Everything, Everything

Book adaptations can be a hit or miss in film, especially for young adult novels. Often times it is difficult to do a story justice when adapting it for the big screen, a transition that tends to lose the essence of a novel. Some young adult adaptations have been successful, few that come to mind include The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Others not so much. I read Nicola Yoon’s novel Everything, Everything recently in anticipation of the film. While not particularly groundbreaking, the book itself was pretty enjoyable. I am afraid I cannot say the same for the film.

Based on Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel of the same name, Everything, Everything tells the story of Madeleine Whittier (Amandla Stenberg), an 18-year-old girl who has spent her whole life confined to her home as a result of her severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). When the effervercent Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, Madeleine’s life changes as she discovers the life outside that is calling to her to live it.

This adaptation could have been better. Much, much better. I was extremely disappointed with the screenplay, which gave a talented cast very little to work with. Amandla Stenberg is perfectly cast as Madeleine, but any pauses she gives or perceived lack of chemistry between her and Nick Robinson can be attributed to a poor script. It felt like bits and pieces of the novel were patched together quickly to make a rough outline of a story slightly resembling Nicola Yoon’s. Thus, large gaps were left that easily could have been filled. The film only runs at an hour and 36 minutes, and while I’m not saying it needs to go overboard, time should not have been an issue when crafting the story and dialogue.

The lack of development between the characters was disappointing. The relationships between Madeleine and her mother as well as Olly and his father were not built up enough. Olly’s introduction and interactions with Madeleine felt extremely rushed, along with most of the film. Characters scarcely mentioned in the novel were given unnecessary screen time, while others barely anything. Small details that should have been easy to include were left out for no apparent reason. The pacing of the film was so quick that I failed to become invested in what was going on.

While I do appreciate some additions to the structure, such as Madeleine and Olly acting out their phone conversations in the architecture models, the majority of the film simply felt weak. Again the cast was talented and Stenberg held up her scenes well, but the script could have provided some much more developed and touching interactions between the characters. Filling up the gaps with missing dialogue and scenes could have better rounded out the film. While its target teenage girl audience will most likely fall for the film and it’s attempted charm, others not so into young melodramatics might not be as pleased.

ALL IN ALL: Everything, Everything fails to offer anything new to the genre, with a rushed and patchy screenplay that provides little development for well cast characters.

Everything, Everything 2 out of 5 ticket stubs 

Director: Stella Meghie

Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera

Run time: 1 hr 36 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

 

Wonder Woman

This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

If I’m going to be truthful, I have to admit: I am a bit tired of superhero movies. Not to say I don’t enjoy all of them, sometimes watching a superhero movie brings everyone together for a fun time. My problem is that there is simply too much nowadays. More and more heroes are being picked from the comics to have their own films and franchises with multiple contract deals and crossovers. After a while it is hard to keep track of and follow. The stories tend to feel too similar and follow the same formula. None of these films have stuck with me, until now. Not until the story of Diana Prince finally graced the silver screen. Wonder Woman is the superhero movie we needed.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (played by Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, who has been trained since childhood to be a great warrior. Her sheltered life on the island of Themyscira abruptly ends when a pilot (played by Chris Pine) crashes on the shore and tells of a “war to end all wars” going on in the outside world. Diana must leave her home and discover her true powers in order to end the war and save all people.

Right from the start it is clear that this is not your average superhero movie. Right down to even the posters, which show Wonder Woman in strong, dominant poses, the film portrays the character as nothing else but a fighter, a hero. It’s not about the fact that she is a woman, though it is both important and sad that this is the first female-led superhero film, the first to be directed by a woman at that. The film focuses instead on Diana’s journey to becoming the famed Wonder Woman. In the end, it is Diana discovering her true powers and destiny that help her become who she is and help her overcome the struggles she faces while fighting both her small and big enemies. How inspiring it is, to see such a strong woman single handedly run through no mans land from the trenches of war, fired at constantly with bullets as she deflects them all and fights back. The result is one of the most breathtaking sequences in modern-day action film.

