Sing Street

sing_street

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

ticketstublove_ratings_4-5stubs

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/

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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

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Out of all the movies coming out in 2016, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was probably one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. I know, surprising right? Thing is, the first My Big Fat is actually one of my all time favorite movies. I  have seen it so many times with my sisters to the point where we own our own copy and can quote lines directly from it. It’s just one of those films that you can relate to so much and it will always be a classic for me. As many of you may know, I am not a huge fan of sequels at all. At all. So of course I was skeptical of a sequel to a movie that came out fourteen years ago. Sure my skepticism had good reason, but it was honestly so much fun to be reunited with the Portokalos family again!

With her daughter about to graduate and head off to college, Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is struggling to let go while also dealing with marital problems with her husband (John Corbett) and family problems when her parents realize they were never officially married. Thus, the whole Portokalos family comes together again for an even bigger and fatter Greek wedding.

Let me just start off with this: if you are a fan of the first My Big Fat, you will like this film. If you are not or you have not seen the first one: then don’t watch it (I don’t know why you would if you haven’t even seen the first one anyways). It is as simple as that. Fans of the first will enjoy the movie because it definitely makes you feel nostalgic. There are tons of references to the first film and it so awesome to see all those beloved characters back again. When I say all of them, I mean all of them too! Even the most minor characters are back and it really feels like a huge reunion.

When I first saw the trailer, I was not a huge fan of the whole fed-up teenage daughter subplot, but it actually turned out to be fine. The actress who plays the daughter, Elena Kampouris, even favorited my tweet about the movie so shout out to her! Also the characters really do look the same, have they even aged? John Corbett is a stud as always, and of course my favorite character Aunt Voula steals the show every scene.

That’s another thing, the film really tries to give more screen time to many of the supporting characters and develop their story lines more. While for me that’s fine since I love them all, I can see why that might have been a criticism of the film. Sometimes it felt like too much was going on at once. The writing was not as strong for me either when compared to the first film. A few times there were just awkward moments that fell short and made me cringe.

Nevertheless I liked My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2! It was fun to watch and so great to see all the characters back again. The central message is still there too: family is always first and will always be there for you.

ALL IN ALL: Fans of the first film will enjoy My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, full of sentiments, nostalgia, and of course the fun and beloved Portokalos family.

image from: http://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/my-big-fat-greek-wedding-2/cw192dju4aao657-jpg-large.jpg

Sisters

So while everyone else this past week swarmed the theaters to see the latest Star Wars movie, I ended up going with some of my sistas to see Sisters! I love Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as much as the next person so of course right from when I first saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to see this movie someday. Now it is probably a movie I would have waited to rent and watch after it came out of the theaters, but nevertheless Sisters gave some great laughs.

Starring Amy Poehler and Tine Fey, Sisters has the two as sisters who plan to throw one last epic house party before their parents sell their family home.

Sisters was not necessarily great really with some gags that seemed to try a little too hard and pacing that felt pretty slow at times. Overall I still enjoyed it though. Tina and Amy once again successfully teamed up and proved their dynamic duo status. There were scenes that made me cringe and others that had me laughing out loud which seems to be the reasonable mix of emotions for most comedies nowadays. The supporting cast was also great with standouts including Maya Rudolph and of course John Cena, who was surprisingly and most probably my favorite part of the film.

While it does try to surpass its limits and reach that outrageous level of comedy more than once, Sisters was a pretty funny movie. Would I recommend seeing it in theaters? Probably not necessary, but do watch it sometime if you are looking for some great laughs. The overarching theme of the bond between sisters is one to appreciate.

ALL IN ALL: Though not the best comedy film, Sisters does provide genuine humor and scenes that can warm your heart and have you laughing out loud all at the same time.

