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Ezra (2024) – Movie Review

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Ezra (2024) – Movie Review

Ezra, 2024.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn.
Starring Bobby Cannavale, William A. Fitzgerald, Robert De Niro, Rose Byrne, Vera Farmiga, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, Tony Goldwyn, Jackson Frazer, Greer Barnes, Tess Goldwyn, Ella Ayberk, Lois Robbins, Alex Plank, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Matilda Lawler, Joe Pacheco, Amy Sheehan, Barzin Akhavan, Donna Vivino, Jacqueline Nwabueze, John Donovan Wilson, Joshua Hinck, Sophie Mulligan, Thomas Duverné, Guillermo Rodriguez, and Jimmy Kimmel.

SYNOPSIS:

Comedian Max co-parents autistic son Ezra with ex-wife Jenna. Faced with crucial decisions about Ezra’s future, Max and Ezra go on a life-changing cross-country road trip.

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Undeniably made with good intentions, Ezra wants to tell a story about a young autistic boy and his father struggling to accept that uniqueness (lamenting that his son will never be “normal”) due to some personal baggage related to his rocky upbringing. Ezra is also a film that consistently gets sidetracked or finds itself telling that story in a broad, mawkish manner with outlandish plot beats that continuously sink the few elements that work. That’s also surprising considering screenwriter Tony Spiridakis (who had been working on the script for roughly 15 years) is basing that father-son relationship on his experience raising an autistic child. Why turn such personal material into… this?

A film about the challenges of parenting an autistic child and ensuring that everything from school to public behavior is going well has enough realistic, stressful drama to be relatable to anyone who has ever been in a similar situation. The dynamic that parents Max (Bobby Cannavale) and Jenna (Rose Byrne) are divorced (the actors are married with children in real life) adds another layer of domestic intrigue.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn, the film seems to have no awareness of when to stop manufacturing more drama or when it begins to feel like piling on for the sake of telling a story that quickly begins to feel false. It becomes less of an earnest look at autistic childhood and more of a far-fetched road trip flick where the logic for certain characters is nonexistent, and the narrative rapidly transitions to do something that could only exist in the movies, something that is counterproductive to why this film was made.

This is frustrating since there are touching flourishes whenever Max interacts with the titular Ezra (William A. Fitzgerald, a delight to watch and autistic). Despite getting expelled from school, Ezra is a kind soul with various stimulation triggers (such as hugs or sensitivity to eating with forks), who often speaks in famous quotes and takes everything literally to such a degree that when he overhears Jenna’s new partner jokingly talking about murdering Max, he frantically runs out of the house to warn his loving father. This leads to Ezra making the choice to run into the middle of the street while scared and avoiding a barking dog on the sidewalk, nearly getting hit by a car, with doctors under the impression that it was a suicide attempt, dealing with the incident by forcing the parents to put the boy into a special needs school and take antipsychotic medication.

That’s only the beginning of this exaggerated story, which then sees Max kidnapping his son from Jenna, believing that she has lost hope in fighting for his rights and is too comfortable listening to professional advice. He doesn’t like that the medication zombifies his son (understandably so) and appears to believe that allowing the boy to go to a special needs school means he is accepting that there is something wrong. Many of his hangups with accepting his son’s autism come from a tumultuous relationship with his father, Stan (Robert De Niro), a former chef who gave up his dreams to provide for Max after his mother left. This grandfather also has trouble acknowledging his grandson’s autism, uncomfortable uttering the term. Both of these men, in a sense, are hiding and running from reality.

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Perhaps a more skilled filmmaking team could make something out of that, but Ezra also has to contend with baffling subplots such as Max’s aspiring standup comedian career and his relative closeness to securing a spot performing for Jimmy Kimmel. There is also a road trip aspect that sees Max heading West with Ezra, coming across several old friends for the sake of convenience. In one sequence, the film makes the case that there will be kids (even girls) who accept Ezra and those who will bully him, doing so in a confused way, unsure if it wants to sanitize itself. It’s also accompanied by sappy music.

