Split – Spoiler Free Movie Review

If I asked you to find the most simplified form of 6/12, you’d probably say 1/2. Six multiplied by two equals to twelve, and so 50% is your final fraction as a percentage. Granted, most view this as some sort of mental math, and doesn’t require a calculator nor a calculated approach for that matter to get to a final answer.

The situation becomes a bit murky when asked the most simplified form of, say, 1/6. Not many people would know that that equals to ~ 16.67%, and so you would need a calculator to find that out. The moral of the story? Something simple doesn’t require you to think as much, but a slight change in the wording (or in this case, numbers), and it hits you right back at square one.

Retracing your steps back to where you started isn’t all that bad though; it allows you to do a postmortem on what went wrong or areas you could’ve improved. A postmortem, can go one of two ways; (1) It makes you think about your wrongs and lets you analyze ways to not have them happen again, or (2) In extreme cases, it can make you feel incredibly uncomfortable and even the slightest tinge of the nerve when someone brings that particular topic up can bring about some harrowing memories. One could surmise that thinking about a situation after-the-fact can lead to some split opinions, for lack of a better word.

What makes 2016’s Split so effective is that a lot of the tension in this horror/thriller is genuine. Jump scares are replaced with psychological fears, bland character development/writing is replaced with characters you can feel emotionally invested in, and the ending is vintage M.Night Shyamalan; a twist, which in this film parallels the unfortunate volatility of one suffering from a mental disorder.

James McAvoy, in perhaps his best performance since 2011’s X-Men: First Class, could be considered a jack of all mental trades. An heir to an assassin in 2008’s Wanted, a powerful telepathic in the aforementioned First Class, and now a cerebral manipulator as a result of his OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)-DID (dissociative identity disorder) diagnosis. It’s difficult to portray one character, let alone five. What I would have liked to see more (and hopefully the sequel delivers on this) is more of an origin story on how his illnesses manifested. Anya Taylor-Joy also had an amazing performance, and I personally liked how her unique backstory, coupled with her strong-willed determination, complemented (and combated against) the Scot’s more sadistic tendencies.

In terms of the technical, it was a well-put package overall. The use of both wide and narrow shots were well-executed and knew when to elevate tension and calm it. The cinematography and overall atmosphere were both effective and successfully achieved the target of the film: a stark reminder of the impact one’s psyche can have on a damaged individual. All in all, a definite return to form for a much maligned Shyamalan, especially after the abomination known as The Last Airbender.

The mind, like all organs, is delicate. It should be cherished, not wasted. It should be appreciated, not frowned upon. Thus, the mind’s eye (and therefore, mental health) is not a joke. I strongly advise anyone in this situation to seek whatever help is out there, and to not give up. The pursuit of happiness starts with a reflection of your best self, and taking that leap of faith might just be enough of a turning point you need to go from your current state to your desired state.

SCORE: 85/100

Get Out – Spoiler Free Review

As recently as January of this year, I was made aware of the fact that our brains contain 90 to 95 percent water. Deep within the confines of the ebbs and flows permeating our mind’s eye lies an ecosystem of thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and norms. We often associate these four traits, on average, as essential to the development of a human being.

Of course, humans are not without their flaws, and so our perception of people cannot be a simple black and white canvas whose portrait or landscape orientation paints an idealistic picture that, as the saying goes, speaks a thousand words. In reality, numerous painters will be needed to complete the convoluted series of photos that reflect the roller coaster known as life’s trials and tribulations.

Get Out, a film by Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), takes the concept of an inter-racial couple and develops this roller coaster in a tale showing the harsh realities of oppressive, subservient behaviour in upper middle-class America. Having seen many satirical horror-comedies since I began doing amateur critiquing of films two years ago (e.g. Scream, Scary Movie), nothing has come close to the near-perfect balance of scary-funny than this. Underneath this see-saw of emotions however is a fulcrum of excellent character development, stunning cinematography, and a plot twist I’m still thinking about five or so hours after watching the film.