What sets Wonder Woman apart from the other DC comic films, that have not exactly been met with the same universal praise and success? First I believe having a female director makes a world of a difference, someone who can successfully guide a film to focus on a woman’s strength and ability. Patty Jenkins direction is fantastic. Second comes down to basic storytelling. Wonder Woman’s story execution is flawless. The film explores Diana’s past, with rich characters that shape her character, while also introducing new ones to transition her into the next phases of her battle. The steady but quick pacing allows for just the right amount of exposition and action to create a balance between the two that other DC and superhero films have previously lacked. Nonetheless the story still manages to provide humor, heart, and surprises all while incorporating stunning action sequences. Seriously the action sequences are amazing.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. There is no one else more perfect for the role. She is able to seamlessly blend both her lovable innocence and naivety as someone new to the human world with her warrior strength and intelligence. She views the world with a childlike curiosity and a heart that believes in the inner goodness of people. Gal’s Diana is a symbol of love, truth, and justice and it is a pleasure to watch it all unfold on-screen. Chris Pine is great in the film too, as the American pilot who acts as Diana’s link to the outside world as well as her love interest. Pine acted as the perfect supporting character to Diana with strong chemistry between the two. They played off each other perfectly.

I loved seeing Diana’s childhood and training on the island with the Amazons as well as her action packed war scenes, but perhaps what I appreciated most was Diana’s battle within herself. Her quest for justice was only made stronger when she realized the true power she held inside. Wonder Woman is the perfect superhero movie. The story, performances, direction, and action all made for an enjoyable and inspiring film that can be appreciated by all audiences. Wonder Woman is the superhero we have been waiting for and I cannot wait to see what is in store for her. I recommend everyone to go see the film!

ALL IN ALL: Wonder Woman packs a punch with fantastic action, humor, and heart.

Wonder Woman 5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston

Run Time: 2 hrs 21 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

image from: http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/wonder-woman#image-34095

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s summertime so of course it is the season for action-packed fun in the sun movies! Now the most recent installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series came out last month in May but I feel it is the perfect kind of movie on a summer day. It’s funny and fresh and a whole lot of fun, which is why I am giving it my Ticket Stub Love stamp of approval.

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has the Guardians back as they continue to struggle to work together as a family while traveling throughout the cosmos. The mystery of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s true parentage comes into play and sets things in motion for new alliances, betrayals, and of course mix tapes.

I think one of the great things about Guardians is that it’s not like other Marvel movies. It’s funnier and more clever, with stories that keep you entertained and casts you grow to love more than the overdone Avengers. That’s what made the first Guardians so great: the fact that it was different. Yes it has a superhero team, but the vibe is completely different. It’s light and colorful with retro tones and humor that can’t be matched. Did I think the second installment lived up to the first? Maybe not. Maybe the story felt a bit like it had been done before and the soundtrack not quite as memorable but it’s still a great film.

The Guardians ensemble is such a strong element of the films. Christ Pratt as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot. Two words: baby groot! Definitely the highlight of the film for me personally. He’s adorable! The film had a solid story but perhaps what I appreciated most was the bigger role for the character Yondu, in a fantastic performance by Michael Rooker. Playing a new character, Kurt Russel brought great charisma and flow. Pom Klementieff was excellent as Mantis and I am excited to see what else is in store for her character in future installments.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is such a fun movie and the laughs never stop. It proves the series once again to be a sure audience pleaser with stunning visuals, lovable characters, and a story that manages to be full of action, humor, and heart all at once. While maybe not as strong as its predecessor, Vol. 2 is one that people of all ages can enjoy and one that I fully recommend.

