Overdue Blog Update

Hello, friends!

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I just wanted to take some time check in since it has been over a month and a half since I have actually posted anything. On a personal note, I am safe and healthy, staying at home and practicing social distancing and self-quarantine. Honestly, with the exception of a fuller pantry, it’s not much different than my usual lifestyle. I’m not sure what that says about my lifestyle, though. One thing is for sure, after this is all over with, I am not longer calling myself introverted. Instead, I am going to tell people that I am a regular practitioner of social distancing and self-quarantining.

With much of the world on lock-down, going to the movie theater is not an option at the moment. But with my extensive DVD and blu-ray collection and several streaming options, watching movies is not an issue. If you follow me on Twitter or Letterboxd, you’ll know that I have still been watching movies regularly. However, I just haven’t found myself in much of a writing mood lately. With my job, I am lucky enough to easily work from home. The one downside of working in my home office, though, is that I do not have a standing desk like I had in my work office. As a result, I have been making more of an effort to get exercise, especially by walking my dogs, to get fresh air and spend some time outside. Also, I have noticed when making dinners lately I haven’t been making as many leftovers. Instead, I tend to make enough food for that meal. Therefore I am spending more time in the kitchen over the week as a whole. These are all ways to say that by the time I have completed the work day, exercised, and made dinner, I’m not in much of a mindset to write much of anything, whether that be movie reviews or the long form posts I was hoping to do more of this year.

So that’s if for these last few weeks. I can’t make any promises that things will change in the near future but going forward, I will try to make an effort to write reviews. I’ve been low-key proud of myself because I feel like my recent reviews have been more extensive; I’m finding much more to say about the film being reviewed and moving away from the “Lightning Review” format I had adopted early on in my blogging tenure, having formally dropped the distinction not too long ago. One option I’ve been considering is to bring that format back, not in name but at least in style. Maybe writing shorter reviews will serve as a start to help me to get content out to all you beautiful readers once again.

Anyway, that’s my update. I hope to have content to you soon. I also hope you and your families are safe and healthy during this time of craziness and uncertainty.

Until next time, cheers!

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon Conclusion

Hello, friends!

Welcome to the end of the fifth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon! I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the decade we just said goodbye to than looking back at all the great and varied films that were released during it. It has been a blast hosting this blogathon with Kim from Tranquil Dreams and reading everyone’s reviews of their ultimate 2010 film. If you missed any of the entries, here they are:

Tranquil Dreams – Wandering Earth (流浪地球)

Drew’s Movie Reviews – Eighth Grade

John ReiberTrain to Busan

Box Office Buzz – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

18 Cinema LaneThe Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box

Police Entertainment Network – Denis Villeneuve: Defining a Decade using Shades of Grey

Starry Traveler’s RoadFrozen and Frozen 2


Flick HunterHoly Motors

The Hypersonic55’s Realm of Reviews and Other StuffIp Man 4: The Finale

Drew’s Movie Reviews – Inception

Tranquil Dreams – Your Name

Definitely go back and check out any of the entries that you might have missed. There has been a fantastic variety of films reviewed so kudos to our participants for reviewing films that might not have been mainstream. Kim and I enjoyed reading and sharing these entries. Speaking of Kim, here are some final words from her about the blogathon:

In a flash, this year’s blogathon has come to an end. We went through a good part of the decade that we just left behind having selections from most of the years (except for 2011 and 2014). 2010s gave us a lot of great movies and we’ve had a very diverse and international selection which highlights the changes in the past decade opening up the different varieties of movies that are more widely available around the world. Plus, there are also a lot of unique choices as well as some more mainstream picks. Its been a great blogathon celebrating the 2010s. I’d like to give a huge thanks to every one of our guests as well as anyone who dropped by to check out the reviews, liked, commented and shared our posts. Its greatly appreciated and hopefully, we will see all of you next year again for no doubt another blogathon hosted by myself and Drew.

And that’s it! The Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is official wrapped up. Once again, thank you to all of our participants for sending in reviews for the blogathon. And another thank you to my co-host Kim. Always a pleasure working with you to make these annual blogathons happen. And a final thank you to anyone who read, liked, or commented on any of these articles. Your support and participation is greatly appreciated. And hopefully you might have found a new blog or two to follow.

Until next time, cheers!