Aside from the technical details, I really enjoyed how the antagonists were a psychologist (hypnotherapist)-neurosurgeon tandem. Not since Shutter Island have I seen a lead character fitting in the mould of what the film genre’s portraying; a psycho-analytical look at the world of brain specialists/doctors and how manipulative they can be to get what they desire in dangerous places. The messed up stuff this family does to an extraordinary intellectual, with the goal of rendering him to a fragment of what he once was (an ordinary every-man in their pseudo-cult) is disturbing and gruesome, yet highlights the subtle oppression and racial undertones the film pushes forward to its audience.

In terms of performances, my standout would have to go to Catherine Keener, or hypnotherapist/psychologist Missy Armitage. You might also know her as Trish Piedmont, the woman Steve Carell’s gets to “know” in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Oddly enough, I found her performance to be in the same vain as Kathy Bates’ role (super-fan Annie Wilkes) in Rob Reiner’s 1990 Stephen King adaptation of Misery. Both are manipulative and hell-bent on their sinister plans to come to fruition (Annie forcing James Caan’s Paul Sheldon to write her stories and Missy deploying similar tactics to be a part of her cult). Also, the fact that I watched Logan a day ago enabled me to appreciate the power of mind control and the influence it has on others.

So in conclusion, is this a movie that needs to be watched at some point in time? Absolutely. Is it a movie whose thematic content stands against the test of time? Absolutely. Is this going to be the start of a newfound appreciation for psychological thrillers? Perhaps. But one thing is for certain: Get Out is an experience that manages to successfully escape the grip of horror tropes like jump scares, and replaces it with thought-provoking socio-political commentary that challenges the viewer to think about what they have just watched. Just don’t think too deep, or else you might be trapped in an eternal never-ending void, forever.

SCORE: 95/100.

Doctor Strange – Spoiler-Free Review

So I’m kinda late to the party for this one, but I finally got the chance to see Doctor Strange. Directed by Scott Derrickson – who I had some apprehensions about considering he directed some notable duds (see: The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Day the Earth Stood Still) – it was actually a welcome surprise. Due in large part to the actors’ performances, as well as some stunning special effects, I’ll be going over some of the highlights of the film sans spoilers.

Before getting into the overarching story, I’d like to talk about a couple performances. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness) does an amazing job of playing the titular character and the greatest name to ever give a villain in Dormammu. A neurosurgeon who is seen as the number one at a well known hospital, he then had an epiphany where his once famous hands were now unable to move due to a car accident. Overall, I found his cocky, know-it-all attitude hard to take at first, but once I realized what his true intentions were as a person, it did come full circle. His love interest (and I say that loosely) is portrayed by Rachel McAdams (Spotlight, The Notebook), and immediately, I noticed there was a Meredith Grey-Derek Shepherd relationship intertwining into this superhero flick. Tilda Swinton (I Am Love, We Need to Talk About Kevin) also had a great performance as the Ancient One, the master of the mystic arts. Finally, kudos to the homeboy Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal) for his stellar performance as the main villian, Kaecilius. Having been a fan of his since his portrayal of Le Chiffre, it was definitely a welcome return to form after starring in some movie duds (in my opinion at least) over the past couple years. SCORE: 8/10

The plot, in my view, mixed the aforementioned Grey’s Anatomy relationship/OTP with the whole Dumbledore’s Army vs. Voldemort’s Army trope seen in Harry Potter. As a fan of both, it was great to see how that would translate that to the MCU, but the addition of time and portal manipulation à la The Flash made this boring trope seem engaging and thoroughly interesting. The standout scene, in my opinion occurs in the second act. Again, without spoiling, Tilda Swinton’s character takes a surprising turn, and definitely warps the plot in more ways than one. SCORE: 8.5/10

All in all, i would recommend watching Doctor Strange, irrespective if you have background knowledge through the comics or if you’re a total newbie. The plot alone will glue you in, the special effects will make you stay in your seats, and the performances will make you remember this movie days after.

SCORE: 16.5/20 (82.5%)

Kelvin P

Premier League Roundup: August 13 – 15

What an opening week of fixtures to start the 2016-17 Premier League season. In this segment, I’ll be giving you the scoop from all the matches played over the three day period.

