Film Review: The Big Sick (2017)

RATED: 4/5

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

One thing I like to do before watching a movie is avoid watching the trailer. If I had watched the trailer for this movie I would have thought it was another one of your run-of-the-mill rom-coms. But this one is so unconventional, and not just for the obvious reasons. To call it a “rom-com” seems ill-fitted even though it really is a romantic comedy. Can I just say, first of all, how freaking cool would it be to write a movie about yourself and then star in it?!

What I find separates this to a conventional rom-com is that it’s almost as if the more important relationship that blossoms is not actually between Kumail and Emily, but instead between Kumail and Emily’s parents, AND as a ripple effect from that, the relationships between Emily’s parents themselves, Kumail and his parents, and eventually Kumail and Emily.

What worries me the most about how people might react to this film is that they might not understand why his family is the way it is. I am not saying people would be ignorant or uncultured, but I truly believe it would be so hard to wrap your head around his parents’ reasoning for basically disowning him.
Take it from me, a Filipino girl whose devout Catholic parents moved to Australia for a better life but are still so attached to their ancient, strict, Catholic Filipino culture, and I am in love with an Australian man! My life is basically a watered down version of Kumail’s, and I still find it hard to not think his parents are being unreasonable. If I didn’t relate to Kumail so much, I would probably think the way his parents were portrayed was a wild overreaction and that that just does not happen in real life. But it does!

One thing I found a little bit hard to believe was their reason for breaking up in the first place. It just wasn’t enough. I thought that it was just a heat-of-the-moment fight, not that they would break up over that.
Again, I personally went through a watered down version of this. While my parents preferred I married a Filipino man, it was forgivable if I didn’t, but there was absolutely no way I was “allowed” to marry a man who was not Catholic. My boyfriend is Catholic, but he is the kind of Catholic who was baptised as a baby and that’s about as religious as he gets. We were three months into our relationship before I told my parents about him, and not once did he even worry about the fact that I was keeping him a secret from my family, because he understood. He understood that even if you are a grown adult, parents are still going to be strict and sometimes scary. Emily did give Kumail a chance to explain but it seemed to have gone in one ear and out the other. She doesn’t understand that it’s just not that simple.

Kumail’s relationship with Emily’s parents, especially her mother, was just the absolute best part! She was being such a bitch to Kumail, as per the protective-motherly rule of disliking anyone who hurts your daughter, and then she did a 180 and straight up defended Kumail from a racist heckler at one of his stand-up shows. It totally humanised her, made her a real, complex human being. And the way she turned into an excited little kid when Emily woke up from her coma…

There needs to be more characters like her in movies. Not just people who are evil simply because they are evil. You can’t have the good guy as always and only a good guy the whole time, nor the bad guy only ever being bad. To make them real everyone has to have a bit of a shitty moment or a sweet moment and it shouldn’t be unusual for that character, it should just be one mood in a whole spectrum of emotions.
The overlapping dialogue makes the conversations real. We often forget that real life doesn’t play like he-said-this-then-she-said-that. This is what I love the most about The Big Sick. Everything is so real. The characters are real. The premise is real and very relevant to second generation (or other) kids from traditional families growing up in the modern western world. I want to forget that I am watching a movie – I want to see reality.

This film recently popularised a conversation about the lack of brown women in films. I find that the topic was raised for the wrong reason, seeing as it is based on a true story and I don’t believe there is any “discrimination” here by having a white girl as the female lead – it drives the story. But it does bring forward a true and important issue. This has been something I’ve had a problem with for a long time since I dreamed of being an actress as a young girl and found it difficult to not just be cast as a character who didn’t have a nationality specified, but also to even be typecast because of the fact that there is just no demand for brown-skinned South-East Asian females.
By all means, start the conversation about this – let’s finally have real diversity in the screen industry – but don’t use this film as a platform for this argument. Really just take any film with a white female lead where the nationality has nothing to do with the story.

Anyway. The Big Sick was a big plus for me. Seeing a non-Hollywood romantic comedy on the big screen is refreshing.

Book Review: “A Court of Thorns and Roses”

acourtofthornsandroses

RATED: 1.5/5

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Let’s cut to the chase. There are so many things wrong with this book that I don’t even know where to begin. I can say that at least first of all, this book is not for young adults. Yes there’s a lot of graphic violence but also a lot of sexual tension and a little bit of sex. Truthfully, this girl could’ve been a grown woman and it wouldn’t have made any difference to the story, except that it wouldn’t be in the young adult section of the book store.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is like one big Twilight, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Hunger Games mash up.

