Bohemian Rhapsody

Music biopics usually tend to follow a pretty straight-edged formula. The band or singer has humble roots and slowly starts to rise to fame. Soon after achieving stardom, complications ensue, the lead gets a big head and/or dissociates themselves with the others, certain influences take reign and basically a rift forms. After hitting rock bottom, the lead eventually reunites with their mates and returns to former glory. It’s been done a million times, it’s been parodied even. I remember watching the first trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody and getting excited though. A movie about the band Queen and the life of Freddie Mercury sounded like a fine idea. Maybe it would tell a new story, one that would do proper homage to a great band and a great man. Then where, oh where, did Bohemian Rhapsody go so wrong?

Bohemian Rhapsody has surprisingly been winning awards but not all of them are undeserving. Rami Malek is perhaps the only saving light in the film, with an excellent portrayal of Mercury. When all else goes down the drain, Malek is the one who takes the scene and commands it. It’s a great performance from him.

The film itself though is a mess. Honestly it is. It latches itself onto the formula tracks and chugs along at such a sluggish pace that I actually checked my watch several times throughout the movie. Not a good sign. One of my main concerns was that it reduces Freddie Mercury and his story to such safe territory. Positive queer relationships such as those with Jim Hutton, his longtime partner, are left to a footnote. His family and fellow band mates are seen only when needed, one-dimensional and completely void of development. Queen’s greatness as band is propagated by a hit single played every five minutes throughout. In one sequence, the names of U.S. cities are thrown across the scene haphazardly in retro style texts to indicate an international tour for the band. That’s the kind of the movie this is.

I understand liberties have to be taken when depicting history but some of the inaccuracies in the film are so glaring. While I appreciated the decision to have the story lead up to the historic 1985 Live Aid performance, to have Mercury discover his AIDS diagnosis beforehand, instead of a few years afterwards, feels explicitly insensitive. To have that be a turning point in the film for the characters and their conflict is just exploitative.

The whole Live Aid performance, while exceptionally shot, felt overlong too. I was devoid of any emotion by the end. And here is my other concern: I really felt nothing. Obviously that shouldn’t be the case with a soundtrack filled with Queen and a vibrant Mercury, but I never felt inspired, or excited, or even the basic sad or happy. I sat placid in my seat and eventually waited for it to be over.

ALL IN ALL: Queen deserves a better movie than Bohemian Rhapsody

On the Ticket Stub Love scale, I give Bohemian Rhapsody 2 ticket stubs

Director: Bryan Singer (I mean he got fired, so really I want to credit Dexter Fletcher)

Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander

Run time: 2 hr 14 min, PG-13

Year: 2018

Green Book

In 1962, Dr. Don Shirley, an African American world class pianist about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South, hires Italian bouncer Tony Vallelonga to serve as his driver and bodyguard on the trip. The movie Green Book follows what comes next, a true story of two men, their differences, and the mutual respect that grows.

Despite an underwhelming box office performance, Green Book has come out as an award season front runner. Winning the Golden Globe awards for Best Film: Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, the film is unsurprisingly on its way to Oscar nominations. Controversies have crowded the film’s highway to success though. From inappropriate racial slurs during promotion to the uncovering of racist tweets to complaints from Shirley’s real life family, the film’s release has had its share of issues. I acknowledge these controversies. I also acknowledge the fact that Green Book, put simply, is a film made by white people for white people. It’s simply the audience. It’s a movie that would have won every Oscar a decade or two ago. It’s a movie made to let white audiences feel better about racial circumstances. I get that, because it’s the truth.

But there’s a certain charm to Green Book that also can’t be ignored. This can be fully credited to the great performances from its two actors, Viggo Mortenson as Vallelonga and Mahershala Ali as Shirley. Ali in particular needlessly proves his versatility as an actor, grasping the role of Shirley with full forged skill and class. He deserves the awards. The pair has this amazing chemistry that just bounces back and forth with such admirable ease. I kind of enjoyed the stereotypical Italian, New York characterization of Vallelonga, and Mortenson does a nice job owning his character’s development. The scenes between the two actors pan out with wonderful fluidity, and it’s the whole reason the movie actually works.

Green Book is an enjoyable watch. I appreciated the two men dealing with their prejudices and issues in different ways, cultivating a unique relationship together. It’s all together heartwarming. The plot did feel a bit see-sawish, for lack of a better word, at times, with one setback followed by another happy moment. There was one scene involving a police officer towards the end that was so ridiculously unnecessary and obviously put in to appease the target audience. I do recommend Green Book though. While it’s not without its shortcomings, the film has smart performances from its two main actors, who lead the story seamlessly in their journey together. It left me with a smile on my face, and I hope others experience that too.

ALL IN ALL: Green Book may seem outdated, but great performances and chemistry between its two leads fuels its central warmth and appeal.

On the Ticket Stub Love scale, I give Green Book 3.5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortenson, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardinelli

Run time: 2 hr 10 min, PG-13

Year: 2018



Hidden Figures


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.


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

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Well where has the time gone? Ticket Stub Love has been extremely busy lately and we probably won’t be able to get back into full swing until summer but we’re doing our best to still bring you some reviews.

