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SONI Movie Review: Subtly Feminist!

Starring – Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra
Director – Ivan Ayr
Genre – Crime / Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra sitting opposite to each other in Soni

Introduction

Premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival, Soni stars Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra in the lead roles and explores significant yet undiscussed topics like gender issues, women safety, behavioural issues of men, etc. The storyline follows the journey of Soni, a sub-inspector whose actions speak louder than words and Kalpana, her superintendent in Delhi Police. Soni is in the middle of a broken marriage, and her conflicting bad temperament issues jeopardizes her reputation at her workspace resulting in various transfers. The film chronicles Soni's personal and professional battles against society in a one-hour-thirty-minute slow-moving narrative directed by debutant Ivan Ayr.

Rationalization

For a film with two primary characters, Soni, gets it right when it comes to showcasing and bolstering their emotions through long-tracking and single take shots for every single scene. With no fast cuts and reactionary close-ups involved, the narrative felt fluid, and the gave the film a real-life vibe needed for an unorthodox crime drama. Demonstrated more as a character study of a female cop in Delhi, the movie takes time to establish itself by displaying her day-to-day activities and so much more to a point where we start questioning the filmmaker's reasoning behind displaying everything so meticulously. It's ambiguous, hesitates you with boredom and even questions your brain that maybe you're not sensible enough to understand what's going on.

However, the movie succeeds as far as highlighting the real issues that Women of India face on a regular basis. It spotlights the behavioural issues of men (who in a particular scene) makes a nuisance by smoking and snorting coke in a ladies restroom, it also sheds light on the nepotism factor which overtrumps the legal system most of the time and gender equality problems that women face in their everyday lives. The film never hesitates to display the legitimacy of these problems and whacks you with veracity that India still has a long way to go with reference to cleaning up the idiocy and illiteracy in the streets.

Also, the performances from both the lead actors were equally impressive.  Geetika Vidya Ohlyan who doesn't come off as a debutant (at least for me) commands her role with a range of emotions from being delicate to utterly aggressive, her appearance and presentation as an everyday working female made her character even more relatable that it's tough to not root for her throughout the film. Saloni Batra who plays Soni's superior also plays a vital role in a woman struggling with leadership qualities and management issues as she delivers a decent enough performance to compliment her counterpart.

Geetika Vidya Ohlyan in Soni

Conclusion

Overall, Soni manages to elucidate the issues that it's trying to showcase flawlessly with exquisitely-shot and remarkably-acted scenes. But, the main drawback of the film is the in-between stuff, which was a bit too long and lackluster at times. A solid one time watch!

Rating - 3.25/5 | Grade - B


A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks
Twitter Profile - @JFMFOfficial

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Bird Box Movie Review: An Okay-ish Thriller!

Starring – Sandra Bullock
Director – Susanne Bier
Genre – Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is a tough woman raised on a ranch with her sister by their dad who was an asshole. To survive their dad and his lies, Malorie became tough, defensive and protective. She becomes pregnant with her roommate / boyfriend who bails on her after pregnancy. After an apocalypse starts (which cannot be explained) the storyline take a few twists and turns, which forms the crux of the entire narrative.

Rationalization

In the times of awesome thrillers like 'A Quiet Place’ and ‘Get Out’, this movie just feels plain. Acting was ordinary, John Malkovich playing the insane neighbor. The plot was predictable like you can guess who's gonna die next easily. There are no goosebumps, no jump scares, and I didn't feel anything at all throughout the movie. That being said, there is a scene at the end of the movie where the kids get scared and Malorie gets to know that Olympia is afraid of her because she's not her daughter. That is a touching moment as close as you get in the movie. The movie was shown clearly. That's the only thing Netflix does great. All Netflix Originals have this problem. They lack story and screenplay, but, damn! they look good! You can feel the surroundings, the set looks expensive, plot had sufficient strength and actors were meh!.. okay!.

Conclusion

Finally, Bird Box is just like a Bollywood movie with a better budget and a 'new’story. You know what it's gonna be like but it's still a good way to kill two hours or even more.

Rating - 3/5 | Grade - B

-An Editorial by Suhel Abdulla
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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ROMA Movie Review: A Sensorial Experience!

Starring – Marina De Tavira and Yalitza Aparicio
Director – Alfonso Cuarón
Genre – Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

What better way can one cap off the year than by chiselling out a fine piece of cinematic art? Roma (2018), directed by visionary Alfonso Cuarón, is a demonstration of the inner workings of filmmaking chef-d'oeuvre. The story of family bonds, devotion and the struggles of indigenous people is told from the perspective of a young Mexican servant.

Rationalization

Cleo, played by the wonderful Yalitza Aparicio, has a character arc that is just simply immense and astounding to watch. If you observe carefully, you’re able to notice how the cast are not well-trained actors but people who were chosen for the roles because of their own personal socio-economic status or the personal lives they have led prior to the movie. This need for authenticity is a gamble taken by the director that pays off well. From heartbreak to raw acting, Alfonso Cuarón brings out the best of everyone and everything. The director has managed to capture the yin-yang intricacies of being raised in a middle-class family in Mexico very realistically and this has elevated the film to be culturally significant. In terms of cinematography, the film is feast for one’s eyes. From wide angle shots to the 180-degree rule of filmmaking, Roma is visually stunning. The film is crafted in black and white color, yet the director has finessed the ability to work every scene like a photograph that deserves to be paraded in an exhibition. If you’re expecting a film with a storyline, look away. If you’re here for action, this is not the film for you. The film has the pace of a snail and the narrative of the film may be lackluster to many.

