Nerve, 2016

This 2016 American thriller-adventure film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (written by Jessica Sharzer) is based on a 2012 novel ‘Nerve’ by Jeanne Ryan. This film revolves around a secret online game of ‘truth or dare, without the truth’ which allows people to enlist as ‘players’ or ‘watchers’ as the game escalates. Performing a dare and filming it on your profile in the game allows you to receive cash – the riskier the dare, the more cash you receive.

The game collects personal data and explains three rules:

  1. All dares must be recorded on the player’s phone
  2. Earned money will be revoked in a player bails on or fails the dare
  3. A player must not report the game to law enforcement ‘or else’ 

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This film stars Emma Roberts as the main protagonist and player of Nerve (Venus “Vee”  Delmonico), Dave Franco as Vee’s partner, fellow player, and lover in Nerve (Ian/Sam), Machine Gun Kelly (Ty) a fellow player and Ian’s old friend, Miles Hiezer (Tommy) one of Vee’s friends who has a crush on her and is a hacker, Emily Meade (Sydney) one of Vee’s friends, as well as Kimiko Glenn (Liv) another one of her friends.

After Vee’s friend Sydney humiliates her in front of her crush, Vee signs up for Nerve and meets Ian and competes with him because of her ‘watchers’ liking them together. Throughout the film, they do dares together, including getting tattoos and driving blindfolded, but are competing against Ty in the Top 10 Leaderboards – everyone wants to be number 1 and the top 2 go to The Finals.

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Consequences rain upon Vee when she tries to tell the police about Nerve, and her earnings, as well as her mother’s account are drained.

During The Finals, which takes place in an abandoned stadium, Vee and Ian are against each other and are both given guns. The dare is ‘Shoot your opponent’. Ian offers to throw the competition, but Ty steps up to take Ian’s place. Vee criticizes the watchers and tells them that they are all cowards and they should have ‘nerve’ to show their masked faces. A vote is cast and Ty is forced to shoot Vee.

Meanwhile, Tommy and his hackers decrypt the watcher’s codenames who voted to shoot Vee and sends them a message through the Nerve system saying ‘You are an accessory to murder’ and all watchers are logged out, shutting down Nerve’s system. 

Vee is revealed to be unharmed and that she and Ty staged her murder to shut down the servers. All money is restored to her mother’s account and everyone’s identities are restored. Ian reveals that his real name is Sam and the pair become a couple.

I think this movie packs a very important message about internet safety and that with improper use, it can conquer your life in more than one way. I liked it partially as well because I love and respect both Dave and Emma as actors as well as the directors (Henry and Ariel) and this was definitely and must-see for me.

Nerve earns a 4/5 from me and is available on DVD to purchase.

 

 

 

Love Actually, 2003

The 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy, written and directed by Richard Curtis, Love Actually, is a heartwarming (yet very tearjerking) film to watch this Christmas.

The film follows 9 love stories:

  1. Billy Mack and Joe (played by Gregor Fisher and Bill Nighy)
  2. Juliet, Peter, and Mark (played by Kiera Knightly, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Andrew Lincoln)
  3. Jamie and Aurelia (played by Colin Firth and Sienna Guillory)
  4. Hary, Karen, and Mia (played by Alan Rickman, Heike Makatsch, and Emma Tompson)
  5. David and Natalie (played by Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon)
  6. Daniel, Sam, Joanna, and Carol (played by Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Olivia Olson, and Claudia Schiffer)
  7. Sarah, Karl, and Michael (played by Laura Linney, Rodrigo Santoro)
  8. Colin, Tony, and the American girls (played by Kris Marshall, Abdul Salis, Ivana Milicevic, January Jones, Elisha Cuthbert, and Shannon Elizabeth)
  9. John and Judy (played by Martin Freeman and Joanna Page)

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Billy Mack and Joe – Not romantic love, but friendship love

Billy Mack is a rock and roll legend, and with the help of his manager Joe, he records a Christmas version of the hit “Love Is All Around”. After realizing that the song is actually going to be a hit, he celebrates his victory at a party hosted by Elton John. At the party, Billy finds that Joe needs some affection too, so he suggests that they should celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn.

 

Juliet, Peter, and Mark – Love Triangle

Juliet and Peter get married and Peter’s best man Mark records the wedding. The couple believes that Mark has a dislike towards Juliet, when in fact, he’s madly in love with her. We find this out when Juliet stops by Mark’s home with a snack in hopes to be friends. Asking him to give her a chance, she asks for the tape of the wedding and finds to her surprise that the tape is focused entirely on her throughout the entire ceremony. He runs out and leaves her alone after an uncomfortable silence. Then on Christmas Eve, Juliet finds Mark on her doorstep, carrying a boom box playing Christmas songs along with cue cards. Within the cards, he confesses his love for her, then walks away. Juliet then runs after him, giving him an innocent kiss and runs back inside.

