To All The Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

You can check out the review of the first 2 movies of this trilogy below:

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

To All The Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

Director: Michael Fimognari

Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac, Trezzo Mahoro, Sarayu Blue, John Corbett, Henry Thomas

Continuing the romantic life of the teenage girl and facing her good and hard times with her friends and family. – IMDB

As we reach the last movie of the To All The Boys trilogy on Netflix, this is based on the third book of the trilogy of the same name. The third book is focused around Lara Jean but this time, unlike the first one where its about facing up to her feelings despite making herself vulnerable or the second book that its about choosing between two guys, this one is dials back to her as she struggles with choosing between a college that she wants to go to and the guy that she loves, worrying about the future of what might happen if she chooses one love over the other or a more suitable future over her love life, despite having to face up to changing plans and the consequences related to it. The story itself centering back to the basics of family, her future and her love life.

While its not a complete change back to its first film and lacks somewhat of the same type of charm, Always and Forever is a definite step up from the second film. However, that’s not to say that this one has some issues as well as it has a feeling piecing together montages a lot and jumping from one sequence to the next rather quickly creating a little sense of disjointedness. Where this film does carry back its fun elements is bringing back more screen time for the three sisters and the relationship they have while each also having their own sense of settling with a new situation to come with their father remarrying. There is no doubt that a big part of what works for this trilogy is the family element especially when the other sisters are charming characters along with their father.

For Lara Jean, the center back to her and her friends along with the idea of how to go for the future she wants in terms of college and think a little more about making the decision suitable for her comes into play. Of course, To All The Boys is also about Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship and there is a decent balance of it here as well especially as they each face their own insecurities about a future that might involve them being apart from each other and finding the courage and confidence to face those problems together. In some ways, for Lara Jean, its a lot about how she decides to be true to what she wants and for Peter to be able to support her choices even if it means taking a harder route for them.

To All The Boys: Always and Forever also packs in a really nice soundtrack that definitely matches with everything. There is a use of romantic comedy references which is pretty fun as well as the concept of Peter and Lara Jean’s meet-cute. The script here fills in those pieces of what hasn’t been talked about in previous two books while also tying in Lara Jean’s love for romantic comedies that makes it feel like it fits well. It also brings back a snippet of the first film’s use of having her talking to an imagined version of Peter Kavinsky as she struggles to tell him the truth behind something was misinterpreted. With that said, the charming characters of Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky as their own characters and as a couple is still one of the highlights of the film, which also makes perhaps some small little details feel very touching to watch, especially the near ending scene that is probably one of my faves and gives a nice feeling of the series coming full circle.

Overall, To All The Boys: Always and Forever is a pretty good sequel. Its a nice way to wrap up the trilogy and manages to bring everything back to a nice feeling from the first film. It addresses all the characters in Lara Jean’s circle for the most part and sees a progress throughout the time being in school and how they’ve also changed as well or made amends in other cases. Its about growing up and these characters definitely feel like they have. Its a satisfying ending and a great way to wrap up the trilogy.

TV Binge: Bridgerton (Season 1, 2020)

Bridgerton (Season 1, 2020)

Creator: Chris Van Dusen

Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Jonathan Bailey, Ruby Barker, Nicola Coughlan, Ruth Gemmell, Adjoa Andoh, Claudia Jessie, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuval

Wealth, lust, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency-era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family. – IMDB

Based on Julia Quinn’s first book of the Bridgerton book series called The Duke and I, Bridgerton’s first season is like a Regency London’s era of Gossip Girl. Its scandalous and there’s a mystery lady called Lady Whistledown writing on everyone’s gossip and spreading her speculations about different situations. Set during the beginning of the season where the debutantes go into society to look for their suitors, the first season is all about Daphne, the oldest daughter of the Bridgerton family as she enters into society and navigates her way through everyone’s different opinions before hatching a plan with the newly arrived Duke Hastings who wants to craft a fake connection with her to avoid having to deal with other mothers of available daughters as he doesn’t want to marry while creating the smoke screen for Daphne that will make other men desire her more because of already being desired. Of course, its no doubt that Daphne and Duke Hastings form a real connection eventually and it becomes quite the push and pull relationship, full of drama and soapy elements as well as the many sex and intimate scenes going on.