Conclusion

However, if you’re here for a visual sensation, you’ve come to the right place. Roma is hard to follow if you’re looking for a trail of breadcrumbs within the movie and it will not appeal to the masses. While the film is shot immaculately, one might argue that the film contains only an aesthetic appeal and if you’re not a fan of atmospheric art, Roma does little to convince you of the point (or the lack of one) that it was trying to make.

Rating - 4.5/5 | Grade - A+

A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R
Twitter Profile - 
@JustMovieFreaks
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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review: Forgettable!

Starring – Christian Bale and Benedict Cumberbatch
Director – Andy Serkis
Genre – Fantasy / Adventure
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Been in pre-production since 2012, even before Disney's The Jungle Book (2016), Andy Serkis' ambitious extravaganza Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle geared up for a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Pictures until the online streaming juggernaut, Netflix, acquired the rights of the film to release on their platform on December 7, 2018. Led by an enormous star cast including  Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris, Serkis made clear about how his adaptation is very much distinct from the Disney version, and the final product adheres to that promise. Unlike the 2016 version, this film focuses more on the character of Mowgli, his trials and tribulations in order to get accepted within the Jungle's Wolf Pack, his issues with Shere Khan and his friends, and also his association with human beings and their lineage.

Rationalization

Taking a left turn and distancing itself from its counterpart's version, Andy Serkis' Jungle Book adaptation impresses when it comes to it's lush and kaleidoscopic visuals (for the most part). The vivid detail of every jungle creature/animal when it comes to the features, skin/fur and the battle scars were distinctly designed and executed as the final product. The camera work by Michael Seresin was also equally impressive, the lush green wilderness and the arid sierras in Southern Africa were captured precisely with beautiful panoramic shots, and after multiple renders, the outcome only looked breathtaking on the TV screen.

Continuing with the avant-garde tradition, the realistic and the gritty look of the film made me believe that these characters, Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan, etc. were veterans of the jungle and looked like real animals living in the no-man's land. Attributes like violence, fear, fright and survival did not take a step back in regard to complimenting the scene and the film's tone as Serkis unhesitatingly displayed the aggressive and crude of animals and human beings in different circumstances.

But, dug deep in the abyss of creating a visually perfect film, Serkis, by and large, failed to constrict the emotional connection between the audience member and the film. The storyline, in particular, felt boring and messy at times, creating an uneven and forgettable experience, and is also a prime example of trying to manipulate human emotions without actually earning them.

Conclusion

Overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle felt like a visual treat impaired by a cluttered plot and poor storytelling. The super-talented cast and the post-production crew did their best to elevate the movie's standards, but, it will sadly be forgotten in a day or two.

Rating - 2.75/5 | Grade - C+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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The Trip 2 Review: Satisfactory and Upbeat!

Starring – Amyra Dastur, Shweta Tripathi, Mallika Dua and Sapna Pabbi
Genre – Romantic-Comedy
Streaming Platform – Bindaas or YouTube

Introduction

We watch stories that make us analyse, stories that make us cringe, but, it's always fun to watch stories that make us just chill out and feel light-hearted. The Trip started out as a familiar web series among youngsters with the usual plot points like parent issues, arranged marriage and commitment matters but by adding a little bit of glam, it easily became one of the top trending series on YouTube.

Rationalization

Negatives: The second season which mildly disappointed the fans with Lisa Hayden's absence even when it was adequately replaced by Amyra Dastur. The story didn't show much of an improvement and some people may have felt that it could have used more action by the main characters instead of new additions. The new introductions were clearly created to match with the girls and they ended up being just that. The girls who are stuck in an unfortunate situation (again) somehow walk out of it partying and enjoying everything the whole time. The basic idea of the girls being irresponsible and careless in otherwise serious circumstances is quite hard to enjoy. The intensity of the performances as well as the personalities of the main characters remain underdeveloped.

Positives: The breezy carry over of every episode is a clever idea for making up for all the errors in it. The actors including Sapna, Shwetha and Amyra are convincing as their respective characters and their dialogues are easily readable and relatable. The best part of the entire series undoubtedly has to be Mallika Dua who seems like she's playing herself on screen and becomes the favourite one among the four. She is talented, funny and witty and it is continuously displayed throughout the series. The male characters are cute enough to gain more audience and the locations chosen for every scene is accurate and beautiful. The story involves Amyra's character dealing with marriage commitment which ends on a good note, Sapna's character finally meeting her long-lost mother, Shwetha's character finding her true passion and Mallika's character rediscovering her confidence. It's all nice and happy in the end which leaves you satisfied and upbeat.

Conclusion 

Overall the Trip 2 is probably one of those series you watch while travelling or while binging on large amounts of carbs but I can say that its absolutely one to experiment. Something light and fun for one of those days.

Rating - 3.5/5 | Grade - B+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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The Christmas Chronicles Review: Warm and Delightful!

Starring – Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis and Darby Camp
Director – Clay Kaytis
Genre – Christmas Comedy
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Christmas themed movies aren’t found dime a dozen. We wait several years before we get one every now and then. This year, Netflix has decided to pull the plunger on this cinematic void by releasing a variety of original films that celebrate the spirit of Christmas. Directed by Clay Kaytis, The Christmas Chronicles (2018) offers home-viewers a decent family-friendly holiday flick that sparkles in parts.