The Intern

My sister is the one who convinced me to see The Intern with her. In the months leading up to its release, I relentlessly made fun of her eagerness to see it. Of course advertisements started to appear on a daily basis in my Pinterest feed, which was a smart move for the film’s marketing team to reach their target audience by the way. I went in with the lowest expectations, and I am still not sure if I am ashamed to admit it, but I ended up really enjoying The Intern.

The Intern follows 70-year-old Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro) as he becomes a senior intern at a fast-growing online fashion site founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Though the transition to such a modern and young workplace is a bit jarring at first for Whitaker, he soon finds success at the company and develops a close bond with Ostin, who needs guidance in both her personal and work life.

I personally thought The Intern was a simple and relaxing movie. Robert De Niro once again shows his dexterity regarding his film roles and is such a cute character. Half of my pleasure from the movie was gained from just watching his classic traits as a gentleman and his interactions with his younger coworkers. I also appreciated the similarity of the movie to a previous film of Anne Hathaway’s, The Devil Wears Prada. In The Intern however Hathaway is now the boss and a much kinder one at that than Meryl Streep.

Along with the cute moments in the film, there were also some elements of humor. A scene of a house break-in orchestrated by Whitaker and involving his team of coworker friends had me cracking up. I did not expect to be so amused at all!

Anne Hathaway was fine in the film but the element to appreciate of her character the most is the fashion, which makes sense since she is the head of a fashion site and all. Still, her outfits looked straight out of a catalog! I was surprised in the end with the decisions made regarding her personal life, but I suppose it was to show the different experiences people go through.

I recommend The Intern wholeheartedly. Sure not everyone might enjoy it, but those looking for a light comedy with sincere moments should look no further! The mentor, almost father-daughter-like relationship Whitaker has with his boss Ostin was heartwarming and refreshing. The Intern was a pleasant surprise for me.

ALL IN ALL: The Intern is an enjoyable movie with touching scenes of a bond formed between two people of entirely different ages and backgrounds, mixed in with humor and some great outfits.

image from: http://www.fashiongonerogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Intern-Movie-Poster.jpg

Inside Out

Okay so has anyone else been disappointed with Pixar ever since Toy Story 3 came out in 2010? To me, that was the last true and great Pixar film and ever since then the quality and creativity of their works have decreased greatly (mainly due to them relying on sequels, many of which are going to be in production soon as well). I am so happy to say though, that Inside Out has returned Pixar to its’ former glory!

Set in the mind of an eleven-year-old girl Riley, Inside Out explores how her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)- try to lead her through life as she moves with her parents from the Midwest to San Francisco.

Let’s first start with the animated short that comes before every Pixar movie, for Inside Out it was Lava. Lava was such a cute story about two lonely volcanoes looking for love that I almost cried by the end. So obviously my emotions were already peaked by the time the movie actually started, and boy did they go on a roller coaster ride! I really loved Inside Out. The concept is so original and something I feel only Pixar would be able to come up with and actually put into motion. The director, Pete Docter, also directed Monsters Inc. and Up, so it is again obvious that he is a creative genius. I was constantly amazed by how unique the movie was and it only attests to the amount of time it took to develop the story. Kudos to the whole crew!

The film was super deep too, especially when you really think about it after watching. The whole idea of sadness being essential to achieve happiness and all emotions being involved in memories and experiences is pretty profound and also complicated. I sincerely doubt if the many kids in the theater really understood what was going on so it is a good thing that the characters were all brightly colored and that there were lots of funny moments. That being said, the animation was really cool to see up close since all the emotions had an almost pixelated, energy look to them. I read it took 8 months to achieve Joy’s “sparkly aura” and the team almost threw it out in the end, so again kudos to the animation team.

Amy Poehler was fantastic as Joy and a great leading character/emotion. The others were also fantastic with Lewis Black’s Anger emotion getting some of the funniest lines in the movie. However the breakout star was really Phyllis Smith who voiced Sadness. Sadness turned out to be the most important character in the film and became the film’s other lead, which I loved. The fact that Sadness resembles Smith was cute but Smith’s voice acting to me was top-notch and the best performance.