Bridgerton is thoroughly a guilty pleasure. There’s no other way to put it. Its not exactly untapped territory especially for myself that watches a ton of Chinese dramas which revolve around crafting fake relationships that turn into real connections and so on so forth. What makes Bridgerton fun is of course the Regency London era with its beautiful houses and lovely clothes and the very innocent and protected debutantes who are protected from everything about sex and intimacy. At the same time, the world that its crafted is a racially integrated Regency era London where (according to Wikipedia because I haven’t read the source material) it differs from the book’s setting. However, they do a great job and justifying how it all came to be briefly in conversation. The story itself definitely has those expected frustrating moments where the two misunderstand each other and then there’s some scheming that creates them to diverge in their feelings and its a whole roller coaster ride in terms of the few months of the season that Daphne and Duke Hastings go through.

Other than the setting, Bridgerton is all about the characters. For starters, the main couple Daphne and Duke Hastings has a ton of chemistry and that reflects well as their connection grows stronger and they love each other more. The sex scenes are done incredibly well and very believable. Above all of it though, its about Daphne’s sexual awakening and the gradual revelation and learning about how sex works and how getting pregnant works and all that comes together that crafts her character in a certain way. Aside from these two, the story does also deliver some other great characters. The favorite going to Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) who is Duke Hastings aka Simon’s mentor. Hands down the best character in the whole first season. The first season also laid down the foundation of the Bridgerton family whether its their widowed mother Violet or the three brothers, Anthony, Benedict, Colin and Gregory or the younger sisters Eloise, Francesca and Hyacinth who all make an appearance, big or small. Seeing as the following seasons will be about the other members of the family, that foundation is rather important plus the first season also follows some of the relationships and character development for a few of the siblings especially for Anthony, Benedict, Eloise and Colin.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the 10 episodes of the first season of Bridgerton. For those who like Regency era London settings, this one is a pretty decent choice. The first season’s most compelling parts are the scenes that build up the relationship between Daphne and Simon. The slow connection and the comfort; the change from disapproval to love; the fake relationship to real; what they teach other and grow together: it has its frustrating moments but then it also has some well-crafted moments. The second compelling element has to be trying to figure out who is Lady Whistledown especially when she’s voiced by Julie Andrews. When I finished watching it the first time, I had some mixed feelings about it but when I watched it a second time around, I realized that there is something there that does work.

As an aside, Season 2 has been confirmed and its going to follow the brother Anthony who had his tangent in season 1 although, I was rather lukewarm to the whole thing. However, the season ended hinting that it would be focused on him finding a wife so we will see where that goes. In the meantime, I’m going to catch up with the series when I have a moment see how the series match up to the source material.

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. 

Valentine’s Double Feature: This Is Not What I Expected (2017) & Us and Them (2018)

Third before last double feature in this Valentine’s romance double feature theme. I’m starting to think about when to do another themed alphabet month because it was just so much fun. Not sure what to do or what theme would be interesting enough. Maybe an international film theme, which would open up more genres. Any suggestions.

Moving onto the T & U selections. Talk about international films: I ended up choosing a Zhou Dongyu double feature and a Chinese film double feature and coincidentally, because its such a rarity in my movie watching life: a double 5 star rated films as well. All around an awesome time which had one feature that gave me a ton of laughs and fun and the second that gave me all kinds of emotions and some tears. If nothing else, these two films show that China is an upcoming force to put on our radars, especially with Netflix acquiring some as Originals.

Let’s check these out!

This Is Not What I Expected (2017)

this is not what i expected

Director: Derek Hui

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Dongyu Zhou, Yi-zhou Sun, Ming Xi, Kuo-Chu Chang, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Chiling Lin

An obsessive CEO of a company meets a ragged chef by chance. They are drawn closer together because of their love for delicacies, yet their personalities clash big time. – IMDB

Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen. Honestly, the Hong Kong (can’t say for China because I haven’t seen enough films to comment on it) landscape doesn’t really have any ground-breaking films in this regard. No one sits down to enjoy a great romantic comedy because its just generic. This Is Not What I Expected might not be anything ground-breaking in its formula because the course of events are quite predictable and generic, what it does do is for the first time (to my knowledge) dive into a screwball comedy style. Its quirky and hilarious. There are contrived events and things that get way out of proportion where its impossible to imagine any of it actually be accepted normally, but then there is a point in film that we find a line between reality and challenging its limits and something about the charm of This Is Not What I Expected hits it perfectly. Its been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a film and felt so fulfilled and happy about it all the way through. Not to mention, the movie also is right up my alley as it has a lot of artistic shots of food and cooking.