The plot of the film revolves around two siblings who attempts to catch Santa Claus in action and succeeds, but accidently crashes his sleigh and consequently, has to run around with him to save Christmas. Stranded in Chicago, Santa Claus and the two children go on a series of missions together that range from tracking down his missing reindeers to finding his magic hat.

Rationalization

The film is filled with wacky moments and tries to re-invent the mythical Santa Clause by introducing various new elements into his folklore. Santa Claus is given a much more personable feel, and this works largely due to Kurt Russell’s irrepressible charm.

You know how some people were born to play a role? Al Pacino as Tony Montana from 'Scarface' or Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt from the 'Mission Impossible'? It feels like Kurt Russell was born to play Santa Claus. Russell’s scorching screen presence simply elevates the film. He has a killer Elvis Presley impression, smooth talks his way through a car chase and just has a lot of fun doing whatever he wants. Kurt Russell, the filmic energizer bunny, brings a level of fantastic comic timing and hilarity that sparkles way more than the film itself. In terms of Iconic performances of Santa Claus’s, Russell’s interpretation of the jolly elf should go down as the most badass ever.

However, you could have mistaken the film to be an age-old production with its formulaic plot and tacky CGI effects. There are logic holes in a plot that attempts to answer some questions with, ‘Santa Claus has magical powers.’ With the script itself full of silly but fun notions coming out of nowhere throughout the film, one should not expect too much from a film with a rough premise. However, it is significant to note that this Netflix production was designed to satiate a specific niche and thus, if taken in an ostensible manner, The Christmas Chronicles provides a warm and delightful Christmas entertainment.

Conclusion

Who needs an Oscar-worthy Christmas movie anyway? The Christmas Chronicles (2018) isn’t all that, but it has its wild moments and that is enough.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Narcos: Mexico Review - Highly Fascinating!

Starring – Michael Peña and Diego Luna
Created by – Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro
Genre – Crime / Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Advertised as the 'Birth of Mexico's Drug War', Narcos: Mexico introduces us to the rise of the Godfather of Mexican Drug Cartel, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (played by Diego Luna) and the Deathless Empire that he builds amounting to more Drug Lords, Corrupt Police Officers and Government Officials. On the far side, DEA agent Kiki Camarena (played by Michael Peña), portrays the role of an honest and hardworking police officer who decides to challenge Félix and his wrongdoings.

Rationalization

Right after the last episode of Season 2, the anticipation levels for Season 3 dropped comparatively (at least for me) seeing that we lost a charismatic actor in Wagner Moura and an engaging character in Pablo Escobar. So, the entire third season did feel like a letdown and an disappointing aftermath, to say the least. However, amidst of mixed reactions for the promos and the TV spots, Narcos: Mexico delivered and rekindled the second season flair and flavour to full measure.

Contrary to what we've seen in Colombia, this season transpires in Mexico, in a different setting and in a different atmosphere. But, the essence of the show still remains the same, amounting to sex, drugs, violence and money. The description also remains consistent, with a good guy chasing a bad guy, but, since we're introduced to a fresh new storyline, it is compelling to find out next as the screenplay throughout this episodic-series was tight and was apportioned with the right amount of cliffhangers to keep the narrative engaging. 

Although not compatible with Escobar, the series' desperado Félix is, for the most part, merciless and carries greed and gluttony to a great degree. His fascination for more power and more money was portrayed effectively by Diego Luna who succeeds in brings intrigue to his depraved character despite not having a menacing personality. His counterpart, on the other hand, Kiki Camarena played by Michael Peña, is the equivalent of an uber honest cop, and a character who has an emotional build-up with his fellow colleagues and family. This role, in particular, had plenty of moving pieces and Peña skillfully his poignant skills in contrast to other roles we've seen him play in Ant-Man and other comedies.

Conclusion

Overall, Narcos: Mexico adhered to its core formula and delivered an equally impressive and highly fascinating ten-hour drama much like Seasons 1 and 2. If you're a fan of the series or even a "binge-watcher" who never watched an episode of 'Narcos', I recommend you to watch this high-intense drama to familiarize yourself with the Drug Wars between the United States of America and Mexico in the early 1980s.

Rating - 3.5/5 | Grade - B+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Outlaw King Review: A Decently Made Historical Epic!

Starring – Chris Pine
Director – David Mackenzie
Genre – Historical / Action / Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Set in the 14th century, Outlaw King, a historical action drama, explores the journey of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotts, and his heroic efforts in leading Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. Also starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Florence Pugh in supporting roles, this Netflix Original opened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to mixed-to-positive reviews and both audience and critics are by and large excited about this film because of David Mackenzie, who had a remarkable success with his 2016 film 'Hell or High Water'.

Rationalization

Incognizant to none of these historical events, Outlaw King provided a brief with enough memoir for me to understand these individuals who took part in this revolution and their personal lives to a certain extent. One-minute over the two-hour mark, the pacing of this film, especially in the first hour was a tad slow and struggles to the keep the viewer engaged as the story tries to achieve a ubiquitous status by moving far and wide continuously. But, the movie turns full circle when it comes to the second hour. The battle scenes were bloodstained, unpleasant and were put together really well, especially with a multitude of extras. The emotional aspects of Robert and his family were portrayed poignantly in addition to the characters of the supporting cast. Furthermore, the movie rests on the shoulders of Chris Pine and relies on his exceptional performance as the Outlaw / King. Apart from the fact that he fights for his country, his character demands much more, in terms of emotional and decision-making aspects which shape up his personality of a meritorious emperor.