SATURDAY:

Hull vs. Leicester: A tale of two cities, as Hull, pinned by many as relegation favourites, shocked the defending champions Leicester with a 2-1 win. N’Golo Kanté’s departure and Huth’s injury were felt in this match, but I was really impressed with new signing Ahmed Musa’s pace he brings to an already blistering attack. Here’s hoping things turn around for Ranieri’s side as they look to face a Arsenal side beleaguered with injuries.

Burnley FC vs. Swansea City: The man with the golden voice, Sean Dyche is back in the Premier League!! Unfortunately, his side didn’t pick up a victory after a late winner from Leroy Fer sealed it for the Swans. If only Fer was sold to Man City, he’d actually complete the Fer , Fernando, and Fernandinho evolution. Thanks Pokémon!!

Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City: With the signings Middlesbrough made this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to scrape the top half of the table come the end of the season. The same can also be said about Stoke, who have made some decent signings as well such as Joe Allen. It ended in a 1-1 draw, with goals from former Manchester City winger Alvaro Negredo and #LegGoalsGuy Xherdan Shaqiri.

Manchester City vs. Sunderland: Pep’s debut in the Premier League proved to be a winning one, with the blue side of Manchester winning 2-1 over Moyeseh’s Black Cats. Some surprising exclusions from City’s side, as Willy Caballero started over surefire number one Joe Hart, and Kolarov being deployed in a centre-half position alongside newcomer John Stones. It’ll be interesting to see how far Pep can take this team, as this’ll be the first time he’s not presented with a “stacked” team like he did at Barcelona and Bayern.

Crystal Palace vs. West Brom: A 1-0 victory for the Baggies courtesy of Salomon Rondon. I think he’ll have a crack at challenging for top scorer in the EPL, which leads me to believe that he could be the Odion Ighalo wild card factor this year!

Everton vs. Tottenham: Two teams which I think will finish in the top six this year (and thus get a spot in European competition), we saw goals from the two attacking midfielders in Barkley and Lamela, ending in a draw. It’ll be interesting to see the integration of Yannick Bolasie (of Crystal Palace fame) slotting into Everton’s squad, with the idea of Bolasie, Barkley, Delofeu, and Lukaku up front already sounding like a nightmare for defenders in the Premier League.

Southampton vs. Watford: And at last, the 1-1 scoreline trend ends. Goals from newcomer Nathan Redmond (filling in Sadio Mane’s shoes quite nicely there mate!) and Etienne Capoue. If there’s one thing that I can say about Southampton’s season, it’s that every season where they have a new manager, they overachieve, so here’s hoping Claude Puel (who worked with Hatem Ben Arfa at previous club OGC Nice) can replicate that success!! In other news, new manager Walter Mazzari has a chance to replicate Claudio Ranieri as being Italian managers appointed in the summer that can win the Premier League 😉

SUNDAY:

Bournemouth vs. Manchester United: As a Chelsea fan, it is hard to see Mourinho leave for another club (more like rival over the past couple years), but he was victorious with a 3-1 victory against up-and-comer Bournemouth. Goals from Wazza/Shrek/Wayne Rooney, Zlatan, and Juan Mata (a former Chelsea player!) sealed the deal for the Special One, who are my favourites to win the Premier League this season!!

Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Being a neutral, this was a great match to watch. Not exactly Liverpool-Borussia Dortmund, albeit having the same scoreline, but really really close. Had I been an Arsenal fan, I’d be moaning at the lack of proactive behaviour coming from the board, and to top it all off, their most needed position (a striker) had their top target (Alexandre Lacazette) score three goals in the French league. Times they are a troubling for the Arsenal. Liverpool on the other hand were really good in the second half, where 3 out of their 4 goals came from obliterating a weak defensive line, including two young and inexperienced center-halves. Really admiring this new Gegenpressing style Klopp’s implementing at Anfield, and it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets the Reds their elusive first Premier League era trophy.

