Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?

Valentine’s Marathon: Mr. Right (2015)

And the Valentine’s Marathon finally starts! There’s only like a five day countdown to the actual day, not that it really means anything much to myself but its a nice excuse to jump into some romantic comedies and other romance dramas. I finally managed to find time to get some of it done.

The first one was actually quite unexpected but I wanted to be spontaneous so I ended up choosing Mr. Right. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, what can go wrong, right?

Let’s check it out!

Mr. Right (2015)

Mr. Right

Director: Paco Cabezas

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA, Katie Nehra

A girl falls for the “perfect” guy, who happens to have a very fatal flaw: he’s a hitman on the run from the crime cartels who employ him. – IMDB

It always feels good to start up a movie and right away, the comedy tone is exactly what you’d like. Mr. Right was exactly what I liked about it. It helps that I’m a fan of Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick. Mr. Right isn’t perfect for sure. The story itself has some pretty awkward and great moments. Some other fun times and there’s a tad of action here and there but the true stars of the movie in this rather messy plot line that seems to really work best when Sam Rockwell and/or Anna Kendrick is on screen. Lucky for us (and the movie as a whole), they are in a lot of scenes. Our villain is a little undefined because there’s Tim Roth’s character hunting down Sam Rockwell, that trickles into a somewhat silly but manipulative plot of these brothers and their feud, who are the obvious baddies. Mr. Right works in all the odd and awkward ways.

Mr. Right

Mr. Right has a great cast headlining for it. Anna Kendrick plays as Martha, a girl freshly broken up and in the recovering days, she meets Mr. Right (aka Francis), played by Sam Rockwell. Anna Kendrick as Martha sometimes reminds me a little of Tina Fey. That is a great thing because Tina Fey’s humor usually works for me. Anna Kendrick however carries herself nicely as the sweet but unique girl. Martha is a colorful character. She has weird thought processes and connects odd things together and right from the child of her aspiring to be a T-Rex, we already know we’re in for some fun times. There are not enough words to describe how fantastic Anna Kendrick plays this role into a believable manner. Its hard for us to find someone so awkward also but she does in Mr. Right, a hitman with a reverse psychology to not only dance his way out of situations, view a connection to the objects around him to predict when and where things will drop but also kill the people who hire him because murder is wrong. Mr. Right is on the run but when he misses Martha, he feels the connection right away and it changes who he is a lot because he doesn’t want to lose her. In just a short few days, the connection between Martha and Francis are amazing. Odd and awkward but incredibly cute and fun. Props goes to Sam Rockwell for being able to pull off such a crazy character but also to both of them for delivering incredible chemistry. Even without the action and fighting and guns, watching them both was charming and adorable and entertaining to no end.

Mr. Right

I’m a fan of Tim Roth. I’ve liked him since his role in Lie to Me. He was the highlight of 2015’s The Hateful Eight (even if I didn’t like the movie). Yet here, his character is interesting to say the least. Its hard to say its bad but probably more underused. Tim Roth plays Hopper, the mentor of Francis who is now hunting him down to set him straight from what he thinks is pathetic ways. However, Hopper also is a master of disguises and when he acts as a cop in New Orleans, his accent actually sounds pretty bad. Not that I’m an expert at accents but it felt a little fake, which it is, of course. In many ways, if this plot was only about Hopper chasing down Francis and then Francis falling for Martha, perhaps it would be more neat.

Mr. Right

However, we then step into the other plot point of the actual baddies which are brothers in feud where the younger Von, played by James Ransone, is trying to use Francis’s reverse hitman oddity to his advantage and get rid of his brother, Richie, played by Anson Mount who now runs the show. Von has the help of Johnny Moon, played by Michael Eklund (who I recently complimented for his role as the bad guy in The Call). These guys are all idiots on purpose, meaning the script wrote them like that and its these moments that give the movie a comedic action moments and in all honestly, with a story that doesn’t really have much going for it with these bad guys and whatever they are up to, that is what makes it all the more entertaining. It actually boosts the characters of Francis and especially Martha as she breaks out of her shell and embraces her crazy making her really the perfect match for her Mr. Right.

