehow I really like productions where animals are presented as superior to humans. Do I hate people? Nah, but I just like karma on the screen.

My rating: 6/10
S.

You’re a part of this place, not a visitor. “My Octopus Teacher” (2020)

directed by Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed
© 2020 Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

This is a documentary is about a friendship between a man and an octopus. Craig Foster is a filmmaker from South Africa, very much interested in free-diving. At first he was just recording whatever he saw underwater, but then one day he met a wonderful creature. It was an octopus that wasn’t much scared of him. In fact, she was trying to get to know him better. Obviously, I’m not talking about going out to a café and sharing childhood memories, it’s still a documentary. Yet, she liked getting closer to Craig as if she trusted him and wished to be friends. The man came up with an idea to come back to the same place everyday and observe his little 8-legged friend. I’m a huge fan of documentaries and an animal lover, but when I heard about this film, I wasn’t that convinced it would be anything spectacular. I don’t know why. Maybe I was sure it’s just technically a wonderful picture and that’s why so many people appreciate it. Well, the shots are indeed magnificent, but the friendship between Craig and the octopus made me fall in love with this production. At some point Craig had tears in his eyes, so did I. We often consider ourselves superior to other creatures living on our planet and this film makes it clear that we’re just an element of the whole ecosystem. A significant element, yet not anything better than others. I admire Craig Foster for his passion and dedication to this idea and his little octopus teacher, but I also appreciate the fact that despite his connection with the animal, he did not intervene in her life. He let the octopus welcome him to her world, but whenever she needed to be alone or deal with something herself, he was just an observer. And this is a very important lesson for us all. We’re not gods – we’re equal to every living creature sharing this planet with us. And as long as we’re allowed to be getting to know each other, we should let them live their life. Craig said that thanks to that experience he learned a lot about human relationships as well, so if you think this is a film strictly for naturalists, you’re wrong. So far for me it’s the best film nominated for Oscars this year, considering all categories. And it’s not something I would say without a reason, so don’t miss this title.

My rating: 9/10
S.