Christmas Inheritance – Review

Christmas Inheritance is another of Netflix’s entries into the Christmas movie market for 2017. Before ‘party heiress’ Ellen Langford can inherit her father’s gift business, she must deliver a special Christmas card to her dad’s former partner in Snow Falls, the small town where the company began. It’s here she learns the true meaning of Christmas and in turn the values of the company, through earning her keep in the town.

Sounds pretty straightforward and tacky? Well, you’d be right. But that’s not a bad thing – I enjoyed this movie more than A Christmas Prince. It is a simple film that doesn’t push for any twists or turns and that makes it easy to follow. Of course, you can see how this ends from a mile out but isn’t that what Christmas movies are about? Isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?

The film stars Eliza Taylor whom you may recognise from her TV roles as Janae in Neighbours and Clarke in The 100 (but I will always remember her as one of my childhood crushes, Rosie from The Sleepover Club) and Jake Lacy (who, I don’t know,  he was in Season 9 of the Office? Maybe you’d recognise him from that?). Both fill the requirements for their roles and don’t stand out from anyone else in the film so I guess, they were good leads? The only other notable actor in this film is Andie MacDowell who serves as the heart of the film and I liked her in that role.

There is very little else of note to review here. The movie isn’t bad, it’s nice and it will most likely fly under the radar with A Christmas Prince hogging a lot of the limelight as the ‘Best Worst Christmas Movie’. Christmas Inheritance is almost a pallet cleanser after watching something so awful. It brings you back to a nice middle ground.

Christmas Inheritance: Average

PS: Eliza Taylor beats Rose McIver any day!

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A Christmas Prince – Review

Netflix’s 2017 entry into the genre of Christmas films is everything you need something in this genre to be. But that’s not a good thing. A Christmas Prince features every cliché in the book. It’s overly family-friendly and tries to pluck your heartstrings while wearing the mitts you use to pull a tray of Christmas Tree cookies out of the oven.

The film stars Rose McIver, a New Zealand actress that has a bit of cred to her after appearing in a lot of TV Shows, most notably iZombie where she has the lead role, as Amber Moore, a junior editor and aspiring journalist who is (for some reason) chosen to cover a possible royal scandal in Aldovia. Aldovia is pretty much Denmark where everyone speaks with a British accent, I’m not exactly sure where this fictional country is on the map, but who cares, the writers of this film sure don’t. The scandal involves the prince who is expected to pick up the crown after his father passed away, but the prince seems reluctant (WHY??? It’s more than just nerves). Anyway, after a press conference gets canceled and all the other reporters give up and go home, Amber sneaks into the castle and is mistaken for the new tutor for the young princess. It’s 2017 and Aldovia seems to have never heard of background checks. So we have a reporter looking for a scoop who is lying about who she is to get closer to the Prince. I bet they don’t fall in love before she is outed as a fraud.

I’m going to take a point here to cover the parts that made me say (out loud in some parts) “Oh, of course, this is what we’re doing”. The young princess (Emily played by Honor Kneafsey) has spina bifida and everyone misunderstands her, treats her like a ‘china doll’, and sees her as a spoilt rich girl when all she wants to do is go out and play. Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) is also misunderstood. Everybody sees him as a playboy and a philanderer but all he wants to do is archery and have snowball fights. But you see Amber gets that and she sees these people as they really are. Then there’s the evil cousin who wants the throne who forms an evil partnership of evil with a spoilt former flame of Richard’s who also just wants the crown.

All this comes together at the Christmas Eve Ball (of course there’s a ball) which also doubles as the coronation (because, why not?). There’s a Cinderella moment where Amber is given a make-over to look pretty much the same that she has for the whole film. But the juicy scandal comes out at the perfect time. As the Prime Minister recites the coronation proceedings (which are more like wedding vows then how an actual coronation goes) when he gets to the part that says something along the lines of “If anyone here has a dispute to Richard’s claim on the throne, speak now or forever hold your peace” (see? not a real coronation) the bad guys reveal that they had been snooping in Amber’s stuff and reveal that the Prince is not who he says he is.

You should watch this though to see the joke of a storyline it is and look while it’s clichéd, many could argue that it is a good Christmas film. It invokes the spirit of Christmas and Fairy Tales like Cinderella but it’s just so corny. A Christmas Prince is cheesy, sappy and super by-the-numbers but because it’s a Christmas film, it’s going to get a pass from a lot of people. But from me…

A Christmas Prince: Below Average

Okja – Review

A heart-warming commentary on the food industry and one girl’s fight to save her best friend, Okja is step forward in digital release films.

