Papadopoulos And Sons: The Chip Shop At The Beating Heart Of The Family

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A Greek Business titan, played by Stephen Dillane, is brought low and must go back to his roots and in doing so he finds his spark for life all over again.

I thought that this film did what British films do best it brought out both the pains and the triumphs of everyday life and reflected that on screen. There is something very human in British cinema that American cinema often lacks for one reason or another, it dwells more in the overly fantastic than the real for one.

I also thought that Dillane and Georges Corraface were both fantastic and played off each other well. I thought they were very believable as brothers, especially as estranged brothers, and I thought the final scene towards the end of the film hit with a hell of a punch because of this.

The one thing I will say of the film that maybe could be viewed as a criticism is that it struggles to match the comedy with the drama and leans far more into the latter. The final third of the film is quite the gut punch and the laughs here and there aren’t really enough to balance it out, so tonally things start to come unstuck by the end.

Overall, a bittersweet film that hits mostly all the right cords.

4/5

Pros.

The emotion

Dillane

Corraface

The message of the film

Cons.

A little light on laughs and at times fairly depressing

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A Man Called Otto: The Perfect January Film

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Tom Hanks plays a curmudgeon who after losing his wife seals himself off from the world, until his new neighbours give him a reason to live again.

This is one of those films that you will watch once and enjoy but then likely never watch again. I don’t think that is inherently a bad thing, rather I think this film has a powerful message and conveys it beautifully and it will reach those who need it, when they need it and it doesn’t need to do more than that.

In many sense this film is the perfect January film it is both sad and at times manically depressing but also hopeful and life affirming. Many of us who find January an incredibly hard month for a lot of different reasons, need the positivity this film brings and for them it will be a boon.

I really enjoyed Tom Hanks here I thought he played the role really well and as the film progressed it was incredibly hard not to root for him. The flashbacks were incredibly moving and affecting, but I won’t talk about them as they made me get upset in the cinema and I can feel the same emotions stirring as I sit here and write out this review, suffice it to say you will be wiping away a few tears in this one.

Overall, a beautiful film but one that will never stand a rewatch.

4.5/5

Pros.

The message

The emotions

Hanks

The ending and its feel good properties

The supporting cast

Cons.

It would be hard to watch again

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The Last Of Us: When You’re Lost In The Darkness

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another post apocalypse narrative but this time based on a popular, if deeply overrated video game.

The Last Of Us was never my favourite game, hell it wasn’t even my favourite Naughty Dog game, it was very okay and in many senses that is how I felt about this first episode. It was alright, but no different than any other piece of post apocalypse fiction that you have ever seen before.

If you have played the first game, this episode is a pretty faithful recreation of the opening sections of it. I wouldn’t say it is shot for shot the same in terms of adaption as say something like The Sandman was, but it comes pretty close.

I think Pedro Pascal is a very good Joel, truth be told he was the only reason I tuned into this at all.  I think Pascal’s skill as an actor is really highlighted in the scene wherein he loses his daughter, that is a haunting scene in both the game and this first episode. Pascal really nails the emotion here and delivers in the way you would want him to.

My issue with this episode is Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey. Frankly put I think she has been miscast, and was only cast based on the popularity of her character in GOT, she doesn’t feel or remotely look anything like Ellie from the games and it takes you out of it. In the scenes wherein she is chained up in the Firefly safe house and is interacting with her jailors it comes through incredibly clearly that she is acting it feels in no way natural and this when compared to Pascal’s performance really highlights a juxtaposition in acting quality.

Overall, the first episode was on the better side of fine, Pascal brings a lot to the show and it was impressive how close they were to matching the games, but Ramsey is miscast.

3.5/5

Pros.

Giving us Joel and Tess as a couple

It is quite close to game accurate

Pascal is terrific

The emotions really hit

Cons.

Ramsey is miscast and unconvincing

The episode is bloated

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An Interview With Writer/Director/Actor Shaun Rose: Toga

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview Writer/ Director/Actor Shaun Rose about their new drama film Toga, which follows a videographer, also played by Rose, as his work brings him back to his home town. In this interview we discuss, home towns, sequels and the hate received from shortening a town’s name.I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your message with this film?

SR: Overall I feel that with this film and its predecessor, “Upstate Story”, I’ve tried to show that change or personal growth continues even after our transition from childhood to adulthood. Being an adult isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination and we often find ourselves in tough spots or holes and we have to find a way out of them.

  Q: Why is returning to a home town always such an emotional significant moment?