Inside Out had all the best emotions and gave me the feels too. There was love, lots of laughs, and yes sadness (two words: Big Bong…people who saw the movie will understand the distress I went through because of Bing Bong). Above all was a core message about growing up and how hard it is, but the themes of family and being yourself added some much-needed warmth. I do not know how well little kids responded to the movie, especially since again the story got deep at times, but I do know people of all other ages can definitely enjoy Inside Out.

ALL IN ALL: Inside Out is a triumphant return for Pixar with an amazingly creative concept, great voice work, and emotions that run high all throughout the film.

image from: http://cdn.movieweb.com/img.news/NEMye3g3VuXNQM_1_1.jpg

 

Birdman

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Poster

So with all the snow coming down on the East Coast, these snow days have provided me the perfect opportunity to catch up on some of the most highly acclaimed films of 2014. First up on my list was Birdman, our recent Oscar Best Picture winner. Birdman was the film I was most curious about, mainly because I hardly knew anything about it. Oh buddy, this film so deserved Best Picture!

Birdman, directed by the awesome Alejandro González Iñárritu, follows a washed-up actor (Michael Keaton), famous for his role as superhero Birdman, as he attempts to salvage his family, his career, and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.

Probably my favorite part of Birdman, was the cinematography (which deservedly won an Oscar). Iñárritu is a genius and came up with the idea of making a film that appears to filmed in a single shot. The result is fantastic. It is unique and almost mesmerizing. The score that consists entirely of drums and classical pieces is at once iconic. The story is satirical and slick but so truthful. Have I used enough adjectives?

Michael Keaton. Oh my Michael Keaton. I cannot be one to fully judge, due to me still having not seen Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, however I can say with great vindication that Keaton gave the best performance of the year (again, of what I have seen). HE KILLED IT! Savvy viewers will probably be quick to pick up on the parallels between him and his character Riggan, both of whom are very well-known for their past superhero roles (Batman and Birdman respectively). However, one simply forgets this when watching Keaton in this film. He battles with his ego, loses hope and regains it all in one swoop, hits rock bottom but somehow manages to fly again. The other performances were grand too most notably and surprisingly Edward Norton and Emma Stone, both of whom were very impressive.

I probably have not made much sense in this review, but then again neither does Birdman and that to me is what makes it great. It mixes fantasy with hard reality and I simply do not have very many words to describe it. I loved it and praise it wholeheartedly as a most deserving Best Picture winner.

ALL IN ALL: Birdman is a layered piece that mixes great cinematography and story into a film that is not so much a vehicle, but a showcase for the film’s many impressive performances.

image from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2562232/

TV review: Red Band Society

The season of new fall TV shows is here and I thought it would be cool to do a TV review for once. If there’s one show that I know a good amount of people have heard about, it is Red Band Society, the new comedy-drama show on Fox that’s been getting a lot of buzz. I decided to start watching the show and here are my thoughts after the first two episodes.

First of all, let’s explain what the show is about. Red Band Society revolves around the lives of a group of teenagers living together in a Los Angeles based hospital’s pediatric ward. There’s Leo and Jordi, who are both suffering from bone cancer; Dash, who has cystic fibrosis; Kara, who has an enlarged heart; Emma, who is anorexic; and Charlie, a our narrator who’s in a coma. The staff of the hospital includes Octavia Spencer as the no-nonsense but caring Nurse Jackson and Dave Annabelle as the dreamy Dr. Jack MacAndrews.

I agree with the hype surrounding the show that it is a new and refreshing turn from most other TV programs. However, that does not mean Red Band Society is realistic at all. I have never seen a hospital as nice as the one in the show, but I won’t criticize that since there are probably ones like it somewhere in the world. Second, in the case of Jordi who came across the border from Mexico to get treatment at the hospital, how was he actually able to sneak in, see Dr. Andrews, and convince him to do surgery on him the next day? He’s an illegal immigrant! Again, I am not well aware of the legal proceedings at hospitals and maybe this could happen so I won’t dwell on this too long.