 

Jamie and Aurelia 

Jamie is a writer who was pushed to Juliet and Peter’s wedding by his girlfriend while she pretends to be ill. He returns from the wedding to check on her, but finds his brother there, and hears her say that she wants to have sex a few more times before Jamie returns. Jamie is crushed. He withdraws to his French cottage. There, he meets a Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia, who only speaks her native tongue. Their inability to communicate with one another forms a barrier, but when Jamie returns to England, he begins to learn Portuguese. He then returns to France to find her and in Portuguese, he professes his love and proposes to her! She speaks in broken English to respond, and we discover that she was learning his language to communicate as well. Their commitment is undeniable.

 

Harry, Karen, and Mia – Love Triangle

Harry is a managing director of a design agency and Karen is his wife. They have children, but Mia, Harry’s new secretary, wedges herself between them. Harry becomes increasingly interested (well, let’s be real, aroused) by Mia’s sexual comments and actions at work. At a company Christmas party held at Mark’s gallery, he asks if Mark is her boyfriend and dances with her. He calls her one evening and finds out what she wants for Christmas and almost gets caught by his wife while purchasing a very expensive necklace for Mia (seen through a comical exchange between him and the jeweler). Later, Karen finds a box in his coat pocket and opens it, finding the necklace meant for Mia but mistakes it as something for her. He hands her a similarly shaped box on Christmas ever and she is heartbroken to find it is a CD rather than a necklace. She struggles to hide her pain and then questions who it was for and if the affair was just sex or sex with love attached. When he sees what harm he has caused, he says how truly sorry he is and calls himself a fool. She responds that not only has he made a mockery of their marriage, but of her and the way she chose to live her life.

 

David and Natalie

Karen’s brother, David, is Prime minister and Natalie is a new junior member of the household staff. While having a meeting with the US President, they run into Natalie and the President makes an inappropriate comment about her body. Later David walks in on Natalie serving tea to the President and it is clear it is uncomfortable. Natalie is shamed, but the President has a sly grin on his face and due to this, when he gives his political speech, David is assertive while taking a stand against the President’s policies. David moves Natalie to another job because she has proven to be a distraction. However, on Christmas Eve he finds a Christmas card from her that declares that she is “his and no one else’s”. Going door-to-door, he stumbles across Mia, who says she lives next door. Finding that she is with her family, and they are on their way to a school pageant, she sneaks him into the school. He runs into his sister Karen, which is the point the audience makes the connection that they are related. As Natalie and David watch the show backstage, they finally kiss. Their hiding is shown to be for nothing as the curtain rises, they are seen kissing by everyone.

 

Daniel, Sam, Joanna, and Carol

Daniel, Karen’s friend mourns the death of his wife Joanna and tries to raise stepson Sam alone. Sam falls in love with an American classmate, also names Joanna. Sam discusses his love for her, despite his age, with his stepfather and they come to the conclusion that he should learn to play the drums to accompany and win the heart of Joanna in the school’s Christmas pageant. Missing his chance to profess his love, Sam chases after Joanna at the airport before her flight. She kisses him on the cheek after saying hi. Meanwhile, Daniel meets Carol, the parent of another one of Sam’s schoolmates.

 

Sarah, Karl, and Michael

Sarah is an American who works at Harry’s graphic design company and first appears at Juliet and Peter’s wedding. She’s been in love with the company’s creative director, Karl. For unknown reasons, they admire each other from afar but neither is willing to make the first move, so the admiration from a distance continues. They finally connect at a Christmas party and he drives her home. They kiss but nothing more occurs because Sarah gets a call from her brother at his mental care facility. On Christmas Eve they say no more than Merry Christmas and she spends the night with Michael at his care facility.

 

Colin, Tony, and the American Girls

Colin informs his friend Tony he plans to go to America and find love, after several failed attempts with English women. He is convinced that his Britishness will be an asset in the US, and he lands in Wisconsin. He meets Stacey, Jeannie, and Carol-Anne in a bar. They fall for his accent and are joined by Harriet when they invite him back to their apartment.

 

John and Judy

John and Judy are professional body doubles for films for sex scenes. John tells Judy that it’s “nice to have someone I can just chat to” while the two of them are completely comfortable being completely naked on set while simulating sex acts. They attend the Christmas pageant at the local school with John’s brother while they carefully pursue a relationship.

 

I think this movie is very heartwarming but also interesting. It has its own ways of teaching, I think. For example, the love story between Jamie and Aurelia it suggests that love can be miscommunicated, even with something as simple as language. It’s definitely a wonderful Christmas movie to watch while you’re curled up on the sofa with a hot drink in hand.

Love Actually earns a 4/5 from me.

The 5th Wave, 2016

The 5th Wave, released in 2016, is an American science-fiction thriller film directed by J Blakeson and screenplay by Susannah Grant. Based on the novel ‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey, Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, an Ohio high schooler. Her brother, Sam, played by Zackary Arthur, is taken by the military and she goes to find him.

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This all begins when a city-sized spacecraft containing extraterrestrials – referred to as ‘The Others’ – circles the Earth and slowly eliminates all life. They do this in Waves.