ALL IN ALL: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, fresh, and fun with its endearing and hilarious ensemble back again with plenty of action and even more heart.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 4.5 /5 Ticket Stubs 

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Baustista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff

Run Time: 2 hrs 16 min, rated PG-13

Year: 2017

Beauty and the Beast

The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I love the original Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 classic animated film has my favorite Disney princess Belle, but only recently have I begun to regard it as possibly my favorite Disney film. Which is why when they first announced the live action remake almost two maybe three years ago, I was absolutely thrilled. I marked March 2017 in my calendar and waited years for this film which has now finally arrived. So much waiting may have heightened my expectations just a bit as I began to feel a bit apprehensive about seeing the film and feeling underwhelmed. I have to say though, I had a magical and fun time watching Beauty and the Beast and I am sure audience everywhere will too.

Adapted from the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of intelligent and beautiful Belle (Emma Watson) who is taken prisoner in the enchanted castle of a fearsome Beast (Dan Stevens). Though at first at odds, Belle learns to look beyond the Beast’s monstrous exterior and into the kind heart and soul of the prince inside.

Beauty and the Beast was able to achieve a delicate balance between old and new. While many of the scenes and even lines are directly from the animated film, Beauty and the Beast also incorporated new elements into the story. I personally did not have a problem with the heavy reliance from the source material as I feel the live action remake was made to be faithful to the story and paid excellent homage to the original film. While a bit jarring at times, the new additions to the story brought nice depth to the characters in a novel yet familiar way.

The casting is what this film got right from the very beginning and as a result the performances were all fantastic. Emma Watson was the perfect Belle! I cannot imagine anyone else in the role as she harnessed both the inner beauty and the strength needed to play her character. My only disappointment is that I feel Watson could have brought more emotion to the table during some scenes, especially during the magical “Be Our Guest” number. This girl was just casually smiling like it was another Tuesday! Nevertheless she was great and I found her singing to be refreshing as well. Dan Stevens surprised me as the beast! He remarkably was able to let his character’s tormented yet loving emotions shine through all the CGI. His passion for Belle was absolutely palpable and electric during the Beast’s new and original ballad “Evermore”, a highlight of the film for me personally.

The supporting cast was flawless as well. Luke Evans simply was Gaston! I loved his confident performance as well his on-screen partnership with Josh Gad’s LeFou. While it sometimes felt like I was just watching Josh Gad, well be Josh Gad, he nevertheless brought great humor and surprising heart to his role. I cannot praise the enchanted castle objects enough as well! Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, all wonderful performances that stuck true to their characters.

One of my main concerns for the film before I watched it was the CGI aspect. I had no idea how to visualize all the enchanted characters in a live-action form and was worried the film would come off as coated or even fake. However, I found the CGI to be well done with the Beast and the castle’s many enchanted objects. The sets and visuals in the film were gorgeous! There were times when I felt the film to have an almost awkward feel but I honestly believe it was just trying to get its footing. It is no easy task to bring such a beloved story to the big screen in such a grand way.

Fans of the original animated film may not embrace the new look to the film as well as the additions to the story, but I urge them to keep in mind that it is a remake. It stays faithful but also offers something new to audiences. I went in simply wanting to have a good time and I did! Many times I found myself smiling from ear to ear. From Belle singing on the French country hillside, to the fabulous “Be Our Guest” number, to Belle and the Beast’s first dance, the film reminded me of why I loved the original Beauty and the Beast so much. Children and adults alike are sure to enjoy the film with its blend of romance, adventure, magic, and heart. I bid you to give into the charms of Beauty and the Beast and of course, be our guest!

ALL IN ALL: While staying true to the story and offering new elements and depth, Beauty and the Beast is an enjoyable and magical film with great performances and visuals sure to delight audiences.

Beauty and the Beast 5/5 Ticket Stubs

EDIT: After enjoying this film so much, I decided to go back and watch it again in theaters, this time in IMAX (which is totally worth it by the way). I realized once again that I simply love this movie so much that in an unprecedented move on Ticket Stub Love, I am changing my rating from 4.5 ticket stubs to 5! It’s hard to explain my reasoning, but essentially there was nothing I did not like in this film. I believe the emotions and the experience the film gave me deems it worthy of a full rating!

