The Fallout (2021)

Sometimes you watch a movie and you can’t stop thinking about it. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it brightens your day or motivates you to try something new. This film stuck in my head for a different reason. It scared me, informed me, made me feel emotions that were buried deep in my head and heart. I think that is one of the signs of a good, successful movie. Not how it does at the box office, but how or what it makes you feel.

I got the chance to watch The Fallout last year at the 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival. The film stars Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, and Niles Fitch among others. The actors were incredible. The story was heavy, but everything felt necessary and purposeful. The director, Megan Park, did a great job at directing the film, writing it, and presenting it in a way that is digestible, powerful, and humorous. The funny parts can be hard to smile at because previous scenes are so upsetting, but this conflict of emotion mimics real life.

from HBO Max on YouTube

What really makes this movie so successful is its acting. It feels natural, almost like you’re watching a documentary, not a scripted narrative. Because of the topics and trauma at hand, this naturalistic acting makes it incredibly easy to empathize with the teenagers, their situation, and how they attempt to cope with the aftermath.

Overall, this film should not be watched when you want to be uplifted. It is heavy, but it all has a purpose. I recommend reading the ratings on IMDb if you are sensitive to violence, check out the Parent’s Guide on the movie’s page.

The Fallout is written and directed with intention and it is no surprise that HBO Max will be streaming the film, starting January 27, 2022. It’s a story that you don’t want to miss, but please be prepared before you watch it. It can be terrifying, it can bring up bad memories, and it can cause a lot of anxiety, but I still think it’s worth a watch if you can bear to watch through the tough parts. You could always skip forward if you find a part of the film too upsetting to watch or digest.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

9/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie/tv show 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.

Girls (Season 1)

When asked about his character in Girls, Adam Driver has described him as, “part poet, part rhinoceros and part Neanderthal.” Hence the picture of a rhino that opens this post. I do not know if the rhino should be offended or if he/she should be happy because Adam Sackler (Adam Driver) is so charismatic and unique. But also quite crazy with no boundaries and lots of sporadic and random energy.

One of my favorite shows of all time is New Girl (2011-2018) and I have rewatched the episodes so many times. Recently I got a HBO subscription because I wanted to watch the new Harry Potter special, and I decided I would give Girls (2012-2017) a watch. While New Girl and Girls have some similarities, I would say that their tones are where they differ. New Girl has more uplifting, quick humor, while Girls has a slower burn with heavier themes. New Girl still deals with some heavy topics, but it is done in a light humor way, while Girls digs into the deep, hard parts full on, sometimes without any sunlight visible for the near future.

In New Girl, my favorite character is Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) (but all of the characters have their own pizazz that makes me love them all). Thus, it makes sense that Adam (Adam Driver) is my favorite character in Girls. Obviously I can relate to all of the girls in different ways, but Adam is just so himself that it is mesmerizing. So unapologetically himself and I envy that. (Excellent casting choice, just saying.) Just to be clear, I do not envy everything about him, just that he is so open with being who he is and does not feel embarrassed about it, even his weird hobbies.

Now, enough about New Girl, let’s move into Girls more. I started watching the first season yesterday and I am already on episode eight out of ten. It’s the perfect show to have on in the background while I work. It has laughs, it has weird moments that make me feel less alone in my weirdness, and it is relatable, sometimes almost too relatable. I love it for most of the same reasons I like New Girl.

I have heard mixed emotions about Lena Dunham. Some people do not like her for her voiced opinions, but I do not know enough about her to comment on that. However, I do have to say that this show is great, it’s well written, it’s honest, and the directing and long shots make it even better. Sometimes a comedy television show does not take directing seriously and can be hindered by shots that do not match with the jokes, but Girls does not make this mistake.

If you’re an adult, I recommend that you watch this show on a chill night when you feel like laughing. If you’re not an adult, wait until you’re an adult and then watch this show. Some scenes can be jarring and unexpected if you are not prepared for them, mostly in a funny and almost embarrassing way. I warned you.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

7/10

*Disclaimer: Making a movie/tv show 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.

Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)

Getting a Disney+ subscription has increased my happiness and nostalgia tenfold. I got the subscription last year in March when my whole family had COVID-19. Watching my favorite childhood shows and movies helped keep my mind off the life threatening sickness I was dealing with, since I have asthma, but let’s change the topic. This is supposed to be a happy, fun movie post.