Mr. Right

You know what? The more I write about it and think about Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick as Mr. Right/Francis and Martha, I just can’t help but love them more and more. Sure, Mr. Right has a few flaws, mostly in a somewhat messy plot with supporting characters not used to their full potential but there’s something special here. Its entertaining and has some really great comedic moments. The chemistry between Francis and Martha is awesome and made me love them and cheer for them in all the weirdest ways to actually believing that they are in fact, perfect for each other. And Francis compliments Martha in the oddest moments during the movie and its kinda cute and sweet and hilarious all at the same time. Action-romantic comedy dose totally fulfilled here.

Have you seen Mr. Right? Are you a fan of Anna Kendrick and/or Sam Rockwell?

Valentine’s Marathon: The Longest Ride (2015)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We’re wrapping up Valentine’s Marathon with The Longest Ride, released last year for another Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation. Its been a while that I’ve been hopeful about a Nicholas Sparks movie but Britt Robertson is in this one.  I love her so much and she has so much potential.  She’s been in a ton of stuff that I love from movies to TV series.  I have yet to watch Tomorrowland but I’m pretty excited to watch Britt Robertson, especially when its opposite the very handsome Scott Eastwood.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Longest Ride (2015)

The Longest Ride

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Cast: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Melissa Benoist, Elea Oboron

The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man, as he reflects back on a past love.-IMDB

Hey! Old and young couples again? Seems like Nicholas Sparks is following a pattern and keeping his formulaic way.  I kind of should have waited to see this movie before saying that The Best of Me wasn’t pretty good.  The Longest Ride is one of the best Nicholas Sparks movies to me.  Right from the get go, I loved the characters.  The main ones, the supporting, the relationships, even the young and old contrast and the lovey-dovey message it sends.  For once, its not the typical ending you’d expect and I really like that. Plus, the whole scenario of North Carolina and professional bull fighting, especially Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood.  Can I just say how handsome Scott Eastwood is and I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be a good actor but I’d say that he is pretty good. Before I start talking about the characters, I loved the whole country music soundtrack going on.

The Longest Ride

At this point, I guess you’ve all been determined that I’m just a total sappy romance person.  Even I’m going to admit it straight out and just own it. The Longest Ride is nothing innovative and its predictable and formulaic.  Like I said with all the Nicholas Sparks adaptations, I know they are.  I’m not even going to argue. I’m not sure its just accepting those parallels in the old and young couple anymore but there were some things I wasn’t quite on board with for this one.  If anything, I felt much more connected to Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood’s Sophia and Luke’s relationship more than the older couple, told by the old man Ira (played by Alan Alda) about his love with his wife when he was young and the sacrifices they had to make that was worth it to them. But, Ira and Sophia’s relationship of reading the letters and getting to really connect and teach her about love just like Luke’s relationship with his mom was one that I thought was a good addition to the story.

The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride feels very different from the last few adaptations that has been released.  Its more natural love.  Its not manipulative at all in comparison.  The message is clear and the twist is finally one that enforces that its not trying to manipulate its audience.  Romantic dramas work because of how their characters carry their roles and everyone here does pretty great.  Britt Robertson was fantastic as she always was.  Young love and awkward, not knowing how to proceed but being deeply in love, believing they could fight through the obstacles, feeling torn and heartbroken: she portrays all that.  I think I connected with her character right away. Then comes Scott Eastwood who just kicks all the other handsome suitors that Nicholas Sparks has ever brought to life and pulls on a great performance as a professional bull fighter and not really being about to let go when he should, and learning what is important to him.  Sure, its sappy that love is the center of your life and its the rest of the your life and all that stuff but when I fall in love, I feel that way.  So, I can relate and I genuinely felt their heartbreak when they hit that unavoidable movie trope bump in the road.

