Red Sparrow Movie Review (2018)

Red Sparrow Movie Review (2018)

About Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow Movie Review (2018)Red Sparrow is a 2018 American espionage thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence as the main character Dominika Egorova, a former dancer turned spy for the Russian secret services in order to afford the care her mother requires. The movie also stars Joel Edgerton as Nathaniel Nash, the American spy she falls for, Matthias Schoenaerts, ever the villain, Charlotte Rampling, ever the matron, and an occasional Jeremy Irons flirting with villainy. The film is based on Red Sparrow, the 2013 novel by Jason Matthews.

Black Widow

Red Sparrow, Black widow. A colour and an animal. Surely that meant that these two movies were made from the same cloth. For some reason, I thought that Red Sparrow was going to be another Black Widow origins that would satiate the fan’s bigger appetite than what had been delivered to them so far. It would be some kind of La Femme Nikita, or Lucy or whatever those spy thrillers are that seem to star the briskiest model to sell the most outrageous outfit. It wasn’t. It was more suspense than thrill and the great acting of Jennifer Lawrence only made it feel more so, feeling a little out of place at times in an atmosphere so heavy it begged for more action than acting.

The distractions

Red Sparrow Movie Review (2018)I do not know if it is the pace, the violence, the throat-tightening life-threatening ever-breath situations, the constant doubt. But I kept pausing without a problem. While Jennifer Lawrence wig was higher budget than those of Amber Heard and Nicole Kidman in Aquaman, I could not help but see it as it was. The cliche of the American optimist and idealist and caring versus the Russian perverts and torturing, the understanding and negotiating of the U.S. versus the threats and inhumanity of the Russians verges on propaganda. Almost as if the story was being told by an American. Oh wait…

The main character

The way her character is written is masterful. The way she plays it is on par. The enigmatic Dominika Egorova is scary because you do not know until the last minute who she is really manipulating. And that makes the audience empathise with the Russian villains who put her in this situation as much as the American hero who cares to get her out of it. She has surpassed her master, the character played by Charlotte Rampling. The latter says herself that this Red Sparrow never listened to her, never did what she asked. What I think is most masterful, is the way that you can see her character growing, evolving. The more so, the further she is from a heroine, because you just cannot tell. It was already hard to side with her from the beginning. She went from an ally to our movie experience, caring for her mum and dancing ballet to a stranger resorting to extreme violence to punish the people who plotted her downfall.

Red Sparrow NovelReal life?

In spite of the tint on the author’s glasses, the detail of a lot of the scenes shows clear expertise. I was going to write clear expertise or amazing research and imagination but then my research uncovered the fact that the author is a former C.I.A. spy. I wonder if his younger self was that idealist of a spy who was more humane than a spy should be allowed to be. The so-called Sparrows were also real, young Russian women taught ways of emotionally handling people to extract crucial intelligence.

I need to breathe

I am in two minds about the movie. I don’t know at this point if it was the trailer, the times, or my expectations that mis-prepared me to the movie that it ended up being. I think the atmosphere was too choking for me and the perspective too one-sided. It reminded me of Shawshank Redemption a little during the torture. It is one of the reasons I will not watch such a great movie again. But it remains my favourite (I am still talking about Shawshank Redemption). But unlike Shawshank, the atmosphere is heavy all the time, so it is hard to breathe. It is almost a movie about making you feel great to be American or one of its allies. But also, it feels like an emotional blackmail that dangles torture, pain and a dark grey, threatening and heavy atmosphere if you step outside its boundaries. It is highlighting only the bad things of others to rise oneself.