Conclusion

Filmed in real castles and authentic locations from all across the United Kingdom, Outlaw King gives you a legit mega movie theatre-experience, unlike any other Netflix Original you've ever seen before, thanks to those incredible wide-screen panoramic shots. Regardless of a few screenwriting issues, this movie delivers and is worth permitting your valuable time.

Rating - 3/5 | Grade - B

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Review: Lackluster!

Starring – Kiernan Shipka
Developed by – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Genre – Supernatural / Horror
Streaming Platform – Netflix

Introduction

Fancied as a contemporary by-product of the Supernatural Horror genre, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the 2014 comic book of the same name bustles around our protagonist, Sabrina Spellman, and her ardent gang of friends in Greendale, an aesthetically appealing fictional precinct.

Raised in a witch environed household, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), half-witch and half-mortal is your joyous, happy-go-lucky student in Baxter High who is a bit adamant about her upcoming dark-baptism event coming to pass on her 16th Birthday. On the day of the ritual, Sabrina's concerns increase twofold when she finds out that in exchange of few royalties and distinctions included in the dark-baptism package, she has to sacrifice her freedom, leave her friends, and dedicate herself to the Dark Lord, the King of Hell (also referred as the "Goat Guy"). Sabrina terminates the ritual and questions the barbaric tendencies and the nonsensical rules of the Path of Night and in turn, faces serious repercussions which extend the narrative.

Rationalization

Justifying the main title, every episode in this ten-part extravaganza is a chilling adventure, whether it's starting a women-support group called WICCA at school or fighting satanic witches, the stakes increase, with the episode count, as things begin to go downhill for Sabrina and friends. Also based on a contempo comic-book, this Netflix Original also follow similar traits to a conventional Superhero as far as the good vs evil aspect and whatnot. But, as the narrative advances from one episode to another, the pacing becomes an issue, and after the fifth episode (which I consider as the road bump), the storyline goes south and suffers a steady decline in terms of keeping the viewer interested. The subplots of Sabrina's friends, be it Roz's eye disorder, Susie's relationship with her family members, Harvey's affection towards his brother was either disinteresting or even mundane to go through every time. Although it appeared cute, lovely and interesting initially, the entire romantic angle between Sabrina and her boyfriend felt exaggerated, and a bit off too much when "I'll do anything for Harvey" narrative purposefully becomes the focal part of the series.

As far as the characters go, the most compelling one is, in fact, between Sabrina and her aunties Hilda and Zelda (played by Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto) and her charming cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who bestows an unusual love-hate relationship dynamic between each other. The fun, love and emotion were knit splendidly throughout the runtime within these four characters, as it makes them so much more relatable and enjoyable. Additionally, the supporting cast including Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) and her sisters, Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), had their moments and shared significant screen time to compliment the plot.

When it comes to horror elements, the ghosts/witches were neither scary nor campy to watch. The show never maintained that unsettling nature, but it's rather spooky most of the time. The set and production design including the misty dark nights, houses brimmed with creepers, the colour patterns, the chic costumes, alluring art and interiors, everything made the vista look vibrant, exquisite and chilling on-screen. The background score also pretty much commemorated the vibe of the show in addition to the peppy likeable soundtrack. Cinematography also deserves some special recognition here, as every shot was so-well lit and captured on top of the uncanny and odd out-of-focus that they resorted to making the scene much more intriguing.

Conclusion

Nonetheless, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina had its moments initially in the first two or three episodes before dwindling down into the unholy pit of boredom. It is certainly a tough show to get through even when you vaguely concentrate on what's happening while scrolling down your Twitter feed or even if you're a fan of the franchise or the comic books. Watch at your own risk!

Rating - 2/5 | Grade - C

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Image via Netflix

Image via Netflix

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The Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now

With countless titles available on Netflix, it sometimes takes a few minutes or maybe forever to pick a worthy movie to watch until your girlfriend tiredly falls asleep on the couch. With nearly twenty movie categories, it is for a fact tough to navigate through the giant catalogue. So, we here at the National JFMF HQ decided to cruise through the library and accumulated a bunch of Horror Movies that you should not miss watching. You're welcome!

Related - Top 5 Horror Movies of 2017 and 2018Top 5 Recent Scary Movies to Watch This Halloween


Gerald's Game

Director - Mike Flanagan
Starring - Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood

Written and directed by Mike Flanagan ('Oculus' and 'Ouija: Origin of Evil' fame), Gerald's Game is a psychological horror film based on Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name and stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood in the lead roles. The narrative involves a middle-aged couple striving to keep their marriage together as they take a weekend off to spend quality time together at their deserted vacation home.

Involving only three or four characters at best and encompassed within a limited setting, the tightly written script by Jeff Howard and Mike Flanagan is the film's strong suit here. The interactions and the dialogue between the characters, the emotional connotations, the self-discovery aspects develop an interesting character study of Jessie, played by Carla Gugino, who does an impeccable job showcasing the pain, anguish and adversity that her character had to go through while remaining handcuffed to the bedpost. Overall, Gerald's Game is a riveting thriller of a film carried by some splendid performances, first-class writing, and a topnotch directorial job by Flanagan. Don't miss it!


