To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

You can check out my review of the book that this film is adapted from HERE.
You can also read the review of the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before HERE.

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You

Director: Michael Fimognari

Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur, Holland Taylor, John Corbett, Sarayu Blue, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart

Lara Jean and Peter have just taken their relationship from pretend to officially official when another recipient of one of her old love letters enters the picture. – IMDB

Being a rather big fan of the books as well as absolutely adoring the movie, To All The Boys 2 has some big shoes to fill. And just like how I felt about the book sequel, I feel pretty much the same about this sequel. While the pink hearts and feel good moments are created rather well, what happens here in exchange for a more focused and fun coming of age teen romance in the first one is one that adds in a few too many tangents that never gets explored giving the characters not enough time to truly have more impact. For viewers like myself, the immense love for Lara Jean and Peter is memorable from the first film and can move onto the second film, but the second movie isn’t self-contained.

P.S. I Still Love You is supposed to dive into the growing up and insecurities of a relationship and while Lara Jean has those moments, it gets a little buried in her meeting John Ambrose and having some sweet moments and then Peter’s character falling into the background, which is supposed to be because of underlying issues with his ex-girlfriend Gen and then his obligations with school in preparation for college applications which never truly gets elaborated enough and what we get are just some sweet moment together with the two, and then some arguments as well. Adding in the plot with Stormy, which was a really great supporting character in the book, she also gets very little screen time here but still has that quirk and romance guidance element for Lara Jean. Then, there’s the dad finding his romance and squeeze all of this stuff into 100 minutes and it gets a little rushed.

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

While execution of the story and possibly how the adapted screenplay might be a little lacking here, the characters are really charming. The cast from the first film, Lara Jean and Peter still have that chemistry that they have and for viewers and people like myself who loved the first movie, its great to see their relationship move from being fake to real and navigating through certain insecurities and awkwardness of facing this in a more serious way. Adding in the love interest reappearance and choosing Jordan Fisher to be John Ambrose is definitely a good choice. John Ambrose is a different kind of charming boy that enters into Lara Jean’s life. He is something of a clean slate that creates a comparison for Lara Jean. While some of the decisions she makes approaching John Ambrose might not be all that correct, her character is a teenage student in her first relationship and the reality and expectations and comparing the two comes into play as all kinds of factors come into play as she tries to figure out her feelings towards these two boys. It does fit her character design as in the first film, its already obvious that Lara Jean isn’t someone who takes risks easily and doesn’t quite understand her feelings too well.

To All The Boys 2 is not as strong as the first film, as expected with sequels. I’m still not decided whether having a script like this is good or whether they could have committed more to the love triangle at hand here. In the end, there were a lot of great and sweet moments whether its John Ambrose or Peter and Lara Jean and it does give space for other characters to have their own little developments but its both a good and bad thing. It doesn’t give time for too many unnecessary things to happen because it just doesn’t have time for it but at the same time, the story jumping through so many characters and giving them their own little developments also seems to be nice to see but also doesn’t give more time for their main leads. Good and bad, right? The good thing though is despite all that, they manage to wrap up the whole thing in a meaningful way and giving the whole sequel some substance. In the end though, To All The Boys has some nice chemistry and some good revelations for Lara Jean and in reality, it makes sure that the audience knows one thing: whether you are team Peter or team John Ambrose, its not really about them but the story is all about Lara Jean.

Double Feature: La La Land (2016) & In My Dreams (2014)

Welcome to the next double feature! Its also the second (and probably last) Valentine’s romance film double feature. This time, we’re looking at romantic musical drama La La Land and then, pairing with it romantic drama In My Dreams. Let’s it check!

La La Land (2016)

La La Land

Director (and writer): Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, J.K. Simmons

While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future. – IMDB

Its taken a few years to catch up with La La Land and with Oscar-nominated films, I always hesitate to believe all the hype, especially when it comes to musical and romantic drama type of films. La La Land is a fun little movie. Its not completely about romance but its definitely present throughout as these two find being with each other to find the courage to be themselves and pursue their own dreams. At the same time, its fun because it has a lot of the right elements lined up, whether its Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling being cast as the two main leads and deliver some charismatic performances, a lot of great choreography for their dance numbers and a beautiful soundtrack as well as how the whole film has some wonderful cinematography. It all adds to the whole viewing experience.