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline

Run Time: 2hr 10 min, rated PG

Year: 2017

 

 

OSCARS 2017!!!!!!

Welcome to Ticket Stub Love’s official Oscar mega post! Award season may be over but in this post we’re gonna cover everything about Sunday night’s ceremony: from the winners, to the red carpet, to even the biggest Oscar mix up of all time. So without further ado, I give you the 89th Academy Awards!

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Jimmy Kimmel was our host last night and I gotta say, I was less than impressed. Sure he had a few funny bits with Matt Damon such as his “inspirational” segment about Damon’s 2011 film We Bought a Zoo to even playing Damon off the stage when he came to present a few moments later but even those got old. Kimmel often opted to repeat the same jokes about no one watching the nominated films as well as rudely making fun of a few minority names. Kimmel tried hard at Oscar comedy gold with a bit that had unsuspecting tourists brought into the Dolby Theater but even that went on too long and was saved by a hilarious man named Gary from Chicago. Overall Kimmel was a bust as a host and not one I am likely to remember in future Oscars.

For more live action play by plays of the night, check out TSL’s twitter page. Now onto the winners! (check mark ✓ and x mark ✗for my predictions being right or not)

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  • Best picture: Moonlight ✗  We’ll get more into the Best Picture mix up later on in the post!
  • Director: Damien Chazelle- La La Land ✓  
  • Actor in a leading role: Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea ✓  This one really could have gone 50/50 to Denzel Washington for Fences. Not a huge fan of Casey and personally I was rooting for Denzel but if Casey’s performance was better, ok then.
  • Actress in a leading role: Emma Stone- La La Land ✓  I’ve said it before but I do not think Emma Stone’s performance was Oscar worthy. However I really like her in general so I’m still happy for her.
  • Actor in a supporting role: Mahershala Ali- Moonlight ✓  Great speech, great performance, great man. Also the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar!
  • Actress in a supporting role: Viola Davis- Fences ✓  So well deserving and another great speech.
  • Writing (adapted screenplay): Manchester by the Sea 
  • Writing (original screenplay) : Moonlight ✓
  • Animated feature film: Zootopia ✓  YES!
  • Animated Short: Piper 
  • Foreign language film: The Salesman   Very important to note that The Salesman‘s director Asghar Farhadi chose not to attend the ceremony after being previously affected by the Muslim ban.
  • Music (original song): “City of Stars” – La La Land ✓  
  • Music (original score): La La Land ✓  
  • Cinematography: La La Land ✓  
  • Costume design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ✗  So I was rooting for Jackie in this category and really hoping La La Land would not win since the only “costumes” were Emma Stone’s pretty dresses. Didn’t expect Fantastic Beasts but I can attest that the costumes are great in the film thus well deserved.
  • Documentary (feature): OJ: Made in America ✓ 
  • Film editing: Hacksaw Ridge ✗  This one was a tough category! I was expecting La La Land but very happy Hacksaw Ridge got some recognition! Arrival could have won in this one as well.
  • Makeup and hairstyling: Suicide Squad ✗  The fact that Suicide Squad is an Oscar winning film still blows my mind.
  • Production design: La La Land ✓  
  • Visual effects: Jungle Book ✓  
  • Sound mixing: Hacksaw Ridge ✗  Probably shouldn’t have bet so much on La La Land but again, so happy for Hacksaw.
  • Sound editing: Arrival ✗  YES! Arrival actually won something!
  • Short film (live action): Sing ✗  
  • Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets ✓  

In the end, La La Land did not sweep as much as I expected it to (won 6 Oscars though). I’m actually so happy about that because I feel other deserving films were recognized as well. Overall I got a 17/24 for my predictions. Not the best but I’ll take it!

