Mini Reviews #4: Queen of Katwe, Nocturnal Animals, and Moana

Hello, all! It’s been awhile! Quite a long while, I know! We haven’t stopped watching movies if that’s what you’re asking. It’s an addiction we can’t and won’t quit. It’s not that we haven’t tried writing something. Benny and I made plans to do an Oscars post. But we just couldn’t catch up on watching most of the entries before the show aired. So yeah, we need to take lessons on time management.

That and because the writing part that has become a little bit hard for me. Thoughts just don’t flow as easily as it used too. I blame life stuff. I had a rough start this year. But like I said, I haven’t stopped watching movies. And I reckon so do my teammates. So yeah, this is just to say that we are still here! Few and far in between the posts maybe. But this, this post, is a good start yes? So why don’t I just tell you about the movies I’ve seen lately?

  1. Queen of Katwe (2016) – Queen of Katwe is about Phiona Mutesi, a ten year old girl who lives in the slums of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda with two sisters, a brother, and her mother. She can’t read or write, and spends her days selling maize to pay for food and shelter. But when she stumbled upon a chess group organized by the local sports ministry head, Robert Katende, her life changed. Because Phiona possesses an extraordinary gift in the art of chess. Director Mira Nair is completely new to me. And I love what she has done with this story. I have to tell you that this is a Disney movie. So it’s a feat that she was able to make it very much a Disney film, sweet and sentimental and all, but not to the point of unreality. Because she makes sure to show us the true state of life in Katwe Where everyday people struggle, living on a day-to-day basis. Kids don’t get to be kids in Katwe. This film is also visually stunning. The costumes, and the lighting in particular, I found really well-thought of. And the actors are pretty much A-class. Lupita Nyongo’s character could easily haven been delegated to the background, but she just brings a whirlwind of force in playing Harriet, the willful mother. But it was David Oyelowo who surprised me. I know I’ve seen him around, but it is only this time that he made a mark on me. His character as the sports minister and chess coach doesn’t go into the cloying territory, where you feel like this guy is manipulating you to like him for his big heart. His is an earnest and delicate performance. So all in all, I highly recommend this film. Go see it on family movie night, and give the Cinderella princess movies a rest for a night, because this one has a different kind of princess.

    Rating: 5/5 Stars

  2. Nocturnal Animals (2016) – Just like one of Tom Ford‘s fashion creations, Nocturnal Animals looks like it came straight out of the runway on Fashion Week. I mean this film really overdid it with its avant garde-ness to the point of absurdity. In most times the weirdness works, but there are times when it would leave me cold. There is a preoccupation with style that stifled the emotional undercurrent a great deal. But still it was a pretty satisfying viewing experience. I love how he was able to make the parellelism between the fictional (novel) and the real world work, in a clean, precise and organized way. Also Michael Shannon deserves his Oscar nomination. (But I admit, his performance may have been great, but it did not stand a chance against Mahershala Ali‘s)

    Rating: 4/5 Stars

  3. Moana (2016) – Of course I’ve heard of Moana. It’s impossible for any human being to not know the existence of a Disney movie. Or Lin-Manuel Miranda. But why see it just now? Disney and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Together? This is like a super awesome triumvirate. So consider this a terrible oversight on my part, for not seeing Moana sooner. And I also regret not seeing it on the big screen because the visuals are superb. The water, the sand, the winds, they all feel so real. And while this doesn’t offer anything new in terms of story, or characters, or message; it is something you will never be bored by. There is an abundance of slapstick jokes and ear-wormy songs, and I mean both in a good way. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of “How far I’ll Go“, it’s everywhere, and it is an exceptional girl power song. And you’ve even probably heard The Rock’s ego inflated, funny, goofy song “You’re Welcome“. But Jemaine Clement‘s performance of “Shiny” as Tamatoa, the equally egotistical, and Smaug-like crab remains a solid favorite of mine. And I do miss Flight of the Conchords. Sigh. And because I love my animal sidekicks, I would have wanted a more compelling one. I mean Heihei did his job, but maybe it would have been better had the pig came along? Or probably not. But sentient tattoo Mini Maui, more than made up for it though.

    Rating: 5/5 Stars

So what have you seen lately?

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