If I had to be a little picky, because I do watch a lot of these types of things, albeit lower budget and not with all the other elements, the story of inspiration and romance and succeeding in your dream and the whole journey sort of story line is always rather similar and the same applies to La La Land. The script is absolutely not the standout point here. What helps a familiar script, because I think being familiar isn’t always a problem, is that the other elements done well above, makes the script find its unique elements. Perhaps the best thing about the script is the beautiful bittersweet ending add-in that actually rounds up the film so well.

In My Dreams (2014)

In My Dreams

Director: Kenny Leon

Cast: Katharine McPhee, Mike Vogel, JoBeth Williams, Joe Massingill, Rachel Skarsten, Antonio Cupo, Jessalyn Wanlim

Natalie and Nick are frustrated with their luck in romance. After tossing coins into a fountain, the two then begin dreaming about each other. But, according to fountain mythology, they only have a week to turn those dreams into reality. – IMDB

I think the best way to describe In My Dreams is that it has its heart in the right place. The story itself is not a bad one at all. We have movies like In Your Eyes which is about two people seeing through each other’s eyes (review) and then we have movies like The Lake House which is two people at different times, just as examples. In My Dreams success would lie heavily on the mechanics of how these two manage to meet in their dreams and then afterwards, how they end up realizing that they are actual people and not figments of their imagination and end up connecting in real life. For this point, it works and then it doesn’t.

In My Dreams is a TV movie so right away, the quality is probably more along the Hallmark movies kind of deal. And it does have that feel-good and inevitable happy ending. Its an okay movie in terms of those little elements of character building and making Nick and Natalie, played by Mike Vogel and Katharine McPhee respectively, rather decent characters. They don’t have a huge amount of depths, just like they only had a few conversations about not a lot that makes them feel like they would work with each other. However, they do have some fun supporting characters that make for some nice moments as these two characters work towards their own dreams.

Where this falls apart is in letting Nick and Natalie have this frustratingly slow way of connecting the dots of their little details in the conversations in their dreams to the events of themselves in reality as they had those missing each other moments (which is also rather expected in romance films). Those little cues that weren’t connected actually felt like it was ignored deliberately, making the script slightly inconsistent with these two characters who aren’t dumb especially as their conversations together is about deeper feelings and such.

In My Dreams is probably one that is okay for a rainy day but there are some plot holes and then its still a rather predictable movie.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these movies?

Double Feature: Always Be My Maybe (2019) & Dog Days (2018)

Valentine’s marathon is here! Well, at least some form of it! There will be TV Binges and some other double features lined up. However, its a much more casual deal this time around. Kicking off will be 2019’s Netflix romantic comedy release Always Be My Maybe and paired with 2018 romantic comedy Dog Days, because anything with dogs are going to be fun, right?

Let’s check it out!

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

always be my maybe

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Keanu Reeves, Susan Park, Daniel Dae Kim

Everyone assumed Sasha and Marcus would wind up together except for Sasha and Marcus. Reconnecting after 15 years, the two start to wonder – maybe? – IMDB

Ali Wong is truly a fantastic comedian and while this is stepping out of the comedian path and into acting, Ali Wong and her co-star Randall Park both take part in penning the script for this romantic comedy. It probably is why the script itself has some very quirky elements that somehow all come together in a random way. Randomness can bring in spontaneity and its what makes this romantic comedy rather fun and unique. Sure, the story feels about the same if you strip down the storyline but because Ali Wong and Randall Park are quite decent comedians, they adds a little more humor to their roles and works in the rom-com world.

Its this randomness in the script that actually does end up being a fun romp. Just like adding in a random Keanu Reeves cameo that honestly was super funny and probably the best part of the movie as the whole exaggeration of how the upper class things are rather silly. The movie takes that effort to play both sides as 15 years later, the two characters Sasha and Marcus have changed from Sasha being a known chef and rich and Marcus still doing the same as before in a somewhat starving artist sort of deal. Its the contrast that also creates a few sparks.