So I recently went on vacation to Barcelona and on my way there I watched some movies of course. Right when I turned on the little TV in front of me, I got really excited because it was full of pretty up to date ones too!

Now these aren’t full reviews but a few thoughts of some of the movies I watched:

American Hustle (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner)

I have wanted to watch this for a while so I immediately selected this as my first choice. Got to say though, kinda disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the cast. Every single actor did a great job but the story was so bland. I enjoyed the beginning where you got introduced to everyone and it went through some of the past cons of Christian Bale’s and Amy Adam’s characters, but when they got into the full Abscam storyline, I quickly lost interest. It got good again near the end, but still a downer.

Gravity (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney)

Sooo remember my trailer review of Gravity back in August where I made fun of the movie (I later too back some of this in follow-up post). Yeah, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Gravity was AMAZING! No wonder it won 7 Oscars! Everything was great: cinematography, score, direction, performances. I mean Sandra Bullock’s character has pretty much everything go wrong on her in space, but the audience is still tethered to her because it’s just that thrilling. I loved this movie and thought it was fantastic!

The Book Thief (Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush)

I am a huge fan of the book so I was naturally curious to see how the movie pulled off the movie. Overall I would say it was well done. Nothing compared to the book though because there are some aspects of the book that don’t have the same impact when transitioned to the big screen, such as the narrator being Death-you just can’t do that well on-screen.


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Last week I was invited to attend a private screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It definitely had a much bigger impact on me since Nelson Mandela had passed away on December 5th. Despite the mixed reviews, I enjoyed the film though I thought it was the actors who mainly held it up.

Starring Idris Elba as the title character and Naomie Harris as his second-wife Winnie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a biographical film that chronicles the early life of Nelson Mandela as well as his education, 27 years in prison during the anti-apartheid movement, and eventual inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

Let me start off with the cast. I thought Idris Elba was fantastic as Mandela and I’m glad he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Let’s be frank, he doesn’t look much like Mandela at all, at least not as much as Morgan Freeman. However, it is Mandela’s embodiment and spirit that he captured which made him so believable, not to mention his impressive mastery of a South African accent. His makeup used to portray his gradual aging was not exactly the best though. Naomie Harris also gave a great and gritty performance as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and she definitely portrayed her character’s development over the years very accurately. This was emphasized as well by Elba who perfectly portrayed his appall  to what her anger had led her to become.

Unfortunately, I thought the film felt too rushed at times and tried to cram as much of Nelson Mandela’s life into a nice little package. However, trying to include practically all of the major life events of such a legendary man leads to a crowded film that feels long and doesn’t do much justice to the important events depicted. The film clocks in at 139 minutes, which is not too bad, but it makes the fatal flaw of allowing the audience to realize how long it is. It could have ended in several places earlier than it did because I found myself often thinking that it was going to end, but then the film would suddenly turn to another quick scene. Also this is random, but I did not think the frequent scenes in the beginning that showed Mandela’s womanizing ways were really necessary.

Though there were some flaws, the film is very moving. I had goosebumps in several scenes, mainly due to the performances but also to the realization that the events actually happened. The added bits of humor here and there also made a huge difference in several intense scenes. If anything, and I know I already mentioned the length of the film, more time could have been spent on some background of apartheid since the film simply dives right into it. I recommend the film, especially to those who do not know much about the life of Nelson Mandela; however, it might not be worth seeing in theaters.

ALL IN ALL: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a powerful film with moving performances from its two leads, but it fails in trying to cram as much as possible about the life of a legendary man.

Rated PG-13, 139 minutes


Lee Daniels’ The Butler

*Award Season pick*  I recently saw The Butler this past weekend and I got to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Besides the fact that there were a few aspects of the film I wasn’t a huge fan of, I gotta recommend this movie. Like a time warp through history, The Butler tells a fantastic story based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House for 34 years, though I did hear about the many differences between the subject’s life and the movie.

The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels, tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) , an African-American man who eye-witnesses major events in the 20th century throughout the timeline of the eight presidents he served in his 34 year tenure as a White House butler. Also starring Oprah Winfrey and a huge ensemble cast who make up the White House staff and presidents.

I honestly didn’t know that the film had such a great ensemble cast. Throughout each new term, I was always surprised to see who would be playing the next president or first lady. I gotta say that I thought all the actor’s who played the presidents were great.  Nice to see Robin Williams back on the screen as Eisenhower and I liked James Marsden as Kennedy. Now onto the main cast. Forest Whitaker was amazing. I’d definitely count on him bagging an Oscar nomination.  You learn to love and admire his character so much and his aging process was well done. I was a bit hesitant about Oprah’s role at first. Maybe because she’s done the talk-show gig for so many years that it was hard for me to appreciate her as an actor but she was fantastic!  Like Whitaker, her aging process was performed well and she blasted all fragments out of my mind that she was still tv Oprah.

