Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster


A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.


Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

The answer to the question of the film title: WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? is Antarctica.  Bernadette (Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett) is seen at the film’s start kayaking along in waters with icebergs in the background.  What led to this scene?  The film flashes back the story 5 weeks earlier to explain the series events leading to this.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a mystery comedy drama that has two things going for it.  First is the film’s director Richard Linklater (BOYHOOD) who has made quite the name for himself as a filmmaker to be reckoned with.  Second is its star Cate Blanchett who is the main reason to see the movie.  Blanchett is nothing short of excellent, supported by an equally apt Kirsten Wiig playing Audrey her woman-made enemy.

The film is based on the recent bestseller of the same name by Maria Semple – with a few changes.  The novel could be described as unfilmmable as it consists of a series of emails and texts, so to Linklater’s credit, he has done an excellent job with his script.

The book is mostly narrated by Bee who is the daughter of Bernadette but the film makes Bernadette the main character.  Bernadette is an agropbobic architect  who after considerable success winning the prestigious architecture award in L.A. has moved with husband, Elgin (Billy Crudup) and daughter Bee (Emma Nelson) to Seattle where Bernadette never leaves the family home.  Elgin is an important designer at Microsoft.  All of Bernadette’s chores are done through her cell phone via Anjuli.  When Bee convinces both parents to go on an Antarctic cruise, Bernadette tries to come up with any excuse not to go – as she hates people and seldom leaves the house.   There is much more in the plot which should not be disclosed in the review.  But it s safe today that Bernadette runs into a big fight with her neighbour Audrey (Wiig).  When her husband suspects that his wife is having psychological problems, he and assistant, Soo-Lin (Zoe Chao) arrange a meeting to have her committed. This is the Bernadette escapes ending up in Antarctica.

In the book,  Soo-Lin is impregnated by Elgin, but this is not the case in the film.  Bernadette suspects he husband of liking Soo-Lin but that is it and there is no infidelity unless one can argue that it could be implied.  This simplifies the story which is already quite complicated with too many subplots.

The script is a little too heavy on the dialogue.  The voiceover, and dialogue from all the characters appear too perfect for the typical American, though one can argue that one character is an architect and the other a Microsoft genius.  The script sneaks in quite the few world issues like environmental conservation, climate change and feminine presence.  As in recent films such as Alfonso Cuaron’s ROMA and the recent THE KITCHEN where it is said: “we women have to stick together.”, the statement is realized in the segment when the enemy Audrey bonds and ends up aiding Bernadette when her husband plans to commit her.  A woman is also in charge of the Antarctic Station.

Stay for the ending credits where the design of the Antarctic station comes alive in front of he audience’s eyes.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE ends up an over-bloated dysfunctional family drama that is ultimately resolved in a somewhat entertaining film.



TIFF 2017 Movie Review: DOWNSIZING (USA 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Downsizing Poster

A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.


Alexander Payne


Matt DamonChristoph WaltzHong Chau

DOWNSIZING, a film combining several genres offers the solution to the world’s problem of overpopulation.

If people can be reduced in size to a thousandth of their original, many of the world problems could be solved. People will only eat, use and dispose much, much less product. When science finally achieved the success of downsizing, many colonies were begun.

So, Matt Damon and wife opt to be reduced and live in their new reduced size colony for monetary benefit. Things never go as expected, as in a similar film long time back in Michael Crichton’s sci-fi WESTWORLD.

DOWNSIZING contains a script written by Payne and Jim Taylor that is occasionally brilliant with lots of attention to details. The film does not go into thriller territory but into more ambitious aims. Payne’s social satire does not fully work and ends up too ambitious for its own good.

Still, the film is engaging from start to finish to a large part to Damon’s performance with help from a host of impressive stars (Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis, Alec Baldwin, and Neil Patrick Harris). Better a film that with high aims that falters that a minimalist film with no faults.

The special effects and cinematography are also amazing. Shot in Toronto and around the fiords of Norway.


Film Review: DESPICABLE ME 3 (USA 2017) ***

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DESPICABLE ME 3Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.

Directors: Eric Guillon, Kyle Balda
Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker

Review by Gilbert Seah
There are two attractive ingredients in the DESPICABLE ME animated features. One is the super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) or now ex-super villain Gru now working for the AVL (Anti-Villain League). The other are the adorable mumbling Minions. If one is not entertaining one enough, the other strive to be.

