Yesterday

Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, until a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, after which Jack wakes up to discover that nobody except him can remember The Beatles. Soon Jack makes a life-altering decision that sends him to fame as he starts taking credit for the band’s forgotten songs.

Yesterday is a movie with a fantastically original premise, compared to the same recycled formulas in a lot of genres. Though it does sometimes get stuck in mediocre rom-com tropes, like a cheesy romance in the second act that doesn’t know where it’s going until the very end, this movie takes advantage of its genius idea and makes for a fun, humorous, and interesting two hours. Himesh Patel is not only fun and charming but also sings really well and was well-cast — he hasn’t been in much before but may soon make a name for himself after his starring role here — and also entertaining are Lily James as his best friend, and Ed Sheeran as himself — the singer who helps Jack skyrocket to stardom. However, one character I found to be annoying was his manager played by Kate McKinnon, whose comedic turns I usually enjoy on Saturday Night Live, but here her character was simply irritating and unlikable. It’s no surprise the music is so enjoyable — they chose the best band to make this movie about, and as a huge Beatles fan myself, it’s great to hear them all through the film, and luckily they cast a great actor who can sing as well. There’s also plenty of humorous moments I didn’t expect and the jokes almost always land. Like I said, the second half does lose a little bit of steam but once you see where it all ends up, you get to take in some of the themes the movie is going for. There’s also another sweet theme about how the most iconic of pop culture is what touches people’s hearts and should be kept alive. As one character says, “A world without the Beatles is a world infinitely worse.” So I have to applaud director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curits for creating one of the most original films of the year that sometimes doesn’t avoid genre tropes but the fresh plotline makes for some truly great moments, and there’s also plenty of excellent musical moments as well. When everything that’s out has to do with killer toys, superheroes, and animated animals, why not try something new for a change and support this one-of-a-kind film I bet you won’t regret seeing in theaters.

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Snowden

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Snowden follows American computer professional Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film), who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to The Guardian in June 2013.

Snowden is a movie I got to see two months before its release this September, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to watch it. Director Oliver Stone delivers an interesting, complex, and well-done biopic that taught me a lot more about who Edward Snowden really was, what he did, and why he did it. The film works as both an excellent biopic and a great political thriller. I’ve seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt shine in many films over the years, but I’ve never seen such outstanding work from him like in this film. I couldn’t see Gordon-Levitt in the film, I could only see Snowden. He completely changes his appearance, behavior, and most remarkably his voice to perfectly match the figure in real life. Towards the end of the film, an interview with the real Snowden is compared to one with Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal of him, and the efforts the actor made to become the character are unbelievable. Although I don’t think Shailene Woodley was the best choice to play her character, I feel like she gave the role her best and her performance didn’t turn out to be too bad. The movie also has a great supporting cast (including Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, and Nicolas Cage), and most of them deliver strong and interesting performances. Snowden works as a biography, a thriller, and an interesting drama. The movie gives us a better glimpse at the gravity of what Snowden did, and exactly why he did it. We get some depth inside the threat of our security at the time, and the controversy behind whether the NSA was doing the right or wrong thing by looking at our actions and personal information. Oliver Stone convinced me that Snowden was doing the right thing, and for the right reasons too, which wasn’t exactly what I believed before. This movie did what a great biography should do, which is change your view and opinion about the person being focused on by learning and understanding more about them. In the first twenty minutes of the film, the editing and cinematography feels off and not the way it’s supposed to be, but it’s all polished up afterwards, despite a few moments throughout where the editing feels somewhat odd. But the film’s great performances, storytelling, and effect are what matter the most. Instead of giving us all the information about the topic that happens after the film through closing cards, we get most of it through fragments of real newscasts about what happened, which isn’t something we always get in biopics, and I thought that was a different but much more effective way to deliver the audience information. Walking out after the film ended, I was left thinking a lot about the subject and what I had just watched, which proves the film succeeded at doing its job for its audiences.

Snowden is a well-done, excellently directed, and powerfully executed biopic that you should definitely watch in theaters when its released this September, and although the editing has a few moments that needed some more polishing, its performances and writing are what make it stand out from most of the other movies I’ve seen this year. I sure hope this movie gets the audience and praise it deserves once it’s released.

