Movie Review: Doctor Zhivago

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Hi everyone! Here I am again. Today I want to talk about a movie I saw the other day. The movie is “Doctor Zhivago” and it’s based on the novel from Boris Pasternak.

It’s one of those famous classic movies that everyone has seen but for some reason, I had never seen it before, even though I’m a classics lover.

Before I get into it let me just say that this was one of my grandmother’s favorite movie, along with “Gone with the Wind”, every time they showed this movie on the TV she just stopped whatever she was doing and started watching it until it was done, no matter what time it was. So, out of curiosity, my sister and I decided to watch it. Before we started I said to her that if we got bored or if we didn’t like it we could just stop it.

I wasn’t expecting to get so much into it the way I did. The story was captivating, and even if we started watching it late at night I just didn’t want to go to bed until we finished it.

For those of you who did not watch the movie, it’s a love story between a doctor, with the heart of a poet, Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago, (played by Omar Sharif) and a young woman named Larissa or “Lara” (played by Julie Christie). The story is set in Russia during the years going the First World War, the Soviet Revolution and the Soviet Regime, the two protagonists have to go through a vast number of obstacles and tribulation during the course of their lives. I don’t want to reveal too much, in case you haven’t watched it but it’s one of those epic movies, with a lot of hardship and struggles, but also with a lot of beautiful and poetic moments.

Now there is one thing I’ve found particularly interesting about Pasternak’s novel. As it turns out the novel was banned from the USSR, probably due to the fact that it portrays the revolution and the following years in an unflattering light.

The book was smuggled to Milan in 1957 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, a very famous Italian publisher, and activist. The Italian Communist Party even expelled Feltrinelli for publishing the book. The following year Pasternak was even awarded the noble literature prize, which angered the communist party of the Soviet Union even more.

Now here is the interesting part: apparently in 2014 some declassified documents showed that the CIA used this novel as an instrument to cause discontent inside the USSR, they describe the novel as having “great propaganda value”.

This goes to show how powerful books truly are. It is something I’ve always known, but finding out this information got me thinking about how books and novels are viewed by governments and people in power.

Well anyhow, I’ve found the story particularly interesting and fascinating, I haven’t read the book yet but I will definitely add it to my long Russian Literature reading list. One thing that really stuck with me though was the captivating main theme. Here’s the link if you want to listen to it: https://youtu.be/4T3SUjwrsEo. It was truly fascinating.

This is it, for now, I’ll be back here soon with my weekly Game of Thrones episode review. If you want to let me know in the comments what you think about this movie, please do. I’m also interested in knowing how the book is compared to the movie adaptation, if some of you have read the book please let me know what you think about it.

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

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Hi everyone! Today I want to talk about a nice movie I saw recently: “Hidden Figures”. This movie came out a few months ago and was up for three Academy Award nominees including best picture, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress for the always entertaining Octavia Spencer.

I really liked this movie, it was fun, it was entertaining, it was meaningful and it was very inspiring. The three amazing actresses that played the major roles: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, did an incredible job.

What I liked most about this movie is, obviously, the incredible and inspiring story of these three amazing African American women who worked as mathematicians at the NASA during the Space Race. I think it was a story worth telling. If you hadn’t had a chance to see this movie give it a try and see it for yourself.

The human rights issue, of course, takes a major role in the movie, basically, it’s what the movie is all about. A lot of the movie is about the obstacles these women have to face in order to simply do their job, which was of the utmost importance, by the way. Not only were they the best at doing what they did, they were also pioneers, and that was the inspiring element for me. Everything in their environment, from the society to their coworkers, constantly tried to diminish them and tell them that they couldn’t do whatever they wanted to do.

Of course, they went on and did it anyway, and by doing that they led the way, so other could do it after them. It was truly an inspiring story, the message I got from it was to shoot for the stars, literally. It was nice to see inspiring female characters for a change, in my opinion, there aren’t nearly enough around, unfortunately.

As for the rest of the cast: Kevin Costner played the director of the Space Task Group and I really liked his performance; Jim Parsons played the head engineer and I don’t know if I didn’t like his performance or his character, probably his character though; Mahershala Ali, who I really like as an actor, plays a military officer that falls in love with Taraji P. Henson’s character, and (spoiler alert) ends up marrying her eventually.