The film opens not with the Minions or Gru but with the story of a new super villain named Balthazar Bratt (voiced by South Park’s co-creator Trey Parker). Bratt was a former child actor who portrayed a young super villain in a popular television series before the show was cancelled as a result of his puberty and his waning popularity. This led to him adopting his former persona to become an actual super villain (complete with 80’s eraser head haircut and fashion). Bratt is out to steal the world’s most expensive diamond, in order to fuel his robot invention to destroy Hollywood as revenge, but along arrive Gru and wife (Kristen Wiig) to stop him.

It is obvious that DESPICABLE ME pays homage to the PINK PANTHER films. For one, Inspector Clouseau was French as is director Coffin and the diamond is unashamedly coloured pink. When the diamond is in show, the music comes on, though not with the famous Henry Mancini tune, but with Michael Jackson’s BAD in this case. As Bratt steals the diamond, he moonwalks Michael Jackson style to the diamond.

The main story of DESPICABLE ME 3 involves Gru and Lucy fired from the AVL owing to their failure in capturing Bratt. The others are subplots – quite a number of them – ties in with this event. One of these are the minions who want Gry to go back being a villain. The Minions also have the talent of showing up anywhere and everywhere during the movie. Kids love this, as observed during the film’s promo screening. The kids would scream out every time (adults beware!) the little darlings appear. The subplots involve Lucy bonding with her three adoptive children. The main one involves Gru meeting up with his newly found brother (also voiced by Carell), a more flamboyant character, thanks to his mother (voiced by no less than Julie Andrews).

But with all the subplots including the main story, the film strugglers to create very funny moments or high points that would make this sequel memorable over the others (including THE MINIONS) or even over the other Illumination Entertainment animation like THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS.

The film appropriate premiered at the Annecy International International Film Festival, director Pierre Coffin being French as such. The film opens this weekend alongside two other comedies THE HOUSE and BABY DRIVER and though will face stiff competition should do well at the box-office this weekend coming off at number 1. It also helps that there are countless Minion fans, both adult and kids around the world that will forgive an average DESPICABLE ME sequel, which is very much what this one is. DESPICABLE 3 is good, predictable, harmless family fun.


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Happy Birthday: Kristen Wiig

kristenwiig.jpgKristen Wiig

Born: August 22, 1973 in Canandaigua, New York, USA

It’s a mystery to me what makes people laugh.

I love the rain. It’s my favorite weather.

At parties, I’ll start talking and notice everyone is looking at me and feel dumb and say, ‘Forget it,’ and then start eating things.

If you’re creating anything at all, it’s really dangerous to care about what people think.

I can relate to having those people in your life that you feel are moving on to this great, big, normal life and you’re like, ‘What’s wrong with me?’

Movie Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016). Direted by Paul Feig

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ghostbusters_2016GHOSTBUSTERS (USA 2016) ***1/2

Directed by Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

Review by Gilbert Seah

It took tons of effort and luck before GHOSTBUSTERS could be get this fresh look on the screen. The original 1984 hit version is best remembered as a classic that should not be tempered with. The original 4 that made GHOSTBUSTERS in 1984 including the late Harold Ramis who died in 1984 made a pact that no more GHOSTBUSTERS movie could be made unless all agreed. Bill Murray was the one who objected to all the previous scripts till this one written by Katie Dippold (THE HEAT) and championed by Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS). Bill Murray has a cameo as a supernatural activity debunker. And many loyal fans were upset that the film is given a female cast instead.

The film begins with an impressive opening sequence with a tour guide played by TV SILICON VALLEY’s Zach Woods explaining some paranormal behaviour before poltergeists appear. The story then moves on to professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) who reunites with friends (Melissa McCarthy, Kate Mckinnon) to rid NYC of a ghost invasion. The film contains no boring romances, no life lessons or unnecessary drama – just plain silly fun with a female twist.