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Your Name (2016) by Tranquil Dreams

Alas, here we are, the final entry of the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon. Just as Kim and I began the blogathon, so too do we end it. Yesterday, Kim shared my review of Inception, which you can read here. Today, it is my turn to share Kim’s review of one of my favorite animated films to come from the decade: Your Name.

Your Name (2016)

Your Name movie poster

Director (and writer): Makoto Shinkai

Voice Cast (English ver.):  Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Kyle Hebert, Cassandra Morris, Ben Pronsky, Ray Chase, Laura Post, Glynis Ellis, Catie Harvey, Scott Williams

Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart? – IMDB

There’s no doubt that when we think of Japanese animated films, Studio Ghibli is the first one that gets the most recognition. Yet in the sea of Japanese anime, there’s a lot of smaller films with a lot of great ideas that are starting to appear on the international film market and Your Name is one that definitely had a lot of recognition when it was released. Adapted from director Makoto Shinkai’s novel of the same name which was published only one month prior to the film’s premiere, Your Name stands out because of all its elements being done very well: story full of reveals and twists, emotional moments, music score and of course, its rich animation.

Your Name has incredibly rich animation. Each scene has a lot of intricate details. Whether its setting up how the sunlight beams through a scene or how the night sky and the comet and lights contrast in its night scenes, every scene is set up to look beautifully authentic, especially in its outdoors nature scene that almost looks like a realistic snapshot full of colors, instead of an animation. Paired with its music score by Radwimps which runs fittingly throughout all the scenes, especially during the montage moments between the two main leads and the little things that happen to go through time quickly, it adds so much to each scene and tone.

The story here written by the director Makoto Shinkai is based on his own novel which makes it even more of a personal offering and easier to portray the film the way that he wants. Your Name carries a rather complex story packed with swapping bodies, time elements and a few surprises along the way. Its execution is possibly the most important element put to the test in order to make each of its reveals timed perfectly to make it have the most impact and Shinkai does it so masterfully that it manages to make each one unpredictable and pulls the story into another direction and packing in a lot of emotions and tugging some heartstrings as this is at the centre of it all, a love story by the end. At the same time, props to Shinkai who also starts off the story in a light and fun way of introducing these two characters, Taki and Mitsuha with their different backgrounds, locations and genders who learn to discover each other physically and emotionally, adding a lot of charm and humor. At the same time, every supporting character also has its own purpose in propelling the story forward and making sure that some conversations help explain the odd predicament that they find themselves in.

Overall, Your Name is an outstanding animated film. While I only managed to listen to the English version and would have preferred to see the original Japanese version with English subtitles instead, the story doesn’t lose anything because it has some unique ideas and excels in so many elements that put together, it becomes a memorable movie experience. Yet again proving that 2010s brings forward an eye-opening offering of international films and expands into some unique ideas outside of the big American studios like Disney and Pixar offerings.

And that’s it for the final review! If you’ve missed any of the blogathon entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the blogathon!

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Inception (2010) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

As the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon begins wrapping up, I share my review of Christopher Nolan’s literal mind-mending thriller, Inception. Head over to Tranquil Dreams to check it out!

Tranquil Dreams

After 2 weeks of blogathon guests, Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is at its conclusion with me and Drew’s concluding movie reviews to wrap-up the blogathon. Drew starts off with a review of 2010’s Inception. You can’t go wrong with this Christopher Nolan directed psychological science fiction thriller.

Dream extractors Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and their team are hired by Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to perform inception, or plant an idea in someone’s mind, on Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of Saito’s dying competitor.

Christopher Nolan is a writer and director who is known for films that are bold, that go big, and that are completely original. One of his boldest and biggest films came between the latter two films in his influential The Dark Knight trilogy. Inception has all of Nolan’s trademark elements and, most importantly, the cast to make it work. And it works. It…

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Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019) Review by The Hypersonic55’s Realm of Reviews and Other Stuff

Here we are, at the end of week 2 of the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon. Today we are joined by Curt from The Hypersonic55’s Realm of Reviews and Other Stuff. Curt hosts the Film Focus podcast, which I have been lucky enough to have been a guest on several occasions. He talks about all kind of film related topics on his podcast from film reviews to soundtrack discussions to best of lists. If you like cinema, chances are he has an episode for you. Go give it a listen once you finish here. For the blogathon, Curt reviews the latest and final entry in the Ip Man series, aptly titled Ip Man 4: The Finale.