Another nice thing about this movie was the cool soundtrack, who was made by Pharrell and Hans Zimmer, I really appreciated it.

So this is it for my review. What about you? Have you seen it? What did you think about it? Did you find it inspiring as I did? Please let me know in the comments below, you know I always want to know your thoughts and your opinions.

Up next: I’m almost done with “The Captain’s Daughter” by Pushkin, so expect my review in the next few days. It’s not a really long book and has taken me a while to read it only because I hadn’t actually been reading it (XD lol) I stopped at the first chapter and I started reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” instead. Now I’m almost done, and I’m really loving it so far, honestly, the more Russian literature I read the more I ask myself why on earth wasn’t I reading it before? I haven’t found the answer yet.

Movie Review: Snowden

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Hi everyone! How have you been holding up to? Here in northern Italy, we are dealing with an incredible hot weather, but hey, at least it means summer is already in full swing.

For today I wanted to make a review about a movie I saw last night: Snowden. The movie was directed by Oliver Stone, and Joseph Gordon-plays the role of Edward Snowden.

I wanted to see this movie for a while now, but I never got the chance before now. Last week I was watching The Putin Interviews, the four hours documentary about Vladimir Putin, also made by Stone. By the way, if you are interested in world politics I highly suggest you watch it, for it was very interesting in my opinion. I have to say that I’m not such a big fan of Oliver Stone, but I admire his dedication and I appreciate his effort in trying to bring more awareness to the public. Anyways in the documentary, there’s a scene from the movie, which caught my attention, so I decided to finally watch it.

I’ve also watched an interview Stone gave about the movie, where he says that the main reason he felt compelled to make this movie was that he felt like a lot of people didn’t really understand what Snowden actually did, mostly because the reports about it were quite technical and difficult to grasp. And actually, that is exactly what this movie did for me.

Before watching it I knew about Snowden, I’ve heard him talk and I understood some of the things he revealed but I didn’t get the full picture, and after seeing the movie I think I get it now.

It was a very interesting movie. It was narrated in a dynamic way so it never felt boring or overly technical. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was really good in the main role, he impersonated Snowden pretty well, even in the tone of the voice and the way he speaks. I didn’t like Shailene Woodley, who plays Snowden’s girlfriend, but it’s just because I don’t particularly like her as an actress.

So, in my opinion, this was a movie worth watching, I recommend it to anyone. I have to say that this movie together with The Putin Interviews kind of made me change my opinion about Oliver Stone. I’m kind of intrigued about his work now, whereas before I considered him a little bit presumptuous. I understand that he has made a documentary about American history and I definitely want to see that now, I have to see where it’s available.

This is it for now. What about you? Have you seen this movie? If so what do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below.

Now for my next post, I wanted to make something a little different just so I can keep this blog active even if I don’t have a particular review to make. I was thinking of writing something about my life and what I am currently doing, so let’s see how that goes.

Movie Review: War Machine

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Hi everyone! Have you missed me? It has been a while. Let’s get right to it, today’s review is going to be about the movie “War Machine”, produced by Netflix and starring Brad Pitt in the leading role of General McMahon.

I knew I wanted to see this movie as soon as I saw the trailer. After watching it I can say it was brilliant. Brad Pitt is incredibly funny, I thought he was amazing in it but a part from the acting, the most interesting thing was the subject, or better the way in which they choose to portray it.

The movie is about a four-star general Glen McMahon who is sent to Afghanistan to “win” the war since it has been going on for too long. He is known for being a charismatic and respected leader, a true American hero, until he becomes the subject of a rolling stone article.

Like most of the people who live in the west, I didn’t really have a critical point of view about this war, mostly because I didn’t know much about the country, until one day I read “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. This book completely changed my mind. I remember I used to believe that our societies couldn’t be more different from each other, but after reading this book I understood how much similar we are. And not just Christians and Muslims, or western and eastern society, I mean everyone. I realized that even the person you think is the most different from you, in the end basically shares the same aspirations, and wants the same things as you. We are more similar that they want us to believe.

