Miss Americana

This documentary on Taylor Swift came out almost two years ago. I just watched it for the first time on Netflix yesterday. I decided to give it a chance because I have heard a lot of people saying that they were not a fan of Swift and the documentary changed that because it humanized her. After watching the film, I understand that conclusion completely.

When someone is famous, it can be easy to see them as just that, a famous person, and along the way it can be forgotten how they experience all of the emotions and ups and downs of that “normal” people do. The film shows the behind-the-scenes moments and what Taylor has endured over the years with the press, an assault case, and struggles with an eating disorder that went on for years.

My favorite part about the film is the way it was directed (Lana Wilson). Some of the shots are out of focus, the editing is not always smooth, but this adds to the realness of the story. Instead of removing a shot because it was out of focus or choppy, it was still included in the film. In a way, it makes Taylor’s story more relatable and digestible. It could be interpreted as a metaphor for how her life might seem very glamorous from afar, and while that is part of the job, underneath it all she has many of the same struggles that her fans do. She struggles with self esteem, trying to better herself, impress people and one up her previous work.

Before watching this film, I was not a huge fan of Taylor’s. I was not a hater, but I just wasn’t a huge fan. I listened to her music and appreciated her talent and writing skills, but I did not connect to her music enough for me to be a big fan of hers. However, now I have an even deeper appreciation for her work, her determination and persistence that the press loves to overlook. Hopefully that continues to change and she continues to succeed in the years to come.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

7/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t.

Don’t Look Up

I was looking forward to watching this movie since it was announced around a year ago. The cast alone is intriguing, but the concept and satire promised from the trailers and the promotional videos got me even more excited.

However, I was severely let down by its execution. While it clearly makes a very necessary point about climate change and people’s lack of recognition of it until it is likely too late, the rest of the movie fell flat for me. Very flat.

Without spoilers, my favorite moments of the film were the ending and scenes with Timothee Chalamet. The ending was touching, made a solid point, and jarring in the right ways. It was emotional and well-executed. Chalamet’s character also played a major role in the final scene and often added more dimension through the movie when the jokes fell flat. The post credits scene is also one for the books. Not entirely necessary but I would say it completes the semi-cliffhanger.

Overall, I did not laugh out loud once. The humor did not make me want to laugh and the pacing was rough. At times the plot felt like it leaped forward and at other times it felt like it was at a stand still. The incorporation of big stars in this movie was not enough to make me recommend it to family or friends. I want to emphasize how I really wanted to love this movie but it let me down. I enjoy other films by this director (Adam McKay) so I was hoping that this movie would end the year with a bang, but unfortunately that is not what happened.

Lastly, while Jonah Hill’s character, as well as most of the other characters, had the opportunity to be powerfully funny and satirical, they did not feel three dimensional and I could not find myself relating to them. I think this is the reason for my lack of enjoyment of this movie. The characters were not well-developed and left me feeling “on the outside” and not attached in any way.

If you have a few free hours, give this movie a watch if you’re ok with being let down, or if you want to see a few “meme-able moments” that are funnier out of context than in the film. But other than that, I would not say that this film is one that you need to watch. You can skip this one and not miss out on anything. Unless you don’t believe in climate change, then maybe give this one a watch and rethink your reasoning.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

5/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie is hard. Sometimes you have an idea and it is not interpreted how you intended it to be. All directors, producers, writers, and everyone on set should be proud at what they created and I do not want to diminish that. I just want to share my opinions so we can learn from movies and see what works and what didn’t. 🙂

Running With Wolves short film

Xenja practicing for her performance.

It has been a while since I posted. 3 whole months! If you want to keep up with my professional work, feel free to follow me on my other website here. On there I post what I am working on currently, from working with film festivals to film internships.

But today I have an exciting announcement! I am working with Xenja and her team to produce a short music film titled, Running With Wolves.

The film will be filmed in a black box theatre and tells a story through circus arts and movement. The performance will comment on the question, “Who are we before the world tell us who to be?”

Here is what Xenja has to say about the film,

We will tell the story of a lone wolf finding herself by breaking free of the external noise of society to allow her inner light to be her guide. The story is one that many of us can relate to: Who are we without makeup, lights, filters? Who are we without the external pressures telling us who to be and what to do?

Xenja
Xenja on YouTube

The film’s message is close to my heart because recently I have come to realize that many of my habits consist of tasks that I think I need to do, not tasks that make me happy, fulfilled or bring me closer to my goals. When outside voices and opinions penetrate our minds, they can easily make us lose direction and sight of what we are working towards.