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Selma

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Selma is the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s attempts at implementing the Voting Rights Act for the black population in Alabama in 1965. The film focuses on a significant chapter in King’s life, the march of thousands of people from Selma to Montgomery, capital of Alabama.

Selma is one of the better Civil Rights films of recent years. The movie is more talking than intensity, and the first hour is very slow, but the second hour really pulled me in. The movie is very well done. David Oyelowo delivers a great performance, he looked and sounded exactly like the actual Martin Luther King. He delivered every line very accurately and with great emotion. He was very convincing as a true charismatic leader. Carmen Ejogo was great as Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife. All the characters were very well developed, and the actors were well casted. I could feel that director Ava DuVernay made a special effort to remain true to the actual chain of events in order to convey the spirit of King’s struggles and the atmosphere of hatred towards the black population in Alabama. The violent scenes of the beatings and brutality of innocent black people that were peacefully marching were especially horrifying, and I felt like I was watching the actual event, because of the way they reenacted the scene. The film is very convincing about the characters and the period of time in which the film takes place. In the end, the audience and myself were applauding, because the film was successfully able to convey the meaningfulness of King’s efforts and the horrors of that time period. I am glad I live today and not back then, because of the racism and people that made society dangerous.

Overall, Selma is a great film. It’s very slow, but still well made, acted, and directed. David Oyelowo delivers a solid performance as Dr. MLK, and the film does not fail at delivering it’s message to the audience. This film proves to be a true Oscar contender. Highly recommended, but only for ages 14 and up, because of brutal, violent scenes and some racial slurs.

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Whiplash

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Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a talented drummer — talented enough to make it into Manhattan’s prestigious music conservatory, Schaffer Academy. There’s no bigger badge of approval at Schaffer than to be invited to join its elite jazz band, which is run by the tough and mysterious Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher has groomed some of jazz’s best players, but pleasing him is a minefield. Fletcher’s methods include — among other, more traditional methods like pedagogy and charismatic history-sharing — complete and utter humiliation. Andrew is thrilled to make the initial cut, but surviving Fletcher’s class may break him, and his love for music, for good.

I was very impressed by this movie. The cast, the directing, the script, and the style of the movie are all great. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons both did an amazing job, and I think they both have a chance of getting an Oscar nomination. I thought the story and dialogue were great, too. The directing is excellent, and I think this is a huge breakthrough for Damien Chazelle, the director of the movie. This is a type of movie that really made me think. The ending of the movie really made me go, “Wow!”. The movie delivers the message that you have to try as hard as you can in order to succeed. The style was great, and I liked how it felt like a very musical film. The cinematography was also great. This isn’t my favorite movie of the year, but possibly on my top 5 or top 10. It’s a great film and I would definitely recommend it, but only for ages 14 and up, because there is some very strong language.

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Interstellar

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A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

So I finally saw Interstellar yesterday after all this anticipation. Did it disappoint? Absolutely not! This is an excellent film! There is so much suspense, the acting is fantastic, the visuals are gorgeous, and so is the soundtrack. This is Hans Zimmer’s best score ever. The whole cast was excellent, and they all deliver such stellar performances. But Matthew McConaughey blew me away with his emotion and I really felt for him. There were parts that made me really emotional too. Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine were also great. But the real star is director Christopher Nolan. He amazed us with movies like Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and The Prestige. And now this, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He directed it so well, and the film is just so great. Chris Nolan always has great and unique ideas, and that is why he is my favorite director, and he blew my away with this. This movie is 2 hours and 49 minutes, but it felt like much less. It was pretty fast, but not rushed. I was not bored for a second. To be honest, I think it could have even been longer, but it didn’t have to be. The scenes in space are the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, and yes, it’s much better than Gravity.

I will say the ending did disappoint, though. I thought it would be one of Nolan’s genius endings like Inception, but it wasn’t. It didn’t make sense at first, but when you think about it, it kind of does, but I just wish it was less confusing and a bit more realistic.

Nonetheless, this movie is terrific. From the visuals to the acting to the soundtrack to the story, it’s a flawless space drama movie, except I didn’t love the ending. But I will say it is the best movie of the year and one of Christopher Nolan’s best films. I would definitely recommend this movie for anyone.

A ringed spacecraft revolves around a reflective sphere.