Review: Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Jojo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi, 2019) – Ten-year-old Johannes, who serves in the Hitler Youth, discovers a Jewish girl hiding behind the walls of his home.

5/5

Fictionalising real life tragedies has its risks. The slightest bit of fantasy can seem misplaced or at worst, irreverent. Even dramatised versions of the truth, like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, have been called exploitative. What more for those who attempt humour against the backdrop of a towering death toll?

That in mind, Jojo Rabbit comes off as the work of a madman. It opens with a ten-year-old boy Johannes (Roman Griffin Davis), shouting on about his allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Taika Waititi responds with exaggerated impressions and funny faces, decked up in full Nazi wear as Hitler himself and imaginary friend to the young nationalist.

Is it ever okay to joke about the Nazis? It feels just a little inappropriate to smile. Somehow, the satire manages to find a way to balance dark humour and difficult sensitivities. Every bit of mockery is aimed at the people, behaviour, and ideology who deserve it the most. The result is absurd, charming, sad, and moving all at once. 

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Favourite Rock and Metal Albums of 2019 Vol. 2

Schedules are not my strong suit, but the talons of procrastination have finally receded as Volume 2 lands. The countdown restarts for the metal albums that I loved in 2019.

10. Enforcer – Zenith

Enforcer‘s Zenith may not be the peak of their career, but this new record still qualifies as a strong highlight for the Swedish metallers. From electric solos on Thunder and Hell to the stunning surprise power ballad Regrets, their speed-driven compositions show no fear of venturing beyond familiarity.

Never mind the lyrics that verge on campy, acknowledging eternal life and professing their love for the Devil in both English and Spanish. In the recent resurgence of timeless heavy metal, this is one stunning entry for one of the best live bands I have ever had the chance to see.

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Favourite Rock and Metal Albums of 2019 Vol. 1

I may have run out of 2019, but I have yet to run out of lists. There remain triumphant musical comebacks to look back on, and new born earworms from veterans and up-and-comers alike. Before yet another year passes me by, here are my favourite rock and metal releases of 2019 in two volumes respectively with no further ado.

10. Goodbye June – Community Inn

Community Inn landed on my radar when Live in the Now dropped last year and has not left my playlist since. Despite the long wait, Goodbye June did not disappoint. Of mega riffs and soul-baring vocal work, the passion they inject in every note is audible. One only has to look to Secrets in the Sunset to fall deeper in love.

While their Zeppelin influence is stronger in this than in their debut, it never overshadows their own unique sound. Flowing between the mellow ballads and spirited bangers effortlessly, the blues-fuelled rockers prove that the brilliance of Magic Valley was no accident.

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Favourite Movies of 2019

As the decade comes to a close, so do many major film franchises that have ignited ten good years of fanfare and keyboard wars. Between the epic Endgame and divisive Rise of Skywalker, Glass ended the twenty-year wait for cinephiles who loved Unbreakable, while Dark Phoenix managed to disappoint legions of mutant fans.

Several original studio productions have rightfully shone in their own light, too, and it is on these that this list is based on. In order of personal preference, here are ten of my favourite movies that I have seen and enjoyed in 2019. Until I get to see the late releases, including Monos and Jojo Rabbit. Damn you, licensing agreements!

10. Mirage / Durante la tormenta (dir. Oriol Paulo)

When Vera finds a way to save a young child in the past, she never imagined that she would have to lose her own in the present. Made to doubt her own sanity, all she can do is hold onto her memories as she tries to find her way back into the life that she knew before.

This is the story of Mirage, a time-bending mystery that thrills with its every turn. Though not entirely unpredictable, the emotional core is what does cement director Oriol Paulo as one of the best genre writers today. (review)

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Review: Marriage Story (2019)

Marriage Story (dir. Noah Baumbach, 2019) – A successful theatre director and actress go through the trials of divorce.

5/5

Charlie (Adam Driver) rarely gets defeated, in the ways that Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) feels like she always does. He keeps things in order where she does not, and she pushes him when he gets stuck in his ways. The warm montage that celebrates their love’s little moments is, minutes later, achingly revealed to be the start of their separation.

Sitting before a stranger mediating their divorce, they look back at the little things that they love each other for and wonder how they let them slip. In the same vein of Blue Valentine, Marriage Story is a romance movie after the happily-ever-afters, reminding us of how we never truly know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. 

Inspired by his experiences and that of the cast, Noah Baumbach writes with honesty that comes from the heart. He lays bare the emotional fault lines that are often left unspoken about in relationships. Barring Jennifer Jason Leigh’s side of the story, his deeply personal work remains an incisive take on love found and lost.

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Review: Doctor Sleep (2019)

Doctor Sleep (dir. Mike Flanagan, 2019) – Years after surviving the horrors of the Overlook Hotel, Dan Torrance meets another young child with the Shine, who draws the attention of the dangerous True Knot.

4/5

Welcome to the Overlook Hotel, the impeccable choice lodging that has warmly welcomed guests for decades and counting. Of its rich history, perhaps the most well-known of its stories was the stint with infamous caretaker Jack Torrance, whose dedication to his morals and ethical principles had certain left its mark.

Thirty years has passed since his sudden descent to madness. What had happened to the hotel and his surviving family? Stephen King has answers, though his story had gone on from a different place. Hotel Overlook had after all been destroyed in King’s novel, yet left intact in Stanley Kubrick’s film.

Continuity aside, King had not been shy about renouncing the adaptation. How then does one connect the writer’s vision with the filmmaker’s visual legacy? Director Mike Flanagan takes on the daunting task of putting the sequel to screen, winning over the one man whom Kubrick once failed to please.

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