At a certain point, Ezra is officially reported as kidnapped with warnings and notices throughout the 24-hour news cycle. Max is aware of this, yet confoundingly still thinks showing up to audition for Jimmy Kimmel will end well. The occasional tender moments between father and son are continuously undercut by this stupidity and overblown narrative decisions. At least it follows suit, ending in a fittingly melodramatic cringe.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

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Chandu Champion first reviews: Kartik Aaryan's film touches hearts with its gripping storyline | Hindi Movie News – Times of India

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Chandu Champion first reviews: Kartik Aaryan's film touches hearts with its gripping storyline | Hindi Movie News – Times of India
Chandu Champion’, the sports drama that marks Kartik Aaryan‘s debut collaboration with Kabir Khan, is scheduled to release in theaters on June 14. The film is inspired by the life of Murlikant Petkar, India’s first Paralympics gold medallist.
The first review for the film has come from the people who watched the film at the special screening hosted by Kabir Khan.Those who have watched it have shared their verdict on social media. While Sumit Kadel called ‘Chandu Champion’ one of the finest films of 2024, Siddharth Kannan wrote, “It would be an understatement to call this @TheAaryanKartik ‘s best performance. Just like #MurlikantPetkar ji, he has risen over all odds and has made an indelible mark with his performance in the film.”
Sumit Kadel took to X and wrote, “#ChanduChampion is one of the finest films of 2024. It is a sports drama done right, telling the remarkable and legendary life of Murlikant Petkar. Director Kabir Khan narrates his story with great skill, research and most importantly honesty without going overboard. The movie explores every chapter of Murlikant Petkar’s life, which is full of heroism, valor, and courage. We see his journey from his village to joining the army, becoming a world-class boxer, struggling with his injuries, and finally achieving success at the Paralympics. His story is extremely inspiring, emotional, and powerful. #KartikAaryan delivers his best performance in this film. His body transformation is extraordinary, and he looks like a real athlete throughout. More than his physical transformation, Kartik’s emotional performance is what truly stands out. There are many scenes in the film where his acting will make you cry. He is sure to be a contender for the best actor award this year. #VijayRaaz lent strong support and the child who played Kartik’s Young version is brilliant. The first half of the film is excellent, while the second half is a bit slow and stretched at times. However, the last 20 minutes make up for these shortcomings. The major highlights of Chandu Champion are the boxing matches and the fantastic war scenes just before the interval. Overall Chandu Champion is a very honest film with a beautiful story, direction, screenplay, and many inspirational moments. Kudos to producer Sajid Nadiadwala for giving the film the scale and grandeur it deserves.”

On the other hand, Siddharth Kannan wrote, “#ChanduChampion… It would be an understatement to call this @TheAaryanKartik’s best performance. Just like #MurlikantPetkar ji, he has risen over all odds and has made an indelible mark with his performance in the film. #VijayRaaz, Nobody could have been a better mentor than you in the film for apna Murli. #KabirKhan packs a punch with yet another blockbuster. #Kartik, you have shut down all those who you would have once said, #HastaKaykoHai?”

Ramesh Bala tweeted, “#ChanduChampion Review : Kabir Khan is back in full form with this film. Emotions, actions, drama, relationships, motivation and unexpectedly killer performances. The film sticks to your mind. Kartik Aaryan deserves a standing ovation. Extremely watchable movie 🍿 full Paisa vasool.”

While seeing the movie, a few audience members who were invited to the private screening were also seen crying. Sharing the video of the same on Instagram, Kartik wrote, “First screening of Chandu Champion with the Man himself. An evening filled with honor, joy and tears with THE REAL CHAMPION. The Man who refused to surrender MR MURLIKANT PETKAR.”
The Kabir Khan film is based on the life and events of Petkar, the first Paralympian gold medallist, who bravely confronted every hurdle life threw at him. The titular role is essayed by Kartik Aaryan.

Kartik Aaryan’s Most Candid Interview On Chandu Champion: I Am Manifesting A Lot And That’s Why These Roles Are Coming My Way

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Arcadian (2024) – Movie Review

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Arcadian (2024) – Movie Review

Arcadian, 2024.

Directed by Benjamin Brewer.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Jaeden Martell, Maxwell Jenkins, Sadie Soverall, Samantha Coughlan, and Joel Gillman.

SYNOPSIS:

A father and his twin teenage sons fight to survive in a remote farmhouse at the end of the end of the world.

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Finding a human story within a post-apocalyptic creature feature is typically a creative choice to appreciate. Director Benjamin Brewer’s Arcadian (from a screenplay by Michael Nilon) has a similarly intriguing concept. It focuses on how two twin teenage boys must set aside their differences and become a more cohesive survival unit following a life-threatening injury to their father, a quieter, more restrained Nicolas Cage. Played by Jaeden Martell and Maxwell Jenkins, the boys are at odds in the expected ways; one is more mature and crafty, the other headstrong and less concerned with duties in favor of visiting a nearby farmhouse to hang around his crush (Sadie Soverall), who has also yet to see much of the leveled and decayed world beyond her home.

