‘Prisoners’ is intense, dark, and one of the best movies this year

I finally took some time out of my hectic school/work schedule for some “Me Time” – some desperately needed work/life balance – to go watch Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. Here’s what I wrote in my Rotten Tomatoes review (which generally are more blabbing than proper reviewing – forewarning):

This is one of those movies where you have to pay attention all the way through. The director – who’s Canadian! – makes it easy for you by slowly guiding you through the story.

The performances, of course, should be mentioned because you have never seen Hugh Jackman like you have seen Hugh Jackman in this movie. I was a little wary going into this movie that Hugh and Jake Gyllenhaal were a little too young for their roles, but they both did extremely well. Gyllenhaal, for one, does less of his “Zodiac” I-need-to-know performance, but does a more subtle performance. As for Jackman, he just goes off the charts in this role. There are some spectacular scenes he’s in that really impress you – I would say it’s his most emotionally intense role yet, but I haven’t seen all his movies, so I can’t say that for sure!

The directing/cinematography/style probably stood out to me the most though. Like Hugh Jackman said in the Academy Conversations series for this movie, the script really could have gone either way. It could have been this cliched thriller about two girls getting kidnapped, or it could be how it is now for Prisoners. And this is all Denis Villeneuve, who engages the audience with shots that are meaningful to the story and the setting. Almost this entire movie, it’s murky, dark, in the scenes it’s either raining or snowing. And no, you don’t just see the actors just standing there saying lines in the rain, but Villeneuve use the rain/snow to depict vision and the whole shady ambiguity of the characters. And if you really pay attention, there are some great lighting effects used in the movie, where characters go in and out of the darkness, that make the movie give this really beautiful innocent feel to it – which, as an audience member, makes you recall that this whole story is really about two innocent lives being taken.

Then I can mention about the story that has theme of moral ambiguity to it. The script is really brilliant in the way that there are distinct characters for every audience member to relate to. Viola Davis said in the Academy Conversations series for this movie that audience members could see themselves in Hugh’s character, her character, Maria’s character, Terrence’s character etc. And that the carefully planned silences in the movie allow for the audience to pause and think and wonder what if they were in Hugh’s shoes? Which character would they see themselves in? This was such a strong story, that leaves the audience thinking even hours later. Hollywood needs to make more of these πŸ˜‰

I can also mention about how the story can pretty much be taken to any city/town in North America and still work! And by any location, I mean, /any location/. The bungalows could still be there, the rain, the suburban malls etc. They could all work. I love that, because obviously in a time where audiences are tired of box office hits, this story could be transplanted into just every day life. Everybody could somehow relate to it.

Anyhow, long review later. I can see a few Oscar nominations for this movie on the horizon. It’s really that good. Dark, and probably not an easy watch, but really that good.

All in all, I would highly recommend this movie. Definitely in my top 3 this year so far! Wedged between Stoker and The Place Beyond the Pines!

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  • It's been an entire week since I landed in Toronto, and I haven't updated my little Instagram photo blog gallery. Lots of wedding preparation stuff have happened so far – my brother's, of course, not me, #SingleLady – but none of them relate to the photo I'm posting today.⁣
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I did an epic journey via Uber and train from Canary Wharf, London to Gatwick Airport with three massive luggages and one carry-on on my last morning in the UK. It took me three hours because I had to somehow get all three bags – two of them were overweight, one of which was 31kg – from the second floor of my apartment building to the @AirTransat airline counter. An airline counter that wasn't even in the same terminal as the train station I would be arriving in.⁣
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So, from second floor flat, to a 30+ minute Uber to Blackfriars, to the second floor of the Blackfriars train station (by lugging two bags 20 metres, then the other two 40 metres, repeat), to the Gatwick Airport train station, to getting an airport employee to find a trolley for me (by asking him nicely as I stood there waiting by my four bags because lol I'm not going to drag four bags across a busy airport terminal), to somehow pushing my trolley cart onto the inter-terminal train, to finally, reaching the airline counter of #AirTransat.⁣
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For three hours, from 6:30 AM, to when I finally had all my bags checked in at 9:15 AM, I was running on pure adrenaline. I don't even know how I was able to do it. I was like a bull on a mission, to get from point A to point B to point C etc. But what I also remember, was my body basically crashing into a damn near anxiety attack while at the counter. I was gulping for air, taking deep breaths, and trying to calm myself down. When I finally walked away from the airline counter, I nearly forgot my carry-on on the trolley, and when I finally had the chance to sit down, my hands were actually shaking. For all the times I've solo travelled around the world in the past year and a half, this has never happened to me before. That morning, I finally understood why airports need therapy dogs.⁣
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(Continued below...)
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Photo taken while at a Reddit meet-up for the season premier of "Game of Thrones"! (The UK plays a rerun of it the night after.)
  • Two of four and four of four. Burmese food and Spanish food.

Loved the bants about Asian toilets this evening. πŸ˜‚ Who knew toilets in Asia were so disgusting! Sometimes the only thing they have for you to keep clean is a hose, and apparently it's so dirty, you don't even want to touch it. Then there'sthe used sanitary napkins just lying around the squat holes... 🚽 Never did I imagine that conversation during one of my last meals in the UK would be about dirty toilets. πŸ˜‚

I will miss my multinational Asian friends: Malaysia, Australia, and the UK. πŸ—ΊοΈ
  • The little prince of Gellert Hill Cave looking over Liberty Bridge in Budapest, Hungary. πŸ‡­πŸ‡Ί Beautiful view, beautiful day. 🌀️
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  • Well, since I've been sick all week, might as well put my cabin fever to good use and spend the time to edit and share some of the photos I took on my travels.

First up, a photo of the KΓ‘lvin TΓ©r metro station in #Budapest, Hungary. Love the architecture at this station for some reason! So modern. More interesting than majority of the #TTC subway stations back home. Did you know that Budapest has the oldest underground train system on the European continent? πŸš‡