Annihilation

Director - Alex Garland
Starring - Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac

Directed by one of the best directors working right now, Alex Garland, Annihilation was shot beautifully. Everything from the production design, cinematography, and CGI looked exquisite and is a true cinematic experience. The direction by Garland was exceptional, but, the film is a slow-burn, it's filled with social commentary, creepy imagery, and exciting subplots which makes it special and also very confusing.

Overall, Annihilation is not your conventional science-fiction flick, it has quite a lot to unpack with no coherent ending and will pretty much baffle your brain with alternate theories and social commentary. On the contrary, it is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, masterfully directed and gorgeous looking film that you should not miss if you're up for a discrete science-fiction drama.


Apostle

Director - Gareth Evans
Starring - Dan Stevens and Lucy Boynton

A period horror film, Apostle (2018), a Netflix production, revolves around Thomas Richardson, a former missionary set on rescuing his sister who has been kidnaped and held ransom by a religious cult. Following the concept of tense and creepy atmospheric films like The Invitation and The Innocents, Apostle, is an intense yet steady descent into terror.

It is pleasing to see how horror film directors are slowly learning to let slide cheap thrills and horrible jump scares in favour for slow-building storylines and unsettling dread. While he has contributed to the anthology horror film 'VHS 2' in 2013, this is director Gareth Evan’s first attempt at a full-length horror feature. Having carved a name for himself through violent martial arts epics like 'The Raid' films, Evans has retained his signature choreographic style and penchant for blood while venturing into dark horror territory. It has a ruthless storyline and has a masterful way of narrating its story. It is very transparent and wants you to understand that there is something around the corner that will scream at you in time to come. There is mastery in its execution, but the extremities of the content as well as the jerkiness in the tone might be off-putting to some.


The Ritual

Director - David Bruckner
Starring - Rafe Spall and Arsher Ali

Starring Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton in the lead roles, The Ritual is a horror film directed by David Bruckner (V/H/S fame) and follows the perilous hike of four middle-aged men to the King's Trail in Northern Sweden. After paying respects to their recently deceased friend, the lads take a different route on their way back into a dense forest where eerie things start to appear.

When it comes to the technical aspects, this movie was breathtaking. The grand extravagant panorama of Northern Sweden was captured masterfully and was an absolute treat to the eye. The sound design, sound mixing, and the ominous background score complimented the camera work as the film felt like an experience which should not be missed. Overall, The Ritual is one of the best Horror / Thriller films on Netflix, watch it on a big screen with the volume rocked up to the maximum.


1922

Director - Zak Hilditch
Starring - Thomas Jane

Based on another novella of the same name by Stephen King, 1922 is a character study of Wilfred James (played by Thomas Jane), a typical corn-field farmer who prides himself by saying that "A man's pride was a man's land". Soon after few altercations with his wife, Wilfred convinces his son, Henry, to accompany him in murdering his mother as the film moves along with few nightmarish consequences. 

Extending the point I made before, this movie is a character study and enhances the concepts of Karma, foolishness, intolerance and guiltiness masterfully. The three or four characters in the film were all written and utilized appropriately by director Zak Hilditch, primarily, the lead character of Wilfred, who undergoes massive trauma and regrets almost everything happened in the year 1922 in his otherwise happy family life. Overall, 1922 is a horrific psychological drama filled in with profound meanings of different aspects about life. A top priority if you're a movie fan.


-A Just Stream Editorial by Team JFMF
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Making a Murderer Part 2 Review: Compelling!

Director – Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos
Genre – True Crime Documentary
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

[The opinions expressed in this article are entirely mine and were not endorsed by any political organization or person.]

Introduction: Acclaimed as one of the best documentaries in recent years, Making a Murderer, a Netflix Orginal is an inspiration behind quite a few Netflix shows like 'Wild Wild Country' and even mockumentaries like 'American Vandal'. The series follows the unfortunate journey of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, both convicted and behind-bars for a crime they didn't 'allegedly' commit. In Part 2, the story takes fresh new turns when a distinguished and a celebrated lawyer, Kathleen Zellner introduces herself as the new attorney of Mr Avery. On the other hand, the series also explores Brendan's advocates' progress to get Mr Dassey out of prison as a result of a coerced confession.

Rationalization: Triumphing over multiple awards and nominations, the writer-director duo Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos once again showcase their extraordinary filmmaking talent by detailing the entire ten-year journey from 2007 till 2018 precisely, decoding every misstep from the 2007 trial and by striking with the right of emotions between Avery and his family and also between Dassey and his parents. Kathleen Zellner, the show's brand-new addition, is a breath of fresh air as the whole ten-hour programme primarily involves her unravelling new pieces of evidence which are not only credible but also displays the fact how poorly handled the 2007 trial was. Laura Nirider and her defence team on the other hand also fill in important roles throughout the runtime, as their journey of getting the poor son-of-a-gun out of the way is equally fascinating to watch.

Conclusion: Overall, Making a Murderer Part 2 is a worthy successor and lives up to the standards of making a ten-hour narrative a compelling observation. They're only a handful of shows which make me emotional and Making a Murderer successfully overawed me by making me feel about these real-life human beings and the anguish that they had to go through every day restricted in a secluded world. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this is the best thing on Netflix right now, and if you're one of those 'binge-watchers' who hasn't had the chance to check it out, please do immediately.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Daredevil Season 3 Review: Super Thrilling!

Starring – Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll and Vincent D'Onofrio
Director – Various
Genre – Comic Book / Superhero
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Terming the improvements of the storyline and the brutality, Daredevil Season 3 has managed to satisfy expectations. With the release of Wilson Fisk from prison, hell breaks lose putting our hero vigilante on the verge of death yet again. With the sudden cancellation of 'Iron Fist', Daredevil had a lot to live up to. But fortunately, Season 3 has successfully brought back the light on Marvel.

