Movie Review: Mommy (2014)

It’s been a long time since I made a movie review in this blog because I somehow find it hard to process my thoughts for a movie, but this film is different because it got to me. It’s so brilliant I would definitely recommend it to others.

Note: There may be spoilers in my review.

Letterboxd rating: 5/5

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Movie Review: Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)

Some movies would tell that high school is the worst part of anybody’s life, with all the different kinds of cliques, the unequal giving of chances to students, and the struggle to get the attention of that boy you like. That’s what most movies tell us but this movie shows us the reality that it all starts in junior high…or even at our own home.

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Welcome to the Dollhouse is a low-budget indie film about the coming-of-age of Dawn Wiener, a not so good-looking girl who is experiencing a lot of negativity while in her junior high. Her daily struggle of wanting to fit in the crowd—whether it’s having a high grade or being the most popular girl in school. Her insecurities kicking in as she realizes that she’s not pretty enough to have a boyfriend.

What surprises me is how authentic Dawn’s actions were. It’s as if she was being controlled by what’s happening to her. The way she does to her little sister–who’s much more appealing compared to her, who has her parent’s attention, and who is just so carefree—what her classmates did her. This can be seen in so many ways in the movie, but it started when she called Missy (the little sister) “lesbo” after being called that in school.

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The rage of Dawn towards Missy is triggered by how she can’t defend herself from the people bullying her and calling her names like Wienerdog. She can’t protect herself from the embarrassment she’s feeling that’s why she feels low. All that she can do is just put her head down and try to forget about it. Compared to when she’s at home, Dawn is older than Missy so she is in superiority and can do anything she wants to her little sister. Which then triggers her mother to get mad at her which just adds to much more social problems to Dawn.

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Because Dawn is not just a student but she is also a daughter. Another trigger of Dawn’s rage is the fact that she can’t get the attention and appreciation of her mother. So she tries to get the attention of other people instead like her brother’s band vocalist, Steve Rogers.

 

Just like any teenager, there is someone out there who will test how controlled you are with your hormones. Heather Matarazzo’s character (Dawn) also continued to show her curiosity as she experiences how it is having a crush with someone.

One surprising event (which honestly made me more hooked to the movie) is when Brendon, a known bully in her school and has been bullying her, showed interest in her. I just suddenly thought how true what people say that when boys keep on teasing you it just means they kind of like you because they just want to get your attention. It was a puppy love so right for each other because they can fix each other, but at the wrong time.

She became open to the world of sexuality and relationships. But just like her life, it all messed up. Which gives us the message that you just can’t be in a relationship while you’re still a mess, fix your life first.

You know how there’s a huge change in the family of the characters in the movie and that’s when a major change in the main character will happen? I thought that was going to happen to Dawn as Missy went missing because of her. But no, the struggle of gaining her mother’s attention is still there. She still wants to be the best daughter in the world.

Nope. Change really does not happen every time.

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The thing I liked with this movie is the consistency of the characters. There wasn’t much major change that happened, only development of their way of thinking and their lives. Dawn experienced a lot of new things and that’s good for her because she is growing up, but her attitude towards fitting in is still there. Nothing changed until the end. As an audience, I begin to believe that that’s what she really wants in that phase of her life. Which is just understandable, as Dawn is someone who’s still undergoing puberty and is still just a teenager.

Heather Matarazzo did a great job as Dawn. Her appearance was really an epitome of someone still in the process of the “glo-up.”

The symbols that explains why the title is ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ is all over the movie. The dolls in Dawn and Missy’s room. Steve Roger’s song which contains a lyric with “dollhouse” in it. And of course the perfection that can be seen in their house, the school, and the people around her. We all know as dollhouse’s as perfect and beautiful. And then there’s Dawn, someone who is imperfect. Someone unusual to the dollhouse.

And that’s when we say “Hey, welcome to the dollhouse.”

I’d recommend this to everyone. It really is a great movie. (Dollhouse by Melanie Martinez starts to play. Lol.)

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Rating: 5/5

Movie Review: Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

What would you do if you’ve always wanted some company because you’ve been alone for so long? Of course, get along with people. Talk to them. Socialize. But Lars’ way is different.