While working through the popular Artist’s Way book, I have learned a lot about myself. Thus, when the opportunity presented itself to be an Associate Producer on Xenja’s film, I was excited because the message aligns with my thoughts and my aim to positively affect the community.

If you want to help contribute to the film, the whole team would appreciate your support on Kickstarter. If you share the link or decide to contribute yourself, thank you so much!

**Click here if you want to learn more. 🙂

P.S. Let me know if you contribute so we can shout you out on social media! Sharing the Kickstarter link also helps so much. Thank you in advance!

Disclaimer: This website contains Amazon Associate Links that I earn commission from if you purchase a product using my link. This is at no extra charge to you!

The Letter Room (2020)

Photo by Brett Garwood on Unsplash

This film stars Oscar Isaac’s mustache. I’m kidding. No, but really. His stache really shines, it’s a character in itself. Moving on…

I got the chance to watch this Oscar-nominated short at the San Diego International ShortsFest. I am always intrigued when I see a “big movie star” appear in a short film. It’s usually because their character is interesting and unique, which is likely what drew them to play the part. This film is no exception. The specific storyline drew me in right away, but again, the stache definitely helped.

Salaud Morisset on YouTube

The film’s themes are connection and corruption. How faces and numbers have stories behind them, especially if you are willing to take the time and look a little closer.

After being assigned the job of reading the letters sent to prisoners before delivering them to their rightful recipients, Richard starts to develop a close connection to the inmates and their family members. He starts to understand their life stories, and their lives outside of prison.

At one point in the film, Richard nervously folds a napkin at a restaurant while waiting for Rosita, a prisoner’s partner to arrive. Richard went to Rosita’s house to make sure she was ok after he read a threatening message she sent to her partner on death row. He went to her house on his own will, not because it was the prison’s policy, but because he genuinely wanted to make sure she was ok.

With this short run time, I recommend you give this film a watch. It challenges your idea of empathy and provides a new perspective on a situation that I have not seen explored before in a short. While Richard is not a prisoner in the prison, it can be inferred that he also leads a lonely life, spending much time alone and not feeling connected to others. Thus, it makes sense that he would feel a natural draw to reading the letters because it would make him feel a part of a family and friendships that he does not have in his own life.

Read more about the film here on IMDb.

Thanks for sticking with me. Sign up for updates to be notified each time I post.

A

Cherry (2021)

Photo by T. Q. on Unsplash

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. Ahem, Avengers.

There is so much hate towards this movie and honestly, I disagree with most of it. Maybe I was hypnotized by seeing Tom Holland in a role that was very unlike Spiderman, or maybe I just don’t watch many films like this one. Either way, I would not say this film was terrible in any respect. Unlike most people, I liked the structure of the film and the way it followed the characters as the story developed.

The plot twists and turns, the characters ebb and flow as their relationships and reality changes. At the base of this film is the realization that one decision, one split moment choice has the ability to change a person’s life for the better or for the worse.

Cherry (Tom Holland) is a troubled dude. He has been through a lot, losses and gains, and eventually those life choices lead to him spiraling out of control and taking all that he loves with him. His girlfriend Emily (Ciara Bravo) is his rock, she sticks beside him even when it would likely be better for her to leave and live her own life without him.

One of the aspects of this story that stood out to me is how young Cherry and Emily, yet they are dealing with so much. I am not sure how old the characters are supposed to be, but both Holland and Bravo look very young for their age, and that definitely effected how I perceived the story and their characters.

Conclusion

Honestly, I do not think that I would have watched this film if it was not directed by the Russo Brothers and it was not starring Tom Holland. This is not the genre I tend to gravitate towards and enjoy watching, but I learned a lot from watching this film. The story’s structure led me to think deeper about the screenplays I am writing and how I can change the structure to add meaning to the story and make it more impactful.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Overall, I feel undecided about this film. If I had to rate it, I would give it a 7/10. I don’t think it is Oscar worthy, but I also do not think that it is horrible and should never be watched again. Some of the reviews were so ruthless and it really surprised me how passionately some people hate this film.

*One thing that I have to note is how I do not have extensive knowledge and perspective on being overseas and dealing with the hardship of battle. In this respect, I cannot comment on the film. If people who have had these experiences say that this film does not do those experiences justice, then I think the directors and writer should have done more research before portraying the characters and story. That is their responsibility. But at the end of the day, no film is perfect (except maybe Dirty Dancing).