The 1st Wave releases an electromagnetic pulse throughout the world that destroys all electrical power, including cellphones, cars, and aircrafts.

The 2nd Wave causes tsunamis that destroys and kills everyone living in coastal cities.

For the 3rd Wave, The Others use the strain of avian flu to their advantage and use birds as carriers of the virus, most of the population was wiped out.

The 4th Wave begins and it’s simple: trust no one. The remaining adult survivors discover that The Others are now hunting them and are taking human hosts to blend in. Anyone among you could be an Other. Children are separated from their families and trained with the army to fight The Others because the government is predicting a 5th Wave. They are the last hope.

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We later find out that the military personnel that trained the children are actually The Others that have taken them as hosts. They were training children to kill survivors. Some of the children – with some help by one of the survivors – bomb the facility and the survivors and Cassie are reunited and get out safely.

I think it’s interesting that the military, being an entity that we as a society have been raised to respect and believe, was not who we thought they were. I think that that’s a very prevalent issue, because I’m a firm believer in conspiracy theories – and I know the stigma dictates that those who believe in conspiracy theories are all ‘crazy’. I do think that the military and the government, at least the American government, hides things from the public. However, that’s another story for another time, but I think that’s the reason why this movie sparked so much interest within me.

This movie was intriguing and it kept my attention, which I’ve found difficult with some genres, earning itself a 4/5 stars from me.

The 5th Wave is available on Sky Movies as well as DVD.

Erin Brockovich, 2000

Erin Brockovich, released in 2000, is a critically acclaimed biographical film that dramatises the true story of Erin Brockovich, who fought against the corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant, Julia Roberts takes on the role of Erin, an unemployed single mother with three children who becomes injured in a car accident and seeks a lawyer. After hard work and time, she then exposes the multi-billion-dollar corporation for their wrongdoings.

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The story begins when Erin comes across a real estate case document where the major company, PG&E, offers to purchase the home of a Hinkley, California resident, Donna Jensen, and is surprised to see medical records along with the real estate information. She investigates further and eventually gathers that everyone in Hinkley has a history of serious medical problems surrounding the poisonous chromium being leaked into the drinking water.

Erin and her law firm gather and persuade all 634 plaintiffs to sign paperwork to arrange a disposition. The judge orders PG&E to pay a settlement of $333 million to be distributed among the plaintiffs. And for Donna Jensen, who suffered a long life of pain and hospital visits, is awarded $5 million to pay for anything that she may need for her family, herself, and medical expenses.

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While watching this, I felt an overwhelming desire to cheer and praise Brockovich, because in a way, she reminds me of my own mother. She’s tough, she fights for what she believes in, and she doesn’t take any shit from anybody. Not to mention juggling children and her career. My mom had me at a young age and managed to raise me and get a double Major and a Minor in University, as well as her Masters degree in Education.

I think that Erin Brockovich is an inspiring true story that makes me believe that there are people in this world that do actually care. They believe in what’s right and challenge those who don’t. This movie earns a full 5 stars from me, it was absolutely phenomenal.

Erin Brockovich is available to watch on Netflix.

Lovelace, 2013

Lovelace, released in 2013, is a biographical drama film about porn actress Linda Boreman (better known as Linda Lovelace) who was the star of the 1972 film Deep Throat.

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, this 2013 film depicts her life from the age of 20 to 32. The main characters include Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace, Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband Chuck Traynor, Sharon Stone as Linda’s mother Dorothy Boreman, Robert Patrick as Linda’s father John Boreman, and Juno Temple as Linda’s best friend Patsy.

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The relationship of Chuck and Linda consume the film, but are portrayed twice; once through the eyes of Chuck, where Linda’s life seems glamorous, exciting, and perfect as she becomes a worldwide phenomenon, and once through the eyes of Linda, where Chuck’s violence is gradually exposed and her life is revealed to not as amazing and perfect as it seemed in his eyes.

Linda attempts to escape the violence and pain by going home to her mother, but her mothers turns her away and tells her that that’s what “being a good wife” involves and that she needs to uphold the duties of a “good woman”.

Now, fast forward six years, Linda divorced Chuck and married again as well as moved to Long Island and published her autobiography Ordeal, which details the mental and sexual abuse Chuck put her through as well as taking all of her earnings.

While watching this, I couldn’t help but sympathise and pity Linda. There’s the starting image of her as an innocent and responsible young adult but slowly but surely declines into what Chuck has made her into what he wanted. Be that as it may, I actually really enjoyed this film because I think this speaks out in a very interesting yet effective way about how the porn industry actually is. With movies like this – the ones that are actually based on a true story that makes you feel such powerful feelings – I find that afterwards, while the credits roll, I just sit there and think about what I just watched.

“She was such a strong woman for coming out of this a new woman, who then became happy again”

I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars, because I think that it really made the audience sympathise with her and really pulled everyone’s heart strings.

Lovelace is available to watch on Netflix.