Okja is a Netflix production by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho. The film revolves around Okja, a Super Pig born from the first genetically modified Super Pig and raised by a farmer and his grand-daughter, Mija, in the South Korean mountains as part of an experiment/competition. After ten years, the Mirando Corporation – the owners of the Super Pig program come to take Okja, who has become the best Super Pig, and turn her in to food.

Mija follows the company to a holding facility to free her friend, she meets and is aided by the A.L.F. (Animal Liberation Front) who are trying to expose Mirando for the injustices and crimes they have committed against the Super Pigs.

Ahn Seo-hyun delivers a fantastic performance as Mija, a strong and brave character, and portrays the love and the connection between her and Okja beautifully.

Paul Dano plays Jay, the leader of the A.L.F and brings some nice complexities to his character. There is something about Jay and the A.L.F (including Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Daniel Henshall and Devon Bostick) that felt very Wes Anderson-esque, the characters all had their little quirks yet were all committed to the cause. The animal rights group at some points felt like they were in a different movie, something slightly hyper-realistic.

Tilda Swinton plays Mirando Corporation CEO, Lucy Mirando a slightly bizarre character who is driven to make this Super Pig scheme of hers succeed. Swinton has an amazing diversity in the many characters she plays, Lucy Mirando is no exception. She was a character that felt like she was never quite real and that’s the point. She has a facade of a caring and exciting CEO but behind closed doors wants only to differentiate herself from her father and her sister and will lie and bumble her way to that goal.

Now lets get to one of the standouts of Okja, Jake Gyllenhaal as Dr. Johnny Wilcox. At the inception of the Super Pig Program, Johnny Wilcox, a TV star zoologist was attached to work with the farmers and eventually judge who would be crowned the best Super Pig. Now, ten years later, he has fallen out of the spotlight and is now a washed up pawn for the Mirando Corporation who has had to make some moral compromises in the time he has worked for the company. Towards the end of the film, the reality really sets in on Wilcox bringing out a perfect example of why Gyllenhaal should play the Joker in the DCEU instead of Jared Leto.

The visual effects used to make Okja were fantastic, It was believable for majority of the film. She’s a cute Super Pig, so are her friends, the Super Pigs are sweet and passive creatures, which makes the Mirando Corporation’s practices all the more heartbreaking.

Okja is a unique film that wants you to think about where your food comes from and see through the spin that multi-national corporations try to sell you. With out revealing too much about the plot of the film, it’s also an example that while these companies may hit road blocks, the corporate machine can still carry on.

This film was produced by Netflix and has faced some criticism from traditional cinemas and critics before the film had even been seen.

Okja had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2017. The film was met with boos, mixed with applause, during its premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, once the Netflix logo appeared on screen and again during a technical glitch (which got the movie projected in an incorrect aspect ratio for its first seven minutes). The festival later issued an apology to the filmmakers. However, despite the studio’s negative response, the film itself received a four-minute standing ovation.

Wikipedia

This is a step in the right direction for digital releases, there are many more notable directors and studios getting behind this sort of release and we can expect to see more high-quality original films coming out on Netflix.

Okja is a nice film with a talented cast and a big heart. It has a message but doesn’t beat you over the head with it. Purely and simply, its a bout a young girl who will stop at nothing to save her best friend.

Okja: Above Average

The Fundamentals of Caring – Review

The Fundamentals of Caring is an indie comedy-drama that was distributed on Netflix. It’s one of those feel-good, feel-bad, feel-good-again movies, nice to just sit down and watch some time.

The film follows Ben (played by Paul Rudd), a retired writer who completes a course to become a caregiver. He gets a job looking after Trevor (Craig Roberts), and eighteen-year-old who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Ben and Trevor go on a road-trip to see the worlds deepest pit. During the road-trip they meet many people and learn about each other, you know the usual.

Rob Burnett, the writer and director of this film adapted his script from a novel by Jonathan Evison titled ‘The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving’ and he did a good job too. It’s a fun film, the dialogue is tight and everything plot point is tied up either in an emotional or humourous way.

Joining Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts in the film is Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle and Megan Ferguson. All of these actors do a decent job. Megan Feguson plays a slightly weird pregnant woman who has some funny lines but it’s Rudd and Roberts that breath the most life in to the film.

This film isn’t anything amazing but it short sweet and enjoyable. Its something you can chill out and watch on Netflix when ever, but it is worth a watch.

The Fundamentals of Caring: Average