Read more about the film on IMDb. This film is available on Apple TV+.

Thanks for reading this review. I enjoyed this film and then I read all the bad reviews, so I felt like I had to get my thoughts out here. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my opinions. There is no right or wrong here.

A

San Diego International Film Festival

This past year has been the year of online film festivals. Thus it is no surprise that San Diego International Film Festival decided to host an online film festival specifically dedicated to short films. All of the films are 30 minutes or less in length. The regular film festival will take place in October, which will showcase longer films and will be 11 days long!

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite films that I watched at the ShortsFest. In no particular order…

1. Imelda y Luis (2020)

This tender film is directed by Leonel Chee and follows twin siblings, Imelda and Luis. They have a special bond and have grown up in tough circumstances. But they push through it all and show that nothing can break their sibling bond, not even an unsupportive family and a destructive home life.

The children that play the twins are incredible actors and make the story so compelling and heartfelt. So much story told in under 20 minutes.

2. Eucalyptus (2021)

A remarkable quarantine inspired short that showcases some of the benefits of being alone and having time to reflect and appreciate each individual moment of time. Directed by Nate Riedel, this film reminds us to find the positives in every situation, even if at first there seems like there are none.

3. Mar & Cielo (2021)

The directors, Rocío Huerta & Roberto Zamora, make the climate crisis personal in this beautifully acted and beautifully filmed story that takes place on the coast of Chile. The incredible visuals, accompanied with the emotional backbone of the story, make this film something I will recommend to my friends.

4. Rust (2020)

Mariola Wawrzusiak-Borcz searches for scrap metal that she can weld to form sculptures that comment on people, animals, and our relationship with our surrounding environments. All of the sculptures are mesmerizing to look at, but some of them give you this eery feeling in your stomach because they evoke such deep, profound emotional.

Wawrzusiak-Borcz is an incredible artist whose innovation, resourcefulness, determination, and intelligence inspires me.

5. Georgia (2020)

This heartbreaking story stuck with me long after I finished watching the film. Directed by Jayil Pak, this film follows two parents after they lose their daughter. Their daughter was in the process of creating a new font style and her parents try to pick up where she left off, even though they have a lot to learn.

Georgia focuses on the themes of love, family, and justice. When the public do not take the parents’ demands seriously, they go to whatever lengths they need to make sure their daughter’s story is heard and that justice is served.

Honorable Mentions:

AMYGDALA (2020) directed by Dana Abdessamad and staring Carole Abboud & Yehia Jaber, tells the story of Farid as he starts to experience the feeling of not being in the present moment, leaving Amal to decide what’s the best way to deal with Fadri’s new reality.

THE ROADS MOST TRAVELED (2020) directed by Bill Wisneski, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Don Bartletti, discusses the people he has met and the experiences he has been thrown into throughout his career. He touches on what he has learned, what changed his perspective the most, and what he wants people to know about immigration.

Thanks for being a part of my journey. What’s your favorite short film at the moment?

A

Fauve (2018)

Photo by Karen Maes on Unsplash

A few days ago I watched a webinar hosted by WeScreenplay where the Producer, Maria Gracia Turgeon, provided a lot of valuable information about getting a film produced and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Following the webinar, I wanted to check out some of Turgeon’s work because she seems like such a genuine, kind-hearted person.

That led me to watching Fauve. A film unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is a short, but the premise sticks with you for much longer than the 17 minute run time. It is no surprise that the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. The film is directed and written by Jeremy Comte.

Without giving too much away, here is the plot: Two boys are in the midst of playing what first seems like an innocent game, but soon nature provides a conflict that might be too big for the young boys to overcome.

I can relate to the juxtaposition of innocence and trouble. I think most people can. When you are young, playing jokes and being a trickster is what comes naturally and may be the only way you are used to expressing your emotions. But what happens when nature’s maturity pushes your innocent tricks too far and you get caught in a situation that is too overwhelming to escape?

This film takes that idea to the next level. While being shot in the beautiful outdoors, and what first appears to be an innocent mud mine, this director and writer has a unique vision that is sure to get your mind thinking.

Here is the full film: (I recommend you watch it ASAP)

Jeremy Comte on Vimeo

To learn more about Fauve, check it out on IMDb, Instagram, or Facebook.