The Longest Ride

Overall, The Longest Ride is possibly my second favorite Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation.  Nothing can quite beat A Walk to Remember still but it comes pretty close.  I was getting all teary and heartbroken and happy when these emotions were asked for.  They came naturally right from the beginning.  Its something that actually doesn’t happen too frequently early in these adaptations.  Most of them are acceptable and enjoyable but this one exceeded my expectations and thats counting the fact that it includes one of my favorite young actresses right now, Britt Robertson and just loving the charm that Scott Eastwood brought, along with having effective supporting roles and relationships that helped the story along without making it manipulative. I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Its a great way to end this very short Valentine’s Marathon!

Have you seen The Longest Ride? Do you like Britt Robertson and/or Scott Eastwood?

Valentine’s Marathon: The Best of Me (2014)

A year or two ago, I went on a mission to watch all the available Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations.  I wanted it to be a torture fest.  What it turned out to be wasn’t half as bad as I’d expect.  Maybe I grew numb or accustomed to it.  Some of them weren’t so good but I managed to pull something from a good few of them.  Its really not all that surprising, considering that I’m a romantic. My best friends know it, my husband knows it and it makes me highly tolerant of super sappy movies that people criticize.  I acknowledge movie tropes and cliches but I don’t quite mind so much when its in a romance. That is just me. Nicholas Sparks is formulaic, I also acknowledge that.  We’re finally at the next one continuing in this year’s (really sad) Valentine’s marathon (that I didn’t even bother to peg in the title of the few posts).  We’re at The Best of Me.  I really don’t even know what to expect for this one.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Best of Me (2014)

the best of me

Director: Michael Hoffman

Cast: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato, Gerald McRaney, Sean Bridgers, Sebastian Arcelus

A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown. – IMDB

When I started up The Best of Me, it gave me a prompt to choose between the theatrical version and the “Tears of Joy” edition with alternate ending.  I couldn’t help but laugh a little at it.  I ended up watching the theatrical release and then going back to check out the alternate ending.  I mean, its pretty obvious how it was going to go for both the endings.  I’m going to be reviewing the theatrical release below but let me say that I’m a little disappointed by having the two endings.  Nicholas Sparks adaptations were always formulaic, cheesy, sappy, cliche and anything you can peg onto it but you know what it has for itself.  It owns up all that and I respect it for that.  But, when you give me two endings, that is just trying to be a crowd pleaser when you know, people who don’t like these movies, won’t like it anyways, not just because its a happy or sad ending. Now that I have this rant off my chest, let’s move on!

the best of me

When we look at Nicholas Sparks, you can’t help but wonder if he is running out of ideas.  The Best of Me is kind of like The Notebook just a lot more natural.  I’m on the record to not be the biggest fan of The Notebook. I feel like The Notebook isn’t really that natural of a romance.  Its hard not to compare because The Best of Me takes the same route.  We pan between the teen and the mature version that had to let go because of whatever reason and then meet again and heal and they are still actually in love with each other but circumstances provide hurdles for them to be together now. Either way, what I’m saying is that (nothing against Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) but The Best of Me is a smooth romance.  It could be my bias of loving guys like Luke Bracey’s character Dawson, the quiet and mysterious type who just opens up to be the most genuine sort of guy but frustrating because he also has his troubles and makes the stupid decisions of letting go.  Okay, its not that stupid.  On terms of which being more emotionally-manipulative, I actually think The Notebook is since every single one of these gets a comment about how manipulative it is.