SR: It’s largely due to the memories you have in the sense of what you were, the things you did and what has happened since. All of the changes can really make for a highly emotional experience.

Q: How would you describe the lead character’s emotional journey during this film?

SR: In the beginning he’s largely in a better place than in “Upstate Story.” It’s a very large improvement for him by comparison. He still has problems though and he’s aware of them, but doesn’t have that drive to fix them. The journey to town changes all of that. 

Q: What emotions were you hoping to illicit from your audience here?

SR: I’ve always tried to tell my stories as realistically as possible for the sake of connecting with audiences. Being able to relate to a character on deeply personal levels I feel makes for a more impactful viewing experience.

Q: What made you want to make this film?

SR: Doing an “Upstate Story” sequel was always part of the plan. Both films act as a reflection of who I am as a person and what I’ve gone through the last few years of my life. It’s tough to make a film, but I think writing what I know best has made the process a little easier. 

Q:Do you have a favorite moment and or any funny stories from the production?

SR: Some of the local hate I’ve received over the title alone has been frustrating. At times, it has also been comical if you think about how pathetic it is. Shortening the town name from Saratoga Springs to “Toga” has brought me a lot of heat from others. All other things I’ve experienced will be covered in a “behind the scenes” documentary I’ve also been chipping away at. I don’t want to spoil too much of anything.

Q: What are your future plans, do you have another film in the works?

SR: I have a few in the early writing stages. Even another film in the Ellis Martin saga. If you want to call it that. In the near future and hopefully before the end of 2023 I’ll have the documentary “Not Saratoga” finished. I’m in no big hurry though. 

Q: Do you have any words of advice for young filmmakers who might be reading? 

SR: If you want to make a film, go ahead and do it. If you’re working on a no budget film be prepared to wear a lot of hats. Do your research on those roles too. Prepare yourself for many sleepless nights. 

If you would like to check out Toga  for yourself it is currently out now on Youtube

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h64_fy-bB-M

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

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Toga: A Return

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A videographer, played by Shaun Rose, begins scouting new locations for a filmmaker only to be brought back to his home town, going on an emotional journey in process.

I will open this review by saying that I haven’t seen Upstate Story which serves, I am lead to believe, as a part one of sorts to this story. As such I may not fully comprehend the character journey between films and my review can be seen as solely reflective of this film and not relating to the wider series or quasi saga.

I found this film to be quite effecting, something about the idea of home towns can and often do stir up both a sense of nostalgia but also haunting and as such returning to them after a long absence can be a very mixed experience. I found that this film really captured the emotional nuance of that, and had the home town itself almost function as a narrative act centre piece.

Additionally, I found the performance by Rose himself was simply captivating, throughout the run of the film I couldn’t look away in many senses I was transfixed by his life and journey, not necessarily because they were in any way fantastical but rather because they were so relatable and human. The writing of this film is truly magnificent.

Overall, very much an enriching watch.

4/5

Pros.

The emotional nuance

The writing

Rose’s fantastic performance

The pacing

Cons.

I felt like I was missing something, but likely that is because I jumped in at the sequel

If you enjoyed this review, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

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Interview With Writer/Director Graham Jones: Silicon Docks

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview Writer/ Director Graham Jones about their new animated comedy, drama film Silicon Docks, which follows a group of recognisable tech figures meeting for a drink in an Irish pub. In this interview we discuss tech billionaires and who would win in a fight between them, modern internet culture and the ever forward march of progress.I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your message with this film?

GJ: SILICON DOCKS is mainly to do with modern culture or the internet – and the way that tech is transforming our lives. Technological advances have changed human interaction, in some cases, for the better – but in many cases not. Ireland is a culture that is quite social, traditionally. We commune, we communicate, we gossip like you wouldn’t believe. It’s very interesting to see that culture transplanted into the 21st Century or the internet era. 

A lot of the web is interconnected, but paradoxically distant and removed. We’re closer to each other, yet also further apart. We have all this great tech and these zippy apps and social media platforms that purport to make communication easier, but which often just leave people staring at their phones like zombies instead of really connecting like they used to. 

So I wanted to riff on all of that stuff, from an Irish perspective.

  Q: Why focus on tech moguls?

