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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Passengers

Two strangers alone on a spaceship. Make that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence alone on a space ship. Sounds intriguing right? I mean I would want to see that movie. Passengers has all the ingredients for a solid movie. An interesting premise, cool sets and effects, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood. All it really needed was a well crafted story. What a story it lacks though.

On a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet, two passengers (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) wake up from induced hibernation 90 years too early.

Okay just read that premise. Again does it not sound interesting? That is the movie the trailers were advertising. That is the movie that I went in thinking I would see. Sadly it is not. Here is my main issue with Passengers and what I gather has been many people’s: Passengers is misleading. It really is. However I am going to refrain from giving anything away. The film was marketed in a way that was not fair to its actual material and to the people paying money to see it, and I personally found that frustrating. It also makes it very hard to overlook the true premise, which is a little more difficult to accept.

Not only was the film misleading, but the story itself was pretty lackluster once you get past the revelations not given away in the promos. The film felt sort of like Titanic, Gravity, and a bit of The Martian all rolled up into one. The action was severely anticlimactic and the character development poor. Good chunks of the movie were solely devoted to showing off how hot the main actors are. It only goes to show my theory that if one of the two characters was not as attractive, then none of the events in the film would have happened. It all felt vain at times and I found myself with many questions at the end.

All this is not to say there are no positive aspects of Passengers because there are! Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s performances were great, as was their chemistry. They were not given the best material to work with though. Michael Sheen was actually a bright standout in the film as the robot bartender Arthur. His character was charming and his performance was simply refreshing. The costumes and sets had a nice aesthetic to them and while more could have been done with the visual effects, I found them overall satisfying.

To put it simply, Passengers made me frustrated. Not only was I upset with how the story developed but I also felt that there was so much missed opportunity with the film. Again all the key ingredients were there. It just needed a better story. That being said, I enjoyed Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in the film. While I might not recommend seeing Passengers in theaters, I feel like some may still enjoy watching the film.

ALL IN ALL: Even with great chemistry from its two leads, Passengers still comes up short with a misleading and lackluster story.

Also, introducing our new ticket stub rating system (thanks Aimee J)!

PASSENGERS 2.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Crimson Peak

It’s October, which means Halloween is coming around the corner, which also means that it is the time for scary movies! Now I like scary movies. I do not watch them all the time, but I do love a good horror film once in a while. Since it is currently the season of screams, I wanted to see a film with my friend, who also appreciates scary movies, that would give us some thrills. Crimson Peak caught our eye right when the trailer was released, so naturally we went in to see it. We came out with some surprised and mixed reactions.

Directed by master of horror and fantasy Guillermo del Toro, Crimson Peak tells the story of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), who after a family tragedy, marries the mysterious but charming Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Swept away to live with him and his sister (Jessica Chastain) in their remote and dilapidated mansion in England, Edith soon encounters ghosts haunting her new home. Her search for the truth leads her to the real monsters of the house.

I think it is important to point out that Crimson Peak is not a horror movie. Though there were thrills and some gore, the actual scary parts were minimal. In the film, aspiring writer Edith describes her newest manuscript not as a “ghost story” but rather a “story with ghosts in it”. This description can actually serve for the film itself as well. The role of the ghosts in the film was actually not as large as I initially thought it would be. I was not expecting the big reveal of the film to be what it was either, though I had hunch in the beginning, because the whole time I was assuming a more supernatural aspect to take part.

Besides this initial confusion, I feel like as a whole I did enjoy Crimson Peak. It was not a typical scary movie, but it contained some really gorgeous visuals. The Gothic costumes and set designs were fantastic! Seriously, some of the shots that del Toro creates are truly beautiful. All of these elements combined along with the strong use of color imagery created the signature creepy atmosphere of the film.

So Crimson Peak is definitely not for everyone. Those who do not like horror movies should stay away because though that aspect of the film is toned down, it is still present. Other than that, it really is just stunning visually. Sure, the plot got a bit messy and outlandish with more than few loose strings left in the end but I would suggest ignoring all that. Let Guillermo del Toro take you on a journey to Crimson Peak.

ALL IN ALL: Do not be fooled by the horror label on Crimson Peak, and while the plot turns a bit to the extreme, the visuals in the film are gorgeous and not to be overlooked.

image from: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNTY2OTI5MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTkzMjQ0NDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_.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

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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

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Earlier this year I read the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky. I absolutely loved it and immediately saw the movie afterwards. A word of advice that I will tell to anyone seeing a movie adaptation of any book: READ THE BOOK FIRST!  Especially for Perks because in my opinion, the book is better, but I still recommend the movie 100%.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower based on the novel by Steven Chboksy and directed by him as well, tells the story of a shy freshman named Charlie(Logan Lerman) taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam(Emma Watson) and Patrick(Ezra Miller) who welcome him to the real world.

I really liked how the movie was directed by author too. Many movie adaptations turn out much different from their basis, but with the author directing, there’s no room for flaws! The casting was excellent in the film. Logan Lerman was sensational as Charlie! A word about Charlie: I love him so much. He’s the kind of character that you just wanna give a hug to and is so likeable. I thought Lerman did a great job of this and portrayed him just as the book did. Emma Watson was surprisingly good as the free-spirited Sam. I was hesitant of her casting at first because I couldn’t picture her as anyone but Hermoine Granger. However, she breaks out of her Harry Potter shell and is unrecognizable. Ezra Miller also was great as the humorous and giddy Patrick. Their friendship was heartfelt and gives hope to any lonely kid that there are friends out there waiting for you.