the best of me

I really need to stop comparing the two.  The Best of Me has a really amazing cast.  I love all of them a lot, especially James Marsden.  That man makes any movie better and he’s just so great.  Him and Michelle Monaghan as Amanda had a crazy chemistry.  Those longing gazes and the look.  It works so well together. As much as I like the current rekindling of their romance, I think I actually liked the younger couple more. Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato playing young Dawson and Amanda respectively have this out of the world chemistry.  It took me about two seconds to fall in love with young Dawson and they were just so sweet and cute and funny.  You know, the typical teenage romance before things go awry and out of proportion and all dramatic-like.  There are some pretty groundbreaking romance that just sweeps you away with its originality like In Your Eyes (review HERE) but most of us don’t live in a world where sci-fi rules our life so this is the simple person’s romance and as much as we all desire something different from romance and sure its sappy and all that but deep down, don’t you want to be with that guy who just really loves you.  Its true though, when you find that right person, you do give them the best of you and that is what this is about.  Dawson and Amanda gave each other the best of themselves in their first love when everything was about being happy and all that lovely fluttering butterflies bit before we realize what being hurt from heartbreak feels like and just how long it takes to heal from it. And its not even just the romance.  The part I liked a lot was the supporting actor playing Tuck, an older man that takes in Dawson because he knew that he needed a home and someone to lead him in the right path and a chance of having a future.

the best of me

 I’m going to be honest here and say that when I watch Nicholas Sparks movies, its not about the story anymore.  Its not even about the romantic-sappy dialogue.  I sometimes even laugh at it a little.  I watch it for the cast and their chemistry.  No storyline beats A Walk to Remember (to me) and none has (so far) chemistry and striking a perfect balance between the two. The Best of Me actually doesn’t rank too low in the adaptations.  I’d say my feelings for it are slightly above Safe Haven and The Lucky One, which is kind of pretty high on my list.  I actually had moments of getting misty in this one because I grew to love the characters so much and its not even just Amanda and Dawson but even the supporting characters.

Overall, The Best of Me is a decent romance.  You just need to know why you are going to see this and have the expectations what these movies embody.  Nicholas Sparks stories iare formulaic as heck and its obvious.  There’s even a little inconsistency between Amanda if that was a criticism there with her accent between being young and older self but you know what, this movie had chemistry that just exploded out of the characters.  It gets a little melodramatic and some dialogue is sappy and cheesy but if you already know what to expect (like I did), this is a decent one.  The Best of Me is not Sparks best adaptation but its also far from the worst.  It created some wonderful characters and the cast was great with the script they had. Plus, it wasn’t just about romance,  But then, I guess you have to be a little like me: a romantic and going into this with low expectations and ready to accept anything that happens. Point is, you know if you’re a person that likes this, if you don’t like Sparks, don’t bother with this one but if you do and tolerate them, then this one is pretty decent.

Have you seen The Best of Me? What do you think of James Marsden (and the rest of the cast)?

This Valentine’s Marathon hasn’t been quite plentiful but we’re wrapping up this weekend with the next Nicholas Sparks movie, The Longest Ride!
I won’t be doing The Choice until I get access to it eventually (but I’m not looking forward to it).
I’ll see if I can do something special on February 14th.  I’m still thinking about it! 🙂

Happy Friday, my lovelies!

Netflix A-Z: In Your Eyes (2014)

Moving along with the Valentine’s movies! The next Netflix selection is going to be a little sci-fi romance called In Your Eyes.  Well, I guess the premise is sci-fi but its really a romance for a good part of it.  I find it funny that this coincided with the fact that I had rewatched Cloverfield for The Random Chat Show and it had the same actor playing the main guy.  I never see Michael Stahl-David in much and suddenly I watch two back to back movies with him in it.  In Your Eyes has been on my mind since it landed on Netflix.  It looks like a really fun story and with Joss Whedon as a writer, it shows great promise.  I lie though because I didn’t know that until the movie started playing and the credits were flashing around the screen (I think), then I started fearing about how things would turn out…

