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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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

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

See This, Not That: Rom-Com Edition

So we took a bit of a break after award season concluded, but now we’re back on track! So, Friday nights can be spent a couple of ways, but one of the most popular activities is to watch a movie! Something light and fresh, perhaps a romantic comedy? If you’re in the mood for some laughs and love, stick with us as we review Ruby Sparks and When Harry Tries to Marry.

SEE THIS: Ruby Sparks

My sister suggested this movie to me a long time ago, but I never felt like sitting down and actually watching it. I decided today that I wanted something fun and a bit quirky to watch so I’m glad I remembered Ruby Sparks.

Ruby Sparks is about a writer (Paul Dano) struggling with writer’s block whose fictional character Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) comes to life.

I really liked this film. It was a bit eccentric like most indie films and had a very creative plot. Dano was exceptional as the lovelorn and secluded Calvin and though her character annoyed me a bit, Kazan portrayed Ruby’s free-spirited attitude with ease. Kazan actually wrote the screenplay and though I praise her ingenuity, I was not a fan of knowing she pretty much created her own character (kind of like the movie ironically). What I liked most about the film was that it rolls numerous genres and aspects all into one:  fantasy, a view on the creative process, a beautiful romance,  the fragility and controlling power of relationships and the male ego, etc. Jam packed, but compelling

ALL IN ALL: Ruby Sparks is a charming and enjoyable film that does an interesting take on love and relationships.

Rated R, 104 minutes


NOT THIS: When Harry Tries to Marry

 

I enjoy British Asian films like Bend it Like Beckham, and though When Harry Tries to Marry is not exactly British, there were similarities with the Indian-American child living in the country the parents immigrated to, kind of like The Namesake as well. However, this film tries to be funny and show a child who is not ashamed of his culture and actually embraces aspects of it even more than his parents. Notice how I said “tried”.

When Harry Tries to Marry tells the story of Indian- American Harry (Rahul Rai) who is cynical about love after his parents’ divorce and desires an arranged marriage, but his friendship with an American friend Theresa (Stefanie Estes) complicates his plan.

Let me start off with pointing out that I could not even finish this movie. I stopped halfway, went against all my film morals and skipped to the end, then immediately turned it off and regretted deciding to watch it in the first place. Yes, it’s that bad. It could have been good, but it failed in so many places! First of all, if you are going to have the main protagonist decide between two girls, you have to give some kind of negative quality to the character he will reject or else your audience becomes confused and does not know who to root for. I disliked Theresa’s character so much, that it just ruined the whole story for me. The characters were unlikable, the plot swerved, and I feel like the story could have worked much better if it was switched around. Perhaps Harry could have been against arranged marriages and then discovered his culture or something like that. Either way, it just does not work.

ALL IN ALL: When Harry Tries to Marry is very very scary, in its attempt to be good.

Rated PG-13, 93 minutes

images from:

Frozen

Okay so while many of us here on the East Coast have been snowed in by this huge blizzard, I decided to review a movie with a title very appropriate for the occasion: Frozen! When I think of Disney movies, I automatically think of Disney’s Renaissance era: 1989-1999 that included classics such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, etc. Disney movies have been declining lately so I was genuinely surprised to hear some critics comparing Frozen to the studio’s past glory. I saw the movie and you know, I might just agree with that but with some reserves.

Frozen tells the story of fearless and optimistic princess Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) who teams up with rugged mountain-man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his pet reindeer, and a cheery but hapless snowman (Josh Gad) to find her estranged sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

Gosh I loved this movie. Honestly, nothing negative to say! I thought the voices were great, the visuals stunning, and the musical numbers were fantastic! I downloaded the whole album and cannot stop listening to it. Finger’s crossed for the film’s most acclaimed song “Let It Go” to win the Oscar for Best Original Song! The last Disney film of this kind that I can really think of is Tangled, and while I really enjoyed it, I don’t really remember any of the songs. For me, I can remember Frozen‘s songs as easily as I can for some classics like Beauty and the Beast and Mulan, which is why I’m guessing most critics are comparing the film to those of the past (get to that later).  The themes in the film are excellent as well. Sisterhood, trust, and finding the right person are all explored and very refreshing when compared to some previous princess movies. Frozen isn’t cliché and it really does have you guessing till the end, with delicious plot twists and surprises. The characters (especially Olaf) were so lovable too!

Despite how awesome Frozen was, I don’t think it should be categorized with the Disney classics. For one thing, those are classics and made a while ago. Frozen has the same story and song quality, but it is primarily done with CGI rather than traditional hand-drawn animation. However, Frozen is one of the best recent Disney films and I definitely see it as a sign of Pixar’s decline. The last films Pixar released were Monster’s University in 2013 and Brave in 2012, both pretty average and nowhere near the greatness of its past films like Up and Toy Story. Frozen is really driving the Disney Revival.

I recommend Frozen for everyone: young and old alike. It’s got comedy,romance, heart; a cool (haha) treat for anyone to watch!

ALL IN ALL: Frozen is an awesome film filled with music and fun for the whole family, a great addition to Disney’s impressive collection.

image from: http://media.comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Frozen-movie-poster.jpg