Always Be My Maybe is a fun romantic comedy. Striping it down, the main story is rather predictable but its the little comedic elements of both Randall Park and Ali Wong that give this flick a lot of heart and laugh. Its a feel good movie and one that is rather unique. Plus, they do have a few other more comedic roles especially with Michelle Buteau who plays a supporting role here as Sasha’s friend who after watching The Circle US as the host definitely was nice to see her here.

Dog Days (2018)

dog days

Director: Ken Marino

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Cephas Jones

A group of interconnected people in Los Angeles are brought together by their lovely canine counterparts. – IMDB

Set up as movies like Love Actually with different people in Los Angeles connecting through their dogs, Dog Days is a decent offering. The stories involve some great casting that has to take on most of the fun elements of this film. Vanessa Hudgens plays a woman who finds an abandoned dog and through this ends up volunteering at the pet shelter and connects with the socially awkward owner who happens to have a crush for her. Nina Dobrev plays an uptight morning show host who ends up being paired with an ex-football player to lighten up the show and connects through their two dogs. While Eva Longoria’s character and her husband are adopting a new girl who isn’t connecting with them but does through a lost dog who happens to belong to the fourth character of a widower who loses his dog accidentally and a pizza delivery kid (Finn Wolfhard) helps him look for it.

All pretty normal stories but because the characters themselves are well-casted, it adds a little something to it. It has its fun moments and a lot of cute moments as expected when working with a bunch of dogs and then some pretty heartwarming moments as connections build and love sparks and the likes, as with most romantic comedies, right? Its nothing super special but it does still have that feel good element when the film ends and everything generally pans out.

That’s it for this double feature!
Our first Valentine’s double feature to kick off this year’s “marathon”!
I’m a bit not sure where this is going so I’m aiming for another 2 double features in this marathon with some other tidbits like TV binges and such. 

Double Feature: Silent Night Deadly Night 2 (1987) & Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

So…I lied in the last double feature (HERE) about being the last Christmas lineup because we decided to watch another Alternate Christmas horror film on Shudder on Christmas day. Oops…haha! Pairing with this 80s slasher is this year’s uber cute movie, Pokemon Detective Pikachu. Lets check it out!!

Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

silent night deadly night 2

Director: Lee Harry

Cast: Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller, Ken Weichert

The now-adult Ricky talks to a psychiatrist about how he became a murderer after his brother, Billy, died, which leads back to Mother Superior. – IMDB

I have never seen the first film so we could only hope that it would work out, seeing as Shudder only has Part 2 and not the first, it must work relatively well as a stand-alone. Starting from a sequel, no matter how much it doesn’t really need the first film’s knowledge and still is easy to follow is not too easy to accomplish but I wonder if some of the little questions of the character here would make more sense with knowledge of the first one.

Silent Night Deadly Night 2 is not too good. Maybe as a lets all sit around and make fun of it deal, it did have that entertainment purpose. The dialogue was pretty bad and then you pair it with the very exaggerated and trying really hard to be villainous acting of Eric Freeman with the furiously moving eyebrows and big eyes and that really did make it all the more ridiculous altogether. It didn’t matter that the movie went along to tell the story of how it began with the brother and that made more sense than how he had those triggers that made him vengeful because it wasn’t really about the brother more than it seemed like he also was triggered by certain elements that changed him. Some story elements didn’t make a ton of sense.

Overall, Silent Night Deadly Night 2 was pretty meh. I mean, it was pretty mockworthy fun as we sat around repeating the dialogue and the crazy eyebrows which sometimes were quite hard to do in general in its frequency. It did add a twist that we didn’t quite see at the end although how it was done is quite a mystery.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

pokemon detective pikachu

Director: Rob Letterman

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere, Suki Waterhouse, Josette Simon, Rita Ora

In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective. – IMDB

I am going to be straightforward that I am not as big of a Pokemon fan as others. I know the basics and pop back into Pokemon Go every once in a while but I don’t think qualifies me as a “fan”. Detective Pikachu did some great promotional efforts though, with Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu and the trailers being so much fun to watch that it sold it to me right away. Plus, Pokemon is cute, REALLY cute so here we are…

Pokemon is Pokemon, its not meant to be deep or have some mega unexpected moment. In fact, keeping it simple might be its best execution and that is what this movie does. It blows you away with its comedy and the little bits of mystery and witty dialogue and just the sheer ability of being able to implement a variety of Pokemon types so well is quite the accomplishment. Its a fun time from start to finish. The ending did manage to squeeze in a little twist (about the father) that makes sense why something wasn’t done during the movie. Its a clever detail.