I watched the Hannah Montana movie when it came out in theaters with my then best friend. We went early in the morning because my friend’s mom was worried that the theatre would be packed because it was the weekend. It turned out that we were the only ones in the theatre besides a mother and her daughter. And it was too early to eat popcorn, but that didn’t stop us from semi-liking the movie. Surprisingly, I am not ashamed to admit that I like the movie more now than I did as a pre-teen.

from Walt Disney Studios on YouTube

As an adult, I notice some of the deeper themes of the film that went over my head when I was younger. In the past year I have watched this movie five times and each time I notice a new nuance to a scene that I did not notice before.

The film focuses on Hannah (Miley Cyrus) dealing with going back to where she grew up when she just wants to be in the spotlight in the big city. While home, she starts to reconnect with who she really is and who knew her before she was “Hannah Montana”. Many of the scenes felt very relatable for someone who left their home town or has not seen the people from middle or high school and then has come back home to see how much has changed.

It’s hard for me to decide what my favorite part of the movie is, but one scene and song that stands out is Butterfly Fly Away. I always cry at this part in the movie. I always cry when I listen to the song. If that sounds alarming, listen to the song and I think you will understand. It’s a beautiful song and it’s meaning is further heightened because Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) sings it with Robby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus), who is her real-life dad.

While I left the theatre in 2009 wanting more from the movie and feeling disappointed that I did not get to eat buttery popcorn at 9 a.m., I watch this movie now feeling all the feelings. It’s one of those movies that is great for kids, but even better for adults if they have an open enough mind to give it a chance.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

8/10

*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.

Return to Hogwarts (2022)

I got an HBO subscription just so I could watch this special. I have been a fan of Harry Potter for as long as I can remember. I got the books as birthday presents when I was younger, went to see the movies in the theaters when they came out, and had Potter-themed birthday parties many, many times. You could say that I am among the key demographic for this special.

When specials/reunions come out, I am usually hesitant to watch them because I do not know if I will be let down and some of my love for the film/tv show will be diminished. But after much thought, I decided to give this special a chance because I love the characters, actors, and world so much that I felt it in my gut that I would not be let down. I was right.

from HBO Max on YouTube

The special is broken down into “Chapters” that cover different movies and different times of the characters lives. As the movies progress, Harry, Ron and Hermione start as children, become teenagers, and then adults. The special follows this timeline and moves in order through the movies.

There are many emotional reunions of the most beloved characters, reminiscing of those who are not around any more, and talk about the future of the characters and all that they bring to the lives of the audience. One of my favorite reunions was that of Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his father (Jason Isaacs). Jason spoke about terrorizing young Tom on set while in character, and Tom spoke about feeling intimidated by him. It gave me a new perspective to know that even though Malfoy seemed fearless, behind-the-scenes Tom was truly scared of his ‘father’. It gave me a new soft spot for Malfoy that I didn’t know was possible.

Another reunion I loved was of Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and Hermione (Emma Watson). The bond between them was visceral and the experiences they shared seemed to come to life in their eyes as they spoke about them. I also enjoyed seeing Sirius (Gary Oldman) and Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) reunite, but of course my favorite reunion was that of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione.

So much time and life has passed since they had last been able to get together, but their bond has not weakened, it is very clear and present. They are similar to their characters and have a friendship that cannot be broken by time or distance. You just have to see if for yourself to know what I am talking about.

I could talk about Harry Potter all day, so I think I am going to cut myself off here. This special made me cry, laugh and feel so many emotions that I do not even have words for. (And that is saying a lot coming from a writer who uses writing to convey my emotions.) Most important of all, it made me come to terms with the deep reason I love these movies. Watching misfits band together, face obstacles, and overcome them by trusting and leaning each other is something I want to believe in. I bet a lot of other viewers want to believe in it too.

If you love the movies, do yourself a favor and watch this special. Even if it does not seem possible, it may further deepen your love for the movies after you see how much love the cast and crew have for each other even this many years after filming.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

9.5/10

Where is Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Branagh (Lockhart), Harry Telling (Dudley), David Bradley (Filch), and Katie Leung (Cho)? I know, I know they could not include everyone from the films, but I would have gladly watched a 5-hour-reunion, just saying.

Now that I think of it, Harry Potter has so many good characters that may have only have a few minutes of dialogue, but were so powerful and instrumental to the whole series. That is incredibly amazing.

It’s A New Year

Something inside me rumbles when I hear someone say, “New Year, New Me.” I think it’s because I don’t think it should take a date on a calendar to make you change your habits that you know are not serving you. We have the power to change, to grow, to work towards our best selves every day, not just when a new year starts. So we should seize the day, every day.

That being said, I think it’s great to look back at the past year and note the ups and downs. Celebrate the wins and what we can work on better next year. To encourage you to do this for yourself, I will be open and honest in this post, inserting gifs along the way to make it more fun (mostly Nick Miller, my spirit animal).