Yet I am impressed

Jennifer Lawrence and her character are great in the movie. While she did not convince me as a ballet dancer (I am difficult but Natalie Portman did in Black Swan),, she was nonetheless one of the best parts of the movie and definitely the best actors (although 3 minutes of Jeremy Irons on screen arguably annihiltes it but I hesitate to confirm it is his sheer talent since his screen presence and overall charisma do play a great part). Until near the approximately 30th minute preceding the end of the movie, I was not sure if the main protagonist even had a side. I could have hung onto the fact that she was played by Jennifer Larrence or be sucked into her entrapments. I had to wait until it was confirmed to believe it. I never thought for one minute the mole would be revealedd, neither by the main male protagonist nor by the mole himself. And even I saw Jeremy Irons in the “hospital” corridor, I did not thing he was the mole. His speech was quite good too. But yet again the film wouldn’t give us a break when we find her in the hospital. It still had to make us doubt which hospital, American or Russian, as the unknown mole appears, as even she doubts, as the tension would not end and give us a well-deserved sigh after holding our breath hostage for 2 hours and so many minutes.  And the movie carries on, twists after twists as we doubt her one last time when she turns over the “mole”.

Verdict

Red Sparrow Movie Review (2018)For me, the Red Sparrow movie is an absolutely superb film, let down by its unsubtle propaganda which also directly links to its one-sidedness and the lack of balance in the atmosphere. It is realistic in that she does not go to America. The main character is superbly written and acted, from the way she keeps the audience in doubt, leaving us on hinge, to the way she is shown to evolve. Giving over a mole is still quite a cold thing to do. The uncle IS a villain, and of those villains whi can soften a hardened heart when they show vulnerability. It is hard to know whether to admire or condemn her but her siding with the US seemingly makes up the audience’s minds for them. The actors are mainly Americans with a sprinkle of British actors, one Eastern European and the only Russian actor I could eventually find on the main list, Makar Zaporozhskiy. Maybe, this is just an American story with Americans playing everyone because the only thing that characterises a foreigner is how they misspeak American and behave unAmerican.. These are the kind of details that make the best films less so and this one is not among the best. It is still above average though. 6 out of 10.

Editor’s Notes

Red Sparrow movie is a 2018 American movie. The movie script is written by Jutin Haythe. Justin Haythe directs the film. Alongside  Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton are Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, Ivan Vladimirovich, Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker, Joely Richardson, Thekla Reuten, Bill Camp, Sakina Jaffrey, Douglas Hodge, Sasha Frolova, Ciarán Hinds, Kristof Konrad, Sergei Polunin, Nicole O’Neill, and Makar Zaporozhskiy, to name a few. . At the time of writing, Red Sparrow streams on Disney Plus.

10 Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime Christmas 2022

10 Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime Christmas 2022

10 Romantic Christmas Movies streaming Christmas 2022 on Amazon Prime

Christmas 2022 has arrived, give or take a month or two. The movies abound already, taking the magic of the season as background to romance and family movie genres. In romantic movies, Christmas brings that extra sprinkle of magic that helps to create pairings in the most unlikely circumstances and places. Whether it is the girl next door who ends up with a prince, or a lost soul who finds her way back to fulfilling her true self, the streaming services have a host of stories to help us believe in the magic of Christmas, whether or not it is featured in the movies themselves.

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: The Christmas Cure

The Christmas CureIt is so weird to watch Bobby Ewing or even the man from Atlantis being called Dad. Still got his charm. The lucky daughter is the main female protagonist played by convincing actress Brooke Nevin. The Christmas cure looked like it was going to give us a good ride and not just because of Patrick Duffy. Where it fails is the way it crams the love story in the last 5 minutes with a montage that does not prove what it thinks it proves. The cliches were handled ok, even the last minute conflict did not feel like a conflict but a reasonable reaction. And yet, for me, it failed at the final hurdle. And to go full circle, the title had no bearing on the story, except for the use of the word cure, for there was nothing that Christmas did to influence the final decision. 5/10

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: Small Town Christmas

10 Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime Christmas 2022: Small Town ChristmasSmall Town Christmas stars Ashley Newbrough and Kristoffer Polaha as Nell and Emmett, two book lovers with great author penmanship who lost the opportunity to live their romance and passion for books together when circumstances took Emmett away. A few misunderstandings, untold stories, lost letters later, they meet again in the inspirational small town that inspired Nell’s book through the stories that Emmett told her. Kristopher Polaha is his usual great self and Newbrough is a great counterpart. The story is a dream for a publicist and flows nicely. Heartwarming and lovely watch. 6.5/10