MONDAY:

Chelsea vs. West Ham: I previously mentioned my affection for Chelsea Football Club, and it was Jose Mourinho who really got me into the club in the first place. Now that he’s gone and replaced with Antonio Conte, I was nervous to see how he’d perform in the first game against a really strong West Ham side. It was a match for the ages as they say, with controversial calls from referees (e.g. a tackle on Oscar from Winston Reid), defensive sharpness from both sides, and of course goals. Eden Hazard (what a run of form he’s been in lately!!)’s goal was offset by James Collins’ amazing strike, only to have the winner come from the one and only Diego Costa. Great start to the season from the Blues, and here’s hoping we can carry the momentum and carve out the same defensively astute (hopefully bolstered by the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli) that Conte successfully crafted with Italy at the Euros.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin Pau

 

2016 UEFA Super Cup Review

UEFA. It’s a complicated organization, so much so that the word complicated seems like an understatement. But what we do get out of this is some amazing football, and that was the case with the UEFA Super Cup, a trophy that pits the winner of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League (Real Madrid) against the winner of the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League.

FORMATION AND PLAYERS:

Real Madrid (2015-16 UEFA Champions League winner): 4-3-3 (Casilla, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kovacic, Vazquez, Morata, Isco, Asensio)

Sevilla (2015-16 UEFA Europa League winner): 3-4-3 (Rico, Kolodziejczak,, Carriço, Pareja, Vazquez, Iborra, N’Zonzi, Kiyotake, Vitolo, Vietto, Mariano)

1st HALF:

Goal(s): A 20th minute screamer from Marco Asensio opens the floodgates for this match, with an incredible curler on the top left-hand corner. Ultimately, that led me to make him my Man of the Match for his display tonight. He’s also 20 years old, so let that sink in. The second goal came in the form of a new signing from Sevilla in Franco Vasquez, who came over from Italian outfit Palermo this summer.

Controversial calls/Cards: Not much in the way of disciplinary issues between both sides this half, although we’ll see it becoming a recurring theme in the second half and into extra time.

Overall thoughts: Really dull match that prided itself on possession-based football, something the Spaniards have a liking to. Kiko Casilla (Real Madrid goalkeeper) was solid, especially in the 29th minute when he saved an amazing shot from Daniel Carriço. And gotta give a shout to Dani Carvajal’s nutmeg on former Premier League player Steven N’Zonzi.

2nd HALF:

Goal(s): We had to wait until minute 71 before we got a penalty shot converted from former Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. The penalty came from a tackle inside the box from Ramos on Vitolo. Where it got super interesting was in the 92nd minute, where we saw an equalizer from Sergio Ramos to make the match 2-2 and send it into extra time. Add that to the list of clutch goals the defender’s scored over the years!

Controversial calls/Cards: The aforementioned penalty, along with a tackle from Carvajal (more on him later) in the 83rd minute, a tackle from Asensio two minutes later, and a red card for Kolodziejczak after a stamp on Franco Vasquez was all in the books for the ref, who by all accounts didn’t have much to worry about.

Overall thoughts: Much better performance from both teams made for a much better atmosphere in Norway. Really looking forward to the season ahead for these two teams, who will most certainly place and compete for European spots this season!!

 

EXTRA TIME:

All there is to talk about is Carvajal’s winner after cutting from the right flank past Adil Rami (of France’s Euro 2016 squad fame) and into the back of the net.

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

Manchester United vs. Leicester City (August 7, 2016) – FA Community Shield Review

The 2016-17 Premier League has begun with the annual FA Community Shield, in a battle pitting the winner of England’s top division against the winner of England’s most prestigious domestic cup competition. Following in the same vain as many of Europe’s top leagues (e.g. France’s Trophée des Champions, Italy’s Supercoppa Italia), here’s my review of today’s game between Manchester United and Leicester City.

FORMATION AND PLAYERS:

Leicester City (2015-16 Premier League winner): 4-4-2 (Schmeichel, Fuchs, Huth, Morgan, Simpson, Albrighton, King, Drinkwater, Mahrez, Vardy, Okazaki)

Manchester United (2015-16 FA Cup winner): 4-5-1 (De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw, Lingard, Carrick, Rooney, Fellaini, Martial, Ibrahimovic)

1st HALF:

Goal(s): Jesse Lingard does his best Saul Niguez impression with a blinder of a goal. Wes Morgan should’ve done a lot better and the replays showing Kasper Schmeichel’s frustration leaves a lot to be desired for a team who last year was seen as one of the best defensively.