The main reason is its main leads. For one, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a fantastic actor and he has been in many films. However, it may be the first time he’s done a role that feels so serious but at the same time, so hilarious because of his expressions. It definitely isn’t a frequent type of role for him and this feels so refreshing to watch. At the same time, she is opposite the younger Dongyu Zhou who is a rather popular Chinese actress and truly excels in this type of role. She has this out of control nature and yet there is something so genuine about even the most absurd things that she does and yet it makes her quite adorable as well.

Us and Them (2018)

Us and Them

Director: Rene Liu

Cast: Boran Jing, Dongyu Zhou, Zhuangzhuang Tian

During the hectic chunyun (aka Chinese New Year) period, 2 strangers travelling home meet on the train. – IMDB

Us and Them is a Netflix Original and it tells a wonderful love story. Its quite reminiscent both in color palette and plot of a story like Blue Jay and One Day (the book, not sure how the movie is structured), except this story has much more context as we see a colorful past of Xiao Xiao (Dongyu Zhou) and Jian Qing (Boran Jing) from how they met to how they got together and the conflict that drove them apart. Ten years later, as they meet again and each in their different phase in life, how they have changed and how they face each other. Perhaps the story itself isn’t very unique but its honestly in the details as we see why their present is in black and white and their past in color. Especially with the background music as well as the artistic shots and structure of some of the scenes. Its hard to imagine that this is a directorial debut of Rene Liu who is an accomplished singer and actress but the first time taking the helm of the director.

However, true credit goes to how the characters are developed in each phase of their life. There is a deep knowledge of them as they change and grow over the years. It is a genuine relationship and progression that makes them so real. At the same time, the story isn’t just about their romance but also pulls in masterfully a second plot line related to family. The movie extends itself the entire way through the end credits as they pull in some real people who write messages to their past loves and then an ending scene which talks a lot about the message behind this movie being in telling those you love them (whether lover or family) before you lose the chance to and letting the regrets hang in the air. Just like the tagline of this movie which translates to: “After, we had everything except each other.” Its both a heartwarming film for a part of it and yet such a heartbreaking film that ends up being bittersweet as well. Just like Xiao Xiao and Jian Qing reflect on themselves and their relationship, the movie will end and made me reflect on a few things as well. Us and Them is a beautiful movie both in cinematography, soundtrack, character building and story. Its full of style and so very unique because its been pieced together so well.

This double feature is the absolute highlight of not only this marathon but probably the past while of films I’ve seen.
Have you seen This Is Not What I Expected or Us and Them? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Secret (2007) & The Space Between Us (2017)

Its been a while since I’ve continued on the Valentine’s Netflix Alphabet marathon! Its getting dangerously close to the end of the month and I still have a good few movies to get through. At this point, it might spill into the beginning of March. Either way, I said that I’d finish it so I will. Due to the missing X selection later on, I have chosen to do two S selections! This is the last change to the alphabet marathon. Surprisingly though, these two are both teen romances and have some unique-ish idea/concept.

Let’s check it out!

Secret (2007)

Director (and writer): Jay Chou

Cast: Jay Chou, Lun-Mei Kwai, Anthony Wong, Kai-Syuan Tzeng, Ming-Ming Su, Devon Song

Ye Xiang Lun, a talented piano player is a new student at the prestigious Tamkang School. On his first day, he meets Lu Xiao Yu, a pretty girl playing a mysterious piece of music. – IMDB

Jay Chou’s directorial debut sees him both as the writer of the original story and also acting in the film. From Initial D, its already not high expectations in the Jay Chou acting but Jay Chou is a creative individual and a very musical person so its no surprise to see that he has injected a musical element to this story. The pity of this film goes to Netflix categorizing its subgenre that ruins the twist of the story making it much easier to guess. The ending is somewhat of a headscratcher and feels a bit flawed from what the whole logic behind the situation was, the story itself had its charm. The first is the setting that its done, bordered by water, the school grounds and the more classical building. The second is its characters, including Jay Chou who wrote in a character that truly matches himself. Its probably the perk of being the writer of the original story.

secret 2007

On the off-chance that you aren’t watching this through Netflix, I’m going to keep this spoiler free as much as possible. While this movie seems a lot like your average teen movie with the female character having some ailment, there is a much more light-hearted sort of appeal to this mostly with its added twist. Using music as a medium is a really nice touch here. With the subgenre that it tackles, there are some little logic issues and flaws but it also has this fantasy element that adds a little something extra.