This movie was one of the few about the war in Afghanistan that didn’t feel like a propaganda movie. In fact, it was quite the opposite, it was a brilliant and interesting representation of what is really happening, in my opinion. I recommend it because it was honest for the most part, and also because on top of that it was also very funny. Under the satire, there was a truthful representation.

I usually don’t like war movies but this one was an exception. I don’t want to seem to be praising this movie too much, it wasn’t perfect, there were some flaws but overall I enjoyed it. Furthermore, I just discovered that it was taken from a book, so I am eager to read that as well and get some more insight on this story. So yeah, in the end, I definitely recommend it.

If you have seen it, let me know in the comments your thoughts about it.

Movie Review: Split

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Hi everyone! Here I am again with a movie review. I watched this movie last night and I’m left with mixed feelings about it.

Let me start by saying that M. Night Shyamalan is not exactly my favorite director. I liked “The Sixth Sense” but other than that I did not really enjoy his movies. Particularly “The Last Airbender”, I saw it at the movies when it came out and I think it was very, very disappointing. For this reason, I was a bit reluctant to watch another one of his movies.

The main reason why I decided to watch it though, was because James McAvoy got the leading role. I really like him as an actor, I think he is incredibly talented and I think he can keep a two-hour movie interesting on his own, which was more or less the case of this movie.

Do not get me wrong, the other actors were good as well, but if it wasn’t for him the entire movie would’ve been pretty boring. It was amazing how he could shift from one personality to the other. That was perhaps the most interesting thing to watch.

For those of you who don’t know the story is about three teenage girls that get abducted by a man with dissociative identity disorder. This man has twenty-three different personalities, each with his own name, a separate identity, everything changes from one personality to the other, the posture, the way of speaking, the strength etc.

I’ve seen the movie dubbed in Italian so I do not know how the voices and the tones switch in the English version. I have to say that some of the personalities in Italian were more credible than the others in my opinion. Also, there was a scene that could have made the whole movie in my opinion, but sadly it didn’t. It was a scene where all the personalities are kind of mixed together, but unfortunately, it happens too quickly and you can’t really understand who is talking and was is going on.

Finally, the one thing that left me unsatisfied was that not all the personalities were featured in the movie, and that left me a feeling of unfinished business, like it wasn’t resolved.

In the end, it’s not a movie that I would recommend, it was good but wasn’t one of those movie that “You have to see!”. I probably wouldn’t want to watch it again, but hey if you are curious, watch it, at least to see James McAvoy performance.

If you have seen this movie, I’m interested in your opinion about it, please let me know in the comments if you liked it or not.

Movie Review: Arrival

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Hi everyone! Here I am with another movie review since I haven’t finished the two books that I’m currently reading (“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and “The Captain’s Daughter” by Pushkin). This review’s about a movie I saw the other week but I didn’t have time to write my thoughts about it.

The movie is “Arrival” directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner as the two leading characters. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical before watching it for two reason: the first one is that as much as I like science fiction movies, it’s one of those genres that I find boring when it’s made carelessly or without putting much thought into it, the other one is that I love Jeremy Renner as an actor, he always shines in every role, but I don’t like Amy Adams, I find her irritating and it’s very hard for me to watch a movie and enjoy it when I know she is in it.

After this premise, I have to say that the movie was really good, both visually (I thought the whole “alien writing” thing was fascinating) and also from a storytelling point of view. I have to admit that Amy Adams was good in the movie despite the fact that I still don’t like her.

I thought the movie was very interesting and entertaining. It’s kind of delimited to only a few locations, I think two-thirds of the movie happen in the camp built just outside the alien spaceship. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner play two experts named Louise Banks and Ian Donnelly, a linguist and a physicist respectively, employed by the US Army to figure out what the aliens want. Forest Whitaker plays the Colonel who hires them and Michael Stuhlbarg (aka Arnold Rothstein from Boardwalk Empire) plays the CIA Agent in charge of the camp.

The whole part where they try to communicate with the aliens it’s fascinating. I was intrigued until the very last, and that I believe it’s thanks to the great screenplay. If you are a fan of the genre I think you will like this movie, and I believe you will appreciate even if you’re not a sci-fi fan but you like unpredictable stories. So yes, this is definitely a movie that I recommend.