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: A match made at Christmas

A match made at Christmas does such a great job of alienating its male protagonist that no amount of last minute apology can make the viewer root for the two protagonists to end together. It does redeem him because well he looks sincere, but sorry that does not make him in love. Holly, the female protagonist was a little too much at times for me with her small-town, love-Christmas-or-die mentality but you sympathise with her good intentions and the fact that she is just lost in a town where clearly no one cares enough about her or her emotional growth to help her out of it. The graund-auntie’s gift may be matching people but not helping her great niece grow, unless that is what matching her is. No wonder why the girl is obsessed with getting married. Her brother’s bride and best friend is just a whimsical spoiled brat who sees only her needs but not the work and effort put, never really thanks her but rather complains. Her brother complains when she finally express her dreams. Everyone seems to revendicate that she sacrifices her dreams, her travel money, her time, her career for them. And then she ends up with someone who hasn’t had the time or the effort to prove he’s any worthy. Great characters and plot to get us involved emotionally (the best on this page) but disappointing outcome, so barely 5/10.

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: Looks like Christmas

When you watch a lot of these formula romantic movies set at Christmas, you get used to the main actors being barely just above average. There is not much effort to be made when Christmas outstages the script, so there. But then comes Anne Heche and acting matters again. The natural flow with which she utters her lines makes all previous movie main protagonists sound like amateurs. While the script awkwardly exposits from the outset, she is the single reason that makes the movie worth watching on. I’m kind of happy they give her an attractive protagonist to snog. She bloody deserves it. But I am afraid the whole thing caused more stress and annoyance than pleasure. 5/10

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: Christmas with a Prince Christmas 2022 on Amazon Prime 2022 -

Aside from its deja vu premises, Christmas with a prince is actually quite enjoyable. I am not the biggest fan of the amount of muscles that modern men boast or the way our Ken looks more like a doll than a human being but the script had him make a couple of jokes that made me smile. The acting of both protagonists and the step brother slash comic relief is believable enough. Thankfully, it is not one of those unbelievable love at first sight that crams coincidences to revendicate its existence. The doctor knew and crushed on the crowned frog before and she and her pediatrics department, especially the hospital kids, turned him into a worthy prince. Amazon Prime offers a whole set of this type of movie whose titles have a combination of Christmas and Prince or equivalents..  If you like this one enough, I hear, like all these fairy tales where the prince turns a pauper into a princess, that there are sequels, namely Christmas with a Prince: Becoming Royal. 6/10.

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: Christmas Mingle

Christmas mingle is a 2014 romantic comedy starring Lacey Chabert and Jonathan Patrick Moore. Saidah Arrika Ekulona, the ever gorgeous Morgan Fairchild, Corbin Bernsen, Stephen Tobolowsky and an unrecognisable David Keith provide a lovely supporting cast. I was watching what appeared to be, at first sight, another romance movie, and then Christmas mingle suddenly went all Christian on me.  But it turned out ok actually. Lacey Chabert is as always very believable and the script does help make her not condescendent in the role (the narration less so). I was glad not to be stuck watching another “believe or die” emotional blackmail parading as faith conversion as was the Left behind movie. This is a good movie in general and the couple looks great. I do miss these kinds of films where sex does not have to be part of getting to know each other. It used to be one of the reasons I would go the Bollywood way until modern Bollywood decided to cram in some sex scenes, Hollywood style. It is a shame it has to be a Christian movie to be so, simply because that is a little restrictive and arrested thinking. 6.5-7/10