Now before we move onto Red Carpet, we have to talk about the Best Picture mix up! Wow. What a moment. So for those of you who did not hear about the biggest surprise of the night, here is what happened. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway came on stage to present the final award for Best Picture. As Beatty opened the envelope, there was clear confusion on his face as later on it was revealed that he was given the envelope for Best Actress instead, which read Emma Stone for La La Land. After pausing, Beatty showed the envelope to Dunaway who immediately announced La La Land as the winner after a quick glance at the envelope.

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Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presenting Best Picture

It’s interesting to note that before their mics were cut off, Beatty can be heard saying “..but it said Emma Stone” and Dunaway replying “What?” as the cameras show the La La Land crew celebrating and making their way onto the stage. Two of the producers for La La Land had already given their acceptance speeches when something was revealed to clearly amiss on stage. A show producer hurriedly came and checked the envelope as those on stage began to realize the mistake. Jordan Horowitz then went to the mic and revealed that there had been a mistake and that Moonlight had actually won Best Picture. The shocked Moonlight cast and crew went up on stage to accept their award after Beatty explained the mishap.

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz revealing Moonlight as the winner.

Emma Stone claimed she had her Best Actress envelope with her the whole time and PwC, the accounting firm that calculates the votes for the awards, admitted their mistake. There are two sets of envelopes and somehow the wrong one found its way into Warren Beatty’s hands. Beatty is not at fault here at all. It’s terrible for both films as well. La La Land had a victory cut short and had to give their awards away while the groundbreaking Moonlight did not receive the moment it deserved. Kudos to Horowitz for handling such a sticky situation with class. While I am sad for La La Land, Moonlight also very much deserved Best Picture so congrats are in order for both.

That’s an Oscar moment that will go down in history for sure. I think it’s finally time to move onto the other best part of the Oscars: THE RED CARPET!

We also have our special co-red carpet correspondent Amanda A joining us again with her picks!

Amy’s Choices

BEST

Emma Stone in Givenchy

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A perfect Oscar winning gown! Love the vintage feel and the gold. I actually really like the fringe too!

Taraji P Henson in Alberta Ferretti

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Wow she looks AH-MAZING! Looking like a million bucks and accentuating her great figure.

Brie Larson in Oscar de la Renta

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Another black dress killing it! Love the cut, Brie looks great!

Viola Davis in Armani Privé

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The color, the cut, the woman in it, all amazing.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Nicole Kidman in Armani Privé

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Honestly I’m not a huge fan of some of Nicole Kidman’s red carpet looks so I was thrilled when I found myself liking this dress. 

Amy Adams in Tom Ford

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I wish she walked the carpet because she looks so great in this dress! Love the metallic.

WORST

Dakota Johnson in Gucci

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What was going on in her head as she convinced herself that this was the dress to wear? Is she trying to be an actual Golden Girl?

Jessica Biel in Tom Ford

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Lots of gold on the red carpet! This dress actually isn’t terrible (except for the neckline) but something is off with the look as a whole.

Amanda’s Choices

BEST

Viola Davis in Armani Privé

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The color, the cut, the star!

Emma Stone in Givenchy

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Love the gold color and although I’m wary of fringe, it looks right on this dress.

Mahershala Ali in Ermenegildo Zegna Couture

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This might be the first time a man is in my best-dressed. Is it because the cut of the suit is so perfect on him or because he is so dang guapo?

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Taraji P Henson in Alberta Ferretti

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I actually said WOW (in a good way) when I saw that dress. Hot!

Brie Larson in Oscar de la Renta

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So classy and elegant in that black dress.

Jessica Biel in Tom Forda57c69750fa892e3a21251e334e7931d-1

I think this dress is getting more crap than it deserves. I love it, except for the neckline.

WORST

Halle Berry in Atelier Versace

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I actually liked her dress, but when your hair gets its own twitter account, you know.