Let’s check it out! 🙂

In Your Eyes (2014)

in-your-eyes-poster

Director: Brin Hill
Writer: Joss Whedon
Cast: Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David, Mark Feuerstein, David Gallagher, Jennifer Grey, Steve Howey, Nikki Reed, Reed Birney, Steve Harris

Two seemingly unconnected souls from different corners of the United States make a telepathic bond that allows them to see, hear and feel the other’s experiences, creating a bond that apparently can’t be broken.-IMDB

 In Your Eyes is a romance with notes of science fiction, mostly because its about a telepathic connection where the two can see and feel each other as well. I’m all for the premise.  It called for fun moments of just how having someone else in your head and not being able to remove that voice and how it becomes a crucial part in your life.  However, its not only about that.  Its about finding yourself when someone else can see and live the life that you are living and see it in a different light.  Its a clever story and one that I found builds on the connection really well especially since the two main characters acted out the scene by themselves.

in your eyes

I did some research on how they filmed it and it was the female lead, Rebecca (played by Zoe Kazan) that filmed her parts first and then the male lead Dylan (played by Michael David-Stahl) would do his part.  While they would be on set together, they were never on the scene together.  Its an interesting concept and seems like a truly challenging task. However, what more could you expect when the script is written by Joss Whedon, right? Originality is a strong suit in his work. The story is special and its one that usually we don’t quite ever think about (at least I haven’t). We’ve seen telepathy and romance and voices but combining the fact that there’s this mysterious phenomenon that two people never really know that they are connected since they were young (but we do) until later on in their life when they truly need each other.  They don’t only connect, they can see and feel everything around them.  That just takes it to another level and one that I love so much. While its about a connection being built between Rebecca and Dylan, there is an undeniable romance going on in the background but I thought the idea that they saw more out of each other was the key here and sending a message that others can see what our judgemental selves don’t usually see.

in your eyes

What makes it amazing in this one other than the story itself is the chemistry between Dylan and Rebecca.  Michael David-Stahl and Zoe Kazan are fantastic in their roles capturing the wounded selves they are and just what has lead them to where they are.  Finding each other kind of saves them because they bring a new hope even though its not right next to each other physically.  It feels like there’s a statement somewhere here about how knowing someone is there is much stronger than a person physically being there.  Knowing how this was filmed after watching it makes me feel that they both are excellent actors and deserve much more opportunities. On a side note, there’s a minor supporting roles with Nikki Reed and Jennifer Grey.  They had rather simple roles but helped move the story along a little also.

in your eyes

Overall, there isn’t much to say about In Your Eyes! It was a great premise and a beautiful storyline acted out with a fantastic chemistry between Michael David-Stahl and Zoe Kazan playing Dylan and Rebecca respectively.  Its not all about romance but more the connection of having someone with you and the message it sends is one that deserves some thought.  On top of that, there are a ton of great moments in this one and one that just blew my mind. From the contrast in their life and how they relate to each other, and even just watching how the world reacts to them in public when they are in their world looking like they are talking to thin air, it even shows how the outside opinion from people around is really influential but at times also very fun. This isn’t a conclusion anymore if I continue.  Point is, I love this movie. Its been a while that I’ve seen a modern day  romance that truly blew my mind and just made me fall in love with the characters. Its an amazing feeling! 🙂

Have you seen In Your Eyes? What did you think about it?

We have one more Netflix A-Z movie in this Valentine’s Marathon for letter J! Any guesses?

Grease: Live (TV Special 2016)

Did any of you catch the Grease: Live musical show last Sunday? I don’t have a TV so I didn’t but I managed to stream it on the public broadcasting network CTV in Canada online.  Grease is one of my favorite movies ever! Its feel-good and fun and all that lovely stuff.  You can check out my review for original movie HERE. Its one thing to want to do Grease since its a huge feat in itself but to do it live, that is taking it to another level. When I heard about it, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty impressed especially with the cast that it had.

Let’s check it out, shall we?