GJ: Human beings are really the only things an audience can relate to – and so wanting to explore the kind of themes mentioned above, I needed to find the right characters for the story. Granted, I could have used a collection of Irish characters and shown how their lives have changed because of tech. But I found the whole Silicon Docks area of my native city – where these big US tech corporations have congregated due to low corporation tax passionately hawked by the Irish government – more and more intriguing and using the moguls gave me other narrative opportunities also. Many of these moguls are actually my own generation and it seemed like they would make good protagonists because, like me, they actually lived through this change or even brought it about. No, they are not completely responsible for the internet, but dramatically speaking they made great punching bags. It certainly seemed valid to subject them to same kind of distortion that is commonplace online nowadays, it felt almost karmic! 

Q: What sort of impact do you think tech and the digital space has had on our daily life?

GJ: I think it has a huge impact. I grew up without this ‘web’ and have seen the way it’s grown and mutated and really kind of taken over our lives at this point. I do wonder what it must be like for people who were born into it, who arrived when it was already operating. What really strikes me is that it used to be peripheral, whereas now it’s all-consuming. Just how far will this go, or where exactly are we going – I wonder? There is no doubt that it’s improved some aspects of our lives, but at what cost? That’s the big question. To me, it’s as if we are going forward and backwards at the same time. A good example is indie filmmaking. It’s easier to make an indie film nowadays, compared with back in the nineties when I used to shoot on celluloid and distribute expensive cans of film to cinemas. But on the other hand, it’s also much harder to get attention for your movie nowadays, after you have made it. Backwards and forwards, better and worse, that’s the internet. I suppose we’ll see what happens…

Q: Who do you think would win in a fight between Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey?

GJ: Ha, I haven’t a clue – but must confess that I would probably watch that fight, a guilty pleasure. I guess that’s kind of what our film is: Musk and Dorsey and Bezos and Zuckerberg’s idea of fighting. One-upmanship or pissing contests – basically like a tech mogul version of fighting. Again, tech bros don’t like a lot of touching or interaction!

Q: Why choose the medium of animation to tell your tale?

GJ: I thought animation was the right medium for SILCON DOCKS because it so resembles the world we live today – I mean so resembles the internet or the metaverse or pick your word. Instead of meeting in a pub, on the street or wherever – people basically now send data to each other through their little electronic devices. We are becoming increasingly virtual and so right away I suspected animation would be the right medium to portray that virtual vortex. But it’s not just animation we use, as the background in SILICON DOCKS is actually rotoscoped. It’s animation on top of a rotoscoped world, which again seemed natural given our new reality. On this planet, we’re humans who increasingly operate in a digital web and so we tried to reflect that visually. The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan once said.

Q: Any funny stories from production?

GJ: Well, I couldn’t find anybody to do Elon Musk’s voice authentically, because he’s got a kind of scattered, hard to place ‘new world’ accent – and so, in the end, José just did a Dublin accent for us! 

Q: What are your future plans for your next feature?

GJ: I can’t say anything about my next film at the moment, unfortunately.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for future filmmakers who  may be reading

GJ: The main error new filmmakers make is assuming they only have to make the film and that once they do so, everything else will kind of magically fall into place. In reality, there are 2 stages to the process. One is literally making the film and everything that involves, all the way through from script to final mix. The second stage is getting it to people via whatever route you choose to take. Typically what happens is that new filmmakers are so exhausted after the first stage, they have no energy or spirit or realisation the second stage even exists! So do watch out for that…

If you would like to check out Silicon Docks  for yourself it is currently out now on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG8gwP3kQfE

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

https://www.patreon.com/AnotherMillennialReviewer

Nanny: The American Dream Is Dead

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An undocumented Senegalese immigrant, played by Anna Diop, works hard to try and bring her young son to the US, but all the while something seems amiss.

I will say quite upfront this is not a horror film, there are vague supernatural elements that really never amount to much at all, but this is in fact a drama film concerned with notions of trauma and mental health rather than anything else. As such if you go in expecting scares, as I did, you will be disappointed as this film isn’t scary but is instead manically depressing.

I enjoyed the film for what it did with time, often moving around and back and forth between things without any notice to the audience, and also for the use of African themes and mythologies in its horror, often the genre gets very bogged down with western Christian themes and monsters and it is nice to see something else for a change.

I also thought the performances were strong across the board with Diop and Michelle Monaghan being particularly fantastic, both convey the darker aspects of motherhood well and bring a wide emotional range to their respective performances.

Overall, strong performances and fresh mythology clash against a deeply predictable twist and a lack of scares.

2.5/5

Pros.

Diop and Monaghan

The focus on African mythology

It tries to do something fresh

Cons.