Felicity Jones in Dior

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This dress was so plain!

Salma Hayek in Alexander McQueen

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She is gorgeous, but the dress is kind of vampy. 

Thanks to Amanda A for her great red carpet picks as always! Another awards season has come and gone. This year’s Oscars had more surprises than I would have expected, but I’m still looking forward to the next ceremony just as much. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees! The films this year were great and deserving of the many accolades. Once again, thank you for checking out Ticket Stub Love for all your awards season coverage and we will see you again soon!

 

Oscar Predictions 2017

Happy Oscar Day everyone! Before the best night if the year begins, here are my prediction’s for tonight’s winners

full list of nominees here

Best Picture: La La Land 

Director: Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Actor in  Leading Role: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea. This one could definitely go to Denzel Washington for Fences as well and I would not be surprised. Though I’m rooting for Denzel, Casey had a lot of early awards season momentum that might land him on that stage.

Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone for La La Land. While I do not think Emma Stone should win as her performance was not exactly Oscar-worthy to me, she has come out as the front runner for this category so I’m going to put my money on her. Isabelle Hupert for the French film Elle is one to look out for though.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight

Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis for Fences

Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea

Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

Animated Feature Film: Zootopia

Foreign Film: The Salesman

Best Music (original song): “City of Stars”, La La Land

Music (original score): La La Land

Cinematography: La La Land

Costume Design: Jackie, but the La La Land sweep could take this one as well even if it’s not as deserving

Documentary Feature:  OJ: Made in America

Film Editing: La La Land

Makeup and Hair styling:  Star Trek Beyond

Production Design: La La Land

Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

Sound Mixing: La La Land, watch out for Hacksaw Ridge though

Sound Editing:  Hacksaw Ridge, deserves it more than La La Land but again the sweep

Short Film, live action: Ennemis Interieurs

Short Film, animated:  Piper

Documentary Short: The White Helmets

Make sure to tune in to the Oscars tonight 8:30 pm EST on ABC! Jimmy Kimmel is hosting this year and it should be a good show with a lot of great winners. I will also be live tweeting so check out our Twitter page as well!

Sing Street

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This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

The Oscar nominations came out a few weeks ago and as always, there were snubs and surprises. The big news is about the hugely popular musical La La Land which was nominated for 14 Oscars (tied for the most nominations since All About Eve and Titanic). However, there is another musical this past year that did not receive the attention it so badly deserved. That film is Sing Street!

Sing Street is a fictional film revolving around a young boy in 1980s Dublin who starts a band to impress a girl.

The premise seems pretty basic but this film is so much more. Its main protagonist Conor (played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is also escaping a troubled home life along with the harassment that comes along with starting a new school run by a strict principal. Music helps distract Conor away from his problems and focus on what’s important to him: winning the heart of aspiring model Raphina (played by Lucy Boynton) and eventually becoming successful with the band.

One of my favorite characters was Conor’s older brother Brendan (played by Jack Reynor) who helps foster Conor’s interest in music and gives him band advice. Although Brendan was unable to achieve what he originally planned for himself, he still encourages his younger brother to escape their small town and pave a better future for himself. Here is the takeaway that I got from the film, the notion that anything is possible. If desired, you can break free from the doldrums, from the people and places holding you back. Do what you love and go after it. Why not win the girl and start a band?

The film is directed by John Carney who is known for his other musical films Once and Begin Again. I am a personal fan of Carney’s work because I admire his use of music with character development. The soundtrack for this film is fantastic! There is the classic 80’s sound that takes inspiration from the popular bands and music of the era. The music and looks that Conor and the band all take on parallel their journey as a band and with themselves. It is obvious,that as young kids, they are really just trying to find themselves and their sound. Some of my personal songs off the soundtrack are “Drive It Like You Stole It” (which to be honest should have been nominated for Best Song) and “The Riddle of the Model”.