Charlie Cox and Elden Henson deliver impeccable performances making their respective characters much more relatable and iconic while Deborah Ann Woll is the best supporting character I've ever seen. The action sequences and lighting have to be the most appreciated in my opinion, although its emotions and some character drama that makes this season much more thrilling than its predecessors. With series like 'The Punisher', 'Jessica Jones' and 'Daredevil', Marvel holds its crown for directing the best superhero action and Season 3 is just another cherry on top.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
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Apostle Review: Ruthless! Terrifying!

Starring – Dan Stevens and Kristine Froseth
Director – Gareth Evans
Genre – Period Horror
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

A period horror film, Apostle (2018), a Netflix production, revolves around Thomas Richardson, a former missionary set on rescuing his sister who has been kidnaped and held ransom by a religious cult. Following the concept of tense and creepy atmospheric films like The Invitation and The Innocents, Apostle, is an intense yet steady descent into terror.

It is pleasing to see how horror film directors are slowly learning to let slide cheap thrills and horrible jump scares in favour for slow-building storylines and unsettling dread. While he has contributed to the anthology horror film 'VHS 2' in 2013, this is director Gareth Evan’s first attempt at a full-length horror feature. Having carved a name for himself through violent martial arts epics like 'The Raid' films, Evans has retained his signature choreographic style and penchant for blood while venturing into dark horror territory. There is a distinctive mood of desperation set as the tone of the film throughout. Right from the get go, the audience will be able to feel how the environment presented to you feels wrong but magnetic at the same time. The camera-work deserves a round of applause here as scenes of chaos and intensity are shot at angles that really adds on the frenzy.

The performance by the lead cast were phenomenal. Dan Stevens plays the lead protagonist; Thomas and he gives a brooding shade to his character. He treads the fine line between subtlety and theatrics, giving the audience best of the both that suits the nature of the period the film is set in. Michael Sheen plays the charismatic cult leader, Malcolm, and it is brilliant. Sheen’s acting prowess is pronounced with his body language and smouldering screen presence and he delivers an extraordinary performance. The cast of the film were well-chosen and not a single character put a foot wrong. I believe that it is the mark of a good director to bring out the best in his actors and Apostle stands as a testament to just that.

If you’re a fan of the director’s previous works, you’d be sure to anticipate the trail of blood and organs he leaves progressively in every film. Apostle is yet another chapter in which the director has attempted to show how else a body can be taken apart and mutilated. Unnerving and brutal at its best, the film is gory and for the weak-stomach, it can be nauseating. The film touches on themes of power, religion, sin, freedom, cults and faith and it is very ambitious in its approach to explore all of them. Apostle takes it time to introduce the characters as well as the story where the first half of the story plays out like a mystery. The second half becomes an intense roller-coaster where the audience are then splattered and slaughtered with the true horror. There are sudden shifts in tone that seem very choppy and you’re not given enough time to digest what just took place before you’re hit with the next intense scene.

Apostle has a ruthless storyline and has a masterful way of narrating its story. It is very transparent and wants you to understand that there is something around the corner that will scream at you in time to come. There is mastery in its execution, but the extremities of the content as well as the jerkiness in the tone might be off-putting to some.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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The Haunting of Hill House Review: Gold-Standard TV Horror

Starring – Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino and Elizabeth Reaser
Director – Mike Flanagan
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Why do we watch horror movies? Do we want to test the range of our emotional content? Do we want to vicariously face our fears through the safety net of a screen? For many of us, Horror films are a small shot of adrenaline that courses through our veins. We are willing to endure the terror to experience the relief we get at the end of it. In that way, this is not my first and nor will it be my last rodeo. From 'The Exorcist' to 'American Horror Stories', I’ve had my fair share of horror flicks. So, it is with much certainty and great pleasure that I say that “The Haunting of Hill House (2018)” on Netflix, is one of the best television horror series in recent times and it is not to be missed. Based on a novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House revolves around a broken family that comes together to confront the disturbing and horrific memories of their old place and the events that drove them from it. 

Rationalization: Directed by Mike Flanagan, this modern reimagining of the novel is a firecracker. Stirring and atmospheric, we are treated to an intense observation of the family to fully understand the effects of grief and trauma. The pace of the series is intentionally slow, but it is measured for perfection. Weaving between past and present, Flanagan allows us to fully understand the seven Crain family members and the trauma they experienced by overlapping several timelines together. We understand how certain events have affected the Crain Family individually even after many years and why it is so important to come back to the old House to confront their fears. Family, Tragedy, Grief, Mental Health are some of the themes that the series has explored in such exultant fashion.

Beneath the horrors and the ghosts that the series promise, there is an actual story of an estranged family that hasn’t spoken to one another in years and are struggling with their own personal addictions and depressions. They are on the verge of succumbing to a fate that has plagued their family in the past and they must come together as one to oppose this. The narrative of this character-driven plot blurs the line between the supernatural and the psychosomatical. The House itself is evil and when you follow the crumb trails that lead you to its neat climax, you’ll be kicking yourself for not seeing the blatant clues that the director has been throwing in your face the whole time.

