Edge of Seventeen (2016)

When I randomly clicked on this movie on my personal TV on the flight back from vacation, I didn’t expect to be rewarded with such a touching, realistic picture. Edge of Seventeen is a coming-of-age movie centered on Nadine Franklin, who suffers from depression after the death of her father. It is a fresh yet down-to-earth film that depicts a very relatable character, one whom we can empathize with.

By age seven, Nadine’s (Hailee Steinfeld) family begins to drift apart. There are vast differences between her and her brother: while her brother is good-looking, open, and popular, Nadine is dorky, shy, and closed off. Nadine’s mother Mona clearly prefers her brother Darian over her, and Nadine’s only allies are her father and her best friend Krista, whom she meets on the playground one day.

At age thirteen, however, her dad passes away from a heart attack when he and Nadine are driving in the car, eating fast food.

One night when Nadine and Krista are both seventeen, they decide to get drunk, and Nadine feels betrayed when she finds her best friend in bed with her brother. Darian and Krista strike up a relationship, leaving Nadine feeling alone. She continues to wallow in her self-hatred, but there are people in her life willing to be her allies. And gradually, with their help, she begins to open up for the first time in her life.

Hailee Steinfeld’s brilliant performance only makes this movie all the more touching. It is shockingly realistic, with an extremely relatable character who struggles through the same emotional turmoils that we often deal with ourselves. We all have our own fair share of problems, and we must never learn to judge others until we know the full story– Nadine’s mother, Mona, disliked her own daughter because she couldn’t understand her– because she didn’t know the suffering Nadine went through after her father’s death.

Edge of Seventeen shows that there are people in the world willing to help– and that, despite the darkness that may plague our lives everyday, we must constantly reach for the light that is within ourselves that that is within our friends.

 

Wonder Woman (2017)

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I have always been a big fan of strong female characters, in both books and film. And I have to say that Wonder Woman completely met my demands for a movie that depicted a powerful female lead, as well as a powerful female cast. Here, the knight is a woman, sending a message to the world: that we can be heroes just as well as men can be.

In the present day, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) receives an email from fellow secret hero Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) that contains an image of her in her Wonder Woman garb, standing among friends.

Born of clay, young Diana spent her days with her fellow Amazonians, women warriors created by Zeus to protect the world from Ares. Here we can already see the movie’s casting of female heroes, while the main villain is a man. Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) believes that Ares will not return (after his first defeat by Zeus a long time ago) and does not allow Diana to be trained. However, Diana, stubborn from even a young age, learns in secret from Hippolyta’s sister General Antiope (Robin Wright).

Soon Diana grows to become a young adult and has properly mastered the fighting skills of the Amazons. One day, a man washes up on shore, swimming from a crash landing. He reveals himself to be Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), but before they can know each other well Germans come onto the island as well, in pursuit of Steve, who is actually a World War I spy for the British.

A fight ensues between the Amazonians and the Germans, in which Antiope is killed. Steve is taken by the women and is interrogated, forced to spit out the truth when bound by the Lasso of Hestia. He details the ongoings of World War I in the world, and how he stole a valuable notebook from the brilliant German scientist Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya), also known as Doctor Poison, who was attempting to engineer a deadly mustard gas. Diana believes that Ares is responsible for the war and arms herself, preparing to venture into the world with Steve to stop him.

The duo arrive in London, and Diana has trouble fitting in, with her outrageous costume and ridiculous weapons. They successfully deliver the notebook to Steve’s superiors. Among them is Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), who is currently trying to negotiate diplomatically with Germany. Upon delivery, the Allies discover that the Germans, lead by the evil General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston), are preparing to release the gas at the warfront. Supported by Sir Patrick, Steve and Diana, along with a couple of friends, head to the front, in Belgium, to stop the Germans.

Naive and ignorant about the true darkness of warfare, Diana is shocked to see the poverty and the hurt the people are suffering from as a result of the fighting. She is outraged, as one should be, and demands to go into battle without a plan. Steve tries to hold her back, but Diana charges out and pushes along the German lines, inspiring the Allied soldiers to move out from the trench and fight behind her. They end up saving the village and celebrate.

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A photo taken during the celebration, which was later resent to Diana by Bruce Wayne.

The group learns about a gala that is taking place in the German High Command. Steve infiltrates it, aiming to find and destroy the gas, while the rest of the group wait in the woods. Fed up with having to stay without being able to help, Diana steals a woman’s dress and goes to the party herself. She attempts to follow Ludendorff and kill him, believing that he is Ares. Steve stops her, and the General manages to get away, ordering a release of mustard gas upon the village, killing all its inhabitants.

Furious at Steve, Diana leaves by herself to follow Ludendorff to a military base with all the gas. She manages to kill him, but strangely this does not stop the war. Confused, Diana feels defeated and does not leave with Steve to help with the rest of the war. However, Sir Patrick Morgan appears suddenly and reveals himself to be Ares, and tells her that although he whispered suggestions and inspirations within peoples’ ears, it was ultimately mankind that caused the fighting amongst themselves. He also reveals that Diana is the proclaimed Godkiller, as she is a deity herself (the youngest child of Zeus), and thus capable of slaughtering another god.

Meanwhile, Steve sacrifices himself by blowing up the plane containing the mustard gas while in the air. Enraged, Diana fights Ares. Ares tries to channel Diana’s anger by getting her to kill Dr. Maru, but Steve’s heroic act reminds Diana that humans still have goodness within them. She allows Dr. Maru to escape and manages to kill Ares, and the war stops.

