Adrift

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It was slightly amusing to see so many teenage girls packing the Monday night showing of Adrift. The previous Shailene Woodley wide release drama was The Fault in Our Stars, the massively successful adaption of a novel that fetishizes death as the ultimate form of romance. Adrift, directed by the guy behind the sometimes boring, sometimes moving Everesthas nothing in common with it but the star. I liked it, but I really want to know what they all thought of it.

B

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The camera swirls along with the choreography of the fight scenes, which makes for a welcome relief from the usual framing of such movie moments.

B

The Big Sick

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It’s been a most difficult year, with no signs of abating. Six months into 2018 and the general uneasiness that consumes my bones is as present as ever. I continue to pray, although my conversations with God have turned to full on pleas for deliverance. I am exhausted.

Besides intervention from the divine, the only thing that can lift my spirits is the pictures. But even in this arena it has been a lousy year, the outliers of Phantom Thread and I, Tonya a distant but cherished memory. Enter The Big Sick. As a comedy, it is more gentle laughter than riotous, the oft present vulgarity of American comedies replaced by something tender, more observant.

As a drama it is surprisingly intelligent and insightful, its plot machinations revealing thoughts and behaviors that are keenly human. There is no gross manipulation here, nor tacked on sentimentality. Almost every line delivered carries purpose and weight, as if the writers know that cinema is most effective when the audience is one with the characters. And we can only do that when the world they inhabit operates under the rules of our own, when our regrets and fears mirror theirs, and our loves and aspirations are the ones they share.

As a romance it is infectiously charming, not only for the interaction of its two leads, a superb Kumail Nanjiani and the millennial queen of the rom-com Zoe Kazan, but also by that of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who play Emily’s parents. For an hour and 59 minutes I was immersed in their relationship navigating all the ups, downs, and in betweens that drive the story, any story, of love. I followed Kumail and Emily all the way to that breathtaking, final shot. Dear reader, what a shot it is. I’ve returned to it three times already, and it makes me gasp for air each time.

At this stage in my life the highest praise I can bestow on anything is that it made me absolutely forget about my troubles. As a character says at one point, “I’m just really tired. Do you ever just want to be in a relationship so you can just finally relax?” The Big Sick made my afflictions cease for a while, and my thoughts at peace.

A+

Shot Caller

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Providing nothing particularly new or insightful to the prison yard piece, Shot Caller coasts by on the strength of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s performance, who gives it his all to infuse his character with the appropriate gravitas to get you invested. It would work just fine if the cliches-who needs another wife and son that appear more by name than face?-did not get in the way.

C+

The Square

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One of the reasons why salvation cannot be earned by works alone is because everybody has good intentions. The Square, from the director of the bitingly funny Force Majeuremakes this obvious. From high class intellectuals to street thugs, people make an effort to be progressive, inclusive, to put up with ridiculous scenarios in the name of “I’m a better person than you”. And they all fall short.

This movie does too.

C+

Deadpool 2

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If by year’s end I were to craft a list detailing my favorite scenes of all the movies I watched in 2018, the weather advisory in Deadpool 2 would be at the top.
What did I do to deserve such a comedic gem?

I like to think that my blatant enjoyment of this parachute sequence (I was laughing so hard I had to turn to my neighbor, I couldn’t contain myself) is a reward for all the times I have sat in a movie theater, indifferently observing men in tights saving the planet over and over again.
Every superhero movie that I have ever watched is not so unmemorable now that it led, in one way or another, to the creation of this unparalleled comedy spectacle.

A-

Ingrid Goes West

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With one hand can I count the movies that have made me squirm so uncomfortably in my seat as the cringe inducing Ingrid Goes West. So what made me react so strongly to this movie, which is not particularly memorable besides Aubrey Plaza’s loopy performance?

My theory is that the Instagram Age has turned everybody, regardless of follower count, into an artist. Naturally we strive for success, measured in the ever precious likes and comments. When we fall short we risk losing exposure, the lack of which can prove fatal to our purpose of staying relevant. And once that’s gone, what is left but a seeming announcement to the world that we could not make it, that we are not good looking, popular or funny enough?

Maybe the fact that this made me so uncomfortable is because I too have fallen prey to the allure of the like. Hashtags, witty captions, that perfect angle; I want to appear cool because I don’t feel like I am. I want people to like me because I am lonely. The movie’s resolution does not provide a remedy to the need for validation from strangers, but gives in to it. The protagonist will continue to lead a life dictated by the interest of others; whether that’s a happy ending or not depends on what kind of an Instagram user you are.

B

The Rider

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It is easier for somebody who does not believe in an ever loving God to make sense of the injustices of this world. A believer, on the other hand, must come to reconcile the truth of a benevolent and kind God with the bitter realities of a life marked by pain and disappointment.

How do the children of God carry on in the face of profound sorrows? The Rider, a frequently moving and lyrical picture, posits that the Almighty has crafted each and every creature on this earth for a purpose, so we should pursue it, against all odds.

I look at myself, weary and slowly losing faith of ever achieving my dreams, and wonder. If God made me with a purpose, why aren’t I fulfilling it? Why am I stuck with such a mediocre and unexceptional existence? Prayer is hard to come by now, so preoccupied are my thoughts on what to do next. It was never supposed to be this way.

I had so much hope for the future, so much love and trust in my Savior, so much joy in the today. But more and more that feels like a bygone era, a person who was unaware that this world destroys goodness and God is…where is God?

A-