Kirshner’s Movie Reviews Part 3

Jaden Kirshner, Movie Reviewer

Sorry about the hiatus, but I am back! In this article, I decided to condense my suggestions to accomodate for the increase in school work. Hope you enjoy these recommendations!


During the week- Teen Comedy

Eighth Grade (2018)

Rating: R

Plot: Introverted teenage girl Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before she becomes a highschooler.

Review: This movie, subtlety filled with style and ingenious filmmaking, still manages to candidly portray the awkwardness and cringe that happens in middle school. Director and writer Bo Burnham was already a well acclaimed comedian and performer, but this film proved that he is more than just a comedian. From the casting focused on finding talented actors not big names, to Kayla breaking the fourth wall with her diary entries, everything about this film feels realistic and deeply personal. The film is full of teenage comedy motifs, but is still unique on so many levels. The problems our protagonist faces are not just the stereotypical boy problems, but she has to overcome a diverse range of obstacles like her cold relationship with her father, and her lack of pride in her true self. A funny, relatable, and modern piece of cinema that truly succeeds because of the quirky characters that the audience can not take their eyes away from.


Friday- Unique Movie

The Illusionist (2006)

Rating: PG-13

Plot: In turn of the century Vienna, Eisenheim the magician (Edward Norton) uses his abilities to secure his love for a Duchess (Jessica Biel) who is expected to marry the tyrannical Crown Prince (Rufus Sewell).

Review: As a magician myself and an avid lover of magic, you may think that this recommendation is biased. On the contrary, this movie is so unlike any film I have ever seen, that I can not even describe what genre it is in. Speaking with my magician hat on, this is a jaw dropping film because of its elegant recreations of magic tricks performed during the 19th century. Speaking with my movie critic hat on, this film rarely missed a beat in its story, tone, or visuals. Speaking with both hats on, it was amazing to see the use of these old magic tricks to advance the plot, create conflict, and reveal character. For instance, when Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) tries to arrest Eisenheim for his misuse of magic, the scene quickly turns into one grand illusion. Even with its historic feel and unique qualities, this film still adheres to what makes magic movies so great. The film itself is a masterfully constructed magic trick.


Weekend- Action thriller

Joy Ride (2001)

Rating: R

Plot: Lewis (Paul Walker), his girlfriend Venna (Leelee Sobieski), and his brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) embark on a road trip from Colorado to New Jersey. However, their fun adventure takes a dark turn when they anger a psychotic trucker over their CB radio.

Review: There is a saying that a movie is only as good as the acting in it, but this movie definitely proves that saying wrong. The three leads have great stage presence and chemistry together, but their overall performances are dry, stiff, and at times cringey. Even though the acting is not great, the gritty style and road trip feel of the movie create an aesthetic where the bad acting does not ruin this amazing movie. So much of this film’s greatness lies in the villain, the editing, and the visuals. Rusty Nail, the villain of the film, is a psychotic serial killer who is always one step ahead of our protagonists. His cunning, menacing, and evil ways of attacking the heros, accumulates to one of the most suspenseful ending scenes ever. Nonetheless, much of the film’s intensity is carried by the editing. The editing is fast paced without being choppy, and it efficiently presents information without giving too much away. Nonetheless, my favorite part of this film is its visuals. For a movie with B movie type acting, the use of bright colors and darkness unsettles the audience in a way that ironically feels masterful. Go in with the expectation that this movie is not an Oscar type film, and you will enjoy it for all it is.


Other movies to watch:

WarGames (1983)- Rated PG

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)- Rated PG-13

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)- Rated R