I enjoyed the camera work in the film as well, especially in the scenes where the viewer gets to watch the music videos the band makes themselves. The songs and videos they create were actually pretty impressive to me. Even more than the romance, I appreciated the friendship between the band members such as Conor and Eamon. The only complaint I have for the film is that I wish they gave more time to some of the other band members and developed their characters more.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sing Street and I feel that it is severely underrated. The soundtrack is only one of the great aspects of the film that should be more lauded. The message of following your dreams is prominent and infused into the film with signature humor and drama. If you’re interested in a musical with a vintage feel that is not La La Land, I highly suggest Sing Street.

ALL IN ALL: Sing Street comes out on top as one of the best musicals of the year, with an excellent soundtrack and an even better story of following your dreams.

Sing Street 4.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Director: John Carney

Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Mark McKenna, Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy

Run time: 1 hr 46 min, PG-13

Year: 2016

image from: http://singstreetmovie.com/

Split

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I enjoy horror movies, I really do. Even better are thrillers, the ones that get your blood racing and keep you guessing endlessly. The problem with the horror and thriller genres is that it has become extremely hard, at least for me, to find quality films that meet or even exceed the standards put in place. Too many times the films become predictable or outlandish, with unsurprising tropes and not enough emphasis on story itself. Director M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his thrillers, so I was immediately intrigued with the trailer for his new film Split. Though some of Shyamalan’s past films have faltered along the way, Split marks a return to form for the director known for this twists and thrills.

Split follows three girls, who are kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) with severe dissociative identity disorder. The girls must find a way to escape his 23 different personalities before the emergence of an even worse 24th.

Despite my few reservations, Split was a great film. It was a solid thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciated the story and the use of suspense and thrills in the film. I never knew what was going to happen next and even if I did guess, I was always surprised. Probably the highlight of the film for me was James McAvoy. He was outstanding in this film and his performance blew me away. Honestly I hope he receives more acclaim and awards for this film as I believe it to be his best performance. The task of the role is monumental enough, essentially playing 24 roles, but McAvoy accomplishes it flawlessly. One of the best scenes was one that required him to switch back and forth between the different personalities all at once. McAvoy shines here as his performance really made the movie.

I did have a few complaints about the film but not many. Though I appreciated the development of the main heroine Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), I found the other two girls kidnapped alongside her to be pretty useless. My main problem with the film, however, was the ending. Though I will not discuss it, as doing so will spoil the film, I found one final scene to be pretty jarring from what I expected. Though I suppose that was the purpose of the scene, I still believe Shyamalan’s decision to be completely unnecessary so I myself am choosing to ignore that scene. Everything else about the film though was well done.

Split is an interesting film. It’s discussion of dissociative identity disorders was fascinating and I actually liked the different genres that film picked up as its story developed. I would not recommend the film to those too faint of heart but I personally really enjoyed the film. If you are looking for a new thriller to watch, look no further. Split debunks everything you know to be true and will keep surprising you until the very end.

ALL IN ALL: James McAvoy is a tour de force in Split, a film that shines in the thriller/horror genre with great direction and a consistently twisting story.

Split 4 out of 5 ticket stubs

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula

Run Time: 1 hour 57 min, PG-13

Year: 2016

 

Hidden Figures

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This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

I feel that the tagline for Hidden Figures perfectly encapsulates the film. “Meet the women you don’t know, behind the mission you do.” Many of us know or are somewhat aware of the events surrounding Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States. What many people don’t realize is that the project would not have been successful without the help of countless engineers and mathematicians, in particular Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson.

Based on a true story, Hidden Figures centers on a team of African-American women, including Johnson (portrayed by Taraji P. Henson), Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who aided NASA by calculating the flight trajectories and mathematical data needed to launch the nation’s first successful space missions.