As I mentioned before, Jay Chou writes a character very suitable for himself therefore he does a decent job. Its really his romantic interest, Lun-Mei Kwai that takes a lot of credit here. Her personality reflects Xiao Yu’s character a whole lot whether its her little movements or when she’s happy or sad. The chemistry between them spark up some nice little moments that make us truly root for this pairing. However, in a movie full of young actors and actresses, there is no doubt that Anthony  Wong stands out the most playing the father of Jay Chou’s character. He has this vibrancy and his character while seemingly not very significant in the beginning, ramps up quite the significance by the end.

The Space Between Us (2017)

the space between us

Director: Peter Chelsom

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery

The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be. – IMDB

I’m not exactly understanding all the hate that this movie seems to get via the different site that I’ve looked at. To be honest, this movie is right up my alley. For one, it has an incredible cast, at least I’m a big fan of everyone here. Then it has this whole sci-fi premise of space and Earth. The idea behind the story is pretty nice as well. There are some glaring similarities to a lot of other movies, the one that I thought of first was Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (Review), an animated film that I love a whole lot. To see competent young actor and actress like Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson take over this pairing just warmed my heart because they are both constantly on my radar.

With that said, the music here is fantastic. The story here is a bit thin on the character development side of things and focuses on some cheesy teen romance thing, which worked for me because somehow these two have a good bit of chemistry and some really nice scenes. Plus, the whole fish of water thing always makes me feel incredibly entertained especially how they wrote up Asa Butterfield’s character even if he falls into those tropes of having some weakness to him but the fact that its because he’s born on another planet really makes it unique in its own way.

On top of that, you get Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino in this film who truly add quite a bit to the film in their roles. Its quite the adventure to see the whole chase from one thing to the next. There is romance but also a great deal of adventure that is where the bonding of the characters happen. Britt Robertson does play a very similar role to a few roles she’s done where she is a teen that doesn’t fit into the life that she is from. The key question here that is asked is “What is your favorite thing about Earth?” I think its a valid movie that uses this story to ask a deeper question about appreciating the things that we have around us that we take for granted. There are many layers to the story. Sure, it has its faults and there’s a ton of cheese and its fairly predictable but there’s also a lot of fun and adventurous moments here that work. Plus, it doesn’t take the normal teen romance type of bittersweet ending so I’m all for that.

That’s it for this double S feature for Valentine’s romance!
Both movies that have flaws but that I found a lot of enjoyment from!
Have you seen Secret or The Space Between Us?

Valentine’s Double Feature: Permission (2017) & Remember Me (2010)

Continuing with the marathon, I was going to change it to romance marathon or something but February is going to be Valentine’s month so why not just keep it the same, right? As you will notice, I didn’t really have a Q selection so decided to do a second P selection with 2017’s Permission and paired it with R’s 2010 romance drama Remember Me, a movie that I’ve started once before but didn’t think I was in the mood for a romance drama so stopped after 10 minutes in or something.

Let’s check it out!

Permission (2017)

Permission

Director (and writer): Brian Crano

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Gina Gershon, François Arnaud, Morgan Spector, David Joseph Craig, Jason Sudeikis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend. – IMDB

Permission is a film that usually is the type of premise that is right up my alley. Its the idea of romance and different types of relationships and whatnot. To be honest, Permission does a lot of good. The best part of it being that it starts off making a relative amount of sense. The key of being okay with this film is is first accepting (or tolerating might be a better word) that its okay to experiment if you have only been in one relationship and using that method to feel like you can spent forever with the person you are currently in a relationship with.  That is the premise of this film so if that starting point doesn’t work for you, this film won’t get any better. My main issue is that the ending had points where it didn’t quite make sense to me but then I’m thinking about how with a premise like this that there is no other way for it to end and which type of ending would have worked better.