Presently, Diana has taken residence amongst humankind and keeps a low profile. However, upon Bruce’s email, she decides to continue her duty as Wonder Woman, implying a future with the Justice League.

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Women can be warriors just as well as men.

Wonder Woman shows how women can be just as strong as men. They have the same capabilities to be heroic or evil, just like men; Wonder Woman a hero, while Dr. Maru is evil, and Steve is a hero, while General Ludendorff is evil. It does not serve to show the superiority of a gender, but instead advocates for equality between both. For anyone looking for an inspirational, powerful film, Wonder Woman is a must-watch.

Forrest Gump (1994)

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Forrest Gump is my all-time favorite movie, and one that I’ve watched countless times. It has brought me to tears and has made me laugh over and over again, and it never gets old with each reviewing.

In the present, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) is waiting at the bus stop to ride to a particular destination. While sitting, various people join him, and he recounts his life story as they listen.

Unintelligent, and born needing leg braces, Forrest’s childhood is constantly hindered by people’s judgment. His mother goes to great lengths to give him a good education, and his only friend is a girl whom he meets on his first day of school and falls in love with, Jenny Curan (Robin Wright). One miraculous day, Forrest and Jenny are walking in the woods when three bullies give chase to Forrest; Jenny tells him to run and he does, resulting in his leg braces breaking, which allows him to sprint away.

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Forrest and Jenny stick together all throughout high school. Forrest is constantly badgered by the boys who pick on him, who now chase him in a truck. While running to evade the bullies, Forrest’s running skills catches the attention of a college football coach who happens to be nearby, scouting for players. Forrest then receives a football scholarship to the University of Alabama.

Meanwhile, Jenny also attends college at an all-girls university. She is eventually expelled for her troubles and Forrest goes on to graduate, and subsequently enlists in the military. There, he meets Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue. Shortly after their training, both are sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Forrest agrees to join Bubba and his family in the shrimping business after the war is over. However, in the midst of a fight, Bubba is killed. Forrest saves many men in his platoon, including Lieutenant Dan, who, afterwards, was furious at him for doing so; it was his destiny, he claimed, to die on the battlefield. Dan’s legs are amputated, and Forrest is awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

While in recovery, Forrest discovers his talent in ping-pong and begins to play competitively, eventually becoming a celebrity and going on to play against the Chinese team.

At a Vietnam War-protest in D.C., Forrest reunites with Jenny, who has begun living life as a hippie, and has been doing her own travels. She then boards a bus, leaving Forrest behind once more. They continue their lives separately: Forrest enters into the shrimping business with Lieutenant Dan, while Jenny embraces the counterculture life.

It is revealed that Forrest is waiting for the bus to see Jenny. Once they reunite again, he meets her son, Forrest Jr., who is named after his father. Jenny proposes to Forrest and they marry, and she passes away a while later.

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My favorite scene from the movie was the hug between Forrest and Jenny in front of the Washington Monument– cheesy as it sounds, it brings me to tears every time. An inspirational, deeply moving and deeply thoughtful picture, Forrest Gump examines the aspects of love, hope, friendship, and warfare in life. Forrest encourages all of us to make the best out of life, and to each enjoy our own box of chocolates.You may not know what you’re going to get– but in the end, they’re all sweet.

 

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is truly a touching coming-of-age drama. I’ve always been a sucker for heartfelt movies, but this one particularly stood out to me. This film has a vastly optimistic view on life, and teaches us all to appreciate what we have. With its lively characters and colorful plot, we join Charlie as he navigates through life, learning about the joys of love, friendship, music, and writing.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) has always been a socially awkward teen, a “wallflower.” Suffering from depression, he has only recently been discharged from the hospital, and sets out to live a normal teenage life. While he is lonely during his first few days of high school, two charismatic kids, Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) notice him alone one day and take him into their friend group. From there, Charlie beings to grow, transgressing his mental illness and coming out to fully embrace and enjoy life. While not all of the things he tried and experienced were pleasant, they contributed to his change and emergence as a new and worldly person.

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Before high school, Charlie had seen a lot of sadness– the death of his aunt, as well as the suicide of his best friend, and the abusive relationship of his sister with her boyfriend. He came from a dark place, and couldn’t not see the pain that people went through. However, when Sam and Patrick befriend him, they show him a very different perspective on life. Instead of dwelling on the past, they lived in the moment. Sam even dares to climb out of the truck and stand in the back while Patrick drives, holding out her arms and feeling the wind blow through her hair. While they both have their own share of problems and homework, they still find the time to attend big parties and treasure the small moments– and slowly, their philosophy brushes off onto Charlie, and us as well.

‘Wallflower is a movie that many people can relate to. We’ve all been the wallflower, the observer, at some point– but we need to learn to step out of our comfort zone to truly appreciate and experience all that life has to offer, to find a place for ourselves in the world. There are people– nice people– who can and are willing to help us through our difficulties– but only if we make our difficulties known. Of all the pain in the world, we must believe that there is always more good. We must believe that the day will get better, and it will– but only if you’re willing make it so.

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So next time, don’t be afraid to stretch out your arms, and feel the wind blow through your hair. Brave through life with a smile on your face and your friends by your side. Emerge victorious from each battle. Don’t let the negatives you experience hold you back from being who you are. Embrace the happiness in each moment, and enjoy the feeling of infinity.