The movie;however, did leave out many scenes, including some of the really important ones. I wished it was longer because I felt that  it sped along almost too quickly. Also, Charlie’s relationships with some people were not that developed as they were in the book. Paul Rudd plays Charlie’s English teacher Mr. Anderson, who by the way did a great job. Their friendship was not focused on as much and felt very distant. Also in the film, as Mr. Anderson gives Charlie his first book to read, Charlie is seen putting it on his bedroom shelf. I kind of wished this continued throughout the movie so that at the end, the audience could have seen all the books Charlie had read. Just a thought.  In addition to, the portrayal of teenage issues, including drug use and alcohol, seemed idolized, and the suicide of Charlie’s best friend(NOT A SPOILER) seemed glossed over even though the event counts for many of Charlie’s actions and feelings in  the film.

The climax of the movie was done exceptionally well. The music, the camera movement, and Lerman’s emotional performance gave the scene so much more height and suspense. The flashbacks of his Aunt Helen throughout the film were smart, and Charlie and Sam’s relationship and chemistry was really cute. Again, I love Charlie. Perks of Being a Wallflower was a good, but did have its flaws.

ALL IN ALL: Perks is an excellent adaptation of the book and includes outstanding performances by its lead cast.

image from: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMzIxOTQyODU1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDQ4Mjg4Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_.jpg

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I keep meaning to review older movies, but I can’t help but review movies that I have recently seen! So far, all the movies I have reviewed have been award contenders, including this one: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which was nominated for 3 Golden Globes this year (Best Picture: Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy, and Best Actor in a Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy). I can happily say that it deserved those nominations.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is about a fisheries expert( Ewan McGregor) who is approached by a consultant (Emily Blunt) to help realize a sheik’s (Amr Waked) vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the Yemen desert, initiating an upward journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.

I liked Salmon Fishing a lot. It was a charming, feel-good movie. However, the movie was sometimes carried through by its amazing cast. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt were fantastic in this movie. You know, I honestly thought McGregor always had a British accent, but then he had such a remarkable Scottish accent in the film that I was prompted to look the matter up and I found that he was originally from Scotland, which must have been helpful. In conclusion, his accent was great, as well as his amazing performance. Emily Blunt did a good job too, and the both of them had great chemistry in this movie. I loved them together. Kristen Scott Thomas was additionally in the cast, as the British Prime Minister’s overzealous press secretary. Her character, at times, was bit too overzealous for me, but nevertheless she belonged in the film.

Harriet (Blunt) and Dr. Jones (McGregor) talking to Sheik Muhammed (Waked) about the salmon plan.

One of my only problems with the film was that it started into the storyline so suddenly that I was unprepared and confused. The plot was a bit puzzling at times, but it all smooths out as the film progresses. The accents were a bit heavy too, but that’s really not a huge issue. Also the ending seemed a bit unfinished, tying up the loose strings too quickly. However, I did love the plot of the film because the whole idea was very original, though we can’t forget that it was based on a novel of the same name by Paul Torday. The imagery was beautiful and symbolic too. There was one scene where a salmon swims the opposite way in the river, which parallels a scene earlier in the film where McGregor’s character turns around and walks through a crowd after a sudden realization. So I guess, McGregor is essentially the “salmon”? Oh….. that does make sense, but I can’t explain without giving away too much!

Salmon Fishing had everything a film should have: comedy, drama, romance, etc. It was full of hope and new beginnings, which I liked. And c’mon, salmon in the Yemen?! Even I didn’t believe in it, but by the end you realize that the wise sheik didn’t only want salmon to come to the desert. He also wanted faith to come and so it does, in the film and also in the hearts of viewers.

ALL IN ALL: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a charming movie that brings faith and joy to its viewers.

images courtesy of:

The Artist

Aloha. So in honor of the Golden Globe nominations, which came out yesterday http://www.imdb.com/oscars/nominations/golden-globes, I decided to review one of my favorite movies and last year’s Academy Award Best Picture film: The Artist.

Let’s first observe the film industry today. We are surrounded by 3D, remakes, reboots, sequels, and adaptations of books(seriously does every book have to be made into a movie?). In some cases these can produce great movies, but I feel that most are lifeless. It’s like all the writers in Hollywood have run out of ideas! Then comes The Artist.

One word: refreshing. How refreshing to find a film with an original idea. A film with a love story that is actually centered around love! The Artist is in the style of a black-and-white- silent film. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, the movie focuses on the relationship between a silent film star and a rising young actress in the late 1920’s Hollywood. As silent cinema falls out of action and is replaced by “talkies”, their careers veer in opposite directions.

This was the first silent film I’ve ever seen. Before seeing it in January, I was curious as to how it would all play out. However, the silent aspect of the film brings it all together. Also the cast, above all, are the people who carry this film through from start to finish. Jean Dujardin, oh Jean. I absolutely love saying your name and I absolutely loved you in this film. Not only did you look the part of a dashing actor but your portrayal as the silent movie star, George Valentin, who’s world is turned upside down by the introduction of talking-pictures was excellent.You deserved every karat of gold in that Oscar you won for best actor. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was where Valentin dreams a nightmare where all these everyday sounds are exagerrated (the first sounds the audience actually hears in the film), and he finds that only his own voice is stifled. The scene was just chock full of emotion and was acted out flawlessly. Oh and Bérénice! You were so perfect as Peppy Miller, a peppy girl who slowly rises through the entertainment industry. You portrayed the persona of your character with grace and charm, a true star.  Last but not least, we can’t forget Uggie the dog who was impeccable!

My favorite part of the movie would have to be the climax which definetly packs a bang( heehee double meaning for those who have seen movie). The ending is great too. I wish I could talk about them, but I don’t want to give spoil the movie. I recommend everyone to see it.

ALL IN ALL: The Artist is a refreshing movie that is an absolute pleasure to watch.

movie poster from: http://manilovefilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/The-Artist-Affiche-finale.jpg