On another note for my next blog post I’m thinking of doing something a little different, since I need a little time to finish my readings. It’s going to be about the different shapes and forms of books. I’ll probably post it sometime later this week.

This is it for my review if you have something to say about the movie let me know in the comments, until next time.

Movie Review: Demain tout commence

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Hi everyone! Since I’m still catching up with my readings, I haven’t got a book to review just yet. By the way, I had just started “The Captain’s Daughter” when I saw a few episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and was absolutely captivated by it. I was so intrigued that I put a pause on Pushkin and decided to get the book from Margaret Atwood at my local library instead, right now I’m almost halfway through it and so far I’m loving it. I find the lack of quotation marks a bit frustrating, but the story is quite fascinating. The tv show is very similar to the book, they’ve changed a few things here and there but for the most part, it’s faithful. Once I’m done I’ll make my review and I will also tell you what I think about the series, then I’ll continue with my Russian literature binge.

So for today, I’m going to review a movie I saw recently. It’s a French movie called “Demain tout commence”. I don’t know if and when it came out in the U.S. but here in Italy, it was just out at the movie theater. I believe the English title is “Two is a family”.

I went to see it because I really like the main actor Omar Sy, he played one of the lead in a movie I enjoyed called “Intouchables”. When I saw that he did another movie I decided that I wanted to see it, I saw the Italian dubbed version.

The movie is a remake of a 2013 Spanish movie called “Instructions not included” which I had not seen and knew nothing about. This French version is the story of a young man called Samuel, a real party animal enjoying the good life in the south of France. One day he is left with a baby girl by an ex-lover (played by Clémence Poésy aka Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter movies) who claims the baby is his. She basically gives him the child and disappears. At first, he has no idea what to do with her but during the course of the movie, he becomes this incredible superhero dad, truly the kind of dad we all wish we had.

It’s not a comedy, even if it is incredibly funny, and it’s not a typical drama. I don’t want to reveal too much but it’s both happy and sad at the same time, which I believe it’s something very difficult to achieve in a movie. It’s always entertaining and unpredictable in certain parts. I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.

Omar Sy is brilliant like in the other movie, I believe he’s incredible. Also, Gloria Colston, the young actress who plays his daughter is very good, and I was happy to see Clémence Poésy again.

Movie Review: Silence

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Hi everyone! It has been a while. Today I’m going to review a movie I saw last night, it came out a while ago but I didn’t get the chance to see until now.

I decided to review it because I was really disappointed by it. From the trailer it seemed like a good movie. I didn’t look at the reviews before but the cast was impressive, I’m not a big fan of Andrew Garfield but I really like Liam Neeson and Adam Driver. Moreover, it’s a Scorsese movie, it can’t be bad right? Well wrong!

The movie is the story of two Jesuit priests, played by Garfield and Driver, who travel to Japan in order to find their missing mentor Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) and help spread Christianity among the Japanese people. If I’m not wrong I believe there’s also a book.

The story is a true story, and from what I understand it was “the Movie” Martin Scorsese has been wanting to make for a long time. I love Scorsese, I think he’s a genius and a master at what he does, and most of the time I believe he doesn’t get much credit for his work, and he always gets snubbed. But I really didn’t like this movie I’m sorry to say it.

The thing that really pissed me off is this: I’m a big, big fan of Japanese culture, I believe it’s one of the most interesting and sophisticated cultures in the world. I love the lightness and the semplicity of it. Japanese tradition is something deep and meaningful, and fascinating and it’s something I personally adore. When I saw how the Japanese were depicted in this movie it really pissed me off. Every single Japanese character was either cartoonish or a moron. Japanese culture was almost ridiculed and everything was represented from a “Christian” point of view. It was like they were animals, which was not true at all. I’m not that expert, I’m mostly an amateur, but I’m pretty certain there were definitely some inaccuracies in the historical representation.

Other than that it was dull and boring, most of the time nothing was really happening. It was exhausting to watch, and on top of it all Andrew Garfield, who played the main character, wasn’t believable in his role, to me. If I have to say one good thing about it I’d say that in the end, I liked how his character doesn’t lose his faith despite everything that happens to him, but that is all.