Grease: Live (2016)

grease live

Director: Thomas Kail & Alex Rudzinski

Cast: Aaron Tveit, Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens, Carlos PenaVega, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jordan Fisher, Keke Palmer, Ana Gasteyer

After enjoying a summer romance, high school students Danny and Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High. There Sandy must contend with cynical Rizzo and the Pink Ladies in attempt to win Danny’s heart again.-IMDB

 Grease is a 2 hours and 15 minute live musical experience.  There are little bits that were changed from the original.  It feels like some songs were changed up and some scenes were modified, however, it does remain true to the original.  Its a blast to watch and one that remembered to keep the point of Grease intact.  The music was catchy, the young love was full of chemistry and the characters were fun and energetic to watch.  The effort and practice that the cast had to make sure it all flowed perfectly between acres of set and going from one location to the next was definitely impeccable and one that I admire.  I’m not exactly sure that having a live audience on set was really a good choice but at least it felt like it kept the energy there even if it at times, it emphasized that this was a show and not a story (if you know what I mean).

Grease Live

I guess, I would have to contradict the show part a little because the pro to it being that way is that there are added hosts.  While I’m not crazy about the whole sending to commercials and whatnot sort of thing and I did stream it after so it meant nothing to me essentially, the starting bit with the cast credits and whatnot lead in by the cast running around and going through the sets with Jessie J singing was a really nice touch.  Before I talk about the cast who are the highlight here, let me just say, how great is it that Boyz II Men played the Teen Angels and did that singing bit? Really awesome!! That’s my answer to that.

Grease: Live

Finally, the cast! The highlight of the show was really in the cast and the energy that they brought.  Aaron Tveit played Danny Zuko is perfect because he has the charisma to do it.  If you don’t believe me, check out his video singing Popular from Wicked.  Its a girl part but he adds such an adorable touch to it.  With Danny Zuko, I absolutely thought he was so fun to watch.  This guy is simply great! I’m not exactly sure I’ve been a great fan of Julianne Hough at the beginning of her career but in the last few years, she’s really changed my view of her and I’ve grown to appreciate her, maybe more as a performer and dancer than an actress but they let her show off some great dance moves and she does have a nice voice (which she did also show us in Burlesque).   Aside from that, Vanessa Hudgens probably was the show stealer especially since she proved that she’s extremely professional especially with the passing of her dad just the day before.  She did a stellar performance for Rizzo and brought on a nice attitude that the character had.  Talking about this, the show did end with a little dedication to her father and that was a very respectable thing to do as well.

Grease: Live

Moving on,  Frenchy was always a really nice character in the original, while I didn’t dislike it, I thought that someone other than Carly Rae Jepsen might have done a better job, however, it was better than I expected.  No complaints there. The boys playing the T-Birds was fun to watch.  I really like Jordan Fisher playing Doody a lot.  One of the other girls in Pink Ladies, Marty, played by Keke Palmer did a super fun number as well. I could go on with the cast and really say how I enjoyed each one.  But I won’t, because it would be boring and if you don’t know the original, all this would probably seem meaningless. However, that isn’t saying that this one has a little something that is different, maybe its because its live and while there are parts that you know are just practical effects and playing with lights and whatnot to imitate a certain scene, it was done really good.

Overall, Grease: Live did not disappoint at all.  It was almost as fun and energetic as the movie its based on.  The set and the accomplishment of this might just open doors for more of these TV special live musicals to take place and that is something I’d look forward to a whole lot.  Of course, that would have to include being able to get a cast that is as charismatic as this one to pull it off. You can see the hard work and the chemistry that the cast (and probably the crew) has worked together to make this happen.  The effort for Grease: Live is definitely noted by me and if I had the chance, I’d watch it again.  It respects the original and makes it suitable for TV, without hurting the story and what Grease meant to the audience whether its the catchy songs or the story about young love.

Did you catch Grease: Live on TV last weekend? Did you like it? Are you a fan of the original Grease?