Hidden Figures is an excellent movie. Truly awe-inspiring, its story of these three powerful and intelligent women who overcame so much racism, sexism, and prejudice in the much divided 1960’s will strike a chord with audience members. Personally, and I know I am not alone in this, I was not aware of the tremendous strides and work these women did for NASA and for our nation. It was not only eye-opening but also inspirational to learn about this true story.

The cast performances were excellent. Taraji P. Henson blew me away as Katherine G. Johnson, her performance possessing such emotion and depth that needs to be more recognized and lauded. Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe were excellent as well. Both women brought a palpable strength and a firm grasp on the roles they respectively played.

Pharell Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Benjamin Wallfisch co-composed a great score for the film. The music added a needed boost at times that co-aligned well with the action on screen. In addition, Hidden Figures‘ story is well written and effectively immerses the viewer.

Hidden Figures has a lot of heart. I would fully recommend watching Hidden Figures, though it is not a film that requires a theater experience. People of any age will benefit from watching Hidden Figures and learning about an often overlooked but vital piece of our nation’s history. Even young children, especially girls, can most definitely look to Hidden Figures for a source of new role models as well. Hidden Figures has the heart and will touch yours.

ALL IN ALL: With its inspiring story and talented cast performances, Hidden Figures is sure to stay in the hearts of movie-goers alike for generations to come.

Hidden Figures 4.5 out of 5 ticket stubs.

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Director: Theodore Melfi

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Jim Parson, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali

Run Time: 2 hrs 7 min, PG

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/hidden-figures

 

 

La La Land

Every year, there’s a select number of films that are predicted to sweep the awards and earn critical acclaim. One of those predicted very early on was La La Land. This film has been at the top of my watch list for a while so I was thrilled when I received the opportunity to finally view the 7 Golden Globe winning (record-breaking) musical La La Land for myself.  I went in with pretty high expectations and I am so pleased to report that they were fully met!

La La Land tells the story of a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles.

I loved La La Land, I really did. It is a truly magical experience and a wonderful film to see. Everything about it was perfect; from the cinematography, to the production design, costumes, choreography, performances, music, La La Land scored high. The music is great and will make you walk out of the theater humming and playing the soundtrack on repeat all the way home. The film really does make you wish your life is a musical!

The performances in particular were strong. Both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone brought depth to their multi-faceted characters, infusing both drama and comedy into their performances. Needless to say, their chemistry was great. Gosling’s performance in particular stood out as he easily delivered some of the best lines in the film, providing a surprising number of laughs and proving again his versatility as an actor. He also learned how to play many of his piano pieces which is impressive enough. The film really showcases some of the surprising musical talents of both actors. Though the character development for Mia and Sebastian could have been stronger, in particular with Mia, the two characters still manage to effectively captivate the audience with their love and personal story.

Visually La La Land is simply gorgeous. A classic musical, there were many homages to the old Hollywood style musicals mixed in with the contemporary LA setting. From the dance numbers (Who can forget that beginning freeway scene?) to the elaborate stage sets, the film was able to achieve an impressive mixture of classical and modern film elements. While I am not aiming to name La La Land as the first ever modern musical of its time, I do think the film is worthy of praise for rejuvenating a genre that has become somewhat rare nowadays.

I cannot praise La La Land enough. While its aspirations may seem lofty at times despite some flaws, the film still has so much emotion and heart that cannot be overlooked. After every musical number, I simply wanted to re-watch the whole scene again. The film is deeply satisfying and the love story,while sweet, is more focused on the journey of two people trying to achieve their dreams in the romantically painted town of Los Angeles, which I really found beautiful. I wholly recommend La La Land, and even try to see it in theaters if you can. La La Land provides a magical movie-going experience.

ALL IN ALL: La La Land is a beautifully done and visually gorgeous film, with excellent performances and music that captivates and warms the heart of audiences alike.

LA LA LAND 4.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend

Run time: 128 minutes, PG-13

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.lalaland.movie/gallery/12