Lars is a great boy, he is loved by everyone in town because of how kind he is. He would always help whoever needs it. He listens to people who needs someone to listen to. At the same time, people in town are also there for him. Nothing really seems wrong until he brings home a doll and introduces it (or her) as his girlfriend.

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For me, I thought Lars was just asking for attention. You know, the usual child’s play. You do something unusual so that people will look at you and thus you will have their attention. The way he always talks about Bianca (the doll) to other people, showing her off and telling them stories about her. Until I realized that the way he was talking about Bianca’s life stories is like the way someone would talk about his own story. The way he was possessive of Bianca. Which made me think that what if Bianca is a symbol of Lars?

Bianca could also be someone that Lars created so that he would never feel alone. I think Lars’ way of thinking slowly changed when Karin pointed out to him that everything that town is doing for Bianca is for him because they love him. Through that Lars became assured that people are there for him regardless of the fact that he was left alone in his past. It was just the assurance that he needed for him to make decisions that affected Bianca and for him to finally move on.

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Ryan Gosling definitely did a great job playing Lars. The child-like attitude and the awkwardness was there. It was hard to read his facial expressions which was just right for his character who was trying to hide his feelings and emotions.

I thought this was going to be a really weird movie because of the doll thing, but I was wrong. Everyone just really needs that someone in their life to talk to, to help them and listen to them, and to guide them. Lars needed that. And he slowly found it. Even if it means getting in a relationship with a doll first.

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Rating: 4/5

Movie Review: Almost Famous (2000)

Nothing beats meeting your favorite rock band so young you just can’t understand them the way the older fans do but as you go along with their journey to being famous you slowly realize everything. Everything makes sense now–the why’s, what’s and how’s of rock n’ roll. Nothing beats getting to do what you want at a really young age. Nothing beats finally realizing that you love someone even if you’re just a kid.

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Almost Famous shows a great mix of writing and rock n’ roll. The complexity of writing plus the authenticity of rock n’ roll equals a great movie about a 15-year old boy’s adventure with a rock band with an article for Rolling Stone to write about them. William Miller becomes open to the world of rock bands, groupies, and, well, pressure.

William’s character progresses from a too young for his age kind of boy to a boy who understands what love and passion is. But it was seen that even when he was young he can already understand how life works but it was through his adventure with Stillwater, the rock band, wherein he knows how unpredictable and complex life really is.

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One thing is consistent with William throughout the movie, his observant personality. He’s not so much of a talker, expect when he needs to interview a band member, yet he is able to realize a lot of things with just being observant of what’s happening around him. Because he is the youngest in the group he is with, he has this honest aura.

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The movie shows a lot of rock n’ roll which I really liked, to be honest. The real things that happens behind-the-scenes or off-stage. The mysterious appeal of band members and their angst. The famous groupies or in this movie’s perspective, the “Band Aid’s.” Most of all, this movie showed that the only important thing is the music.

“It’s not about money. It’s about the music and turning people on.”

Even though it’s heartbreaking for me to see a young one’s passion to just drift away just like that because of some lame band member who sabotaged his article, this movie still says a lot about priorities. William’s urge to go home for his graduation despite the band members saying that getting a diploma is not even important if you’re famous is a clear sign that he still cares for his family and him wanting for his sister and his mother to finally talk to each other is another thing.

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Love can be one really tough thing to understand but in this movie it seems like it was just an easy thing. But I can’t blame William and the way he looks at Penny Lane. He’s young and young love is just something.

I’d recommend this movie to people who loves old rock n’ roll and to aspiring writers. But if you want to look back to the old music that really gets you and to feel the thrill of road trips and parties that make you go crazy, just watch this already.

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Rating: 4/5

Movie Review: We Are Your Friends (2015)

Typically friends help you shape who you are, they are the ones who define you, and they are the ones who will stay by your side. Well, in this movie the friends are not just your typical friends.

Just because Zac Efron is in this movie and there are lots of partying, I expected for it to be just the usual comedy with lots of swearing and sex with a little bit of romance and a tiny bit of values to remember just so the audience can say that they learned something on it. But I was totally wrong. Despite all the partying and drugs, there’s something more–well, towards the end of the movie.

We Are Your Friends: 'plenty to like'.