*Let’s start off happy and start with some wins.

  1. I completed an internship where I met incredible people, learned a lot, and felt like I had a supportive community that wanted me to succeed. This is a great accomplishment because in the industry it can be easy to feel like you are not enough when you keep hearing “no.” But this internship experience reminded me that there are kind people out there, you just need to find them and hold onto them when you do. Celebrate them.

2. I got published in my college’s literary magazine. I go to college online and did not know the people who were in charge of choosing the works of writing that were selected for the magazine. I was proud I was able to get in without having an “in” with the people in the Publishing Club.

3. I got third place in a 9/11 Writing Competition at my college. I won $250, which was pretty great and enabled me to buy a new iPad so I could explore my love for graphic design. At first I remember being so upset with myself that I got 3rd place, not 1st, but over time I realized I was being too hard on myself. It let me get a new iPad which enabled me to explore so much more creatively! So it was a win for me! All we can ever do is try our best.

*Next, I want to move onto things that are not necessarily visible wins, but they can be felt.

4. Even after contracting COVID (for the second time) and dealing with Long COVID (which SUCKS!!!), I did not get derailed from my goals. I kept learning in any way I could and kept networking online through the pandemic.

5. I met more film friends which has allowed me to realize that the nervousness I feel about sharing my new work with others is not central to me. Every creative person feels that!

*Finally, I want to mention what I want to work on for next year.

6. I need to learn to relax, know when to take a break, and that I deserve time to chill out and reset. I keep feeling burnt out and not motivated because I push myself until I have nothing left. That is not sustainable.

7. I need to trust myself and not spend time worrying if people like me or not. All I can be is nice, helpful and provide a laugh here and there. If someone does not like me, it does not do me well to dwell on it because that will not change anything. Not everyone will like you, that is something I have to accept.

8. I used to be great at this, but the pandemic has clouded my mind. I need to get better at saying, “No” when something or someone is not a good fit. Being isolated for so long has led me to saying, “Yes” when I normally would not. I do not want to miss out on any opportunity so I keep saying, “Yes” and then I get overwhelmed. Then, when I get asked to do something that I really want to do, I say, “No” because I cannot take anything else on my plate.

*I want to end with saying what I am grateful for.

9. I am grateful for the family and friends that are there for me and believe in me even when I do not believe in myself.

10. I am grateful for my courage and humility that allow me to keep learning and growing even when it is scary and all I want to do is hide. I don’t let that stop me. I used to think I was in Ravenclaw, but I am beginning to accept that I am in Gryffindor.

That’s all folks!!! I wish you a great year ahead! I hope you create goals, new memories, meet new people (safely), and share laughs and smiles. To 2022!

The Bling Ring (2013)

Up until a few weeks ago I was one of the few people who had never watched The Godfather. I had always heard how great it was despite all of the violence and how I had to watch it, especially because I am Italian. I always shrugged it off and it stayed on my watch later list until one day I decided to prepare myself and watch it. I watched all three movies in three consecutive days. That led me to watching this film because it is directed by Sofia Coppola.

Going into the film, I did not have set expectations. I had seen this movie pop up in my recommended before, but it is not the kind of movie that I typically watch so I skipped past it. However, once I learned it was directed by Sofia, I decided I should give it a try and have an open mind.

from A24 on YouTube

After watching the film, I am pleasantly surprised. The directing was incredible. Each shot was well thought out and added to the plot of the story. The story and characters progressed seamlessly and I was always wondering when things would turn for the worst. I liked how the story was told with flashbacks, or flashes of the future, while also living in the present. The timeline kept me intrigued. Additionally, all of the actors truly brought the characters to life.

While I do not know much about the real story and real people that the movie is based on, I think Sofia did a great job at adapting it into a movie. Along with directing the film, she wrote the script. The casting was solid and while this is not meant to be a comedy, many of the scenes had humor laced into them. Sometimes I felt like just bursting out laughing because of how ridiculous the characters were acting or how I could not relate to them at all but still sympathized with them in a way. I felt like I knew the characters. I felt interweaved in the story. That is when I know the director and writer have done a good job.

Overall, toward the end of the movie, I started to zone out more. I felt like I knew what was going to happen. Out of the entire movie, the ending was my least favorite. But then again, from the beginning of the movie it can be assumed that Rebecca and her crew will get caught eventually and I was still entertained for the majority of the film. If you gave this movie a watch, what do you think about the ending? Did it leave you wanting more? Did it drag on too long or not long enough?

Rating: 8 out of 10.

8/10

*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.

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. 🙂

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