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/

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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

 

 

The Conjuring 2

I love scary movies. I really do. I will admit that I only started watching them a while ago after trying to seem cool to my friends, but I have grown a deep love for the horror genre. The Conjuring series is no exception. I love the first Conjuring film. It is easily my favorite scary movie. Director James Wan, who has also directed classics like Saw, Insidious, and surprisingly Furious 7, is a master of suspense and thrills. The film does not rely on blood and gore but rather well-timed scares and growing suspense that provides a throwback to classic, old school horror films. Back at it again, The Conjuring 2 is no exception.

Directed by James Wan and based on a true story, The Conjuring 2 (2016) has Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens now travel to London, England in order to help a single mother and her four kids who are being plagued by a malicious spirit.

I want to refrain from comparing The Conjuring 2 too much to the first film, but I can say for a fact that I enjoyed the first film more and found the sequel to be less scary. Do not get me wrong, The Conjuring 2 is a scary film. There were moments that genuinely made me jump. The suspense and thrills were strong. However, it lacked that fresh feel the first film possessed, perhaps due to familiarity.

The film felt somewhat messy, in its plot and visuals. There were scares but almost too many. Let me explain this. The first film drew out the suspense and packed in scares that were not as frequent but packed in a very strong punch. However for example in The Conjuring 2, the first few scenes that featured the demonic entity (I do not want to describe it any more so as not to spoil much), were absolutely horrifying. The film then made the mistake of showing the entity way too often to the point where it was no longer scary by the end of the film. The scares felt repeated and unnecessary at times.

The Conjuring 2 also felt a bit long. Clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes, the film is a pretty average length but the pacing made it feel otherwise. A majority of the film was The Warrens along with other investigators trying to determine if the happenings were actually supernatural or not. Though this debate was actually a large part of the real life Enfield Case upon which the film is based upon, less of the film could have been devoted to that aspect. That being said, I found the first Conjuring to be a bit more believable than the second one. Also for those who have already seen the film, those Crooked Man visuals really took away from the tone and reality of it all. Shannon Kook who played Drew Thomas, the Warren’s assistant, in the first film had a small role in the second but really should have had more screen time in my opinion.

Nevertheless, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel. Again, James Wan is a master of horror so of course there are some great moments. I especially love his use of the settings and dark corners, making the audience really train their eyes and question, “Is there really something there?”. Though I was a bit thrown off by it, the film also focused many times on Ed and Lorraine’s relationship which was a nice breather from the suspense at times. Overall The Conjuring 2 is a well done addition to the Conjuring franchise and the horror movie library.

ALL IN ALL: Though not as strong and terrifying a film as its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 is a solid sequel with some worthy scares and surprisingly warm themes.

poster from: http://diymag.com/media/img/Film/C/The-Conjuring-2/_1500xAUTO_crop_center-center_75/the-conjuring-2-poster.jpg

OSCARS 2016!!!!

This is little late but whatever, any time is Oscar time! What did everyone think of this past Sunday’s Oscar ceremony? I personally was not a huge fan of Chris Rock’s hosting. He was funny but all of his jokes were about the Oscars So White issue, which is definitely important to highlight upon but it got old after a while (What even was that Stacey Dash bit?). I did like the Girl Scout cookie bit and seeing what types of cookies people got. Also, Louis C.K. should host next year because his little introduction was much funnier than all of Chris Rock’s attempts. Aside from the show, the best part about this year’s Oscars was by far the winners. Let’s go over them!

THE WINNERS (check mark ✓  and x mark ✗for my predictions being right or not)

    • Best picture: Spotlight ✗ I was actually very surprised Spotlight won since it really hasn’t won many awards this season. I was rooting for The Revenant.
    • Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant ✓  Yes! I love him and his work for this film.  It’s also his second Best Director win in a row!
    • Actor in a leading role: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant. YES YES YES ONE OF THE BEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE

Just for your own personal pleasure, here was my reaction to Leo winning:

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He is my favorite actor and he deserves this award so much. Being able to see him win that Oscar was amazing. His win also surpassed Ellen’s 2014 seflie as the most tweeted about Oscar moment!