P.S. If you want to check out my personal work and stay up-to-date with my projects, follow my personal blog here. On there I post about my interviews, published work, and what I plan on doing next.

Thanks for reading!

A

What I’ve Been Watching

Quick Update:

I have been meeting with producers and directors so hopefully I will get one of my screenplays produced soon! I have also been writing for a small production company and those screenplays are currently in development or production.

In the few months that I haven’t posted, I attended online film festivals and screened hundreds of films for film festivals across the country.

I also am just getting over COVID. I have been sick for almost a month and I am just starting to recover now. COVID is a seriously crazy illness. Stay safe! Now back to the regularly scheduled program…

What I’ve been watching recently:

Being sick, I have had time to watch a lot of movies, T.V. shows, and random shorts and videos. Additionally, I got Disney+ which made the recovery process a lot more enjoyable. Here is some content that I watched over the past few months:

WandaVision

This series was so hyped up. I have to admit, the style of the episodes and the writing is very interesting and unique, but I still wanted more. After watching the whole season I realized what Marvel was doing. They wanted to make the events that happened in the episodes not so instrumental so people who have not watched them would still be able to understand their upcoming films. Not to say that the ending of the series is boring, but I felt like not much really changed from the beginning to the end. Yes, there were bad guys (and girls) but I guess I was let down that there was not a Thanos. But can anyone ever compare to such a good villain?

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier

Two of my favorite characters! Although I have not watched all of the episodes in this series yet (because they are not all out) I have loved watching the characters outside of their normal “superhero” lifestyles. The Falcon visits his sister, Bucky tries to right his wrongs, and of course they get sucked into saving some people. The concept is interesting and puts the super characters in the context of their everyday lives. It’s almost like visiting a celebrity’s Instagram and getting to know them better than just watching their very stylized interviews. That’s what I feel these episodes have done for these characters. And I’m into it.

Hamilton

Do I need to say more?

Suite Life of Zack and Cody

I am a Disney channel kid and have been spending way too much time rewatching episodes of all the Disney Channel classics. They are still brilliant all these years later, it’s really surprising actually.

Lizzie McGuire Movie

Gordo! Paolo! And terrible Italian accents! I started this movie thinking that I would end up turning it off after 15 minutes but before I knew it, I finished the movie. The screenplay and directing could use a lot of work, but something made me keep watching this film. I am still trying to figure out why that is. I think it has something to do with nostalgia, but I am just guessing here.

New Girl

Seasons 1-3 are my favorite. Nick Miller. Winston. Furguson. True American. I can’t find my driving moccasins. Shut your soup hole. Bathtubs are medieval filth cauldrons.

My SXSW Picks:

I attended the online SXSW 2021 Festival and it was such an incredible experience. I met so many people, attended a handful of roundtables, learned a lot, and gained a lot of confidence in pitching myself and my creativity. Here are some of the films/shows that stood out to me. I recommend that you check them out on IMDb, YouTube, Instagram, wherever you can watch these creative masterpieces!

Inbetween Girl

A wonderful feature film with a strong Asian female lead that is powerful, realistic, and not stereotypical. This story is so refreshing, relatable, and so terribly needed. I wish I saw this film when I was in high school. It would have made me feel better about myself and realize that no one has their life figured out. Not everything goes as planned. You get back up and keep going. Directed and written by the brilliantly talented Mei Makino.

Parked in America

Written by another incredible female creative (Kayla Lewis), this T.V. pilot left me wanting to watch the whole season. When a Korean teenager moves to America after dealing with a family tragedy she is confronted with the differences in culture while also dealing with personal grief and home problems. Even though that description may sound extremely serious and dramatic, there is so much comedy in the writing and expressed through the actors. Well done!

Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before

This short was created by the great Andrew Carter and Kahlil Maskati. Marvin has never had coffee before and he feels left out, so he decides to try coffee. Only to realize that some of the people around him have also never had coffee before. A heartfelt, comedic tale told in a very gentle way that expresses the important message that we all just want to fit in.

Pretend Partners

Need a reason to laugh? Watch this T.V. pilot. When two friends are tired of being single and being bothered by their friends, they pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Quickly they realize that this might have been the best idea ever, or the worst. Only time will tell. Staring and written by Ron Najor and Kristin Erickson.

TTYL (Talk to you later)

Thanks for reading! I missed writing posts and I hope that I am back to stay.

Let me know what posts you want to see and what new movies I should watch and review for you!

Hope you have a great day,

Arianna 🙂

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