Controversial calls/Cards: An offside call in the 22nd minute saw Jesse Lingard (I’ll probably refer to him as the guy who scored the FA Cup winner last year against Palace) offside, but I personally didn’t agree with the official on that call. A yellow card was also shown in the 39th minute on Danny Simpson for a foul on Shrek (I mean, Wayne Rooney).

Overall thoughts: Though there were times where it was a game of please dispose the ball, there were some really good moments on the defensive end from the likes of Fuchs and Bailly. Luke Shaw looks in tip top shape post Hector Moreno horror tackle, and uh, fair play to the cheeky nutmeg from Vardy on Bailly.

2nd HALF:

Goal(s): Jamie Vardy scores yet another one of his dazzling goals after a terrible giveaway from tempura-head Fellaini. On the other end, we saw an incredible cross from Antonio Valencia for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s header, making it 2-1 at the half and the final score for this match.

Controversial calls/Cards: We saw a yellow card on Andy King after a strong tackle on Jesse Lingard, which was a tackle that I felt he didn’t need to do. Vardy got a yellow for a similar challenge on Mata, but if there’s one talking point, it’d be towards the end of the match where Ahmed Musa and the rest of the Foxes had strong reason to believe that there should’ve been a penalty. The ref only gave a corner, and effectively sealed the match for United.

Overall thoughts: Great pace and energy brought on from Leicester, a sentiment echoed by BTSport pundit Steve McManaman of Liverpool fame. Nemaplys Mendy (the answer to N’Golo Kanté) was solid and he looks to be a shrewd signing from Steve Walsh, who departed for Everton. Another newcomer in Ahmed Musa had a great chance to get a goal from a header, but skied it; overall, he was great on the pitch and definitely injected some pace in the squad. Finally, how about that challenge from Bailly on Gray (#BeastMode).

Until next time folks,
Kelvin P

A Hologram for the King (2016)- Movie Review

Tom Hanks: the revolutionary behind words and phrases such as “Wilson!!”, “I’m the captain now”, and “You got a friend in me.” It’s all a testament to the man’s brilliant acting chops, and the fact that he can make something seemingly complex on the surface seem relatively easy. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and with the film “A Hologram for the King,” I think the aforementioned notion will rear its proverbial ugly head once more.

It’s the same old adage: A down on his luck businessman (Alan Clay, played by Tom Hanks) is brought into a project to appease a crowd of people, in the hopes of reinvigorating his career. The project in question is a virtual system for a future metropolis in Saudi Arabia, and the crowds of people are Arabian royalty and their associates. The down on his luck businessman is suffering from depression, and the initial stress we see his character in is quite extraordinary. He has nothing else (family, house, and to an extent, his debilitating health) aside from this demanding job, and is looking to have this post (the job, not this piece lol) build him back up.

In terms of things I liked, the cinematography was a true shining point in this film. I’ve never seen scenery so vivid and representative of a situation since The Revenant (my bias for cinematography is Roger Deakins), so kudos to cinematographer Frank Griebe for his efforts. Also, the theme of appearance versus reality (my generation’s version of this being “Yo this guy got SNAKED”) was done quite well and showed the harsh realities of someone adjusting to a new country with a heavy burden on his shoulders.

But if there’s one character I’d love to point out that stood out from the rest, it has to be Sarita Choudhary’s performance as Dr. Zahra (the love interest of Alan Clay). Seeing a female function in a male-dominated country such as Saudi Arabia was truly an eye-opening experience for me and was a successful use of the culture shock trope. She injects new life into this downtrodden soul and thus is the source of Clay’s renaissance in his career. In the words of my millennial generation, it’s what they would call relationship goals.

If there’s one gripe I have about this film, it’s that there’s a lot to digest at first, and it doesn’t chomp at the bit until the very last act. So if you see or identify as being impatient, this might not be the best film for you.

All in all, it was a magnificent film that opened my eyes and made me appreciate the power of one person to change another’s life for the better, as cliché as that sounds. If you like Tom Hanks, or if you want to spice up your life with an inspirational film, then give this a try.

SCORE: 85/100