The movie started off with a group of friends–or in my perspective—as a group of business buddies who just kind of hang out with each other and understand each others differences so that’s why they stick together. They have the same problems and issues, they don’t have a permanent work or lifestyle. Just men in their 20s who knows what they want to do but are not doing anything about it.

What I like about this movie is that it opened me to the DJ-ing scene. Which I only know about because of Zedd and David Guetta and The Chainsmokers, you know, the mainstream DJ’s in the media nowadays. Unlike what I thought DJ-ing was, which is that you just spin some record and I know it’s so mediocre, there’s so much more of it. The mixes, the music, the beats.

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It basically just shows people having fun and of course the “I slept with your girlfriend, man” parts. (Spoiler ahead!) What really struck me is how their friend Squirrel died. I nearly cried at that part. Because he’s that one friend who dreams big, who has more plans for his life, he’s the one who died. And that sucks. Because just like what he said, there is so much more in this life.

“Are we ever going to be bigger than this?”

Just like what I said earlier, the last part of the movie is the best, for me. That’s the most meaningful part which made me write this review despite the first few parts being cliché and all. It’s that part when he says that you can connect to the crowd when you show them everything that you are.

That’s when it hit me.

For me to be a successful artist (or dancer) that I want to be, just like what they always say, I must find myself first. Find my own flavor, just like what he did in the movie. He found his own sound, he found himself first. That’s how he connected to the crowd. I’ll get there.

This movie is recommended for people who just wants to be entertained and inspired at the same time. Nothing so special about it except for the fact that Zac Efron is in it and he is hot.

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Rating: 3.5/5

Movie Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

Being a teenager really is one hell of a roller coaster ride. You begin to experience all these emotions. You become curious of life and all the mysteries that lie underneath it. You become a predator hunting for a mate or maybe a prey. You just want to experience everything right in that moment even though you’re not entitled to do so yet, because you’re just still a teenager.

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The title basically tells a lot about what the movie is about. It’s about a teenage girl talking about her life, her thoughts, and her darkest secrets. Just like any coming-of-age movie it shows how teenagers are obsessed with sex, alcohol, drugs, relationships, and the idea of love. There’s something just really different with how the story in this movie was told.

The setting of the movie takes place in San Francisco during the 70’s, which explains the pleasant aesthetic it has—the clothes, the buildings, and the way people communicate. I would really like to appreciate the costumes that they used here because it was really some real aesthetic goals. I really liked the vintage vibe it gave to me.

Story line was a cliché kind of good with an added ingredient of something different and complex that makes you want to sit through the whole movie trying to figure out things even though you still kind of guess you know how it will end up. I’m not familiar with the book it was based on so I’m going to stick with what the movie showed me.

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It shows this Lolita kind of relationship between Minnie, a 15-year old daughter, and Monroe, her mother’s boyfriend. Minnie, just like any other teenager has her own fantasies and insecurities. She wishes for love, for relationships.

“I want someone to be totally in love with me that they would die if I were gone.”

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She wants someone to love her despite the fact that she thinks she’s fat for anyone to even like her. She gets addicted to sex maybe because through it she feels like someone finally appreciates her and her body.

“What’s the point of living if nobody loves you, nobody sees you, nobody touches you?”

But also just like any teenager, she loses attention so easily to things she finally got. She’s inconsistent and still doesn’t know where to go. She still needs her mother, her family.

I know how it feels wishing to be an adult already—I’ve been there—so I can finally do things without my parents’ permission. The struggle of wanting things that I shouldn’t want. The inner complexity of wanting to be perfect for somebody.

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But the character of Minne grew as the movie kept on going. From a pitiful girl wanting to have sex and a boyfriend to someone who understands that it’s not all about sex and relationships. Life doesn’t just circle around those things, there is so much more to it.

There were just loopholes that I can’t figure out why it happened.

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The vulnerability that Monroe showed to Minnie at one point of the movie, what triggered it? Why did he say “I love you” to her, did he really loved Minnie? Maybe because of the way he looked at her during the end of the movie. Why does Minnie think she has no friends? Maybe because she is weird?

There’s still so many things that needs to be answered and I guess there’s no need because the whole point of the movie is to show the audience a coming-of-age movie—how it is to be a teenager.

To end this, I would recommend this movie to indie junkies who likes to have a ride with their emotions. It will turn your mind upside down, to different kinds of places.

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Rating: 4/5