Ip Man 4: The Finale movie poster

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen, today I wanted to share with you my entry for this blogathon and one of my favourite films in recent times; Ip Man 4: The Finale.

So this is the fourth and final entry in this series of films based on the real life Wing Chun grandmaster that taught Bruce Lee. In this film, the story focuses on Ip Man’s journey to America to not only find a school for his son but also check in on his former student Bruce Lee who has caused issues with other martial arts practitioners because he’s opened up his own school. While over there Ip Man witnesses the friction in not only within the Asian martial arts community but also their relationship with white people. And due to a series of escalated incidents Ip Man finds himself stepping another situation where he must use his skills to not only help his fellow people but also fight in the name of justice.

I love the story for this film, it’s consistent in tone and the themes of the previous films when it comes to prejudice, exclusivity, standing up to injustice and spreading the joy and positivity of martial arts to everyone. There’s also a little more drama and melancholic tone to this film as Ip Man deals with some personal issues and the strained relationship with his son. That being said there are moments of humour sprinkled without which is utilised very well. Though it’s a little over dramatized, the story still executes the emotional impact and by the end, there’s a beautiful sense of finality to the film.

The cast was also fantastic. Donnie Yen returns as Ip Man and is still incredible. Beyond being able to kick ass with style, speed and precision, he really acts the hell out of this role demonstrating a range of emotions in a reserved manner primarily through facial expressions and calm tone of voice. It was also great to see Kent Cheng return as Ip Man’s friend Fat Bo. Wu Yue was great as Wan Zong-hua chairman of the Chinese Benevolent Association. His daughter, Yonah played by Vanda Margraf was also quite fun and endearing. I also liked Vanness Wu as Hartman Wu. And then there’s Danny Chan as Bruce Lee was damn good, I’ve seen quite a few actors portray Bruce, but this guy was probably the most convincing not only in terms of personality and look, but with the fighting technique and movements. And Scott Adkins as the main antagonist Barton Geddes was great. While his character was a little over the top, he was a compelling villain due to his appearance, intense and mean personality and physical prowess. I think Adkins should play more villains in films as he has a knack for it.

When it comes to the presentation it’s great. Visually the film is very impressive and the way it presents the action is nothing short of spectacular. The Ip Man films have all brought an incredible sense of power, intensity and intricacy to the fight sequences and Ip Man 4 have some of the best yet. All of the fights are meticulously designed, make great use of their surroundings and have a wonderful balance between realism and the theatrical which makes the fights feel entertaining and larger than life but not too far for it to not be engaging. Everyone strikes with purpose, each punch and kick has impact and because of the fight choreography and sound effects, you feel the crunch. Also, there are several martial artists with different styles that fight each other and to see those styles clash is so cool and captivating. It’s breathtaking. And the music is once again handled by Kenji Kawai and his work is still great. He borrows themes from the previous films, but he also composes new pieces which amplifies everything on-screen and really emphasizes the emotional scenes.

In the end, Ip Man 4 is another incredible entry in this series and is arguably the best in the series with a great central performance from Donnie Yen, a great story and wonderfully choreographed fight scenes. If you’re a fan of martial arts films you owe to yourself to check this film out.

If you’ve missed any of the blogathon entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Holy Motors (2012) by Flick Hunter

The 2010s had some notable foreign films as well. Norman from Flick Hunter shares his review of the 2012 French film Holy Motors. Head over to Tranquil Dreams to check it out!

Tranquil Dreams

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Next up in the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is Norman from Flick Hunter. Flick Hunter is a movie review site who shares both reviews and commentary on film festival screenings. He also covers new releases as well as a focus on contemporary foreign films. Head over to check it out HERE. Its no surprise that he brings a very unique 2010s  pick which he says is his number 1 pick for the decade which is 2012’s fantasy drama, Holy Motors.

Holy Motors

Holy Motors (2012)

We first meet Monsieur Oscar as he leaves his home at the crack of dawn dressed in a business suit headed for the office.  His wife and family send him off with good wishes and armed guards occupy the rooftops of his family compound as he walks down the driveway towards a white stretch limo. He is greeted by his female driver and settles into the back…

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