However, while there are supernatural beings providing the haunting, Grief is the ‘ghost’ that the director has dressed up for this series and that is where the actual scares really are. It is important for me as the viewer to be able to relate to the frights that the film or the television series offer, and Haunting of Hill House is just that. The Hill House exists as a metaphor for the destructive capacity of mental illness and it has taught me that No Ghosts is as scary as the ones that plague your mind. The series is well-acted and complex in its narration and has utilized great wide shots to create some of the best suspense scenes ever. The constant manipulation of the dark background space as well as lights and shadows show us how important camera work is to film making.

Conclusion: The Haunting of Hill House is realistic and it’s slow-building format has approached the complexities of making an effective horror story impeccably. Nerve-Racking, Hair-Raising and Thought-Provoking, The Haunting of Hill House is Gold-Standard Television Horror.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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Little Things S2 Review: Sweet-Tempered and Engaging

Starring – Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Palkar
Genre – Comedy/Romance
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Have you had one of those moments when you keep talking about buying something too much and when you actually buy it, you realise that it's not something as great as you were talking about? Well, Little Things Season 1 was something which was extremely well received by the audience and evidently, the expectations for the second season were sky high. But all these hopes may have ruined an otherwise uncomplicated yet beautiful love story. 

People were maybe asking for all these improvements and modifications from it that they forgot to recognise the message and the innocent love depicted in the entire web series. The second season focuses on more sensitive issues of a relationship like ego, self-doubt and emotional dependency, unlike the first season which was more about honesty, fun and communication. 

Rationalization: Nevertheless, there are scenes where you have surprising twists and which explain more about the two main characters individually but I guess it was responsible for laying a stronger base to their relationship. Dhruv and Mithila are a really cute pair to watch on screen and their chemistry makes the situations in the plot much more relatable and comprehensible. There are a few new characters inspired from all our lives and relationships and it's easy to identify the depth and intensity of the script even when it looks like a facile and simple screenplay. The climax is the best part and the tiny anecdotes from each episode are rebound to make your heart warm. 

Conclusion: Overall, the entire season is sweet-tempered and engaging with forming another list of #RelationshipGoals, and if you watch it with no expectations and an open mind, you are definitely going to enjoy it.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
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Karenjit Kaur S2 Review: Heart-Warming! Emotional!

Starring – Sunny Leone
Director – Aditya Datt
Genre – Biopic/Drama
Streaming Platform – ZEE5 

Introduction

S1 received a great response from the audience and I didn’t think that they’ll come up with a season two, since the former displayed brief details about the early childhood of Karenjit Kaur, her school days, becoming  the Penthouse Pet of the Year, her family’s reaction when they got to know what she is doing and tasting success in her field. So, when they announced season two, I guessed it will explore her early career, entry into Bigg Boss house and eventually becoming a Bollywood actress.

Well, I'm wrong. The series begins right where the season one ends, Sunny Leone on an interview with Journalist Anupam Chaubey (Raj Arjun). This six-episode series, with a total runtime less than 140 minutes, isn’t completely about Sunny Leone or her career in the Porn Industry. But the series takes a diversion and slowly, subtly settles on her mother, her alcohol problem and how it affects her.

Rationalization

So when you make a biopic, you not only concentrate on the person whom you’re making one about. Instead of including their family and their lives is appreciable. Writer Karan Srikanth Sharma has focused on Karen’s mother and in what ways her alcohol addiction causes worry to her family. But the writing doesn’t only focus on her mother but it is balanced between her mother and her personal life. I said the season one to be oscillating between different phases of Sunny’s life, even this one does but not like its former and comfortably settles at one point.

Director Aditya Datt once again does justice to the writing by bringing out the best from the actors and making them do what the script needed especially the portrayal of the strained relationship between Sunny and her mother. Grusha Kapoor did her role exceptionally well as the alcoholic mother and Sunny Leone made sure she projected herself well as herself.

Conclusion

On the whole, Karenjit Kaur-The Untold Story of Sunny Leone season two is more about her family, specifically her mother. The series is heart-warming, touching, sentimental, and an easy one to watch in one go.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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American Vandal Season 2 Review: Absurdity of Toilet Humor

Starring – Various
Director – Tony Yacenda
Genre – Mockumentary
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Revered as one of the funniest and clever mockumentaries of recent times, American Vandal is a satire of true crime documentaries such as the Wild Wild Country and Making a Murderer. While Season 1 debriefed the absurd phenomenon of #WhoDrewTheDicks at Hanover High School in Oceanside, California, Season 2 enquires about the ridiculous yet astute thrill seeker 'The Turd Burglar', who commits a series of felonies involving poop at a prestigious Catholic school in Washington.

Rationalization: Now, if you've watched the first season of this series, you must be well aware of the type of humor that Vandal benefits from. More than the first season, this second season is much more self-aware, meta and continues to deliver when it comes to comedy. The whole poop humor is not oversaturated and was handled adequately from beginning to end. But, the characters were once again the primary plus side of the show. The recurring characters of Peter and Sam were more mature and less douchey this time around, DeMarcus Tillman, Chloe, Lou added the needed intrigue as the supporting characters.

However, comparable to Dylan's character in Season 1, Kevin McClain aka Shit Stain McClain is the focal character and the one who plays the helpless victim, and Travis Tope who played Kevin was outstanding with his performance. His nerdy look, mannerisms, body language, speech, everything felt incredible and was easily laughable and at the same time pitiful to watch. Additionally, unlike Season 1, this time the show ended with a social message and a twist that I didn't see coming and is again a job well done by the creative team behind the curtains.

