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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is wholesome teenage fantasy. It tells the story of Lara Jean (played by Lana Condor), a sweet and shy girl who develops crushes very easily but struggles to actually make connections with boys. This will be a bittersweet memory for many, and a fresh of breath air for current teenagers frustrated watching media feed them ideas of breezy confident teens engaging in casual sex (which is fine and real but not the reality for all). Watching this film is akin to curling up with a hot drink at a sleepover and finding out that you’re not as different as you thought.

The film doesn’t ridicule or sneer at its characters, unfortunately this is a rarity for media aimed at teenage girls! We recognise young girls as a lucrative demographic but boy do we hate em for it. Director Susan Johnson deftly explores LJ’s urge to make a connection and by the end we understand that losing her mother young has given Lara Jean a fear of loss so strong that she can’t let any of her crushes get close. There are visual separations and frames throughout the first half of the film to reflect the distance LJ fiercely maintains, this gradually breaks down and the colour palette moves from gentle pastels to sharp vibrant blues and reds when Lara Jean and Peter (Noah Centineo) finally kiss. It’s a well-constructed film which accounts for its mass popularity.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a great example of American-Vietnamese representation. Because Lara Jean and her sisters just exist as American-Vietnamese people, it’s there but it’s not signposted constantly because it’s just part of who they are, an aspect of their experience – which is how whiteness and white characters relationship with race is always portrayed.

 

Director: Bong Joon-ho Starring: Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhall, Steven Yeun Running Time: 120 minutes


As the medium of film is explored further and further, filmmakers are discovering new and innovative ways to tell the stories that they want to tell. As a result, larger and more complex themes can be explored in 90-120 minute segments at a level that was never thought possible. Over the past few years, science fiction and animation have been able to tell us more about our humanity and morality than most other genres: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Pixar’s Up explored what it meant to be lonely, Wall-E offered a glimpse into the trajectory and repercussions of modern western lifestyles, District 9 explored social stratification under the facade of an action movie, and 2001: A Space Odyssey explored mankind itself… period! Taking all of this into account, it shouldn’t really surprise you to know that Bong Joon-Ho’s (The Host, Snowpiercer) newest movie Okja revolves around a giant, mutant, grey pig, yet tackles such themes as consumerism, capitalism and greed. What will surprise you, however, is just how spectacularly beautiful the movie is.

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Director: Chris McCoy Starring: Zoey Deutch, Nicholas Braun, Mateo Arias, Israel Broussard Running time: 86 minutes

Netflix has recently added Good Kids, an indie summer-before-college film that was released last year (2016). Unlike many films about teenagers, the characters could actually be real people. They speak realistically, they dress realistically (but still feel connected to the aesthetic of the film) and they go to parties that feel like a big deal without being Generation-X level ridiculous. The whole film just comes across as genuine, while still being compelling to watch (which indie can unfortunately struggle with!) Good Kids is a funny, sweet take on the ‘quarter-life crisis’.

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If you’re like us you’ve been making your way through the latest Netflix show Stranger ThingsIt’s combination of Spielberg style charm and John Carpenter style mood have created a hit that we just can’t help binge-watching. Opening in Irish cinemas August 26th is Irish documentary Strange Occurences In A Small Irish Village, Aoife Kelleher’s look at life in the religious pilgrimage site of Knock, Co. Mayo. And, well, both these things have the word ‘strange’ in the title, which is honestly a stronger basis for a mash-up video than you usually see on the internet. Check out this ‘trailer’ that combines the two here:

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