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: Muriel’s wedding

I had heard about this one but never got the chance to watch it until now. Muriel’s Wedding kind of reminds me of the stupid things we do orhave done as kids and how every growth unveils yet another past silliness.  An unassuming tale about nurturing self-confidence in your kids, being true to yourself and your friends and reaping what you sow, Muriel’s wedding also warns of about the way that our societal expectations and behaviour mentally affect our children. I so often  forget that Toni Collette ,the main movie star, is Australian so much she stars in Hollywood. Plus the first film I saw her in was British movie About A Boy. The film is also graced with the presence of the gorgeous Rachel Griffiths. I do wish Amazon Prime 2022 had subtitle on that movie because the thick Australian accent of certain actors made some of the script undecypherable. Finding love for yourself is a great romantic plot, methinks. 8/10

One starry Christmas

Romantic Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime 2022: One starry Christmas

I don’t know if it is the music, the story of the Texas rose or the tale of Josephine, the female protagonist’s smile lights up the movie,  you just really want to see her smile, not compromise over and over again. I really enjoyed that one.. The beginning kind of annoyed me a little but redeemed itself by not being stupidly over-christmasy. She loves Christmas but she didn’t try to impose it to him as much as she could have.  The spot of guitar, the cowboy’s voice, the harmonica, that is what I would call the gathering of love. To bring stransgers into your home, that warmed my heart. We so no longer do this. Fear has taken over. 7/10
 

Romantic Christmas movies – 12 gifts of Christmas

12 gifts of Christmas

Actually this was highly enjoyable. The reasons for meeting made sense, the couple made sense. I like that she did not get the job instantly. But the 20-30 minute before the end conflict angered me. There was so much unecessary anger, which is admitted afterwards that it was obvious that it was just to tick that box. We clearly don’t mind eating formula if we watch modern romantic movies, but it does not mean it needs to be cold and unprepared. It was so stupid it took away a lot of the cheer it created. Following formula should never break the logical flow and it did. Before then 7/10 now 6/10.and I am being reasonable.

 

 

Romantic Christmas movies – Charming Christmas

Charming Christmas is set at the heart of Christmas. But somehow, it remains full of realism. The storytelling doesn’t take the magic for granted or as an excuse to laze on the plot. Both the main protagonists and their immediate supporting acts are incredibly credible. I particularly like that the end did not break the spell by having reindeers leading the carriage to the sky. You are free, as the viewer to believe or not to. It is a choice, as it should always be. My favourite quote from there is from the female protagonist who undergoes a change of mind and heart and sums it up without ever looking like she meant to in a few words: 7.5/10

I am not interested in building an empire, I’m interested in building a family

Conclusion

Romantic movies abound at Christmas, borrowing the magic of the season to make meet-cutes, love at first sight and other love miracles more plausible. Not all of them harness the opportunity but they still are viewable enough for a fan of the movie genre and its formula application.

Snakes have no legs: Book Review

Snakes have no legs: Book Review

Snakes have no legs – my general impression

This book review for Snakes have no legs: A light-hearted book on how snakes get around by slithering (Awesome animals) will obviously contain spoilers. You have been warned. Kelly Tills pens the children’s book. Snakes have no legs is one of the simplest and most effective children books I have read. The book introduces children to so-called “awesome animals”. To me, it does it well. Saying this, I am going to spend a little more time on the passages that could have been improved and explain why it matters so much to me and to a children’s book.

Focus on snakes getting around by slithering

Although I liked the bit in the book about snakes having no hands for gloves, I am not sure how it was relevant to a book about how snakes get around. My point is that children’s bookd tend to be short and therefore don’t give much room for side pursuits. Despite distractung the reader from the book’s logical flow for a few seconds, that part was fun to read. Even though I enjoyed the book and the fun add-ons, I cannot help thinking about the subliminal and subconscious impact on the young reader and wished the author didn’t segue out of her primary course. Every sentence in the book should contribute to what the book is about, that is how snakes get around and that should be it really.