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

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I know this movie came out a while ago but I really wanted to write a review because, in my opinion, it was one of the most overrated movies of this award season.

I was curious to watch it because of the response it got from the critics, Casey Affleck won an Academy Award for this movie and so did Kenneth Lonergan, the director/screenwriter who won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. This is why I believed it was going to be a really good movie but I was disappointed. I have to say that I usually like movies about people dealing with loss or grief, but this one didn’t move me at all.

The movie is the story of a janitor named Lee (Casey Affleck), who has to go back to his hometown Manchester-by-the-sea after the sudden death of his brother Joe. Once there he has to take care of his teenage nephew Patrick and deal with his past.

Lucas Hedges, the young actor who plays Patrick, was really good. I liked him more than Casey Affleck. I don’t know if it was just his character or his acting but I don’t think he reached the emotional depth that his role required, except maybe in the scene with Michelle Williams (the scene from the movie poster). That is probably the scene that holds the whole movie together and they are both great in it. It is probably the one scene where I really liked his acting. For the rest of the movie though his performance was mostly flat and that is why I was a bit disappointed.

Lucas Hedges, on the other hand, plays his role with more intensity, that’s why I liked him better. As a side note, I was happy to see Kara Hayward, who plays Silvie, one of Patrick’s friends. I didn’t know she was in the movie and I loved her in Wes Andreson’s Moonrise Kingdom, so it was a pleasant surprise to see her again. I didn’t remember it, but I later found out that Lucas Hedges was also in Moonrise Kingdom (He has grown up a lot!).

Michelle Williams has a small but relevant part, she plays Randi, Lee’s ex-wife. All the scenes where she is in are crucial in the movie, and even if she does not have a lot of them, she nails every single one. Kyle Chandler who plays Lee’s brother is also very good, even though he does not have a lot of scenes as well.

I feel like going a bit against the tide after reading all the positive reviews this movie received, some even call it a masterpiece. And yes, there were some powerful scenes but in the end, the movie didn’t quite convince me.

Lastly, on top of it all, I was also a disappointed by the ending, it wasn’t what I was expecting and it left me a bit unsatisfied.

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

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First, let me start by telling you how much I love Beauty and the Beast. It was probably my favorite Disney movie back in the old days… along with The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.

That is my Disney Holy Trinity. I mean I memorized all the songs and some of the dialogues, to a point that is almost embarrassing.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard that they were making a movie and Emma Watson was going to be a part of it (I’m also a huge Harry Potter fan but that is a whole other story).

One thing I want to say is that I’ve seen the movie dubbed in Italian so I haven’t seen the English version yet, my review is based on the Italian version.

When I was sitting down in the movie theater I was filled with joy, I felt like a little girl. Emma Watson was perfect as Belle. The movie was probably one of the best remake of a Disney classic I have seen. The songs were amazing just like in the original version but with a few changes here and there.

The costumes and the set design were spot on, and so was the soundtrack. The two main character were amazing! Emma Watson’s Belle was a breath of fresh air. I believe she is a great actress, and her version of Belle was bold and refreshing. Belle was strong, independent, brave and smart while the CGI version of the Beast was very well done, the character was funny and scary at the same time.

There were certain elements that didn’t make a lot of sense to me, mostly secondary things and added elements that didn’t quite fit in the narrative or the scenario. Like the “gay moments” or the fact that there were a lot of black secondary characters, I feel like these issues were not dealt with properly, it was like they were added to the plot for the sake of inclusiveness (in a time when it’s greatly needed) but the way they played out didn’t make a lot of sense in the movie, in my opinion.

I didn’t quite like Luke Evans’s version of Gaston, I felt it was rather dull, but hey God bless Josh Gad… he was able to keep the scenes with Gaston interesting. I just love him, I think he always nails the part. Also, I liked Lumiere, probably my favorite inhabitant of the castle.

Overall the good parts overshadowed the parts that didn’t make sense so I can honestly say that I really liked this version. I advise anyone who loved the classic version to go and see this one, possibly in the movie theater because I believe you will enjoy it.

Since I have yet to see the English version I’m interested in what you thought of it, so, if you want you can write your opinions in the comments.