Muriel’s Wedding (1994)

Beware: studio marketing set you up for disappointment! Despite their emphasis on ABBA music, the premise has satirical underpinnings.

To characterize Muriel as a “lovable loser” would be a gross oversimplification. As only Toni Collette can do (seriously– you have to like a character to root for them), an insecure girl escapes her family’s psychological abuse by emersing herself in pop music and living vicariously through other people’s success.

On an impromptu vacation, on which she tries to keep up with the popular crowd, she thinks she’s found a quick fix for happiness: marriage to a celebrity. Despite growing up in the shadow of her politican father, she believes the superficial fairytale will turn the tables on everyone who previously snubbed her. Along the way she discovers a new and different form of beauty.

Though there is humor, don’t expect slapstick. A tranformation in the same vein as Strictly Ballroom and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is more realistic (i.e. frequently cringeworthy) than the poster/ cover would lead you to believe but it’s worth every moment.

Can you ever forgive me? (2018)

In writing, as in life, less is more. Correspondingly, a simple story allowed to stand on its own, free to breathe (i.e. without overt biases and/or contrived themes imposed upon it), will naturally generate “The Conversation” so many artists eagerly crave these days.

Personally, I heard it say, “If you spend half as much time devoted to the task at hand as you do trying to get out of it, you’ll be fulfilled by both the process and the result. In the end, making a quick buck is complicated and expensive!”

But as viewers found with Doubt, everyone will walk away from the movie insisting it was about something else.

Nebraska (2013)

Family is complicated, as is small town interpersonal politics. The addition of fame and a potential fortune amplifies tensions that crescendo towards a battle for personal pride. When a hapless salesman realizes his boozy old father plans to travel cross- country to claim a non-existent prize based on a misunderstanding, it’s becomes clear he’s just […]

The Bodyguard (1992)

Fame is isolating. So is the security business. When you’re gifted above average, the spotlight will find you and make you a target. If you’re savvy enough to navigate all the pitfalls, you’re likely cynical and ruthless, yourself. Conversely, if you’re naive you’ll get taken advantage of and eventually eaten alive. It’s easy to see […]

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

“Is there some reason that my coffee isn’t here? Has she died or something?” Unofficially based on real world- renowned fashion magazine editor, Anna Wintour, the fictional Miranda Priestly is as tough as they come. She’s also smart, clever and driven; the polar opposite of Andy, a homely but optimistic aspiring journalist, who somehow manages […]

Look at me/ Comme une image (2004)

Despite the French title being a book around which one of the main stories is centered, all the meta occurs outside the film; American critics have absolutely no idea what it’s about, which is precisely the plot! The snarkiness that runs throughout is the symptom of a larger problem. It’s easy to give advice about a particular situation but why not follow it yourself? Likely because you hear—yes, someone is talking, blah, blah, blah—but you don’t take the time to listen to what is—or isn’t—being said. I find it ironic that some people describe the script as “too wordy.” Everyone’s talking but never really saying what they mean or how they feel. Moreover, no one is paying any attention to what’s not being said: the eye roll, the shoulder slump, the sigh, the deliberate nudge given to a supposed stranger. Yet they all desperately want to be heard. Don’t we all? In an era of information overload, the best way to know someone is to see them—not merely look at them through a media lens; to watch them in their element. Try it. You’ll be surprised. The characters certainly were.

Gemini (2017)

The color, the composition… Where to begin describing such a masterfully-crafted piece of cinematography? And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The mystery… no explanatory monologues or contrived conversations… The movie let’s the story unfold naturally to develop its tone; the pacing is spot on. A traditional Noir set in a modern era, the lack of clever dialogue isn’t due to poor screenwriting. Rather, it’s to the story’s advantage—the Devil is in the details, e.g. what isn’t said. Somehow the striking visuals don’t distract from the intriguing dynamics between characters. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to say which is more impressive: that out of the plethora of stars, none of them chews the gorgeous scenery or any of the aforementioned qualities that make this movie to mesmerizing.

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Ingrid’s passion for social media both reflects and fuels deep-seated insecurities. Following an epic meltdown that ruins a friendship, Ingrid indulges her obsession with a popular blogger, who seems to be and to have everything she wants by moving across the country to stalk her. The skill with which the writers handle so many complex issues is impressive. Given the extreme responses of the general public, who expects to be told how to think, it comes as little surprise many people hoped the movie would take an extreme stance about social media. The beauty of the script is how multifaceted the characters are and how the story is crafted so as to give them breathing room. It shows us a hilarious yet painfully accurate portrayal of ourselves. Like any other machine or tool, social media can equally heal and hurt depending on how it’s used.