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

 

 

Arrival

After a long slump (truly sorry my last review was in June), I have finally seen a film that has motivated me to write again: Arrival. I really enjoyed this film. In fact, I loved it. It exceeded my expectations and left me speechless. I can easily name it as my favorite movie this year (so far). However it may not be for everyone.

After 12 mysterious spacecrafts touch down in different locations across the globe, the military enlists the aid of linguist professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try to translate the alien communications before a global war breaks out.

Arrival was not the movie I expected. From first glance it may seem like a typical alien invasion type film but do not be fooled. I prefer to describe Arrival as a film that simply has aliens in it. Truth be told, while the alien aspect of the film does play a very large and central role to the plot, the film is revealed to be much larger and introspective. This reason alone is why I do not feel the movie may meet everyone’s expectations. Certainly some sci-fi fans who go in solely expecting an alien invasion movie will be somewhat disappointed. Arrival is not a simple popcorn flick. It is an intelligent film that makes one think, so much that even I cannot stop going over the film in my head.

Arrival is full of emotion. Right from the beginning, it grabs your heart and your mind and does not let go until the very end, where truth be told I found myself in tears. It is simply a beautiful film. With strong performances from Amy Adams and a gorgeous score by Jóhann Jóhannsson (whose previous work includes films such as The Theory of Everything), the film takes the viewer away into a parallel world. The story line of the film is also so smart and intricately constructed. Both beautiful and heartbreaking, the plot of Arrival forgoes conventional storytelling and constantly reels in one’s concentration. Seriously the film made me gasp.

I wholeheartedly recommend this film and I also suggest going in as blind as possible. Arrival may not be what it is pictured as, but nevertheless, it is a powerful and moving film that grows into so much more. The overarching themes and decisions the plot presents resonate with the viewer even after the credits roll. Arrival definitely is a sci-fi film, but it is more so a film about life-about endings and beginnings. Arrival is a well done film and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ALL IN ALL: While not the typical alien movie, Arrival unveils itself as a beautiful and poignant film with themes of life that resonate deep.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Year: 2016

 

 

The Revenant

Oh man, how I have been looking forward to this film or what! So glad I finally got to see The Revenant recently because right now it is my top awards season contender. It was fantastic and deserves every single Oscar nomination it received (12 by the way!).

After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his own hunting team, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s, is forced to fight for survival and find redemption.

A few words to describe The Revenant: raw, intense, amazing, epic, beautiful…the list goes on! Coming off his work on the Oscar winner Birdman, director Alejandro González Iñárritu deserves praise for his excellent direction in the film. The grueling shoot and the work put into this film shows in every single scene. Probably my favorite aspect of the film was the gorgeous cinematography by the ingenious Emmanuel Lubezki (who also won awards for his work on films such as Gravity and Birdman). Chivo outdoes himself in The Revenant, with stunning camera work and the use of only natural lighting throughout the whole film. The result is breathtaking with shots that are as raw as they are delicate.

Let’s be real though. The Revenant is Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio is The Revenant. Never before have I seen a performance like that, one that just requires so much commitment from the actor. Needless to say he was absolutely incredible and deserves every single accolade out there. The things he had to do in this movie! It is insane! His character is mostly silent throughout but the power of his performance is loud. Tom Hardy also did a great job in the film so I am glad he finally got the recognition he deserved through his nomination.

A revenant is defined as one who has returned, as if from the dead. Glass’s return is one that truly expresses the power of the human spirit. The backbone of the film is a gripping fight for survival and revenge with the only guidance of sheer will and a love for family. The Revenant is bleak but it is beautiful. The amazing feats of cinema and acting achieved in the film should be appreciated along with the epic true tale of Hugh Glass.

Whiplash

 

I love this snow! Before you begin reading, please make sure to press play on the audio above. Trust me, the soundtrack for this next film will put you in the mood (the actual sound starts at 0:16). So another movie I decided to watch was Whiplash, which won 3 Academy Awards recently. Seriously, my heart is still pounding from this one!

Whiplash centers around a promising student jazz drummer (Miles Teller) who enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor (J.K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

If you look at the poster above for Whiplash, you will see many different words that have been used to describe the film, all of which are so true. “Astounding” “Electrifiying” “Exhilerating” See, one of the things I love most about awards season, is that oftentimes it bring deserved praise and buzz to a film that might not have reached a great audience before. Whiplash, in my opinion, was fantastic.

What stands out most, besides from the great, great music involved, is the amazing performances. I am actually surprised Miles Teller did not receive more recognition for this role. He was incredible and put 100% into this role. Fun fact: he actually is a drummer and some of the blood that you see on the drum set in those intense scenes is actually his! However, the real breakout performance was J.K. Simmon’s. That man deserved every single award he won. He too put everything into this role and the result is incredible. I cannot even imagine being one of his students! His unconventional and hardcore teaching methods really make one wonder whether he is the ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’. I myself am still unsure of this. The complicated and ever-changing relationship present between Andrew (Teller) and Fletcher (Simmons) produced some of the best acting performances in 2014.

Whiplash is one of the lowest-grossing movies to ever be nominated for an Academy Award, but do not be fooled. The sound, the story, the performances make it so hard to turn away. On the surface, the film may appear to be a simple student vs. teacher scenario, though there is much more. It is a film about reaching your potential but also determining your limits.

ALL IN ALL: Whiplash is an intense and thrilling film that delivers some of the best performances of the year.

image from: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wq6VXHpRL._SY355_.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