My biggest issue with this book is that nothing really makes much sense. I found it hard to believe a lot of things in it.
Why did Feyre not find it bizarre that because of some “treaty”, she had to live with the High Fae of the Spring Court? Wouldn’t there be a ton of other criminal human beings also living there with him if that were the case? Instead, it was all new to all of them and yet there were no questions asked, just constant escape on her mind.

Why did Feyre bother so much with her family? They were horrible and not worth caring for. I understand there was a “promise” she made to her mother before she died but even then, she explained that her mother wasn’t great either when she was alive, so why would she want to keep a promise to someone like that? She slaved away for her family and there was hardly any gratitude in return. Her sisters were selfish and her father may as well have died considering how miserable he was with his botched knee. The way her family was introduced at the start of the book portrayed them so negatively in my eyes, it never made any sense to me why she would be so desperate to get back to them and take care of them when she was able to live a luxurious life without having to work and being able to paint, because she killed a faerie.

Tamlin was a confusing character for me. I felt at times like he was literally just the beast from Beauty and the Beast. His attitude towards Feyre was confusing. One chapter they hate each other and the next chapter he’s like some cute Labrador puppy and they’re in some meadow hanging out in the sun and it’s all happy out of nowhere and they’re getting along so well. Then there was all this sexual tension that I just couldn’t buy. Honestly, I could tell they were supposed to end up together just by how it was being written, but characteristically I couldn’t see it. I mean damn, I shipped Feyre more with Lucien or Rhysand than Tamlin!

That leads me to my next point. The trials that Feyre had to undergo to “prove her love” is true and pure towards Tamlin proved anything but that. How does fighting a giant worm prove you love Tamlin? Doesn’t outsmarting it and killing it prove you are street smart? That doesn’t prove love. That doesn’t have anything to do with Tamlin. Even her second trial proved more about caring about Lucien than Tamlin.

Amarantha was so powerful and evil, and her whole backstory was not enough to justify it. One of my peeves about stories are when there is an evil person who is just… too evil, you know? It’s like she’s just being evil to be evil. There’s nothing really there to her character apart from some very petty revenge she should have gotten over decades ago. I also find it hard to believe that all of Prythian would have submitted to her so easily. If someone rules over a country the way she does, she would have caused a riot so fast that she would have been dead or other decades ago.

This one book could have been two separate books. The story of the blight/curse and then Feyre’s long ass story. Another peeve of mine is when a character has to explain everything instead of information being found out as the story progressed. I don’t know if that would have been possible for this book, but when Alis explained the entire bloody history of Prythian and the curse, etc. just, no! It’s not natural or realistic. It’s as if the author had written the whole backstory about the blight separate to the book, but then couldn’t find a way to integrate it into the story, so she just copied and pasted it into Alis’ mouth. And it was conveniently part of the curse that they weren’t physically able to tell Feyre any of this during the 49 years.

I don’t think I need to explain why I didn’t like the part where Feyre was dead, but then the High Lords all gathered around her body and dropped some golden kernels on her and she came back to life as a High Fae.

ACOTAR moved at an infuriatingly slow pace. A whole lot of nothing happened in the middle. There are about 200 pages worth of things that didn’t need to happen, or could’ve been written faster. For an illiterate girl, Feyre sure has a lot of descriptive eloquent thoughts.

I was most impressed with the writing. It was beautiful. I could really picture everything, from the description of different kinds of magic, to even the way a person can have a hundred different kinds of smiles (Amarantha). Truthfully, it may have been part of the problem the book moved so slowly. There was one part that went on for 3 pages where Feyre was describing music that she could hear playing somewhere in the distance. Like I get it, there’s music playing and it reminds you of Tamlin from that night of festivities. The only reason I finished reading this book was because I bought it (I try not to leave unfinished books on my shelf) and because there was so much hype around this trilogy that I was hoping the story would get better, but it was a mess. If I had borrowed this from the library I would have stopped about 100 pages in.
Finishing this book was actually quite a relief because of how long it dragged on.

I feel terrible for leaving such a scathing review. There were a lot of issues with the story and so much of it was not believable but weirdly enough, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought. If the writing wasn’t so good, this would’ve had no stars and maybe not even a review because I would not have bothered finishing it.

Sarah J. Maas sure knows her way around words, but the story had a lot of holes that needed filling. Who knows, maybe the next two books make the story better (though sequels rarely are) but I think I’m going to give this series a miss and move on to faster-paced things.

Film Review: Nerve (2016)

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

RATED: 4/5

There are very few movies that leave me sitting there as the credits roll, as if stunned, trying to sink myself back into the real world after being so lost in a thrilling story. Surprisingly, this did it for me.
Forgive me as it’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed something!