Conclusion: Overall, I once again had a blast watching American Vandal, and is undoubtedly one of the easiest, funniest and captivating series you'll find on Netflix. Watch it and revel the absurdity of toilet humor.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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GHOUL Review: Reinventing the Genre!

Starring – Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul
Director – Patrick Graham
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Coming off the terrific success of 'Sacred Games', Netflix's latest original GHOUL starring Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul in the lead roles is marketed as a horror/thriller and is jointly produced by Phantom Films, Blumhouse Productions and Ivanhoe Pictures coupled with Patrick Graham serving as the director for the entire three-episode mini-series.

The narrative takes place in the bleak dystopian future where the country is bludgeoned by sectarian violence and with military personnel executing and arresting anyone who is attached with anti-national undertakings. On the other hand, Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) who is still going through her military training, was applauded when she herself exposes her father's anti-national activities and gets promoted as an interrogative officer under Sunil Dacunha (Manav Kaul) at Meghdoot 31 (Advanced Interrogation Centre). Her first task is to put the screws to Ali Saeed (Mahesh Balraj), an alarming and also a most wanted terrorist who is responsible for multiple bomb-blasts and religious wars. However!?

Rationalization: Now, after watching the trailers and the promos, if you're going into this series expecting to get scared, you might get disappointed. Cause GHOUL, for the most part, deals with various subjects of bigotry, false patriotism, racism and cues in elements of horror to spice up the subject. The trailers were misleading, but I can find many similarities between this mini-series and Jordan Peele's Oscar-Winning film 'Get Out', which expertly alluded to few debatable subjects by adding a horror element to it.

Furthermore, GHOUL also impresses with its dystopian setup, director Patrick Graham's perspective of the 'near future' as the diplomatic world filled with war, terrorism and authoritarianism is profoundly unique and unlike anything, I've seen on Indian television. The gloomy composition sets up the vibe perfectly for this political / horror centred miniseries and Jay Oza's cinematography complemented the narrative adequately.

Unlike her previous two Netflix Originals ('Sacred Games' and 'Lust Stories') Radhika Apte's predominant protagonist role worked really well as her character had depth, emotion and was sympathetic much like Emily Blunt's character in 'Sicario'. Once again, Apte was fantastic when it comes to her portrayal and is the right fit as the standard-bearer for the show.

Conclusion: Overall, GHOUL is not your conventional horror thriller crowded with jump-scares and meaningless jolts, it reinvents the genre and tells a significant story enmeshed to Modern Day India. And similar to last year's 'Get Out' (from Blumhouse Productions) it ensured to channel the message effectively, and is a fabulously made mini-series which is worth watching.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Throwback Thursday: A Look Back at Stranger Things S02

Making all the curious viewers and critics dumbstruck, Stranger Things Season 2 is another easy win for The Duffer Brothers. Being a sci-fi-horror tv series, this season gave a whole new image to The Upside Down with a new terrifying entity threatening life at Hawkins.

Unlike Season 1, there is a better weight for every character and the picturization only gets weirder. The music and backgrounds still project the 80's, including kids on bikes fighting demons with the help of Dungeons and dragons, the private Hawkins lab and the unnatural coincidences, but the unpredictability was what that kept me on my toes the whole time. 

Now, it would be rude not to mention the best part of it all, the actors. Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) and Natalia Dyer (Nancy) have a lot more in store for us and are amazing with their performances while Winona Ryder as Mrs. Byers and David Harbour are as natural as they can get. Sadie Sink (Madmax) gains special attention with her shady dysfunctional family background and we can only expect more of this newbie in Season 3. 

I didn't find any weaknesses except maybe a few unnecessary scenes where characters didn't quite add up to the main storyline but it was conveniently overshadowed by the brilliant plot twists and screenplay. Overall, the series is definitely stranger and scarier than the first one and easily becomes a must watch for sci-fi lovers and binge-watchers out there!

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Brij Mohan Amar Rahe Review: Atrocious!

Starring – Arjun Mathur
Director – Nikhil Bhat
Genre – Comedy/Crime/Drama
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Starring Arjun Mathur in the lead role, Brij Mohan Amar Rahe is the latest addition to Netflix's young catalog of Indian Originals and is coming off the enormous success of Sacred Games which garnered an immense following in the Indian community. The storyline of the movie explores the character of Brij Mohan (Arjun Mathur), a charlatan, and a hustler who can't stop avoiding complications in his chaotic life. After a while, the problems get so far up his ass he decides to fake his own death which creates much more disputes.

Rationalization: Oh boy! Let me start by saying this, this movie is horrible, and undoubtedly one of the worsts I've seen this year. The reason why I'm confident calling this film a disaster is because I can't recollect anything happened and that's an early sign of a trainwreck. The storyline tried to sketch this silly crime-comedy element, and it didn't work out for even a single scene. The jokes fell flat and were unhumorous, and the satire that the writer tried to infuse quickly floundered in the messy screenplay and there's nothing more to say.

However, I should give props to Arjun Mathur for at least trying and giving his best to justify his character that had a good dynamic but was frittered away in a bad movie. The other characters including Brij's wife, girlfriend, enemies had very little to explore and were nothing significant.

Conclusion: Overall, Brij Mohan Amar Rahe is most definitely one of the worst films I've seen this year, and it breaks my heart to say that cause I wanted to support independent cinema and Netflix Indian Originals, but this is just atrocious. Skip it and move on with your life.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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