Emma

emma

The story of title character Emma is a timeless classic. Created by Jane Austen, it follows a young woman (Anya Taylor-Joy) who prides herself on her good looks, charm and wit.  Thrust with the responsibility of looking after her father (Bill Nighy) after her older sister decided to get married and have eventually had a child, Emma vows that she will never to follow down the same path for she does not need a man in her life in order to be happy. In the eyes of Mr. Woodhouse, Emma can do no wrong – the whole world seemingly revolves around her.

One of Emma’s past-times includes helping others, especially if it means making herself look good in the process. So when she goes out of her way to befriend Harriet (Mia Goth), many in her life wonder exactly what the two could possibly have in common. Emma does what she can to groom Harriet into her idea of a proper lady complete with a make over and etiquette lessons, as well as invitations to the most prestigious parties and social gatherings.  And the most important of all is that Emma wants to set Harriet up with the dashing Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor) and will do everything she can to make that happen.

But all of Emma’s plans seem to go haywire right from the start. Mr. Elton has no interest in asking Harriet for her hand and why is her childhood friend and ex-brother in law Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) suddenly bringing up feelings she never knew existed?

This was the first version of Emma that I had the pleasure of watching. I never got around to checking out the one from the early nineties. The modernized retelling in Clueless though is one of my all time favorite movies so I knew what to expect going into this one. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how sharp and funny it was. Many a time did I find myself laughing out loud in the cinema and it was a fresh take that I did not expect. This was depicted in the cinematography and the beautiful aesthetics.

The story itself is one of my favorites from Austen. She was always ahead of her time and promoted feminism in all of her pieces of writing. Emma is no exception and this shines through in the film. There is a sense of girl power that is inspiring and it makes you root for the female characters throughout.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

All The Bright Places

all the bright places

Book to movie adaptions are my favorite. I love seeing a story that was so clear in my head play out on screen. When I heard that All The Bright Places would be coming to Netflix, I knew I had to add it to my queue. I remember reading the book way back when it was published in 2015 so a few of the details were spotty at best, but I thought it was a pretty decent effort all in all.

Meet Theodore Finch (Justice Smith) and Violet Markey (Elle Fanning), two high school kids who, on the surface seem to be complete opposites, but as it turns out they have a lot more in common than they ever could have realised.

Finch struggles with mental health and has to see a therapist on the reg to keep his thoughts and feelings in check. When he is in the middle of an episode, he usually disappears from the lives of his friends and family. He also writes these down on post its and displays them in his room so that he can have some sort of control over the situation.

Violet is known as the girl who lost her sister in a freak car accident. This event completely alters her life – suddenly college applications take a backseat as do friends and potential boyfriends. Violet is unable to find joy in anything anymore and she hasn’t stepped foot in a car since.

A chance encounter at the scene of the accident pushes the two together. Finch is curious about Violet and wants to know more about her, but she is closed off and unsure. When they are paired up for an assignment that requires them to discover various world wonders, their guards are slowly let down and their hearts open up to life and love.

The topic of this film is important because it tackles mental health in a realistic way. Both main characters deal with their own issues, but what it comes down to is that one should never judge a book by it’s cover. Just because somebody looks like they are happy on the outside does not mean that that is really how they feel on the inside. Mental health is still something people aren’t able to talk about openly and that should change.

I recently reread the novel and noticed quite a few changes were made. While this is common in page to screen adaptions, I wish more details had been included. Key locations were altered and the way in which Finch’s dark days were depicted could have been more colorful. Still, I enjoyed watching the story unfold and it taught me to not take anything for granted.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Buffaloed

buffaloed

I hadn’t heard much about this film until quite recently. Zoey Deutch is a favorite of mine and I don’t think there’s a project of hers that I haven’t seen and enjoyed. What I like most about her is that she is diverse and can take on many roles. Her comedic ones, in particular, are outstanding. Buffaloed was no exception!

Peg lives with her mom Kathy (Judy Greer) and brother JJ (Noah Reid). When her dad died, she took it upon herself to do whatever was necessary to provide for her family even if that sometimes meant committing acts that weren’t exactly legal. Peg taught herself everything she needed to know about finances and numbers and how to always have a steady flow of money coming in.

So when the opportunity to work as a debt collector comes about, Peg jumps at the chance. Working in that line of business is no easy feat; her employer is not somebody you’d want to mess with and trying to get people to pay their bills can be daunting. But Peg has a way with people and before long she is a force to be reckoned with. The only problem? Her fellow employees aren’t happy about it especially when she decides to go out on her own.

With the help of an unlikely group of people from various cultures and backgrounds, Peg embarks on a tumultuous journey complete with many ups and downs, new friendships and love along the way.

What is so interesting about this story is that it sheds light on the issue of debt in America. So many people take out loans for medical bills, school tuition or mortgages, but then they struggle to pay it back. As an outsider who has never experienced this firsthand, I thought the depiction in Buffaloed was well executed. Even though the topic is a serious one, the comedic element helped even things out.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Parasite

parasite

Where do I even begin to talk about this masterpiece? I had no idea what Parasite was about before it started making headlines everywhere and anywhere. All the summaries I found online were ambiguous. They gave the general plot, but did not go into any detail at all. It felt as though I was being left out of the world’s biggest secret that I knew I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

The Kim family do whatever they can to get by. Small jobs here and there that don’t hold much promise for a brighter future, though they never give up hope. At least they have each other. One fateful day, Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) is given the opportunity of a lifetime: become an English tutor for the very wealthy Park family’s daughter. Having no prior experience, he adopts the name Kevin and takes on his new role cautiously.

Before long, Ki-woo enlists the help of his sister Ki-jung (So-dam Park) who becomes the art teacher for the Park’s son. Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) and Chung-sook (Hye-jin Jang), the parents of Ki-woo and Ki-jung, are brought in as driver and housekeeper too. What started as a way for the Kims to get some extra money soon turns into an elaborate game.

Though the Parks seem to have it all, nothing is ever as it seems. Gullible Yeon- kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo) takes her job as a mother very seriously. She wants the best for her children and makes most of the household arrangements. Dong-ik (Sun-kyun Lee) is too busy building his empire to be present in the lives of his children. Between the two of them, it’s no wonder that the Kims are able to manipulate their way into this new lifestyle.

My favorite thing about Parasite is how unpredictable it was. It kept me guessing throughout and I really did not know how everything was going to come together. I also loved how, at the end of the day, the movie was about two families and how their lives, no matter how different, entwined together. There was no need for gimmicks or big production here. The way that it was portrayed was done in a realistic and believable way.

This movie is so worth the hype and was so deserving of all the awards it received. Bong Joon Ho is a force to be reckoned with and I look forward to seeing where he goes next.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