One of the main components that work here is that the actors and actresses themselves are really good. They are written each in their own distinct way and their actions and reactions being the center of who they are and how they feel about this whole thing. Dan Stevens plays Will who does a great job as expected. You can somehow feel the resistance towards the experiment but his love and his trust and makes him want to go through with it. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall as Anna, playing Will’s girlfriend is also very good. She does a lot of discovering here especially since she ends up having her own form of evolution and manages to sort out her thoughts at the end. She ends up meeting Dane, played by Francois Arnaud, a Quebec actor that I personally like a lot (especially his performance in French-Canadian film Origami. You can see the review HERE). The best parts of the film goes to the chemistry between Dane and Anna because it feels like there is something real going on between them even though its based on the lie that Anna never revealed that she is in fact in a relationship.

At the same time, you have their best friends, Reece and Hale who are going through their own issues as Hale wants to have a kid and Reece doesn’t and because of that, their own changes draws distance between them as well. There are some parallels here between these two relationships. There are some big messages about needs and wants in relationships as well as finding yourself before being with someone as the undertone of it all.

Remember Me (2010)

Remember Me

Director: Allen Coulter

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Ruby Jerins, Pierce Brosnan

A romantic drama centered on two new lovers: Tyler, whose parents have split in the wake of his brother’s suicide, and Ally, who lives each day to the fullest since witnessing her mother’s murder. – IMDB

I’m noticing just now that this movie’s tagline is “Live in the moments”, which is a pretty good way to talk starting about Remember Me. Remember Me starts in a fairly tragic and dramatic one, both paralleled with funerals: one for Tyler (Robert Pattinson) who loses his brother and one for Ally (Emilie de Ravin) who loses her mother both also being the first witness of their loved ones passing. These things make them view life in a different way perhaps making them treasure the moments a little more in fear of not living the next day with Ally’s character and one that tries to care for their family more with giving them more attention in Tyler’s case. Remember Me takes a lot of routes and in some ways, it takes away from what it was trying to do in the first place making our two main characters quite shallow and their relationship not exactly too deep either. Which is a little awkward to say that I’m watching a romance drama and in many ways, the romance is very unimpressive and not too memorable either. It goes to show that passionate kissing and sex scenes don’t make up for these moments even if they were very well shot and constructed.

The story should be commending to give notice to the drama around the two main characters because life is more than romance. Tyler is face with giving a lot of attention to her younger sister Caroline who believes that her father hates her and ignores her while having a feud and constant disagreement with his father (Pierce Brosnan) who only cares about his work and never prioritizes his family despite the tragedy that they’ve gone through. This family drama plot is one that is frequently used especially when his little sister also has a little side plot on how she doesn’t fit in and is bullied in school to some great heartbreaking extremities. On that note, some scenes and details here feel a bit disjointed because its packed so much that nothing leaves a great impression. To be fair, while the film has a lot of great ideas that doesn’t get used enough to make it more memorable, the roles here are not too bad although its funny that almost the entire cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin and Pierce Brosnan all are putting on their best American English show which I find isn’t too natural. I’m a little torn honestly on how I feel about the acting. Robert Pattinson felt more refined than say, his role in Twilight (I can only compare it since I’ve never seen him in another romance) but still missing something because it still felt like his expressions are very similar. Emilie de Ravin is an actress I love from Once Upon a Time so I think this is a new side of her that I quite enjoy.

The most memorable part of Remember Me is its plot twist finale that kind of punches its audience in the gut. I can only say this because some might view it as a fairly controversial sort of ending. It can be seen as distasteful or it can be seen as being very clever. However, there was no doubt about how it would end in my mind, but rather how they chose for the ending to happen because there was no way the movie wasn’t already hinting at this sort of ending with the tone and message it had set throughout.

That’s it for the next Valentine’s Romance double feature!
Excuse the little break, I needed a few days to just take a break and get things together.
Have you seen the P (replacing Q) selection and the R selection? Thoughts?

Valentine’s Double Feature: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) & Prince Charming (1984)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, whether you celebrate or not (which we don’t other than on the blog as an excuse to watch romance films). If you don’t celebrate, then tomorrow is a great day for some discounted chocolate. 😉

We passed the halfway point of the alphabet which was really all I expected myself to get to by February 14th. This time, we’re at the next two letters, O & P. The first is The Other Boleyn Girl which I have put aside too many times so I decided to just go for it and get it off the list. For the P selection, I floated around a few titles but decided to go with something a little more romantic and comedic with Hong Kong’s 1984 romance comedy Prince Charming.