    • Actress in a leading role: Brie Larson- Room 
    • Actor in a supporting role: Mark Rylance- Bridge of Spies  This was probably the biggest upset of the night for me. I was rooting for Stallone so hard and if not Sly then definitely Mark Ruffalo. I actually thought they said Ruffalo at first with the whole Mark R-, but sadly no.
    • Actress in a supporting role: Alicia Vikander- The Danish Girl  I had a strong feeling Alicia would win, but I still hoped for Kate Winslet anyway.
    • Writing (adapted screenplay): The Big Short 
    • Writing (original screenplay) : Spotlight ✓
    • Animated feature filmInside Out ✓
    • Animated Short: Bear Story ✗
    • Foreign language film: Son of Saul 
    • Music (original song): “Writing’s On The Wall” – Spectre ✓  Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens To You” was one of the best moments of the night and her song is absolutely beautiful, but I still predicted Sam Smith would win. Bond songs have a tendency to do so.
    • Music (original score): Ennio Moriccone- The Hateful Eight  ✗
    • Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki- The Revenant✓  So well deserved, the cinematography was one of the best aspects of the film. It’s also Chivo’s third consecutive Oscar!
    • Costume designMad Max: Fury Road ✗ Mad Max dominated the Oscars this year (6 wins overall)!
    • Documentary (feature): Amy ✓ 
    • Film editing: Mad Max: Fury Road ✗
    • Makeup and hairstyling: Mad Max: Fury Road ✓ 
    • Production design: Mad Max: Fury Road ✓ 
    • Visual effects: Ex Machina ✗ Actually happy Mad Max didn’t win this one.
    • Sound mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road ✓ 
    • Sound editing: Mad Max: Fury Road ✗
    • Short film (live action): Stutterer 
    • Best Documentary Short: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness ✗

In the end, I got a 15/24, 63%…yikes! My predictions were not on point this year. I am happy with most of the winners though!

Now *drumroll please*, 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

Naomi Watts in Armani Prive

Gorgeous colors and I love the sparkle!

Saoirse Ronan in custom Calvin Klein

She killed it this award season with her fabulous looks! The sparkle and cut of this green dress fit her perfectly.

Brie Larson in Gucci

Love the royal blue on her! 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton

Okay so I have very mixed feelings about this dress. On one hand, I absolutely love the yellow (my favorite color) and how it channels Belle (my favorite Disney princess), but something about the bottom of the dress throws me off.

Rachel McAdams in August Getty Atelier

It’s simple but I like the cut. 

Jennifer Garner in Atelier Versace

My favorite of the many black dresses on the red carpet this year

WORST

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior

Drab 

Olivia Wilde in Valentino

Not a huge fan of the cut and those pleats

Heidi Klum in Marchesa

No

Amanda’s Choices

BEST

Chrissy Tiegen in Marchessa and John Legend in Paul Smith

One of the prettiest maternity looks I’ve seen. John looks dapper as always.

Brie Larson in Gucci

Besides winning best actress, Brie also wins for being one of the best-dressed of the night. The color looks regal on her, and I love her waist bling.

Naomi Watts in Armani Prive

Saoirse Ronan in custom Calvin Klein

Love the sparkle and colors of these glam dresses! Both ladies pull the look off without looking too flashy. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Julianne Moore in Chanel

Jennifer Garner in Atelier Versace

Kate Winslet could learn from them. This is how to do a black dress!

Olivia Munn in Stella McCartney

We don’t see a lot of orange on the red carpet, but the cut of this dress makes the look work!

Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso in Versace

Matt always looks great, and I love the color and cut of Luciana’s dress!

WORST

Kate Winslet in Ralph Lauren

Kate is beautiful, but this was one of the worst dresses of the night. It looks like a garbage bag.

Emily Blunt in Prada

Looks like a cross between a prom dress and a fancy nightgown.

Kerry Washington in Atelier Versace

Is she trying out for the Tomb Raider remake? Smh

Thanks Amanda A! Well that’s it for this year’s Oscars! The 2016 award season has sadly come to an end. Thanks for joining us on our coverage and let’s start looking forward to next year!