The twist is incredibly obvious

It is depressing

There are no scares

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Unbreakable: Ageing Poorly

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A train crash survivor, played by Bruce Willis, realises that he has superhuman powers and then enters into a twisted power game with a disabled comic store owner, played by Samuel L. Jackson.

This is one of those films that a lot of people really like but that I have never been able to get into. When looking at Shyamalan’s wider body of work it is his forays into superhumans that really lose me, with the exception of Split, that and his dreadful After Earth.

My biggest issue with this film has always been that the characters don’t feel fully realised, in many senses they feel like someone has read a comic book and seen Batman, a purely random example, and has only understood one very basic aspect of his character and then has used that to create an inferior rip off character. To me the characters don’t feel in any way relatable and that is a big issue.  

I also think the deeper question of do these people actually have powers, which gets turned up throughout the film and a lot going into Glass, is not actually as interesting as Shyamalan seems to think it is. Honestly after having the question asked for the hundredth time during the subtext of the film I begin to stop caring.

There are other avenues I could point to in my criticism of this film such as Bruce Willis being incredibly miscast but they are low hanging fruit and I won’t take them.

Overall, some of the worst aspects of Shyamalan as a filmmaker.

1/5

Pros.

It’s hard to not like a Samuel L. Jackson performance, he is a redeeming factor of the film.

Cons.

The characters are entirely unrelatable and feel alien in the worst way

It is far too long

Willis is incredibly miscast

It is not as deep as it thinks it is

This film was picked out by one of my subscribers over on the crowd funding website Patreon, if you would like to pick two films every month for me to review as well as get various other perks then head over to my Patreon and subscribe to one of my tiers. Link below

If you enjoyed this review, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty: Jumping On A Fish Boat And Heading Out To Parts Unknown

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, is a boring office drone, who spends half his life in a day dream until one day adventure comes calling.

I enjoyed this film quite a bit, I found it to be uplifting and an incredible force for positivity which in these dark days we all need. It certainly isn’t an original premise, both because it is based on a book, and also because the idea of the stiff finding his spirit of adventure has been so done to death over the years, though Stiller certainly tries to put his own spin on it.

Having watched many, and I do mean many, of Ben Stiller’s films over the years I have to say this is one of his best and certainly more nuanced: think The Royal Tenenbaums Stiller. There is a certain degree of emotion to his performance that will make many people sit and reflect on their own lives, Walter Mitty feels like the ultimate everyman but that is the point. I also thought that Sean Penn was great even though he only had an incredibly small role.

I will say that this film leans more towards being an earnest yet uplifting drama and take on human life and the spirit of adventure rather than a Ben Stiller comedy film. It really isn’t goofy and the laughs are not forthcoming a lot of the time and that is okay, in a sense stupid dumb jokes would break the wholesomeness of the film in a sense.

Overall, a sweet life affirming film that is only let down by a fairly generic plot.

4 /5

Pros.

It is truly feel good

It reminds you of the good in the world

Stiller is fantastic

It is paced to perfection

Cons.

The plot does feel a little familiar to a lot of other projects

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White Noise: I Had To Check Whether Hitler Studies Was A Real Thing, That Is The State Of The World

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family cope with the after effects of a toxic chemical leak.

I don’t really know what was going on with this film, there were so many disparate plot elements happening here that meant any kind of meaningful story simply couldn’t be found. One second they will all be in the town shelter talking about the effects of the airborne toxin, and the next they were back in the family home talking about something else entirely. I would say from a narrative point of view this film is all over the place in such a way that it feels hyperactive.

Moreover, as other reviewers have said there is a certain sense of pretentiousness here for sure, the film is clearly made for a certain type of person and that person is someone who is very much the cinephile. I would say to my own enjoyment of the feature that I found myself laughing and was genuinely engrossed in the goings on that I could make out and understand, but there were times when I was laughing at the film, unintentionally so on its part, wherein I was laughing at just how pretentious it was.

The acting is fairly good Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig steal the show, but Don Cheadle does come in with some great moments as well, so I would say it is a toss up between all three. Though If I were forced to pick I would probably pick Gerwig as her scene in which she talks about trading sex for pills is quite moving.

Overall, not quite as good as Baumbach’s efforts with Adam Sandler, but still mostly enjoyable.  

3/5

Pros.

Gerwig

Driver and Cheadle

It is fun and even funny at times

Cons.

It is very pretentious in parts

It is trying to do and be too much

If you enjoyed this review, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

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