My sister brought up a good point about the movie that I wasn’t a big fan of either. Though I love how the film goes through history and covers notable events, there were way too many ups and downs. The plot structure was like a roller coaster.  Frequently, a happy scene would be ruined with a some new tragedy. However, I thought the writing was good because there were very raw and real scenes that were palpable with emotion and heart-warming affection. Cecil’s story was awe-inspiring and very inspirational to see him undergo so many hardships. Surprisingly, the film follows Cecil’s son throughout his life almost as much as Cecil himself. This I thought provided a nice juxtaposition with the father serving men and the son fighting men and being active in the Civil Rights Movement. It was interesting to see the characters’ appearance and costumes change with the time period too.  The film had bits of comedy here and there, which was refreshing but again soon stepped on by more drama.  The length was another thing that I really had a problem with it. Though it is going through a long historical frame, I felt it went on a bit too long.



Finally, I didn’t expect the movie to go all the way to Obama’s nomination either. I thought it would end soon after his retirement in Reagan’s term but it came all the way to present day.  Though I did love the ending tremendously!! I would recommend The Butler, though as a precaution keep in mind that it does use the N-word at times . Other than that, it’s a great film!

ALL IN ALL: Lee Daniels’ The Butler is an uplifting film that tells an amazing story with great performances from an ensemble cast.

Rated PG-13, 132 minutes

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The Impossible


My cousin Aimee first saw The Impossible and raved about how it could tear your heart out. A bit skeptical myself, I hadn’t heard much of the film because of it’s poor marketing. However, we all decided to do a movie night and watch it, and I realized that The Impossible is maybe the most overlooked film of the year.

The Impossible tells the true story of a family spending Christmas in Thailand, who are caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Maria (Naomi Watts) and her eldest son are swept one way, while Henry (Ewan McGregor) and the two youngest sons are swept another. The movie focuses on their fight to find one another and reunite their family.

Many critics accused the film of whitewashing, portraying the characters more “white” to appeal to more audiences, since the original family was in fact from Spain. However, I disagree because the actual Maria Belon chose Naomi Watts to play her in the film, and what a perfect choice. Naomi Watts shines in the film and gave the unarguable best female performance I’ve seen all year. She showed so much emotion and pain in a mostly bedridden role. Her scenes were intense and the pain was palpable. I’m glad the Academy gave her some recognition by giving her a nomination for Best Actress, but honestly, she should have won. I know, I know, I love Jennifer Lawrence just as much as the next person, and I can’t say anything bad about Silver Linings Playbook since I haven’t even seen it, but portraying a person with bipolar disorder doesn’t seem like much work compared to Watts’ performance. She was raw and you could feel her pain in every grimace and scream she let out. A+ work.

The film was hard to watch at times and I did close my eyes during many parts. Naomi Watts’ character went through the most  it seemed, from being hit by objects underwater, to being dragged through reeds with a huge gash in her leg, and to even throwing up seaweed. Gosh this movie was graphic so I don’t recommend it to young viewers or those faint of heart. However, we all have to remember that this actually happened to a person, actually thousands of people. Just be warned.

The rest of the cast was fantastic as well. Ewan McGregor showed that a simple phone call back home can be turned into a tear-jerking heart-wrenching moment. The sons were surprisingly one of the best parts of the movie. The eldest, Tom Holland, showed incredible bravery as he rose to the challenge as the provider for his mother. Simarily, the two youngest sons were adorable and delivered their lines with painful cuteness.

If there was anything to critique, it would have to be that they kept going back to the scene where Maria is hit with debris underwater, it seemed a bit unnecessary and graphic, but it was forgiven by an incredible and inspiring image of her hand rising out of the water, a metaphor to her fighting strength and determination. The Impossible is a must-see film, that packs pain, heart-break, and joy in one package of amazing emotion.

ALL IN ALL: The Impossible is an intense must-see film with incredible performaces and an inspiring story of a determined family who will tear at your heart.

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One more day!!!!!! AHHHH!!!! I cannot wait for the Oscars and to release some of my pent-up energy, I decided to do one more post until the show. Argo: my prediction for Best Picture. I saw it last week and I can only say that it rightfully deserves the Oscar.

Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is a dramatization about the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation in which Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA operative, led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis by creating the alibi of a phony film being shot in Tehran. Also starring Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, the film is up for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor(Arkin).

I thought Argo was great. The casting was excellent. Ben Affleck did a good job as Tony Mendez, and Alan Arkin and John Goodman were hilarious! The film was also very tense and suspenseful. Very suspenseful. I was practically rocking back and forth during the climax scene at the airport. It was hair raising! The sound mixing added all the suspense and should win the Oscar it’s nominated for.

It  is not rare to see a historical film like this have so much of an impact on audiences everywhere, but really my favorite part of the movie was actually learning about this secret operation that would not have otherwise known about. The mission was declassified for such a long time and until 1997, when former President Bill Clinton declassified it, many people were oblivious to the whole thing. It’s so amazing how brave all those involved in the operation were especially Mendez, who had all the pressure thrown on his back, and the six diplomats, who had to presume complete fake identies in order to not get caught. They could get killed, but they still went ahead with it. If that was me, I think I would have collapsed with fear and anxiety. Kudos to Ben Affleck for bringing this amazing story to light.

ALL IN ALL: Argo is suspenseful, thrilling film that tells the story of a ground-breaking operation, and deserves all the acclaim.

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