GHOSTBUSTERS runs out of steam at parts but the audience knows that another funny part will arrive just around the corner. A lot of the humour is provided by the 4 main actresses, who for the most part work well together to keep the laughs coming fast and furious. McKinnon is the most manic of the four, playing the scientist inventor, whose technical gibberish can hardly be understood at times. But who cares? Though Wiig plays the most serious of the four, the professor who loses tenure and has to return to fighting ghosts, she provides a good number of laughs. In fact, the film’s two funniest laugh-out jokes come from her, in the segment where she is manically runs to warn the mayor (Andy Garcia) having dinner of the ghost invasion. McCarthy overdoes it as usual. She does look funny in her oversized jumpsuit, showing that she is game in having a good time. One can get too much of her, while one wishes there is more of Leslie Jones, the reluctant subway employee who joins the group.

The special effects work well. A number of ghosts look like the ones from the original. But the film might be too scary for younger children.
The new GHOSTBUSTERS at least learns from the original. The script by Katie Dippold improves while it can. The original theme song recorded by Ray Parker, Jr. back in the day that was the number 1 hit that stayed on on the billboard for 3 weeks is used at various points in the movie, obviously both reminding and reviving audience’s fond memories. Improvements in the film include adding a human villain, the one that opens the portal for the ghosts. Another is the addition of a new character, Kevin (THOR’s Chris Hemsworth) the male equivalent of the pretty dumb blonde secretary. Kevin has major problems answering the telephone while carrying on normal duties, creating more problems when he becomes possessed. Hemsworth displays a surprising flair for comedy and dance.

GHOSTBUSTERS definitely pleases as evident during the promo screening I attended. It takes quite a lot to both getting the audience to applaud as well as to stay for the closing credits.



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Movie Review: ZOOLANDER 2 (USA 2016) ***

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zoolander_2ZOOLANDER 2 (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Ben Stiller

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Christine Taylor

Review by Gilbert Seah

ZOOLANDER and ZOOLANDER 2 are milder versions of Sasha Baron Cohen’s BRUNO which are still pretty wild for most audiences unfamiliar with films like these that satirize the fashion/modelling industry.

It took a while, 15 years, since the first ZOOLANDER (2001) also directed by Ben Stiller hit the screens. It has been a long wait – the stars have grown older, and the plot makes use of the fact. Whatever goes on in the movie does not make much sense, but famous pop stars are being killed as they are protecting the Chosen One. “You can’t kill us all.” utters Justin Bieber, the 6th pop star killed in a year, before he kicks the bucket after posing on Instagram. Even Madonna has struck her last pose! Who is the Chosen One and who is the villain? As outrageous as the plot is, the twist is even more outrageous than anything found in any film in a while. Hilarious? It is in a way if one sits back and ponder over what has occurred. The script, by no less than 4 writers including Stiller, Justin Theroux (the writer of AMERICAN PSYCHO who also appears in the film as an evil DJ) is actually hilarious, though it might not seem so on first appearance. Perhaps ZOOLANDER 2 should be seen a second time to digest the mayhem on screen.

So, the not-so bright Zoolander (Stiller) is drawn out of recluse together with fellow model, Hansel (Owen Wilson). The villain is Mugatu (Will Farrell hamming it up, the most he can ever muster), engineering his escape from fashion prison. (Don’t ask!)

Not everything is original in the film. A lot of the jokes are similar to ZOOLANDER 1 and the ending sexy cat fight between two beauties, Penelope Cruz and Milla Jovovich, to the delight of all the males watching is way too similar to the scene from the French film (that did not get released here), OSS 117 NEST OF SPIES, directed by THE ARTIST’s Michel Hazanavicius.

The star cameo list is staggering. They include Bieber and real life fashion icons, Valentino, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Anna Wintour. The trouble is that these icons are not immediately recognizable, but their names are emphasized at least so audiences know who they are. Of the recognizable star cameos, Susan Sarandon (doing a ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW routine), Milla Jovovich, Macaulay Culkin, Billy Zane, Katy Perry, Sting and Neil deGrasse Tyson strut their stuff, all playing themselves. But the best of these belong to Benedict Cumberbatch who surprises as he plays All, a transgender looking super model so full of himself that he marries himself.

ZOOLANDER 2 plays like a spy spoof as well as a satire of the fashion/model industry. Hate it or love it, my partner best described the film as “not that funny but sill entertaining.” Yes, and the film has lots of energy! But audiences not in the know might be totally bewildered at the goings-on!

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