Length of sentences

I would have shortened some of the sentences e.g., “Snakes have lots of … muscles”. The last sentence “Those muscles wiggle up and down” is so fun, it would have benefitted from an analogy. I have no doubt the author would have easily found something fun with which to compare the wiggling muscles of a snake and make the reading child smile. That whole page could have been a fun 3 sentences rather than a long factual one. I say this, even though the language was fun and appropriate as it is all throughout the book.

Another confusing possibly out of place bit?

Not sure about the mention of wings as relating to slithering in the air. A snake cannot move in the air because they have no wings. But not being able to slither in the air has nothing to do with wings. Just like a snake cannot walk on the ground because they have no feet. But they don’t need feet or paws because they can slither on the ground. Just a tiny logical thread missed there. As for space, I believe there are no silly questions. The series speak of awesome animals but the book evidently focuses on how snakes get around not anything else

Snakes have no legs: Verdict

Wonderfully fun, audience-appropriate (language-wise), small, and mostly to the point children book about how snakes get around (I am pretty sure the subtitle did not need to mention the slithering

The Whirlpool of My Emotions – Book Review

The Whirlpool of My Emotions – Book Review

About The Whirlpool of My Emotions

The Whirlpool of My Emotions is a children’s book written by Chloe Galmes. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. A spoiler alert is in place.

What I did enjoy in the book The Whirlpool of My Emotions

: I loved the idea of using weather imagery to describe emotions. I loved the fact that the book both wanted to describe the emotions and their complexity and speak of what to do when this happens. I love that the font was clear and legible, that the layout was sparse and easy to read and great for a child learning to read. The fact that the book acknowledges emotions especially big emotions is commendable. This may make a difference in a child, letting them know that it is ok and definitely human to feel these whirpools of emotions.

The book is succinct and that makes it quick to read. The pictures really illustrate the emotions and paint a local feel of the subject. That all makes it easier to read and makes a child eager to complete it.

What I enjoyed less in the book The Whirlpool of My Emotions

Content wise, the illustrations were on point but the style could have hinted at something more magical underneath all the chaos of big emotions. I felt the abstract word “emotions” was overused at the detriment of more specific examples. Showing different types of specific emotions (sad, angry, etc) rather than just constantly referring to it as “emotions” would have made it clearer and more easily understandable for its targeted audience. The reader only gets that on page 14 unfortunately, the only time when it is clearer and more relatable “When I am upset, it feels like I am lost in a tempest”. I would have loved to see more of that pattern. Besides this, if it explained how it feels as it does with its weather imagery, that would have complemented the description.

The explanation of how to get rid of the emotion was not convincing at all. Sitting down sounds like a good start but it is definitely nowhere near a full solution. It missed the opportunity to be more specific, e.g., mentioning breathing to help calm down, sitting to help settle down (rather than just mentioning sitting) and so on, would have clarified things further.

There was something about the description of emotions that made it feel a bit to generalised. Saying “my emotions are like a sandstorm / a whirpool” etc, make it sound like all emotions are like that. This highlights the need to make the emotions described a little more specific and the potential dangers or confusions of not doing so.

Verdict

The book claims that it will help a child “identify their emotions”. I think rather that it will help a child identify that they are having an emotion, not necessarily which one. This is admitedly a great start indeed but not the same thing. It also says that it will help a child “validate their feelings”. I do think that it is true in the case of big feelings. Big feelings are definitely those that may make a child feel like they are weird or don’t belong. By addressing big emotions, this book definitely acknowledges that they exist. Just that recognition may make a child grateful and more comfortable to know that they are not alone in that feeling. Thirdly, the book mentions that it helps guide children “to cope with their emotions”. While acknowledging their feelings and sitting down sound like great start to coping, I am not sure that I will call the process described meditation, let alone “the basics and benefits of meditation”. I cannot begin to imagine how sitting down is anywhere enough to help a child “do away with their sad feelings”. I really think that the book does less than it promises, even though what it does is a good start.

Is it a must-have book? I am not sure. But I think that the analogies it uses to describe emotions, although not specific ones, can be useful for anyone trying to help or support a child. It would help them start a most important discussion.