Nerve is a cautionary tale for youth in the digital world. Unfortunately, it seems almost entirely possible something like this could happen, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe something pretty similar actually did happen, resulting a lot of young teen suicides.

mv5botyxmjywodkxnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmji1nja5ode-_v1_sy1000_cr0016601000_al_

There are a lot of digital world issues that this film touches on in a realistic way. Many people nowadays are glued to their phones and obsessed with “instafame” and gaining followers. Sydney (Emily Meade) is the prime example of this in the film and even though you can see her growing obsession with followers from a mile away, it’s still infuriating to watch, but in a good way. Her scene on the ladder between the two windows was so nail-biting! Drunk and in heels doing that?! Also, how did they happen to know the people in the apartment at the other end of the ladder? She is just that desperate to have more watchers than her own best friend, she would risk her life so callously.

The characters are a little stereotypical, but it’s hard to not make them like that. There’s Tommy (Miles Heizer) who managed to nab two stereotypes as a character – the shy friend who is in love with the main character and it’s so obvious to everyone except for the main character, and the tech geek friend who knows all about codes and hacks, and coincidentally becomes a very useful skill when push comes to shove.
Ian (Dave Franco) is the cool and mysterious hot guy (he rides a motorbike…) who is always composed and you know he’s going to be the love interest the second you see him. His character wasn’t bad. I appreciate that he didn’t play it so over the top.
Vee (Emma Roberts) was a shy girl who rarely did anything out of her comfort zone and was unsurprisingly the school’s photographer because she’s an *outsider looking in*, she’s invisible, an observer, quietly captures *moments*.

I would consider Sydney to not be quite the stereotype only because she is friends with Vee, which is baffling to me. She is a bit of an obnoxious, out-there, “bad girl” who does what she wants and (apparently) doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. So why is she friends with Vee? Sydney even said it herself, something along the lines of, “I’m fun and you’re boring.” Vee seems like someone she wouldn’t even notice in high school.
J.P., the guy Vee had a crush on, is one hell of a jock stereotype that I can’t even be bothered getting into.

nerve

What I really enjoyed about this film is the editing and motion graphics. I believe what made this film so good was, yes, the story, but also the way it was put together. It really got my heart racing because the pacing was just right. The graphics made you constantly aware of the app, so that even when you weren’t looking at the app itself on screen, it was like you were always in the app, hyperaware of it like it was following them everywhere.

I have to admit, when we were made to believe that there was something sketchy about Ian’s past and found out that he had played Nerve previously in Seattle where he and some other guy were in the final when the other guy died, I thought I had already figured it all out. Since Vee never divulged into how her brother died, I thought we would find out later that the other guy who died playing Nerve against Ian was her brother, and she would find out Ian was the guy that could have saved him and climactic drama ensues. Though that might have been an interesting path to take, I’m glad I was wrong because I don’t like being able to predict a plotline.

My favourite part was the ending. I was a little hesitant to believe that the majority vote was ‘yes’ to shooting her. People are messed up, but I like to believe that they aren’t that messed up and that stupid. What did they think would come of it? There were thousands of people in the arena watching, and tens of thousands more watching online. Do you really think authorities wouldn’t know or do something about it? Or the media turning it into an international headline? There were thousands of cameras there to capture the shooting and the sickening jeers from the crowd chanting for Ty to shoot her.

But of course, they are that stupid, because it’s only until they read on their phone that they are an accessory to murder that they realise what they just took part in.
The crowd went from 100 to 0 after that, and their silent exit didn’t sit well with me. They didn’t appear to feel guilty – which I’m assuming that’s what they were trying to portray – instead they looked careless, as if it was just another notification on their screen. They read the message, then shut off their tablets and went to bed like they didn’t believe they really are an accessory to murder. I mean I know they weren’t because she wasn’t actually shot, but they don’t know that!

But after all of this reflection, in the end it’s all about that premise; are you a watcher or a player? And that’s what resonated with me the most. Some might argue that Vee didn’t need to step out of her comfort zone because there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. True – there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, but there’s a difference between introversion and never taking a risk. I’m just like Vee at the start of the film; I am 100% a watcher through and through, and I hate it. This movie doesn’t inspire me to take risks (if anything, it is steering me deeper into the opposite direction) but it does send a true message. It really is in all of us – we just have to get out of our own heads. No, you don’t have to shoot someone to take a risk and no, followers do not equate to love.

I really did enjoy this movie. I was on the edge of my figurative seat the whole time and never knew what to expect or how it was going to end. It was a pleasant surprise how well they sent you a message about our world without being too obvious about it.

One more thing – there’s no way in hell their phone batteries would have lasted throughout the night like that!

Let me know your thoughts on the movie!