I didn’t have particularly any expectations for this one except to have a cute and fun time and I had that in spades. It was all that I had wanted and a lot more. Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu is brilliant. The dialogue packs in a lot of memorable moments. Plus, its all very witty and awesome. Sure, the danger of the whole situation and whatnot was pretty easy where they were going with the villain twist and who is behind the whole deal but I’m sure no one expected this one to be some deep story. Its simple and straightforward mystery and it ticks all the boxes of what you’d want from a Pokemon story. In fact, it does it a lot better than most video game inspired stories.

And for fun, here’s one of my favorite parts:

That’s it for this double feature! 
Have you seen these two films?

Music Obsessions – Christmas Special 2019

Music Obsessions (19)

Welcome to this year’s Christmas Special for Music Obsessions! We will be getting right down to business as we take a look at some Christmas song covers that I’ve found were pretty decent over the past month or so.

I’m going to not go and talk too much about any of these choices and just let you all listen to it and enjoy! Today’s a day to celebrate and probably not a lot of you are sitting by the computer or looking at the phone anyways. I just wanted to share some Christmas music and take it easy!

Silent Night – Boyce Avenue

Dueling Pianos Jingle Bells – Jon McLaughlin

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Voiceplay

Oh  Holy Night – Claire & Dave Crosby

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Pentatonix

That’s it for this Music Obsession Christmas Special!
Merry Christmas everyone!!

Double Feature: Christmas Evil (1980) & All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (82)

Welcome to the last holiday double feature for this year. Not double feature because that is staying, just before Christmas, no more holiday reviews. So we are ending with a nice change of pace to alternate Christmas horror found via Shudder: 1980’s Christmas Evil and 2018’s Christmas horror anthology All The Creatures Were Stirring.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil

Director (and writer): Lewis Jackson

Cast: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Marc Neville, Joe Jamrog

A toy factory worker, mentally scarred as a child upon learning Santa Claus is not real, suffers a nervous breakdown after being belittled at work, and embarks on a Yuletide killing spree. – IMDB

Christmas Evil is really a Christmas film as its not only set in Christmas but a horror story of a mentally unstable man who was scarred so deeply as a child that Santa Claus isn’t real that he chooses to make himself into Santa and takes revenge on all those who did him wrong. Being 1980 film, there is definitely that 80s slasher vibe that goes with it which actually is quite endearing to watch. However, the film does suffer from some issues of being rather slow in the first half of anything happening other than setting up all the bad things that happen to Harry and then his desire to become Santa.

Deal is, there is still this unsettling feeling with Christmas Evil especially in the second half when Harry loses it completely and from the moment that he commits to turning into Santa and starts all the actual killing spree parts, it gets rather fun to watch in an 80s horror way and as much as I don’t find them particularly scary, it has the entertainment element. This is pretty much where Christmas Evil fits in.

All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

All The Creatures Were Stirring

Director (and writer): David Ian McKendry & Rebekah McKendry

Cast: Graham Skipper, Ashley Clements, Constance Wu, Jonathan Kite, Jocelin Donahue, Mark Kelly, Matt Long, Amanda Fuller, Catherine Parker, Morgan Peter Brown, Michelle DeFraites, Stephanie Drake, Peter Cilella, Makeda Declet, Megan Duffy, Brea Grant, Matt Mercer, Diva Zappa

When an awkward date on Christmas Eve leads a couple into a strange theater, they’re treated to a bizarre and frightening collection of Christmas stories, featuring a wide ensemble of characters doing their best to avoid the horrors of the holidays. From boring office parties and last-minute shopping, to vengeful stalkers and immortal demons, there’s plenty out there to fear this holiday season. – IMDB

All The Creatures Were Stirring is a horror anthology with five horror stories set during Christmas and revolves around the central story of two people going on their first date on Christmas Eve to see a play where these five stories are being acted out. As with more horror anthologies, its a hit and miss deal with a lot of the stories. There’s an obvious indie low budget thing going on here as well which for some does add to the charm. If anything, its a lot more about some of the interesting creative elements added into the scenes than the stories as a whole which at times were downright odd or hard to get into while there were two that did stand out.