The show has a good heart and I did enjoy watching it. Though predictable, the characters are all well-played by the young cast. Octavia Spencer kills it as Nurse Jackson! Yes, the show gets sappy and philosophical almost every 5 minutes, but I’ve come to accept that. I think my biggest problem with Red Band Society is the way they portray the kids in the hospital. It seems like Hollywood has a fascination for sick kids and hospitals now (the movies/books The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay, the show Chasing Life, etc.). Though it is always great to see life from another person’s shoes, this needs to be done correctly. Life in a hospital is not fun and all of the kids on the show look perfectly healthy and mobile. I couldn’t even tell that any of them were sick, except for Leo who has a bald head. Also, Dr. MacAndrews is a bit too good-looking to make me believe he’s an actual doctor.

This show, as one critic called it, is pretty much like Glee mixed with The Fault in Our Stars. I’m going to continue watching Red Band Society because I genuinely liked it. My only hope is that it starts to be more realistic.

ALL IN ALL: Red Band Society has great potential and a talented cast, however the light hearted and unrealistic portrayal of hospital life is not something to be looked over.

great article about the show from an actual cancer survivor’s POV: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hollywood-has-it-wrong-im-a-teenager-with-an-illness-and-its-not-glamorous-at-all/2014/09/12/b9154a7e-38f9-11e4-8601-97ba88884ffd_story.html

image source: http://p1cdn03.thewrap.com/images/2014/07/red-band-society.jpg.jpg

Let’s Be Cops

I got to say, Summer 2014 disappointed me mucho movie-wise. There were a few good ones (ex. Guardians of the Galaxy, which I still have to see). However, there were practically no kid movies and the action movies were just way too hmm explosive. Now it wasn’t my idea to see Let’s Be Cops, and though I’m always glad to go to the theater, I think I would have been fine without seeing this one.

Let’s Be Cops is about two friends (Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr) who after dressing as Los Angeles police officers for a costume party, pretend to be cops, only to become entangled in a web of mobsters and dirty detectives.

In short: this movie was alright. Let’s go over the pros. There is great chemistry between Johnson and Wayans Jr. (both of whom star in one of my favorite shows New Girl) and they provide a lot of great laughs. The first hour of the movie is pretty funny too since it shows them and their crazy antics while posing as the cops. You forget how ridiculous the whole concept is when they are just being goofy.

Perhaps I am a bit biased, since I saw the many negative reviews other critics gave for Let’s Be Cops before I went in to see it. Nevertheless, I do agree with them. Let’s Be Cops has a simple premise and the potential to be great. It is in the second half of the movie where it starts to falter. This is where the dramatic crime story comes into play and the two get caught up in solving an actual case and bringing down the bad guy.

Leading into the cons. My main complaint is that the whole film felt way too long. When a comedy starts to feel long, you know something is not right. It’s also in the second half of the movie where you realize how unrealistic the whole scenario is. Serious moments became silly for me because I could not fathom the fact that they are getting away with so much.

Let’s Be Cops, could have been worse I guess. There were some good laughs. However the shift in story, turns it into a longer and more tiring experience. There were probably five different times when Johnson’s and Wayans Jr’s characters were walking slow motion to some beat in their uniforms. That one officer in the film was right, it’s a uniform and you have to deserve it. Once again though, I did not think of that at all in the light and comedic beginning. I’d say if you are into these kind of goofy buddy cop movies, then watch Let’s Be Cops. It’s not bad, but not great.

ALL IN ALL: Let’s Be Cops has a funny first half with some potential but soon sputters to a stop when things start to get ridiculous.

Rated R, 104 minutes

poster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let’s_Be_Cops#mediaviewer/File:Let%27s_Be_Cops_poster.jpg