Let’s check it out!

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Director: Justin Chadwick

Cast: Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Morrissey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Oliver Coleman, Ana Torrent

Two sisters contend for the affection of King Henry VIII. – IMDB

I’m a bit torn on how I feel about The Other Boleyn Girl. On one hand, the first part of the movie was pretty entertaining with the obvious chemistry between the characters and the setup of the stage for the parents, their stand and favoritism between children as well as their ambitions and greed for power and fortune despite the consequence of putting their own children into difficult and complicated places. With that said, the start was pretty fun with King Henry (Eric Bana) take a hunting stay at the Boleyns home and having one daughter being set up to seduce the king which somehow defines who Natalie Portman’s Anne’s personality is which as it grows ends up causing herself some pretty irreversible consequences. While I get Natalie Portman’s character, the beginning half with King Henry and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) definitely was the more interesting part even if their focus was really not on them because it involved a lot of music overlaying passionate sex scenes.

To be fair, when the second act started and King Henry got lured into Anne’s traps of playing hard to get. It started getting a bit ridiculous. I’m not a history major and I don’t particularly know a lot about the history of England and the kings but as a historical drama (I know for Chinese history, there are kings defined for their bad judgement because of the women they choose), I can’t say how accurate it is but King Henry is very much getting played and not quite as kingly until he decides to justify his difficult decisions by raping Anne, which seems to defeat the purpose of making these tough choices and throwing it all out the window, hence his descent down the slippery slope, I suppose. It was very soap opera because it was so entangled in romance and the King’s floating attention span of always having women satisfying him and producing an heir when he did already have one that he disregarded, and then the mixed romances and improper decisions and playing games.

The Other Boleyn Girl was good in the sense that I think Eric Bana does a great job and I particularly liked Scarlett Johansson and well, anytime with Kristin Scott Thomas is a good time because she also is a very powerful actress even in the supporting role as the mother of Anne and Mary who ends up losing the most out of Anne’s desperate need for attention (or whatever you call it). Its not a bad film but it is still a bit drawn out unnecessarily.

Prince Charming (1984)

prince charming

Director (& writer): Wong Jing

Cast: Kenny Bee, Cherie Chung, Pak-cheung Chan, Rosamund Kwan, Maggie Cheung

Chen Li is the son of an enormously wealthy Hong Kong businessman and is vacationing in Hawaii, experiencing typical girl problems. – IMDB

There are a lot of films called Prince Charming. To my knowledge, 1999 also had a Hong Kong film called Prince Charming (which I have seen before with Andy Lau and Nick Cheung). However, we are dialling back to 1984 when Maggie Cheung still did comedies and Kenny Bee and Pak Cheung Chan was a huge deal whether for singing or acting or hosting. Directed and written by Wong Jing, this movie is bound for some laughters. As with most of Wong Jing’s film, he also has a cameo appearance as a passerby listening in on a conversation about some sex meter calculation.

Prince Charming is a pretty charming film. I have my issues sometimes with the humor of Pak Cheung Chan because sometimes it leans on the heavily dumb humor but somehow, perhaps its because its Wong Jing and I like his humor and Kenny Bee has this dorky humor to him that makes it all come together. Its a lot of fluff to be fair because the story itself is fairly simple and in the mist of the mistaken identity, its hard to really focus on the background plot of finding out whether embezzlement is happening at the office because it focuses a lot on the romance and Kenny Bee finding his love with Cherie Chung’s character. However, there is this sweet chemistry between them that works most of the time, especially in the awkward moments. Add in some family bits and a few silly moments and this really does have quite a nice vibe to it.

A lot of staple actors and actresses of the 80s (and 90s) are in this film and it shows their youth especially when the films starts off in Hawaii for a little bit and then heads back to Hong Kong. Its a romantic comedy so it definitely gives off this fun and entertaining sort of film packed with the 80s humor of Hong Kong that defined its films and boy, I really did like that comedic style a lot.

Valentine’s Double Feature alphabet for O & P are done!
Have you seen these films? What did you think of them?