It’s also not necessarily an issue that the filmmakers aren’t concerned with explaining much about this apocalypse or the monsters, choosing to focus on the human element and day-to-day routines, which primarily consist of scavenging during the day and locking themselves up at night in an isolated home. The family is a tightknit trio, but even with Nicolas Cage’s calm demeanor and patience as Paul, breaking up the bickering between Joseph and Thomas, it’s made clear that they would either completely unravel without him or come together stronger than ever to protect him. 

Despite the generally compelling setup and potentially complex character dynamics, Arcadian never finds much depth within any of that. As a story, it’s going through the motions and placing the brothers in other perilous situations that come across as contrived, as if the filmmakers don’t know what else to do. Even the friendship between Thomas and Charlotte feels more like a skeleton rather than something properly fleshed out. It plays out more like an obligatory love interest subplot instead of something substantially adding to the characters and the shaky sibling dynamic.

By the time Arcadian descends into a prolonged action-packed third act against agile, prehistoric-reminiscent beasts with elongated necks, quite literally chomping at the bit to devour human flesh, there is a degree of emotional investment into these characters, albeit a lingering sensation that, much like the preceding hour, there is something off and dull about all of this. 

It also has nothing to do with the gutsy decision to sideline Nicolas Cage for a sizable portion of Arcadian; that’s a subversively clever choice, but there isn’t enough on the page for the boys to elevate the material. As for the monster design, nothing is striking or unique here. However, even if there was something aesthetically nightmarish and exciting, the presentation is drowned in darkness to cover up mid-tier CGI most likely resulting from budget constraints.  Viewers are left clinging to a human story that is disappointingly shallow and generic, especially for a time and genre that has recently seen superior offerings.

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Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

 

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Short Film Review: A Catholic Schoolgirl by Myra Angeline Soriaso

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Short Film Review: A Catholic Schoolgirl by Myra Angeline Soriaso

“Not everyone is meant for this life. It’s a huge commitment”

Myra Soriaso is a student filmmaker who found her knack for storytelling after discovering microcinema in 2018. In 2021, her first short documentary Panambi, co-created with her besties Jane and Katya, premiered internationally at Ji.hlava International Film Festival. She debuted as a fiction filmmaker in 2023 at Qcinema International Film Festival with “A Catholic Schoolgirl”, which won the QCShorts Gender Sensitivity Award.

The film begins setting the tone, with a black screen where we hear the sound of girls praying. The next shot focuses on the protagonist, Kaya, a young girl who is following the prayers of the nuns in an all-girls Catholic school, although she also seems deep in her thoughts while doing so. Another nun, Sister Agnes, works with her on her chanting, with the girl being evidently disappointed that her teacher will be leaving by the end of the semester.

Sister Agnes then introduces the girl to some other nuns, praising her singing voice and her overall performance in the school. The nuns are working in the kitchen and Kaya offers to help, with Sister Agnes showing how to slice mangoes this time. A cut finger results in a more intimate discussion, with Kaya asking about love and the lack of romance the particular path holds for those who pledge themselves to God. Sister Agnes opens up about herself in order to guide her student. One more ‘episode’ follows though.

Myra Angeline Soriaso shoots a film that deals with the concept of LGBT love within a catholic setting, in an effort to highlight both how difficult the particular path can be, and how teenagers can experience their newfound sentiments and their effort to become of the cloth. The combination works quite well, creating an atmosphere that is secretive, intimate and mysterious, with the voyeuristic aspect in particular working well in that regard.

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Considered that the short essentially deals with temptation, having a model such as Sharon Idone playing Sister Agnes definitely hits the spot, with her presence justifying what Kaya feels. The scene between the two close to the end brings the whole thing down to reality, while another one, with the jam on the report card adds a very meaningful and visually impressive metaphor about what happened, and what will probably happen in Kaya’s future.

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Lastly, that the ‘confession’ takes place in a space where another kind of confession is supposed to happen, adds a very appealing note to the movie, which is both intelligent and quite smart. Some scenes could have been handled a bit better regarding what is happening, but overall, the context here is rich and well-presented.

Ora Palencia as Kaya highlights her sentiments, eagerness, and inner turmoil in eloquent fashion, even if her role is quite laconic. Martika Ramirez Escobar captures all the aforementioned with artistry, with the voyeuristic scene being the apogee of her work. Maria Estela Paiso’s editing results in a mid-tempo that works well for the style of narrative here, allowing a full story to unfold in less than 16 minutes.

“A Catholic Schoolgirl” is another excellent short film from the Philippines, which highlights that we are bound to see even more interesting things from the country in the following years.

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