Dash Away All and In A Twinkling are the two that definitely were highlights of the anthology. Dash Away All is set in a parking lot where a man locks his keys in his car and ends up asking two girls to borrow a phone and ends up having this really fun twist. In A Twinkling is about a bunch of friends going to visit for a surprise Christmas party and the night takes a turn for a worse when they enter into a black and white loop from outer space. These two were a tad funny and had a hint of creepiness.

The Stocking Were Hung was okay with an Secret Santa party at work which turns into a Jigsaw killer sort of thing. There are some clever bits here but it feels a tad familiar (especially with Saw having so many movies in that franchise already). All Through The House is a horror Christmas Carol sort of deal which is pretty much the same sort of stuff but they did have one thing that I remembered kind of gave me a little jumpscare. It just feels a tad weird in its pacing. The last one to talk about is Arose Such A Clatter which really was the least appealing BUT it had the whole “killer” point of view going on that kind of made it a little more unique in the way they executed it.

The central story which is generally called To All A Good Night is what links these pieces together. It does capture the awkward element well but then it seems to lack some substance to it as it does try to have a twist ending and ends up leaving it as an open-ended deal which is a good and bad thing, leaving the mystery but then makes it feel incomplete especially since this being the piece that connects the stories together means the story itself isn’t fleshed out in between the stories. Some good, some decent and some meh stories here making this one that I might not want to revisit considering it took me a few sittings to get through it this time already.

That’s it for this holiday double feature!
Have you seen these two films before? Thoughts?
Are Alternate Christmas films part of your holiday viewing?

DIY Crafts: Branch Wreath (Take #2)

Probably the last crafts post (although I am trying to squeeze in one more thing before Christmas comes around) for the holidays and its a Take 2 of Branch Wreath. We’ve been having some really crappy weather so its rather gloomy. To cheer up my in-laws, because I do that every once in a while when I have something fun to share, I decided to make them a new wreath, specifically a branch wreath (since that is apparently my new obsession).

This one is definitely more for my mother-in-law who likes angels (according to my husband) so we found the only angel decor and built the wreath around it.

Here’s our shopping haul at Michael’s:

20191207_195658.jpg

  • Gold Branch Wreath
  • 1 Mistletoe
  • 1 Fir and Pine Cones
  • 2 Angels
  • 2 Holly Leaves with Birds
  • 2 Eucalyptus and White Berries
  • 2 Snowy Branches (I don’t know how to describe them but its the long white ones)

After a lot of deliberation and moving things around and a floor full of gold sparkles and branches, this was the final result.

20191215_092501.jpg

In my opinion, I actually think this one beats my own (which I am not working on fluffing up a little to give it more volume). This is where this one has more of and works pretty well also. It feels more dimensional and has some depth with layers of different decors. I did hot glue the pieces into the wreath so that my in-laws can store it without anything breaking off.

Improvements to this one (because what crafting wouldn’t have that in my opinion):

  • I’d have added another angel to give it a row which would make it an obvious centerpiece.
  • Would have gotten some wire to tie down some of the stems that are embedded in the wreath as I had to twist it forcibly and then glue it to the wreath and hopefully it won’t come out

Other than that, I’m pretty happy with this one. It highlights the theme I’m going for and adds the greenery and the color scheme works pretty well. I like the symmetry but also the parts that stand out are the ones where its subtle changes with the mistletoe on one side and the fir and pine cones on the other, giving it subtle differences. Its an improvement in my opinion from the previous one because it adds some three dimensional feeling to it.

I’m not quite sure that I’d work with a gold wreath again though because its a very dominating sort of backdrop color palette that very few things seem to work with. Maybe I’ll try out the silver wreath next time (or maybe the red which is the remaining option, I think, but that might also be hard and not easy to decorate the house with).

Future wreath themes to think about: North Pole or Rustic Woodland

You can check out my previous wreath post HERE.